Monday, 27 December 2010


Underworld's "Cowgirl" was released as a single in 1994 and is from their 1993 album dubnobasswithmyheadman. The video was produced by the design collective Tomato. Members of the collective are also members of Underworld.
Tomato is one of a number of design collectives that emerged in the early 1990s. Formed in ’91, Tomato is a “multidisciplinary studio and creative collective of designers, writers, typographers, film makers and musicians” (Livingstone, 2003 p.210).

It was established by “Steve Baker, Dirk van Dooren, Karl Hyde, Richard Smith, Simon Taylor, John Warwicker and Graham Wood, Jason Kedgley joined in 1994 and Michael Horsham in 1996” (Livingstone, 2003 p.210). Catherine McDermott also names Greg Rood and Steve Baker as members (1999 p.278).

Tomato. Dubnobasswithmyheadman by Underworld, 1993. Album cover.

Tomato has produced a number of record cover including the above one for Underworld. The style has been defined as “Grunge” design (Eskilson, 2007 p.374-375). While the band and the album’s name are legible the rest of the text is either reversed or overprinted. My interest here is with the energy of the design. The design seems to be full of mistakes and any “geometric clarity” is disrupted by the handprint” (Eskilson, 2007 p. 375). It’s layering, like that in collage and the combine (one thinks of cubism, Schwitters or Rauschenberg, or the computer graphics of Greiman), of type suggests a three-dimensional sculptural element that belies the flat surface of the cover” (Eskilson, 2007 p. 375). Does this point to a kind of a resolution to the issues of type and its representation in my own work?

Tomato Show Reel.

Above is a show reel of work by the design group Tomato uploaded by Ricardo Padua. The first piece of work is from 1993 and is a Radio Scotland television advert. To help attract listeners to the station Tomato combined “spoken words-snatches of the programmes- with moving type as subtitles” (McDermott, 1999 p.278).

McDermott, Catherine, 20th Century Design, Design Museum London: Carlton Books 1999

Christopher Isherwood

"I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording not thinking... Someday, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed."

Autumn 1930, Goodbye to Berlin p. 9


I am an eye. A mechanical eye. I, the machine, show you a world the way only I can see it. I free myself for today and forever from human immobility. I’m in constant movement. I approach and pull away from objects. I creep under them. I move alongside a running horse's mouth. I fall and rise with the falling and rising bodies. This is I, the machine, - manoeuvring in the chaotic movements, recording one movement after another in the most complex combinations.

Freed from the boundaries of time and space, I co-ordinate any and all points of the universe, wherever I want them to be. My way leads towards the creation of a fresh perception of the world. Thus I explain in a new way the world unknown to you.*

*From a manifesto written in 1923 by Dziga Vertov, the revolutionary Soviet film Director.

Quoted in John Berger’s Ways of Seeing (1972) p.17

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Shock of the New 1: Mechanical Paradise

The television series “Shock of the New” was first broadcast in 1980. The above episode was last broadcast in on Sat, 27 September 2008, at 20:00.

The series explores the development of modern art from 1880 to the present or at least to 1980 with the series and the first addition of the book based on the series. The first episode “Mechanical Paradise” (see above) shows how the development of technology transformed art and culture between the years 1880 and 1914. 

The key word was modernity and its emblem was the Eiffel Tower: its creator an engineer and not an architect.  This emblem signalled the end of one kind of history and the birth of another as the 19th moved into the 20th Century.

Hughes discusses Paul Cezanne and his works curious if sometimes contradictory relationship to Cubism. Hughes explores Cubism and its “inventors” Pablo Picasso and George Braque. Cubism according to Hughes was the first time artists confronted these cultural changes, shifts in contemporary philosophy and science and the birth of mass media. The transforming urban experience was explored by artists as diverse as Delaunay, Juan Gris and Leger and the poet Apollinaire.

The Marinetti and the Futurists seized upon the transforming poetry of the machine and speed, while the work of Picabia and Duchamp seem to suggest something less romantic about technology.

This episode concludes with the outbreak of World War One and the end of the hopes and dreams of the early machine age.

Presenter: Robert Hughes
Producer: Lorna Pegram

BBC Time-Life television series.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Virgin Airways Advert: "Still Red Hot!"

Another dose of retro-sexism?

Barrett, L (2009) “Do birthday ads lead to happy returns?” Guardian, 19 January.

Smith, Merryn. “Retrobigotry.” Online:

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Digital Collage

Christiane Paul points out that “digital technologies offer an extra dimension to the composite and collage”. That “extra dimension” lies in the capability to blend “disparate elements… more seamlessly”. The digital collage/image generally presents us with a “simulated form of reality” that “often constitute a shift from the affirmation of boundaries to their eradication” (2008, p.31).

Research, Research, Reasearch

Key concerns and further research:

The banal/banality
The Café
The Hub
The everyday
The utopian
Visual noise
Data world
Mass communication
Multiple narratives and multiple meanings
An erasure of boundaries
Mixed media
Multi media
Public Sphere
Private Sphere
Critical theory and performance

Other key works and further research:

My Boyfiend Came Back from the War (1996)The story of two lovers reunited after an unspecified military conflict: .  Fragments of disjunctive dialogue convey the profound difficulty the couple has reconnecting.

Electronic Café International: Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz “Welcome to ‘Electronic Café International’: A Nice Place for Hot Coffee, Iced Tea and Virtual Space (1992).

Tilson, Jake (1994) “The”: Macro Meals

Sunday, 12 December 2010

James Gilbert, Helen Thorigton, and Marek Walczak, with Hal Eager, Jonathan Feinberg, Mark James and Matin Wattenberg: Adrift

Key to collage or at least the digital collage, as suggested, is the eradication of boundaries.  Adrift (1997-2001), a multi location project, mixes imagery from public spaces, the real with 3D spaces, text and sound. Christiane Paul suggests that this work “depicts journeys that collapse dataspace and physical, mediated environments, creating a collage in which the distinctly different elements reflect upon the spatial characteristics of the language of different media (video, text, sound, 3D)” (2003, p.83).