Remixing culture in the here and now.
Pop music in the UK has always fed from the cultural diversity of our inner cities. Pirate radio, warehouse parties and acid house paved the way for musical genres that wear their urban DNA on their sleeve. Drum n bass, jungle, garage and eventually grime and drill are defined by a uniquely British energy and vitality. Visual design, however, has taken much longer to be infiltrated by the shift in our cultural demographic and our visual communication industries have remained rooted within a small cross-section of society. At last, however, those who create our visual media are starting to genuinely reflect those that consume it — both in the way they look but also in the way they think.
Studio Blup is in the vanguard of this change. Over the last five years their charismatic frontman, Dines, has carved out a place at the top of European design. Last year he hosted a sell-out UsByNight Festival and global brands such as Sony Music, Nike, Adidas, Dolce & Gabanna, the BBC, FIFA and the Ministry of Sound are all lining up to work with him. Blup creates work that is a product of its time and place. It has the same raw insight and energy that gave birth to grime and it is no accident that the likes of Wiley, the 67 and Kano have invited them to package their work. Like them, Dines recognised the necessity to initiate and build his own platforms. He realised that digital networks provide an opportunity to bypass traditional career paths and create something for yourself. Initiatives like Blup Lab TM allow Dines and his team to share their evolving visual experiments, demonstrate their unique expertise to potential clients and build a following that is proof their work connects to an audience.
Blup Lab ‘remixes culture the ‘Blup way’, juxtaposing popular iconography with motion, glitch and texture. All of this authentically reflects the do it yourself attitude of sample, cut up and version that has been at the heart of black culture since the sound system parties of 1960’s Jamaica. In this world Kate Moss is reimagined as an ebony goddess and horses from classical culture rear up through barbed wire and Mercedes logos. It’s an intoxicating cocktail and one that feels very much rooted in the here and now. Blup were born into digital culture. They’re ideally positioned to exploit emerging platforms because their work has evolved through their practice. Every new project is augmented by technological advance and their process evolves relentlessly, just like the culture that feeds their ideas.
Dines’ mantra of ‘Live the culture. Learn the culture. Deliver the culture’ provides Blup with an organic dynamism that ensures their work is not a transient visual trend. If you are interested in the future direction of our industry, I believe it looks more like Dines than the monoculture that exists in far too many creative boardrooms.
First published in Eye 100, May 2020