Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Something New

For a new year, I thought I'd try something new.  In my 2015 Great Backup Drive Disaster, I lost most of the Ring Hoard master files; that is, the full size TIF files which would have made for a nice little exhibition, if anyone had ever offered.*  Too late now.  But I was getting rather bored with the technique I was using to produce them, and during 2015 I was developing various new techniques for integrating drawings and photographic elements, and so it struck me that I could use these to produce some equally interesting graphical results.

I started playing with these Scribblamatix™ pictures (strapline:  "Your pencil is a stencil!") on New Year's Day, based on some drawings from the same sketchbook that yielded the "clumsy guitars".  I'm quite pleased with them, but I'm only too aware that this state may not last.  I like the combination of sparseness and richly decorated shapes, but it is a very top-end 1970s look.  I suspect that if I had come up with prints like these at the turn of 1975/6, rather than 2015/16 I'd be rich, famous, and enjoying my second comeback in reputation by now.  The only problem being, I didn't.  It's a bit like finally getting the hang of the foxtrot in 1955.**

I sometimes wonder whether our aesthetic ideals and sensibilities get hard-coded at around age 20, and we then spend the rest of our lives exploring them.  I recently came across a useful website, Printed Editions, which aggregates a large array of fine prints available from various galleries, ranging from old masters to the contemporary.  If you like prints, it's well worth a visit.  But the thing is, pretty much every time I saw something that really grabbed my attention, I'd check the date, and it would turn out to have been made between 1970 and 1976!  There's an interesting parallel there with music, I suppose.

Talking of which, I found myself humming a riff the other day, which I couldn't pin down.  After a while, some words attached themselves, and I realised it was something from the album Benefit by Jethro Tull.  Once one of my favourite teen albums, it long ago went the way of all vinyl and I haven't heard or seen it for probably 40 years, so naturally I reached for Spotify.  And saw this:

© Island Records 1970

Whoah...  The resemblance with some of my own recent photo-montage work is striking.  I suppose the design elements -- the proscenium, the cut-outs, the stage-like setting, the faces peering through a window -- have lain dormant in my subconscious all that time, only to re-emerge in my own variations 40 years later.  Hey, "steal like an artist"...  The song, by the way, turned out to be "To Cry You a Song", a real air-guitar number, with some typical, wittily sardonic Ian Anderson lyrics ("Closing my dream inside this paper-bag,/Thought I saw angels, but I could've been wrong...").  Ah, 1970...  It does seem an awful long time ago, now.  But, in the words of the LOLcat Bible:
Has happen? Gunna be agin. Nuthing new undur teh sunz. Kitteh can not sez "OMFGZ sumthing new!" is jus REPOST!
Ecclesiastes 1

* If anyone out there does want to show any of my work, don't be shy, as I have a completely blank calendar, apart from various pressing household maintenance chores, which I urgently need a reason to avoid.  Help me out, here!

** Mind you, it is a curious fact that the original release of "Rock Around the Clock" is marked as a "Fox Trot" on the label.  One for the pub quiz...

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