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


 

Weekend links 270

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Cover design for UFOs and Extra-Terrestrials in History (four vols, 1978) by Yves Naud.

Come To The Sabbath, “a festival of dark arts delving into the influence of Black Magick, Witchcraft, Demonology and Satanism in pop culture”, takes place at Apiary Studios, 458 Hackney Road, London, from Tues 18th–Sun 23rd August.

• “Visitors, if there had ever been any, would have said that the little town of Mansfield was haunted.” Showdown is a previously unpublished short story by Shirley Jackson.

• “A sandbox stealthy immersive sim in a surreal, horror-y world inspired by writers like Burroughs and Ballard…” Alice O’Connor previews the forthcoming computer game, Tangiers.

Sometime in the late 1960s, the artist Robert Smithson took a trip to southwestern Ohio. He saw the Great Serpent Mound there and decided that he would make a great spiral too. [...] Because the Great Salt Lake’s levels vary several feet from year to year, and also from season to season, Spiral Jetty is not always visible even if you make the trip to Utah. You could go out to Spiral Jetty and find that the entire earthwork is invisible underwater. When Robert Smithson created this earthwork in 1970, he did not care if it could be easily seen or who owned it. And so, even today, no one knows to whom Spiral Jetty really belongs. To view it requires a pilgrimage.

Stefany Anne Goldberg on earthworks, new and ancient, and the art of disappearance

• “Commercial book cover design is a minor portion of Gorey’s award-winning legacy, but not a lesser art.” Steven Heller on Edward Gorey: cover designer.

• “You are accepted,” he says, “by the genre that can accept you.” Samuel R. Delany talked to Peter Bebergal about being an outsider in the world of science fiction.

A battle of Witts: A brief look at ‘Taboos’ and the work of The Passage. Mark Griffiths on a great, if seldom-remembered, Manchester band.

• “Hispanic photomonteur Josep Renau aimed Technicolor jets of scorn at the mirage of US consumerist culture,” says Rick Poynor.

• Because the internet is really big… Kelli Anderson reworks the Eames’ The Powers of Ten using imagery found via Google searches.

Against Nature is a forthcoming musical adaptation of Huysmans’ À Rebours by Marc Almond, Jeremy Reed and Othon.

“What makes a film noir?” Adam Frost & Melanie Patrick have an infographic for you.

• Mixes of the week: Gizehcast #20 by LCC, and Jenny Hval‘s WEIRD Quietus mix.

• Mysterium Tremendum: Russell Cuzner on The Strange World of Lustmord.

• The charming march of the Penguin Books logo.

Cosey Fanni Tutti: Agent Provocateur

Dark Times (Peel Session) (1980) by The Passage | XOYO (1982) by The Passage | Revelation (1982) by The Passage

 


The Living Grave by David Rudkin

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Having recently discovered two episodes from the BBC’s long-running Leap in the Dark series (In the Mind’s Eye, and Alan Garner’s To Kill a King), I was hoping the episode written by David Rudkin might turn up eventually. And here it is, posted to YouTube last month. Leap in the Dark, which ran from 1973 to 1980, was unusual for series dealing with the paranormal in the way it combined documentary episodes with fictional ones. The Living Grave (1980) is a skillful blend of both fact and fiction; Rudkin’s website describes it thus:

Based on documentary transcripts: the hypnotist Joe Keaton “regresses” Pauline, a Merseyside nurse, back beyond her birth to an earlier life – she starts to speak as Kitty, a maidservant on 18th century Dartmoor, who is made pregnant and hangs herself. To this day, on Kitty’s unconsecrated grave at a lonely forkroads, flowers are still left by an unknown hand.

I intercut the hypnosis scenes with glimpses of the life and death of Kitty herself as “her” voice was describing them – but with the camera as Kitty’s point of view, and so never seeing her, and using the locations as they are now. This was to avoid the inertia of mere illustration, creating instead a simultaneity of the two time-frames, and a sense of Kitty’s experience still present in the landscape today.

In May this year I wrote a lengthy essay about Rudkin’s dramas (more about that later) so The Living Grave has additional relevance beyond its cult interest. For a half-hour film it’s a more impressive piece than White Lady, a longer original drama that Rudkin wrote and also directed in 1987. Where White Lady is surprisingly inert, The Living Grave features familiar Rudkin touches, especially the voice of the unseen “haunted man” whose words are the closest thing to the speech in the stage plays. After spending some time tracing Rudkin’s recurrent use of sacred monuments, whether churches or stone circles, the shots of Dartmoor megaliths were especially notable. In the essay I sketched a comparison between Rudkin and Alan Garner, two writers who share concerns with the way the deep past of the British Isles impresses itself on the present, especially in a rural context. As noted above, Garner wrote an episode of Leap in the Dark, and there’s a further connection here in Lesley Dunlop who plays the hypnotised nurse, Pauline; two years before, Dunlop was Jan in Garner’s excellent TV adaptation of his novel, Red Shift. The hypnotist in The Living Grave is played by Ian Hogg, a friend of Rudkin’s who played Arne in Penda’s Fen, and has appeared in a number of the writer’s other dramas for stage and radio.

Previously on { feuilleton }
In the Mind’s Eye
To Kill a King by Alan Garner
Afore Night Come by David Rudkin
White Lady by David Rudkin
Red Shift by Alan Garner
Penda’s Fen by David Rudkin
David Rudkin on Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr

 


Tooropia

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The Sphinx (1895).

The Dutch Symbolist isn’t a stranger to these pages but every so often a drawing or painting by Jan Toorop draws attention to itself. The Sphinx above is oft-reproduced but you don’t always see it in colour or at a size that does justice to its detail. De Staatskas (below) is a caricature I hadn’t seen before, an unusual piece whose background is filled with stringed instruments that are also smoking chimneys.

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Desire and Satisfaction (1893).

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De Staatskas (1895).

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Ralph Steadman record covers

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Informal Jazz (1956) by Elmo Hope Sextet.

Yesterday’s post made me realise I’d never looked to see how many album covers Ralph Steadman might have designed or illustrated. A quick delve into Discogs revealed the following haul, a couple of which I own on CD. Steadman has worked in a wide range of media but I didn’t know his album work went back into the 1950s. The style of the early sleeves is markedly different to the angry, splattery creations that made his name, and without a signature you’d be unlikely to recognise the artist.

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Conception (1956) by Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Sonny Rollins, Zoot Sims.

Artists known for their work outside the music world tend to have pre-existing art used on record sleeves but Steadman is unusual in creating so much cover art afresh. In light of this I’ve omitted the CD insert for a dramatisation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which repeats the drawing familiar from many of the paperback editions.

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4 Altos (1957) by Phil Woods, Gene Quill, Sahib Shihab, Hal Stein.

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Back Country Suite For Piano, Bass And Drums (1959) by Mose Allison.

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Polaroids

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I was given a Polaroid Instant Camera some years ago, not the cult SX-70, a later model. I still have it somewhere but never used it very much. The film cartridges were still available in shops, but at around £1 a shot Polaroids always seemed like a costly indulgence unless you had some specific use for them which I never did. The photo of Murnau’s Nosferatu was taken from a TV screen, and seems to be the only print I kept.

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Radiation Victim Holding a Rabbit and Carrot (1974) by Les Krims.

This post was prompted by a search for the Polaroid manipulations made by Les Krims in the 1970s. Krims was one of the first people (the first?) to exploit the potential of the print’s slow processing to create surreal and grotesque images. Krims self-published a collection of these as Fictcryptokrimsographs in 1975. The Francis Bacon-like “radiation victim” is one of the more restrained examples, many of the others being male and female nudes in various stages of mutation.

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Peter Gabriel (1980).

The mutation technique was more famously employed by the Hipgnosis design team and Peter Gabriel for the cover art of Gabriel’s third album. (Americans insist on calling this album “Melt” even though it was never titled as such.) The technique was also used for photos on the inner sleeve and on two of the single releases.

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No Self Control (1980). Front and back sleeve of 7-inch single.

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William Burroughs by Ralph Steadman.

Also in 1980, Ralph Steadman says discovered the same technique while on holiday in Turkey. I recall him discussing his own manipulations, which he calls “Paranoids”, on TV around this time. There’s no indication that Steadman was aware of Krims or the Gabriel album but he’s continued to use the technique ever since. The Burroughs portrait was one of a series created in 1995 when Steadman paid a visit to Lawrence, Kansas. There’s film of the meeting here although I’m more interested in the older TV film on the same page which shows Steadman creating a new composite portrait by drawing onto the emulsion.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Portrait

 


 


 

Coulthart Books

    The Haunter of the Dark
    Reverbstorm

 


 

Previously on { feuilleton }

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin