Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Mike Hinge - and ONYX

What is Onyx? I remember when I first read about Onyx it was in a book "The New Visions A Collection Of Modern Science Fiction Art" published by Doubleday 1982. There was a short biography for Mike which I later found the full version here. In the biography it said  "Onyx display, Wittenborn bookstore" brief but intriguing. I concluded at the time that it was perhaps to do with Mike's set of 8 posters that I had started to collect and had seen advertised in Algol Magazine Summer 1975, one of the posters being called, Onyx Cube seen here in the original Algol advert . 

Over the next few months I would come across another references to Onyx and then one day Alex Jay sent me a scan of a magazine  "Design Quarterly 78/79: A Special Double Issue on 'Conceptual Architecture'", seen here and  it was then that I began to understand, Onyx was an artist collaboration. In that magazine it cited four members Ron Williams, Mike Hinge, Charles Albatross and Tom Simpson. With this lead, I searched on the internet and found an article in French entitled Mutations v.0.8 providing a tantalising description of Onyx. Below is a Google translation of that description: 

"ONYX group was born in New York in the late sixties. It was founded by architects that we know by the pseudonym they used at the time: Charles Albatross, Mr. & Mrs.. Harvey And The Grapefruit Orange, Patrick Redson, Okra Plantz, Tom Fulrey, Lili Piuschin, Mike Hinge, A'Lloyd. ONYX expressed their theories on architecture outside professional boundaries and conventional, through audiovisual performances and what we call a mail art. The posters of ONYX are perhaps the best examples of their operation shock, desecration of the concept of art and architecture at the time of their realization. Mail architecture was one of the instruments used to invent new ways of "doing" of architecture. Each poster was designed in every detail with great care, from graphic design to choice of colors (mostly two-color), passing through the text, often deliberately ironic and encrypted. The posters were produced in a limited number still. An advertisement stated that they were sold by mail ..."- see source

In October last year, Alex Jay sent me another set of exciting scans from a publication called Arthropods, published by Praeger 1972. This was a double bonus as it mentioned EAT (another art collaboration Mike had been involved with) and Onyx... However there were no Mike Hinge pictures, that didn't matter as the images were fantastic, mind blowing and I knew that this was a group that deserved much more attention. Here from the magazine are the images and text. Enjoy.

Daily Earth Chronicle by Ron Williams

The Rule by Woodson Rainey

The Rule by Woodson Rainey

The World Map by Woodson Rainey

The World Map by Woodson Rainey


It is all beginning to make sense now. Discovering Onyx group has shed a new light onto Mike Hinge's work. 
See more Onyx at the "Frac Centre" website.

Next week, stayed tuned, there will be a written article by Ron Williams of Onyx. With his first hand account of his involvement with the Onyx and memories of Mike Hinge.  

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