July 02, 2006

Gnomeplex, Part 3

Last night was the closing party for Gnomedex 6.0, at the Experience Music Project, a Frank Ghery-designed building in the shadow of the Seattle Space Needle.

I can deal with Gehry's Bilbao building, but the EMP really doesn't do it for me. I keep thinking it's being tented for termites as I approach it looking for a parking space. But then I discover, no, it really is that way, that color (or colors). You know when you're making a bed, and you take the sheets or the bedspread and you toss it up into the air to stretch it out over the bed? Imagine if Gehry took a snapshot while the bedspread was in midair, coming down on the bed. That pretty much sums up his architecture.

I loved the documentary on Gehry, by the way, but the EMP is just ugly.

There is also something very odd about the museum, oddly depressing. The whole place feels like big money spent on a party site: Paul Allen and Jody Patton created a facility that is about as rock and roll as a gift shop past the security checkpoint at the airport. Lots of merchandise, lots of corporate advertising, music piped in from speakers in the ceiling. A Compaq-branded computer "lab" with filthy, old mice and keyboards with enough germs and grime to contaminate a small nation. A massive online multimedia timeline/archive is available on these Compaq computers, but the whole thing feels so distant, so quaint. It's like we're in the far future, safely detached from the grunge, the smells, the danger, the vitality of a live music experience. Instead, we get to see tiny multimedia clips of SubPop Records artists.

It's weird to think, but imagine in a hundred years, the U2 Museum, with multimedia holograms of Bono and the rest of the band, talking about their music, performing in 3D, but it's all a recording (which you can be sure you'll be able to purchase to run in some extreme DRM-compliant chip built into your eyephones).

I went into one of the theatres showing a Jimi Hendrix and his band playing "Wild Thing" at the Montery Pop Festival in 1967. It all seemed so dated, so distant. It wasn't even loud. I felt like I was 300 years in the future, on a spaceship in orbit around Fhloston Paradise, sitting in an empty auditorium showing a retrospecitive of the 1960's rock music. What could they have been thinking? Who was this strange Jimi Hendrix character? Those humans were so strange....

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More later.

Posted by brian at July 2, 2006 10:22 AM


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