Submarine Channel

2Pause: A Music Video To Make You Think

We don’t get this very often – a music video that doubles as an activist visual essay that first and foremost makes you think.

Frequent visitors of 2Pause already know that that a music video can be so much more than merely a promotional vehicle to boost record sales. In our humble opinion, The music video “Literal” for The Calm Blue Sea by Paul Beck is nothing short of a work of art. And a very intriguing piece at that. With “Literal,” Beck challenges the very essence of the music video medium (promote music, sell records). Rather than aiming to be contemporary or ‘cool’ or fashionably weird and seduce the viewer with stylish visuals, the Texas-based visual artist uses the visual vocabulary and methodologies from the history of (activist) media art to challenge the viewer head-on to reflect on our daily consumption of “media.” Beck confronts the viewer with a disturbing juxtaposition of actual war footage and appropriated images taken from vintage TV commercials featuring happy consumers. Their faces are blotted out. The superimposed crosshatches and cartoon characters add another layer of meaning.

Says Beck on IFC, where the video premiered on September 13, a decade after 9-11:

The video is meant to leave the viewer with the feeling of a visual wave washing the soul, then the emptiness that follows a parade (…) What is a parade, or an anniversary, but a moment of distraction that leaves you just where you were before, unless you use it as an opportunity to reflect?








Edouard Salier