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“Video Mulch” is Wyatt’s trademark form of extreme analog Video Processing, created using a combo of outdated analogue and digital tools.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.
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.
Once again, sorry for the brief pause in posting, I don’t know whether anyone’s noticed (I hadn’t till recently!) but Sci-Fi-O-Rama is about to reach 300th posts – thanks for all the support so far! Too mark this cyber milestone I have something pretty special planned – more on this very soon…
In the meantime lets shift the focus of this 299th post back to the comically surreal world of US Black Ops patch art, all images are scanned from Trevor Paglen’s excellent book “I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World” which turned up in the post the other day.
Here then are my notes:
Top: First up is the wonderfully sinister “Global Engagement – Military Spaceplane Technology Program”.
The source of this patch is the Philips Laboratory Military Spaceplane Technology Program (MiST) at Kirtland airbase New Mexico. Interesting too note here that the swooping X-Wing derived craft was in fact deemed too derivative and in stepped George Lucas’s army of lawyers with a cease and desist order! The patch you see here is an updated version featuring a modified craft, these modifications presumably include shoving the the cockpit down the nose cone and fitting a cosmic cow catcher to the front.
2nd Top: “Pete’s Dragon II”
This evil looking little creature sits on a commemorative patch apparently worn by Stealth Fighter Test Pilot Pete Barnes during secret flight tests in the mid eighties. The design is based on the 1977 Disney film Pete’s Dragon which follows the story of a green dragon named Elliot who was invisible to every one except a boy named Pete…
3rd Top: “Procul Este Profani – Special Projects”
More dragon action here with this snarling variant gleefully ripping through a thundercloud. This macho patch is from the 416th Flight Test Specials Projects flight working on advanced technologies for the F16 combined Test Force situated at Edwards Air Force Base. Members of the unit translate the latin phrase as “Keep your distance, you who are uninitiated”
Bottom: “National Reconnaissance Office – Snakes”
3 Cobras writhe and encircle our planet, more super menacing stuff from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). Trevor Paglen notes that this patch’s origin is entirely obscure, perhaps the Latin phrase might give a clue which translates as “Never Before, Never Again” – maybe something to do with an missile early warning system? Incidentally is there sexual dimorphism in Cobras? I couldn’t work out why only the centre snake has the famous flared hood.
Also as I now have a copy of “I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me: Emblems from the Pentagon’s Black World” I highly recommend purchasing a copy yourself via Amazon, here’s a link: http://is.gd/eMdbl