JACK (the name refers to audio/video plugs) was an initiative in which a connection was made between writers, musicians, artists, architects and graphic designers.
At every event, the participants were given a special assignment that should reveal something of their motives, working methods and artistic personality. The results were presented in front of an active audience, hosted by presentors form similar professional fields.
In view of it’s popularity amongst Amsterdam’s creative community, JACK, with it’s mixture of show and seriousness, at the time truly filled a need.
From Golden Masters: An excessive interest in printed matter
Text Ewan Lentjes in Items 5/2001
The JACK events, which Richard and Harmen have been organizing since 1998, follow a similar pattern. JACK (a name which refers to the familiar jack plug) aims to connect up writers, musicians and designers. In so doing it probes the roots of the creative process. The aim is foster the discussion among artists from different disciplines about the specific relation between mentality, method and the result.
‘JACK 01,’ Richard recalls, ‘was particularly exhilarating in that respect. Six authors wrote texts on the theme of ‘the start’; each of six bands interpreted a different text, and so did six graphic designers. But there wasn’t much discussion during the first presentation.’ So they made the formula more compact.
For JACK 02, three bands each wrote a song; then three authors and three image makers responded from their own specialist viewpoints. This, together with the possibility of audience interaction, set the conversation going at least. JACK 03 went a step further in the same direction: one musician, one author and one designer each received a capsule containing a given text and sound/image sample as the point of departure for their creative input – and so on for all the participants. ‘If nothing else, it was certainly an entertaining evening,’ was one dry comment on the outcome.
JACK 04 was by far the most ambitious production so far, an evening-filling event held in Amsterdam’s famous music venue Paradiso in May 2001. Over sixty bands, authors, architects, designers and artists were invited to create a remix of material which GM provided on a ‘Pop Kit’ CD. The latter consisted of a ‘music kit’ with 135 samples and fifteen songs composed by The Howtoplays (Richard’s amateur band); a ‘text kit’ of 360 words divided into nine grammatical categories; and a ‘graphic kit’ of seventeen basic shapes and ten basic colours.
‘With JACK 04’, Harmen recalls, ‘we satisfied our desire to produce a real shownight.’ Instead of adopting a static peep-show arrangement, with the audience in a darkened auditorium and the band or DJ/VJ on a brightly lit stage, they chose a completely different use of the Paradiso space. They used a podium in the middle of the hall, a balanced decor of graphic work and a robust structure of video projections, presentations and production. They tried out these arrangements in a pilot evening (Jack 04 beta) one month before the actual production. ‘Despite financial support from the Fonds BKVB, it cost us an arm and a leg,’ they readily admit.
As a laboratory for interdisciplinary research, they intend Jack to develop in greater depth in the future. As Harmen explains, ‘The ideal would be for JACK to have a location of its own, which would serve as a platform for international exchanges and permit a proper balance between the hectic, spontaneous presentations and control of the substantive research.’
All images are taken from a collection of (screen)prints made for the JACK events.