WESTERN STATE #3: GEOFF MCFETRIDGE

3.5 Stars
Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 9 minutes
Click to Expand Credits:

Even if you’re not plugged into the world of modern graphics design, chances are you still may have heard of a guy named Geoff Mcfetridge. If not, then you’ve probably at least seen his brilliance at work in the opening titles of “Adaptation” and “The Virgin Suicides” or in recent X-Games commercials or even in music videos for Samiam and The Avalanches. His work is both unmistakable and unforgettable. Mcfetridge is a shining example of the graphics designer as true artist and has even been showcased in Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo as such. The third installment in the superb “Western States” series, Slowtron’s lovingly produced ode to artists with non-traditional approaches, offers a fascinating, if brief, look at this criminally unknown artist. Now that virtuoso music video directors like Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, and Chris Cunningham are finally getting their due in Palm Pictures’ recent DVD releases, it’s satisfying to see an equally talented graphics artist get his.

You can call Mcfetridge’s work “pop art in the age of technology”, if you like. Simply put, it is characterized by an inclination toward striking, simple imagery and sublime use of universal logos, icons, and slogans. Mcfetridge likes to take common, everyday images and warp them until it is the images themselves and not necessarily their public “message” or functionality that we notice. In effect, he is playing with our perceptions of cultural and civic signposts. And he’s quite good at it. The majority of his work consists of recombining the same, sometimes very personal, images (yetis, guitars, trees, etc.) over and over again in different visual tones and themes. But don’t get the impression that Mcfetridge is some pretentious artist type, too wrapped up in the seriousness of his work to have any fun. Above all else, his various multimedia designs and animations are often funny as hell. If there is an underlying point to his work, the artist himself will readily admit it’s to make people laugh. (You gotta love the X-Games commercial with the motorcycle-riding squirrel that keels over after drinking gasoline. The follow up message of course, is “Do Not Drink Gasoline – Safety First”. Classic stuff!)

Mcfetridge’s art is very much tapped into the “now”. With his seemingly effortless, minimalist approach, he has created some of the most striking imagery to be seen in any modern art museum. Slowtron, the L.A.-based directing team consisting of Eric Helin, Phillip de Vellis, and Andrew Neujahr, have crafted an artful and affectionate glimpse of this too-cool visual stylist. Alas, it is but a glimpse, but I’m most grateful for it.



Posted on January 18, 2004 in Reviews by
Buffer


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