Is Werner Herzog a Radiohead fan?
by Ben Diamond
My first thought, as I imagine everyone else’s was too, when I saw the new trailer for Werner Herzog’s next film, The Connected World, was: Did the Wern-Dogg just use Radiohead’s Kid A/Amnesiac era font?
Here’s the trailer in question:
And here’s some text from that trailer if you’re too lazy to watch it all –
And here’s the font Stanley Donwood, one half of Radiohead’s art department (the other being Thom Yorke, under various pseudonyms ‘Dr. Tchock’, ‘The White Chocolate Farm’, etc (I’m not making this up)), used around the turn of the millennium –
The font, my research tells me, is called ‘BT Plakatbau’ and was created by the graphic artists’ collective ‘Büro Destruct’ (a very Donwoodian-sounding name), who formed in 1994.
Where am I going with all this? I don’t know. The font isn’t even the same. Herzog’s is chunkier (
and I think his font has a bit more girth to it as well). But it’s similar enough. I’m calling Herzog out on this one. I think he’s a long time ‘head fan. I’m going to go further than this and speculate that he tolerates the Bends/OK Computer-era stuff but comes into his métier with the b-sides from the fruitful Kid A recording sessions.
His thoughts on The King of Limbs are unknown.
I suppose this is my long-winded way of saying that I’m looking forward to the next Herzog doc, like everyone else is. The internet, and the connected world, and all that, is a concern of Thom Yorke’s too, so that adds some minor weight to my theory.
Here’s Thom Yorke talking about us being the commodity on the internet, within the context of his having seen Adam Curtis’s 3-part documentary All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace (well worth a watch). Our content is the commodity being bought and sold. Much like this blog post. (Full interview here): –
In the days before we meet, he has been watching a box set of Adam Curtis’s BBC series, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, about the implications of our digitised future, so the arguments are fresh in his head. “We were so into the net around the time of Kid A,” he says. “Really thought it might be an amazing way of connecting and communicating. And then very quickly we started having meetings where people started talking about what we did as ‘content’. They would show us letters from big media companies offering us millions in some mobile phone deal or whatever it was, and they would say all they need is some content. I was like, what is this ‘content’ which you describe? Just a filling of time and space with stuff, emotion, so you can sell it?”
Having thought they were subverting the corporate music industry with In Rainbows, he now fears they were inadvertently playing into the hands of Apple and Google and the rest. “They have to keep commodifying things to keep the share price up, but in doing so they have made all content, including music and newspapers, worthless, in order to make their billions. And this is what we want? I still think it will be undermined in some way. It doesn’t make sense to me. Anyway, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace. The commodification of human relationships through social networks. Amazing!”
And here’s one last Radiohead quote, this time courtesy of Jonny Greenwood, because it’s hilarious, fucked-up, and I couldn’t resist: –
We used to go into the IRC rooms and pretend to be us. But at the end of the session, we would say ‘I confess, my name is Steve and I am from Ottawa, I’m just sitting here with all my Radiohead books’. Then someone would come in the room and pretend to be Colin, even though Colin was downstairs playing bass. It got very twisted.
Incidentally, God bless whoever made the Radiohead site where that quote came from. It’s very Web 1.0, but I’m glad it’s still standing. It’s a goldmine of Radiohead quotes that I haven’t found elsewhere. In many ways, OK Computer was very Web 1.0, too. And props to Radiohead for going on IRC chat rooms in the ’90s. Men ahead of their time. Men ahead of their time.
I am aware that I’ve gone from Herzog to Radiohead, without any hope of coming back full circle. Things often wind up Chez Thomm round these parts…