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


 

Weekend links 317

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Alphonse Mucha’s Le Pater, a book of mystical Symbolism written, designed and illustrated by the artist, was published in a limited edition in 1899. The book has been out of print ever since but Thomas Negovan at Century Guild will be reprinting it later this year.

• “Five axioms to define Europe: the coffee house; the landscape on a traversable and human scale; these streets and squares named after the statesmen, scientists, artists, writers of the past; our twofold descent from Athens and Jerusalem; and, lastly, that apprehension of a closing chapter, of that famous Hegelian sunset, which shadowed the idea and substance of Europe even in their noon hours.” George Steiner explores his idea of Europe.

Journey To The Edge Of The Universe by Upper Astral, 43 minutes of cosmic ambience, is a cassette-only release from 1983. The album has never been reissued so secondhand copies command excessive prices but it may be downloaded here.

• Mixes of the week: Three hours of ambience by Gregg Hermetech, XLR8R Podcast 446 by [Adrian] Sherwood x Nisennenmondai, and Secret Thirteen Mix 190 by Shxcxchcxsh.

Today [Angela] Carter is well known, widely taught in schools and universities, and much of what she presaged—in terms of recycling and updating (“old wine in new bottles”, she called it), or gender role play and reversal—has become commonplace in the culture. Despite this, many critics find it difficult to situate her work properly. This is partly because Carter is so sui generis (she has literary offspring but few antecedents), and partly because many struggle with the relationship of politics and aesthetics in her writing.

Kate Webb reviews two new books about Angela Carter

• Words that will forever pursue us: Tim Page on the late Michael Herr, “rock’n’roll voice of the Vietnam War”.

• From 2015: Luigi Serafini on how and why he created an encyclopedia of an imaginary world.

James Campbell on Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs: celebrating the Beats in Paris.

Fragile Beasts, an exhibition of grotesque print ornaments at Cooper Hewitt, NYC.

• Not before time, Guy Gavriel Kay wants to see an end to the plague of writing tips.

• David Bowie and Buster Keaton by Steve Schapiro.

Tom Charity on the films of Michael Cimino.

Alison Goldfrapp: photographer.

Golem Mecanique

European Man (1981) by Landscape | Europe After The Rain (1981) by John Foxx | Trans Europe Express (1994) by The One You Love

 


Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H., a film by the Brothers Quay

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More from the Quays, and one of their most recent animated films. Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H. is a 25-minute piece made in 2013 for a commission from the Wexner Center for the Arts at The Ohio State University. The film is subtitled Fragments and Motifs from the Writings of Felisberto Hernández, the “F.H.” of the title. Hernández was a Uruguayan writer whose fabulist fiction has been praised by Italo Calvino and Gabriel García Márquez, and as with the Quays’ films based on the work of Bruno Schulz and Robert Walser it probably helps to be acquainted with the source. In this case I’m not, although reading a description of Hernández’s Piano Stories—the only (?) collection in English—I ought to remedy that.

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The content may be South American but the Hernández’s fictional world is explored using the same accumulation of hints and allusions as in the films based on the work of European writers. The Quays’ recent shorts have favoured HD video and anamorphic distortion, and that’s the technique adopted here. I can’t fault their animation or their mise-en-scène but I keep hoping they might find a way to use video that has more of the grain and texture of their earlier films. I’m also hoping we might see these recent works gathered together in a disc collection in the near future. Unmistaken Hands: Ex Voto F.H. is a recent arrival at YouTube, and may not be there for long so watch it while you can.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Animation Magazine: The Brothers Quay
The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, a film by the Brothers Quay
More Brothers Quay scarcities
Eurydice…She, So Beloved, a film by the Brothers Quay
Inventorium of Traces, a film by the Brothers Quay
Maska: Stanislaw Lem and the Brothers Quay
Stille Nacht V: Dog Door
Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets
Brothers Quay scarcities
Crossed destinies revisited
Crossed destinies: when the Quays met Calvino
The Brothers Quay on DVD

 


Animation Magazine: The Brothers Quay

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Interviews with the Brothers Quay have been quite plentiful in recent years—some may be found on their DVD releases—but for the Quay enthusiast some are more notable than others. This half hour programme for French TV stood out for me for taking place inside the London studio where many of the Quays’ short films have been made. The interview was conducted in 2002, and one of the brothers mentions that they may be leaving the premises soon; one of their exhibition catalogues has a recent photo of the studio so we can assume this wasn’t the case.

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Since this was made for an animation series the discussion is mainly about the brothers’ animation techniques. There’s also some barbed comment later on about the conservative state of British television. The UK’s Channel 4 was a great champion of animation in its early days, and the channel’s budget for short films helped finance many of the early films by the Quays and their producer Keith Griffiths. This was at a time when there were only four TV channels to choose from; today we have numerous satellite channels but no room on any of them for unusual or experimental fare. Similar sentiments are voiced on the BFI’s recent collection of Alan Clarke films. Just as there’s no room for the Quays in the current climate, there’s no room either for the single dramas that directors like Clarke were making in the 1970s and 1980s.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, a film by the Brothers Quay
More Brothers Quay scarcities
Eurydice…She, So Beloved, a film by the Brothers Quay
Inventorium of Traces, a film by the Brothers Quay
Maska: Stanislaw Lem and the Brothers Quay
Stille Nacht V: Dog Door
Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets
Brothers Quay scarcities
Crossed destinies revisited
Crossed destinies: when the Quays met Calvino
The Brothers Quay on DVD

 


Weekend links 316

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Stasis, the second album by Pye Corner Audio for the Ghost Box label, will be released at the end of August. Design, as always, is by Julian House.

• “In the modern internet world you have what I talk about as the ‘War of the Certain’: people insisting that their absolutist viewpoint, in 140 characters, is exactly the right way to think, and anyone who doesn’t agree with them is terrible. If you’ve grown up reading Robert Anton Wilson this is awful. Having all of these certain people with no nuance or doubt, and no understanding of multiple-model agnosticism, is not going to go anywhere good.” Writer John Higgs talking to Ben Graham about RAW, Discordianism and related matters. A related matter: Higgs talks to Alan Moore about virtual-reality mysticism, creating a new counterculture, reinventing magick, and the eternal nature of time.

• Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon is out this month so features and interviews are proliferating. I’ve been avoiding them for the usual spoiler-shunning reasons, but this was worth noting: Refn’s mood-establishing playlist for the production. More Neon Demon: Cliff Martinez talks about working with Refn.

• ” ‘Paint me like one of your French girls” takes on a whole new meaning in Nicole G. Albert’s book Lesbian Decadence: Representations in Art and Literature in Fin-De-Siècle France,” says Rachel Wexelbaum.

The decaying low-baroque tableau of conjugal tenderness, features eaten away by the syphilis of time, played so well, on an anvil of whitewashed cement, alongside a municipal bowling green, that it became the provocation for a pedestrian expedition testing the Brexit boundaries of a timeless mead-hall England, before the fleet of plundering Papist Normans came sailing over the horizon. Just as tabloid gangs of Albanian drug-trafficking white slavers were now reputed to be sneaking ashore on Romney Marshes, at Deal and Camber Sands, on their Rigid Inflatable Boats, kayaks and leaking air mattresses. Could anyone bring themselves actually to cast a vote for Brexit, a commodity that sounds like a cereal bowl of Nordic cattlecake manufactured from wood shavings with an added ingredient to purge the bowels?

Iain Sinclair and company head south in turbulent times

• At Dangerous Minds: a video recording of Psychic TV live in Manchester, 1983 (I’m in the audience but up on the balcony so you won’t see me), and an interview with dub maestro Adrian Sherwood.

The Columbia Years, 1968–1969: fabled recording sessions by Betty Davis are to receive an official release by Light In The Attic.

We’re Here Because We’re Here – Jeremy Deller’s silent commemoration of the soldiers of the Somme.

• Inside Las Pozas, Edward James’ Surrealist Garden in the Mexican Jungle.

• The body as amusement park: A history of masturbation by Barry Reay.

Nicholas Olsberg on the mirage of an ideal metropolis.

The Strange World of…David Toop

Static Electrician (1994) by ELpH | Static (1998) by Redshift | Static (2001) by Monolake

 


The Mountain of Dead Selves

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John Bradburn, an artist/filmmaker who also performs as Ferric Lux, notified me recently about his David Bowie-related project, The Mountain of Dead Selves, a video piece that was showing earlier this month at Vivid Gallery, Birmingham. Bradburn’s video, part of a group show, Constructing The Self: David Bowie, takes the occult influences of the Station To Station album as its subject. A short version of the video may be seen here although the gallery version was a looping piece which would no doubt appear very different when seen in situ.

Back in January I linked to some of the posthumous theorising around Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, including musings which looked back to Station To Station‘s Kabbalistic elements. It used to seem that discussion of Bowie and the occult would remain fixed on the 1970s so one of the many surprises about his final statement was the way the esoteric was brought to the fore again. The Mountain of Dead Selves won’t be the last exploration of this. There’s more from Ferric Lux here.

 


 




 

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin