Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Importance of Being Warehouse

Design is suffering, our capitalist society is sitting back, dormant and scared of the very standards it lives by. The mass media panic has forced us to retract spending money, defying the economy’s natural sustainability, and tipping the balance between form and function. Consumers have taken to the bare essentials, disregarding quality for the immediate cheap option, disillusioned by price rather than belief in investment.

It’s in the darkest moments that we realise the remarkable. Collaborations help to sustain professions that cannot always depend on themselves. The idea of sharing resources to help strengthen one’s work to produce something not achievable independently is incredibly evident in the creative cultures. The art of multi media has itself become a single entity, and it’s success proves the progressive nature of joint ventures.

Images Copyright of Jack Penford Baker

Manchester has always been a haven for music. Venues litter the city streets, people pour in and out of shows, flirting with the prospect of an eternal stream of live music. From the start of Joy Division, through to the Mercury Prize winning Elbow, Manchester has become a center for music in Britain. With the music came other cultures. A silent collaboration between all underground elements of design has helped to cement a thriving industry in the North of England. Perhaps the pinnacle is seen with the Hacienda. A prolific night club born out of music in the late 1980’s. It’s impact on music is astonishing, and it’s survival highlighted a remarkable prolonged life.

At the heart of the Hacienda was a brilliant relationship. Factory Records saw music and design bleed into each other. Tony Wilson, Martin Hannett and Alan Erasmus, all from a musical background, set Factory Records up with the help of Peter Saville. Saville’s background stemmed not from music, but graphic design. It was this relationship that saw a fantastic multi media collaboration grow. The artwork was elevated to a new level of importance, treated on par with the music. This infusing of medias began a new age of culture in Manchester.

Images Copyright of Jack Penford Baker

But times have changed. The introduction of the internet helped to snowball cross-media work. Everything began to be celebrated; music began to only be seen as a multimedia presentation. Music videos became an entirely new media, and their importance rose and rose, overtaking the music itself. In the modern generation of music culture the balance has been tipped, multimedia has metamorphisised itself and is now mistaken for music. There no longer is a relationship because it stands as a singular object. This isn’t to say music is no longer music, but rather like all things, it has evolved.

The balance between medias is a difficult thing to achieve. The days of the Hacienda saw a humane understanding between the different cultures, and it appears to be at this scale that multi media works best.

Images Copyright of Jack Penford Baker

The Warehouse Project is a modern example of cross media collaboration, where limits of expansion has helped it to stay at it’s peak. The current recession appears to have been benefit rather than a hindrance. Proving that quality is preferred by the consumer. It’s high cost location has helped to stall planned construction nearby, preventing the inevitable demise for the autumn long event.

Upon one entering the desolate car park housed in the caverns of Piccadilly train station a surprising revelation occurs. The existence of such a large scale event feels hyper real and out of place in such a heavy urban environment. Exiting train passengers are unbeknownst to the frivolous frolics happening meters below their feet. Passerbys catch glimpses of spellbound attenders floating in and out of the ambiguous entrance, but inside a new world of visuals and sound takes one into a euphoric state.

Images Copyright of Jack Penford Baker

Underneath the Victorian arches unnerved by the bellowing bass of music sits music and video, working together as a collaboration, as multimedia. The two work together to lure your senses into the abyss of light and sound. Like with Factory Records, the music takes the more prominent position, but the visuals add so much more to the experience, the two together make the Warehouse Project.

Images Copyright of Jack Penford Baker

The success of the WHP is down to many things, some is pure look, others critical acclaim, but what makes it stand out as a truly individual experience is it’s understanding of a truly great collaboration of multi media. It’s the collaboration that is essential for the survival and importance of the creative industries.