Print Reviews
Apotrapaic Beatnik Graffiti

Apotrapaic Beatnik Graffiti

Mark Mothersbaugh

Blank Industries / MutMuz Publishing

Mark Mothersbaugh is a grand master of juxtaposition. He’s able to hold, interweave, and transmit two seemingly opposing thoughts simultaneously. DEVO is the epitome of this juxtaposition, built on the premise that as mankind makes progressive technological strides, it also devolves and regresses mentally and socially, with results both beautiful and mutated.

Apotrapaic Beatnik Graffiti is a continuation, evolution, mutation and culmination of Motherbaugh’s fifty-plus years of Postcard Diaries, a combination of words and pictures and found and painted imagery.

Mark Mothersbaugh, Apotrapaic Beatnik Graffiti
Brent Broza
Mark Mothersbaugh, Apotrapaic Beatnik Graffiti

Apotrapaic Beatnik Graffiti is also a tribute to a key obsession, The Human Eye. Mark’s unique vantage has been significantly defined by sight. Visually stunted at an early age, Mark was legally blind until the age of eight. The mechanics of vision is something Mark never takes for granted, and the delay then sudden onset of visual acumen is a likely contributor to his distinctively offset point-of-view.

In Apotrapaic Beatnik Graffiti, the canvas upon which Mark creates is five hundred photographic images of a singular artificial eye (left and right faced) around which he writes and draws in an admitted stream of conscious (á la beatnik) fashion.

In its unsentimental, unflinching, artificial state, the eye hearkens to menace of The All-Seeing Eye, The Evil Eye, or The Eye of Providence on the U.S. one-dollar bill, and Mark’s art and writing serves to disarm and neuter the eye’s penetrating glare. He works around the eye like a shamanic mandala.

On each page, an iconoclasm of words, images and patterns plays off the eye and each other. Each piece hits more like an apocalyptic mood than narrative, leaving residual psychic dents.

Packaged in a hardcover with an embossed 3D eye cover and gold gilded pages, this edition seems like artifact left by or for aliens, or something forgotten by wizards. With each turn of the page, this is a book that stares back at you.

This past year marked fifty years of DEVO. Much of previous publications about Mark Mothersbaugh have been retrospectives in one form or another. It’s great to see him totally strip-mine and infuse a more singular theme for all its worth.

It’s reassuring that Mark Mothersbaugh continues independently pioneering visually and finding new channels for his voice and vision. The promise of mutation is that it never stops.

Mark will host a book release event March 28 at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles with a Q&A and book signing. Find info here.

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