Author: Colin | Published: 11/2/12















Artist 1-4: Drive Me Home; 5-6: Harmonic 313; 7-9: Kode 9 & The SpaceApe; 10-12: Morgan Zarate; 13-14 Ikonika
Title 1-4: Fast Life; 5-6: Battlestar; 7-9: Other Man; 10-12: Hookid; 13-14 Sahara Michael
Label 1-4: Citinite; 5-6: Warp Records; 7-14: Hyperdub
Year 2009-11
Design Optigram (Manuel Sepulveda)
Music Electronic
Notes Dubstep as a genre was long in need of distinctive visuals; that particularly applied to Hyperdub, probably the music’s most feted label. The covers for Burial and the first Kode9/SpaceApe failed to impress. Tempa were great and Skull Disco were typically maverick, but as soon as Hyperdub’s 5 Years of… was released in 2009, the packaging and camouflage patterning seemingly disrupted by digital noise perfectly expressed the concerns of the music as well as a wider sense of unease. (Fittingly, I’ve tried on three separate occasions to photograph it and failed to achieve anything satisfactory each time.)

The person responsible was Manuel Sepulveda aka Optigram. Each subsequent design has struck me as consistent, distinctive and exploratory in its approach. Each design does what it needs to do elegantly and with a remarkable economy of means. It’s a long overdue pleasure to feature his work here on Hard Format. The work is clearly informed by the aforementioned camouflage and digital noise, Op Art (as acknowledged by his working alias), Italian Futurism and the most dystopian elements of J.G. Ballard and William Burroughs.

Sepulveda a remarkably modern designer, one that engages with and articulates the spirit of his time. He has the potential to be a digital Reid Miles for the new millenium. There’s often something subtly unsettling about the refusal of Sepulveda’s forms to resolve easily into recognisable patterns. At times they suggest a disruption of vision along the lines of Predator’s alien distortion field – indeed, perhaps they’re presentiments of shapes necessary to hide in extra-planetary ecosystems. Sepulveda also acknowledges the influence of David Pelham‘s designs for Ballard paperbacks, eighties science magazine Omni, Vorticism and Hindu art.

Also Interview with Manuel Sepulveda
F.C. Judd, Electronics Without Tears


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