Ideas and focus to me are incredibly important but it’s the emotion within yourself when you know something aesthetically is right or has a place—that’s the seed that makes things work.
I really liked how George Benson created a rhythm in his photographic series, Color of Music, by grouping music by color, light and shade rather than sound. The unseen collection avoids the need to name or identify to influence or be known. Instead the photographs create a rhythm of color, light and shade that resonates with its musical content.
After graduating with a degree in fine art film and 3D computer graphics, Benson formed multi-media agency Elektonika designing and art directing work for clients including Audi, The Streets, BBC, Channel 4, Gnarls Barkley and Renaissance recordings. He continues to complete commercial work for clients including The New Art Gallery Walsall, Birmingham Opera Company, New Scientist through his new design and photography agency Stereographic.
Introduce yourself to Magnetic readers.
I make photos/images/art. I love art and seeing things and creating things that make people go “oooh”. I love digital editing and listening to drum and bass to make me work faster but I don’t use a Mac. I’m a bit of workaholic and need to be kept busy but people see me as very laid back. I wish I read more. I have a fascination for stock markets and love walking. To relax I cook and grow vegetables.
You like to cook and you have a garden? What do you grow, what’s your signature meal?
I only just started out on the veg garden. My mum is my mentor as she lives the good life and grows everything. I absolutely love venturing out in the garden in my dressing gown to pick raspberries for breakfast. My wife is Indian and has a huge influence on my cooking and flavors, but I leave the spicy stuff to her instead cooking simple Italian pasta or meatballs.
How did the idea for Color of Music come about?
I DJd at on Pirate Radio for two years, and have collected 1000′s of records, but as I moved on in life and had a kid things like that took a back seat. Living in rooms full of vinyl for years I suppose is an obvious link, but I wanted to bring the project together to hide the music. It’s a weird kind of backlash against identity, names, brands and top ten lists. I’ve still got my decks hidden in the closet and will probably get them out to embarrass my kids one day.
Backlash against identity, names and brands? Do you enjoy your day job? What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
I think it’s a bit of yin and yang but that’s a positive pull in both directions to my art from my work and vice versa—influence’s, ideas and timeout from one to the other. I really enjoy designing, fitting text together like a jigsaw and photo editing but sometimes touching on global brand positioning, values and rules can bend your head. It’s the cacophony of messaging in the real world that really I’m running from too.
While we’re on backlash, can you make me a top ten list? How ‘bout your favorite tracks to work to.
Ooh, well err… wouldn’t I be contradicting myself? But hey I do that all the time, when I work I love cheesy drum and bass, it fast and makes me smile. Tracks are tricky though, drum and bass works as a sort of fog so you have to listen to all sorts of stuff together… Here’s some albums starting drum and bass and ending sort of disco!
Pendulum “Hold Your Color”
JMajik “Fabric 13”
High Contrast “Tough Guys Don’t Dance”
Danny Byrd "Supersized"
Prodigy “Music for the Jilted Generation”
Yellow Magic Orchestra
Metronomy “Nights Out”
James Murphy and Pat Mahoney “Fabric 36”
Can you describe a moment in life that changed the course of, or defined, your aesthetic philosophy?
I like to think I don’t have a defined aesthetic as such. Within my professional design work I always strived to be moving forward and not be defined by a house style. I think my photography however is becoming something, partly influenced by my design/brand work but also by the constraints I work in (studio space / time). I have so many ideas all over the place though this may change in time. I believe always doing new things is immensely rewarding, although in the professional and photographic world people do like to define you.
Speak about the hierarchy of skill (raw artisanship), style (your unique aesthetic) and blunt, emotive content in your work. And/or in the work of those you admire.
Ideas and focus to me are incredibly important but it’s the emotion within yourself when you know something aesthetically is right or has a place—that’s the seed that makes things work. You’ve then got to work out the “whys” and focus things to ensure you get that emotive spark across to your audience.
If you had to describe your work to a blind person what would you say?
My work brings conceptual ideas of the past and life passing and focuses on the sculptural elements in real world objects around us, creating rhythms, textures and sculptural formations. It brings out the tiniest details in these so you can feel the bumps, scratches and folds within them.
How has growing up in the “rave generation” affected your work/aesthetic?
At the university I was into quite a lot of psychedelia in design, I have a secret passion for fractals. I think my aesthetic has simplified a lot but it’s the minute detail in that simplicity I love. I love looking at things from afar that appear simple but the closer you get the more you realize the amount of detail is in there—I think this is something I will explore more in my work.
What’s the secret to your success?
Hard work, criticism and an eye for what’s right. I’m a terrible self-critic and never satisfied even with a lot of my completed work, I’ve always got to do better. It what’s keeps me going and will hopefully, eventually help me to be very successful. I just hope I know when I get there.
Talk to me a bit about Stereographic.
Stereographic is a design company I set up with my business partner My Underwood a few years back after we moved away from a big web company we founded after Uni. It’s my bread and butter in some way to the fine art photographic projects I do, but I love it and am lucky to work for some great clients. I really enjoy working hard and being busy and wonder if I did fine art photos full time if I’d drift around too much.
Are you working on anything new right now?
I’m a terribly secretive about my work in progress. I’ve recently finished the first part of project but have some legal issues with it, which could kill it, so I can’t really say much about that. I work on about 10 projects at various times, and always have a book full of ideas. I think my next project will have to be to make a time machine so I can complete all the ideas.