Article

After the Storm: Hipgnosis, Storm Thorgerson, and the Rock Album Cover

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Abstract

The London-based design agency known as Hipgnosis, comprising primarily Storm Thorgerson, Aubrey Powell and later Peter Christopherson (along with several itinerant freelance collaborators), stood at the forefront of rock’s imaginative leap from the mundane to the magical (and also occasionally into the absurd and grotesque) during its operation from 1968 to 1983. The studio helped to make the album cover more integral to a record’s artistic totality, effectively translating sonic experiences into still images and accelerating the rock album cover’s development.

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... Existing literature on album artwork (cf. Robertson 2007;Bestley 2014;Blue 2011;Grant 2001;Jones and Sorger 1999) shows that it is connected to the cultural and political values of the social environment within which they were produced and consumed (Chapman 2012;Lowey and Prince 2014;Shaw 2014;Hickam and Wallach 2011;Karjalainen and Ainamo 2011;Karjalainen, Laaksonen, and Ainamo 2009;Alleyne 2014;Inglis 2001), or even the global environment of the last two decades with it globalizing impact on both visuals and values. ...
Conference Paper
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... Existing literature on album artwork (cf. Robertson 2007;Bestley 2014;Blue 2011;Grant 2001;Jones and Sorger 1999) shows that it is connected to the cultural and political values of the social environment within which they were produced and consumed (Chapman 2012;Lowey and Prince 2014;Shaw 2014;Hickam and Wallach 2011;Karjalainen and Ainamo 2011;Karjalainen, Laaksonen, and Ainamo 2009;Alleyne 2014;Inglis 2001), or even the global environment of the last two decades with it globalizing impact on both visuals and values. ...
Chapter
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Visual Semiotics, as is the case with most of Visual Studies so far, have not found yet a sound and methodologically rigorous equilibrium between ‘visual’ and ‘semiotics’. Instead, following existing examples, they scrutinize visuality, the gaze and other similar objects of inquiry, or work on visual grammar and syntax. In all cases, they deal mostly with meta-language about images than with images themselves. They deal mostly with words used to describe the visual (either produced by the researcher or by others) than with the visual itself. In this paper, I am to propose the use of existing software tools in order to achieve research in quantifiable signifiers in visual images, and their manipulation towards a quantitative semiotics. Concepts like ‘entropy’, ‘hue’, ‘saturation’, ‘mean RGB’ etc. are the computed signifiers which are actually visible but so far visual researchers were unable to tap upon. Illustration of the method will be provided by my current research.
Thesis
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Album Covers occupy a unique space within the cultural awareness. They are both art objects and market features, with either quality perceived in various degree depending on the consumer that perceives them. Yet despite the critical role they play in the multisensory appreciation of music, they are relegated to an inferior status in the design canon—discarded as too "pop" of an artistic work to offer any meaning. With this essay, I have constructed new terminology in order to begin to shed light on album covers. By scrutinising their visual nature and its inter-dependancy with music's audial one, I aimed to introduce a new model to evaluate music by and consequently elevate the album cover to its deserved place among other design formats worthy of deeper reflection.
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A proposta deste artigo é analisar as formas de representação do punk rock de São Paulo e da região do ABC paulista nas imagens das capas de discos long playing (LP). As noções de representação e cultura, a partir de Stuart Hall (2016), e texto cultural e semiosfera, de Iuri Lotman (1996), serão as bases para oentendimento da capa enquanto elemento cultural de mediação. 26 discoscompõem o corpus analisado, sendo três coletâneas seminais do movimento e 23 lançados por sete bandas paulistas importantes na década de 1980 e início de 1990: Cólera, Garotos Podres, Inocentes, Mercenárias, Olho Seco, Ratos de Porão e Restos de Nada. As representações ocorrem em imagens figurativas e abstratas de quatro maneiras básicas: colagem e estética “suja”; figuração do personagem punk; imagens de violência, abjeção e tensão; críticas ao capitalismo e à sociedade de consumo.
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From their release in the 1960s, the LPs of the Beatles have dominated the various selections and lists which routinely purport to identify the most popular/most influential/best albums of the popular music era. Throughout each subsequent decade, the verdicts expressed in audience polls, in critics' choices and in the comments of other musicians have served to effectively maintain and enhance the group's reputation. There is, however, an additional way - often alluded to, but rarely investigated - in which the albums of the Beatles are celebrated. Almost without exception, the album covers themselves have been seen as groundbreaking in their visual and aesthetic properties, have been congratulated for their innovative and imaginative designs, have been credited with providing an early impetus for the expansion of the graphic design industry into the imagery of popular music, and have been seen as largely responsible for allowing the connections between art and pop to be made explicit.
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Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon Immersion Edition—Review The Guardian
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White on Black: Images of Africa and Blacks in Western Popular Culture
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Rhythm Revolution: A Chronological Anthology of American Popular Music: 1960s to 1980s
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Albums: Creeping Tedium
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Sex Sells Music, Music Sells Jeans…
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Frith, Simon. "Sex Sells Music, Music Sells Jeans…" Melody Maker 26 May 1979: 14. (Archive: 1926-2000). ProQuest. Web. 25 June 2014.
Music: Album Covers Get More Colorful but Bring Production Budget Blues
  • Johnny Morgan
  • Ben Wardle
Morgan, Johnny, and Ben Wardle. The Art of the LP: Classic Album Covers 1955-1995. New York: Sterling, 2010. Print. "Music: Album Covers Get More Colorful but Bring Production Budget Blues." Variety 29 Aug. 1956: 43. (Archive: 1905-2000). ProQuest. Web. 9 June 2014.
Pictures: Greenback, Subsid of Hipgnosis, Eyes a Filming Future
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For The Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis
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Shaughnessy, Adrian. "Optical Believability." For The Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis. New York: Picturebox, 2008. 13-18. Print.
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