Sunday, July 27, 2014

Jack White's Vescovo video explained

Jack White fans will remember the Vescovo & Co Clinic for Contagious Diseases gig on July 2nd in London.  Third Man Records describes it this way

Last night at midnight in Central London, Jack White played a secret show in the basement of a disused office block, to fans clad entirely in powder blue medical gowns.
The event was a collaboration between Jack and the Punchdrunk Theatre Group who had temporarily transformed the space into the Vescovo & Co Clinic for contagious diseases, and had staffed this fake medical facility with dozens of their actors playing the roles of doctors, nurses and orderlies at the time of a disease outbreak. 
Drawing on the themes of Jack White's current album, 'Lazaretto', a term used to describe a quarantine island, the experience began with an elaborate online treasure hunt. A spoof medical infomercial from 1949 appeared in the archives of online medical resource The Wellcome Trust, which contained various obtuse clues that led Jack's superfans to a website belonging to the fake medical company, Vescovo & Company. Thousands of fans submitted their details to this website as part of an online screening for a contagious disease. A lucky few progressed through the screening process that lead to them receiving a telephone call from Punchdrunk actors inviting them to an out-of-hours appointment at the Vescovo Clinic. The clinic had been created for this one occasion by Punchdrunk Theatre across multiple floors of a disused building owned by The Vinyl Factory.
On arrival, fans were asked to change in to blue medical gowns before being subjected to a variety of treatments testing in a maze of medical rooms staffed by Punchdrunk actors. Chaos descended as an outbreak alarm was raised and terrified fans were herded into a smoke filled quarantine chamber. Finally a screen was dropped to reveal Jack and band in full medical uniform who proceeded to belt out a thirty minute set before Jack himself succumbed to the mysterious disease. The rock star fell to the ground in a fit of convulsions before being strapped to a stretcher and wheeled off to a waiting ambulance.
As the press release states, one of the items in the online treasure-hunt for clues on how to win attendance was "a spoof medical informercial...appeared in the archives of...the Wellcome Trust".

I wondered how a record company could get a spoof video into a medical resource library.

The infamous video.

The US musician Jack White (formerly of the White Stripes) recently launched a new album, ‘Lazaretto’. Lazaretto is also the name given to maritime quarantine stations typically in the Mediterranean with many being established during the time of Venetian mercantile domination. Some were associated with the slave trade and others with leper colonies.
He got in touch with the Wellcome Library through a production company, Nomad, about a secret gig he planned for fans on 2 July whilst on tour in the UK (just after he played at Glastonbury).Punchdrunk who produce immersive theatre were engaged to create a one-off event themed around the idea of a lazaretto and contagion.
The producers at Nomad had already selected one of our videos – How to Mask (above) – and re-edited it. They made the highly unusual request of asking us to ‘hide’ their video on our youtube channel. In the accompanying metadata we were provided with, there was a link to what turned out to be a ‘fake’ pharmaceutical company, Vescovo & Co, and people who navigated to this website were invited to register for unspecified medical experiments. After some discussion around the value of our contribution, we were keen to get involved in a project that used our content so creatively and we agreed to go ahead and host the new video called How to Stop Contagion part III, Vescovo & Co (1948).
Nomad agreed to let me attend the event.
So I guess the answer was: We got bribed by a chance to go to a Jack White/Punchdrunk happening.  And there was "some discussion around the value of our contribution", whatever that means.

The blog goes on to describe what a fun time they had.  They also embed the original film that was edited to form the Vescovo&Co video. I can't seem to embed it here, but it's worth a trip to their blog to see it and the rest of the write up.

Edit to add: It's hardly possible to use an ampersand on blogger without the html "amp:" appearing after it. I'll try to wipe it out but it will keep coming back.


KaliDurga said...

Ah, very good sleuthing!

Lyle Hopwood said...

Actually, I feel a bit guilty as it was CaseOfThePunks who brought it to my attention. So, belatedly, hat tip to COTP. TX!


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