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Big Ideas: don’t get any | Communication Design

Big Ideas: don’t get any

James Houston graduated from Graphic Design in 2008. As part of his final year project he interpreted Radioheads ‘Nude’ (alternatively titled ‘Big Ideas – don’t get any), using defunct technology attempting to achieve a goal that was simply beyond them. It quickly became an internet sensation and subsequently mimicked. Within the first year it had over 1 million views, it was featured on Radioheads website and in Creative Review magazine. Jim is working as an independent film-maker.

In September 2011 Jim will be participating in the exhibition ‘Player‘ at the Science Museum, London. Creating Custom avatars controlled by a gaming joysticks that will move through the museum space. He is also working on an animated series for Channel 4 while continuing to produce music videos for bands.


“I made the video as a final piece for my degree show. It’d been an idea which was burning for a while, so the actual execution of it only took around a week, although there were a few all-nighters. It was such a tight deadline, as I also had the rest of my degree show to finish in that time too.”

“When In Rainbows was released, the song Nude brought back this recurring idea of mine, as it was a perfect fit. Luckily, a few weeks later Radiohead launched the radiohead remix contest, which supplied each of the elements (bass, vocals, drums etc) of Nude, as separate unmixed audio files to play around with. I couldn’t believe my luck and started getting to work.

“Remixing Nude is actually quite a tricky task as the track is in 6/8 time, at 63bpm. Most music that’s played in clubs is around 120bpm and usually 4/4 time. It’s pretty difficult to seamlessly mix a waltz beat into a 4/4 DJ set. Apparently, there were loads of generic entries to the competition consisting of a typical 4/4 beat, but with arbitrary clips from “Nude” thrown in so that they qualified for the contest.

“Thom Yorke even joked at the ridiculousness of it in an interview for NPR radio, hinting that they set the competition to find out how people would approach such a challenging task.

“Based on the lyric (and alternate title) “Big Ideas: Don’t get any” I grouped together a collection of old redundant hardware, and placed the equipment in a situation where they’re trying their best to do something that they’re not exactly designed to do, and not quite getting there.

“It doesn’t sound great, as it’s not supposed to. And I missed the contest deadline, hence posting it up online.”

Equipment used to make the remix:

Sinclair ZX Spectrum – Guitars (rhythm & lead)
Epson LX-81 Dot Matrix Printer – Drums
HP Scanjet 3c – Bass Guitar
Hard Drive array – Act as a collection of bad speakers – Vocals & FX


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