Computers Have A Lot To Answer For is a 40-year retrospective of Storm Thorgerson’s photographic prints premiering at the Public Works gallery. A larger than life icon, the artist served as the initial inspiration for our gallery itself: an effortless blending of commercial and fine art in pursuit of maximal public accessibility and impact. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, it is with great humility we present what will be the final exhibition of a storied life and career.
As one of the founders of the design studio Hipgnosis, and as the “6th member of Pink Floyd”, Thorgerson’s reality-bending vision and maximalist style produced many of the defining images of music culture and the 20th-century at large, including the covers for Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon, Animals, and Wish You Were Here, as well as Led Zeppelin’s Houses of The Holy.
Working without the aid of digital technology, his execution of elaborate sets, intricate image composition and complex photo montage is unparalleled. Computers have a lot to answer for, and the man they must answer to is Storm Thorgerson.
Conceptually, Thorgerson’s images seem to be pulled from a dream, but his practice sits squarely in the physical realm. If his concept calls for a man on fire, a man is set on fire. If pigs have to fly, a 40-foot swine balloon is launched over London. And when Thorgerson decides that the lighting isn’t perfect for a shot that requires hauling 765 steel hospital beds onto a beach, he has the beds packed up and reinstalled the following day.
His giant sculptures, unbelievable stunts and humorous juxtapositions lead to easy accusations of surrealist intentions, but Thorgerson sidesteps this classification. He instead explains each image as a solution to a complex problem set before him by the artist, the music, and the record label, rather than a non-sequitur. More than an artist, he’s a strategist and a production mastermind.