Sound and vision

I’ve been thinking about designers who make noise today. A disc of Russell Mills’ work arrived in the post. While you might be more familiar with his graphic design work, he’s also got an interesting history of producing audio materials for his installation pieces, along with two non-installation recordings of his own work (each with a daunting guest list), Undark (reissued as “Strange Familiar”), and Pearl and Umbra.One of the possible warning signs that I am a dotard lies in the fact that the first person that comes to mind in this category is Coil’s Peter Christophersom, once a partner in the now-defunct design group Hipgnosis, whose work adorned all those Pink Floyd albums you grew up with (or not). Were I young and hip, I would certainly be jabbering on at length about the visions and sounds of, say, the ever edgy/ever amazing Chicks on Speed.

Well, okay–better blatant than latent….

But I was thinking how interesting it is that we’ve gone from that whole bloaty Wagnerian view of working across disciplines into something of a more modest and pleasurable scale. So, in addition to praising Russell, I thought I’d mention two other people whose work I like in both mediums.

There’s not ranking implied in the order, so I can go alphabetically. This means that I start with Richard Chartier. If you’re a fan of the left-edge of lowercase, you’ll certainly know his design work for LINE in addition to his own recordings that hover right at the edge of silence (I remain partial to his “Of Surfaces” [LINE 008]–he’s one of the only artists I can think of (besides myself) who I don’t really play on my radio program; the work is so quiet that my worried cabdriver listeners call in to tell me that our transmitter is off the air whenever I’ve tried to program it.)

And there’s also Rune Grammofon designer Kim Hiorthoy, whose often largely untreated site-recording-based works on Smalltown Supersound will either interest you or annoy you (I’m in the former camp). You can find a brief interview with him here, and–although it’s likely to be gone soon–this collection of his work should give you a pretty good overview of what he’s about. Oh, and did I mention that the book includes 2 CDs worth of Rune Grammofon’s music? It’s on my shortlist for “non-coffeetable-coffeetable-book-of-the-year.”

Since you get to read this in a different temporal and geographic space than I’m writing it in, I’ll mention that this bit of blogorrhea was the occasion for an afternoon listening festival of the designers: Mills, followed by Hiorthoy, a little Chicks on Speed to cleanse the palate, and some Chartier for dessert (a quiet finish). Life is good, sometimes.

Sound and vision

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