Tim Catlin, Francisco López, John Duncan and Carl Michael Von Hausswolff, Chop Shop, Zbigniew Karkowski, Joe Colley

Author: Colin | Published: 5/2/11

Artist 1-3: Tim Catlin; 4-6: Francisco López; 7-10: John Duncan and Carl Michael Von Hausswolff; 11-12: Chop Shop; 13-14: Zbigniew Karkowski; 15-16: various; 17-18: Joe Colley
Title 1-3: Radio Ghosts; 4-6: Live in San Francisco; 7-10: Our Telluric Conversation; 11-12: Oxide; 13-14: Antimatter; 15-16: Variable Resistance; 17-18: Desperate Attempts at Beauty: Conceptual and Research Exercises
Label 1-16: 23five; 17-18: Auscultare/Ground Fault
Year 2002-07
Design Randy H.Y. Yau
Music Sound art
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Notes Randy Yau is active in an impressively wide range of roles: graphic designer, practising sound artist, sonic curator, broadcaster and executive director of the label 23five. The quality I most appreciate about his work is its understatedness. In combination with a keen sense of subtlety, the result is a series of highly elegant designs. Yau’s use of standard jewel-cases is highly distinctive. Where this form of packaging is generally disparaged, he makes convincing use of it. This may in large part be attributable to his use of card slip-covers (a la ECM) as a device to both mirror or enhance the design and provide tactility.

Each CD identifies and utilises a particular motif, whether it be an embossed logo (Chop Shop), die-cut lettering (Zbigniew Karkowski), darkness (Franciso López’s CD comes complete with blindfold) or touch (the upper face of the John Duncan and Carl Michael Von Hausswolff CD not only presents a line of Braille, but the outer case also feels almost like skin to the touch). There is never a sense that any of these devices is contrived, but instead that each is presented as a thoughtful response to the artist’s work.

Randy Yau writes:

I have always been partial to designing for the genre of ‘experimental music / noise / sound art’ because it intersects my professional work as a designer and my personal work and interest in the sonic arts. As a designer, the aim is always to facilitate—to discover and design some kind of truth for the client with a discerning eye. With the same philosophy toward music design and packaging, I will always engage with the artist to discover the story behind the music in order to arrive at some conceptual approach toward the design. The intensity and conceptual foundation of the genre itself always presents a rich narrative that goes beyond aesthetics, and fuels much of my design thinking. Of course there is an overall consistency in design sensibility, but each individual design was arrived at with some discourse and intent to reveal, support and elevate the conceptual nature of the music. For example, for Jason Kahn’s “Vanishing Point”, I approached printing methods with layers of ink the same way Kahn approached his music with white noise. As music is totally experiential, tactility and touch has always been an important element to consider in packaging. For me, it completes the experience.

Short Biography:

Randy Yau is a designer, sound artist and curator. He is currently an art director and designer at the distinguished San Francisco firm, Tolleson Design. Yau has been active in the sonic arts since the early 90s and continues to advocate the arts as Executive Director of the non-profit sound arts organization, 23five Incorporated.

Listen Tim Catlin – Mirage [mp3]
Chop Shop – Oxide [mp3]
Visit The 23five website


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