The MUSCO Story: 1969-1997

Michael Smith and Joshua White
1997, 5:44 min, color, sound

Originally an element of the 1997 installation MUSCO: 1969-1997, this tape purports to be the 1984 video documentation of a fictitious lighting design company with origins in the psychedelic oil-projection shows of the late '60s. Director Joshua White draws on his own experience designing light-shows at the Fillmore East club; his archival photographs lend an authenticity to Smith's role as the founder and owner of MUSCO. Smith, employing his signature deadpan irony, styles his affably sincere MUSCO owner, "Mike Smith," as a late-night infomercial salesman. The carefully constructed amateurism, a pounding synth-track, and flat studio lighting yield a hilariously accurate simulation of a low-budget commercial circa 1984. The interplay of histories — authentic and forged — with the myths of both "the Sixties" and "the Eighties," invokes a nostalgia for something that never existed.

MUSCO: 1969 - 1997, the installation project by Smith and Joshua White, was originally exhibited at Lauren Wittels in New York. By Michael Smith and Joshua White. Editor: Al Arthur. Graphic Design: Karen Heimann. Camera: Michael Gitlin, Martin Meyer. Narrator: Garry Goodrow. Script Consultant: Colleen Growe, CMG Productions, NYC. MUSCO Installation Lighting Design: Stan Pressner. Scenic Design: Jack Chandler. Production Assistants: Kira Dixon, Gavin Russom. Edit Facility: The Outpost, Brooklyn, NY.