Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Dig those krazy reel-to-reel mainframes, kats and kittens! Yes, office computer systems in 1978 seem just as retro-antiquated as 1950s hipster slang does at present. But there's a method to the madness of these highly uncharacteristic shots of mine.

Why did I, assistant Art Director and rabidly ardent on the subject authoress of "Punk Rock 'n' Roll" at Almo, the publications arm of A&M Records, request the assignment for the cover of their book of Disco favorites?

Because I've never let subjectivity get in the way of commercial collaboration or a good idea, and I'd envisioned a great one for this cover. I wanted to photograph disco dancers in what I speculated to be the disco of the future, a computer repository (and I was right.) My pic above displays the original Polaroid photos (hence the completely accurate color balance 32 years later, a Polaroid trait) and the original registration marks for the masking overlays to concoct the pre-digital era layout for the 4-C printers of the cover. Very different graphic art world then, kiddies.

The locale was the then spankin' new computer room of A&M, and I had the perfect model in mind, the drop dead gorgeous receptionist of our own art department. She was so model-perfect (unusually pretty face, wide-shoulders, 5'8" Size 6 [which was the standard then, not like the impossible in real life 5'11" Size 2 today]) and wore clothes so beautifully that I couldn't understand why she had eschewed becoming a star in the better paying haute couture world in the first place, but she was sufficiently gracious to pose for the shoot with her husband. Together they made an outstandingly pulchritudinous couple dancing in their sophisticated style.

I've always tried for a universality as well as project-specific timeliness in my work, and this cute couple appears just as genuinely glamorous to today's eyes as they would have then. It's the reel-to-reel mainframes of this computer room that jar with time warp oddness, plus our hindsight knowledge of what computers became. A&M only had just made its switch to computers for all its departments the year I left it and my last ever office job, 1978 for the uncharted waters of freelance-dom...

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