The Horror of Living (1907) by Tyra Kleen. Via
• “Voss suggests Af Klint was a pioneer of abstract painting, a label that fits in some ways – her work certainly isn’t representational in the normal sense – but jars in others. She saw her work as a spiritual calling, supercharged with meaning in ways most of her contemporaries struggled to grasp. Most, but not all. Af Klint socialised and collaborated with other visionary women. Some were artists, others were writers, but all were adherents of the new philosophies sweeping Europe in the late 19th century: spiritualism, Rosicrucianism, theosophy.” Madoc Cairns reviewing Hilma af Klint: A Biography by Julia Voss.
• “I want to insist on an amateur internet; a garage internet; a public library internet; a kitchen table internet. At last, in 2023, I want to tell the tech CEOs and venture capitalists: pipe down. Buzz off. Go fave each other’s tweets.” Robin Sloan looking for new avenues away from the corporate cul-de-sacs of social media.
• “Even when subjects take psychedelics in clinical environments devoid of nature…many of them still emerge with stronger relationships to the natural world.” Simran Sethi on the connections between psychedelic use and eco-activism.
• At A Year In The Country: A Shindig! Selection: From Celluloid Hinterlands to Children of the Stones via The Delaware Road and a Sidestep to the Parallel World of él Records.
• At Public Domain Review: Mighty Mikko: A Book of Finnish Fairy Tales and Folk Tales (1922) by Parker Hoysted Fillmore.
• “When coffee is all gone. It’s over.” Spoon & Tamago gets existential at Tokyo’s Museum of Wonky English.
• The “S” Word: Spirtuality in Alternative Music is a book-length study by Matthew Ingram (aka Woebot).
• New music: Does Spring Hide Its Joy by Kali Malone (featuring Stephen O’Malley & Lucy Railton).
• Steven Heller’s font of the month is Geetype.
• Spiritual Awakening (1973) by Eddie Henderson | Spiritual Blessing (1974) by Pharoah Sanders | Spiritual Eternal (1976) by Alice Coltrane
Cover art by Alan Aldridge for The Secret Life of Plants, 1975. Via.
• At Aquarium Drunkard: Alice Coltrane and band in a furious live performance at the Berkeley Community Theatre, 1972. The audio is on YouTube, and was also released on (unofficial) vinyl a couple of years ago, but you can download the whole set at Dimeadozen. (Free membership required.)
• “Black Square is tragic; it’s absurd; it can be bewildering or funny; it’s certainly metaphysical; and now it serves as a precursor for works and projects yet to be imagined.” Andrew Spira on the precursors of Black Square by Kazimir Malevich.
• “The possibility of plant consciousness cuts two ways, depending on whether you see plants as friend or foe, benevolent or threatening.” Elvia Wilk on the secret lives of plants.
• New/old music: Robot Riot by Stereolab. A previously unreleased recording from the mid-90s which will appear on the fifth instalment in the Switched-On compilation series.
• “Dare’s good, but Love And Dancing broke the mould and kicked off the whole modern dance scene.” Ian Wade on 40 years of remix albums.
• Coming soon from Strange Attractor: Arik Roper: Vision of The Hawk.
• At Unquiet Things: Deborah Turbeville’s unseen Versailles.
• “Thinking like a scientist will make you happier”.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: Karel Zeman Day.
• Plantasia (1976) by Mort Garson | Musik Of The Trees (1978) by Steve Hillage | The Secret Life Of Plants (1979) by Stevie Wonder
Holmes’s fog-horn apparatus, 1875.
• “Have scientists designed the perfect chocolate?” According to Betteridge, the answer would have to be “no”, even more so when the scientists only seem to have reinvented the Flake which Cadbury have been making since 1920. But the story does tell you something about “edible metamaterials” and even “edible holograms”.
• “In The Foghorn’s Lament, I talk about someone called The Fogmaster, who apparently used to do guerrilla foghorn performances…his ringtones are still available.” Jennifer Lucy Allan on foghorns past and present.
• “The story of Les Rallizes Dénudés is almost that of fan fiction. Fans know some basic details and the rest is conjecture and imagination.” Patrick St. Michel explores the occluded history of the Japanese rock band.
The Wharton completist may recognize some of the raw material for these stories in her earlier works. For instance, she used the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone in a 1912 verse play before finding its subtle final expression in “Pomegranate Seed,” in which the ghostly letters keep the New York lawyer figuratively tethered to the underworld. And a 1926 volume of poems contained an experimental riff on a dead woman returning home on All Souls’ Day, published over a decade before Wharton revisited the holiday in her final short story. The ghost story form transforms both these familiar materials and her evergreen themes: Once some donnée becomes a ghost story, what may have been just an amusing character study acquires a participatory element, since readers must meet her halfway in becoming scared. To do so involves truly contemplating what exactly it is in these texts—and it is never the literal ghosts—that elicits a chill.
Krithika Varagur on Edith Wharton’s ghosts
• Gaspar Noé’s favourite films. Elsewhere, Noé and Dario Argento talk about Noé’s latest feature, Vortex, while later this month Arrow are giving Enter the Void an overdue UK blu-ray release.
• Gay utopia: recent photographic portraits by Matthew Leifheit of Fire Island.
• Yogaville, 1993: more historic film of Alice Coltrane performing.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: The Maysles Brothers Day.
• Sugar Chocolate Machine (1967) by The Beatstalkers | Chocolate Machine (1993) by Sandoz | Chocolate Jesus (1999) by Tom Waits
Pillow Studies (1493) by Albrecht Dürer.
• “Without ever writing a song, without ever fronting a group, Khan changed the face of British music.” Michael Hann talks to Morgan Khan about bringing New York Electro to the UK with his Streets Sounds label.
• James Balmont offers “an introduction to Japan’s visceral cyberpunk cinema in five cult films”. This reminds me that I’ve not seen Shinya Tsukamoto’s Tetsuo films for years. Time to reacquaint myself.
• At Aquarium Drunkard: 15-minutes of Alice Coltrane from 1970, talking about her music and performing with Pharoah Sanders et al. Amazing.
• Clive Hicks-Jenkins presents Beauty & Beast, an animated fairy tale made to showcase his toy theatre design.
• Carl Dreyer’s horror masterpiece, Vampyr (1932), is released on blu-ray by Eureka in May.
• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine explores the mysteries of the Egg Language.
• DJ Food unearths paintings by Syd Mead for a Celcon Steel brochure, 1965.
• Jamie Sutcliffe enters The Strange World of Junji Ito.
• Mix of the week: Isolatedmix 117 by Refracted.
• Keeley Forsyth‘s favourite music.
• Electrocharge (1980) by Blackbeard | Electrodub1 (1980) by Chris Carter | Ano Electro (Andante) (1993) by The Sabres Of Paradise
Peter Max, 1968.
Artists complain justifiably about the constraining effect of labels but sometimes you really do need a label in order to identify a particular idiom. The artwork here is what most people would regard as psychedelic even though the subject matter isn’t always psychedelic at all. I doubt that Citroën intended their new Dyane car to be associated with LSD when they asked Michel Quarez to create a comic book to promote the vehicle, while Quarez’s Mod Love comic is just as hallucinogenically chaste. I tend to think of this style as “groovy”, an unsatisfying term with other associations but “post-psychedelic”, while accurate, feels too cumbersome for such playful graphics. The groovy look is where the purely psychedelic style enters the mundane world, and where the intended audience may be youthful but isn’t always a crowd of experienced lysergic voyagers; a watering down of psych delirium mixed with a dash of Pop Art, all bold shapes, heavy outlines and very bright colours, comic art (or actual comics) with the edges and detail smoothed away and the gain pushed to the maximum. I keep wishing someone would put together a collection of this stuff. There’s a lot more to be found.
Update 1: I knew I’d forgotten somebody. I replaced the book cover by Gray Morrow—an artist who was never really groovy in the manner of these other works—with a contraception poster by Nicole Claveloux, who was very much in the Groove Zone in the 1970s.
Update 2: Added designs by Miguel Calatayud, Mike Hinge, György Kemény, and Tito Topin. Thanks to Vadim for the tips!
Guy Peellaert, 1967.
Guy Peellaert, 1968.
Guy Peellaert, 1968.
The Adventures of Jodelle by Pierre Barbier and Guy Peellaert, 1966.
Continue reading “The groovy look”