A vast study of the visual culture
of industrial music
during its development in Europe, the United States and Japan, from the 1970s to the 1990s, a global culture that goes beyond sound experimentation
to cross different media (graphics, film, performance, video), in a close dialogue with the heritage of modernity and under the growing influence of technologies.
Industrial music appeared in the mid-1970s, and far from being a simple sound experimentation phenomenon, it quickly produced a global visual culture operating at the intersection of a multitude of media (collage, mail art, installation, film, performance, sound, video) in a close dialogue with the legacy of modernity and the growing influence of technology. Originally British, its development grew in Europe, the United States and Japan during the 1980s. The sound experiments deployed by industrial bands—designing synthesizers, manipulating and transforming recorded sounds from audio tapes recycled or conceived by the artists—were supplemented by a rich array of radical visual productions, deriving their sources from the modernist utopias of the first part of the 20th century. The saturated sounds were translated into abrasive images, altered by a détournement of reprographic techniques (Xerox art) that invested polemical themes: mental control, criminality, occultism, pornography, psychiatry and totalitarianism, among others. This book aims to introduce the visual and aesthetic elements of industrial culture to a general history of contemporary art by analyzing the different approaches taken and topics addressed by the primary protagonists of the movement, who anticipated current issues concerning the media and their coercive power.
Nicolas Ballet is an art historian and associate curator at the Centre Pompidou. He specialises in research into alternative visual cultures, experimental art, sound studies and the avant-garde. He received his PhD from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, where he teaches contemporary art history. He has written numerous texts exploring the visual and sonic contributions of counter-cultures and experimental artistic practices. He is the author of two books on Genesis P-Orridge, and has published in Les Cahiers du Musée national d'art moderne
, Octopus Notes
, Volume !
, Revue & Corrigée
, in Cahiers du CAP
(Éditions de la Sorbonne), as well as in books devoted to the work of Nigel Ayers and Zoe Dewitt. In 2023, he curated the exhibition "Who You Staring At?
Visual culture of the no wave scene in the 1970s and 1980s" at the Centre Pompidou.