Set to coincide with the upcoming British Education Fair in the hopes of attracting a larger number of visitors, the British Council's "Sound Design" exhibition opened yesterday at Taipei's New York New York Department Store. Since debuting in Tokyo in 1999, the traveling exhibition has enjoyed successful runs in Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
Giving an all too brief, yet solid overview of UK music industry design, the exhibition features a selection of sleeve designs by some of the UK's leading graphic designers as well as panels depicting key dates and albums in the history of the British music scene.
Beginning with the late Colin Fulcher's (aka Barney Bubbles) sleeve design for 1971's In Search of Space, an album by the UK's notorious exponents of hallucinatory drug-driven ambient anarchy, Hawkwind, the exhibition takes viewers on a journey through 30 years of UK LP, EP, single and CD sleeve design.
Along with works by the celebrated Fulcher, other designers include Roger Dean, the chap who created the mythical images that adorned Yes album covers throughout the 70s. And Audrey Powell, who, having gotten stoned and hung out with David Gilmour and company in the late 1960s, went on to create many of those mind-boggling sleeves for Gilmour's band Pink Floyd.
While the Sex Pistols, The Damned and others set out to destroy the music industry in the late 1970s, works by designers such as Jamie Reid and Malcolm Garret prove that, far from destroying the industry, the crassness of punk and the artwork it spawned actually revolutionized it.
Reid and Garret's simple yet eye-catching designs for sleeves for the Pistols' God Save the Queen and The Buzzcocks' Orgasm Addict prove a stark contrast to the clutter and flamboyance that adorned works by the electro-hippies of the early 1970s.
What: Sound Design: An Overview of UK Music Industry Design
Where: New York New York Department Store Exhibition Center, 6th Floor, 12 Sungshou Rd., Taipei (北市松壽路12號:紐約紐約購物中心6樓)
When: Until March 17
Entering the 1980s section, viewers are faced with a smorgasbord of contrasting artwork. Most prominent of which are Neville Brody's designs for works by post punk experimental rockers Cabaret Voltaire, which includes award-winning artwork for the band's musically groundbreaking 1984 release, Micro-Phonies.
Although much of the exhibit deals with artwork for larger UK labels such as Virgin and EMI, the UK independent scene is not ignored. Paul White and his artwork for The Sugar Cubes' -- the Icelandic indie combo once fronted by Bjork -- 1988 album Life's Too Good, is a great example of simple and relatively cheap sleeve design.
Along with the display of instantly recognizable sleeve designs, the exhibition also includes a special section for sleeves designed by entrants in the British Council's Sound Design competition.
Organized in conjunction with the London Institute, which encompasses some of the UK's leading London-based colleges of art and design, the British Council invited local students to design a sleeve for a mildly funky chill-out number by Luke Vibert and DJ Cole.
Posting the tune on its Web site in January this year, the British Council asked entrants to submit designs they felt best reflected the style of music and the artistic intentions of the creators of the piece of electronica entitled, Swing Life.
According to the London Institute's Taiwan representative, Cathy Lo (盧凱蒂), the competition attracted over 100 entrants. While the media used by the young designers included both computerized graphics and photographs, all of the entries offer very differing and original interpretations of the tune and its architects.