David Bowie is: an experience. On entering ACMI, you get the sense you’re about to be a part of something big. It feels exclusive. As you descend into the depths of the building, you are suddenly immersed in the crazy world that is David Bowie.
The show is curated in such a way that you are the master of your own experience. The audio guide moves at your pace, automatically playing as you reach each section in your own time. Adding a unique dimension, the freedom to linger, move on, or revisit your favourite aspect of the show is refreshing.
Focusing on Bowie’s influences, processes and collaborations, it’s clear that David Bowie is an innovator. He follows and honours existing trends, but mobilises them to become newly articulated ideas. He characterises artforms and gives voice to movements, normalising social challenges. Throughout the show, it is inspiring to see examples of Bowie’s use of performance art, painting and literary influences. Bowie has often spoken of his use of the cut-up technique, disseminated by William S Burroughs in the late 1950s. In the 1990s, Ty Roberts created the ‘Verbasizer’ for Bowie, allowing him to take to technology to extend on this technique:
The exhibition culminates in a loud, intense space showcasing Bowie’s performances. Never at any point during the show do you feel like you must find some kind of chronological thread to better understand Bowie. The final space is not a conclusion, it’s a celebration.
A word of warning: book in advance. Even if you plan ahead, the exhibition is packed. While you might miss some of the memorabilia shrouded by crowds three people deep, you undoubtedly come away with an overwhelming sense of the creative power of the Bowie machine.
David Bowie is: showing at ACMI until 1 November 2015.