It’s rare to come across a piece of art that really moves me. This odyssey of distortion does just that.
Unnerving, strangely touching and certainly one of the most spellbinding and hallucinatory 5 minutes of music video your ever likely to see. This is but a taster of Luke Wyatt’s ‘Sad Stonewash’ (a Video Mulch) a 40 minute sojourn into the abyss of VHS.
“Video Mulch” is Wyatt’s trademark form of extreme analog Video Processing, created using a combo of outdated analogue and digital tools.
Wyatt describes the process as thus:
“I select video to appropriate based on its mood resonance or compositional zing. My VCR gets beat up with a size 13 docksider until it makes errors and the VHS tape spits up on itself. While digitizing the video I induce the computer to make mistakes by not telling it the truth about the data it is ingesting. I isolate the mistakes I like best, outline them, and send them back to my VCR, resuming the docksider attack, repeating this process until things attain an anti-sheen, losing any crisp edge, as if they had always belonged together. I then arrange the images in an order that must appear equally inevitable.”
Not only did Wyatt forge this astonishing visual experience he also scored the haunting, melancholic soundtrack. Refreshingly far-out and very raw I highly recommend checking out his Torn Hawk project, a link to a recent live set.
Though they should of course be seen in motion here’s a few frames to demonstrate just how rich this garbled alien tapestry is.
Zipping up my moonboots and going back to the roots here with a varied selection of retro SF and Fantasy book art. Sci-Fi-O-Rama was pretty much built upon the back of posting forgotten book and games art, so with a renaissance in blog activity what better than to revisit the archives and excerpt another sampler.
What’s most fascinating with each of these examples is though the whole might not always fully hit the mark there’s always something of interest or worthy for reference. This then might be a style of colouring, a technique in rendering, the choice and application of a typeface, or even something as obscure as the design of a motif. In short even the most subtle fragment of detailing can flick a creative switch, it’s all about your own imagination. That isn’t however to say that every Sci-Fi book cover has merit – au contraire – they most certainly do not. But that’s what we’re here for, to filter and serve only the very finest…
In putting this (abridged) selection together we’re go revisit several of the artists featured at Sci-Fi-O-Rama before, people who defined and shaped the genre such as David Pelham, Dean Ellis, Ian Miller and others perhaps slightly less well known such Adrian Chesterman or Peter Tybus. The majority of covers here have come via my Flickr favourites feed and prior to that a Flickr group I’ve mentioned before, the simply titled ‘Sci-Fi Books‘ pool. Of course these days with tumblr and pinterest and the ever evolving Google image search theres a multitude of ways to sophistically search for this kind of art, but I would say the crowd sourced ‘Sci-Fi Books’ collection still represents the best entry point. As such I recommend that as the first stop on the road for further research.
Lets begin with the art and notes, starting with the header image….
‘Nightmare Blue’ Art by Justin Todd 1975 (top of post)
As is customary I always load the post head with the most arresting image of the pack, so what to say about this one? Hmmm… Well how about for starters it’s bloody mental. Supremely sinister and rendered in an unusual very idiosyncratic style, this is the work of British Artist Justin Todd. Something about it is strangely very contemporary, but in fact it dates from 1975 and so is actually slightly older than your site author.
Todd, an artist I’ve only just come across, is a classically trained illustrator he lectured Illustration at Brighton University in the 1960′s along side Raymond Briggs (The Snow Man, When The Wind Blows). Someone I’ve earmarked to revisit, for now you can read a little more on him here at arts.brighton.ac.uk.
The story by the way revolves around a highly addictive drug ‘Nightmare Blue’ whose users die without another hit… I’ll just point out I haven’t actually read any of the books featured here, so I’ll add a little snippet like this with each cover.
‘Cinnabar’ Peter Goodfellow 1978
This is one of those slightly abstract airbrush type covers so popular in the 70′s, the indeterminable sense of scale and swathes of cobalt blues lend an appropriate otherworldly theme. This is English artist Peter Goodfellow’s depiction of Cinnabar, a city at the centre of’ time.
The book is actually collection of short stories based around this would be futuristic utopia, I believe some which may of been printed in the legendary OMNI magazine which I’ve posted about way back when. Interestingly after forging a career Illustrating book covers, Goodfellow would move to become a highly regarded landscape painter in Scotland, that future path perhaps hinted at here by the covers distant snowcapped mountains.
The cover of Brian Aldiss’s ‘Frankenstein Unbound’ comes complete with an appended $1 mark scrawled on the monsters temple. Ignoring the graffiti then, and this slick inked illustration is the work of American graphic designer and Illustrator Paul Bacon. Love the subtle shift in hues and the way the grained texture of the heavy watercolour paper comes though. This style is in fact very reminiscent of Micheal Foreman, who illustrated the original Erik the Viking book, that was featured here a little while back.
Again somewhat embarrassingly this was the first I’d actually heard of Paul Bacon, although I’m not entirely sure how as I am familiar with some of his work. Perhaps you are too? Bacon created the iconic first edition covers for some of the 20th century’s most important novels including Ken Kesey’s ‘One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest‘, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five‘ and the legendary ‘Catch 22‘ by Joseph Heller (love that book). Read a little more about Paul Bacon at Wikipedia.
A quick story synopsis: Time traveling 21st American Joe Bodenland finds himself with Byron and Shelley in the famous villa on the shore of Lake Geneva. More fantastically, he finds himself face to face with a real Frankenstein. Sounds pretty good, and indeed in 1990 was adapted to the big screen with no other than Roger Corman at the helm, the undisputed heavyweight champ of cult cinema. Frankenstein Unbound stars staring John Hurt, Bridget Fonda and Raul Julia check it at IMDB.
‘ The Incandescent Ones’ – Adrian Chesterman
This sinister looking chromed robotic figure is the work of Adrian Chesterman another artist who’s popped up here before. Chesterman, an American artist produced a series of these somewhat warped airbrushed covers for Penguin Science Fiction during the late 70′s and Early 80′s. It’s a look that’s quite distinguishable being characterised by exceptional costume styling and rendered with just the right amount of highlighting sheen. Above is a fine demonstration of these traits, and as with all Chesterman’s covers is underpinned by a deep love for the subject matter.
Also of note is that despite being a (one assumes) being from the future, it’s also impossible to escape the influence of the present or what is now the past. As such Chesterman’s work contains subtle visual clues that reflect the times; a touch of Disco here, a splash of ‘Simon Says’ and of course the inevitable Starwars references.
Definitely a favourite of mine, check out the complete set of Adrian Chesterman cover’s over at the excellent Penguin Science Fiction website.
A quick note the on the book itself and this one sounds perhaps targeted towards a younger adult demographic. A young art student receives a cryptic message that is to lead him on to a series of startling adventures…
‘Times Last Gift’ Art by Peter Tybus 1975
A rainbow coloured somewhat fauvist cover from Peter Tybus this one dating from 1975. The story, if you hadn’t of guessed revolves around time travel.
Tybus is something of a Sci-Fi-O-Rama enigma, and there is little or no digital footprint of him beyond a series of magazine and book illustrations dating from the 1970s. Indeed the top search result listed by google is in fact a Sci-Fi-O-Rama’s past feature on him. Anyway there’s always alot of love here for his iridescent style that’s also reminiscent of the work of David Pelham, of course, also a Penguin Sci-Fi Cover illustrator.
If you do have more info on Peter Tybus do let us know, it’d be great to one day run an expanded feature…
‘R is for Rocket’ cover art by Ian Miller
A collection of Short Stories penned by Ray Bradbury. This cover is the unmistakable work of British illustrator and blog favourite Ian Miller, featured a good few times before. Millers work is a demonstration in ornate crafting finished with laser guided precision and is juxtaposed into chaotic compositions swathed with wild gothic stylings. This is the definition of frenetic, never a moment will your eye rest upon Ian’s work, such is demonstrated above. Also take note of a hawk-eyed passion for architectural and geometric detailing.
Miller doesn’t really do Sci-fi or Fantasy, the work is simultaneously both and neither, and of course is all the better for it. If you are unfamiliar with his work and intrigued (you should be) why not have a browse back through past entries or check his official website ian-miller.org.
‘The Menzentian Gate’ (Year Unknown)
The Menzentian Gate is a fantasy novel, penned in 1958 and is part of whats known as the Zimiamvian Trilogy. The saga fact loosely linked to Eddison’s more famous work ‘ The Worm Ouroboros‘ featured here way back in 2008.
The cover is by Barbara Remmington an American artist and Illustrator most famous for her Ballatine Books first edition covers for Lord of the Rings. It’s a colourful style of work reminiscent perhaps of that Bayeux tapestry mode of visual story telling, and busy composition loaded with clues and character. Certainly captures the ethos of what a fantasy book should like, and the Dragon/Serpent looks fantastic.
‘Der Himmel über Pern‘
From the dragon that devours its own tail to one thats shrouds an astronaut. Lets not beat about the bush here, this cover is tarnished by some feeble typesetting. But lets clone stamp that out of the way and concentrate on the artwork. Judging by the creatures sinister almost demonic appearance I’m guessing this could be the work of Wayne Barlowe or possibly Chris Achilleos, both masters in the art of fashioning evil looking winged reptilian beasts. It may well be however that it’s the work of someone else entirely, please post if you know. Aslo are dragons actually reptilian? If I ever see one I’ll be sure to ask.
The German title translates as ‘The Skies of Pern’ a science fiction novel by the American-Irish author Anne McCaffrey. The story is just one of a series set on the mythical world of Pern and the concept of Dragon Rider’s, hence the cover art.
‘Gillis Bonde från Ham’ (Farmer Giles of Ham) – 1970 by Rolf Lagerson
Another Dragon here, and a swerve towards decidedly lighter material. This is cover for a 1970 Swedish edition of the J. R. R. Tolkien children’s book ‘Farmer Giles of Ham’. Tolkien originally wrote the story of Farmer Giles and his encounters with the wily Dragon Chrysophylax (great name) back in 1939 but it wasn’t to be published until 1949.
Lovely illustration from Rolf Lagerson which I came across by chance whilst pin-balling around various Pinterest boards. Drilling through to source to uncover Laura Ottina‘s wonderful Illustration blog ‘Animalarium‘. Animalarium put simply is a a vast resource of illustrated animal imagery, best summarised by it’s own simple strapline: “Animals as an endless source of creative inspiration”.
Back up to Sci-Fi and here’s another taster from a prolific genre Illustrator, the late Dean Ellis. I believe this is the seventh appearance on Sci-Fi-O-Rama of an Ellis Illustration, all are characterised with a highly distinctive almost classical style, similar in many ways to the work of space art pioneer Chesley Bonestell. Beautiful renderings of distant worlds and the inky black star-fields the lay within, Ellis’s work is a wash with soft hues and subtle shading.
The book itself; ‘The Tar-Aiym Krang’ sounds like your classic space opera fare, and centres on young orphan and thief known as ‘Flinx ‘ who comes cross a fabled star map…
‘Empire of The Atom’ 1974 (Designer Unknown)
An interesting typographic solution with a smart colour schemes forms the cover for a 70′s edition of Van Vogt’s 1957 novel. Empire of the Atom caused something of a stir at the time due to similarities with Robert Graves’s Claudius stories. Having read neither, I couldn’t possibly pass judgement! Slick graphics though proving minimal jacket sleeves such as these can have just as much impact…
Well once again, what started out as mini post idea and a brief scan through Flickr has completely snowballed out of control into another creaking behemoth type article. This one is playing out like a Sci-Fi-O-Rama Who’s Who, and there’s of course many more artists I can and will feature. However, I’m slightly conscious of post length and attention spans, not least of which my own! so I’m going to sever the post here and conclude with a Part 2…
In the Meantime, be sure to check out the following resources….
Once again please forgive the slight delay in posing new material. The blame lays solely with Supercell’s ‘Clash of Clans’ of which I was introduced through work. What started out as a study of the UI has since evolved into spending almost £30 on in app purchases! Digital crack it most certainly is… So then pithy excuses aside lets begin the post.
Sci-Fi-O-Rama is proud to present a selection of ‘far out’ imagery sequestered from the fantastically titled ‘Electrical Banana’ Psychedelic art book – and yes that title is indeed derived from a reference to a certain type of ladies sex toy.
This article was originally planned as a feature on 60′s Psychedelic Music Posters by artists such as Bonnie Maclean, Victor Moscoso and Wes Wilson and you may well have spotted samples appearing in the Sci-Fi Overflow . Upon searching for an appropriate book to feature I came across Electrical Banana and a selection of artists I was less familiar with so I thought I’d give it punt. Here’s the blurb:
Electrical Banana is the first definitive examination of the international language of psychedelia, focusing on the most important practitioners in their respective fields with a deft combination of hundreds of unseen images and exclusive interviews and essays, Electrical Banana aims to revise the common perception of psychedelic art, showing it to be more innovative, compelling, and revolutionary than was ever thought before.
The artists include: Marijke Kroger, a Dutch artist responsible for dressing the Beatles; Mati Klarwein, who painted the cover for Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew; Keiichi Taanami, the Japanese master of psychedelic posters; Heinz Edelmann, the German illustrator and designer of the Yellow Submarine animated film; Tadanori Yokoo, whose prints and books, defined the ’6os in Japan; Dudley Edwards, a painter, car designer, and graphic embellisher for the London rock scene, and the enigmatic Australian Martin Sharp, whose work for Cream and underground magazines made him a ‘hippie household name in Europe.
As you can imagine the book is impeccably researched and is laced with some excellent, fairly unique content. What I’ll do here then is run through each of the artists and add a couple of samples. Before starting I’ll stress that this barely skims the surface, and if your even the slightest bit interesting in the swinging 60′s and psychedelia in general Electrical Banana is an absolute must have.
Lets begin then…
‘Yellow Submarine Stills’
Heinz Edelmann (20 June 1934 – 21 July 2009) was a German illustrator and designer, most famous for his art direction and character designs for the 1968 animated film Yellow Submarine. An immensely talented individual Edelmann’s career spanned four decades, and utilised many styles. It is however the playful and gloriously vividly coloured work with The Beatles that will remain his most famous work.
As with all featured artists, Electrical Banana includes an extensive interview with the artist, in his Edelmann explains he had little love for the Psychedelic scene and his work of the period. As the compiling authors Norman Hathaway & Dan Nadel note “Never of the scene, Edelmann instead invented it, imparting his visual language to a culture he was barely interested in”. It’s a fascinating read and you can’t help but wonder why the disdain for something so wonderful, of course though the strive for perfectionism and purity of ones artistic vision are crosses all artists half to bare – who are we to judge.
It feels a little strange too then to underline this fact by choosing two more illustrations from another project Edelmann reflects upon with unfond feelings. ‘Andromeda SR1′ was illustrated children’s book about a voyage to Mars, again featuring the dynamic iridescent and totally unmistakable style. I love the way the Ink bleeds and blooms, this effect was achieved apparently by using Dr. Ph Martins Dyes.
‘Andromedar SR1′ Book Illustrations – 1970.
Moving on from Andromedar SR1, a quick mention with regards to this articles header image. This is Edelmanns Book jacket for a German edition of Tolkiens legendary ‘Lord of the Rings’ which gained traction and was popularised by the hippy movement. The publishers thus wanted psychedelic styled Illustrations, and approached Edelmann who was by this point ”Fed up of this entire flower power thing”. Persevering anyway he states that for the book jacket (which I love) he “unforgivably parodied” Milton Glaser’s famous Dylan Poster.
There’s no doubt then that Heinz Edelmann was supremely talented if slightly hesitant individual, (with regards to Psychedelia) and I’d love to write and research more but that’ll be the subject of a future post….
The books next selected artist is Australian Martin Sharp (born 1942), these days considered one of the finest Antipodeans Pop Artists. As opposed to Edelmann Sharp was very much part of the scene, becoming roomates with Eric Claption during his swinging London years.
As is demonstrated below, Sharp was capable of extremely trippy draughtsmanship and Electrical Banana compiles a varied selection of his portfolio including work from his long dedication to Oz Magazine, the infamous counter culture magazine that ran (in it’s 2nd guise) from 1967 to 1973.
Interesting to note that apparently Sharp did not apparently plan nor pencil his hyper-detailed drawings and would rather populate a page with just the right amount of line and the fill out the composition.
‘London Oz’ – Offset Promotional Poster 1967
Here’s a perfect demonstration of Martin’s playful, swooping linework and zealful hand cut typography, the above image was designed for the first edition of London Oz, but however was not released at the time.
‘Dantalians Chariot’ - Silkscreen poster on foil 1967
On this poster Sharp notes “It was an image Inspired by Syd Barret and Pink Floyd and my experiences at the U.F.O Club. Mark Boyle did wonderful lightshows there over Floyd’s music. The Speakeasy, for example, was a typical night club where musicians met and played. The U.F.O Club was a weekly event and total psychedelic experience. Pink Floyd always amazed me”…..
‘Float’ - Offset/silkscreen poster 1969
With far more than one string to his metaphorical bow the above bold and vivid abstract print serves as a fine example of Sharp’s more Pop Art slanted minimalism.
For more on Martin check his either his Facebook Page, or shy of purchasing a copy of Electrical Banana read more via his Wiki page.
West Yorkshire’s Dudley Edwards (born 1944) first came to prominence as co-founder of the ground-breaking ‘Pop’ design collective with fellow artists Douglas Binder and David Vaughan (Binder, Edwards & Vaughan).
To quote from Electrical Banana: “Binder, Edwards & Vaughan exploded into the creative carnival that was 1960′s London with it’s brightly coloured and electrified take on traditional fairground painting. Applying the awe-inspiring hand skills onto heretofore unvisited areas of applied art such as pianos, shop fronts and automobiles”
In layman’s terms Binder, Edwards & Vaughan perhaps defined the look of swinging 60′s London more than any other. And though their collaborative time together was short their work would propel them to the lofty heights of collaborating with The Beatles. It’s also doubtful (for better or for worse) that Austin Powers would ever of come to conception for it not for the craftsmanship of the trio.
‘Carnaby Street’ - Mural 1967
‘Dragon Cafe’ - [With Mike McInnery] Mural 1968
‘Cosmicomics’ - Book Jacket 1968
Edwards also went on to a stint in Record Sleeve and Book Jacket Design of which the interesting above Graphic illustration is a sample.
Marijke Koger (Born 1943) was the primary visual artist behind the four-person art group ‘The Fool’ a Dutch design collective (and later band) who rose to prominence in late 1960′s London. Alongside Koger ‘The Fool’ consisted of fellow artist Simon Posthuma, Fashion Designer Yosha Leeger and Barry Finch, the groups name being derived as a reference to the Tarot Card. The Fool made a tremendous impact at the time via there work for the Beatles, Cream and The Move to name but a few. In fact such was the popularity of the group that despite having few musical inclinations they record a Psych-Folk album produced by Graham Nash – I’ve got to track that one down!
Electrical Banana contains many of Koger’s rainbow coloured illustrations, murals designs and more, carefully documenting the huge influence she had on defining the Technicolor hippy look. Here’s a pretty cool quote from the book when describing her style:
“She did not engage with modernism or pop art, preferring a more accessible, almost colloquial approach to art-making. This is not psychedelic art made by a designer or psychedelic designs made by an illustrator, but rather full-blown psychedelic visuals made by a woman who inhabited that space in her mind’
Next up is the first of two Japanese Designer / Illustrators featured in Electrical Banana, and all seven artists featured here I’d have to say that Keeichi Tanaami (born 1932) is definitely my favourite. Tanaami’s style, characterised by beautiful and distinctive line work was to continually evolve and adapt throughout the 60′s becoming increasingly fluid and hedonistically playful thus mirroring the mood of the subcultures he was so fascinated with at the time. Today Tanaami is considered one of Japans leading pop artists, with back catalogue of work that’s meandered between a variety of mediums, following the doctrine of Andy Warhol whom he met and became fascinated with in 1968.
As with Heinz Edelmann, Taanami’s definitely an artist I’ll be revisiting this year, for now here’s a small taster of his wonderfully kitsch draughtmanship.
‘Happening’ [projection on models and car] 1966
A projected coloured transparency, essentially a Tanaami piece wrapped over models and car and captured again on film. I have to say I loved this kind of Photograph Installation, a really interesting way to extend an Illustration. The style of work is very similar to ‘After Bathing At Baxter’s’ a Jefferson Airplane cover that you can see below.
‘After Bathing At Baxter’s' Jefferson Airplane Record Sleeve – 1967
’1967 Tokyo: C’ Silkscreen edition – 1967
’1967 Tokyo: C’ Silkscreen edition – 1967
The Tokyo series give you a good sense of the flavour of Tanaami’s pop art sensibilities. These are strikingly printed pieces of art, with a almost viscous contrasting colour palette, stare longer and pick out the subtle texturing and gradient fills, instilling a level of depth and movement.
‘The Savage Eye: A’ Silkscreen edition – 1966
‘The Savage Eye: B’Silkscreen edition – 1966
With an extremely obvious sexual theme ‘The Savage Eyes’ builds upon techniques applied in in the prior ‘Tokyo’ set, but the volume here is now cranked up to 11. Fantastic stuff.
Read more about Keiichi Tanaami in an extensive article on him over at Wikipedia or check this tumblr tag search for more imagery.
Abdul Mati Klarwein (April 9, 1932 – March 7, 2002) was a painter best know for his many album covers of the 60′s and 70′s. As you can see below, Klarwein’s work has a strong surrealist curve, in fact the samples I’ve selected from Electrical Banana probably owe more to that genre than Psychedelia, though lets face it the two are closely intertwined. It’s no surprise then to learn that Klarwein actually studied with Salvador Dali at Viennese Fantastic RealistErnst Fuchs.
Whilst much of Klarwein’s famous work is inspired by Surrealism and Pop Culture, it’s also catagorised and reflected by his interest in non-Western deities, symbolism, and landscapes. Klarwein was also friends of LSD Guru and prophet of counter culture Timothy Leary and of the artist Leary stated that based on the character of his paintings, that Klarwein “didn’t need psychedelics”.
Once again really just a taster of some of the super-far-out work, if you’d like to read more on Mati Klarwien check his wikipedia article or visit his nicely designed official site matiklarweinart.com
‘Bitches Brew’ (commissioned by Miles Davis for his album Bitches Brew) 1970
‘Jimi Hendrix’ (commissioned by Hendrix for incomplete Gil Evans collaboration album) 1970
And so we come to the final of Electrical Banana’s featured artists, Japanese graphic designer, illustrator, printmaker and painter Tadanori Yokoo (born 27 June 1936).
Yokoo is interesting and similar to Heinz Edelmann in that he was not absorbed by psychedelia but rather was influenced strongly by the zeitgeist. This is typified in an extensive body of work typified by the use of searing colors, off-kilter contrasts and optical illusions. Yokoo is also something of a chameleon of style, seemingly able to turn his hand to different disciplines with consumate ease. He’s has produced some stunning work through the years, and you can see much more at his official Japanese site tadanoriyokoo.com.
‘A Ballad Dedicated to the Little Finger Cutting Ceremony’ Silkscreen poster – 1966
‘Sho wp Suteyo e Deyo [Throw Away Your Books, Rally in The Street]‘ Shuji Terayama, Book Jacket Design – 1967
So then lets draw to a close this special feature, with a couple of notes for further reading / viewing.
Firstly of course a big shout out to author Norman Hathaway and Dan Nadel. Electrical Banana is a fascinating book and impeccably researched. If your even the slightest bit interested in Psychedelia, the swinging 60′s or just graphical history in general you need to own a copy of this book! As usual I’d recommend Amazon to pick up a copy though I actually picked mine up via an independent online store.
Finally here’s the youtube movie of the Electrical Banana book launch seminar at MoMA PS1.