Peter Wilkins’ “Rock and Roll” installation is opening at the Christina Parker Gallery this Friday, September 9th at 7:00pm and will run until October 9th.
“Rock and Roll” is a collection of new artwork inspired by classic rock album covers. These abstract pieces are photographic prints of digital manipulations of the original album art. The pieces celebrate the vibrant colors of specific rock and roll covers and the form of the vinyl record.
When Wilkins began investigating how to capture album art in a new way, he tried taking long exposure photographs of album covers rotating on a turntable. This method didn’t capture the vivid colours that are so central to his project, so he began experimenting with creating the effect of the spinning cover digitally, eventually landing on a process that allows him to represent the idea of a vinyl disk and preserves the rich colors of the covers.
It’s a process that doesn’t always create the results Wilkins’ envisions, however the unpredictability is part of what makes it so rewarding when an image does represent the album in a way he finds satisfying.
Wilkins has chromogenic prints (a type of high quality photographic print) made of the finished digital images, which are then face-mounted on to acrylic to give them a glossy sheen and a sense of depth.
Wilkins chose which albums to include in the show based on the significance of the album in the rock and roll cannon and the pictorial qualities of the album art, as well as his own connection to the album.
“There are a few I couldn’t miss, like the Beatles or the Stones,” Wilkins’ said describing how he picked which album covers for the show. “Sgt Peppers was an obvious choice as the White Album would not be quite so exciting.”
In some cases he was instinctively drawn to an album cover, immediately recognizing it as a perfect candidate for the project. This was the case for The Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed and Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced.
“Let it Bleed just seemed to jump out at me, then with Jimi Hendrix, Are you Experienced, I just couldn’t resist it either – extraordinary colours that jump out and ground breaking music.”
In the past Wilkins has worked with the album covers of records that he cherishes in other genres, including albums by Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine.
While this installation is a reflection on the history of rock and roll, these albums are all important pieces of Wilkins’ own personal history, each one capable of stirring up vivid memories. One example being The Doors’ Waiting For the Sun, Wilkins described the album’s significance to him saying,
“I had thought The Doors, and particularly Jim Morrison, were incredibly cool and loved the slight unhingedness of their music and this album, while not necessarily their best, had some great tracks and I was listening to it before I went to see the Jim Morrison movie that came out in 1991, and thought I should honour Jim’s spirit by sneaking wine into the cinema and it was one those nights that you always remember…though some bits are a bit hazy! And I love the dreamy colours it has produced.”
By reimagining the images that represent such iconic albums Wilkins opens up an investigation of how classic rock albums exist both as recognizable pieces of our collective history and as very personal mementos.
Albums pictured above are The Doors’ Waiting for the Sun (left) and Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced?