Sunday 30 January 2011

Get lobbing

Claire bought me some of these for Christmas.

Great idea. And great graphics

Head on over to to watch some stop frame videos of seedboms in action, see a map of locations, and buy your own seedboms.

Get lobbing.

Saturday 29 January 2011

More exhibitioning…

2011 promises to be a year of major exhibitions, well 3 at least:

The Design Museum
30 March - 3 July
Wim Crouwel: A Graphic Odessy
Time your trip wisely and take in the Brit Insurance Design Awards at the same time.

Tate Britain
14 June - 4 September
The Vorticists: Manifesto for a Modern World

The V&A
24 September - 8 January 2012
Postmodernism: Style and Subversion

Ipswich Art School show at UCS

3 - 26 February

The Class Of…
An exhibition which celebrates the legacy of the Ipswich Art School through a mixed media show of past tutors. On at The Waterfront Gallery, University Campus Suffolk, Ipswich.

Sunday 23 January 2011

Hyper upload

I've just added two videos to Vimeo, Aggressor and Hyper Reality. Both were made in 2009 as additions to the projection Jason and I performed in front of for the last Pindown live outing in Colchester in the same year. The rest of the backdrop was made up of older pieces of motion I had made for a gig the previous year, as well as footage by long time collaborator Richard Rasu.

Of the older work I had produced for the backdrop, these were mostly culled from my existing foray into experimental film making; Back Chat, Contractual Freedom, and DigiDigitDigital, all of which are available to view on Vimeo in their original state.

These two pieces are not intended to be viewed as 'music videos' as they were created to be seen in a live environment, partly to add another dimension to the aural assault that was Pindown live, but mostly to take attention away from the fact that Jason and I weren't exactly a dynamic presence on stage. They have been added now, with the original recordings of the tracks as they appeared on our 2004 Democracy In Action release, as a document of work I've done to date. While this is something I've been meaning to do for ages, now that I look at these out of context of them being designed for a live environment, I'm not particularly keen on them although I do feel they suited their purpose at the time of their production.

Production note:
The reverse type in the Hyper Reality video is due to the fact we needed to project with the use of a mirror in order to get the visuals to fill the wall behind us when performing on such a small stage.


Thursday 20 January 2011

Korma karma harmer

Picture the scene; Claire and I decide on a Sunday night curry. We walk to our nearest take away, order, pay, and go across the road to the pub for a quick pint. Back to the take away 20 minutes later, we pick up curry and go home to enjoy.

But, in unpacking the curry from the brown paper bag, I find this hideous piece of insidious advertising visually mugging me at my own dinner table. It almost put me off my vegetable korma. Not only was I pissed off that our trusted local take away had stooped to such levels of income generation, I was also beside myself in terms of how it was such an inappropriate piece of advertising—it is suggesting that what I am about to eat is going to make my breath repulsive. Not a good advert for the food inside.

And that's before I even start discussing the crap graphics of cartoon vegetables.

I know take away restaurants are struggling at the moment because of the recession and that ad creep has been a common aspect of 21st century capitalist desperation, but this really did take me by surprise.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Bullshit detector

Just under a year ago I had a personal rant in a notebook about Guy Garvey of Elbow getting all precious about people downloading individual tracks from Seldom Seen Kid. At the time I thought about posting about it here but then got over it. Then today a similar rant raged through my head as I read an article on the BBC News website about a record club that believes albums have to be listened to in their entirety, as the artist intended. No skipping, no playing just one track, no playing out of order! They are proudly anti-download.

I felt the blood pressure rising. So in response, and as a cathartic act, I felt I had to post about such bullshit. Stop reading now if you are not in the mood for an opinionated rant.

So, first up, I've dug out my notebook from a year ago and here's what I wrote on 27 March 2010:
"Some may care that Elbow spent two hours in the studio arguing about whether the gap between tracks should be three seconds or two and a half. Fine, they can listen to the CD in its entirety. But there are a couple of tracks on Seldom Seen Kid that I really got into walking to work, a walk that is decidedly shorter than the album length. I kept repeating these tracks to concentrate on different aspects of the songs; the rhythm, the lyrics, the bass, the vocal intonation, etc… just as people have different learning styles, I believe people have different listening styles as well and it is up to the individual to decide how they listen to something. I'm a lover of the portable stereo, as it used to be called. From the age of 15 I don't think I've been anywhere without a walkman, minidisc or within the last 6 years, several generations of iPod. I used to love mix tapes, compilation CDs for the car and now shuffle and personal playlists. That is my choice."

But back to now:
I'm so tired of artists being so precious about their work. Let it go. People who know me well will agree this is a bit of a bug bear of mine, but what got me today with the article on the BBC News website was that it wasn't just the ego filled artist vomiting such pretensions, but pedantic listeners unleashing their fascistic world view of what constitutes an artistic experience, as if they have the right to make that call. For a start the argument is full of holes—artists don't write and record songs in the order they present them on a record, nor do they play a record live from start to finish (excepting the recent trend of 'classic' albums being performed in the whole as an obvious cash cow for ideas defunct performers to milk). Are these music Nazis really telling me that The Clash's Sandinista! isn't a better record when edited down to about 14 tracks? Or that The Beatles White Album isn't a far superior record without Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da confined to the trash? Is there really a Squarepusher CD that works from start to finish? (Leave it Roki!)

No artist or fan has the right to dictate how a work is consumed once it has been unleashed on the world. I've bought the license to listen to it, it is mine now. If a band wants to retain total control over their commodity then they shouldn't release it. Pompous precious fucking artists and their ego massaging hangers on really piss me off.

Right, that's got that out of my system.

BBC News Anti-shuffle brigade

Sunday 16 January 2011

Dubdog on Vimeo

I've been meaning to set up a Vimeo account for a while after I realised a few months ago that my Ourmedia files had broken links. Currently uploaded are Contractual Freedom (2006) and the second film I ever made, Back Chat (2005) which hasn't previously been available to view since it appeared in an exhibition 6 years ago. Unfortunately I've had to remove the audio from Back Chat for legal reasons, which makes it less effective, but as an exploration in the process of filming then refilming footage, it just about holds together.

In the near future I plan to post DigiDigitDigital, my 2007 film exploring digital delay, as well as films I made in 2009 that formed the backdrop for the last Pindown performance Jason and I did in Colchester.

These works are being posted to document an explorative process I went through several years ago. I currently have no plans to make any more films, although as I start to investigate MA courses to do in September, this may well change.


Tuesday 11 January 2011

January sleeves

One of the best presents I have ever been bought are 'Art Vinyl' frames for album sleeves. They were bought for me by my wife Claire approximately four or five years ago.

They currently reside just outside my studio door on the landing directly opposite our bathroom door. I probably look at these more than any other picture we have on the walls in our house. These frames tie together the two biggest obsessions of my life: music and graphic design. In fact, like many graphic designers, if it wasn't for record sleeves, I may not have ever got into graphic design in the first place.

When I still had my vinyl collection in our front room, Claire used to despair with the regularity I would change the sleeves in the frames. She would also curse the day she bought them because of the lengths I would go to to decide which albums to display. I'd pull sleeves out considering whether I picked a designer theme, a music theme, an image theme, a typographic theme or a tonal theme? That's the trouble with having three of something, they've either got to work together in some way, or be completely different from each other. There is also the dilemma of whether to display albums with great artwork but where the actual music may be somewhat suspect.

Now that we've relocated all my vinyl to the loft, I now change the artwork less regularly, but am known to disappear on a whim to hunt through the 1000+ records nesting amongst dusty sheep wool insulation. And sometimes I'm never happy with my first choice, often getting out the loft ladder two hours after a change in order to select a suitable companion for two sleeves after I've visually rejected the third.

Themes have included over the years; records with the track listing appearing on the front; an Iggy theme; an Iggy, Bowie, Lou Reed theme; a Barney Bubbles theme; a Peter Saville theme; a spelling mistake theme; a dub theme; a 2 Tone theme; a Wire theme; a Big Black theme; an abstract theme—I could continue, but I won't.

What can be really frustrating is when I find two sleeves that go together really well, but the third that would complete the triptych is not in my collection. I have been known to buy vinyl from Ebay, even though I don't have a record player any more, just so it could appear in these frames. I also haunt charity shop vinyl for the rare moment I might come across a rare Barney Bubbles or find the vinyl of More Specials I've been lusting after for years. I recently bought the 12" of Wire's 154 for £10, despite having it already on CD.

So, dear reader, I've decided I'm going to share with you my choices, as and when they happen. And first up is this little threesome I've selected for January. Chosen for their tonal similarities, typographic treatments and the fact they are all great albums.
Left to right they are:
Surfer Rosa by the Pixies. Design by Vaughan Oliver at 23 Envelope.
The Correct Use of Soap by Magazine. Design by Malcolm Garrett.
Bring The Couchie by Niney the Observer and Friends. Design by Intro, London.

Art Vinyl


McJunk featured on thenetwerk®, a photography research group formed by practitioners/lecturers in East Anglia.


Thursday 6 January 2011

Art, is this real?

This is Grapevine:

Grapevine is a monthly free gig listing guide found in pubs and venues across East Anglia, (well, Ipswich mostly).

This Is Real Art:

This is Real Art Showreel from This is Real Art on Vimeo.

This Is Real Art are are a design and advertising company based in London who work for such clients as Coca Cola, D&AD, Dept. for Transport, Economist, Manhattan Loft Corporation, MTV, Tate, Waterstones and a host of cultural and social organisations. You can see the sort of stuff from the showreel.

Good, aren't they!

This is a typical spread from Grapevine:

Hmmm, good isn't it.

This is an advert for a web developer that appeared in Grapevine this month (click on image for larger view):

This advert is for This Is Real Art.

This struck me as an odd placement as it caught my attention.

Then I realised it had caught my attention.

This then struck me as a very savvy placement—Ipswich: new University with creative courses; large BT tech outpost up the road in Martlesham; cheaper wage expectancy workforce outside of London; cheap ad rates in Grapevine, and many creatives in the town will leaf through Grapevine to scan what's happening locally gig wise, despite its obvious design acumen. Just as I do every month.

This Is Real Art

Tuesday 4 January 2011

First edition

I was relieved to return home to find the first edition of McJunk back from Blurb and all's well. I was slightly concerned that there might be reproduction issues after the 'preview' on Blurb made the book looked muted. So I turned off the preview, not wanting to put off potential buyers, and crossed my fingers.

Well the reproduction is as good as the test prints I got through last month so I'm not sure what's going on with the preview—I shall leave it turned off.

The design decisions I made after the test prints have also paid off. Dropping a couple of pt sizes on the text and knocking it back to 80% black was the right choice, as was removing the Polaroids.

All things considered, I'm generally pleased with the results. Now to save up some money to buy review copies to send out.

For more photos of the book, head over to the McJunk Facebook page.