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Discographisme recratif is both a documentary and collectional work begun in 1996 (around 3000 sleeves). It’s composed of different iconographic montages made from record sleeves and CD jackets. The distinctive feature: these covers, be they 45s, 33s, or CDs, mostly found at flea markets, have all been redone or modified by anonymous indivuals using the original covers as a guideline and as a source of inspiration. The first book issued in 2004 ever compiles around 100 examples of found altered and homemade record sleeves(Sold out). The second one (2009) contains around 200 sleeves 21 x 21 cm 224 pages, 200 ill. color
"... File this between Dori Hadar's book (Mingering Mike) and a Christian Marclay Catalogue".
in The Wire magazine / by Anne Hilde Neset -oct 2010
Every once in a while we’ve all let something on our mind take form on something on hand: an impulsive scribble, such as a cavity on the beatific smile of a magazine’s cover girl, or perhaps a few lapidary annotations or a risky sketch on an album sleeve…
Discographisme recreatif is both a documentary and collectional work begun in 1996. It’s composed of different iconographic montages made from record sleeves and CD jackets.
The distinctive feature: these covers, be they 45s, 33s, or CDs, mostly found at flea markets, have all been redone or modified by anonymous indivuals using the original covers as a guideline and as a source of inspiration.
As part of a commercial process, the disc jacket as a logistical tool is above all a form of packaging whose function is to “stimulate attraction to the new product by sublimating its contents with imagery”. Though the image of a pop idol often becomes a sacralized object, the music lover can foster and maintain a more personal relationship through album sleeves. Generally speaking, few are those who risk blemishing the immaculate surface of such a consumer good, and the standards for collectors forbid even the slightest intervention on an original: the commercialized image, the unwavering icon, is considered complete.
Nevertheless, we’ve seen it done: a sexual organ crudely drawn on a starlet, mustaches added to the Mona Lisa, dots of mauve chicken pox inked on a celebrity’s portrait…
The most common personalization of a record sleeve, often motivated by function, is the addition of a signature, a dedication, or an inscription of the date and location of the purchase; this is the first act of appropriation. We’ll see that the intervention
can become more adventurous: words of unbridled devotion openly scribbled on the pop icon during a song, or an impulsive, derisive reaction to the ideal, transgressing conventions and consumer norms. When under the influence of sentimental songs, symbols of affection, souvenirs of first meetings, declarations of love or of a romance’s end are the most frequent. Personal sentiments come to light: intimate confessions, testimonies of unique moments forever tied to a particular song…The disc’s conventional usage is extended, by a total appropriation of its being, in a relationship turned intimate and concrete. During my many peregrinations through rummage sales, I had the opportunity to speak with the various owners of these record covers. Some of them, when reminded of their past work and its ties to personal or musical memories, spoke of it with pleasure. Others seemed embarrassed to unveil their intimacy in such a manner, or to reveal their naïveté or the possible awkwardness of their work.
Sleeves frequently end up covered with timid or incomplete
inscriptions, aleatory scribblings, and botched drawings. Often they’re just simple doodles, cross-outs, alterations, cut-up and scotch-taped fixes. But other times, a more elaborate effort emerges, be it a drawing, a collage, a painting, computer-aided graphics, or other forms of customization.
These productions, created outside the bounds of typical artistic protocol (they’re not necessarily made to be “shown”), can nevertheless appear as stereotypes by vitue of their undeniable ties to mass consumerism and an adherance to its codes. This collection does not ask to aesthetically judge these works, but rather to imagine the conditions that led to their creation - to sift out a sensitive, revendicating, phantasmagoric, or poetic content...
Reasons behind these creations can include: -Loss of the original jacket: big parties and lending vinyl often lead to deteriorating or even lost sleeves; from whence the necessity to create one’s own.
-Restoration, consolidation, or archiving: certain materials take
on an importance of their own: adhesive tape, cardboard, wallpaper (treasured for its sharp colors and its vivid ornamental patterns). It is also quite frequent for the artist to attempt to remain true to the original design by adding a carefully drawn
record label logo, complete with catalog number.
-Writing needs: texts, poems, and personal messages such as “I’m at Mr. Nicot’s, be back later!”. The jacket can serve as a kind of notepad for phone numbers, calculations, shopping lists, and games.
-A creative activity: a simple act of assembling pre-existing elements, ready-made images from magazines or catalogues, such as stars, cars, animals, bathtubs, or landscapes. Such illustrations are skillfully removed from their original context
only to be trimmed and rearranged in collage form. The commercial image is a new source of inspiration, a “new space” to be seized...
-Desire for immediate self-expression: revendications (“Peace and love”, “Shit!”), impetuous remarks (“I love you, I love you”, “I hate you, you’re awful!”), insubordinate comments, absurdities and ineptitudes. These can often be traced back to the owner’s adolescence.
-A spontaneous outpouring of sentiments: the “fan” expresses his attachment to the artist (hearts drawn by teenagers on the radiant faces of their idols). The sleeve is witness to an applied fetishism, to an exacerbated idolatry, and becomes an object
of devotion. On the other hand, other stars’ pictures can be shockingly perverted and violently defiled: a sarcastic manifestation of rejection, a lapidary judgement on popstars that are suddenly ostracized by the author’s own “best of”, scratched-out stars made ridiculous on a sleeve intentionally modified for their humilation.
-An escape from boredom, or a break with established norms. This solitary activity can be interpreted as an outlet for conflict with one’s environment. The jacket becomes an object to remake, an ideal model to correct, a too-perfect image to
reconsider... These amateur images represent a concrete experience of everyday life, which we can place in the history of popular iconography, with all its social, economic or cultural implications. For many young people, these playful and imaginative experiments undoubtedly constituted a sort of artistic awakening.
Certain themes recreated on multiple sleeves (“serie”) reveal an evolution or even a calculated creative process, which belie an undeniable artistic “intentionality”. More often than not, the graphic preciosity or even the “scholarly” approach is the result of a timid, introspective appropriation, stemming from an entirely contemplative candor. But from time to time, the act is more original, disrespectful of “models” and codes. This allows for a rewrite of proposed cultural models, be it heavyhanded or with delicatesse, with irony and with passion. Though these are clearly self-taught and self-informed practices, these modified and re-created jackets nevertheless develop in relation to the graphic styles and artistic genres currently in vogue, which they either adopt, imitate, or from which they try to distinguish themselves. A correlation develops between these different “art worlds” -- mass communication, contemporary art, and popular art...
Starting in the 1970s, we see works that are far more minimalist than those from the 1960s. In the 1980s and 90s, sleeve work became more restrained, in part due to the advent of both the plastic CD jewel case and the popularization of digital media. Another factor could be the onset of a more “clinical” appreciation of the original products. Or perhaps, quite the contrary, this restraint can be explained by a sort of saturation, a consequence of a surfeit of images in the era of media overexposure.
On top of that, as the viability of a cultural product becomes increasingly limited due to a constant obligation to renew and upgrade, the act of appropriation becomes both instantaneous and ephemeral, like a summer hit. At the same time, we could venture that CD burning, downloads, and the popularization of certain computer programs might lead to a new infatuation with the world of “do-it-yourself”. With time, these works appear to many as naive, awkward, kitschy, outdated, or inadequate when faced with contemporary aesthetic criteria and current modes of representation. Deemed aesthetically mediocre and lacking any informative interest, they are treated with negligence or thrown out, making them very difficult to find.
The personalized record sleeve is the final stop on an album’s economic circuit. For the meticulous consumer or collector, the disc has no emotional or market value: it is considered sullied. But the disc, unburdened of its original function and conceived in an ultimate act of appropriation, acquires here a new representative value.
As a result of their often brief, hesitant content, and their often approximate style, these jackets can be considered as a product of a relatively minor and insignificant practice. However, they are, above all, the expression of lived moments -- aesthetic
attempts, vacillating from copying to stylization, from citation to misappropriation, from projection to idealization, from creation to iconoclasm... The presentation of these numerous and varied works in one singular composition allows for many different interpretations, and invites the viewer to a tangible iconophonic and stereographic experience of everyday life.
Certain sleeves presented in this book are excerpts from the
“collections” of Bruno Lagabe, Yves Cochinal, and Pierre-
Homemade record sleeves / Discographisme recreatif