Category Archives: art

Duranie Culture

Do you think there is a Duranie culture?  For the last 11 years, I have been teaching 7th grade Social Studies and a large part of that curriculum focuses on world cultures.  Obviously, in order to discuss this topic, the students must first learn what culture is.  Perhaps, that will also help with the question I posed today about Duranie culture because I honestly don’t know.

I teach my students that culture is a way of life of a group of people who share similar beliefs and customs.  I can pull out two main parts to help with my question:  beliefs and customs.  Obviously, I think we do share similar beliefs, at least when it comes to Duran Duran.  We think their music is fabulous. I think for most Duranies, we also think that there videos are pretty great, too.  I’m willing to bet that we might also think that the band members themselves are pretty terrific.  These beliefs, in fact, are essential in the definition of a Duranie.  All Duranies think that their music is great.  If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be Duranies, right?  Now, of course, this is all in the general sense.  We might not agree on which songs are the most fabulous and which songs are the least fabulous, but overall we all agree that the music is great.  Beyond the music, though, we might have lots of differences on a personal level, especially on big issues like religion and politics.  I think that is okay as many people belong to multiple cultures.  We don’t need to have similar beliefs about everything.  We just need to have similar beliefs about Duran to have a Duranie culture.  Thus, we have the first part of the definition about culture.  What about the customs?

Here’s where it is more complicated I think.  Customs are actions.  Beliefs are about what we think and customs are about what we do.  Maybe it would help to think about what are some of the things Duranies do.  Duranies talk about Duran.  They might do it on message boards, on social networking sites, or among friends.  Duranies might also spend money on Duran, including on albums, concert tickets, merchandise, and more.  Some Duranies might express their beliefs in an artistic format through art, graphics, music mixes and fanfic.  Yet, all of these things could represent just fandom, in general.  Do those actions, those customs represent something specific to Duran?

What kind of customs do people think of when they think about Duran and specifically about Duran?  In thinking about their music, their videos, their lifestyles, a few things pop up as essential Duran Duran.  First, I think about having a good time.  This is the band that claimed way back when they they wanted to be the band playing when the bomb dropped.  This is the same band who Simon often states as “the band designed to make you party”.  Even during horrible times and world events, Duran has recorded songs about having fun, about partying.  Yes, I know that they have released songs that are much more serious as well.  That’s true but those songs, those moods don’t hit me as quickly as the party, fun music does.  Most of those more serious songs are also hidden in veiled lyrics, masking the seriousness of it.  Beyond the partying, I also think of Duran as artistic.

I remember hearing Nick say something about Duran is like a multi-media corporation.  They weren’t satisfied to just make music.  They had to create small films (video) and they were concerned about fashion.  Obviously, some of the band members have dived into the art world more than others.  Nick did it with his photography and John has done his share with graphics and even acting.  I would go further to say that Duran’s artistic nature is contemporary and often thought-provoking.   An example of this, of course, is the album cover for All You Need Is Now.  They got people talking, which is part of art, in my opinion.  They don’t always go for what is beautiful but for something with more depth, more meaning. 

So, if Duran Duran’s biggest focuses are on music, art and parties, where does that leave the fans?  Do the fans participate or focus on the same things?  If not, does that mean that there is no Duranie culture or does it mean that not all fans participate in the culture?  I obviously cannot speak for all Duranies about whether or not they focus on the same things.  Personally, I admit that I enjoy a good party and love modern art.  I may not party exactly like they did or do but I like to have a good time.  The same can be said for art.  I’m not really big into fashion but really like the visual arts.  For example, if I am on vacation, it is common to find me in an art museum, especially in the contemporary arts section.    Can I live their lifestyle?  Obviously not.  I do travel some but nothing like they have or do.  I don’t have the time or the money for that.  I like staying in hotels but they aren’t always the best in the world.  For me, touring is a chance to get as close to that lifestyle as I can, in a way.  Overall, though, I feel some connection to Duran, on a cultural level as I seem to share some customs, in my own way. 

So, what about the rest of you?  Do you feel a cultural connection to these elements of Duran Duran?  Did I miss some essential Duran elements?  What if you don’t seem to have that connection?  Do you think that means that there is no Duranie culture or is it based on something completely different?  Perhaps, it is a situation where some Duranies are part of a culture and others are not.  What do you think?

-A

Album Cover Artwork Interpretation

It has been a few days since Duran Duran revealed the cover to their new album, All You Need Is Now.  The discussion about it is still raging.  While there are many fans who find the cover fascinating, clever, interesting or thought-provoking, there are others who are openly disappointed, upset or worse.  Some fans are so angry that they have discussed trying to let the band or artist responsible know how upset they are.  In fact, some are declaring that this is an example of how disrespectful they are of their fans.  In this line of thought, people believe that the band should choose a cover that the fans like and some would love to see them allow us the chance to vote for the cover.  In the meantime, the community attempts to figure out exactly what the images are on the cover and what it means.  I, too, am trying to decide on the meaning.  Unlike many, though, I don’t believe that every little image should be figured out.  I prefer to look at the image as a whole and interpret from there.  In fact, I would argue that the images are distorted for a reason and if they wanted it all to be clear, then they would have chosen something completely different. 

Before, I dive into my interpretation, let me just be clear here.  This is only MY interpretation.  I fully expect many of you reading this to disagree.  I’m fine with that.  That said, I don’t need any insults coming my way for it, either. 

The first thing I notice when looking at the cover is that the left side is darker and less clear than the right side which features a bed, lights, something leopard on the floor.  Your eye tends to spot the big black dot first then moves over to the brighter side.  What does the big black dot with the wires or whatever coming off of it represent?  I’m not sure.  Many have said that they believe it to be a burn mark or an egg (as in conception).  I prefer to think more ambiguous.  I think one thing it could be is one’s subconscious–all of the parts we worry about, the past we aren’t proud of, the darkness within ourselves, etc.  The part that seems to try and get us no matter what, which is why there are “arms” or something reaching from it.  It seems to be reaching to either get to the light or to grab us back from the light.  It is the part that is often expressed in our dreams, our nightmares.  I see some sort of weird scary face at the bottom on that side.  (Others have seen an upside down chandelier there.)  I think the scary face or whatever could be the physical manifestation of worry.  I don’t know. Then, you move over to the lighter side.  There is the bed–perhaps to indicate that the dark side is often seen and felt while you sleep.  Yet, there is the lettering written to remind us that we can stay with the light because All You Need Is Now.  It is handwritten because the now isn’t always perfect.  Life, even when good, can be messy.  Is messy.  Nonetheless, the pink represents fun, good times and positive energy.  Notice that the big D is pink and crosses over.  Isn’t that what Duran has represented to all of us?  Generally the positive?  This positiveness, for most of us Duranies, has overlapped into the negative.  It sort of reminds me of the lyric to SAP–“You don’t need to dream at all but live a day.”  Isn’t that what they are saying there?  Just live.  Don’t worry.  Enjoy it.  Enjoy the now.  The positive now can’t overtake the negative but can make it more bearable, more tolerable.

Interestingly enough, the album cover does seem to be opposite of the t-shirts presented with solid, lettering onto basic black, white and red.  I wonder why.  I don’t have an answer for that.  Then again, I don’t really know if my interpretation is anywhere near what they were thinking.  Nonetheless, I hope that they don’t explain these things to us.  I want to ponder its meaning for years to come much like I do the lyrics to Union of the Snake.  I want the fandom to keep thinking and keep discussing.  I like that it isn’t simple and boring.  It has created such strong emotions in all of us.  Messy emotions.  Is this indicative of the music on the album?  I don’t know but cannot wait to find out.

-A

So about that artwork!!

Many folks have commented on the artwork for the album – All You Need Is Now.  The chosen work was posted yesterday on dd.com and the bands’ facebook, and probably every other Duran Duran dedicated website on the web.  Fans began to weigh in almost immediately, an overwhelming majority saying anything from “yuck”, to “I don’t get it.  Why doesn’t it look more like .”   I even read a few posts asking who did the artwork, thinking that it was another John and Patty collaboration.

The artwork was done by Clunie Reid.  She is an up and coming artist (although I really don’t consider her up and coming – she’s as “on the scene” as they get these days in my humble opinion), and she tends to specialize in more contemporary or modern art.  Her work is very similar to the artwork for the cover – she’ll take pictures or drawings and then write a statement on them, just like what you see on both the cover of the album and the European EP.  Reid’s work isn’t meant to be “pretty”, it’s meant to stir thought, and to keep the viewer interested in what the message might be.

What is the most fascinating to me about this is how quickly the fans reacted to the artwork.  Of course, from the moment that Duran Duran announced that Clunie Reid would be the artist, I knew the chances of the community embracing the cover were nil to none – first of all in order to appreciate the work you have to be willing to look farther than the surface, and secondly – if you’re not into modern or contemporary art, this probably isn’t going to be your cup of tea.  A lot of fans commented on wanting a picture of the band on the cover, and naturally for this album that doesn’t appear to be the case.  Regardless, the band definitely got a reaction – whether or not it was the one they were expecting, I have no idea.

Interestingly enough, a lot of fans have commented that they miss Simon’s style of writing.  His more recent work is far more straightforward – he says what he means, I guess, and many fans don’t like that as much.  What is really funny about that is this artwork is very much the same as the lyrics off of the first album, Rio…SATRT… you have to look beyond the surface and be willing to see (or hear) what’s there.

Perhaps the real problem is that for at least the near future, the closest we will all come to this album is our computer screen.  The physical copies will not be released until February, and it’s very difficult to really feel the full impact of the artwork when you can’t see it very well.  Seeing it online is all well and good, but the details are so hazy that you can’t make out what they are….

then again, maybe that’s what the band wanted.

-R

Download vs. Actual Hard Copy

A new rumor has been posted on various message boards and on Gimme a Wristband.  This rumor came via Duran’s makeup artist.  According to this person, Duran’s album will be released through a download version in December and actual hard copy in January.  This, if it is true, is fascinating.

The first question I have is in regards to a record label.  Does Duran have one?  If so, which one?  Was this idea of two separate releases their idea or Duran’s?  What is the logic behind it?  Why does there need to be a month in between?  I, obviously, don’t have any answers to these questions.  I’m sure that, in time, all information will be shared.  Until then, I’m going to continue to speculate.  Maybe they do have a record label and one that wanted it just released via downloading as this would cost less for them and might move more “units”.  I could see Duran, specifically Nick arguing for a hard copy release.  After all, they have always been all about the packaging.  Of course, I could be all wrong.  Maybe the band is releasing it on their own.  They don’t want to wait for the hard copies to be pressed so they will release earlier via downloading.  (Yeah, I’m being super kind about the band’s desire to please the fans in this fashion!)

Assuming this rumor is true (big assumption, I know!), I, for one, am glad that they plan on releasing hard copies.  I can’t imagine not being able to hold a new Duran album in my hands.  What would it be like to not look through the lyrics?  I don’t know that I could survive not seeing the new cover.  If these things were missing, it would be like missing an essential part of Duran.  After all, they have always been about the visual as well the musical. 

-A

Album Cover Art

One of the topics most discussed across the Duranie community lately is that of the artist chosen to do the cover art for Duran’s next album, Cluney Reid.  Her work is not always easy or fun to look at but definitely interesting and thought provoking, in my opinion.  Duranies have had much to say about this choice and about album covers, in general.

It appears that most fans who have seen samples of Reid’s work are not impressed.  Those people, it seems, would prefer something more obvious, something easier to look at, something that generally seems happy.  Some fans prefer the cheerful, now iconic, image of the Rio cover. Other fans request covers featuring the band’s image like Seven and the Ragged Tiger.  Many mentioned the possibility of how the album cover might affect sales of the album.   This lead me to think about the purpose of both art and album covers.

Are album covers supposed to just help sell the album?  Are they supposed to encompass the overall feeling of the album?  Are they supposed to do something more and ask people to think about something?  It seems to me that they can do all three.  I don’t really know if an album cover could actually sell an album, especially now.  Would a cover make you buy something from an artist or band that you have never of?  Would it make you try a band again if they had not been enjoyable to you?  I doubt that the album cover would have much impact on sales in that way, especially in the era of downloading.  Maybe it helps fans be proud of an album, though, and that this pride translates into playing and showing the album to friends and family, which might result in more albums being sold.  Nonetheless, I suspect that any increase in sales via the album cover is minimal.  Should the album cover do more then just trying to sell copies then?

Should the cover reflect the mood or theme of the album?  Should it give a hint about what the music will sound like?  This seems possible to me.  If I see an angry image on the cover, I might have some idea that the music might be loud and angry, maybe something in more of a metal genre.  Likewise, if I see something happy and carefree, I would suspect that it might be light pop music.  Should the title then match the mood or feeling?  I think that it isn’t a horrible idea.  Duran has done that, sometimes.  Red Carpet Massacre has an album cover that certainly matches the title and to some extent, the music.  At other times, they haven’t.  For example, the album Astronaut showed a picture of the band rather than any space references.  Will this album cover match either the music or the title?  Will it do both?  Only time will tell.

One thing that I have always appreciated about Duran’s album covers is that they have always been interesting to me.  There are some I like more than others.  Yet, they have always made me think a bit more about art and about the music included.  If that is part of the goal of an album cover, then, I am beyond excited by the idea of using an artist like Reid who obviously wants people to think when they look at her work.  Maybe it will spur more discussion about some or many contemporary topics.  Perhaps, the fans will have much to ponder as they have had with past album covers.  For this, I appreciate that the band has always taken time to really think about the album’s cover.  Of course, sometimes, I have wished that they would not have spent so much time on the cover in order to get the album out faster!!!  🙂

-A

Our background and logo!

We are very fortunate to have access to a fabulous artist, my mother, who has created both our background image and our logo.  Lucky for me, she has always been someone who has supported my love of Duran Duran.  I have even caught her singing along at times!  I think she, especially, appreciates the song, “Notorious.”  🙂

When I gave her the task of creating our images, she was dubious.  She did not think that she would be able to capture what we hoped.  Yet, as always, she has not only met my expectations but exceeded them.  When I explained what we were looking for, the idea was completely influenced by Duran and things that have and will always remind us of them.  I wonder if other Duranies will be able to see what we see by our artwork.  I wonder if Duran Duran would be able to!  I suspect that they would, at the very least, appreciate it.

One thing I have always admired about the band was their connection to art with Nick and his photography and John with his graphic arts.  They have not only been friends with artists like Andy Warhol, personally, but have sought out ways to support artists and to include art in their work.  While I, like most Duranies, get frustrated by the time it takes for Duran to actually produce something (cd, documentary film, t-shirt logos, etc.), I am confident that they have taken PLENTY of time (and more!) to make sure that the product looks good, visually!  For example, while many in the Duran community did not necessarily like the album, Red Carpet Massacre, musically, I did not hear anyone complain about the package.  Of course, the solid packaging also helps to sell their products.  I know many people, myself included, bought Red Carpet Massacre on vinyl simply because of the cool look to it.  The actual vinyl was red!  How cool is that?!  That said, I’m fully expecting this upcoming album to be at least as visually stunning as the last album and the album before that and the album before that…
-A