This is perhaps one of the more esoteric pieces of art that musician/songwriter/photographer/Renaissance man David Byrne has put his name to. Considering Byrne's passion for the obscure, this is both inevitable and surprising. What is so surprising is that amongst a body of work so varied and eccentric, that this might be the most peculiar. Published by Todomundo in 2003, what is at first glance a weighty coffee table book (although not one about coffee tables) turns out to be a multimedia extravaganza, complete with DVD footage and original music from the man himself.
What EEEI satirises is the distinctive language and symbolism of commercial psychology and sociology, as seen through the lens of an advertiser's understanding of the world. Byrne does not seem to be attacking globalisation or corporate America directly. In fact, I am not certain he is attacking anything at all. His focus seems to be on creating art from the constituent parts of this culture. His chosen medium (aside from print), is in the form of PowerPoint presentations. Byrne has not adjusted the software in anyway, he even makes use of the images that come bundled with it. Meaningless line graphs, stacks of curved arrows pointing in multiple directions and empty speech bubbles in a variety of wood tones are the order of the day. Now and then, he inserts a piece of his own photography, and while this is of a high standard, it integrates very well with the blank, faceless ambiance that permeates EEEI. This is cold art, and intentionally cerebral. The music reflects Bryne's interest in Blip Hop, and is overtly mechanised and computerised.
Byrne's skills as an essayist have always been in making the absurd seem logical and the logical seeming absurd. The style is reminiscent of his earlier work, The New Sins, sending up corporate language in the same way that The New Sins parodied religious text. It is easy to make comparisons between the two. For one thing, TNS was small and fairly cheap, where EEEI is anything but. Amazon currently prices it at £40 ($50), so make no mistake, this is a David Bryne Collector's Item, no one will be picking this up at the supermarket or giving it in a Secret Santa. Where the main attraction of TNS was in Bryne's humorously warped world view, here it is his artwork that holds the centre of attention.
On account of the price, I can't openly recommend this to all. If your connection to the works of David Byrne is that you hum along with "Road To Nowhere" on the radio, that's terrific, but I would advise against investing in this. On the other hand, if you traveled a distance of over one 100 miles to purchase "Music For The Knee Plays" on vinyl (I admit to nothing!) then by all means, splash out on this beautiful hardback monstrosity.