Collage Culture - Design Bureau

Left to right: Brian Roettinger, Aaron Rose, Mandy Kahn; photo by Autumn De Wilde

Collage Culture

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

When every other movie is a remake, every other song has a sample, and art is mired in self-conscious allusion, it begs the question: Are there any original ideas left? At least in popular culture, the trend towards collage — that is, pilfering material from the past and reworking it in a new context — is unavoidable. Kanye and Jay-Z sample/mangle Otis Redding's "Try a Little Tenderness" and end up making millions. Films we've barely had the chance to get nostalgic for get trotted back out in a shiny new CGI suit, hoping to wring out some extra mileage and profit. 

"Why have musicians, writers, and designers fallen in love with the past, busying themselves with borrowing instead of creating their art from scratch?" 

Such is the question addressed in the new book, Collage Culture, by artist Aaron Rose and writer Mandy Kahn. In a pair of essays (Rose's “The Death of Subculture” and Kahn's “Living in the Mess”), the book examines how a continuous loop of recycled material might affect us emotionally. With guidance from graphic designer Brian Roettinger, whose packaging for No Age's Nouns was nominated for a Grammy in 2009, the book reads more like a collection of posters than a standard novel.

There are 16 pages of Roettinger's original work, which was created in a collage-generating computer app with the help of artist/programmer Chandler McWilliams. The app will be available for purchase on iTunes on November 1.

Collage Culture will be released simultaneously as a limited-edition 12-inch record. The vinyl version will feature an original score by No Age.

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