LONDON.- The ICA
presents rarely seen photographs and ephemera relating to the early stages of the band Public Image Ltds (PiL) design from 1978-79 with a focus on the design of the album Metal Box. Original band members included John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten - vocals), Keith Levene (lead guitar), Jah Wobble (bass) and Jim Walker (drums). Working closely with photographer and designer Dennis Morris, the display explores the evolution of the bands identity, from their influential journey to Jamaica in 1978 to the design of the iconic Metal Box.
Set against a backdrop of political and social upheaval in the UK, the years 1978-79 marked a period that hailed the end of the Sex Pistols and the subsequent shift from Punk to New Wave. Morris sought to capture this era by creating a strong visual identity for the band. His subsequent designs further aligned PiL with a style and attitude that announced a new chapter in music history.
For PiLs debut single Public Image, Morris designed a record sleeve in the format of a single folded sheet of tabloid newspaper featuring fictional content about the band. His unique approach to design was further illustrated by the debut PiL album, Public Image: First Issue (1978). In a very un-Punk manner, its cover and sleeve design imitated the layout of popular glossy magazines.
The bands second album the critically acclaimed Post-Punk classic Metal Box (1979) further reinforced Morris approach to branding and promoting the PiL experience. While the albums title was conceived by Lydon, it was Morris who designed the cover a metal 16mm celluloid film canister embossed with the bands new PiL logo reminiscent of a breakable medicine tablet. The albums distinctive packaging was produced at the Metal Box Factory in Hackney, prior to its closure, revealing a bygone age of local manufacturing within London.
The related programme of events including a special collaboration with the nightclub Fabric, will be announced shortly. These events will encompass broader topics such as the revival of analogue musical formats and packaging, including vinyl as well as the relationship between popular music and technology and the development of alternative digital formats.