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A conversation between Apollo and Dionysus - click opera
February 2010
 
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Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 03:28 pm
A conversation between Apollo and Dionysus

"I think what I love with photos is the moment when I'm just beginning to twig what someone's style is about, what their eye is seeing," I mused on Saturday. That doesn't just apply to photography, of course. Pattern recognition applies to everything which uses a style. We're aware, subliminally at first, of generics, continuities, similarities. They begin to get repeated, to gel. People pick up a meme, repeat it. Someone gives the style a name. And at that point, of course, the pioneers are already disowning it.

Here are three styles I've recently been thinking about. First of all, these brightly-coloured jackets. The images are from StreetPeeper. As far as I know, Bape started this trend for candy-coloured jackets with childish designs on them. The first jacket you see here is by Jeremy Scott. The second is one the model bought himself at Tokyo Disneyland. The third (worn by my friend Mario) is from CassettePlaya (Mario designs their website).



How to nail this style down? I guess it's brash and acidic, old skool hip hop inspired, bubblegum and kiddy. But it also overlaps with the scatty psychedelics of Eye Yamataka, whose 90s work -- visual and musical -- continues to fuel subcultures across the world. His visuals from ten years ago still look fresh as a daisy.



Jamaica and drugs and spirituality inform Eye's aesthetic, and when his bandmate Yoshimi Yokota takes the style in a more poppy, Matsuri-kei kind of direction, the results are more my cup of tea:



OOIOO's style was pinned in a recent Pitchfork pan as a blend of Sonic Youth, Don Cherry, Fela Kuti, Patty Waters, Sun Ra, Miles Davis, and Neu!

My own aesthetic veers uncertainly between that kind of self-indulgent Dionysian ostentation (without the drugs!) and something much more restrained and Apollonian. Unsurprisingly, it's graphic designers who seem to be working this look at the moment.



There you see Tyler Brulé's new magazine Monocle (designed by Richard Spencer Powell), a Fischli and Weiss catalogue designed by James Goggin of Practise, and some catalogues by Benoit Robert (of Paris design group Event 10). Also in this "Times serif Apollonian" style is Jop van Benekom's design for his own Fantastic Man magazine.

Perhaps we can trace this new restraint back to the 90s, where it started with the surprisingly understated Purple Journal. It may very well have come about in a direct dialectical opposition to the kind of tribal acid excesses of the Super Roots school.

Right now, the Eye style seems to be big with people in their 20s, whereas the Monocle style is more for 30somethings. Once you get into your 40s, perhaps, you can enjoy them both as two sides of a dialectic, a conversation between Apollo and Dionysus that started ten years ago. And thousands of years ago.

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fishwithissues
fishwithissues
jordan fish
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)

OOIOO!!! is OOIOO onomatopoeia for the sound my brain makes watching that? gosh, that is a brilliant moving picture!!

I noticed you used the word "childish" non-pejoratively. do you make any distinction between childish and child-like? my brother thinks the latter means playful and free and the former means emotionally immature; i think common parlance isn't so tightly schematized, but it might be soon, because I think he based his definitions on a book by a guy who was a guest on the daily show.

oh kay, no, it was the colbert report. here's the wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rejuvenile:_Kickball,_Cartoons,_Cupcakes,_and_the_Reinvention_of_the_American_Grown-up

it's interesting stuff, might be related to the current style you're seeing.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 02:08 pm (UTC)

It's funny how that OOIOO video (for "Umo" off their new album Taiga) reinforces the themes of yesterday's entry about global warming. There are people cutting down trees, and soil eroding, and so on. And Yoshimi's angry chant comes clearly from the 97% of the Japanese population concerned about global warming. There's a similar track called "Uma" on the album (uma is a horse in Japanese, umo I suppose means man, huomo, homo sapiens):



It's all rather redolent of The Slits, tracks like "Earth Beat".

As for the "rejuvenile" thing, I suppose I'd rather see being adult and being childish as a dialectic. We could do the old "recursive" trick with that too:

1. Being adult is being good, being childish bad.
2. But I want to say that being childish is good.
3. So I say that being adult isn't all it's cracked up to be.
4. And that actually children are more grown-up than many adults!
5. Which is good, because being adult is good, being childish bad!


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akabe
akabe
alin huma
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC)

i'm glad you balance appolo and dyonisus here. Your other essays on the subject often left me with the image of Herbert von Karajan in mind (but i always refrained from commenting.)

was Bape before Bernhard Wilhelm ?? i forgot my 90s.

i think many people don't realize that the look of most magazines nowdays can be traced to Purple.

as we're about to put out a new/old issue of our ta ke ha ra retroactive antizine we're wondering whether to keep the purple-ish cover we did 2/3 years ago (now that everyone's doing it).


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minimalrobot
Bruce
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 02:54 pm (UTC)

I'm really interested in checking out Monocle. Beyond the design, how is the magazine?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 03:29 pm (UTC)

I've just leafed through it at ProQM. It's sort of like a hip version of the Financial Times, with features on, you know, the Norwegian Navy and so on. Good for people who think there's nothing on earth cooler than a waterproof Rolex.


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC)
NO MOMUS NO

"How to nail this style down?"

Oh, Blue States Lose do it pretty well.
http://www.gawker.com/news/blue-states-lose/


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electricwitch
electricwitch
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)

Urban Outfitters do a good job, as well.


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werdtoyourmoms
werdtoyourmoms
eric
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 03:28 pm (UTC)

it's crazy how much of resurgence times is having!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 04:03 pm (UTC)

James Goggin wants to clarify:

"Just a quick note: it was my Swiss friends Norm who designed the Fischli Weiss catalogue, not me! I designed the posters, printed matter + exhibition design, but Norm knew F&W already and made the nicely understated catalogue."


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 06:15 pm (UTC)

Thank you! I don't plan on wearing the psyche-hoodies, that would really be mutton dressed up as lamb. As for Vice, I think I have compromising photos of Jesse Pearson which ought to keep me out of the Don'ts column!


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zzberlin
zzberlin
hh
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 06:16 pm (UTC)

Your friend Mario's sneakers compliment the jacket beautifully. His whole ensemble looks smart, even the clashing garment he wears under the jacket


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mouvements
mouvements
mouvements
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)

other than a few oversized colorful hoodies, i dont see many people sporting the nu rave style during the day, mostly on nights out. maybe that has to do with new york's preference for black on black. i can see this kind of thing poping out during the summer, though.
i've definitely seen the the effect of 90's resugence in graphic design, illlustration, and motion graphics. it's kind of cool to look at i suppose, but a bit garish for me.

it's funny that you mention streetpeeper, my friend is the owner/creator and we're the main ny photographers. i'm so happy the site is circulating!


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 08:09 pm (UTC)

I've just been emailing with him!


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aughtstar
aughtstar
Hak(u)
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 10:05 pm (UTC)

Yoshimi is still a member of the Boredoms! She is awesome live in both bands (in different ways).

I just heard Iggy Pop talking about the Apollo/Dionysus thing in an old Tom Synder show from the early 80s. He was for the latter. I think he was trying to prove he wasn't an idiot.

Those old shows are great. People actually gave a shit, real questions were asked, etc.


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never_the_less
never_the_less
critical sass
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC)

I always thought that Purple was just imitating the sober aesthetics of academic journals (as an editorial statement of course). ESP. since the size is one that is very common amongst academic journals, rare in fashion....





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never_the_less
never_the_less
critical sass
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 11:07 pm (UTC)
too beautiful not to add


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intergalactim
intergalactim
intergalactim
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)

those hoodies seem in the tradition of hypercolor t-shirts: http://www.4afriend.com/pics/hypercolor.jpg

also, maybe it was just a new zealand thing, but early 90s there were these "kosmik" sweaters with insane swirly fluorescent splotchy designs, worn by 45 year old mums on holiday. they don't seem to have an online presence, but i did find this: http://www.trademe.co.nz/nz/auction-77363178.htm

i must say that the cover of Taiga borders on something classical, and some of eye's covers (VCN especially) are a very formalist type of psychedelic, which i think in infinitly better than some of the other "psychedelic" album covers in the world http://www.rafanetz.com.br/1200mics2004.jpg


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intergalactim
intergalactim
intergalactim
Mon, Apr. 9th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC)

and you've *got* to do an edit for that "ex bandmate" thing, they are both still married, and both still in the boredoms (right?).


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Apr. 10th, 2007 01:23 am (UTC)

What, no reference to your orchids today, M'Lud?


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intergalactim
intergalactim
intergalactim
Tue, Apr. 10th, 2007 01:53 am (UTC)

On Ian Hamilton Finlay: "Subversion, in his eyes, comes from the rational severity of Apollo, not the boozy party ethic of Dionysus."
http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/visualart/story/0,,2053444,00.html

and with regards to yesterday's topic:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,2053521,00.html


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