Hard-core punk is probably not the first thing most people think about when looking at the image of a quaint tree-lined ranch house, but thanks to the artist Marc Fischer’s internet-based project Hardcore Architecture, that may soon change.
Fischer found the suburban abode in question by entering into Google Street View the mailing address listed under a 1980s Maximumrocknroll (MRR) review of forgotten Indianapolis band Source of Violence’s cassette “Human Sponge.” In the review the quintessential Bay Area punk zine describes the release as “very abrasive hardcore with a completely atonal guitar sound that resembles a broken Cuisinart.”
The crux of the Hardcore Architecture project lies in the dissonance between these two things—a Google Street View photo of a house and a Maximumrocknroll review of the band that received it’s mail there—when they are laid out together on a minimally designed Tumblr page.
The result is simple but revealing, touching on concerns ranging from architectural history to subculture and class: the house, in fact, belonged to a band member’s parents, and chances are if there was a Cuisinart in it, it was in working order.
“I think the role of parents and support structure is probably pretty minimally discussed in the history of underground music,” Fischer said in a phone interview. “It’s mostly characterized as this rebellious, parents-hating music. You know, if your parents are willing to put up with just an avalanche … there’s probably a little more family support going on than I think people usually talk about or think about.”
Fischer is the founder of the organization Public Collectors, which was included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Created as a resource to share and preserve cultural artifacts that are traditionally not archived by public libraries and museums, the organization often draws on private collections for material. For the Hardcore Architecture project, selections of which will go on view at the Outhaus in Urbana, Illinois, this month, Fischer tapped into the very system that often overlooks such publications as Maximumrocknroll.
“Chicago’s main public-library branch—someone there had the, I don’t know what, wisdom, good taste, to acquire every issue of MRR from the beginning,” Fischer said. “So I’ve actually been able to go to the library and see physical copies of the magazine.”
As a teenager in suburban Philadelphia, Fischer made punk and metal zines of his own. Now 44 and a homeowner, the artist started Hardcore Architecture after he began using Google Street View for online house hunting.
“I was looking at an old magazine about underground heavy metal, and there was a band’s demo that was reviewed, and I saw that the home address was used, and I tried plugging that into Street View,” he said, “and what I found was this completely nondescript kind of home.”
Homes featured on the website run the gamut from manicured suburban houses to apartments and more shambolic residences common on the periphery of college campuses. The gulf between “punk house” and “parents’ house” is pronounced—when placed next to each other, they sometimes resemble the before and after pictures on a miracle-pill advertisement.
Hardcore Architecture lays bear the homogenous suburban landscape of punk scenes, but it also speaks to the power of the zine: “A fanzine,” Fischer said, “was this way of participating in the culture no matter where you were based.”
A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 32 under the title “Domesticated.”