Edited by Annie Owens & Attaboy (Last Gasp)
If you’re au fait with such terms as Designer Vinyl, Softies, Plushies, Big Eye, Indy Toy, Constructions, Installations and other buzz-terms that define and compartmentalise the modern art scene then you may already be aware of the magazine Hi-Fructose which spotlights in a cool, hip and wonderfully accessible manner the eye-popping creations of modern artists working in every area of creativity from comic strips to photography, street art to customised toy-building, dress-making to performance.
Cutting Edge is a term I’m always uneasy applying to art of any kind but as a general term for “not your grandfather’s painting or sculpture” it will do as a guide to the literally stunning visual content in this book which collects and enthusiastically expands upon the first four issues of the contemporary arts review.
With forty or so artists displayed and/or interviewed, this quality full-colour hardback explores surreal toy photography, the French company Royal de Luxe (who I think created the giant spider that attacked downtown Liverpool during their recent City of Culture celebration), digital collage, animation, caricature, various styles of painting, a life-sized working version of the old children’s board-game Mousetrap, X-Ray photography, all disciplines of illustration, toy design/customisation, and whole bunches of things I don’t really have handy pigeon-holes for.
Art is not in the eye of the beholder: it is in all the processes of society.
If there is a prevailing theme or fascination linking many (never, never all) of the talented makers gathered here it might well be old views of the future and retro-imagery and co-opted popular cultural nostalgia of childhood. Many creators have also worked in the comics biz (Dave Copper, Chris Ware and Jim Woodring among others), but the overwhelming appeal of this book is the sheer, compulsive breadth and variety of the work.
If your eyes and brain are open to stimulation (and your ethical centre can handle the occasional sexually uncompromising image) this is a book that will stir your creative juices and make your arts and craft mouth water. (Painful metaphors can be ignored at will, other descriptive passages can be applied at readers’ request, and the relative value of critical opinion can go up as well as too far…)
All artwork, photos and writing © 2008 respective artists, photographers and authors. Book © 2008 Ouch Factory Yum Club and Last Gasp. All rights reserved.