Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis

He's more than a designer or image maker. Each piece of work is an occurence. It isn't just a THOUGHT that hasn't occured, but a REAL, NEW OCCURENCE. His work doesn't seem to emulate anything. It's new art, sprung from a bizarre and inspired world of dreams and psychotropic hallucinations.
My interest in music got me into Thorgerson's work at a young age, and it couples so perfectly with the sound, that it becomes an entirety. I remember the images from the inside of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. There was the half-submerged diver perfectly reflected in the water's surface, the swimmer in the sand dune, and of course, the red scarf blowing in the wind.
Thorgerson's images are complete both conceptually and visually. They don't seem to be a reflection of reality. They are something entirely different. They are surreal and beautiful, and to me, perfect.
One of the best stories about Thorgerson's album covers is one about Pink Floyd's Animals. In the distance, above Battersea Power Station, there is a flying pig. The pig was tethered to the power station but apparently broke loose, and floated away. It continued to float until it entered the flight path of a plane trying to land at Heathrow Airport. It actually stopped air traffic for about an hour before it landed somewhere in Kent. During follow-up shoots for the cover (since the first one didn't go so well), sharpshooters were on hand to take down the balloon, in case it got any ideas. Ultimately, the cover is a composite, but the legend lives well beyond.
Thorgerson has produced album covers and music videos for the likes of Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, Phish, The 13th Floor Elevators, Black Sabbath, Yes, Ween, The Cranberries, The Scorpions, The Mars Volta, etc. Often, I find myself saying "He did that too?!" Here is a small gallery of his work.

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