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• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Weekend links 474

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AS11-40-5877 (1969).

• A minimum of Moon-related links this week because this is a subject I always return to. Previous links to NASA’s photo archives are now redundant after they changed their website but the archive of photos from the Apollo missions are currently hosted on Flickr…while Flickr lasts, anyway. The Albums section features whole film rolls from each of the missions.

• Mixes of the week: Stephen O’Malley presents In Session: Richard Pinhas (a re-posting of a mix from last year), and The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XVII by David Colohan.

• Living With The Human Machines: experimental artist Sarah Angliss speaks to Matthew Neale about the cyborgs, dummies and ghosts that populate her work.

• On And On And On: A Guide to Generative Electronic Music. Related: Deconstructing Brian Eno’s Music for Airports.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jesse Bransford presents…A List of Grimoires for the Twilight of the Age of the Book.

A Dandy in Aspic exclusive: Paul Gallagher interviewed cult author Derek Marlowe in 1984.

• From Ted Hughes to HG Wells: Jeanette Winterson picks the best books about the Moon.

• Tate acquires vast archive of British surrealist Ithell Colquhoun.

• At Greydogtales: Ten supernatural stories which stay with you.

• Emptyset turn to machine learning on new album Blossoms.

• Paul Grimstad on the absolute originality of Georges Perec.

• Valerie Stivers on cooking with Bruno Schulz.

• Blown out ’77: in the studio with Suicide.

Astronauts on record covers.

Back Side Of The Moon (1991) by The Orb | Moonshot (1999) by Hallucinator | Under The Moon (2019) by Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno

 


Tomita’s Mind of the Universe

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In the week that celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon here’s a cosmic flashback from 1984. (I wrote about my own memories of the Apollo era in July, 2009.)

Mind Of The Universe was an ambitious outdoor performance of music by Isao Tomita for the annual Ars Electronic Festival in Linz, Austria. I’d known about this event ever since the release of the subsequent live album, and always wondered if there was more of a visual record than the one or two short clips to be found on YouTube. This 65-minute documentary from NHK TV was made following Tomita’s death in 2016, and features a much longer recording of the concert, together with a look at the preparations undertaken by the composer and his Japanese team. The documentary is in Japanese throughout, but I’ve had Tomita’s albums on continual play for the past couple of weeks so it was a welcome discovery. The Linz footage is bracketed by a short studio discussion of Tomita’s work and the concert itself with two of his assistants, Hideki Matsutake and Akira Senju. Matsutake is better known for his programming work with Yellow Magic Orchestra, and his own albums under the name Logic System, but he began working with synthesizers as Tomita’s studio assistant in the 1970s; Senju is a composer of anime soundtracks. The documentary includes some all-too-brief film footage of Tomita’s studio in 1974, and a sequence (with Tomita-san on a motorbike!) concerning the Dawn Chorus (1984) album which incorporated recordings of the electromagnetic “Dawn Chorus” phenomenon.

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Part of Tomita’s Moog system, the backbone of his early electronic recordings.

Mind Of The Universe (or Tomita’s Universum as it was advertised to the citizens of Linz) comprised a nocturnal performance spanning the River Danube, with Tomita combining some of his earlier recordings with new pieces created for the event, including an extract from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. This was conducted by the maestro and assistants from within a transparent pyramid suspended by crane on the river bank. Speakers were positioned on both banks of the river, and there was a lavish lightshow with fireworks and lasers, all of which was somehow meant to depict the entire history of the Universe, from Big Bang to the present moment.

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Discussing Dawn Chorus, and a visit to a radio telescope.

If this wasn’t ambitious enough, Tomita had musicians and a choir floating on boats and platforms in the river: Goro Yamaguchi played a traditional Japanese piece on shakuhachi while seated in a perilously small craft being towed behind a larger vessel; the bigger boat provided a stage for violinist Mariko Senju whose excellent performance of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending is the musical highlight of the concert. This was followed by a violin rendition of the five-note motif from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a nod to Tomita’s UFO-themed Bermuda Triangle album, which introduced one of the less successful aspects of the event in the noisy arrival of a helicopter bearing a platform laden with lights and speakers. The helicopter provided the booming response of the Close Encounters mothership although this isn’t obvious on the live album where all you have is the music and the noise of the rotors. Tomita’s concept of “pyramid sound” is more evident in the TV documentary than on record.

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Weekend links 473

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“Spectra of various light sources, solar, stellar, metallic, gaseous, electric”, print by René Henri Digeon; plate IV in Les phénomènes de la physique (1868).

• More polari: Thom Cuell this time with another review of Fabulosa!: The Story of Polari by Paul Baker. Good as it is to see these articles, one thing they all share is paying tribute to the polari-enriched radio series Round the Horne without crediting its writers, Barry Took and Marty Feldman.

• “…with its conspiracy theories, babbling demagogues and demonised minorities, Bahr’s investigation is sadly all too relevant today.” Antisemitism (1894) by Hermann Bahr, is the latest new translation from Rixdorf Editions.

Isao Tomita in 1978 showing a presenter from NHK around his tiny studio. Japanese-only but the discussion reveals that the words “synthesizer”, “tape recorder” and “mixer” sound the same as they do in English.

Ben Frost talks to Patrick Clarke about his music for German TV series, Dark.

• PYUR composes a guide through limbo with Oratorio For The Underworld.

• Steven Heller on Don Wall’s book design for a Paolo Soleri retrospective.

• Coming soon from Fulgur Press: Ira Cohen: Into the Mylar Chamber.

Will Harris compiles an oral history of Q: The Winged Serpent.

• Mix of the week: a mix for The Wire by Overlook.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Magic Shop Internationale.

Shadow In Twilight by Pram.

The Feathered Serpent Of The Aztecs (1960) by Les Baxter | The Serpent (In Quicksilver) (1981) by Harold Budd | Black Jewelled Serpent Of Sound (1986) by Dukes Of Stratosphear

 


Allerlei Gedanken in Vignettenform

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In a post from November last year I expressed a hope that the Internet Archive might add more of the design source books in the Quelle series to its collection. Fast forward a few months and here’s another of the books, this time showcasing the work of Carl Otto Czeschka (1878–1960). As with the Max Benirschke volume, the Czeschka book is a collection of graphics for use by artists, designers and printers. Where Benirschke presented pages of decorative motifs in the Art Nouveau style, Czeschka’s work is more illustrational, and more limited in its use, with some of the pieces intended to function as ex libris plates or menu headers. Considering that these designs were meant to have a general application there’s a surprising quantity of beetles and skeletons/skulls in Czeschka’s drawings; he even manages to put a skull into a drawing of that fin-de-siècle staple, the peacock feather. Browse or download the book here.

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Weekend links 472

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Poster art by Hiroo Isono.

• “[Divine] didn’t want to pass as a woman; he wanted to pass as a monster. He was thought up to scare hippies. And that’s what he wanted to do. He wanted to be Godzilla. Well, he wanted to be Elizabeth Taylor and Godzilla put together.” I can’t help linking to yet another John Waters interview when he always has things like this to say.

• Fifty shades of grey: great towers of the Eastern bloc photographed by David Navarro & Martyna Sobecka.

• Seeking Beastliness and Defining Beauty: Clive Hicks-Jenkins on visualisations of Beauty and the Beast.

Fire Temple by Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak) from the Midsommar soundtrack.

Brad Jolliff & Mark Robinson on the scientific legacy of the Apollo programme.

John Boardley on Renaissance memes and the chemical pleasure garden.

• “It’s important to go out and feel the so-called reality,” says David Lynch.

Peter Strickland talks to Robert Barry about his new film, In Fabric.

Nico in Manchester: “She loved the architecture—and the heroin”.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 292 by Paco Sala.

• Andrei Codrescu on the many lives of Lafcadio Hearn.

Hiroo Isono: Into the Depths of the Sacred Forest.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Queer.

The Beast (1956) by Milt Buckner | The Beast (1989) by Rhythm Devils | Beast (1994) by Brian Eno

 


 


 

Signed & numbered prints

    Blotter Art prints

 


 

Coulthart Books

    The Haunter of the Dark
    Reverbstorm

 


 

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