Since its launch in August 1981, MTV has come to be known as the cutting edge leader in what is current in pop culture. From videos, award shows, to reality television, MTV surpasses other channels with innovation. Along with the standard programming the channel has come to be known for, MTV is entering the world of contemporary art.
MTV commissioned Billy the Artist to paint his signature murals in the house for their new show Band in a Bubble. The show premiered May 24th and chronicled the band Cartel for three weeks as they recorded their new album. There were 23 cameras located throughout the bubble. Millions of viewers watched the show and were able to witness Billy’s unique and dynamic murals and art panels. Billy also created special bathrooms for the bubble.
In May MTV hosted Art Battles, a live-art competition created by Sean Bono in 2001. The key of Art Battles is that it is the art equivalent to spontaneous combustion on canvas. Whatever is stimulated in the brain, flows from the mind, and appears as brushstrokes. Whoever is the better that day walks away with the crown. Twelve artists came together on the outdoor deck at MTV’s studio in Time Square to recreate their own rendition of the classic MTV logo. The only words to describe the event itself are freestyle hysteria. Ben Angotti, Brian Ermanski, Concep, Kevin Ragnott, Leif McIlwaine, Megan Whitman, and Nick Poe were the eight finalists chosen to move on to the finals and received the opportunity to have their pieces viewed by all who passed through Times Square.
The public were the judges, voting online at MTV.com for their favorite interpretation of the world renowned network logo. After weeks of pedestrians viewing replicas of the artists’ works hanging on the shades of MTV’s studio and online voting, it was time to for the votes to be tallied and the winner to be crowned. On June 11th the winner was announced live on TRL. Concep reigned victorious winning the first Art Battles on MTV.
MTV is the Mecca for Generation X and Y as far as what is new and hot. The channel has been responsible for launching and sustaining the careers of the pop world’s most notable faces. The wonderful thing about MTV becoming involved in a project such as Art Battles or showcasing the work of Billy the Artist on one of their shows is that a whole new audience has been introduced to the world of contemporary art. Millions of viewers have seen the emerging of new artists on the scene. Hopefully this will not be MTV’s last foray into the realm of contemporary art scene and MTV can bring exposure to these underground artists as it did for Hip Hop in the late ‘80s.
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Afrika Brown is a published poet and freelance writer in New York City.
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