The Metropolis of Tomorrow by Hugh Ferriss

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Crowding Towers.

The work of architectural renderer Hugh Ferriss (1889–1962) has appeared here before. The Metropolis of Tomorrow (1929) was a major influence on the architectural style I deployed in the Reverbstorm series, together with Berenice Abbott’s photographs of New York City in the 1930s. Ferriss’s hazy proposals for cities of the future are more visible today than they used to be thanks to the popularity of those sites that enjoy outmoded visions of the future.

Flickr has been a good source of Ferriss’s drawings in the past but the Internet Archive recently posted the entirety of The Metropolis of Tomorrow, pages as well as pictures. The book appeared a couple of years after Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and shares that film’s idea of the future city as a kind of superannuated New York. Skyscrapers were still a relatively new idea so this seemed a natural development at the time, as did the concept of super-highways and rooftop aerodromes. Human beings in Ferriss’s future are either ant-like specks or they’ve vanished altogether among the massed ranks of towers which often look more like less like buildings and more like Art Deco spacecraft. Lang’s vision was dystopian only in the way it relegated its workers to the underworld, while Ferriss’s proposals were wholly optimistic. Looking back we’re more aware of the shortcomings of such ideas, and from my perspective it wasn’t so difficult to bring out the latent menace inherent in these megastructures. Ferriss’s metropolis, like that of Fritz Lang, is a fun place to visit but you wouldn’t necessarily want to live there.

Browse the rest of the book here or download it here.

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Overhead traffic-ways.

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Apartments on bridges.

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Evolution of the set-back building: second stage.

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Verticals on wide avenues.

Continue reading “The Metropolis of Tomorrow by Hugh Ferriss”

Weekend links 161

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My friend James Marriott died last year. He was 39. His final book, The Descent, a study of Neil Marshall’s acclaimed horror film, is launched on Friday at the Cube Microplex in Bristol. The book is published by Auteur, a UK imprint, in their Devil’s Advocates series. James was finishing the book a year ago this month, and sent me a late draft for comments. In addition to examining Marshall’s film in detail he also looks at its sequel and explores the micro-genre of cavern-oriented horror. When it came to literature James preferred Robert Aickman and Thomas Ligotti; he enjoyed their cinematic equivalents too but he also had a great appetite for horror films of any description, and would happily wade through hours of giallo trash in the hope of finding something worthwhile. I miss our long, digressive email exchanges, and the opportunity they afforded to swap new discoveries.

• “For artists not working in digital media — those who cut, build, draw, paint, glue, bend, and make things in the more traditional manner — there is something of a ‘Surrealist’ popularity at hand today,” says John Foster.

• At Open Culture: Duke Ellington’s Symphony in Black starring a 19-year-old Billie Holiday, and Nina Simone performs six songs on The Sound of Soul (1968).

• I’m not remotely interested in Baz Luhrman’s latest but I do like the Art Deco graphics and logos created by Like Minded Studio for The Great Gatsby.

Alejandro Jodorowsky: “I am not mad. I am trying to heal my soul”

• The Clang of the Yankee Reaper: Van Dyke Parks interviewed.

• A 45-minute horror soundtrack mix by Spencer Hickman.

• At But Does It Float: Album art by Robert Beatty.

Topological Marvel: The Klein Bottle in Art

Anne Billson on The Art of the Voiceover.

Soviet board-games, 1920–1938

A Brief History of Robot Birds

Le Chemin De La Descente (1970) by Cameleon | Descent Into New York (1981) by John Carpenter | The Descent (1985) by Helios Creed

Weekend links 144

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Ruins 3 by Rachel Thomas and Dan Tobin Smith.

“Dan wanted to do something on a really large scale and was looking at a lot of Piranesi and started talking to me about ruins. I then started looking at modern interpretations of this idea, I was obsessed with the post modern architecture of SITE, Disney fantasy settings, Busby Berkeley, Sotsass ceramics, Art Deco motifs in general, Giorgio de Chirico’s paintings, Arabic temples and on and on…” Rachel Thomas talks to Daisy Woodward about Imaginary View, an exhibition currently showing at Somerset House, London.

• A brief description of The Yokel’s Preceptor (1855), a guide to Victorian London’s gay underworld by William Dugdale. When do we get to see a facsimile of this document? The slang is a treat.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 054, a great selection by Biosphere of doomy ambience from the Post Punk/early Industrial era, 1979–1981.

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Stella (Ernest Boulton) with Fanny (Frederick Park) (c. 1860–1870).

While Stella and Fanny might be the most terrible show-offs, not to mention industrious sex workers, even they drew the line at coupling in public places. Over the course of the subsequent trial, and despite bribing witnesses, the prosecution failed to prove that sodomy had ever occurred, either between the two young men themselves, or within their circle of genteel “sisters”, or even in a dark corner behind the Haymarket with a passing guardsman. Eventually, and only after a second trial a year later, the young men were found not guilty and allowed to slip back into their lives of pro-am theatricals, touring together and separately in such limp pieces as A Comical Countess and A Morning Call.

Kathryn Hughes reviews Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England by Neil McKenna. Related: photographs of the pair.

The Twilight Language of Nigel Kneale, a book of essays and a cassette tape dedicated to the television dramatist.

Sheltered and Safe from Sorrow: “Victorian mourning rituals, tombstones, epitaphs, and other creepy things”.

Crate digging and the resurgence of vinyl. Related: Men & Vinyl, a Tumblr devoted to men and their discs.

• Designer Shirley Tucker talks about her cover for the first edition of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.

• More Will Bradley at The Golden Age (formerly Golden Age Comic Book Stories).

The Mirror Reflecting (Part 2), a new track by The Haxan Cloak.

Psychedelic Press UK | Related: Catnip: Egress to Oblivion?

Paris in colour circa 1900.

Twilight (1983) by Pete Shelley | Twilight (2000) by Antony and the Johnsons | Twilight (2005) by Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd

Reverbstorm on sale

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At long last, the news that many people have been waiting for: the Reverbstorm book is now on sale at Savoy. From the hyperbolic press release:

“Surfin’ bird Bbbbbbbbbbrbrbrbrbrb…awawawawawawawaaaaaah! A-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-ooma-mow-mow Papa-oom-mow-mow!” The Trashmen, Surfin’ Bird

Welcome to the nightmare metropolis of Torenbürgen, where New York’s Art Deco architecture has fused with the termination machinery of Auschwitz. In this urban inferno Jessie Matthews is singing Sondheim, James Joyce is at work on a new novel and Lord Horror, ex-Nazi propaganda broadcaster and Torenbürgen’s model citizen, is stalking the streets in search of fresh victims for his razors. Murderous apes infest the alleyways, Ononoes feast on the living and the dead, while above the rooftops the Soul of the Virgin Mary drifts like a swollen Lovecraftian dirigible, picking at bodies destined for the charnel furnaces.

Lord Horror: Reverbstorm is a unique graphic collaboration between writer David Britton, the author of four Lord Horror novels, and artist John Coulthart, whose book of Lovecraft-derived comic strips and illustrations, The Haunter of the Dark, featured a collaboration with Alan Moore. Reverbstorm was originally published in serial form and is now being presented in a single volume for the very first time. Britton’s debut novel, Lord Horror (1990), was the last work of fiction to be banned in the UK; an earlier Lord Horror comic series, Hard Core Horror, was also banned by a British court in 1995. Coulthart’s death-camp artwork from the final issue in that series appears in Reverbstorm as a prelude to the main narrative.

There’s never been a comic like this surreal collision between Modernist art and pulp aesthetics, a world where Finnegans Wake is drenched in Alligator Wine and Picasso’s Guernica is invaded by Tarzan’s simian hordes. Ambitious, transgressive and meticulously rendered, Reverbstorm is one answer to the eternal question posed by those cultural philosophers, The Cramps: “How far can too far go?”

“Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronn-
tuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!”
James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

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Choose your shipping location (prices includes postage)



Update: Savoy can now take PayPal orders so I’ve added a button here. As before, if you have any queries then email Savoy Books, not me! Thanks.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Reverbstorm in print
Reverbstorm update
James Joyce in Reverbstorm
A Reverbstorm jukebox
Reverbstorm: Bauhaus Horror
Reverbstorm: an introduction and preview

Frantisek Drtikol’s Salomés

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Salomé (c. 1919).

Frantisek Drtikol (1883–1961) was a Czech artist and photographer whose nude studies frequently borrowed fin de siècle themes. Salomé was a subject he returned to on many occasions with different models. In other hands this might be a pretext for showing naked flesh but Drtikol’s work goes beyond mere soft porn with his female figures (and the occasional males) juxtaposed against abstract shapes and shadows, giving them the appearance of Art Deco figurines. There’s a foretaste of that development in the strip of white in the picture below. See more of his earlier work here.

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Salomé (c. 1920).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Salomé archive