Music/Video: Histories, Aesthetics, Media

Arnold, G., Cookney, D., Fairclough, K. and Goddard, M. (ed.) 2017. Music/Video: Histories, Aesthetics, Media. London Bloomsbury Academic.

TitleMusic/Video: Histories, Aesthetics, Media
EditorsArnold, G., Cookney, D., Fairclough, K. and Goddard, M.

The music video has been a problematic and controversial media entity, for as long as the genre, or phenomenon, of such videos to promote, accompany, or illustrate music has existed. In the 1980s, these three and a half minutes were understood by some arbiters of popular taste to usher in everything from the death of authenticity and undermining of the artistic worth of popular music to the eradication of its human element altogether. Yet the synaesthetic combination of music and moving images has a considerably longer and more diverse history than that of music television, and certainly of MTV, a diversity that is beginning to be increasingly recognised in the emergent field of contemporary audiovisual studies.

This volume makes the case that music video plays a key role in this field, as confirmed by such recent high profile volumes as The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics (Richardson, Gorbman and Vernallis eds. 2015) and Digital Music Videos (Shaviro 2016), but also through a range of recent projects that attest to the fact that as Vernallis puts it in another key text, Unruly Media: ‘At one time we knew what a music video was but no longer […] We used to define music videos as products of record companies, in which images were put to recorded pop songs in order to sell songs. But no longer’ (2013: 10-11). The evolution from Vernallis’s unashamed celebration of music video aesthetics as a distinct format a decade earlier in Experiencing Music Video (Vernallis, 2004) is clear in Unruly Media’s discussion of the music video in the context of the ‘mixing board aesthetic’ (2013: 4ff) of YouTube clips and new digital cinema which for her have become inseparable from music video itself. Nevertheless, as contributors to this current volume show, the net needs to be cast wider still, not only in terms of connections with broader histories and practices from high art video to global popular culture, but also in terms of an ‘audiovision’ or ‘audiovisuology’ that has the capacity to destabilize what we thought we knew about music video, even in its ‘classic’ MTV period.

KeywordsMusic video popular music video art audiovisual media aesthetics histories gender
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Publication dates
Published10 Aug 2017
Place of publicationLondon

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