Category Archives: Music

Art After Dark – NYC

Art can be a bit like wine. You know what you like – but some of the subtext can be lost on the uninitiated. Both require a considerable level of commitment to get to grips with. Sometimes, the hardest thing is getting started as once you have a base knowledge – then you have something to build on. Without solid foundations, the sheer depth of subject matter can be daunting. I’ve found from personal experience that art galleries can be quite exclusive rather than inclusive. Descriptors of pieces of art can over-intellectualise what you are viewing – rather than simply allowing you to enjoy your own take on the experience – and there is something unnerving about people staring at a piece for hours, seeking out a message, when your own mind starts wandering in about 15 seconds…

That’s why I loved an initiative from the Guggenheim in NYC that uses contemporary DJ acts and a skinful of alcohol (in my case) to introduce awesome art masters to the masses. I attended ‘Art after Dark’ last Friday (it takes place on the first Friday of the month) and saw the Kandinsky exhibition set to the soundtrack of Brooklyn Dance duo Nick Millhiser and Alex Frankel, aka Holy Ghost. The Guggenheim itself is an amazing venue and this exhibition is set on a spiralling ramp. You literally meander your way up to the top with a glass of wine in hand with an amazing soundtrack that is apparently to show how Kandinsky took inspiration from music in his pioneering efforts toward abstraction, but is more likely a post rationalisation of an attempt to ensnare a younger audience through a common love of music and boozing…


It’s a great concept because it makes art cool and accessible. The exhibition was clearly signposted and as you totter/stumble back down the ramp – you’ve really grasped an understanding of the artist in an inclusive friendly environment. Learning and finding out new stuff is fun, and it’s important for cultural organisations in this country to develop new way of talking to younger audiences. Alcohol and music normally provide a relevant and engaging reason to enjoy most activities. Some cultural hubs get it – The Tate do late, and the ICA have long known the key to the hearts of minds of younger audiences. It would however be nice to see more traditional establishments engaging in such activities. Modern art shouldn’t simply be a gateway to more traditional art forms – and aforementioned traditional establishments should recognise that steps need to be taken to ensure that tomorrows audiences are engaged today.

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Sony Ericsson – Pitch Black Gig

Tonight I went to the first ever gig to take place in the pitch black. It featured the ‘Friendly Fires’ and was arranged by my old agency iris for Sony Ericsson.

It was a great event to attend and everyone there seemed to enjoy being a part of it. I’ve been thinking about whether it actually works on the cycle ride home and am still undecided. It’s a great insight – the idea that taking away the sense of sight enhances our other senses and the thought that this could make the music resonate ever deeper with the audience.

On the other hand, the lack of sight makes this a very one way experience. Great events become great events because of the interaction or relationship between the performer(s) on stage and the the audience. A great event is very much a participatory experience whereby energy flows almost in a continuing circle between the two.

One question I asked myself is what the reaction would be if the lights were to come on in a huge crescendo and the band were to be revealed. My thoughts were that everyone would have gone absolutely berserk. the darkness almost built up the atmosphere and made people want to be able to visually see what was happening. In the end, the lights were slowly dimmed so the crowd could make out the band. Maybe the better option would have been a rousing finale with everyone on their feet in the midst of a light and sound overload.

All in all though, another great initiative from the iris and SE guys who always hit the spot with their music initiatives…