by Damon Locks
When confronted with the question of how uniforms play a role in my life, I had to think back to some of the larger fashion shifts over these many years of dressing myself.
In my teen years, when I came to discover punk and hardcore, the prescribed uniform left plenty of room for exploration. I wholeheartedly jumped into the idea of discovering my own fashion identity by rifling through the possibilities. Hair dye, army jackets, boots and spiked wristbands, used clothing stores and army surplus were staples of this time period. The magic of this fashion play was that it was about creating a fiction, an aged, distressed & otherworldly look brought about by hybridizing and painting on top of other elements to bring something as much of “the now” as possible.
In my Trenchmouth days, when we toured regularly (my mid to late 20′s), we had finely tuned our stage wear to a sleek, stylish, monochromatic, functional uniform. Work clothes were our outfit of choice. There was a point where we all simply wore Dickies shirts and pants as our show and street clothes. We had a workman-like aesthetic in our attitude towards being in a band. We had a job to do and the outfits accentuated that notion. Abandoned was the individual look. The choice to dress the same displayed a more anonymous aesthetic. At times, with our short hair, we probably often looked more like escaped prisoners at random truck stops than a band on tour. It was a less time specific look. In the years during and following Trenchmouth the de-individualizing uniforms of suits and smocks also gained traction in my personal fashion rotation.
Today, when approaching the notion of projecting my personal uniform aesthetic into an new article of clothing I am closer in ideology to my teen years, with parameters built with the perspective of time and reference points culled from my own specific interests. These days, I feel I am in the midst of creating a more defined amalgam that draws from my past and creates a new fashion paradigm that I am evaluating as it comes into being.
The jacket for this project has its origins not in a uniform based in reality but one based in fiction. The plot of the 1968 original Planet of the Apes plays with the fabric of reality. Traveling into the unknowable distortion of space, to find a seemingly more primitive planet with a society that turns out to be our very own future, unrecognizable, transformed in time. The chimpanzees, the orangutans and the gorillas that run this world have their own distinct uniforms that reflect their status and subsets. Like many growing up in the 70′s, I found many aspects of this series of films fascinating. I will not go into how my young mind identified with the themes. I will say, there was a militancy and suitable distain for the world man created that hit home with me (a theme that shows up later in my life via punk rock).
The gorillas had the toughest uniforms (being that they were the enforcers of the community) but the chimpanzees had the most wearably cool uniforms. It is their outfits that I use as the basis for my uniform fashion exploration. I have opted to change the material to an African fabric from the army green of the film in order to add another layer of meaning. African fabric in the context of the urban U.S. lends a certain distinction in itself. It positions the wearer in certain ways depending on the context that the wearer brings.
It is my hope that the two signifiers brought together in one item, bring something new to the table. It is possible that neither signifier would be recognizable in this context. In a new time, not strictly a traditional African jacket, not strictly a costume uniform from the 40 year old Planet of the Apes film, but something new to interpret in the current context, to be informed and contextualized by my life and surroundings as things transform in time.
Bio Damon Locks began his schooling at SVA in NYC as an illustration major. Feeling limited by that major in terms of his artistic exploration, he transferred to The School of The Art Institute in Chicago where he received his BFA in Fine Arts. His work often revolves around people and their landscape; the narrative themes of protest, unrest, and tension are woven throughout. The processes used to reach these ends are a combination of, but not limited to: drawing, photography, digital manipulation and silk screen. His analog upbringing nurtures the dirty, the antiqued, and the distressed, thus giving a warmth and tactile quality to both his screen prints and his digital prints. The work can feel socially political and/or fantastically abstract in its narrative.
Alongside his personal visual exploration, in recent years he has found himself returning to illustration and design. His work can be found shaping the look of album covers, movie posters, dvd package design, book and magazine covers.
Not only a visual artist, Damon has been a musician operating in the Chicago music scene since the late 80’s. First in the group Trenchmouth, he then went on to form The Eternals. These days he splits his time between being a visual artist & illustrator, a deejay and a member of both The Eternals and the jazz ensemble Exploding Star Orchestra. His travels and experiences traveling playing music have definitely influenced the look of his work (Brazilian buildings turn up regularly). His love for both visual art and music inform and compliment each other and help form an overall aesthetic with ideas and tonalities bouncing back and forth between genres.