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


 

Weekend links 273

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Byronic I by Boris Pelcer. Via Full Fathom Five.

• “Music determines everything in terms of our narrative. Music demands, music suggests. Whereas traditional Hollywood animation is all based on character development—you know, there’s Toy Story and it’s Tom Hanks’s voice pushing the thrust of the action. For us, décor is all part of it. It’s the objects, a sense of atmosphere, the stimmung (mood) of what’s happening in this landscape where the puppet is just, invariably, a tiny element.” The Brothers Quay talking to JW McCormack about their films, and about Quay, a short documentary by Christopher Nolan.

• Croissants with Cthulhu: Stephanie Gorton Murphy reports on the Cthulhu Prayer Breakfast at last week’s NecronomiCon. I didn’t attend this: abject silliness is the last thing I want at 8 o’clock in the morning.

• “…a light daze for the rest of the afternoon, detrimental to studying but advantageous for daydreaming.” Italo Calvino on his cinema-going youth.

Only in that brief moment of absolute uncertainty – when both options seem equally plausible and implausible, when neither thought can be accepted or rejected, when everything can be explained and nothing can be explained – only in that moment do we really have this horror of philosophy, this questioning of the principle of sufficient reason. It is for this reason that Todorov qualifies his definition by stating that the “fantastic occupies the duration of this uncertainty.”

Eugene Thacker in an extract from Tentacles Longer Than Night (Horror of Philosophy, vol. 3), Zero Books, 2015

• It’s always good to hear some new rumblings by Emptyset. The Guardian has a stream of side 1 of the latest release, Signal.

• David Rudkin’s Penda’s Fen receives a film screening at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, on Saturday, 5th September.

Sea Calls Me Home, another song from the forthcoming Julia Holter album.

• Digital visualizations of imagined future landscapes by Mike Winkelmann.

• Mix of the week: The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. IX by David Colohan.

• Cherchez la femme: Women and Surrealism at Sotheby’s, NYC.

• At It’s Nice That: 50 years of A Humument by Tom Phillips.

April 16, 1963: Housewife on LSD

Tentaclii: a Lovecraft blog

Signal (1981) by Phew | Signals (1983) by Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno | Signals (2010) by The Soundcarriers

 


The Cramps at the Haçienda

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At last: something that has no connection with HP Lovecraft… This was one of several design jobs during a very busy summer, a long-delayed DVD release by Savoy of the Cramps playing Manchester’s trendiest club of the 1980s, the Haçienda. The posthumous reputation of the Hac (as it was locally known) has been inflated in recent years; you’ll hear much about its thriving dance nights but little about the early days when the huge and often chilly space was seldom even half full. The Cramps played there twice in 1984, and like many bands with a cult following, managed to fill the floor with eager fans; Savoy’s video captures the second performance on May 23rd. It was standard policy at the Haçienda to film every event, and some of the more popular performances—William Burroughs’ reading, a concert by The Birthday Party—were later released by Ikon, the video wing of Factory Records. Two cameras on either side of the Haçienda balcony covered the stage but on the night of the Cramps’ performance none of the Ikon staff wanted to assist Linda Dutton in filming the gig. So this recording is a rudimentary one—a single U-matic camera and mono sound—but Linda captured a tremendous hour-long concert with an outstanding Iggy Pop-like performance from Lux Interior.

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For my design I wanted to avoid Goth clichés and create something in keeping with the band’s trashy rock’n'roll aesthetic. All the portraits are by Kris Guidio from the comic strips he was producing in the early 1980s for Lindsay Hutton’s Next Big Thing zine; the lurid headlines are lifted from film posters found in back issues of Psychotronic Video magazine. The DVD has an 8-page booklet and an interface which I also designed although this is merely functional, nothing like the elaborate animated affair I created for The Mindscape of Alan Moore. When concerts such as this are routinely put onto YouTube for free it hardly seems worth going to all this trouble, but for Savoy it provides another connection to a favourite band. The DVD is priced at £10, and may be ordered direct.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Haçienda ephemera
Lux Interior, 1946–2009
The Final Academy

 


Views of Providence

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Presenting the best of the architectural shots from the Providence trip. Regular readers will know how much I enjoy an arcade so it was a thrill that the public headquarters of NecronomiCon—Lovecraft Arts & Sciences— was located in the oldest arcade in the United States.

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Dark arts

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Thomas Street, Providence: on the left is the Fleur-de-Lys Studios; two doors along is the Dodge House Gallery which housed an additional part of the art exhibition; the Providence Art Club is the red-brick building next door.

I’m back from Providence, returned early on Tuesday but took the day off to recover from jet lag. The city was hot and humid for much of the time but I didn’t mind that, it was good to be able to walk around in the evening without a jacket, something that seldom happens here. I don’t go to many conventions so although NecronomiCon was the best I’ve been to, there isn’t a great deal of competition. I always enjoy meeting and talking to creators of any stripe—writers, artists, filmmakers, editors, etc—and it’s a pleasure to meet readers face to face, but conventions in general aren’t always attractive in themselves. NecronomiCon was inviting for being relatively small and with a strong focus not just on Lovecraft but on weird fiction as a whole: there were panels on Clark Ashton Smith, Lord Dunsany, Robert Chambers, and one on the legacy of what M. John Harrison designated “the New Weird”. I’ve been told that if there’s a NecronomiCon in 2017 the intention is to develop this area of discussion.

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And then there’s Providence itself: Lovecraft’s stories will read in a very different light now I’ve visited the city that inspired so much of his work. The one walking excursion I took to College Hill was curtailed by an afternoon of 30-degree temperatures but I did get to see a small part of Angell Street where Lovecraft lived for many years, and I also walked down Benefit Street as far as house number 135, familiar to readers as The Shunned House. The architecture of Providence is a delight, not only the Colonial buildings but the also the more recent vernacular styles of the Downtown area. Even the heat seemed connected to Lovecraft and his abhorrence of cold weather; in later years he took sightseeing trips down to Florida so I’m sure he wouldn’t have complained about the hot sun or the swampy air.

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The massive and weighty door of the Art Club.

The main reason to be there was for the art exhibition, of course, and for that the venue couldn’t have been better. The Providence Art Club is mentioned in The Call of Cthulhu as a rather staid organisation that disapproves of Henry Anthony Wilcox who works down the street at the Fleur-de-Lys Studios; I spoke to a couple of current Art Club members, and was amused to hear that the establishment still maintains a somewhat conservative position. But the presence of so much bizarre and grotesque art in the gallery was evidence of a loosening of attitudes that Wilcox and Pickman couldn’t have managed in their day. A selection of my photographs follows below; I took over 250 photos but really should have taken more, especially of the buildings. The Providence Art Club has a good collection of photos from the opening night, some of which include me caught uncomfortably in front of a camera lens.

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Some acknowledgements: I’ve already thanked Niels-Viggo Hobbs and The joey Zone for inviting me there but I’ll do so again. Big thanks also to Carmen Marusich who spent most of her time behind the counter at Lovecraft Arts & Sciences in the Arcade; to print-wrangler Brian Mullen who very generously spent an afternoon ferrying me around various stores in search of a phone charger before smartly suggesting I try the USB port in the TV at the hotel (something I should have thought of); and to Michael Rose and company at the Providence Art Club for allowing us into their beautiful building. Shouts and thanks to: Sara Bardi, Michael Bukowski, Syl Disjonk, Jason C. Eckhardt, Bob Eggleton, Dave Felton, Stephen Gervais, Mike Knives, Robert H. Knox, Allen Koszowski, Henrik Möller, Mallory O’Meara, Gage Prentiss, Skinner, Jason Thompson, Frank H. Woodward (at last!), Josh Yelle, and all those who bought artwork, offered compliments or came to see the art and the panel discussions.

Finally…Earth! I’ve been listening to the band a great deal this year so I’m predisposed to enjoy any live event, but their performance in the gilded splendour of the Columbia Theatre on Federal Hill really knocked me out. An outstanding set with great sound and great support acts too, especially Elder. All this taking place a couple of streets away from the location of Lovecraft’s Starry Wisdom church; I was in seventh heaven.

And now the photos…

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The title page entity from Lovecraft’s Monsters which was named Tentacles for the exhibition.

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My works were in a gallery room on their own, guarded by the title page thing from Lovecraft’s Monsters.

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Providential

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As should be evident by now, I’m off to Providence for NecronomiCon 2015 so the blog will be taking a break for a few days. The archive feature will be in operation during this time to pull up random posts from the past.

In a previous post about NecronomiCon I mentioned having designed a cover for the convention booklet so here it is. If all goes to plan, the gold lattice should be printed as a metallic ink overlay. The pentagonal labyrinth is a borrowing from the George Hay Necronomicon (see this post) but the sigils are my own invention; each one relates to a specific Lovecraftian deity but I’ll let people guess the assignations. The Providence postcard is a genuine one that I doctored slightly. This was a fortuitous find since some of the locations have connections with the convention. Anyone curious about the convention’s progress is advised to check the Facebook page.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Psychetecture
NecronomiCon Providence 2015

 


 



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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin