4 January 2018
Hello MLE,First post of 2018!I was sharing Laurie Anderson’s O Superman song with one of our designers yesterday, and thought I’d look up what this song means, as it is so intriguing.When this song was written, Laurie Anderson was a performance artist, not a musician, and this song was created for one of her art pieces.It was influenced by a 19th-century aria by Massenet that began: "Ô Souverain, ô juge, ô père" (O Sovereign, O Judge, O Father). It was a prayer to authority, which Anderson thought was interesting, and so she wrote the beginning of the song: "O Superman / O Judge / O Mom and Dad.”The lyrics are a one-sided conversation, like a prayer to God. It sounds sinister – but it is sinister when you start talking to power. Sinister is juxtaposed with mundane imagery: “Hold me Mom in your long arms, your petrochemical arms, your military arms.” Americans had always been told that America was the motherland, to appeal to their love of mom and dad, but it’s really not like that.The song consists of only two chords,A♭ major and C minor, as well as the repeating "Ha" syllable done on a vocoder. I had to look up what that is, and learned that it is a bit like auto tune… An early 1970s vocoder, custom built for electronic music band Kraftwerk is seen above, which was probably not too different from Anderson’s vocoder. This was very high tech for 1981.Though never a hit in the USA, this song was #2 on the UK Singles Charts in 1981, after it was championed by DJ John Peel. This lead to a record deal with Warner Brothers.Anderson’s artist friends said she was selling out, but just months later the term being used was “crossing over,” and Anderson became a visionary.Says Anderson, “I had just brought the song back to my live set when 9/11 happened. People said: ‘I can’t believe it. You’re singing about current events.’ I said: ‘It’s not so strange. We’re in the same war and our planes are still crashing.’”Suzan
15 December 2017
Hi MLE,Finally went to see the Basquiat show at the Barbican, which is said to be “the first large-scale exhibition in the UK” of his work. I have to admit, though I’ve always found Basquiat himself very cute, I’ve never found his paintings very interesting.
Well, I was proven completely wrong - when you see them in reality, and give them a chance, his paintings are, of course, amazing. I usually have the patience to be at an exhibition for maybe an hour and a half - but I was there for well over two hours and could have stayed longer.I loved watching the film, “Downtown 81” featuring Basquiat and loosely based on his life. I loved all the polaroids, sketches and stories of all the 1980s New York art scene hipsters. It was really great to get so much context for his work.
Of course Banksy had to make an appearance, creating some new work outside the Barbican (see last image above). Says Banksy, “Major new Basquiat show opens at the Barbican - a place that is normally very keen to clean any graffiti from its walls.”So now the Barbican is celebrating Basquiat, who started as a graffiti artist etc, and they have some Banksy graffiti on their walls making fun of the fact that they are doing this… The Barbican sort of wants to remove the Banksy graffiti that is poking fun of them, but doing so would make them look bad (who would paint over a Banksy!?)Have a nice weekend!Suzan xxPosted in: art
24 November 2017
Exciting day today - researching our first Dibond print. Dibond is of interest as we are researching printing a large one-colour vector illustration. It is an aluminium composite sheet specially optimised for display, so even though the sheets are huge and very thin, they lie super flat, which is amazing. Also, they are very light compared to aluminium. Dibond comes in a variety of colours including a brushed silver that looks like stainless steel and a mirror finish that looks just like a mirror.
The print quality is amazing, perfect for a one-colour vector drawing, however compared to a more traditional digital print, the quality is not quite there, especially when you look at gradients, that are a bit more spotty.
I had a look at the new direct to media printer, which was impressive (photos above). In addition to Dibond, it can pretty much print on anything. This printer has been used to print on a huge cow hide and also bricks. In fact, as long as it the material is less than 8cm thick, it can probably be done.
The bed is massive, and can print up to 3.5 x 2.5 meters. It has a series of holes in it that sucks the material to it, so that it lies as flat as possible, hence a high resolution print. There is a heating device that dries the link instantly as it is being printed. This heating device will cause some coated digital papers to burn, but these are some of the only materials that cannot be used!
One last interesting fact: the print head costs £45K to replace (photo of the print head is above). Which had to be done recently. After paying about £250K for the machine about three years ago, the printer was not very happy about this!
I will write again when the job is done…
Have a nice weekend!
SuzanPosted in: experiments
15 November 2017
Hi MLE,A trove of leaked documents published last week by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have confirmed how the world’s ultra-rich become richer by exploiting tax shelters.Nike’s European headquarters is based in the Netherlands. In 2006 the Dutch government granted the brand a new tax deal that allowed it to open a subsidiary in Bermuda (which is of course a shell company). This subsidiary owns Nike’s intangible design assets – like its logo and trademarks – for all markets outside of the United States. Since it is based in Bermuda, which is a tax-free country, Nike is not taxed at all on the billions in revenue these licensing fees generate.But this was not enough. In 2014, Nike found a way to successfully exploit a Dutch tax law from 1830 called a “commanditaire vennootschap” (CV), or limited partnership, which lets multinational corporations skirt taxes in the Netherlands and abroad, too.Thanks to its corporate restructuring, Nike’s tax global rate dropped from 34.9% in 2007 to 13.2% this year.Other leaked documents show how other multinationals like Uber are doing the same thing. The UK is losing out on much-needed tax dollars from Uber. Yet another reason why I don’t want them in this country.
Speak next week!
10 November 2017
Hey the MLE,
Was walking through one of the world's top graffiti spots, Shoreditch, and thought I'd take some photos for you. There's always something different, the walls seems to be changing by the second. Of course the medium goes beyond spray paint to silk screens, sculptures, stencils on wallpaper, framed photographs, etc etc etc.
Have a nice weekend!