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"In tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, Blue Man Group has created an eloquent video.
September 6, 2002 7:52 PM   Subscribe

"In tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, Blue Man Group has created an eloquent video. The usually explosive performance artists do not appear in it; there are no blue-painted heads in sight. Instead, pieces of white paper drift down in front of a pure black background as percussive music plays. All these papers were found in Brooklyn, where they floated across the river from the World Trade Center." (Quoting The New York Times.)
posted by Soliloquy (30 comments total)

 
Love it. Evocative, powerful, and without being sensational or maudlin in the least. What do you think are the chances that the networks' inevitable tributes show any trace of this kind of thoughtfulness?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 8:54 PM on September 6, 2002


Excellent site. The music is a great background to contemplate 9/11 and it's impact on one's life.
posted by jazon at 8:59 PM on September 6, 2002


Very impressive. Very original. Quite thought-provoking.

And, sorry to sound like a dork, but it also makes me think of the opening of MYST.
posted by SPrintF at 9:16 PM on September 6, 2002


Bloody brilliant. I adore the Blue Man Group to begin with...but this...this was sheer genius.
posted by dejah420 at 9:17 PM on September 6, 2002


Wow. Absolutely amazing. I knew I loved BMG for a reason.
posted by eilatan at 9:56 PM on September 6, 2002


it's wonderful, non-exploitative, evocative. not maudlin or commercial like i'm expecting most media to be on 9-11. this video is enough for me, i have no intention of dealing with commercial media at all next wednesday.
posted by t r a c y at 10:41 PM on September 6, 2002


Excellent link.
posted by xmutex at 11:09 PM on September 6, 2002


"Did you ever see that Blue Man Group? Total ripoff of the Smurfs, and the Smurfs, they suck!"



seriously though, i liked this a lot. nice to see something in tribute to the event without having the stench of commercialization or bad politics.
posted by joedan at 1:31 AM on September 7, 2002


Nope, you're right, they suck as much as the smurfs.

At least until they stop supporting the wintel monopoly and do a commercial for AMD.

This post brought to you by Cowboy Neal.
posted by nyxxxx at 1:57 AM on September 7, 2002


I liked seeing this. Long ago I set up camp on the "I don't think I will turn on the tv" side of Anniversary Canyon, wondering how anyone can stand being over there in "Watch everything and get some sort of patriotic souvenirs land." I was really touched by the notepad page with the little artwork on it. That was what got me.

And of course, what all of you said about it too. except for nyxxxx, because I'm holding out for an Apple ad!
posted by verso at 2:24 AM on September 7, 2002


Bravo, Soliloquy...and bravo, Blue Man Group.

Making the conscious choice to not show their ubiquitous blue faces allowed me to enjoy this little thought provoker sans distraction.

(Except of course for that Myst thing of which SPrintF spoke...I suppose it was the charred edges of the pages.)
posted by squasha at 2:36 AM on September 7, 2002


Somehow in a confused state while watching this video and thinking of a slurpee the following logo jumped into my head....

posted by nasim at 4:49 AM on September 7, 2002


nine eleven logo
whoops just had to iron out a few technical difficulties...
posted by nasim at 5:00 AM on September 7, 2002


I don't know about you, but this still gets to me.
posted by plemeljr at 6:19 AM on September 7, 2002


am i the only one who thought that a tremendous bore? reminded me of first year film school or people who use multiple exclamation marks!!!! (just how do they know when they're done?)
posted by dobbs at 8:13 AM on September 7, 2002


dobbs: thanks for bringing that up. I found it initially predictable but somewhat poignant. After it rattled on at least twice as long if not three to four times longer than it should have it became boring. However, it is minimalism and viable artistic expression. Just boring.
posted by shagoth at 8:26 AM on September 7, 2002


I think this minimalist approach is possibly the most evocative they could have chosen given the degree of contrast between a tribute of this type and the sort of tribute the BOOM CRASH media circus BOOM CRASH is winding up towards.

Thanks for the link, Soliloquy!
posted by Fezboy! at 9:39 AM on September 7, 2002


It's the sort of art that lets you fill in the blanks. One of the things I like about well done minimalism. It's boring if that's what you bring to it. If you make the connections on your own you'll get more out of it. Do the falling pieces of paper look like fall leaves? Floating angels? What does it bring to mind for you? I especially liked the separate pieces that are shown on their own. Does an empty charred piece of paper that was to be used as a "while you were out" phone answering message contain special meaning now after Nine Eleven? Perhaps not if one finds stuff like this boring, but to those who can bring creativity and can connect the dots of their own imagination, it could mean a lot.

Ultimately, BMG offer their audience something that the mass media's not going to do very often this weekend. BMG has created a audio/visual presentation in memoriam of this anniversary which does not overtly judge or press certain opinions upon the viewer. It lets you decide for yourself what it means.

Think of it this way. If on opposite sides of the continent, George W. Bush & Osama Bin Laden each looked at this BMG presentation simultaneously on their respective laptops, they'd see remarkably different things, and that to me is a sign of good art.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:18 AM on September 7, 2002


ZachsMind: If on opposite sides of the continent, George W. Bush & Osama Bin Laden each looked at this BMG presentation simultaneously on their respective laptops...

are you telling me that Osama Bin Laden is in California?!

Seriously, though, I fully agree with what you had to say. It's a thought-provoking work, which unfortunately is probably exactly why we won't see something like it on the anniversary specials. Sad, really.
posted by textureslut at 10:59 AM on September 7, 2002


...but to those who can bring creativity and can connect the dots of their own imagination, it could mean a lot.

Well put, ZachsMind.

It made me think of how pissed off I get when I misplace an important document at work or home. It can ruin my day. The video was just another reminder to me of what's really important in my life, and it's not the papers on my desk. But just think, man, each one of those papers that blew into Brooklyn meant something to someone. Every single one. I don't know, I tend to think that minimalist art is usually posing a question, not trying to give answers. If anyone looks for answers in a piece like Exhibit 13, they definitely might find it boring. I believe the only true way to appreciate art, especially minimalism, is to try and run the gamut of the creator's mind. Try to relate, you know. After all, art wouldn't exist without a relationship of some sort, would it?
posted by BirdD0g at 11:22 AM on September 7, 2002


It needs time to create its emotional space. The rhythm changes with a 'bridge' of sorts as the papers come down in waves, and the final lone paper blowing down is poignant. They hold back till the end the sheets with edges burnt away, and near the end one marked with the name of Cantor Fitzgerald. I don't see how it was too long.

I think you do need to close off distractions before watching it.
posted by dhartung at 12:41 PM on September 7, 2002


It could be considered as minimalist art, but as a tribute to the victims, I just can't see it. As tributes, the overdone media coverage succeeds far better, at least focusing on the heroic, or at least admirable actions of the victims.
posted by daveg at 1:23 PM on September 7, 2002


I don't see how it was too long.

i didn't think it was too long. i just thought that it could have been shorter (or longer) and people would have reacted the same way. this, to me, is a sign of bad art. the piece itself is no more effective then the idea that spawned it: "Hey! What if we show pieces of white paper drift down in front of a pure black background as percussive music plays!"

I don't know, I tend to think that minimalist art is usually posing a question, not trying to give answers. If anyone looks for answers in a piece like Exhibit 13, they definitely might find it boring.

i wasn't passing judgement on minimalist art, but on this particular piece. i prefer art that asks questions rather than answers them. this piece, however, did nothing of the sort. the only thing that ran thru my head when watching it was David Sedaris' essay 12 Moments in the Life of an Artist: "The girl standing in front of the delicatessen stoops to tie her shoe. I watch as farther down the block a white-haired man tosses a business card into the trash. I turn for a moment at the sound of a car alarm and then continue along my way, unencumbered. No one expects me to applaud or consider the relationship between the shoelace and the white-haired man. The car alarm is not a metephor, but just an unrehearsed annoyance."

to each his own, i suppose. but to me, a criteria for whether a work asks good questions or not (or even asks them at all) would be that multiple people viewing it hear the same questions being asked by it. this is what happens when art meets you half way and vice versa. in this case, the piece stayed at home and i walked all the way over. worse, when i rang the bell, it didn't even answer.
posted by dobbs at 2:23 PM on September 7, 2002


daveg: "..but as a tribute to the victims, I just can't see it."

It's not a tribute to victims. It's an artistic response to the event, but doesn't try to glamorize or demonize anything or anyone. It simply is, just like the towers themselves and the pieces of paper and the desks and chairs and soda machines and elevators and water fountains... all those things simply WERE. They were just there. Some appreciated them. Some found the towers an eyesore on the skyline. Others just took their presence for granted.

Now all that's left is a crater and these pieces of paper. Why should this be a tribute to the victims? Art doesn't have to glamorize or demonize anything. It doesn't have to rip your heart out and pound it into the dirt. It doesn't have to give you warm fuzzies or make you wanna chew nails.

Art does generally make us feel, but really good art makes us think. That's what makes this good art.

dobbs: "i prefer art that asks questions rather than answers them. this piece, however, did nothing of the sort."

I differ in opinion.

What value did these pieces of paper have before September 11th?
What value do they have now?
Why would this same presentation have been unthinkable prior to last year?
Do these pieces of paper really have value?
Did they before?
To whom?
The papers that we push back and forth day in and day out in our daily lives, what value do they have?
The pieces of paper littering your desk... Post it notes you have sticking to your computer... Dollar bills in your pocketbook... Checks in the mail...
What if an airplane hit wherever you are RIGHT NOW?
What value would that paper have then?
What value should it have?
If there's no value, why do we invest so much time in them when they're alive, and why are they useful as an artistic form of expression after so many have died?

I think it asks a lot of questions.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:27 PM on September 7, 2002


I have been a Blue Man fan for years, and this level of intelligence and evocative imagery is exactly what I would expect from them, their stage how while not intended to be as serious as this subject matter does make you think and it extremely visual in so many ways. They are more than blue drummers with confetti. They are real artists.

(And I hate to say that because it sounds so fakey and snobby, but it's true. When I saw them origianlly in Vegas we weren't expecting to be so bowled over by the sheer experience of it. Mind blowing is the only term, and they like messing with your mind too.)
posted by Dome-O-Rama at 4:18 PM on September 7, 2002


zachsmind, i appreciate your pov, but the piece just didn't ask those questions for me. perhaps because i don't push papers for a living specifically because i've asked those questions of myself prior to chosing how i wanted to spend my life, professionally.

i'll grant that the perspective of someone who daily encounters "to do" lists (or whatever) that really have nothing to do with them, personally, may view the piece differently.

as i said, to each his (or her) own.
posted by dobbs at 5:26 PM on September 7, 2002


This is a multi-person post by several members of Blue man group. We have really enjoyed reading this very thoughtful intelligent discussion of our work(including Dobbs!).
You know, we don't even think too much about making art. We just try to make experiences that will resonate on some level with some people. Given the incredible range of humanity, how could something we made resonate with everyone?
posted by chrismattphil at 6:42 PM on September 7, 2002


Right Zach. I tried to get into it. And believe me, 'round this time of night I slip in and out of the things one can get into with ease. But, your editorialization of the piece makes me no longer neutral, but rather, annoyed by its length and the immediate obviousness of what the papers represented. I did like your rationale of Osama bin Laden and Bush simultaneously viewing the piece and having different emotional epiphanies (they're probably both shallow enough to have one apiece). But c'mon. I got the point right off. I personally was awaiting something more poignant, something I'd never thought of before. That's art.

I mean shit, in this article (discussed here) it is written that they found pieces of engine and plane some six blocks(?) from the WTC. Now those things plummeting through the air, almost as perhaps the overlooked tragedy of this whole caper, is what got me thinking. Sure, not really the formal art, compliments of chrismattphil, but the randomness, but not all that random at all insofar as physics go, of being struck some ways away, perhaps even feeling relatively safe after watching the impact, but being struck by a piece of Boeing Jet a few moments after. We all knew that there were all kinds of papers in the WTC, but what many of us didn't quite fathom was the flying debris not confined to Ground Zero.

Does anyone have links to stories of the random 9-11 jet shard that might have done something to someone fairly distant from the site?
posted by crasspastor at 7:48 PM on September 7, 2002


I just woke my husband up to watch this.

It's an amazing piece of work, which I intend to pass along.
posted by SuzySmith at 4:57 AM on September 8, 2002


Finally! A piece about Sept 11 that doesn't tell you how to feel! I can't even turn on my TV because I'm sick of hearing about The Terror, The Horror. We were all there, we've all seen the buildings collapse at least a dozen times by now. Did we ever need a commentator to tell us a tragedy was taking place?

(/rant)

Truly, I really like this. As much as I agree with Zach's opinion of the questions it raises, I have to admit I immediately fell into a simpler line of thought. For me these papers are disrupted lives, a few at first, with the initial crashes, then many more falling, as the buildings fell.
posted by Miss Beth at 7:27 AM on September 8, 2002


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