The rise and rise of HAAi
Established as one of the four elements of hip hop, graffiti has routinely been linked with US rap and turntablism. However, years after seminal publications like Subway Art and Spraycan Art helped to cement those links, what we now define as a broader and more international ‘Street Art’ isn’t always associated with these sounds.
“It has never been just a hip hop thing,” reckons Jeroen Erosie, who runs Rotterdam-based label *3024 with Martyn. “Perhaps in the way it reached me as a kid, sure: there was a lot of graffiti in hip hop video clips. But it was also visible in Kylie Minogue’s Locomotion. “
“For me it was the video for Bomb The Bass’ Beat Dis where quite a few things came together: that cut and paste video approach; the focus on an all-out vibe instead of an ego-obsessed tough looking crew shot. And, of course, the music: so different with that focus on the beats rather than the lyrics.”
Alongside DJ/producer Martyn, Erosie now runs the 3024 label. Alongside his art exhibitions, prints, public works and installations, he has developed a unique yet similarly cut and paste aesthetic for what’s an ever-evolving range of quality-controlled electronic dance music. It’s a progression from a series of work that used the title ‘Implosion’, and each – for producers such as Mosca, Redshape, Julio Bashmore and Addison Groove – is typified by chaotic, abstract collages that overlap broad strokes of colour and what appear to be glimpses of larger works.
Working intuitively, Erosie’s process involves moving between canvas and Photoshop while never straying too far from his interpretation of the music. Now up to release 018 – a Jon Convex/dBridge single that makes its visual debut here – there are no synaesthesia-like exchange values between the imagery and the timbre, tempo or melody. But the sound does determine the shape and structure of the artwork. How this works exactly, he remains unsure. In any case, he wouldn’t want to locate a precise formula. However, amongst the varied complex patterns, there is also continuity. Erosie reveals that he often bases a release’s artwork on the final layer of the previous one and there’s a nod here to the generic yet ultimately collectible label “housebag”. As per the packaging for Network Records releases from years back, a clear serial nature within a back-catalogue of otherwise disparate records has emerged.
“Doing the artwork for a wide range of producers is a nice way of looking for this Gesamtkunstwerk approach,” he says. “In the end all of this is concentrated on this plastic disc with a piece of cardboard around it. I like this concentration of so many different backgrounds and mind sets. In this sense I think my approach matches Martyn’s way of working in that we like to keep an open mind in our creative process. We don’t stick to genres or conventions too much, but rather use different elements from different fields to play with. It’s interesting to see this alter in time – to see the evolution of music and its visual connection. And to see this all change once it’s pigeonholed or when it becomes accessible to a bigger audience.
“It’s like the terms ‘dubstep’ in music and ‘street art’ in visual communication,” he suggests. “How these work as a magnet for quite different approaches. How they suck up all the niches and flatten different variations, and how these terms stick like gum on the sole of your shoe while you walk a different path.”
Daniel Cookney blogs at Plasticcirlces.blogspot.com