Max Zorn shining new light on old tape

Earlier last month I was contacted by the guys behind SXSW Eco (the partner event to the SXSW music and film festivals) about some work that Amsterdam based tape artist Max Zorn had put together for them at their event back in March. They were keen, and rightly so, to promote the finished installation.

Max Zorn 1

 Creating the SXSW Eco installation in downtown Austin.

SXSW Eco runs in early October and is a unique platform for professionals, examining the critical challenges of our times through design innovation, technological breakthroughs, conservation practice, entrepreneurial spirit and a culture of creativity to transform inspiration into action.

As part of this they helped hook up an interview between myself and Max to discuss his tape based art more generally, as well as his work for SXSW Eco. There are a number of artists working with this medium at the moment.

Those that stick (initially unintentional, but now welcomed pun) in mind are Buff Diss and Aakash Nihalani, creating really nice effects with very different materials. Aakash NihalaniNihalini (below/right) adds an extra layer by interacting, or encouraging interaction.

But how is Max Zorn’s work any different?

With a surgeon’s scalpel as his brush, he intricately cuts the tape and attaches it to acrylic glass to make use of its semi transparency, casting light from behind to create some really mesmerising work.

So mesmerising, in fact, that when I look at some of the examples I struggle to understand how something so dull and drab as packing tape can be completely transformed by adding light! More about that installation for SXSW Eco, then.

The concept of using tape to make art is like a form of upcycling — taking something away from its intended purpose and giving it a creative touch.

Everything’s bigger in Texas, and it took months of brainstorming to lock in a concept, but on March 5th 2014 Max arrived in Austin with a beat up purple Ford Escort and a wide load of brown Scotch tape to get down to business Teaming up with SXSW and SXSW Eco to make this massive 10ft x 6ft tape art installation downtown was no easy feat, however. The artwork itself was lifted two feet in the air, installed in a customized SXSW Eco lightbox, and lit up like a billboard for foot traffic at Brush Square Park in Austin.

Check this video out to see the process from start to finish.

I was interested to find out more about how he got into using tape for such an impressive display, was there a link to a graffiti-based past? “Not really graffiti, but you could say that the art I was putting on lamps was for the streets before it was put in frames for a gallery.”

“I started hanging my tape art on street lamps around Amsterdam in the spring around 2011. That was right before I went on a road trip, so I brought some work with me and started hanging them on street lamps wherever we went, like Cologne, Madrid, and all around Portugal. And it just kind of went from there…”

4meer - Amsterdam - MR

Earlier Max Zorn artwork, hanging from lamp posts worldwide

The effect created by using brown packaging tape for his art is really something, so I was curious to discover how exactly he came to settle on an obscure medium like this, carving out stunning designs and his own niche in the process.

“…I like the idea of taking something ordinary, that isn’t used as an artist’s medium, and shedding new light on it…”

“I like the idea of taking something ordinary, that isn’t used as an artist’s medium, and shedding new light on it. I thought tape could be cool because the brown is slightly transparent, and adding more layers creates depth and different shades of brown.”

Max Zorn 2

An example of his work representing the vintage nostalgia, enhanced by the sepia tone

“In return it creates sepia tones that people associate with vintage eras and the nostalgic past. And I love that, I’m a big fan of The Lost Generation writers like Steinbeck and Hemingway and their stories…the tones align with the subjects I like, such as Americana, roaring eras, etc.”

But as important as the tape is, none of this would work without the back-lit glass, something that Max is keen to stress. “I guess it’s also important to point out I work with light just as much as tape, so the tape needs to be able to compliment light.”

“It’s like a stained glass window, and some tape just can’t work like that. Others do, I’m trying out green and reds at the moment and it looks pretty cool too.”

Max Zorn 3

Incredible use of packing tape

From humble beginnings, Max’s work has gone on to receive widespread acclaim, hanging in galleries like Wynwood in Miami and exhibitions like ArtBasel in Hong Kong.

But is there something the four walls of a gallery can’t do that working in the street can? I dug a bit deeper to find out if he misses the more DIY aspect of creation.

“Well, I don’t have as much time as I used to. So that’s why I started Stick Together. Fans can apply to win a handmade artwork and it’s their job to put it up in their town on a street lamp.”

“It was working out really well until people started just keeping them for themselves! Which I guess is a compliment but totally stops the point of spreading street art to the people who love it.”

Action Live hanging

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. Scaling a lamp post in the name of art.

I really love the idea of “Stick Together“, it’s just a shame the work he’s putting out there is so highly sought after that it soon began to find it’s place hanging in people’s homes instead of from streetlamps!

“…it [Stick Together] was working out really well until people started just keeping them for themselves! Which I guess is a compliment…”

With that increasing popularity, bigger and better opportunities come his way more and more often. So what has changed for him and his art with this rise in the urban art world?

“Well, I definitely can go bigger now in size, which was hard to imagine at first. It’s not easy to visualize the larger you go. Some things still take a while, other things don’t take a long as they used to, like re-creating artworks I’ve already made 5 or 10 times.”

Max Zorn 4

SXSW Eco Installation nearing completion

“I got used to being flexible too. You’re not always gonna find the same conditions all over the world, and that used to be scary but now it’s pretty cool.”

At the moment the website for Stick Together is a gallery page. It has been re-purposed to sell artwork in Miami this coming December.

The project itself transformed into an event where 50 artists painted live in Amsterdam. Now it’s taking some of those artists to Florida to showcase their work. Word has it that a re-launch is planned for the end of 2014 though, so keep checking back… There’s nothing to suggest that the Dutchman is planning on easing up any time soon either.

Expect some more work from Max over the coming months – “I’ll be hanging some work up around the world this year and next though, and you can always check that out on my Facebook page!” stciking together

Max reaching for the light at the Louvre in Paris. 

It was really cool to get the chance to fire a few questions Max’s way. I’m excited to see what Stick Together brings back in 2015, as well as what lies in store for the master of brown packing tape. Give him a wave if you see him clambering up a lamp post near you. Steven UKB

Vote for UKB – UK Blog Awards 2015

VOTE NOW to help UKB reach the UK Blog Awards final!

UK Blog Awards logo

If you’ve been keeping tabs on the Urban Kultur Facebook and Twitter profiles, you’ll probably have seen mention of this year’s blog awards, to be held in London again in early 2015.

In order to try and go one better than last year – where UKB came in as a runner-up to the fantastic “Skyliner” blog – I need your help again to reach the final shortlist.


Making the final shortlist earlier in 2014

Until December 3rd, voting takes place to select the top 10 Arts & Culture blogs in the UK. If you follow the blog on social media, enjoy reading blogs here, or would just like to show your support, I’d love it if you’d consider voting for UKB here. It would mean so much to make it to the final for the second year in a row, so hopefully with your support I will be in with a shout in 2015…

With just under a week left, you won’t have to endure this shameless self-promotion much longer, I promise!

Thanks for considering voting!


UKB Guest Mix #24 – Bail [UKB024]

This week for the UKB Guest Mix series I’m really happy to be able to host Bail, one third of the notorious party starters from the northwest, Beats of Rage.

This 1hr+ mix draws on bass, techno and acid house influences, but with a strong thread of electro leading you all the way through. Expect some thudding bass and bleeps from the off with wall to wall solid selections, some leaning on the obscure, that make this a musical education – strap in!

Also well worth checking out are some of Bail’s own productions, particular fan of Hokutan Horonai, a dark, techno track that I was originally put onto by Hypnotic Groove boss Jay Dub.

So, a little more on Bail and his involvement with the Beats of Rage crew. Described as “Preston’s original grimy electro & chunky house shakedown” the guys (T.F.Wizard, Hindle and, of course, Bail) aren’t afraid to wander from a well beaten track.

The Beats of Rage sound is an electronic melting pot, cutting-edge techno to off-kilter house & electro to whatever else the Beats of Rage DJ Team can throw into the mix. It’s a formula that’s received praise from notable ex-guests like Foamo, whose testimony does enough to peak my interest – “I’m not going back to Preston, they’re too mental.”

But although big-name guests might have been their primary focus in the past, they’re current mentality focusses solely on the music “…now it’s all about the party, the music, and nothing else. This has been liberating! We’ve been digging and searching, playing our favourite tunes & finding new music all the time. Back to what it’s all about.”

Taking a break for the remainder of 2014 – keep your eyes on the Beats of Rage website for 2015’s listings.



1. Miles – Plutocracy (Modern Love)
2. Broken English Club – Casual Sex (Jealous God)
3. 2 AM/FM – Maiden (Spectral Sound)
4. Peel MD – A Head Of (Borft)
5. Fake Left – Roots In The Sky (iS)
6. Phreak – Acid On (Logistic)
7. Silent Servant – Speed & Violence (Cititrax)
8. Fisherman – Dhow (Skudge White)
9. Fishermen – Palmistry (Kontra Muzik)
10. I:Cube – 123 (Versatile)
11. Cottam – Harsh Side Effects (Machine)
12. Primo – Africa (London Housing Trust)
13. Chris & Amir – Dark Memories (Anunnaki Cartel)
14. Legowelt – Are You Truly Debonair? (Bunker)
15. FC Mchn – Unkool (London Housing Trust)
16. MC Unknown – Untitled (Logistic)
17. John Heckle – Cactus Jack (M>O>S)
18. Daniel Andréasson – What’s My Name? (John Heckle Remix) (Zodiac)
19. Tapirus – I Really Hope We Can Meet Again (Midnight Shift)
20. Chris Mitchell – Aquanauts (Anunnaki Cartel)


Street art tour of east London – part 2

Carrying on from part 1 of the virtual street art tour of east London, which ended at the north end of Brick Lane, I meander my way back from Hanbury Street, cross back over Shoreditch High street and catch a few really nice walls on my way back to my initial starting point on Scrutton street, picking up a new favourite in Francisco de Pajaro along the way. More on that shortly…

To recap, we’ve had work from Alexis Diaz, Matt Adnate and C215 among others, but not to be outdone, this concluding part of the tour takes in some equally impressive art.

tour map

Cheshire Street…

Art is Trash. Art is Rubbish. Art is Garbage. This is anti-art. This is Francisco de Pajaro, and I absolutely love it. His statement on his website, although badly translated via an online tool, can’t help but keep the fire of the original text.

“Art is Trash rebels against all of you, to all of you who look the other way, toward walking poisoned with eyes glued to a mobile phone and to those who prefer to look at the windows of a fashion store, or admire the abhorrent architectures of large cities.”

His description of his work as being “an anti-art aesthetic weapon of mass destruction to human savagery, ignorance and intolerance in our society” can’t help but get a reaction. Created from the rubbish that is discarded on the streets, his work appears to be a comment perhaps on a global society increasingly prone to disposing of the imperfect without a second thought.



Dray Walk…

Carrying on down the main artery of East London’s street art scene, I veered off towards Rough Trade Records for a dig about their store. Last time I was down there Paul ‘Don’ Smith had just completed a really cool piece nearby as a tribute to the Godfather of House Music – Frankie Knuckles.

Another legend of music has sadly passed away since then. He paid his respects in the same spot by producing this portrait of the Bobby Womack.


More recently the suicide of Robin Williams highlighted the often taboo subject of depression that affects many today. A character whose work is still some of the finest in the business was appreciated by Smith by painting his character ‘Mork’ (from the TV programme, Mork and Mindy) on the same pillar.


Hanbury Street…

I pulled myself away from Rough Trade Records and rejoined Brick Lane briefly before nipping off onto Hanbury Street to catch this from Sheffield’s Phlegm completed, making great use of the slightly unusual space available.

His incredible, and slightly creepy monochrome wooden characters are always great to get up close to and see how they are put together.




Spinning round I caught this older shutter work from Dscreet, whose electrified owls only appear, fittingly, in the evenings and early mornings when this shop is closed – for nocturnal eyes only.

Behind this shutter lies work from Borondo, a window painted white and scratched away to create a really impressive effect. Take a look at Borondo’s work from this post earlier in the year.


This street is something of a hotspot, only a few yards down from Dscreet is this from NDA – an artist I’m not overly familiar with, but I’m definitely excited to see and find out more about.


Leonard Street…

Swedish artist and designer Amara por Dios, now living in London, created this just across from one of my favourite spots in this part of town, the Book Club. Her designs are great, her t-shirts I particularly like, with that vibrant Incan/Aztec inspiration bubbling just beneath the surface.

You should definitely check out more of her work.


Ravey Street…

What can been said about Ben Eine’s work that hasn’t been said before. A former graffiti writer whose lettering adorned many a wall and train in the past (illegally), now creates legal artworks in the main, not too dissimilar to this example. Iconic stuff.


New North Place…

Scrutton Street, and the end of the tour, is just around the corner, but what a way to finish. Roes’ wall just along the road from what appeared to be Boiler Room HQ – at least that’s what the gleaning metallic sign suggested – blew me away a bit! A surreal masterpiece, whose colours burst out against the backdrop of dirty brick walls.



And that was that – my super speedy tour around some of the finest art on the streets of this section of east London right now. Chances are by the time you’re reading this at least one will have disappeared (probably Francis de Pajaro’s Art is Trash installation), but if you get the chance to retrace my steps and check out at least a few of these, you’ll not be disappointed. And you’ll probably pick up a few new pieces along the way…


Street art tour of east London – part 1

Last week I found myself with a spare hour or so while down in London, so armed with a bottle of Scotland’s finest hangover cure, and embracing a refreshing but biting morning wind, I took myself on a mini tour of some of Shoreditch’s best street art spots.

Scrutton Street…

Starting and finishing at Scrutton Street, I wandered my way without any real plan and stumbled across some great new (well, new since my last visit in April) pieces from some familiar and less familiar names. Check out the best of my mini tour below, and use the map beneath if you want to retrace my steps the next time you’re in town.

tour map

Invader’s Star Wars mosaic was one I came across online back in May, but it was a real thrill to see it in the flesh (or in the…ceramic), with the sun just beginning to rise. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the Flash Invaders street art collector app installed which I reviewed a month or so ago, if I did that would have been the perfect opportunity to open my account. Regardless, I really like this 8-bit take on a classic piece of movie history, and it’s a considerable size for a mosaic piece when compared to his smaller original alien artworks.



Holywell Lane…

Along Holywell Lane I made a point of stopping by the Village Underground showcase wall. Some seriously impressive murals have covered this staple of the London scene over the last few years. Martin Ron, and Nick Kuszyk most recently making the most of the sizable canvas.

This piece by Ian Stevenson is characteristic of his satirical illustrations, and was created with support from sworn enemy of the Fox network, Russell Brand. The revolution will not be televised…but it may well be photographed.


Bethnal Green Road…

Strolling on along Bethnal Green Road, and with the hangover beginning to subside, I couldn’t miss this colourful creation from Barcelona’s El Pez. His signature fish are simple but effective and stood out among some of the other pieces that fill the walls of this part of town.


Sclater Street…

I moved on along Sclater Street and began walking down graffiti mecca, Brick Lane. Too early, but only just, for a curry I settled for a bagel and stumbled across a two-legged piece of toast within this vibrant potion from Artista*, in the doorway of an empty shop.


Bacon Street…

As I began to move further down Brick Lane, I remembered about the spaces on Bacon Street round from the Sclater Street car park. This short stretch always seems to have some of the finest work on it, so I swung round for an unplanned, but essential, detour. Roa has left his mark here, and in the past the likes of Dscreet have also painted the walls too. This new work from Alexis Diaz ensured that reputation remained untarnished, with such staggering detail I got up closer for a few zoomed in snaps.




Spin round 180 degrees and you’ll be greeted by a piece of aboriginal inspired art from Aussie Matt Adnate. The subject of this painting is Djalu Gurruwiwi who is arguably the most important Australian musician alive today.

According to the project Dscreet was working on when we last spoke, “Baywara: The Film” that documented the life of Djalu, “he is a spiritual custodian of Australia’s most iconic instrument, the Didgeridoo. He carries with him ancient songlines that have documented our planet’s history for the past 60,000 years. Though Djalu is highly respected by those familiar with his music, he has yet to receive the wider recognition that he deserves.”

This almost photo-real piece mirrors the importance of Djalu  Gurruwiwi with it’s intense level of detail.


Over on the east side of Brick Lane, Bacon street continues, and holds this hidden gem from one of my favourite stencil artists, C215 aka Christian Guemy. This portrait is the perfect example of his style, not usually in your face (although he has worked on a number of larger scale projects recently) but hidden away, which makes it all the more satisfying to stumble upon.

Beneath it lies a piece from Paul ‘Don’ Smith whose similar work will crop up in part 2 of this blog (to be posted shortly) as the tour continued from Brick Lane onto Hanbury St, looping back round over Shoreditch High St and onto where it started back on Scrutton St.





UKB Guest Mix #23 – ZeitlupenUwe [UKB023]

Let’s slow things down…

Part of Marcel Knopf’s Clap Your Hands house label, and head of the popular OpenAir To Go events held in Berlin parkland, ZeitlupenUwe‘s recent mixes are always among my favourite.

Spinning a blend of downtempo house and slowmo techno, this mix is no different, recorded live at Friedrichshain’s ‘Kosmonaut’.

ZeitlupenUwe’s OpenAir To Go project brings the parks of Berlin to life musically. Invitees are asked to bring radios of varying size, with the DJ transmitting his mix via the ‘free’ frequency which they tune into. A completely DIY surround sound soundsystem! Such a fantastic concept deserves its own fantastic podcast series, it can be found here – Open Air To Go podcast series.

As a popular DJ with Clap Your Hands, a young Berlin based label founded by Marcel Knopf, Uwe’s talent hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The label has become a brand for a rough and modern approach to house music demonstrating the label’s diverse outlook without losing the focus on what is really important – the dancefloor.