Go Ask Alice

Never seen this poster before but Dangerous Minds posted it and you can watch the film on YouTube if LSD frightspoiltation films are your thing. Whenever I see the name Alice associated with LSD I’m reminded of the Kenny Everett jingle he once did… KE – Alice D
*UPDATE* Seems that this poster was made by Markey Funk in 2006, for Agitpop Records – not for the film at all. It was for a psychedelic mix and here’s it is in three parts with additional info – well worth a listen.

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Shepard Fairey ‘Sound & Vision’ – StolenSpace, London

Obey-Sound-and-Vision-London-invite-flatI finally got to see the Shepard Fairey ‘Sound & Vision’ show at StolenSpace over the weekend and it is highly recommended. There was a vast amount of work pitched between two galleries with a shop in between for good measure and as a body of work it’s very impressive. I’ve been a fan since seeing his early paste ups in New York in the mid 90’s and attended his first London show in ’99 at the Horse Hospital. That he was doing a music-themed show was music to my ears (sorry), given that he’s designed sleeves and videos for a number of acts over the years and knows the language, always inserting musical icons into his work. For those that know Fairey’s style – it’s not a massive departure visually, the red, cream and black colour scheme dominates throughout and that’s fine because it’s a classic. He really doesn’t need to mess with the formula as there’s more than enough here to see and it gives everything a certain coherence.

He’s experimented with other ways of presenting though, a series of A2 images are repeated on brushed metal in one part of the gallery and there’s an underlying collage feel to some of the pieces where he’s pasted several layers of paper together before printing over the top, much like the fly-postered surfaces he goes over on the streets. Elsewhere multiple copies of the same print have been dissected, mixed up and reassembled so that geometric patterns are present from the different print and paper colours. These are stunning to see in the flesh, like some ancient scrolls unearthed from an Eastern archive, each one is dirty as if layers of varnish and glue have been applied and their edges remain ragged. Elsewhere he has ‘retired’ stencils pasted into collages, edges thick with paint and given a new lease of life as the tools become exhibits in their own right.

The part of the show that I thought most successful was the gallery with the records in racks, (part of Fairey’s own collection), customised turntables and 12″x12″ prints. Copies of sleeves he’d designed were randomly inserted throughout the vinyl as well as a tantalising selection of 7″ custom ‘Obey Recordings’ laser-cut sleeves and record labels. These were beautiful objects and the fact that you could touch them just added to the experience, sadly they weren’t for sale and I wanted to steal one so badly but resisted. Various vintage record and tape players were dotted about with stencils and stickers added to personalise them in the Obey way, you could even play the records on some of the turntables which was a nice touch. A lot of the prints in this gallery were fictional Obey record sleeves using advertising logos and jargon from the classic Stereo Test record era mixed with Fairey’s usual propaganda-type slogans. There was repetition of the imagery but each design held it’s own and it was hard to pick a favourite as they were all beautiful. Above the record racks sat a wall of black & white gig posters, except they weren’t. Fairey had taken existing images and posters and retooled them with his own logos and messages and this is where I start to have issues with some of the work.

Before everyone pulls me up and says, “Shepard Fairey using other people’s work? surely not!? Next you’ll be telling me bears shit in the woods?” I’m pretty well versed in his history. He’s always appropriated the imagery of others, subverted existing logos and messages to his own needs, he’s by no means the first or the last to do this and various lawsuits have been filed as with any successful artist – ‘where there’s a hit there’s a writ’. The whole argument for and against appropriation could fill books and I’m not about to go into it at length here, also given that I use others materials in my own work there’s an element of the pot calling the kettle black. However I have my own yardstick for how much of something is used, abused or hinted at in any work and far too often he goes over the line with parts of his designs here. I find this work to be the weakest and it cheapens the rest of it somewhat as it’s a quick and easy thing to take an existing image or logo and reinterpret it – it’s lazy for the most part, a quick artistic crowd-pleaser.

I find it more interesting to take the benign and turn it into something beautiful by re-contextualising it like Warhol‘s Campbell’s Soup tins or Lichtenstein‘s comic art appropriations (although this still doesn’t discount the matter of copyright infringement). Fairey does this well with the various nods to the design language of 60’s and 70’s era record graphics: turntable speeds, 45 adapter shapes, retro fonts and patterns – you’ve seen it, or something like it, before but it’s not a complete rip. But by taking existing gig posters and redesigning them into more gig posters in his own image he’s not bringing anything new to the medium, just basking in the reflected glory of others’ work. Chuck D‘s Public Enemy logo is modified so that the silhouetted figure in the crosshairs now has a pasting brush, Lichtenstein’s pop art is parodied with a grenade as spray can adding an ‘er‘ to a ‘POW!’ speech balloon, Jamie Reid‘s ‘No Future’ Sex Pistols tour poster is modified and Joe Petagno‘s Motorhead logo is just used straight in a couple of pieces. Another one takes Jasper Johns‘ multi-layered number paintings as inspiration and just changes the typeface, again using the collaged bed for texture that worked far more successfully on the previously mentioned pieces where he’d used his own designs.

By parodying other artists’ work I feel Fairey is cheapening his own art, I think he’s better than this, well, I know he is because of all the other work in the show. It is littered with cultural bookmarks and (mostly Rock) icons – Joey Ramone, Lennon & Yoko, Lemmy, Iggy, Cash, etc. – again taken from existing (uncredited) photographs and homogenised in the clean, smoothed out style he made famous with his Obama ‘Hope’ poster. 80’s graffiti heroes like Haring and Basquiat feature alongside enough punk and post punk legends to fill an issue of Mojo. And that’s fine but I’m not sure what he’s trying to say by including these aside from the inherited ‘cool’ factor and the rebel nature of a lot of the subjects, linking into the subversive attitude and message in many of the other pieces no doubt. Grenades feature in several pieces and the grenade as spray can image from the ‘PowER’ piece is an extremely strong icon which he should revisit and exploit in future works rather than have relegated to a Lichtenstein pastiche.

I found the upstairs of the main Stolen Space gallery the most uneven of all the work including a few larger pieces that looked like they were experiments in a new direction but with little visual direction apparent. Interestingly, whilst virtually every piece had sold throughout the exhibition, these had not, possibly more due to their high price tag than the virtual absence of anything that said ‘Obey’ about them. It was this elevated section that seemed to have the left overs in it, odd sized pieces which didn’t fit elsewhere so had been clustered together when a few less and a bit more surrounding space would have given them more impact and taken any filler out. The best here were the retired stencils – one of his classic Andre The Giant with painting instructions – and the design for the show poster itself which greeted you when you walked in. Overall though there was way more good than bad and to have such high quality throughout with that number of pieces – there must have been around 200 or more – is some feat.

The show ends on Nov 4th so you have less than a week to check it out and we feature Z-Trip‘s soundtrack mix for the exhibition on this weeks Solid Steel.

 

Two nights with Trunk in London

Jonny Trunk that is, of Trunk Records. Here he is explaining the premise behind each night:

“Both in London. The first is this coming Friday, It’s called Out Of Order, it’s free to get in, myself and a fellow DJ Pingo, (one of the Moshi Moshi DJs) will be playing interesting records (1950 – 2011) in a small and strange bar / place / hangout on the corner of Old Street and Shoreditch High Street. 9pm until 2am.

And secondly, we have a new Vision On evening coming up, which is an excellent night to come along to and drink and draw and make things and stuff, and this time we are having a vague hospital theme, so expect paper bandages, cardboard crutches, eye patches, that sort of thing getting constructed. Again, it’s free to get in, and is on Wed 10th October at the Waiting Room in Stoke Newington.”

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Obey Sound & Vision at Stolen Space Gallery, London

Looking forward to this record sleeve-themed exhibition by Shepard Fairey in October at the Stolen Space Gallery.

“The Sound and Vision art show includes mixed media works on canvas weaving my social commentary with inspiration from a range of musicians, including the Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Gang of Four, the Clash, the Circle Jerks, Kraftwerk, Public Enemy, Neil Young, and Metallica. Sound and Vision will also include an installation of a record store environment, with customized vintage turntables and a portion of my own record collection for public listening. The record store space will also showcase over 80 12″x12″ images I’ve created as tributes to the 12″ LP sleeve. A comprehensive variety of other works will be featured, including screen prints on wood, metal, and paper; rubylith cuts; and retired stencils.”Shepard

More info here – exhibition runs from 19th Oct – 4th Nov, 2012.

Around Montreal last week

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog this past week as I’ve been away in Montreal doing the ‘Search Engine’ shows at the SAT (Société des Arts Technologiques), I fly back to the UK this evening so I’d like to share what I’ve seen and done all week. It’s three posts until the 1000th entry so I’ll set the scene before the big 1k reveal. First off, I’m sure anyone who’s visited Montreal will know that it’s a city full of great street art and unique architecture, once hosting Expo 67 (the Buckminster Fuller dome is still there if not in its former glory).

The view above was taken from the 15th floor of the CBC building (Canadian Broadcasting Company) where I was doing a mix for a late night show, Bande a Part, the Fuller dome is just out of shot on the righ. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to make it over to the old site but I’ll be back and then it’s top of the list. It’s impossible to walk around though without being confronted by huge murals, graffiti pieces or interesting signage, the best of which I’ve put in the small gallery here.

Pat Hamou, an old friend who worked for Ninja Tune North America and was responsible for suggesting this whole project to the SAT, had curated an exhibition of screen printed gig posters called Music On Paper which was held in the crypt gallery of a church. It’s just finished but there were some great posters on display including the one he designed for my gig.
The next two posts are quite content-heavy so I might not get time to post them before I leave, more when I return to the UK…

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Poster for the SATosphere shows

Only a week to go until the full dome shows at the SATosphere in Montreal and here’s a poster that Pat Hamou has worked up to be sold at the venue. These will be printed in metallics, can’t wait to see that!

*UPDATE: you can now purchase the remaining posters here from Pat via Etsy.

There’s still work to do before I press the final render button but here are some screen shots I’ve been posting on Facebook.

 

The Herbaliser – There Were Seven album

The Herbaliser return on October 8th with their 7th album proper, (not including Session 1&2, Herbal Blend, Herbal Tonic etc.), ‘There Were Seven’. There’s a loose concept at work within the album, which I don’t want to give away too much of but there are a myriad of clues in the titles, lyrics and graphics to a narrative that runs through much of the album.

I’ve kindly been asked back to design the record, which will be available on vinyl, CD and download plus a very limited special vinyl package from their own Dept. H label. Full details of the ltd. vinyl are yet to be finalised but even the standard vinyl will be a special package and I’m looking forward to getting that one back from the printers.

The album features vocals from MCs Ghettosocks, Muneshine, Timbuktu, George The Poet and vocals from Hannah Clive. A promo single, ‘The Lost Boy‘ will be doing the rounds soon with remixes forthcoming from The Colman Brothers, 2econd Class Citizen and more…

Prometheus fan art

Fan art for a film yet to be released – but obviously with a long legacy to live up to.

The first illustration above did the rounds nearly a year ago it seems, masquerading as concept art. Nice image in an intriguing ‘what if?’-type way and a decent illustration too.

The image to the left was made into a mock film poster using a similar illustration of the Space Jockey sans gun / steering wheel / whatever it is he’s sitting in.

Then there’s Midnight Marauder, whose tumblr is full of poster and DVD covers, both real and fake, for films like Prometheus, Alien and Aliens and Blade Runner. There’s so much good stuff on there, take a look.

 

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More posters from Scraffer

Yet another batch of posters arrived from Scraffer (via Henry Flint) to be signed and then sent out to buyers. Above is a small selection of doodles by Henry for the Madman’ print, of which every one has its own bespoke illustration by Henry inside the thought bubble. I think these are close to selling out now whilst the ‘Life Cycle of a Machine’ print is definitely sold out – don’t worry if you ordered and didn’t receive one yet, I just signed the last batch. The ‘Cosmonaut’ print below is also still available as we made that in a higher run.