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Not again… March 13, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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…the 90s are supposedly back in fashion. 

It’s odd looking at the styles of that decade. They look both modern and not in a way that the 1980s and 1970s simply don’t. I wonder is that because they’re that much more recent? What of a 00s revival. What the hell would that look like?

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1. Michael Carley - March 13, 2016

Something that came to mind when I was reading Owen Hatherley’s book on austerity nostalgia. He says that modern hipster fashions are very heavily gendered (beards, lumberjack shirts, tattoos for men; hyperfeminine forties look for women). Looking back at the nineties, the look wasn’t so heavily gendered, which may or may not have some significance.

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WorldbyStorm - March 13, 2016

That thought struck me too. It’s weirdly gendered.

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2. LeftAtTheCross - March 13, 2016

I still have some flared jeans in my wardrobe. Very comfortable they were too. Roll on that revival so I can start wearing them again.

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3. dmoc - March 13, 2016

The advent of computers has hit various design trades in different ways. It’s also had an effect on music. Example, in movie posters, you’ll see the art of posters and magazine covers die a death with the arrival of Photoshop (specifically, the ‘layers’ feature, which allows the producer to seize final /complete creative control over the artist/designer). The age of great movie posters and magazine covers is therefore dead, forever. I wrote at length on this here:

http://www.idleworm.com/arts/malefactor.shtml

Computers have had a similar effect on music, according to Simon Reynolds. As all forms of music become easy to access and distribute, while simultaneously making it harder for regions to find their own unique voice (punk, north of england, and grunge in seattle could, in contrast), the effect is a acoustic sameness, with the only recent innovations being autotune (barf) and dubstep (ugh). The result is a ‘retromania’ for past eras which were able to create a distinct sound, unlike the modern age, which is not.

http://www.amazon.com/Retromania-Pop-Cultures-Addiction-Past/dp/0865479941

So it’s very likely that some similar technological effect is what you’re seeing regarding fashion.

I don’t think any of these issues are going to change, until the Internet collapses (don’t laugh; nothing lasts forever, and that applies to the web also).

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WorldbyStorm - March 13, 2016

That’s an interesting theory you’ve got there re Photoshop, digitisation. Of course another problem is that the scope for print is literally and figuratively smaller because there’s no ‘product’ with digital. That said i’m not sure there’s no good posters – although very retro (Clockwork Orange stylee), the poster for High-Rise is pretty damn good. Autotune is an abomination. Dubstep though is a style so is that quite the same thing? I still think good stuff is being done. I mentioned I saw SlowPlaceLikeHome last week and they were great – an Irish band who get motorik and so on and meld it into something different.

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sonofstan - March 14, 2016

Not sure I agree with either of you. People have been blaming technology for the homogenisation of music since sheet music, probably. Auto tune may be abominable in some hands, but if I’m still bothered tomorrow and I’m back on a real computer, I’ll dig up some fantastic Algerian singers treating auto tune like an instrument in its own right.

And dub step was fantastically local to begin with; one record shop and one club in Croydon ( I think – history lesson from a student of mine last week) – as was grime; most of the pioneers came from a few schools and youth clubs in Bow, and a handful of sympathetic music teachers and some donated computers from banks in Canary Wharf may have birthed the whole thing.

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dmoc - March 14, 2016

I’ll certainly defer on the music front, sonofstan (though it does seem that there’s a huge 80s music revival now more than any new form), but my career in the visual design medium (animation) has shown that overall (not 100%, granted), the struggle for control in the field of design has gone to MBA grads (who think that having an MBA makes them a artistic genius also).

There’s always been that struggle for final artistic control, but when the image was painted on a physical surface, it was much harder to meddle with it without taking a major time/money penalty. But once that MBA can stand over your shoulder, “move that layer to the left, a bit more, a bit more, a bit more. No, move it back again. a bit more. a bit more. a bit more….” ugh.

There are occasional good covers/posters (as mentioned), but they’re outliers now…and often are in a retro style, not a new or current one. “Just put the cast’s faces on it” is the golden rule now, on the assumption that a good cohort of the audience it too illiterate to read the poster title.

As a visual artist, for me technology is fantastic when working on my own work, as I can now do in one small room a finished film, which would have required dozens or hundreds of people in the past. The downside again, is that the vast majority of design jobs (such as when I worked for Disney (interactive and later, mobile/online) are dictated by producers with zero background in any design media. And again, I think this is the norm not the exception. Not that I lost any sleep (if a major multinational wants to churn out derivative slop, no skin off my nose), but this is typical of more and more of the work now.

When I moved to LA in the 93-4 period, that was my first encounter with American corpo-speak and buzzwords. I’d worked for Americans for 4 years prior in Dublin (and they never used buzzwords – but then again, they were qualified artists, so they didn’t need to hide incompetence behind slogans and fads). The stuff that came out of the mouths of the Disney producers, you couldn’t make it up. Zippy meaningless little word-salads that they would throw around at meetings. Little did I know that this was THE FUTURE, going forward, even it was not fit for purpose, synergistically.

They had a ‘director of synergy’. I kid you not.

BTW, saw ‘Future Shock’ the other night. Great stuff! Pat Mills = one scary bastard! Punk meets comic books.

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WorldbyStorm - March 14, 2016

Just to be clear I’m not dissing dub step – sez me like the 50 yr old I now am! And Bob Mould did some brilliant stuff with auto tune some years and albums back, though I suspect like your Algerians he’s the exception that proves the rule.

I do find dmocs point (and btw do we know each other or know people in common?) about some design fairly on the nose though. Seen it myself at the more inky side.

+1 Pat Mills is like a weird mash up of Lyndon and Bowie reflected through (I suspect) public school and a dash of Ladbroke Grove (the more anti hippy hippy of Pink Fairies etc). A class act. And you know watching that documentary it struck me how that part of the 70s has been seriously ignored hitherto in the simplifications of some punk myth making (and I love punk so I’ve usually a high tolerance for that simplification). Action reflected punk but I’ll bet it also fuelled it in a way.

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dmoc - March 14, 2016

WorldbyStorm – hmmm – we may know people. I used to work for Don Bluth’s animation studio near the Phoenix park, 88-93, so if you know anyone of that gang, high chance there’s overlap.

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WorldbyStorm - March 14, 2016

I’m leery of using peoples names. But I had a number of overlapping groups of friends who knew people in DBs or were associated with same or animation more broadly. Tony from Liverpool ring a bell? Or Mick who went on to work on Family Guy?

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dmoc - March 15, 2016

Mick = one of my best friends. #1 guy.

Shoot me an email:
dermotmoconnor@gmail.com

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WorldbyStorm - March 15, 2016

Hahah, small world. New Years Eve was having a discussion with him about the relative merits of Opeth’s clean versus not clean vocals! Will do, later today… on my way out to wage slavery.

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4. sonofstan - March 14, 2016

I have to defer to both of you on the design side. I guess there’s no situation that the addition of an MBA can’t make worse.
At least in music, the know nothing exec is at more of a disadvantage since changing stuff in the mix is more subjective and the technology perhaps less intuitive. I’ve heard of a remix engineer on quite big projects who will get a piece sent back with the instruction to ‘make it warmer’ or the like and who will wait for a day or so, and then return the file, untouched, and accept the plaudits and the cheque for having worked his magic.

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dmoc - March 14, 2016

“Make it warmer” – YES, exactly the kind of fuzzy wuzzy crap that’s infecting everything.

In vis design it’s the “10%” effect. “Make it 10% bigger, 10% smaller, etc. I even was asked to make a character 10% happier once.

Working with a professional art director or animator, they’ll speak to you in the trade argot, but it’ll be in concrete terms (to us). So a director will say “Push the line of action, make the silhouette stronger”, or “the timing looks mushy, hold the anticipation longer, and use 4 fewer frames on the action” – whereas an MBA (mega – bullshit – artiste) will say

“CAN YOU MAKE IT POP”?

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WorldbyStorm - March 14, 2016

I hate that phrase ‘can you make it pop?’. It means nothing. And again, it’s been dragged by the project managers and so on into areas that have no relevance to it and they have no expertise in.

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sonofstan - March 15, 2016

What does that even mean? I mean seriously, I’ve no idea

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WorldbyStorm - March 15, 2016

It doesn’t, that’s the problem. The requirement is that visuals should ‘pop’. Er… how. That’s the odd part, they are never able to specify.

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