imomus (imomus) wrote,

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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