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D+CONtrol features Tibetan Freedom Concert and Beastie Boys posters by TAZ aka Jim Evans.
Intelligence Report: T.A.Z. Operations and Tactics
WARNING: This document is an attempt at encapsulating in some comprehensible form what little is known about the anti-cultural subversive organization known as T.A.Z. (USA, 1992-present). Given the group's shadowy, impenetrable nature, most of our informants have of necessity relied on legend, rumor and second-hand reports. Therefore, although we have endeavored to prepare a report that clearly delineates known fact from known fiction, the reader is advised to view our findings with the following warning always in mind:
"Nothing is true--but everything really happened."
Commercial artist/cartoonist/designer Jim Evans got his start in California's late-'60s/early-'70s underground comix scene, where he worked with such counter-culture luminaries as artist Rick Griffin and Robert Williams. Evans designed album covers for artists as varied as Alice Coltrane, the Allman Brothers and the Beach Boys; he also did design work on Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps project, and was even name-checked by the notorious Hampton Grease Band on the song "Evans." By the late-‚80s, Evans had largely withdrawn from public view, aside from producing some limited edition posters for mainstream pop culture organizations like the American Film Institute and the Grammys. Then, in 1990, everything shifted. On that year's Spring Equinox, New York poet-witch-ecstatic Hakim Bey delivered his "Temporary Autonomous Zone" address at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado. This inflammatory manifesto, which remains in print and is now widely available on the Internet, includes the following text:
"The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, BEFORE the State can crush it.... The TAZ is thus a perfect tactic for an era in which the State is omnipresent and all-powerful and yet simultaneously riddled with cracks and vacancies."
Our best intelligence indicates that Evans was in the audience that night. He was deeply moved.
TAZ OPERATIONS: THE PRINT ERA
The names "TAZ" and "Jim Evans" are connected via a series of posters that first appeared in 1992 in the Los Angeles area. The posters were almost always advertisements for upcoming performances by 'alternative music' artists of unusually high quality and artistic independence--artists like Nick Cave, Sonic Youth, Hole, Beck, L7, Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Fugazi, Napalm Death, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Oasis, Pearl Jam, White Zombie and Rage Against the Machine. These initial posters, which featured the TAZ logo and a "Jim Evans" signature (the Evans signature was mysteriously removed from second printings), were apparently the work of Evans and two TAZ operatives known as "Rollo" and "Gibran Evans." Some say that TAZ operatives orbited the earth in a small satellite as part of a secret, privately-funded space program. Others claim that TAZ was headquarted in an artificial cave network in Malibu, California. Jim Evans was rumored to be style himself as some kind of 'meme genie,' spending 20 hours a day hacking the cultural signifier genome with a consecrated magick marker. These rumors, of course, have never been verified.
What we do know is that the TAZ posters were hugely successful as both promotional tools and instant, limited edition collectibles. It is not hard to see why. Featuring visually arresting, hyper-colored brain-popping images (B-movie aliens, mad scientists, Japanese robots, go-go dancers, EC Comics swamp molochs, screaming blue buddhas) that only abstractly related to the bands they advertise, the TAZ posters seemed to represent the bands' music rather than the bands themselves--a novel approach, for the time, in pop culture visual representation and promotion. As many of the musical bands it had affiliated with began to achieve surprisingly wide commercial success, the TAZ organization started to cross into the mainstream of American popular culture a. TAZ work appeared on actual album and video compilation covers by artists including Beck (Stereopathic Soul Manure), Aeromsith (Big Ones) and the Beastie Boys (Ill Communication). A TAZ-directed record label called Love Kit was formed, releasing a series of 7-inch records. Perhaps most significantly, TAZ designed the visual elements for the 1994 Lollapalooza festival and a series of spectacular posters for the Tibetan Freedom Concerts organized by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys.
TAZ OPERATIONS: THE POST-PRINT ERA
By the mid-'90s, TAZ began to alter its mode of cultural engagement, moving from material presentations into virtual space initiatives like promotional tour websites (Warped Tour, OzzFest, Beastie Boys), interactive press kits (Monster Magnet, Slayer, and Love %26 Rockets), and a Webby-winning cyberden of original-content subversion called CrashSite. With especial regard to CrashSite and other so-called "BigGun" projects--including the endlessly controversial Salvo.com, which covered election-year politicking from an 'arm the homeless' perspective--the connection between TAZ activities and the original Bey document was again made obvious:
"If the TAZ is a nomad camp, then the Web provides the epics, songs, genealogies, and legends of the tribe; it provides the secret caravan routes and raiding trails which make up the flowlines of tribal economy; it even contains some of the very roads they will follow, some of the very dreams they will experience as signs and portents."
At the end of the century, TAZ operations became increasingly technologically complex, encompassing dozens of edge-defining promotional websites for films (including Men in Black, The Mummy, Seven, and Psycho] and specially commissioned 3-D video games for Public Enemy and Ozzy Osbourne that utilized the Unreal and Quake game engines. (TAZ's most ambitious project--a communication protocol rumored to deliver 'post-visual' symbolic transmissions directly to the viewer's cortex--has never been released, apparently due to US government interference.) At present, we have information there is some sort of TAZ involvement in the Smashing Pumpkins' and ZWAN website and DVD, as well as in the Led Zeppelin DVD/CD.
-JAY BABCOCK - Los Angeles/2003
A FEW RELEVANT TAZ LINKS
Interview on beastiemania.com
The Crash Site
the TAZ story
The Temporary Autonomous Zone by Hakim Bey