Poster: Jazz Willisau: Echoes of Techno. Designed by Niklaus Troxler, 2000. Gift of Niklaus Troxler. 2009-3-16.

Echoes of Techno

In Niklaus Troxler’s abstraction, green and yellow bands pulsate on black. Rectangular slivers of shapes draw the viewer across and down. Diagonal paths form along the way. Reinforced by its title, Echoes of Techno, the image emits rhythm and sound, progressing over time.

Troxler’s poster can be “read” on multiple levels, as is true of most abstraction. This empowers viewers to see what they can connect with. The image reminds me of how the city looks at night, when buildings both near and far appear to shift on ambiguous planes. Night renders form abstract, dissolving concrete shapes and revealing instead fleeting light intervals. My own night paintings and drawings of New York aim to capture this fugitive incandescence.

I am attracted to nocturnal views because new rhythms come out at night, reminiscent of jazz. Both my father and my brother loved jazz and my brother became a jazz pianist. Listening to music I grew up with while I work—Thelonious Monk, McCoy Tyner, and Cecil Taylor—fosters a freedom that mirrors improvisation. Even the colors I see when working in darkness surprise me when I turn on the lights.

Echoes of Techno is one in a series of prints by Troxler to announce the annual Jazz Willisau festival in Switzerland. Troxler founded the festival in 1974 and has directed and produced it every year since. Troxler always loved jazz and produced his first concert when he was 19 years old. He has said that he wants each year's festival to have an individual identity, instead of “branding” his festival like corporations do.

Echoes of Techno suggests a visual referent for jazz rhythms by recalling musical notations and the way sound unfolds over time. It evokes other kinds of symbols and graphics as well, such as bar codes. Text is interwoven into the rectangles, bars, and lines—so integrated as to be initially unnoticeable. Announcing an event in this way unfolds the information slowly and reveals new typographic dimensions in the design.

Museum Number: 
2009-3-16