Pop music has always had a symbiotic relationship with contemporary art.
They mutually inspire one another to further feats of creativity. Since the middle of the 20th century we've witnessed our culture mutate, taking massive leaps and bounds into the unknown with minimalism, post-modernism and abstract thinking. And where there's an art event, rock'n'roll provides the party soundtrack. Despite the creeping manufactured, commercialised grip on the mainstream today, in the underground and very occasionally above ground too, pop and art are intrinsically linked.
A huge percentage of musicians cut their teeth when attending art college – members of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Clash, Talking Heads and, more recently, The Beta Band and Franz Ferdinand were all alumni of art schools. In fact, most visionary groups since the dawn of pop culture have had some kind of link to the art world.
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It is impossible to forge a "year zero" or attempt to trace the first collaboration between rock'n'roll and contemporary art, but the halcyon days of the 1960s are when this relationship really entered the global consciousness. Peter Blake's iconic cover to Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; the psychedelic poster-art and "comix" of San Franciscan renegades Stanley Mouse, Rick Griffin, Wes Wilson and Victor Moscoso; and Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable happenings with The Velvet Underground and Nico – all managed to help us turn on, tune in and drop out.
As part of the Fluxus movement, Yoko Ono and John Cale took from dada, surrealism and the avant-garde, embracing an "anti-art" modus-operandi and pushing forward musical forms first suggested by the likes of John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Perhaps not for prime-time listening or mass consumption, it certainly opened the door to radical new ideas.
Main players of the now-maligned progressive rock era of the 1970s, such as Genesis and King Crimson, consistently pushed musical and visual boundaries. Krautrock ensembles Can, Neu! and Faust embraced a minimalist aesthetic for their kosmische outpourings. David Bowie took make-up and mime from burlesque to make glam rock actually glamorous, challenging and sexy. Roxy Music's Brian Eno has scaled further conceptual heights using his Oblique Strategies deck of cards while producing stadium rockers U2 and Coldplay, as well as his own electronica and ambient soundscapes. His think-outside-the-box philosophy has roots in art school.
New York is synonymous with both art and pop and has been a crucial breeding ground for the collision of the two. Laurie Anderson is a key figure. Not only did she have a bona fide pop hit with O Superman, but also pioneered sampling techniques and invented strange sound-art contraptions such as the tape-bow violin and the talking stick. The city also introduced us to punk, yet another seismic shift in the way youth culture expressed itself. London took it one step further with the infamous Malcolm McLaren/Vivienne Westwood/Sex Pistols partnership. Their shocking, situationist pranksterism, musical onslaught and fashion revolution changed things for good.
During No-Wave, NYC grabbed the baton once again for art-noise terrorism with bands like James Chance & The Contortions, and Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, that still sound uncompromising. Sonic Youth bring these techniques and ideas kicking and screaming into the present day. We also have the Big Apple to thank for hip-hop and the spin-off street practice of graffiti art.
WHETHER it's the Brit Art sensationalism of Damien Hirst and Britpop chums Blur (lest we forget Fat Les!), the audio-visual cut'n'paste techniques of Coldcut, Chris Cunningham's visceral video work for Warp Records, the "stuckist" movement with Billy Childish, or The Flaming Lips' Boombox experiments with 40 cassettes of their album Zaireeka, cutting-edge works continue across genres, styles and generations.
Scotland has played a major role along the way. In recent times we've seen a disproportionate number of graduates from the Glasgow School of Art nominated for and winning the Turner Prize. The close relationship between Glasgow musicians and artists has seen Douglas Gordon collaborate with Mogwai on the mesmerising Zidane film, David Shrigley team up with leftfield indie groups on the Worried Noodles album, Jim Lambie infuse 1960s pop references into his multicoloured floor installations, and Martin Creed release his own Love To You album with a fully-functioning band this year.
On Wednesday, Edinburgh-based sound-sculptors and art-pop outsiders FOUND continue this tradition with a one-off performance of #UNRAVEL at the Queen's Hall. Following the Bafta-winning Cybraphon, described as an "autonomous emotional robot band in a wardrobe", this new interactive sound installation features specially designed, self-played instruments that underpin stories written and narrated by the infamous cider-soaked raconteur Aidan Moffat, formerly of Arab Strap. This one-off night features the new magnum opus onstage to interact with, but also live sets from the musicians themselves.
Also highly recommended during the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe is the 2012 Summerhall programme. The ground-breaking 7x7th Street exhibition from Belgian neo-pop artist Jean-Pierre Muller sees collaborative works from Nile Rodgers, Robert Wyatt and Archie Shepp. Summerhall also hosts the film premiere of Whatever Gets You Through The Night, an extraordinary, cross-pollenised work from Cora Bissett, produced in June at The Arches in Glasgow, and featuring Withered Hand, Conquering Animal Sound and others. Across platforms, unshakeable bonds are still being forged ... and at the Fringe, as ever, we're spoiled for choice.
Vic Galloway presents on BBC Radio Scotland 8.05-10pm Mondays (repeated Fridays 10pm–midnight), www.bbc.co.uk/radioscotland. He also presents two free music showcases at the BBC Festival Fringe Village at Potterrow, Edinburgh on August 14 and 26. Contact Vic at www.twitter.com/vicgalloway or check www.vicgalloway.com