Digital 18:05:80 signals at the vulnerability and power of seminal post-punk signer and lyricist Ian Curtis of the band Joy Division. It portrays Curtis' face entranced and seamlessly emerging from a 9.70" x 6" x 1.75" matte white cold-cast porcelain solid in the proportions of the golden mean.
This is the second in the Musical Muses Series and the follow-up to Half a Person: A Morrissey Effigy. Concept, design, hand-casting and finishing by Derrick Cruz. Sculpture by Sean Burford
BUSES, MALLS AND INTERCOMS or HOW I FOUND JOY DIVISION
I've been a Joy Division fan for most of my life. It's difficult to put into words what they triggered in me, which is why I make art rather than write, but I'll try.
You see, I grew up in a little coastal town in 80's Puerto Rico. We had one record store, and if you didn't like Salsa music all you were going to get were some top 40 and 70's arena rock LPs. My salvation: school soccer trips to San Juan which included a stop at the mall food court. The moment our bus stopped I jetted directly to the Sbarro for a slice, chugged an Orange Julius and made an unsanctioned break for the mall record shop. Once there, I'd dig and flip until I heard my name over the intercom. All I wanted was something to speak to me, something to expand the small world that never fully satisfied me.
On one of those trips, after Belinda Carlisle…Debbie Gibson…Whitney Houston, I slowly pulled out a heavy white record simply printed "NEW ORDER Substance 1987". I remember thinking, "I don't know what this is, but I'll take one!" I wore it out in about a week. I'd honestly never heard anything like it before. It appealed to everything I desired: introspection, sharp beats and riffs, and a sober irony. That next trip to the mall I skipped the racks and went directly to the shop counter. With their five-pounder text-only catalog balance in hand I pointed to a page and said , "I'd like to order Brotherhood by New Order." To which the store clerk replied, "Have you heard the band they were before?" Enter Unknown Pleasures.
I’ll confess, at first it was difficult to comprehend, if not listen to. The cover art was an easy sell, but the the music was heavy. I felt reluctantly launched into a septic and industrial future where every emotion was being openly narrated. This "other singer" made me uncomfortable. His commands were aggressive, not vague and playful like what I thought I heard in New Order. This music marched with a buildup to an explosion that was never going to happen. It felt, for lack of a better word, very real. So, with my khaki green 80's Koss headphones on, I habitually laid on my cold bedroom floor to listen, as if forced, until I became disoriented into a kind of self-analyzing trance. This upgrade in emotional and poetic maturity mixed with sound abstraction and aggression was becoming more than entertainment to me. And sometimes I'd think, "who needs this feeling?" But I couldn't stop listening.
I'm still listening. Joy Division changed what I expected from music and even art. And judging from the staying power of their small catalog, the droves of bands influenced by their sound, and the visual impact of Peter Saville's design work, perhaps you've felt something similar. Personally, I think Ian Curtis' lyrics and the musical collision-course they came in helped me to grapple with some necessarily dark and basic human emotions. It's a violent sincerity that I still find useful. With DIGITAL 18:05:80 I'd like to pay tribute to that sentiment.