The Smoke

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London in 1898 was the most populous city in the world, a metropolis of “four million souls” as Arthur Conan Doyle continually reminds us in the Sherlock Holmes stories. The stereotypical representation of London in the 19th century is of a city wreathed in fog but the reality was closer to the dense smogs that plague Chinese cities today. The four million souls heated themselves by burning wood and coal, and the resulting smoke (and a fair amount of steam, no doubt) combined with the British climate to create the noxious, tinted “fogs” that fill the streets of Victorian fiction.

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Whatever the health hazards, the vaporous atmosphere had its champions in artists such as Claude Monet and James Whistler, both of whom relished the way the smoky air softened the silhouettes of the city. William Hyde may be added to the list for this superb series of etchings showing London at its most tenebrous, another chance discovery at the Internet Archive. London Impressions is an ambivalent celebration of the capital as a city of shadows, smoke and fog, the essays by Alice Meynell ruefully admitting that while the industrial cities of the north may rival London for their polluted atmosphere, their smaller size means that blue sky is never far away, something the Londoner of 1898 couldn’t take for granted. This is a marvellous book, and one I’d love to own if it wasn’t so rare; there’s a copy on eBay at the moment for $1,640. At least we can read it (and download the pages) here.

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Continue reading “The Smoke”

Décorations Peintes pour Devantures et Intérieurs de Magasins

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Once again, I was going to post something more substantial this week but I’m still exceptionally busy, and my plans were further thwarted by the arrival in my RSS feed of this new upload at the Internet Archive. Décorations Peintes pour Devantures et Intérieurs de Magasins is a short but beautiful collection of Art Nouveau signs and shopfronts compiled by Henry Guédy. The date—1905—places it near the end of the Art Nouveau movement but the style was evidently still popular enough at this point to warrant a guide for sign painters looking for something à la mode. The shopfront photos show the commercial application of the style in Parisian streets, although many of these façades will have since been replaced by less adventurous designs (see this post for an example). Monsieur Guédy’s book may be viewed in full and downloaded here.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Hector Guimard’s Castel Béranger
Chemiserie Niguet
Rue St. Augustin, then and now
Hector Guimard elevations
Infernal entrances
Hector Guimard sketches
Temples for Future Religions by François Garas
Elizabetes Iela 10b, Riga
Atelier Elvira
Louis Bonnier’s exposition dreams
The Maison Lavirotte
The House with Chimaeras

Weekend links 393

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The Invisible World of Beautify Junkyards will be the next release on the Ghost Box label in March 2018. Design by Julian House.

• Tantalising discovery of the week was Alphons Sinniger’s Eno (1974), a 24-minute film about post-Roxy Music Brian Eno which shows (among other things) the recording of Here Come The Warm Jets. The film is a scarce item that appeared briefly on YouTube before being yanked. Copies have been reposted (see here) although they may not stay around for long.

Nosferatu the Shapeshifter: An inventory of intertitles, prints and premiéres. A page that includes some detail about Die zwölfte Stunde. Eine Nacht des Grauens (The Twelfth Hour: A Night of Horror), a seldom-seen reworking of Murnau’s film from 1930 which added sound, additional scenes (none of them by Murnau) and a happy ending.

• At Dennis Cooper‘s: Entry Level: Luchino Visconti’s “German Trilogy”: The Damned, Death in Venice, Ludwig (1969–1973).

• “3,500 occult manuscripts will be digitized and made freely available online, thanks to Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown.”

• From 2015: Watch Alejandro Jodorowsky give a tarot reading (for Nicolas Winding Refn).

Portals of London: “Towards a catalogue of London’s inter-dimensional gateways”.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Gigantic sculptures by Kenji Yanobe of cats wearing helmets.

• At the BFI: Adam Scovell on 10 great “urban wyrd” films.

• At Swan River Press: Our Haunted Year: 2017.

Portals (2001) by Bill Laswell | Portals And Parallels (2010) by Belbury Poly & Moon Wiring Club | Abysmal Cathedrals Arise!—Beyond The Quivering Portal—Minds On Fire (2012) by The Wyrding Module

Weekend links 383

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Arcadia-24 (1988) by Minoru Nomata.

Dark Entries and Honey Soundsystem Records release a video of edited moments from gay porn film Afternooners to promote the release of the film’s electronic soundtrack by Patrick Cowley. The album, which is the third and final collection of Cowley’s porn soundtracks, is out now.

Emily Temple looks at some of the art inspired by Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities. I explored the same subject a couple of years ago in a week of Calvino art posts. From 2014: Peter Mendelsund on designing covers for Calvino.

Jim Downes on the late Charley Shively, a gay liberation activist who wasn’t interested in equality. Not an uncommon attitude in some gay circles but it’s one you seldom see aired in the mainstream press.

Geeta Dayal on A Little Electronic Milky Way of Sound by Roland Kayn, a 14-hour composition of “cybernetic music” which has been released in a lavish 16-CD box set by Frozen Reeds.

• An introduction to Henri-Georges Clouzot in seven films by Adam Scovell. Clouzot’s masterwork, The Wages of Fear (1953), is released on blu-ray by the BFI next week.

• Ubu Yorker: Menachem Feuer interviews Kenneth Goldsmith, writer and the man behind Ubuweb.

• Why Oscar-winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro thinks the film vs. digital debate is bullshit.

David Barnett on supernatural fiction’s “best kept secret”, Robert Aickman.

Michèle Mendelssohn on how Oscar Wilde’s life imitates his art.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 233 by Mick Harris.

Invisible Limits (1976) by Tangerine Dream | Invisible Cities (1990) by Jah Wobble’s Invaders Of The Heart | Invisible Architecture (1995) by John Foxx

Weekend links 373

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Untitled (2011) by YDK Morimoe. Via Jim Post at Dennis Cooper’s.

For The Climax Of The Night by Total Leatherette is almost certainly the only album you’ll see this year with autofellatio cover art. Faux Fox gives a taste of the new album, while an earlier piece, Squeeze Hunk, features a Tom of Finland-style video. And speaking of which, Dome Karukoski’s feature film, Tom of Finland, is released in the UK this week. Related: Tom of Finland coffee.

• The death of playwright Joe Orton in 1967 prompted yet more 50th anniversary articles this week. Mentioned here before, and better value than all the textual appraisal, is the BBC’s 70-minute TV documentary from 1982, A Genius Like Us: A Portrait of Joe Orton, which includes interviews with family, friends, colleagues and Orton’s biographer, John Lahr.

• Two skulls, 50,000 postcards and a book that took 50 years to finish: Stuart Jeffries visits artist Tom Phillips.

• New at the Internet Archive: 25,000 78RPM records. You can never go wrong with Duke Ellington.

Lock Your Door and The Reformation of St. Jules: Algernon Blackwood filmed in 1949.

Redemption, an exhibition of art by Fay Pomerance (1912–2001) at Ushaw College, Durham.

• At Dirge Magazine: Daniel Pietersen on the myth of the sunken city.

• Mix of the week: FACT Mix 613 by Aaron Dilloway.

Laetitia Sadier’s favourite albums.

• RIP Hywel Bennett

Sunken City (1961) by Les Baxter | Ys (1971) by Alan Stivell | Atlantis (1971) by Deuter