From June 21 until July 4, 2012, Electronic Beats will be presenting »New Order – an exhibition« at .HBC near Berlin’s Alexanderplatz. The New Order-centred art show will be open to the public daily from 6 to 11pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays), documenting the band’s decade-spanning career with works by fellow companions, with more than 30 photographies by Kevin Cummins as well as all New Order record covers and artworks by designer Peter Saville. In advance of the exhibition opening, Electronic Beats asked both Cummins and Saville about their artistic philosophy.
Peter Saville, born October 9, 1955, co-founded Factory Records and put his mark on the record label’s visual and communicative identity throughout the 1980s. As an art director, graphic designer, and artist he designed many record sleeves for Joy Division and New Order, as well as Fac 51 Haçienda‘s flyer and poster designs. Besides Factory, Saville is also renown for his Duran Duran, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and Wham! art as well as designing the English football team’s home shirt in 2010. “Graphic design is like tidying up tables”, Saville says. “Once you have something to communicate, the rest is only layout.”
Your designs still feel highly fresh today, especially considering the rising interest in brightly- colored web art and statues on media platforms like tumblr.
Saville: Perhaps this is the beginning of a discussion on Postmodernism and the cyclical nature of semiotic quotation.
What do you feel is the role of an artist when it comes to designing for musicians, ie. how much input should the artist have?
Saville: Conventionally the work is one of Art Direction, either on behalf of or for the principle ego in the group – that person decides what the cover is.
Of the New Order art you’ve made, which is your favorite and why?
Saville: Power, Corruption and Lies, 1983. The work represents and juxtaposes two extremes of my aesthetic spectrum.
Would you consider yourself to be as inspired by Jan Tschichold today as you were in the past? If not, who then?
Saville: In the late 70s I learnt something about typography from studying Tschichold. It was pertinent at the time. Currently, I am trying to learn about myself.
When designing an album cover, do you listen to the album as you design, or do you prefer to bring in outside audio influences?
Saville: They were never about the ‘music’; more where the music belonged.
Kevin Cummins, born July 14, 1953 Manchester, followed Joy Division‘s and New Order‘s careers from their very beginnings. The British photographer also became well-known for his intimate observations of artists such as The Clash, Patti Smith, Róisín Murphy, and Buzzcocks, as well as collaborating with English art director and designer Scott King.
Do you still love photographing live shows as much as in the past?
Cummins: Yes, so long as I’m allowed to shoot the whole show. It seems to have become industry standard to only allow photographers to shoot a maximum of three songs now. That’s pointless. It’s rare to see a good live shot taken under such restrictive conditions.
What, in your opinion, is the most ‘iconic’ photograph of New Order?
Cummins: I think the series of four shots – with each member of the band lit in the foreground framed by the other three in silhouette – have come to be most representative of New Order. The most accurate shot is one of Bernard sleeping upside down in his chair. I could have taken a similar shot prior to every gig.
Of the New Order photos you’ve taken, which is your favorite and why?
Cummins: Apart from the above? One of Bernard walking down the street in New York City at 6am. It evokes the memory of Dennis Stock‘s photo of James Dean in Times Square.
What’s a piece of advice you’d have for an aspiring music photo journalist?
Cummins: Always respect your subject but don’t be afraid of giving them direction. Don’t try to be their best friend. Keep the relationship professional.
How have your photography techniques changed over the years?
Cummins: They change slightly as one becomes more comfortable with the camera … but not much!
“New Order, Studio, 58 Baring Street, Manchester, November 1, 1985” (C) Kevin Cummins (für das s/w-Portrait)
“Technique”, Factory, 1989 (C) New Order, Trevor Key and Peter Saville (für den Engel/Cherub)
Electronic Beats presents »New Order – an exhibition« at .HBC Berlin, open to the public daily from June 21 until July 4, 2012, daily from 6 to 11pm (closed on Sundays and Mondays). On June 21 New Order are playing their Electronic Beats-presented concert at Berlin’s Tempodrom, find all information here.
Published June 12, 2012.