Weekend links 640

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Aquarius (1910–1914) by Ilna Ewers-Wunderwald.

• “…they created a unique Afro-Caribbean soundscape—Battiste’s exceptional skills saw him use the studio as an instrument, voices flutter in and out, instruments shiver and shriek, over which Rebennack mutters and chants, a shaman of sorts.” Garth Cartwright on the life and works of Mac Rebennack, better known to the world as Dr John.

• Issue 3 of Man Is The Animal: A Coil Zine is now available for pre-order. I contributed to this one with a piece entitled “Singularities of Art and Nature”, an examination of the Coil discography via the Wunderkammer concept and the Musaeum Clausum of Thomas Browne.

• Among the recent arrivals at Standard Ebooks, the home of free, high-quality, public-domain texts, is Arthur Machen’s episodic and influential horror novel The Three Imposters (1895).

Media History Digital Library: “A free online resource, featuring millions of pages of books and magazines from the histories of film, broadcasting, and recorded sound.”

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Shall I, Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, conjurer, introduce myself to you, viewer? And why not?

• At Public Domain Review: The Blood Collages of John Bingley Garland (ca. 1850–60).

• Mix of the week: Endymion, an autumnal ambient mix by The Ephemeral Man.

• “New Webb image captures clearest view of Neptune’s rings in decades.”

• New music: Of Endless Light by Cleared.

• RIP jazz giant Pharoah Sanders.

Conjuration (1977) by Tangerine Dream | Necronomicon—Conjurations (2004) by John Zorn | A Boy Called Conjuror (2020) by Teleplasmiste

Fuzz Against Junk & The Hero Maker

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This is another of those posts in which I brag about finding an old book in a charity shop for a lot less than you’d have to pay for it online. But it does give me the opportunity to say something about American writer/artist Norman Rubington and his alter ego Akbar Del Piombo, something I was sure I’d done already. One of the weekend posts linked to an article about Rubington’s work but my discussion of his collages is in the essay I wrote about Wilfried Sätty for the Strange Attractor Journal, a piece which isn’t available here.

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The engraving collages of Norman Rubington (1921–1991) were probably the first to use the form developed by Max Ernst for explicitly humorous purposes. They’re certainly among the earliest to take the lead from Ernst while aiming themselves at an audience outside the art world. There is humour in some of Ernst’s collages, of course, but it tends to be the black variety favoured by the Surrealists (and actually defined by them; André Breton’s 1940 Anthology of Black Humour was a pioneering study). Rubington’s small books exploit the comic potential of antique illustrations by repurposing them as the primary content in a series of absurd narratives; these aren’t “graphic novels”, they’re more like heavily-illustrated comedy routines. There were four books in the original series—Fuzz Against Junk (1959), The Hero Maker (1959), Is That You Simon? (1961) and The Boiler Maker (1961)—with a fifth title, Moonglow, appearing in 1969. Olympia Press published the books in France, with US editions appearing around the same time under the Far-Out imprint used by Citadel Press. My charity purchase is the 1966 New English Library reprint of an Olympia Press collection of the first two volumes. The olive-green Olympia covers always provoke a Pavlovian grab response when I see one on a shelf although I’ve yet to find a copy that wasn’t an NEL reprint.

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Continue reading “Fuzz Against Junk & The Hero Maker”

Metropolis Magazine, 1927

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When Fritz Lang’s Metropolis was released in Britain the distributors, Wardour Films Ltd, produced a 32-page guide to the film filled with production stills and brief pieces written by the cast and crew. I have a facsimile copy of this publication, a limited reprint by Phantasm Press, but the original document is also available for reading or downloading at the Internet Archive. Publications like this were the standalone equivalent of promotional pieces created for the readers of film magazines; Metropolis was Ufa’s most expensive production to date so there would have been a need for serious promotion.

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None of this effort helped make the film a success, however. Lang’s epic is a masterpiece of direction and production design but Thea von Harbou’s script was the kind of absurd and naive fare you often get from writers incapable of projecting the complexities of the present day into their visions of the future. (HG Wells was unsparing in his review of “the silliest film”.) A lack of audience enthusiasm prompted foreign distributors to take out their editing scissors, but cutting a quarter of the footage didn’t help either, especially when the cuts made nonsense of the motivations of Rotwang the inventor. One thing you can see in the programme is shots from sequences like the race-track scene which were subsequently removed and wouldn’t be seen in anything other than still form for many decades.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Blade Runner vs Metropolis
The Metropolis of Tomorrow by Hugh Ferriss
Metropolis!
Metropolis posters

Weekend links 634

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Cover for Amazing Stories, October 1992, by Douglas Chaffee. A delightfully strange painting that suggests a no doubt unintentional homoerotic scenario when divorced from its original context. Via.

• “The most curious aspect of Buckminster Fuller’s arc is that he became a counterculture icon while entrenched in the very things that betrayed its spirit.” Pradeep Niroula on Buckminster Fuller (again) whose self-importance is deflated in a new biography, Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller by Alec Nevala-Lee.

• “I love both King Diamond and Weird Al. Lana del Rey and Anna von Hausswolff. Golden age illustrations of elegantly levitating fairies in a lush vibrant summer garden and the gothic charcoal rendering of melancholy moth singed by a candle’s flame.” S. Elizabeth talking to Luna Luna Magazine about inspirations and The Art of Darkness.

• “I’m writing this from my office which has a record player, currently about eight thousand records, and just one CD.” Vinyl-head Jonny Trunk talking to Norman Records about the finding and releasing of rare music.

A painter’s brilliant achievements, the unique traits of his particular style, rest on an abiding substratum of coordinated specialized crafts, a body of knowledge and practice safeguarded by a tradition upheld by the guilds. Beneath the glimmer and foreground of art history, like a powerful underground river, flow the patterns of training and production developed in the crafts. Art history is centred on individual talents romantically bringing forth their creations on their own, out of nothing. Craft is collective and anonymous. Someone had to weave the pieces of cloth that form the giant canvas of Las Meninas. Someone had to sew them together so that the stitching would show as little as possible. Someone had to cut and to assemble the struts for its support and then nail to them a canvas which in fact is not of the highest quality. It seems that Velázquez enjoyed the roughness of a surface that favoured his subtle veils and ambiguities. The loose manner of painting developed in Venice is linked to the quality of the pigments that could be purchased there, as well as to the oil medium and the thick, porous quality of a cloth that allowed subtle veils and ambiguities that are impossible to achieve on the surface of a wood panel.

Antonio Muñoz Molina on the materiality of painting, and its highest expression in the art of Diego Velázquez

• The films of Japanese director Kinuyo Tanaka are criminally overlooked, says James Balmont.

Winners of the Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2022.

• From 2012: The Disappeared by Salman Rushdie.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Standish Lawder Day.

• New music: Octopus by Sunfear.

Come Sta, La Luna (1974) by Can | Fontana Di Luna (1978) by Michael Rother | La Luna En Tu Mirada (2003) by Ry Cooder & Manuel Galbán

Weekend links 631

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Soap Bubble (1882) by Alexandre-Blaise Desgoffe. Via.

• “…there is not now, has never been, and will never be a single Platonic form of the paragraph to which all others must conform.” Richard Hughes Gibson on the history of the paragraph.

• At Spoon & Tamago: imaginary covers by international illustrators for The Tokyoiter, a New Yorker-style magazine about the Japanese capital.

• New music: tick tick tick by Stephen Mallinder, and A Vibrant Touch by Aleksandra Slyz.

The Kat had a cult following among the modernists. For Joyce, Fitzgerald, Stein, and Picasso, all of whose work fed on playful energies similar to those unleashed in the strip, he had a double appeal, in being commercially nonviable and carrying the reek of authenticity in seeming to belong to mass culture. By the thirties, strips like Blondie were appearing daily in roughly a thousand newspapers; Krazy appeared in only thirty-five. The Kat was one of those niche-but-not-really phenomena, a darling of critics and artists alike, even after it stopped appearing in newspapers.

Amber Medland on George Herriman, EE Cummings and Krazy Kat

35mm.online: Polish feature films, documentaries and animations, all free to view.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Spotlight on…Georges Bataille Erotism: Death and Sensuality.

• Inside the Espai Corberó, the home/gallery of the late Xavier Corberó.

Strange Attractor Journal Five.

• RIP Claes Oldenburg.

Krazy Kat (1928) by Frankie Trumbauer & His Orchestra | Krazy Kat (1949) by Artie Shaw | Krazy Kat (1975) by Teddy Lasry