12 May 2004
Neo-modernist abstraction 
The May issue of Art Monthly contains a great article by Mark Prince on the crossover between the art and pop worlds. Factory Records was at the vanguard of this initiative with the commissioning of Lawrence Weiner as detailed in this extract: "In the early 80s, Factory Records boss Tony Wilson commissioned Laurence Weiner and Barbara Kruger to design posters to advertise bands from the label who were playing in New York. Despite the radical shift in context, Weiner notably retained the conceptual tenets of his other work as much as he departed from them. As in his installations, text is used in a temporary site-specific situation to denote a thing or event occuring elsewhere, but whereas the installations purposely limit design to the efficient transmission of a concrete but finally ambiguous information, the posters are decorative, engaging with a form of neo-modernist abstraction which the functional text deflates."

It goes on to explain the apparent influence of Saville's work on Weiner: "The 100% yellow horizontal stripes of Weiner's 1985 poster for Section 25 fitted the aesthetic which Peter Saville had already developed in the first Factory posters from the late 70s, when he was still studying in Manchester. His career trajectory has taken him in the opposite direction, with the recent attempts from various sides to appropriate his design for an art context; his collaboration with John Currin for Pulp's This is Hardcore sleeve, and the introduction of apparently non-commissioned computer-generated abstract 'paintings' in the latter parts of the recent survey of his work at the Design Museum. But the early album covers for Joy Division and New Order, with their willingness to delve into the past for material to reanimate, now seem closer to recent design-based art, than Saville's later work."

Read the full article here.

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Peter Saville colour wheel
Biting Tongues

In the grey days of late 1970s post-punk Manchester, youth culture was a serious affair: every musical performance was measured mostly by the conviction of its delivery. The term 'New Wave' opened up free vistas where acquired skills could once again be exercised after punk's monochrome blur. It could be applied to anything from a James 'Blood' Ulmer record to the latest Throbbing Gristle release, Magazine to Swell Maps. Move outside that terrain into Sun Ra, Parliament, Frank Sinatra and Martin Denny, and your options were suddenly without limit...

Then came Tony Wilson's Factory Club (at the Russell Club in Hulme) offering an open invitation to experiment that was taken up when Ken Hollings, Howard Walmsley, Eddie Sherwood and a few others decided to make some noise to accompany their 16mm silent epic Biting Tongues. A further performance followed a few weeks later, when Colin Seddon and Graham Massey disbanded their Post Natals project and joined up. The film itself, a flashing series of negative images, became a memory; the name remained.

- extract from the LTM Biting Tongues biography

Factory Records

The Durutti Column