Sunday, July 15, 2012

EMP in Seattle

Today we drove to Seattle and visited the EMP, the Experience Music Project, near the Space Needle. It's a beautiful building, but the contents are a bit odd.

It's not just the style over substance of a huge inverted pyramid of guitars in the atrium. There's the almost offensively hagiographic Nirvana exhibit, airbrushing out the Pixies from history like Kurt Cobain had singlehandledly invented quiet/loud/quiet/loud music. There's the almost derisory Hendrix exhibit, where crowds tramp through a tiny room with hardly anything in it, although that 'hardly' does extend to a timeline on a wall that starts with the invention of the VCR and ends with the ipod. Both of which were after Hendrix died.

And upstairs there's the Sound Lab, where you can play on musical instruments themselves, and I had to resist giving into Male In Guitar Shop syndrome and attempting to gratuitously rock out. There is at least up there a wall of thoughts visitors have about music, my favourite sentiment being the unabashedly egotistical "Music is not quite as good as I am."

Somebody had the right idea

It just feels a bit plastic wrapped, a bit cargo cultist, sterile and clean and focussed too much on the trappings of music and not on the meaning. And you can get a DVD burnt of you miming to a rock soundtrack, brandishing a guitar that plays itself. Never mind the onanism; a DVD? In 2012? Are we going through a timewarp again? Next thing you'll be telling me there's an exhibit downstairs where you can be green screened into a different landscape, and be impressed.

Oh. There is.

I suppose I'm not the target audience. The kids I went with (17 and 13) thought it was cool, and to some extent it was - apart from the lunch we ordered, where it took half an hour to microwave a pizza and (partially) defrost some grapes.

I was just hoping for something more than Bon Scott's leather jacket (There were tantalising glimpses of something more, like 2 letters Bon Scott had written, but for the most part it felt like being trapped in a teetotal Hard Rock Cafe.)

Or maybe I was exhausted by travel. Two hours to drive from Issaquah to Seattle was a tough old journey, after all. Still, it's a different bit of the world, and I've got just over 13 more hours here to enjoy before I fly back to the warm embrace of Singapore again.


Post a Comment