Muzak Rock & Minimalism is compilation of shorts for the first 3 → ↑ → EPs which were released on a compilation LP on Present records.
Direction & editing - Philip Brophy
Camera - Philip Brophy, Maria Kozic & Kim Beissel
Performers - Philip Brophy, Maria Kozic, Ralph Traviato, Dale Putting, Gerard Hayes
FUTURFALL - Bondi Pavilion Theatre, Sydney
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
STATE OF THE ART - Metro Television, Sydney
Glasshouse Theatre, Melbourne
Time Based Arts, Amsterdam
The first video ("Sportello") is shot in mimicry of the most banal ways in which television shows or advertisements at the time would shoot 'the city'. Back in 1983, Melbourne felt and looked crappy (it still does, but now on a grander scale). Most of the footage is shot around St.Kilda Rd.: the dumb 'arts tower', the corny 50s water fountain, the 'brand new' Olympic Swimming Centre. To shoot like this, one had to get into the mind set of a TV technician assigned to capture 'Melbourne at night'.
While the first video is about the banality of exterior settings, the second ("Canzona Di Una Notta") is all about interior spaces. Shot at the house where famous Melbourne Pop and Conceptual artist Robert Rooney lived with his mother, the video depicts Philip and Maria living in a blissful domestic uptopia. They clean and cook, read and relax, all while listening to light Muzak on their Walkman. They perform as if trying to become for real the Letraset 'people images' that architects and interior designers use to illustrate their gaudy worlds. The reflexive irony is that Robert's house was super-cool because it was frozen in an earlier 50s era. And its walls were covered with his amazing Pop paintings.Rock - video stills © 1983
The septic irony continues with the two shorts for NICE NOISE. The first ("Rock Song") follows the bare structuralist design of the music track: a tense riff cycles until it suddenly shifts up a semi-tone. BAM - the video suddenly goes from fixed-tripod shot to wild hand-held camera. Also, the performers ape the theatrics of rock performers - always nodding, heaving, bopping and banging. Water was sprayed on everyone's faces; all were directed to grimace as if the music really meant something to them. It smells like a mouldy episode of Countdown - which, of course, we detested.
The second video ("Doing Very Little") continues this televisual vein of 'representing real rock music' - this time by focusing on the manual mechanics of the music's production. Hands are cropped, then refilmed from monitors repeatedly, as if the viewer is getting closer to the heart of 'the real' of the music. We're going nowhere but into the pixels of the TV screen.
The final video for the track "Only Quantity Counts" textually lip-synchs the Minimalism set's creed: to be music frozen in close-up. A series of blurred snapshots of a synthesizer keyboard are mechanically sequenced in synch with each repeated refrain of the track. No motion. Nothing happens.Rock - video stills © 1983
Shot on Lo-Band U-Matic video.
Shot on Super 8 and transferred to video.
Shot as a sequence of 35mm slides and transferred to video.Minimalism - video stills © 1983