The Re:Sleeves Podcast

Recorded fortnightly, Fridays. Host: Ben Waddington.

Ben Waddington is an independent researcher with a particular interest in typography, the designed environment and Birmingham history. His preferred platform for sharing his research is the guided tour. He is the director of the Still Walking Festival: a programme of guided tours expanding the role of tourism, working with historians, scientists, artists and urban planners. He continues to explore the interface between education, research, design and civic identity.

Ben Waddington is an independent researcher with a particular interest in typography, the designed environment and Birmingham history. His preferred platform for sharing his research is the guided tour. He is the director of the Still Walking Festival: a programme of guided tours expanding the role of tourism, working with historians, scientists, artists and urban planners. He continues to explore the interface between education, research, design and civic identity.

Re:Sleeves looks at the visual context of music when we buy it... everything that isn’t the sound of the music itself.

At its core is the iconic square foot of album sleeve. Originally merely a device to protect the fragile grooves, the record sleeve gradually became more a key experience in listening to the music. By the 70s it became a fully visual experience, involving the front and back covers, inserts, spine, labels, typography and sometimes even the vinyl itself. The hungry mind would devour all this information repeatedly, looking for something previously missed, like a detective trying to crack a case. In many cases, this was the only source of information there was about a band: an annual report of the band’s predilections and movements. Everything was subject to wild misinterpretation.

As an album sleeve designer, you would often have a direct interface with the musician and the work would be very closely tied to the music. But what once seemed like a graphic design staple has followed its own “rock star” career. Changes in technology meant diminishing returns for the album sleeve via the CD and minidisc in the 80s and 90s. By 2000, the digital enemy had declared war and today music for many has largely shed its visual mantle. Iconic has become “icon”.

But the record sleeve could never be quite dropped completely from our cultural consciousness.

Re:Sleeves revisits some of these albums to discuss meaning, interpretation and feelings that have stayed with us to the present. The subject can transcend the album art and venture into the associated world of posters, T shirts, badges, promotional material, stage design, costumes and ticket stubs.

Like its musical counterpart, Re Sleeves will be available in several formats: a blog, twitter account, podcasts, guest speakers and Pecha Kucha™ style presentations. We welcome debate and opinion and invite music fans to present their own interests, obsessions and observations.

Follow Ben Waddington on Twitter @falsedog

Follow @resleeves on Twitter.

 

Latest episode

Re:Sleeves' Ben Waddington met up with Ryan Hughes last month to talk about his label [RHP] CDRs. Ryan is the artist and curator of a variety of experimental music releases and designs the packaging himself according to an ever drifting, shifting set of rules.


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