Speak For Yourself is a platform for artists anc musicians to ciscuss w nat inspires anc influences their work. Jon Wozencroft is a photographer, graphic designer anc author. He co-founded esoteric record imprint Touch in 1982 and continues to design the label’s distinctive sleeve art. In 1988; Wozencroft published a major monograph on fellow graphic artist Neville Brody and later founded FUSE, an experimental publication featuring graphics and fonts. He is currently Senior Tutor in the Communication Art and Design Department at the Royal College of Art. As told to David Sheppard
Touch: I started this project in 1981 and it still hugs my soul. I’ve been fortunate to work with many of the people whose art and music I most admire, for their kinship as well as their creative brilliance. It’s too fastidious to name names, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without the dual dedication of my Touch partner Mike Harding, and the rest of my family. To say more would be to end up talking about myself. Please check the website: www.touchmusic.org.uk
Joy Division/Wire: In this respect I am a groupie, and there’s not much I can do about it. Between 1978 and 1980, there were no two greater groups in the UK than Joy Division and Wire. I saw Wire 20 times and JD twice. Remarkable (to me) was the chance to work with these (non) musicians who’d changed my vision of sound. In this respect, the early years of New Order were a revelation, and the time period 1981-84 full of superb live performances and personal experiences involved in seeing them. Dec Hickey’s self-published book From Heaven to Heaven is the best document of this; some major publisher would be doing the world a service if they gave it a wider audience. It’s an ocean away from the existing journalism.
Kandinsky: What we all find most difficult to learn is the idea that anything can happen, based on a willingness and acceptance of change. Kandinsky was a lawyer in Moscow, saw a Monet exhibition in 1896, and at the age of 45 decided to become a painter. In doing so found his voice. I like his early works the best, with the move from Russia to Berlin and the chemistry of all the work before the First World War. The almanac The Blue Rider, which mixed paintings, poems, woodcuts and theatre scripts from collaborators Klee, Marc, Picasso, Schoenberg, etc. gave me the courage to try something similar seventy years later. I don’t buy all Kandinsky’s claims for his later fusions of painting and’music, but in the digital night-watch the art produced in the early part of the last century is still regurgitated by all but a few. If the large glass of modern art is fairly derivative, it is still possible to see stellar work in the dark space of Miroslaw Balka, the radiance of James Turrell and the alchemy of Jannis Kounellis.
Augustus Pablo: I’m obsessed by the gift certain artists have to create and define a space. Pablo uses a ‘toy instrument’, the melodica, in the context of dub reggae to produce breathtaking layers of devotional sound. His ‘Rockers Productions’ of the late 1970s are timeless classics.Landscape and Perception: At the RCA, I do this research project with Paul Devereux. We are investigating the possible primacy of sound in prehistory, as a way of articulating a pre-modern idea of landscape; looking in particular at the Preseli area of Wales. Preseli is the source of the bluestones transported to Stonehenge. Certain stones located here we have discovered to be lithophonic, they ring like bells, like gongs, like magic… www.landscape-perception.com
The Things Mad About This Week: In navigating a path through the overload of information and the received idea that ‘there is nothing new under the sun’, in terms of contemporary practice one of the most difficult tasks is to keep an open mind. The latest novel by Alan Warner, The Stars in the Bright Sky, I didn’t want to end! Getting Philip Jeck’s new CDR in the post — the work gets better and better. Finding live recordings of the Mahavishnu Orchestra in 1972, online — amazing! I took my seven-year-old daughter to see Streetdance 3D and loved every minute. It’s pure pap, but fantastic to see London on film, and most tellingly, it vividly portrays a state of excitement.
Water: Everything to do with the movement of water, the impact of light upon its surface, and the scale of the sea. . .One of the year’s richest pleasures is to be able to spend some time in the summer being close to the water, washing my brains as well as my body.