David Byrne: E.E.E.I. (Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information)

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9783882439076: David Byrne: E.E.E.I. (Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information)

For more than a year, David Byrne has been employing the ubiquitous sales and presentation program PowerPoint as an art medium. E.E.E.I (Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information) is a book of images and essays, plus a DVD which plays 5 of his PowerPoint presentations accompanied by original music. The book component contains a dozen new exploratory texts and a whole lot of bold, graphic images created with the help of PowerPoint's built-in tools and visuals--not to mention the fun of plastic overlays and nifty foldout pages. And you may ask yourself, what is the meaning of this? And you may ask yourself, what is this about? It is about taking subjective, even emotional, information and presenting it in a familiar audiovisual form--using a medium in a way that is different, and possibly better, than what was intended. It is about appropriating a contemporary, corporate staple and making something critical, beautiful and humorous with it.

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Review:

David Byrne is the only rocker who could have imagined turning Microsoft PowerPoint into an art form. When Time put Byrne on the cover in 1986, the title was aptly, "Rock's Renaissance Man." Indeed, the one-time lead singer/architect of The Talking Heads composes operas, symphonies, and soundtracks, made a film (True Stories), and was a wunderkind video artist and designer (Time even let Byrne create his cover). Byrne's oddly-titled 2003 coffee table book ("epistemological" is a philological look at the origin, methods, and limits of human knowledge) is new version of mixed media, a rough dissertation on a visual, universal language. Bryne mixes the familiar images of a PowerPoint presentation out of the norm, be it a complicated flow chart or altered icons. The message is blurred at times (as with the title, big words prevail), but the project takes a fuller form on the accompanying DVD that's region-free with NTSC and PAL formats, making it playable practically around the world. The five presentations (approximately 25 minutes in all) are accompanied by original musical compositions. Byrne plays the usual patterns of PowerPoint--overlays, swipes, and fades--resulting in an intriguing art exhibition that could even play on a laptop computer with DVD-ROM drive. The least interesting chapter of the book ("Physiognomies") is the most moving piece on the DVD. The final result could be considered art, or just a high-minded swipe at the "Dilbert" office world that uses the program. Regardless, E.E.E.I. is a unique concept one might have to "stop making sense" and just enjoy the experience. --Doug Thomas

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Byrne, David
Published by Steidl/Pace/MacGill Gallery (2003)
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