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Young Artists Envision Karaoke Videos as Installation Art

Karaoke was an artform for the masses this past weekend at Red Bull Studios.
June 15, 2015, 8:45pm
Ryder Ripps. Photo by Jeff Thibodeau/Red Bull Content Pool

Whether it's performing “Single Ladies” with friends in a tiny windowless room in Koreatown or free-verse spitting “Don’t Stop Believing” in your bedroom, it's an undeniable fact that karaoke brings art to the masses. Combining song, dance, and some very strange background videos, it's like an interactive experience in which everyone can participate—no matter how well you can scream-sing Billy Joel–and still feel embarrassed in the morning. Over the past weekend, thanks to CKTV, our favorite cringe-worthy pastime got an art world makeover with a collection of karaoke videos created by a motley slew of emerging contemporary artists including Elizabeth Jaeger, Rachel LibeskindNicholas Buffon, and more.


Established in 2012 by artist Chris Rice and Cleopatra's Gallery, the project has been shown at the 2012 Shanghai Biennale, Jon Santos, and Peter Coffin's The Last Weekend happening in upstate New York, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and continues to add artist-made videos to it’s roster. Rice and fellow artist Joe Kay presented the newest videos from CKTV in a raucous live karaoke event held at The Gift Shop at Red Bull Studios, where artists sang along with their videos and invited the crowd to choose their own song from the catalog and join in on the embarrassment.

Below, check out the videos from the new edition of CKTV:

From Oasis’s Don’t Look Back in Anger paired with a video by Ben Rayner of a joyful Corgi prancing around a dog park, to the Ying Yang Twins’ already disturbing Whisper Song set to a nightmarish collection of Barney footage created by Tin Nguyen, the art videos where as diverse as the song choices. Shifting from nostalgia, to net art, to documentary film aesthetics, the videos challenge the song lyrics in unexpected and refreshing ways. Though they can be experienced as standalone art pieces, it’s no doubt that the interactive atmosphere of karaoke is as important to the videos as the songs they are paired with. During Micaela Carolan & Victoria Campbell of PRO SHOP’s video for Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen, artists James Sprang and Kenya Johnson rapped and twerked in front of vintage footage of beautiful, ethereal women frolicking in daisy fields and lavish bedrooms, a juxtaposition that highlighted both the lyrics and the images in a context outside the rap video paradigm. “The project really started out of a desire to create a framework for a screening of artist's works that was less formal and more democratic and social than a more traditional screening,” says Rice—and the project is anything but traditional: With an ever-growing catalog of karaoke art videos and an interactive medium that will never go out of style, we’re hoping for a full time CKTV karaoke bar. That way, if we’re going to make fools ourselves, at least we can say it's for the sake of art.


Andrea Arrubia. Photo by Jeff Thibodeau/Red Bull Content Pool

JT. Photo by Jeff Thibodeau/Red Bull Content Pool

Ben Rayner. Photo by Jeff Thibodeau/Red Bull Content Pool

Joe Kay, Ben Rayner, Chris Rice. Photo by Jeff Thibodeau/Red Bull Content Pool


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