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Nam June Paik and Otto Piene. Untitled. 1968. Manipulated television set and plastic pearls, 9 x 13 x 10" (22.9 x 33 x 25.4 cm). Gift of The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Greenwich Collection Ltd. Fund, and gift of Margot Ernst. © 2003 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Thomas Griesel

About the Exhibition

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Music was at the forefront of interdisciplinary experimentation in the 1960s, when the mixing of mediums took off. Portable video cameras, electric guitars, and an aura of technical innovation all fostered radical experimentation; it seemed as though every artist was in a band, and some artists studied music formally before gravitating to one of the new art forms. Word repetition, strings of ordinary sounds, and evocative melodies materialized on the palates of artists.

Looking at Music explores the dynamic cross-fertilizations among music, video, installation, and what was known as “mixed media” art in the decade after 1965. Rapid changes in technology can be traced in early music videos by The Beatles, David Bowie, Captain Beefheart, The Residents, and Devo, all drawn from the Museum’s collection. They are characterized by the same raw innocence that can be found in the small-press publications and artists’ books that emerged as an important forum for writers, artists, and radical thinkers investigating the novel art forms of the day.

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The exhibition is organized by Barbara London, Associate Curator,
Department of Media.

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