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Illuminated Crass Symbol

Fri, 10 Jun 2016

Illuminated Crass Symbol

Going to San Jose for the the Art.CHI exhibition was something of a treat. However, attending CHI was not the only thing I did while I was over there. Earlier in the year, whilst planning for The Art of Crass exhibition, I'd discovered that Dave King - the designer of the Crass symbol - lived just up the road in San Francisco and I had arranged a meeting.

The Crass symbol is an amazing piece of design. Dave produced it almost 40 years ago for Penny Rimbaud's Reality Asylum book and it was then used by the band Crass as their "logo" throughout their career. Effectively it is a stylised snake wrapped around a cross, but the symbol has many interpretations. Some people see a double ouroboros (snake eating its tail), maybe a sign of the "system" destroying itself, or even a swastika (or perhaps anti-swastika). It has graced leather jackets, t-shirts, been used as tattoos, appeared as graffiti and so on, to such an extent that some people no longer even associated it just with Crass - it is simply a timeless anti-authoritarian symbol.

Meeting up with Dave was a pleasure. We got to talk about the symbol and its use, as well as his other work as a musician, designer and artist and how he might contribute to The Art of Crass exhibition. He said was happy to contribute some of the images from his book/exhibition The Secret Origins of the Crass Symbol and, true to his word, sent over some prints soon after we met.

We also had an other idea - to produce an illuminated crass symbol that would use the LED and micro-controller technology that I use in my own artworks.

Together with the prints, Dave also included a stencil to use in an illuminated work. I took this, framed it and backed it with a LED matrix and programmed it to cycle through a colour sequence. The result was very effective. It was particularly good in the context of the print variations of the symbol and the greater exhibition.

You can see a picture of the work here.

Author: Sean Clark