Jimmy Joe Roche

Jimmy Joe Roche

Work from his oeuvre.

While not an essay on Roche, it is very fitting, and he is linked later in the article (not included).

“Imagine a technological stew. In this big bubbling cauldron are piles of images, jpegs and mpegs of Super Mario Bros , Thundercats and Care Bears, strangely scratched 80s TV adverts, fractals left over from early-rave culture, old computer game animations and lots of other odd and seemingly random found snippets. Imagine this neon-coloured pool constantly moving and morphing like a garish cheap Flash animation. This pool forms the basis of some of the most interesting contemporary artworks to emerge from this decade – art that is all around, and all over the internet. Art that is about the overload of imagery in the modern world. Art that is about how technology has infused our everyday lives and is slowly dissolving our identities. Psychedelic art.

This, however, is a very different movement to the one that emerged in the 60s and 70s, when politics, drugs, pop culture, art, music and graphic design all came together in one enormous wave. That was a moment about perceptual distortion and cultural upheaval, about the group experience. In terms of its merit, psychedelic art was always largely considered sensorial and populist. Minimalism and pop were thought of as more conceptual and serious, and have remained in the high canon of art forms. Cosmic cinemas, fantastical imagery, dream machines and oil-wheel light shows were seen as having more to do with altering consciousness than anything “important”, Although the original psychedelic movement started out as socially and politically radical, it was swiftly seen as superficial and tacky.

Cult critic Dave Hickey is one of the few wordsmiths who has examined psychedelia in any real depth. In his essay “Freaks”, Hickey pointed out that what made psychedelic culture different was that actually taking the drugs didn’t really matter. “Extreme experience was no! required, nor was cultural production,” he writes, “One simply proclaimed a commitment to whatever ideology psychedelic experience signified at that particular historical moment… It was a communal. polemical art, vulgar in the best sense and an international language.” Hickey’s essay was written at the tail-end of acid house, that last great wave of hallucinogenic pop culture, which, much like its 1960s predecessor, quickly began to feel kitsch and out of fashion, with all of its drug-affiliated visuals (all those smiley faces and imploding fractals) deemed utterly tasteless.

That very tastelessness is what makes today’s neo-psychedelic works so interesting. This is art that employs faded technologies and forgotten TV clips, cheap methods and trashy references, and it’s filled with animated gifs, video mash-ups and constantly disintegrating images. Sometimes it feels shamanic or disturbingly child-like. It veers wildly from the anti-academic to the uber-geeky and often resembles the chaos of changing TV channels at warp speed with a remote control. Here, everything becomes pixel and byte, Although the artists involved
are unlikely to call themselves psychedelic (no one likes a pigeonhole), the work is nonetheless an extension of the chaos, colour and creativity of “old” psychedelia, What also makes this new art so interesting is that it can be seen as an illustration, and extension of, the internet.” – Francesca Gavin for Dazed and Confused.

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