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Life is a mystery...

Long before MTV was a wasteland of hot tubs and spray tans, there was a little cultural phenomenon known as the music video. But it seems reality TV did not kill the video star; instead, the art form has found a more freeing home on the Internet.

Spectacle: The Music Video” follows that very evolution.

Before even entering the large gallery space, we heard Kanye West’s “Runaway” blaring, and after turning a corner, we came upon a wall-sized projection of the 34-minute music video (okay, “short film”). But that was just the beginning of a visual feast of more than 300 videos and installations--some large-scale projections in full, others shuffled in clips on smaller TVs with individual headphones.

Grouped by topic--such as body language (naturally including Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies”) or creative filming (like the White Stripes’ Legos-themed “Fell in Love with a Girl”)--the videos and historic props demonstrate the artistic and technical progression over the last 35 years.

For us, the main highlight was simply nostalgia overload. (You try watching “Like a Prayer” without openly belting it out, karaoke-style.) But while controversy has had its moments from the beginning, it’s the digital-age advancement that will really open your eyes.

Through June 16; Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Ave. (at 36th St.), Astoria; 718-777-6888 or

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