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6 May 2015
We recently rolled out a series of imagery across the site; the 'Signal Chain' series, made for Bleep by Jack Featherstone, was created to form a set of imagery to be incorporated into the Bleep aesthetic. Instead of using stock photography, we wanted to create some bespoke artwork. We were interested in creating abstract patterns made using both physical and digital processes.
Here, the images are presented in their original form and produced as A2 art prints.
Signal Chain 005, Jack Featherstone
Our original brief to Jack was to create a set of four patterns, each being a variation on a single graphic idea. Jack extended this to create larger, more textured images from which we could crop into and generate a huge number of different patterns. This gave the project a feeling endlessly generating and mutating, which somehow felt inherently digital. We chose to use the images at two different scales: tightly-cropped, which resulted in quite abstract-feeling patterns, and the full images, which we have made into prints and used on gift vouchers; at this scale, the images take on a very different form and it allows people to get an idea of the way the images have been created.
We talked to Jack about his process and thinking behind the work:
Bleep: What other work have you done for Bleep in the past? What is your connection to the Bleep brand?
Jack Featherstone: I have collaborated on a number of projects with Bleep now. The first was the ‘Visualising Sound’ project, which also involved Trevor Jackson and Optigram. My piece was called ‘Reverb’ and was run as both a limited edition screen print and t-shirt. I designed a t-shirt for Bleep’s 10th anniversary ‘Bleep:10’ project and also contributed to the 2014 winter design series where I did my own take on the classic acid smiley. I’ve designed a t-shirt for Warp somewhere along the line too.
Signal Chain 013, Jack Featherstone
Bleep’s connection with Warp allows it to retain a sense of heritage, especially when it comes to British electronic music. For me thats really important as I grew up listening to AFX, Autecture, BOC etc. and although I see Bleep as a forward thinking brand there is definitely a subtle undercurrent within its aesthetic that nods to its own history within the wider context of electronic music.
The British electronic music scene in the early ’90s along with the design ideas and aesthetics associated with it spawned a kind of mythology for people of my generation. Although I wasn’t old enough to enjoy that time I am still able to borrow from it, and like Bleep I enjoy fusing those historical influences with other ideas to create something new.
What was your approach to the project?
I was handed a detailed brief that pretty much outlined the concept of the project for me. Luckily this concept almost perfectly summed up my own favourite line of inquiry with image making, which is to see what happens at the intersection between digital and non-digital approaches. I knew before I started that this would be a great opportunity to experiment, so I decided that whatever I did would involve an elaborate series of both digital and physical processes designed to create unexpected results. In a similar way to playing with sound I wanted to begin with a source and process it through a kind of ‘signal chain’. Because the idea was so entwined with the process it meant that a conceptual weight had been lifted from my shoulders, which allowed me to play and have a lot of fun with basic mark making.
Signal Chain 022, Jack Featherstone
What can you tell us about the process of creating these images?
I began with pencil on paper. For this project I was playing with various composition ideas consisting of expressive marks and simple shapes within my sketch book. I was looking for some solid starting points that would act as source material for the processing stage. Once I was happy with a couple of my sketches I began making digital drawings from them. These computer drawings became the ‘source material’ and once I had them down the real experiments began as I tried and tested different combinations of processing techniques. It took a while but eventually I found a sequence of techniques that produced a result that really excited me, and once I had it I was able to roll out lots of images from which to select favourites from. The chain of processes that I set up involved a printer, various design and drawing software, a scanner, a bit of code and photocopier. I got so carried away that I ended up with far more than the required 4 images, so decided to send almost all of them to Bleep. I delivered them really hi res which will allow for a lot of really detailed crops to be used across the Bleep brand.
Signal Chain 001, Jack Featherstone