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


 

The Monstrous

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One of the books I was working on over the summer is officially published this week. The Monstrous is a horror anthology edited by Ellen Datlow, and the third Datlow collection that I’ve designed for Tachyon Publications after Lovecraft’s Monsters (2014) and Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror (2010).

My work on this new collection isn’t as full-on as for the Lovecraft volume: I designed the interior, and also illustrated each story but this time many of the illustrations are details or vignettes rather than full-page pictures. There are still 20 stories and over 20 illustrations, however, illustrating pieces by Jeffrey Ford, Peter Straub, Dale Bailey, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Gemma Files, Livia, Adam-Troy Castro, Kim Newman, Jack Dann & Gardner Dozois, Carole Johnstone, Brian Hodge, Stephen Graham Jones, Adam L. G. Nevill, Sofia Samatar, Terry Dowling, Glen Hirshberg, A. C. Wise, Steve Rasnic Tem, Christopher Fowler, and John Langan. Not everything here is a monster in the common sense of that word, the collection explores monstrousness in many different forms, from Sumerian demons and Japanese ghosts to Peter Straub’s disturbing portrait of a psychotic school teacher.

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Missing from this selection of pages is additional pictorial material from Fortunio Liceti’s De Monstris (1665). The capitals on the contents pages are the collaged letterforms by Roman Cieslewicz taken from Dover’s book of bizarre and ornamental alphabets.

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Oz magazine online

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Oz 4. Cover art by Hapshash and the Coloured Coat.

From a television series out of time to a magazine very much of its time. The Prisoner and Oz magazine are exact contemporaries: issue 4 of Oz (June 1967) would have been on sale when Patrick McGoohan and co. were busy turning Portmeirion into The Village. In the past anyone interested in Oz had to either scour eBay for expensive paper copies or content themselves with the incomplete scans made available several years ago. But no longer, thanks to the University of Wollongong and editor Richard Neville who have made the entire run available as downloadable PDFs. These are much better quality than the previously available copies, and they also have poster inserts available as separate downloads. The wonderful set of Tarot designs created by the late Martin Sharp for issue 4 were faded and torn in the old scans so it’s a real pleasure to see this and other artwork looking so good.

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Tarot designs from Oz 4 by Martin Sharp.

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Six Into One: The Prisoner File

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Patrick McGoohan.

Network DVD had a sale recently so I finally capitulated and bought the blu-ray set of The Prisoner which I finished watching this weekend. The picture quality is so outstanding it might have been made yesterday, and many of the extras are also essential for Prisoner obsessives, not least a restored print of the original cut of the first episode, something that was believed lost for years.

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Episode 9: Checkmate.

There’s no need to enthuse about the series when I’ve done so already; this time round I’ll note that while the Cold War background is thoroughly outmoded some of the themes of particular episodes seem more relevant than ever. The model of total surveillance seen in the Village has for some time seemed to be one that Western governments and tech corporations would love to emulate. (“The whole world as the Village?” asks The Prisoner. “That’s my hope,” says Number 2.) The Prisoner isn’t the only drama to deal with authoritarian control, of course, but it also deals with the soft tyranny of closed communities, ideology and group-think. Episode 12, A Change of Mind, concerns a process whereby disobedient Villagers are confronted by their peers, declared “unmutual” then bundled off for corrective therapy; when they return they repent their antisocial crimes in public. In 1967 such a scenario would have seemed reminiscent either of McCarthyite America, or Soviet Russia and Maoist China; in 2015 you can be declared “unmutual” for minor infractions every day on the internet, and find yourself rounded upon by a sanctimonious horde.

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The allegorical and symbolic qualities of The Prisoner have kept the series fresh for almost 50 years while the character who launched the genre that gave rise to series—James Bond—has required several overhauls in order to keep up with changing times. Bond may bicker with his superiors but he’s always been a tool of the status quo, an agent of the Control virus in Burroughsian terms. In episode 8, The Dance of the Dead, The Prisoner is lectured by a judge in a kangaroo court on the importance of “the rules”. “Without rules, we have anarchy,” she says. The Prisoner, who happens to be dressed in a Bondian dinner jacket, replies “Hear, hear.”

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Weekend links 281

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Chimère du soir (1961) by Leonor Fini. Réalisme irréel is an exhibition of Fini’s work currently running at the Weinstein Gallery, San Francisco.

• ” ‘Paris invented the flâneur,’ he notes, ‘and continues to press all leisurely and attentive walkers into exercising that pursuit, which is an active and engaged form of interaction with the city, one that sharpens concentration and enlarges imaginative empathy and overrides mere tourism.’ ” David L. Ulin reviewing The Other Paris by Luc Sante.

• “A lot of posters promise so much that how can they ever deliver?” Nicolas Winding Refn talking to Mat Colegate about his book, The Act Of Seeing, a collection of posters for exploitation films.

• “Sexuality is present throughout and often subverts a narrative we might read entirely differently from a straight poet.” Callum James reviews Physical by Andrew McMillan.

This movie will lose a lot of people along the way, but then again, as far back as 1962, Ballard wrote a manifesto for a new form of science fiction, Which Way to Inner Space?, in which he insisted that “from now on, most of the hard work will fall, not on the writer, but on the readers. The onus is on them to accept a more oblique narrative style, understated themes, private symbols and vocabularies.” This is exactly what Wheatley wants from his audience.

Mike Holliday comparing Ben Wheatley’s forthcoming film of High-Rise with JG Ballard’s novel. Ballard’s suggestion for a new SF now seems increasingly like a road not taken. But that’s another discussion entirely…

The Lost Library of John Dee, an exhibition of books owned by the Elizabethan magus, opens at the Royal College of Physicians museum, London, in January.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins has been writing about his illustration heroes including Alexander Alexeieff.

Cameron: Cinderella of the Wastelands. The exhibition has just finished but the art is still online.

• Mixes of the week: FACT Mix 518 by Fis, and Secret Thirteen Mix 165 by Damien Dubrovnik.

• At Dirge Magazine: Tenebrous Kate on Fantômas, the French King of Crime.

• Suitably seasonal: Polish Night Music by David Lynch & Marek Zebrowski.

Kickin’ In, a previously unreleased EP of music by Patrick Cowley.

Jean-Michel Jarre‘s favourite albums.

Seeing It As You Really Are (1970) by Hawkwind | Seeing Out The Angel (1981) by Simple Minds | Seeing Red (1998) by Red Snapper

 


Moon 69, a film by Scott Bartlett

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Scott Bartlett was the director of OffOn (1967), one of the key works of psychedelic cinema, and an earlier example of experimental film making use of video effects. Similar effects may be seen in Bartlett’s follow-up, Moon 69, which subjects footage from the NASA archives to a variety of processing techniques, especially solarisation. The copy linked here is the only available one at the moment, and is hosted by a channel where several similar films have amended soundtracks. Consequently, the soundtrack on this one may not be the original.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Us Down By The Riverside, a film by Jud Yalkut
Turn, Turn, Turn, a film by Jud Yalkut
Mothlight, a film by Stan Brakhage
Walter Ruttmann’s abstract cinema
7362, a film by Pat O’Neill
Here and There, a film by Andrzej Pawlowski
Power Spot by Michael Scroggins
Kusama’s Self-Obliteration, a film by Jud Yalkut
OffOn by Scott Bartlett
The Flow III
Chris Parks
Len Lye
Matrix III by John Whitney
Symphonie Diagonale by Viking Eggeling
Mary Ellen Bute: Films 1934–1957
Norman McLaren
John Whitney’s Catalog
Arabesque by John Whitney
Moonlight in Glory
Jordan Belson on DVD
Ten films by Oskar Fischinger
Lapis by James Whitney

 


 



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“feed your head”

 

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Penda's Fen by David Rudkin