Sketchbook Of An Album
Words: Lorenzo Senni
Photography: John Divola
891 words, 00:02:58
Milan-based Lorenzo Senni has always been a mark-maker. Whilst working on his latest album ‘Scacco Matto’, Senni used a series of sketchbooks to record and document his internal conversations and cognitive processes that formed the record’s visual presentation.
Here, he illuminates his artistic direction, sharing pages from these books and providing insights into the origins of the artwork, the idea of ‘vandalising music’ and one of the core ideologies of his practice.
“Making your mark”
I've worked with designer and art director Daniel (Sansavini) since ‘Persona’ and really like our method. We're constantly exchanging ideas but I am the one who does the sketches. This helps me to identify and understand which visual directions I want to focus on and gives him a strong starting point to build from.
When developing the visual identity for 'Scacco Matto', every single graphic element that we incorporated into the project had to be coherent to my work and to the ideas that I've been developing over the past ten years, whether that's because it has a strong connection to the core ideas within the music or was simply a reference to my background.
The updated LS typography for this project is our take on the 'Uniform Choice UC' logo while the Xs come from the 'Anal Cunt' logo. On the sticker we also mixed the Warp logo with Victory Records logo. The original LS logo - which had been developed for 'Persona' in honour of the band 'Youth of Today' - mutated for the single ‘Discipline of Enthusiasm’ into a similar logo where the X'ed fists evolved into chess piece heads in keeping with the theme of the new record.
We kept the sticker idea from my previous releases but cut it as if it were hand-made - a direct reference to our common punk-hardcore backgrounds and the way the graphic design of those records was put together.
I discovered John Divola's work fifteen years ago thanks to my mentor, the Italian photographer Guido Guidi. Divola’s ‘Zuma’ and ‘Vandalism’ series have always resonated with the ideas and concepts I was trying to apply to my music – and became more explicit with my album ‘Quantum Jelly’.
To me, the photo I chose for the front cover of Scacco Matto is a perfect visual representation of what I do musically. It's a very emotional Californian sunset framed by a very "real" wall that has been vandalised with pointillistic spray paint dots, documented by an extremely flat & objective flashgun.
Inspired by John Divola's 'Vandalism', I vandalise the tradition of dancefloor oriented music, documenting it through my records, my live performances and visual art. I want to leave marks, make holes, move things around and document it in order to change the perception towards these dead templates and eventually create something new, much in the same way that John Divola does with his graffiti in the abandoned houses, which he visits and then captures with his camera.
For the cover shoot itself, John picked me up with his car early in the morning and we drove into the desert to the abandoned George Air Force Base in Victorville, California. For years now he's been spray painting the interiors of houses and shooting photos there, so being a fan of his work it was an unforgettable experience for me to explore this huge abandoned area with him and see the master artworks. He brought a few different cameras and we spent the whole afternoon there looking for good spots, enjoying "dead mirrors" (squares of silver paint that reflect the flash-light) and shooting. We left when the sun went down and went back to Los Angeles. I will never forget that day.
“Be The Player, Not The Chess Piece”
“Be the chess player, not the chess piece” is advice. Take control of your life and do the things the way you feel, the way you think is right. I used a similar slogan for my first single on Warp ‘The Shape of Trance to Come’. The motto was "Do It Different. Rave Voyeurism is Not A Crime".
I think it all comes from my experience of being a Straight Edge kid and going out in big clubs where people around me used all kinds of drugs and alcohol. I wasn't against that, I just kept doing what I felt, without having to adapt to the surrounding environment.
While working on ‘Scacco Matto’ I realised that I was playing a game against myself. I always used to describe the making of a record like a roller coaster ride, but this time was more a chess game.
I've always seen a duality in my work where I always want to find a very satisfactory balance between a coherent strong conceptual side and a more emotive and instinctive approach. During the making of Scacco Matto every time I was making a move in a certain direction I found myself making a countermove in the exact opposite direction.
On this record I pushed myself to the breaking-point: I felt checkmated and I couldn't make any more "musical moves". You could say that I unconsciously pushed myself into the condition in which I wanted to be. The idea of punching myself in the face emphasises this idea of a kind of "self fight".
'Scacco Matto' is available now. Listen here.