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PedalCulture : An Exploration into the Cultural Significance and Design Semiotics of the Contemporary Guitar Effects Pedal, Hardback Book

PedalCulture : An Exploration into the Cultural Significance and Design Semiotics of the Contemporary Guitar Effects Pedal Hardback



PedalCulture is a themed exploration of guitar effects pedals as cultural artifacts, derived from a 2017 design exhibition at San Francisco State University curated by the writer.

This colorful and artfully designed volume contains curatorial text describing eight different object displays along with photographs of each of the sixty-three individual pedals, richly illustrated in approximately one hundred original photographs.

The anthropological quest into understanding how effects stompboxes allow for quasi-supernatural power transference from on high to working guitarists is just one of the many themes explored in this volume.

Other exhibits explore symbolic associations in the branding of sonic effects with notable cultural touchstones from popular arts and culture: As material manifestations of noir literature, retro-futuristic cinema, and Japanese anime; as explicit graphic metaphors for female pudenda; in explicit reference to gruesome tabloid tales of murder and mayhem; in alluring ads for small-batch, handmade artisanal creations; and in all too obvious associations to guacamole and chips.

This is PedalCulture—where we also find a heartfelt dialog among church musicians for whom effects pedals bring heaven to earth, yet risk interjecting the world of crass materialism into sanctified settings.

Designers and musicians will find the catalog of value for its topical content, and arts educators will appreciate an exemplary case study of students collaborating with artists and curators from the community at large.

Unlike other books about the expansive (and expensive) world of guitar gear, the curatorial tone of PedalCulture employs an irreverent sensibility expressed in a whimsical and ironic attitude toward its subject.

The PedalCulture catalog is intended as a hip, personally expressive design project fusing form, content, and aesthetics into a volume oozing both art style and curatorial substance.


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