Once you’ve seen Friendchip’s new creation for Jam, you’re unlikely to ever sit through another PowerPoint presentation without cracking up. With the aid of a program created by Web designer Kip Parker, the piece (by Parker and graphic designer Anthony Burrill, two of the three people who make up Friendchip and Multiplex) totally subverts the program’s macho, hardcore associations.
‘The combination of the vector graphics, bizarre sound effects and great name just set us off; there’s so much comedy in it that we decided we had to do something with it,’ enthuses Parker. The program randomises various elements of sound, text and visuals to arrive at a bizarre, jarring piece that is hilarious.
Similarly, Multiplex’s new film, I’m Sorry, I Don’t Understand, mixes audio phrases taken from a Portuguese learning tape with beautiful, slightly unnerving images of modern architecture; the kind of concrete ‘carbuncles’ misunderstood and despised by so many. Shot from strange angles and often shown upside down, the buildings look inaccessible, designed to confuse – making use of the text and the title of the piece perfect.
‘The piece was an experiment to put two things which don’t go together against each other, but it’s also about “I don’t understand”, which is what a lot of people feel about modern architecture,’ explains Paul Plowman, co-director on the film with Burrill. So what at first glance seems like an art piece which obfuscates, actually does the opposite, communicating more about our relationship with our environment than reams from architect Richard Rogers ever could.
If you’re confused by the Friendchip/ Multiplex thing, it’s really quite simple: if you want film-based work, you go to Multiplex (Burrill/ Plowman), if you want websites, you go to Friendchip (Burrill/ Parker). And many have; Antoni & Alison, Graphic Thought Facility, Habitat, Kraftwerk (from whose album sleeve the name Friendchip comes), Blanket, MTV, Kessels Kramer and new record label 13amp. All are keen to use the skills of this trio, which brings a playful wit combined with a pure, but by no means, simple design sensibility to all its work. The website, www.friend chip.com, reflects this thought.
Then take a look at the recent, first-stage website for new electronic music label 13amp, www.13amp.tv, which goes live in a week’s time, to see how the personal informs the commercial; visually and aurally, both are idiosyncratic and absurd, but the 13amp website effortlessly communicates the business in hand; power, electronics, sound and movement interacting with each other in an atonal, but ingenious way.