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Screenshot from Paper Rad's Facemaker video (2005).

Paper Rad is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania/Providence, Rhode Island American art collective that makes comics zines, video art, net art, MIDI files, paintings, installations, and are in a variety of bands. The three primary members are Jacob Ciocci, Jessica Ciocci, and Ben Jones.

Although they continue to publish their own zines, music, and online content, Paper Rad have shown at several major galleries including PaceWildenstein, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, and Deitch Projects. They also published a book, Paper Rad, BJ and da Dogs [1] in late-2005 as well a DVD on Load Records in 2006 (Trash Talking).



Paper Rad’s lo-fi style is unmistakable, and can be considered within a number of art movements and styles. Most observable is the use of bright colors that engulf their work. Fluorescent palettes are juxtaposed with basic primary colors to create a distinctive aesthetic.


Do It Yourself

An excerpt from the Wyld File website states the rules of Wyld File and Paper Rad’s made-up style, "Dogman 99" (a play on words on the Danish filmmaking movement Dogme 95): "THE RULES OF DOGMAN 99: no Wacom tablet, no scanning, pure RGB colors only, only fake tweening, and as many alpha tricks as possible."[1] This self-imposed policy is indicative of Paper Rads’ methods overall, which seems to rely heavily on archaic methods (RGB colors), denies certain techniques (tweening) and equipment (scanning, Wacom tablets), and an over reliance on outdated, perhaps cheesy techniques and styles (alpha tricks). By extension, many other rules of production could be deducted from their work as a whole: MIDI audio, bad recording of original sound effects and voices, pixelazation, and an apparent lack of attention to detail.

Pop Art

Many characters from pop culture, presumably those near and dear to Paper Rad’s collective heart, have recurring roles in Paper Rad pieces, including Gumby, Garfield, Troll dolls, Bart Simpson, and Alf. This reclamation of forgotten characters and their proliferation ad nauseam can be compared to Pop Art.

Though Paper Rad demonstrates a similar aesthetic vocabulary as a lot of Pop Art, the actual content differs greatly, evoking nostalgia in the forgotten rather than reverence of the ubiquitous. The key difference is that most Pop Art, by its definition, is inherently based in the historical and cultural context in which it was made. Instead, by hearkening back to the more obscure pieces of our cultural heritage, Paper Rad creates a dynamic based on a meditative state of cultural past and vague recollection instead of on common experience.


Paper Rad’s messy, amateur, anti-aesthetic DIY approach, combined with the repeated appropriation of cultural symbols and images, harkens in a large degree to punk art. Combined with an internet-informed proliferation of popular imagery, the punk aspects of Paper Rad are hard to deny, though this aesthetic seems to have in turn be re-appropriated into a pseudo-nerdy, digital form.


The collage format, by its very nature, implies a collection of disparate images, symbols of culture which the artist is always assumed to have chosen and arranged. To this end, their work lends itself to questions concerning its creation – the method behind the madness. These questions are particularly appropriate to the collage format and creative processes behind Paper Rad. By making art in such a rough and haphazard manner Paper Rad seems to draw attention to the constructedness of the spectacle and their hand in it, establishing Paper Rad with more established forms of visual collage.

Paper Rad will often recycle or appropriate obscure pieces of culture, those that have been lost in the folds of time and popular culture. Old cartoons, bad commercials, bad products, programming relegated to late-night television, forgotten celebrities all find a place in Paper Rad’s pseudo-nostalgia. Most of Paper Rad’s art follows a similar pattern, marked by an overzealous accumulation of the detritus of modern life. As such, the crux of any successful collage is the found items and images which comprise it, and what those items in turn are meant to represent individually and within the collage itself. These items serve as representation, as a symbol of something larger than themselves – in other words, to deconstruct their meaning is to deconstruct them as symbols, to focus on their semiotic nature.

Collaborations & Other Works

Super Mario Movie

Paper Rad collaborated with multi-media artist Cory Arcangel to make Super Mario Movie, a 15-minute video piece about the life and times of Nintendo’s Mario. The piece consisted of a hacked Nintendo Entertainment System video-game cartridge where the backgrounds and scenarios were altered and rearranged into a narrative story about the game world becoming corrupted and Mario’s existential crises about being a video game character.[2] The result is a crude sort of bootlegged, digital-collage/narrative. The movie debuted at Deitch Projects in New York in 2005.

Wyld File

Wyld File consists of the usual Paper Rad trio and collaborator Eric Mast (better known as E*ROCK).[2] Wyld File is a commercial entity that makes extravagantly lo-fi music videos for artists like Islands (band), The Gossip ("Standing in the Way of Control"), and Beck ("Gameboy Homeboy"). Wyld File videos have recently enjoyed increasing rotations on MTV and MTVu, and their unapologetically lo-fi style seems to be spreading to many MTV promotional spots and bumpers as well. The Paper Rad Collective has also produced numerous music videos for other bands, including Lightning Bolt, Wolf Eyes and the 1960s psychedelic rock band Bubble Puppy.


Another element of Paper Rad is music. The collective has splintered into several bands in the genres of electronic music, noise, techno, and rock. Some of these bands are: Extreme Animals, Dr. Doo, Doo Man Group, ROTFLOL, Paz, Star Kings, Pajama Boys, Natural Reflex, Gay Nerds, Pracky Pranky, DJ Jazzy Jexx, and Running Free.

These various side projects have released several records and CD-Rs on a number of independent labels including Breaking World Records, Scratch N Sniff Entertainment, FrequNC Records, Autumn Records, Vicious Pop, and most recently on the RatFace DreamAngel Label.


  1. ^ Wyld File Official site.
  2. ^ Official Paper Rad site.

External links


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