Visuals.. possible essay research


  • Album cover as protection, a ‘visual mnemonic’ and a marketing tool
  • ‘Packaging’ vs authenticity
  • “Albums should be as bold and dashing as we can make them; they should stand out in dealers’ windows screaming for attention, yet always reflecting the spirit of the music inside. Colour should be violent and strong. Copy should be pared to a minimum, and each album should reflect the quality of the Columbia name”
  • Handmade posters and album covers
  • Event posters, graphic artists
  • Feature the aspect of music videos and movement
  • Graphic Scores
  • Graphic scores serve a dual purpose: as well as looking beautiful, they explain abstract ideas about how the music should be played. In this piece, written in 2006, each line represents a different instrument, with the colours and shapes informing how the music might sound.
  • Can You Hear Me? Music Labels by Visual Artists
  • brief plan, sound and art, importance, kandinsky, album covers, music videos, record labels, graphic scores
  • Here Comes Trouble: An Inquiry Into Art, Magic & Madness


Authenticity in Music

Would you class all music as being honest, sincere and believable. That it is genuine, and thus acceptable? What makes a piece of music authentic can include many different factors, depending on how you feel about it. Who wrote the song and was it written for another artist? Which instruments have been used? Are they just doing it for the money? We today are in a space, in which popular culture has become so huge and so throw away that some people now are struggling to believe how it could be a valid form of music, “the always-blurry line between ‘real’ music and plastic chart-fodder has slowly evaporated. Turns out it’s all just flippin’ entertainment.” (Sharp-Paul, E. 2013.) This could raise questions such as the difference between entertainment and music as art, and in response, at an International Arts Movement lecture were some words spoken by Makoto Fujimura which outline an important contrast: “Entertainment gives you a predictable pleasure. Art… leads to transformation. It awakens you, rather than just satisfying a craving.” (Hsu, C. 2015.)

In these situations it is usually down to personal experience for the listener in what makes a song authentic for them. Which can differ depending on geography, race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality or social class. A very good example of this in recent years is the pressing issue of cultural appropriation in music, specifically with Iggy Azalea. Pop artist Halsey revealed in an interview with The Guardian, what she and a lot of other people were thinking after Iggy’s rise and fall, “she had a complete disregard for black culture. Fucking moron. I watched her career dissolve and it fascinated me.” (Robinson, P. 2017.) The main source of the problem came from the fact she was a white woman from Australia, rapping with an altered voice which appropriated the southern black women in North America. Azalea went on to win ‘Top Rap Artist’ at the Billboard music awards. Iggy’s foe Azealia Banks, a female black rapper from New York, “the message I get when I see these awards being given out is just a cultural smudging. All it says to white kids is, ‘oh you’re great, you’re amazing. You can do whatever you put your mind to’, and what it says to black kids is, ‘you don’t have shit, you don’t own shit. Not even the shit you created for yourself.’ ” (Darden, E. and Banks, A. 2014.) These comments will make you realise some things, if you hadn’t already done so before hand.

Appropriation of culture in music has gone on for a long time, including Madonna with her appropriation of the dance ‘Voguing’. It is mostly known for being famous to people now due to Madonna’s song ‘Vogue’, which then it was welcomed by pop culture with open arms. It actually originates from Harlem’s ballroom culture, which is famous for its drag queens. “Voguing gives a voice to the oppressed: the gay, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, black, latino, female, and otherwise marginalized subcultures of American society.” (Ursprung, S. 2012.) Madonna used the dance to better her own career, without bettering the lives of those who use this dance to escape from their realities.

Darden, Ebro and Banks, Azealia. 2014. Youtube. Azealia Banks Goes Off on TI, Iggy + Black Music Being Smudged Out. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Hsu, Caleb. 2015. What’s the Difference Between Entertainment and True Art? [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Sharp-Paul, Edward. 2013. Junkee. Have We Finally Gotten Over Authenticity In Music? [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Robinson, Peter. 2017. The Guardian. ‘I used to be a social queen – now I’m terrified of people’. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Ursprung, Stephen. 2012. Voguing: Madonna and Cyclical Reappropriation « Interrogating Dance Globalization. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 February 2018].

Resistance in Music

Resistance is power and with songs of protest comes great debate and struggle. Musicians for years and throughout many genres have been fighting against war, racism and politics with their words and melodies. Icons such as Nina Simone, Sex Pistols, Bob Marley and Billie Holiday have all shocked the world with their words over time. One of the most powerful of those being Billie Holiday’s, Strange Fruit. “Southern trees bear strange fruit, blood on the leaves and blood at the root,” (Holiday, B. 1939). with this she was referring to the black men who had been lynched, and this song was in extreme protest to the racism shown towards African Americans. Other songs by artists previous mentioned such as Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood by Nina Simone, God Save the Queen by Sex Pistols, and Exodus by Bob Marley. Another interesting feature in music, which could symbolise resistance other than the lyrics, is how long the intro can be on an album or a song, “Change of the Guard by saxophonist Kamasi Washington’s is more than 12 minutes of rhythm, spirit and harmony, a statement to the gatekeepers of music: We’re here and we have something to say. Its virtuosity and power demands you listen.” (Leah, R. 2017.) Washington is a flourishing American jazz musician, and with a few other artists, is reviving the spirit of the classic genre that is jazz, “but beyond these fresh soundscapes is a political consciousness that bonds them. As well-known music journalist Greg Tate writes, they are ‘the Black Power flower children of the Black Lives Matter era.’ ” (Leah, R. 2017.)

As long as people are making music, there will be songs reflecting the current and future state of the world. Aside from creating as form of resistance, there is also the act of listening as form of resistance. In Nazi Germany there were a collective of youths aged between around 15 and 21 who respected and appreciated American and British music and culture. They resisted as they could against the Nazi regime, by listening and dancing to swing and jazz music. They were called the Swing Youth and in German; Swingjugend. “The Swingjugend rejected the Nazi state, above all because of its ideology and uniformity, its militarism, the ‘Führer principle’ and the leveling Volksgemeinschaft (people’s community).  They experienced a massive restriction of their personal freedom.  They rebelled against all this with jazz and swing, which stood for a love of life, self-determination, non-conformism, freedom, independence, liberalism, and internationalism.” (Fackler Guido, 2013.)

With this came protest in relation to what clothes the members of the group would wear, how they would present themselves. “The members dress in clothes which imitate English fashions. Thus, they often wear pleated jackets in tartan designs and carry umbrellas. As a badge they wear a colored dress-shirt button in their lapels. They regard Englishmen as the highest form of human development. A false conception of freedom leads them into opposition to the Hitler Youth.” (Noakes, J. 1998.) This has a major link with the youth groups of Britain and the sense of rebellion in the clothes of the mods, rockers and punks. There is representation of resistance and in all aspects of music, its artists and its fans who through life will keep fighting the power.

Noakes, Jeremy. 1998. Nazism 1919-1945: Volume 4 The German Home Front in World War II, “Report on Youth Gangs in the Reich.” Exter: University of Exter Press p. 452-453.

Fackler, Guido. 2013. Swing Kids Behind Barbed Wire, Music and the Holocaust. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 01 March 2018].

Billie Holiday, 1939. Strange Fruit. [Vinyl 78rpm]. Commodore.

Leah, Rachel. 2017. How jazz is becoming the sound of resistance once again – [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 01 March 2018].


Taste in Music

Music taste can be one of the most heated debates between humans in which super fans will defend ’til the death for what they believe is classed to be, ‘good music’. But what is good and what is not? Of course everyone believes their own music taste is without a doubt the best there could ever be, and as people in class began discussing their own favourite genres, even I felt myself turning my nose up at others personal faves. Who has the right to say what is good and bad, “the debate over whether beauty lies solely in the eye of the beholder runs through cultural history. It arises every time a critic makes a top ten list: Am I just naming the movies or books or albums I liked most in the preceding year, or am I asserting these ten works somehow were in fact the best or most significant?” (Wilson, C. 2007.) Carl Wilson describes something quite important as he, for the sake of writing, was determined to find the popular music fan within him, with an exploration into Celine Dion’s career and output as one of the most beloved pop artists of the 21st Century. Why is it that this is the case?

Discussed in class was the idea of popular music as a fetish and Theodor Adorno’s theory on the standardisation of music. Using the same structure to create music which sounds similar, is easy listening and will appeal to the masses. With this comes the idea that creating music is a job for making money, more so than it could be pure creative output.  It has replaced the human production of artistic and intellectual creativity, the marketplace governs the production of culture. Music as a form of capital, commerce and exchange. The term ‘culture industry’ was born and this formed a theory around cultural capital. Adorno believed that why people were so easily tricked into buying into this popular culture was because of ‘pseudo-individualism’, which basically means that advertisers can create different aesthetics, slogans and backgrounds for music being made with the same formula, to hold peoples attention and keep everyone interested. People love things that are familiar to them, “guessing what is coming and feeling flattered when it does come.” Pop is predictable, and so the majority of people will love it.

Taste in music can also be shaped by your upbringing and social class. Pierre Bourdieu, a French sociologist, had his theory of society. Another thing he felt strongly about was ‘habitus’, which is dispositions that effect the ways in which people see the world and how they react to it. Things that happen in someones life which makes them think a certain way. “Habitus ‘is not fixed or permanent, and can be changed under unexpected situations or over a long historical period.’ (Navarro, 2006). Depending on how you were raised, you will have your parents past experiences and influences passed down on to you, which will effect everything down to music taste. So go easy on people if you hate their music taste, that’s just how they were raised.

Navarro, Z. (2006). In Search of  Cultural Intepretation of Power, IDS Bulletin 37(6): 11-22.

Wilson, Carl, 2007. Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste. 1st ed. USA: Bloomsbury Publishing.

presentation for client and follow up

This was a good opportunity to see our peers’ work and discuss with the client our own and figure out which direction we should take our work. Grace and I came to class to talk about the idea of spot the difference and also show the sketches that we had done. He liked our drawings and the fact you could clearly see what was happening in the images. He liked the colours in our images so we then decided to stick with this and have a specific colour scheme running throughout. Everything was fine although the idea of spot the difference didn’t go down so well as he feared it may not actually bring anything more to the exercise other than us giving ourselves twice the amount of work to complete. I agreed as it seemed kind of pointless to feature this in our work.

Following on from the meeting with our client we decided on a complete colour scheme which is below. We also chose five background colours so there would be two each in a set of ten. Mint green, dark blue, light purple, pastel yellow and dark red. Each person was assigned their background colours to work and just aimed on working towards finalising our images now. We also decided on an A4 portrait format, with the image cropped in the centre.


Collab Progress..

We each chose the laws that we wished to focus on for the project, and altogether the 10 laws in total were

  • Nuisance
  • Arson
  • Divorce
  • Vandalism
  • Murder
  • Drug dealing
  • Copyright
  • Burglary
  • Human rights
  • Employment law

Grace sent an image that she had done for burglary in the style of spot the difference cards …

I also had done some brief sketches of a drug deal scenario and possible murder scene.

Collaborative Project

National Justice System Collaborative Project . x

To begin we were briefed on the project for our client working at the Royal Courts of Justice. It was to complete a set of images depicting at least five civil laws and five criminal laws. It was to be used as an exercise for children to help them learn and consider the laws of the court. It was meant to be engaging with easy to read images revealing exactly what the law entails. A slideshow was shown and possible outcomes were discussed. We were then invited to the Royal Courts of Justice and received a tour and a talk in which we were able to further develop our ideas, discuss format and consider which laws we each would choose to show in our images.

Our first idea which we all liked was to go with the idea of spot the difference cards, in which the children would have to analyse each scenario and figure out what is missing. We decided to work with that idea and regroup with some sketches and development.

Movement ~ ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯

  • POPMOVES . COM, resources page, dance and performance
  • Music videos, fantasia, MTV. Music and moving image
  • Oral history, I think I want my MTV, demonstates it’s significance, force of popular culture. Trevor Horn, Buggles.
  • Opportunity that was  slowly recognised…. idea of Frankfurt School, Adorno. Art as a means of selling rather than an artistic output. The music video was an event, The Thriller video byt Micheal Jackson.
  • Black artists on MTV, effectively was a rock music channel. Racist qualities
  • Video offered not only an opportunity for marketing but also a means of making interesting and innovative video
  • Godly and Creme
  • Invention, Animation
  • That music video with Earl Sweatshirt animated over it
  • Blog post idea, music videos !!!
  • Typography, film culture
  • “A true film autuer is someone who brings something genuinely personal to his subject instead of producing a tasteful … “. The idea of the autuer suggests that the best films will bear their makers signature or marks of individuality
  • Michel Godry music videos, Aphex Twin music videos
  • Music and religion, Lady Gaga
  • READING, Roger Scruton, the last love of dancing
  • Who are we asking, answer to question needs to be coherant and thought through, which aspect are you looking at the information from, NEXUS, newspapers access