MAD Design expands into music and marketing with New Media

With the Musicanator I wanted to combine music and graphic design in some way. Musicanator was created to extend my reach into the artistic medium of music, sound experimentation, and performance. My co-host on the show is the Governator. I use audio clips from audio samples from a variety of media and features songs that are usually remixed or seldom heard (“b-sides”). The Musicanator plays b-sides and electronic music. The philosophy of the program is, “There is so much music out there that you just haven’t heard it all. We will expose you to new music, so stop whining!” No song is played more than once and popular songs are avoided, unless there is a remixed version. Inside the studio the Musicanator advertises MAD Design’s services as a graphic designer. Outside of the studio, I create posters for each Musicanator show, acknowledging MAD Design on each poster as the designer. This method creates a circulating motion of self-promotion.

MAD Design is a freelance operation, founded in September 2009 on campus. After working for Lawrence University’s Communications Department for a year and becoming depressed by the all the rules of graphic design: the Lawrence swoosh, using pre-made fonts, depending on “tracing” where the computer does the drawing for you, and being perfect in general. I came upon a revelation! Everything is relative. Things that we use and art that we see is all created by people. I could do it myself, so I adapted a DIY aesthetic (“do-it-yourself”). I could design whatever he wanted and began to advertise and offer design services to students: posters, logos, and other signage.

Even fine art.

That designed drawing will be showing the Warch Campus Center in the art exhibition, “Figure.”

Unlike the other students of Interarts, my final project has happened during midterm. During the week before Valentine’s Day, I showcased the presentation and product affair about the pangs of passion. Love Is MADness combined all sorts of media. There was an exhibition of graphic design artwork, a special Musicanator playlist of promiscuous songs (among them songs such as “Take A Walk On the Wild Side,” by Lou Reed, “Just A Gigolo,” by Louis Prima, and “Big Pimpin’ [feat. UGK]” by Jay-Z to set the mood), and a performance by Dr. Love who treated walk-in to his table and delivered his merchandise. One thing is for sure, the Communication’s Department would not publish these post cards and stickers.

They are too cool.

I sold those art works outside of the cinema at intermission and after the end of the showcase and continue to sell them at outside sources Avenue Art Gallery and Etsy.


1 Million Dollar Comic

The study of all types of artwork, including comix, should be taken into account when comprising a history of art from the 1960 through 1970, according to James Danky. He argues, “Artists and writers who worked in the mainstream comic book industry of the day were typically older men who rarely communicated with their younger audiences. Their output was largely contrived from the market. Underground cartoonists were directly connected with their readership and shared organizational lines…largely focused on addressing the burning issues of the day.” An example of mainstream art connected with underground art may be drawn from Little Annie Fannie from the July 1970 issue of Playboy.

In those pictures, Annie’s sometime boyfriend Ralphie Towzer is editing The East Village Mother, based on New York’s East Village Other, one of many underground newspapers flourishing a the time. The “Angelfood McSpade” and “Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” cartoons were created especially for this sequence by underground cartoonists Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton.

The transgressant art that comixs represent was both a means for expressing the precariousness of the underground industry towards the end of the 1970s and for their accuracy accounting history. Danky says, “Comic books are not trash. Garish, sometimes tasteless or violent frequently non-comic book, yet they can also be needle sharp, provocative and brimming with fresh language of new ideas.” However, apart from popular art, the insecurity is not held in explosive quality, even though subjects broached were often full of violence, sex, and rock n’ roll. The worlds created are attached to reality, and not fictionalized such as in a Superman comic.

“Jackson Pollock’s drippings constitute a pure form of this iconography of the explosion, which we meet again win the imagery of Pop Art, for which—even more than Roy Lichtenstein’s literal references to comic strip explosions—enlargements (“blow ups”) and multiplication represent pictorial equivalents of detonation…it is the image of a world that is infinitely decomposable by nuclear fission.” (Bourriaud, 178)

The world of Superman seems to always be on the brink of collapse. The original Action comics #1 issue that rake in one million dollars cost only 10 cents when first printed.


Altermodern: Mixtape

There is so much music out there that you just have not heard it all. This is the view I promoted to WLFM to describe the intentions of Musicanator. The same song will not be played more than once unless it has been “remixed” by another artist. I am fascinated by this reuse of artistic material. There are an unending amount of possibilities to present one song. “Another hypothesis: could it be that what has been called ‘art of appropriation’ operates not to seize but to abolish ownership of forms? The DJ is the concrete popular embodiment of this collectivism, a practitioner for whom the work-with-its-signature-affixed is merely one point in a long and winding line of retreatments, bootlegs, and improvised variations. Borrowed from the vocabulary of the DJ or programmer, ‘playlist’ generally designates the list of pieces ‘to be played.’ It is a cartography of cultural data but also an open order, a path that can be borrowed (and infinitely modified) by others.” (Bourriaud, 161) Any appropriated or recorded sound that can be translated into radio waves may be used, in combination with any other sound. This is shown by albums entirely made from remixes, such as with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’s album “Listzomania,” remixed by a multitude of other artists.

“A matter of organizing an encounter between two or more objects, mixing is an art practiced under the ‘cultural rain,’ an art of deviation, of capturing flows and arranging them through singular structures.” (Bourriaud, 155)

By assimilating different sounds that have already been produced, mixing is a mainly secondary art. Yet original artists may be part of the cloud that precipitates “cultural rain.” As in postmodernism, it is all very difficult to distinguish what is an “original” song nowadays, if inspiration of historical musicians and formal music structures are taken into account for song creation. Remixes may be seen as original works if perceived as different enough from what it is being mixed from. However, from this point of view, “to practice citation is to appeal to an authority: in measuring him- or herself against the master the artist claims a place in a historical lineage and thereby legitimates first of all his or her own position, but also, tacitly, a vision of culture in which signs unequivocally ‘belong’ to an author, to whom the present work refers, ironically, aggressively, or admiringly.” (Bourriaud, 166) I believe that a remix can be unrelated enough to its original that it becomes “owned” by the remixer. If you are familiar with “Love Like A Sunset,” then my example is Animal Collective’s remix of that song (coupled with the slideshow of psychedelic sunsets, instruments, and new vocals). The song has a whole new aura of originality.

“Today, music continues to provide a procedural model. When a musician uses a sample, when a DJ mixes discs, they know that their own work may in turn be taken up and serve as material for new operations…The work of contemporary art is no longer defined as the endpoint of the creative process but rather as an interface, a generator of activities.” (Bourriaud, 172)

Through a creative process of organizing playlists for Musicanator on Garageband I am in effect translating the songs by inserting audio clips from cultural references in movies, other songs, and live recording, “…the meaning of the resulting work is entirely different from that of the original.” If songs may be considered having their own essential “color,” similarly to color relationships (any color is perceived differently when placed side by side with another color) when the order of songs is altered a song following or followed by another song will be perceived differently. The original song can be perceived in innumerous ways according to the listener. “‘It is the viewers who make the paintings,’ Duchamp once said, an incomprehensible remark unless we connect it to his keen sense of an emerging culture of use, in which meaning is born of collaboration and negotiation between the artist and the one who comes to view the work. Why wouldn’t the meaning of a work have as much to do with the use one makes of it as with the artists intentions for it?’ Such is the meaning of what he might venture to call a formal collectivism.” (Bourriaud, 161)


Altermodern: Mixtape

I didn't research this, found out about this mixtape by accident.
Bouriaud organized a music exhibition at the Tate Museum. Altermodern: Mixtape.
Learn more at:
Listen to mixed tape by DJ Mixmaster Morris at:
The songs are pretty good.