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


 

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

 


NecronomiCon Providence 2015

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Next month I’ll be in Providence, Rhode Island, where I’m the Artist Guest of Honour for NecronomiCon Providence 2015. This is an honour for me in more ways than one: the city of Providence, or its representation in the spectral prose of HP Lovecraft, has occupied a fair amount of my creative life, especially in the comic-strip adaptations I was drawing in the 1980s. I just hope the citizens of Providence can forgive the liberties I took with the city’s architecture in The Haunter of the Dark where the buildings owe far more to the architecture of Scotland than they do to New England.

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A nameless entity from Lovecraft’s Monsters (2014).

The main event where I’m concerned will be the Ars Necronomica art show at the Providence Art Club on Thomas Street. This is a few doors away from the beautiful Fleur-De-Lys Studios, a building that Lovecraft mentions in The Call of Cthulhu, and which (having done some research this time) filled a panel in my adaptation. In the story the building is the home of eccentric artist Henry Wilcox so it’s a dizzying prospect to find my own art being exhibited a few doors away. Among my works there will be print enlargements of some of the illustrations from last year’s Lovecraft’s Monsters, Ellen Datlow’s expertly edited collection of recent Lovecraftiana; and the piece I created in 2007 for the Exhibition of Unspeakable Things at Maison d’Ailleurs, Switzerland, has been refashioned especially for this show. My work isn’t the only art on display, there’ll be contributions from 50 other artists which I think must make the event one of the largest Lovecraftian art shows staged anywhere. The show opens on August 11th but the official opening will be on the 20th which happens to be Lovecraft’s 125th birthday. Big thanks to Joe Shea, Niels Hobbs et al for arranging everything.

The convention begins on the 21st, and rather than attempt to summarise the astonishing range of events it’s easier to provide links to the main schedule and the additional programming. For anyone interested in attending, there are still day passes available, while many of the additional events are open to the public. Oh, and I’ve also designed the cover for the convention booklet so attendees will be able to get their copy defaced by my signature. (I’m probably making work for myself here, aren’t I?) And I’ve just noticed that there’s a preview of the booklet cover on the convention Facebook page.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Yuggoth details
A Mountain Walked
Lovecraft’s Monsters unleashed
Lovecraft’s Monsters
JK Potter and HP Lovecraft
Cthulhu Labyrinth
Tentacles #4: Cthulhu in Poland
Cthulhu Calendar
S. Latitude 47°9, W. Longitude 126°43
Resurgam variations
De Profundis
H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction
Heavy Metal, October 1979: the Lovecraft special
Cthulhoid and Artflakes
Cthulhu for sale
Cthulhu God
Cthulhu under glass
CthulhuPress
The monstrous tome
Cubist Cthulhu

 


Walking sticks

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If I have to use a walking stick in future then my choice of implement would have certain requirements… Who needs an Apple watch when there are timepieces like these to be found?

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This elegant design is from Alexander McQueen so it isn’t cheap. I wouldn’t say no to one as a present, however.

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Most of these choices are skull-topped canes but this antique piece stood out from the crowd.

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Weekend links 269

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Grosses Wasser (1979) by Cluster. Cover art by Dieter Moebius.

• RIP Dieter Moebius: one half of Cluster (with Hans-Joachim Roedelius), one third of Harmonia (with Roedelius and Michael Rother), and collaborator with many other musicians, including Brian Eno and Conny Plank. Geeta Dayal, who interviewed Moebius for Frieze in 2012, chose five favourite recordings. From 2008: Cosmic Outriders: the music of Cluster and Harmonia by Mark Pilkington. At the Free Music Archive: Harmonia playing at ATP, New York in 2008. Live recordings of Cluster in the 1970s have always been scarce but in 1977 they played a droning set at the Metz Science-Fiction Festival, a performance that was broadcast on FM radio (the Eno credit there seems to be an error).

• “I’ve since had the feeling that, if the attacks against The Satanic Verses had taken place today, these people would not have defended me, and would have used the same arguments against me, accusing me of insulting an ethnic and cultural minority.” Salman Rushdie on the fallout from the Charlie Hebdo killings.

• “The effect of these memories is to make you think you know the film better than you do, and wonder what it’s like actually to sit down and watch it.” Michael Wood on rewatching Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958). Related: Tipping My Fedora on the film’s source novel, Badge of Evil (1956).

“To me, it’s simple,” he says. “Fantasy became as bland as everything else in entertainment. To be a bestseller, you’ve got to rub the corners off. The more you can predict the emotional arc of a book, the more successful it will become.

“I do understand that Game of Thrones is different. It has its political dimensions; I’m very fond of the dwarf and I’m very pleased that George [R R Martin], who’s a good friend, has had such a huge success. But ultimately it’s a soap opera. In order to have success on that scale, you have to obey certain rules. I’ve had conversations with fantasy writers who are ambitious for bestseller status and I’ve had to ask them, ‘Yes, but do you want to have to write those sorts of books in order to get there?’”

Michael Moorcock talking to Andrew Harrison about fantasy, science fiction, the past and the present.

• “Architects love Blade Runner, they just go bonkers. When I was working on the film, it was all about, let’s jam together Byzantine and Mayan and Post-Modern and even a little bit of Memphis, just mash it all together.” Designer and visual futurist Syd Mead talking to Patrick Sisson.

• “Lucian of Samosata’s True History reads like a doomed acid trip,” says Cecilia D’Anastasio, who wonders whether or not the book can be regarded as the earliest work of science fiction.

• Mixes of the week: A Tribute to Dieter Moebius by Vegan Logic, and another by Totallyradio.

• The Phantasmagoria of the First Hand-Painted Films by Joshua Yumibe.

Islamic Geometric: calligraphic tessellations by Shakil Akram Khan.

Michael Prodger on The Dangerous Mind of Richard Dadd.

A chronological list of synth scores and soundtracks.

Touch Of Evil (Main Theme) (1958) by Henry Mancini | Badge Of Evil (1982) by Cabaret Voltaire | Touch Of Evil (2009) by Jaga Jazzist

 


The Dead, a film by Stan Brakhage

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In The Dead (1960), Stan Brakhage’s roaming camera explores the funerary architecture of the huge Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Shots of the tombs and the banks of the Seine viewed from a river boat may be typical tourist fare but Brakhage transforms his footage with fragmented editing, superimposition and continual cutting from positive to negative. The youthful figure glimpsed at the beginning is Kenneth Anger. As usual with Brakhage, the film is a silent one. Watch it here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Mothlight, a film by Stan Brakhage
Thot-Fal’N, a film by Stan Brakhage

 


 



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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin