13 Jul The King’s Mouth
Ogden Contemporary Arts: King’s Mouth by Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips
Wayne Coyne is an artist and musician known for his elaborate stage shows and surrealist song writing as lead singer of The Flaming Lips. As conceptual designer and creator of the band’s theatrical concerts, Coyne’s creativity on stage translates directly into his work as a visual artist. Throughout his career he has created enduring album art, drawn comic books, directed films and music videos, and even opened a funhouse-style arts venue known as “The Womb,” in his hometown of Oklahoma City. This experimental art space is where his audiovisual art installation, King’s Mouth, began to take shape, evolving into what it is today. Coyne describes the King’s Mouth experience as an art adventure for all ages, born from the same immersive qualities and childlike wonder as a Flaming Lips live performance.
“It is impossible to just be an onlooker or a passive audience member at a Flaming Lips show and the same is true of the King’s Mouth,” states Coyne. “It can be a shockingly emotional and fun experience, or (depending on your state of mind upon entering it) a hypnotic therapy session.”
The King’s Mouth has traveled to cities across the country, exhibited with a series of multi-media art pieces created by Coyne to illustrate the King’s fantastical story. The installation is a monumental, tree-like head in glistening chrome, with an open mouth and extended tongue that beckons visitors inside for an all-encompassing sensory experience. LED light strands rain from above, pulsing with instrumental music created by the band specifically for the experience.
“The throb and pulse of the lowest frequencies (in the music) being pumped through powerful, loud subwoofers (around the perimeter of the Mouth) were made to possibly elicit universal physical memories of a mother or father’s heartbeat,” states Coyne. “It is a wordless story told with magic L.E.D lighted vines that move, dance, blink, and swirl in space and dimensions.”
The King’s story unfolds through Coyne’s original drawings, which ultimately inspired the lyrics of The Flaming Lips’ 2019 album of the same name. Coyne composed the drawings as if they were fragments from a dream, completing them sporadically in hotel rooms, recording studios, tour buses and his kitchen table in Oklahoma City. He completed the full series over a two-month period that preceded his first exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Working on such a concise time frame allowed Coyne to release inhibitions and create the work instinctually; the result is a connected series reflective of a specific time, mood and style for the artist. The narrative is, according to Coyne, a “slightly bizarre, psychedelic story for children, or adults with childlike imaginations.”
OCA is proud to feature this significant installation for its accessibility as an art form, and for its importance in Coyne’s ever expanding career and artistic visions. “With the King’s Mouth I believe I started to make art that ALSO has a presence,” he says. “Art that has a feel to it. Art that has a smell to it. Art that has a temperature. Art that engages all the senses, and, hopefully, sparks a sense of wonder.”
Ogden Contemporary Arts is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that creates and shares globally influenced, culturally diverse, and technologically advanced arts programing in Ogden, Utah. OCA’s vision is to inspire local and regional artists through active involvement with the international contemporary art community. OCA strives to be viewed as a credible and internationally respected art establishment while empowering artists with the facilities, environment and experience to excel in their medium and enrich their lives.
-Kelly Carper, Art Writer
Thank you to Weber County RAMP for making this show possible.