Album Covers

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Album Covers - by Amanda Lucek

(for more images, view below)

Project Description:

I have used appropriated images in my work many times in the past, but never truly purposefully.  I thought for quite some while about what purposeful appropriation would look like, what it would accomplish and/or try to accomplish, etc. - in other words, I was asking "When is it appropriate to appropriate?"  The thoughts I generated on the matter are a bit extensive and mostly not pertinent to this project.  If you are interested, they are documented here.  For this project my aim became clear when I suddenly realized the assignment was to create a poster rather than just any work of art/design.  To me, a poster is always subsidiary to something else – usually an event.  It made the most sense to me, then, to use mix-up images because that to which they are subsidiary is itself a mix-up.  (I do realize that there are various genres of posters, but when I hear the term I think specifically of those that are produced to be put up in public as opposed to those produced for what could loosely be called interior decorating on a shoestring budget.)  

The concept of a poster is conflated in my mind with that of an announcement.  The discourse surrounding open-source/copyright issues, as I have encountered it, has largely been centered around music, so I thought: why not make a poster announcing the "event" (already in progress) of the shifting of musical paradigms.  While the nature of such a nebulous "event" is impossible to pin down precisely, I felt very strongly that it would unfold over time not so much as a sequence of situations or occurrences, but rather in the form of music itself.  The visual material most tied to music is the album cover, and so I decided to "announce" the future in the forms of albums – albums not of music that exists today, but albums of music that will come (existing currently only as thoughts and perhaps premonitions).  The album "Next", then, is just that: open up the case and you will find only a blank for you to fill.

As to why I made 2 albums, this is because I believe there to be truly 2 predominant trends at play in the rise of mix-up music.  They are generally conflated, for the reason that each does, to an extent, rely upon and spur the other, but despite their interconnectedness I believe they can be analyzed as distinct.  The trends I'm talking about are: 1) The use of appropriation in music – generally involving creating a new and coherent product through artful combination of disparate sources. 2) The digitalization of music (encompassing not only mix-ups created digitally using digital recordings as sources, but the digital production of sounds/music in which the only instrument involved is the computer, as well as the increasing dissemination of music in digital form, and increasing reliance on digital technology to create and edit music of all kinds).  The correlation between these two trends in undeniable, yet it is important to remember that the two can be completely separated – after all, DJ's mixed and altered music with basic turntables long before the advent of the computer, and numerous musicians have experimented with creating digital music in which no appropriation is involved.

The creation of the visual portions of my 2 albums specifically follows these 2 trends.  "Next" (by the fictitious band Night Wide Open) reflect the first, and its album covers use a good number of found images which were combined with a minimum of digital processing.  "Hello Tow" (the name of both the group/artist and the album – a more subtle title, meant as a greeting addressed towards the overwhelming pull that is digitalization) addresses the second.  While it does use one (single) appropriated image (the woman), that image is very highly processed, reduced to a few lines.  The coloration and texture were all created digitally by myself and my computer.  Bits of the image were then broken up into a variety of fragmented blocks, which were repeated and overlapped to form the background.  The repetition of the rectangular form intentionally gives the images a sense of being "pixelated".  

Project Images:

Here are the front and back cover images for both albums.  To see any image at its full size (1500px square), just click on the image.


If you wish to see and or use the source images that went into the making of "Next", you can download them here

Reflection After Critique:

One very insightful idea regarding how my project may have been better was that perhaps the album cover for Next should have been made via physical collage.  Actually cutting and pasting images and letters with scissors and glue would greatly help to separate the idea of appropriative mix-up from that of digitalization.  It suppose it just goes to show how thoroughly digitalization has already penetrated and permeated our culture that making the cover "by hand" (so to speak) never even occurred to me prior to the critique.

Other comments about how my work were less specific, but taken collectively added up to a significant lesson.  The fact of the matter was that during the class critique of my work, it became very clear that my project failed to communicate my intentions to viewers.  In retrospect, this is actually completely unsurprising, because, as with all my art, my goal was to embody my thoughts and ideas rather than to convey them.  I've made art all my life, but I've never considered any sort of audience when doing so.  It has never been my concern whether my art is "understood" by anyone else, or whether it even contains a "message" at all.  The biggest thing I will take from this critique is an awareness that people may receive my work with the mindset that it has a specific meaning that it is their job to interpret.  I more generally like to allow my work to take on any meaning that a viewer may personally project onto it, but in the context of this class I will, for future projects, try my hand at communication and be mindful of an audience in my decisions.

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