Weekend links 671


No. 54 (1915) by Anna Cassel.

• “I called it the treasure hunt: two years of tapes appearing from closets, letters dropping out of attics, persuading a film company to find the rushes of a TV show buried in a warehouse, paying a film director to digitise unused footage and a radio company to surface an old broadcast.” Nick Soulsby on pursuing the ghosts of Coil for his book about the group, Everything Keeps Dissolving.

• “It is likely that af Klint scholarship is on the brink of some radical changes regarding attribution and authorship.” Susan L. Aberth on the researches revealing collaborations between Hilma af Klint and other mystically-inclined women artists. It makes a change reading something about this group that isn’t completely dismissive about the beliefs that informed their work.

• New music: No Highs by Tim Hecker (“a beacon of unease against the deluge of false positive corporate ambient currently in vogue…”), and Seascape–polyptych by Jan Jelinek.

I think an unfortunate effect of Foucault’s work, as it was absorbed by academia, was that it made historians reluctant to call people or sexual acts in the past ‘homosexual’ or ‘gay’ since these terms ‘did not exist at the time’ or were recent creations. This gave some homophobes a spurious defence when suggestions were made as to the inclinations of their heroes, but it also—or so I thought—tended to downplay the reality of non-opportunistic homosexual desire as a constant in history, reducing it to recorded acts performed and then deeming these inadequate evidence anyhow, because they were assumed to have taken place in a fuzzy sexual universe.

If, as it seems to me, and as it seemed to Symonds and Carpenter, terms like ‘homosexual’ were invented in the effort to describe a type of person that has always existed, then they are in essence just a shorthand. Each term has its history, associations and effects, but—and perhaps this makes me an unsophisticated thinker—I think it’s the sexual feelings that fundamentally matter, and that these have existed across time. For that reason, I don’t find the Victorian sexual psyche, as far as it can be defined, alien or outlandish, or hard to speculate on. It is the product of sexual feeling filtered through observable social beliefs and conditions.

Tom Crewe talking to Amia Srinivasan about The New Life, Crewe’s debut novel which explores Victorian sex and sexuality

• “I’ve been tumbling down the rabbit-hole of toy theatre all my life, and I’m tumbling still.” Clive Hicks-Jenkins on the dark art of the toy theatre.

• At Public Domain Review: Jean Baptiste Vérany’s Chromolithographs of Cephalopods (1851).

• “Glass is perhaps the most frequently overlooked material in history,” says Katy Kelleher.

• At Cartoon Brew: Chris Robinson remembers the surreal animations of Run Wrake.

• At Unquiet Things: Of Dreams and Dark Pasts: Surrealist Painter Sofía Bassi.

• RIP Harry Belafonte.

House Of Glass (1969) by The Glass Family | Heart Of Glass (1978) by Blondie | Slow Glass (1997) by Paul Schütze

Weekend links 670


An octopus catching a lobster (1894) by Gustav Mützel.

• RIP Barry Humphries. He emailed me a couple of years ago in his capacity as a collector of fin-de-siècle art, hoping I might answer a question about a very obscure artist. If you require justifications for the blogging habit then add this to the list. Humphries’ first book, Bizarre (1965), is a more cerebral counterpart to Charles Addams’ Dear Dead Days, and a compendium of oddities that I’d buy if I ever saw it in a secondhand shop. RIP also to incendiary singer Mark Stewart.

• “Schulz gets compared to Kafka because of his dreamy, disconcerting stories, but in Balint’s book, a version of Schulz emerges that is closer to one of Kafka’s characters—a man on the run who can’t get past the city walls; an artist exiled by a shape-shifting, unknowable tormentor—than to Franz himself.” Leo Lasdun reviewing a new biography of Bruno Schulz by Benjamin Balint.

• “Instead of asking whether an octopus shows aspects of human intelligence, perhaps the better question is whether humans can show aspects of octopus intelligence.” David Borkenhagen on octopuses and what they might teach us about the perception of time.

• “Uproar was my element, I wanted to get people moving, the more they roared, the bolder I became.” The pioneering theatrical performances of Valeska Gert are explored at Strange Flowers.

• Digital copies of albums by the mighty Earth may currently be purchased at the group’s Bandcamp page for $1 each. I’ve got everything already but you may wish to sample something.

Charles Drazin on the director who dared to tell uncomfortable truths: Lindsay Anderson at 100.

Steven Heller on Commercial Art, a magazine from the 1920s that chronicled UK design.

• At Unquiet Things: The luminous drama of Frants Diderik Bøe’s bejewelled floral still lifes.

• New music: This Vibrating Earth by Field Lines Cartographer, and Draw/Orb by Extra.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R podcast 796 by Gold Panda.

• The Strange World of…Andrzej Korzynski.

The Jewel In The Lotus (1974) by Bennie Maupin | Jewel (1985) by Propaganda | Black Jewelled Serpent Of Sound (1985) by The Dukes Of Stratosphear

Weekend links 657


• Cover art for a new album by John Foxx which will be released on CD in March. This catches my attention for being based on Walter Benjamin’s compendious collection of esoterica, with the music being solo piano pieces. If the latter are anything like the albums Foxx recorded 20 years ago with Harold Budd then this is all very promising. Is the cover design by Jonathan Barnbrook? The typography and formal treatment of the photo suggest as much.

• “The new game was not providing access to everything but finding out how many expensively licensed properties you could cull from your service before people started to question how much they were paying a month.” Sam Thielman on the sudden unavailability of hundreds of classic Warner Brothers cartoons. Regarding his comment about the unplayability of Internet Archive videos: you download them and put them on a USB drive.

Frost Flowers on the Windows (1899) is a book that documents “the extraordinary power of windowpane frost to take ‘ice photographs’, images capable of expressing the ‘vital qualities’ of life forms close to the glass,” according to its author, Albert Alberg.

• New music: ev THe norTH, “a sound journey through the winter of the far north” by Lorenz Weber. (The encoding of the album title won’t display properly on this page.)

• RIP Yukihiro Takahashi, singer, songwriter and drummer with the fabulous Yellow Magic Orchestra. The space-disco video for YMO’s Rydeen never gets old.

• “I want an indescribable feeling”: composer Kali Malone on her search for the sublime.

• Old music: Roundtrip by Don Cherry & Jean Schwarz, a live performance in Paris, 1977.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Glass artist Genki Sudo crafts tentacle earbuds.

• At Unquiet Things: The Incandescent Otherworlds of Gervasio Gallardo.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Acid Westerns Day.

Arcade (1987) by Chris & Cosey | The White Arcades (1988) by Harold Budd | Arcade (2018) by Philip Jeck

Weekend links 600


My kind of window. From a collection of machine-learning images by Unlimited Dream Co. Via Bruce Sterling.

• “I will never call myself a queer. That word is one of the things that I detest that has happened, and it’s almost being forced now. For me, you cannot separate that word from the hatred and violence that once accompanied it. When I read it being used in The New York Times, I think, ‘It’s their word and they can fucking have it all they want.’ I will never use ‘queer.’ It’s an ugly word.” John Rechy, still active at the age of 90, talking to Jeff Weiss about hustling, social opprobrium, and his pioneering books.

• “At a time when we are being constantly told that humanity is destroying the planet, it is somehow comforting to see nature not merely outlasting, but triumphing over humanity’s constructions—as nature does in many of Piranesi’s Views of Rome.” Alasdair Palmer on Piranesi’s peerless renderings of Roman ruins.

• “The magical aspect of Get Back is its total refusal to adhere to the standard tropes of music documentaries. There are no talking heads commenting on the Beatles’ greatness, no continual barrage of quick edits and highlights.” Geeta Dayal on Peter Jackson’s resurrection of the Fab Four.

But men are not traditionally meant to be objects of art. “Men look at women,” John Berger wrote. “Women watch themselves being looked at.” When men look at men, however, they break rules. “I didn’t set out to be radical,” says Miller. “But I was at a fair and I had a huge nude on a stand by Michael Leonard. I’d only been open ten minutes and a woman started having a go and saying it’s filth. What I found fascinating is she’d walked past a whole span of female nudes. I think society is just immune to female nudity. People don’t see it. If you take this to the straight world of an art fair, it provokes reactions other dealers don’t get. There isn’t anyone else like me.”

Tony Wilkes talks to Henry Miller, owner of an art gallery devoted to the male form

• “I imagine men with starched collars, horrified by an animal with no hard edges to grab onto, no solidity to venerate. Something low, lateral, creeping.” Fiona Glen on “Devil Fish”, Cthulhu and cephalomania.

• I like glowing things so Brian Eno’s glowing record turntable has an immediate appeal. A shame it’s a very limited production which is almost certainly sold out by now.

• The next release on the Ghost Box label will be A Letter from TreeTops by Pneumatic Tubes.

• At Dangerous Minds: A Sight for Sore Eyes Vol. 1, a visual history of The Residents.

• At Wormwoodiana: Mark Valentine on the supernatural thrillers of Archie Roy.

• Mix of the week: A reflection on 2021 at A Strangely Isolated Place.

Swan River Press looks back over a year of book production.

• New music: Spherical Harmonics by Joseph Hyde.

Octopus’s Garden (1969) by The Beatles | The Kraken (2006) by Hans Zimmer | Kraken (2017) by Dave Clarkson

Weekend links 572


L’Insolite (1980) by Jean-Marie Poumeyrol.

• “As we move down the ladder of prestige into the world of unvetted tweets, we observe an increasing difficulty, among people with very strong opinions, in exercising that basic critical competence of distinguishing between the authorial creation of a character, and the author’s affirmation of that character’s every moral trait and political view.” Justin EH Smith on the HR managers of the human soul.

• “When is a Didone not a Didone? How far must an exemplar Didone, like a Didot or a Bodoni, be altered before it loses its ‘Didoneness’?” John Boardley on the vexed question of font classification, and the need for an alternative to the present system.

• “Birds with Human Faces and Birds with Human Souls share shelf space with The Book of Owls and Expert Obedience Training for Dogs…” Joanna Moorhead visits the Casa Estudio Leonora Carrington in Mexico City.

“Indolent” is a funny way to characterize her natural state, which seems more like “incisive” to me, but I also have the unshakable sense—for myself—that writing can’t or shouldn’t look like staring into space or feel like not wanting to move from the couch. “A fraud is being perpetrated: writing is not work, it’s doing nothing,” she states in that first essay, from 1992. But she immediately counters with, “It’s not a fraud: doing nothing is what I have to do to live.” Listing a few more pertinent existential options, Diski ends with, “Or: writing is what I have to do to be my melancholy self.” The protoplasmic, chattering, melancholic “I” of these essays is, of course, the collection’s constant, its true subject. I can commiserate with her on every page even if emulation is out of reach.

Johanna Fateman on the incisive long-form criticism of Jenny Diski

• At Spine: Vyki Hendy identifies sunburst as a new trend in book cover design. I often think I overuse these things in my own cover designs which means I may be inadvertently (and fleetingly) trendy.

• At the Magnum Gallery, London: Metamorphoses, photographic studies by Herbert List of male bodies and Greek statuary.

• At Spoon & Tamago: A butterfly sipping moisture from puddles, sculpted entirely in wood by Toru Fukuda.

• At Dangerous Minds: Joseph Lanza on the easy listening side of psychedelic pop.

• At CounterPunch: Louis Proyect on thinking like an octopus.

• Mix of the week: Fact Mix 510 by Britton Powell.

Bye Bye Butterfly (1965) by Pauline Oliveros | Butterfly Mornings (2001) by Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions | Butterfly Caught (2003) by Massive Attack