In 1972, Miles Davis recorded and released “On the Corner,” a record that garnered great scorn from jazz critics. It was admonished for its Sly-inspired funk rhythms, Hendrix-level electrification and elements of a newly emerging electronic music. Though it confused jazz aficionados, rock critics dug it. “On the Corner” went on to influence a new generation of makers — from post-punk, to disco, to globalized pop.
The album served as inspiration years later for the black Canadian artist Stan Douglas in making his six-hour, one-minute video work “Luanda-Kinshasa” (2014), currently on view at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. In the epic six-hour loop, a camera pans around a recording studio showing an ensemble of musicians jamming grooves similar to this period of Davis’ output.
Though it might seem like it at first, the piece is not merely about the generic ruptures happening in music; it also highlights the context in which these cultural shifts were taking place. The social, political and economic atmospherics of the early ’70s have great resonance in today’s struggle to make black lives matter, as well as the changes happening in modes of production and consumption. “Luanda-Kinshasa,” a digital work housed on an Apple Mac mini, was acquired by both the PAMM and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and thus represents the shifts happening in art as well.