Weekend links 300

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Observatoire IX from the Observatoires series by Noemie Goudal.

• “Before Lady Raglan’s intervention, this figure had been anonymous. She gave him a name: the Green Man.” Josephine Livingstone on the persistence of a supposed figure from pagan folklore.

Ben Wheatley: “Financing a film as crazy as [High-Rise] takes good casting”. Related (in a Ballardian sense): the abandoned hotels of the Sinai Desert.

• “We were in danger of becoming full-time, paid up musicians…” Drew Daniel and Martin “MC” Schmidt of Matmos look back over their career.

Fahey didn’t make many new friends with his scything dismissal of the folk revival. He distrusted the way that folkies regarded music as a carrier for the correct political messages of the moment. As Lowenthal puts it: “To him, the student idealists had naïve worldviews and dreamed of unrealistic political utopias,” whereas Fahey “attempted to channel darkness and dread through his music.” For Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger devotees, the ideological message came first, with musical tone or trickery a distant second. As Fahey saw it, the dizzyingly strange source music they borrowed from and then built their careers on emerged as little more than a scrubbed-up ventriloquist’s doll, all the coarse grain and troubling metaphysic of its original voices jettisoned. He also detected high condescension and low reverse racism in how the folk-revival people preferred their old blues guys barefoot and wearing dungarees—even if they now usually dressed in sharp suits and often preferred to play amplified, electric urban blues.

Ian Penman on John Fahey

• “It’s amazing how quickly a sound can lose its moorings and float off into this kind of unchartered territory,” says Robin The Fog.

• Mixes of the week: FACT Mix 540 by Via App, and Secret Thirteen Mix 178 by BlackBlackGold.

Oliver Wainwright on Edward Johnston, designer of the typeface for the London Underground.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: DC’s: Spotlight on…The Free-Lance Pallbearers (1967) by Ishmael Reed.

Each drop of Hennessy X.O is an Odyssey: Nicolas Winding Refn makes an alcohol ad.

Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock pen an open letter to the next generation of artists.

Japan’s scariest manga artist (Junji Ito) loves Japan’s creepiest cosplayer (Ikura).

• “He was a sexual outlaw.” Jack Fritscher‘s love affair with Robert Mapplethorpe.

Peter De Rome: the RAF pilot who became “the grandfather of gay porn”.

The Strange Case of Mr William T. Horton

• RIP Big George Martin and Ken Adam.

Shortwave Radio World

Viriconium FAQ

Nine Feet Underground (1971) by Caravan | Green Bubble Raincoated Man (1972) by Amon Düül II | Betyárnóta (Outlaw Song, 1989) by Muzsikás

Weekend links 143

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Ai No Corrida poster design by Egil Haraldsen (2001).

• “Back then, publishing an interview with Félix Guattari alongside little chats with rough trade and street walkers was unheard of — it still is for the most part.” BUTT on Kraximo, a queer Greek magazine of the 1980s.

13 books for 2013: A selection of forthcoming titles at Strange Flowers which so closely aligns with my preoccupations that I worry he’s reading my mind.

• “The Macaulay Library is the world’s largest and oldest scientific archive of biodiversity audio and video recordings.”

• A free BitTorrent Robert Anton Wilson audio and video pack. See also the RAW files at the Internet Archive.

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The Pangu Building, Beijing, January 12th, 2013. Blade Runner arrives six years early.

Wired celebrates 100 years of Edward Johnston’s typeface for the London Underground.

Borges’ translation of Ulysses. Or of the last page of Ulysses as a translation of Ulysses.

0181, a new album by Four Tet, can be heard in full at SoundCloud.

• The Edge question for 2013: “What should we be worried about?

JG Ballard documentaries at Ubuweb.

Unlocking Dockstader.

• RIP Nagisa Oshima.

Ai No Corrida (1980) by Quincy Jones | Empire Of The Senses (1982) by Bill Nelson | Forbidden Colours (1983) by David Sylvian & Riuichi Sakamoto

Great British design

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The BBC’s Great British Design Quest has reached a shortlist of ten:

1) Catseyes. Hmm, more of an invention to me but the brief here seems to be pretty broad.

2) Concorde. Can’t imagine this winning seeing as it’s generally regarded as a costly failure. In design terms though, it was a great-looking plane.

3) Grand Theft Auto. Er…a computer game? And one that merely imitates Hollywood at that.

4) The K2 phone kiosk. Some of these choices seem to be determined by nostalgia more than anything else. The cast-iron urinal phone booths are distinctive but I’m not sure they could be called “great”.

5) The Mini. This is a design classic, and, like the VW Beetle, still in use today.

6) The Routemaster bus. More nostalgia.

7) The Supermarine Spitfire. And again… I wonder what people would think if Germany voted in a similar competition for the Stukka divebomber?

8) Tomb Raider. Another computer game… Yes, it was surprising at the time but it was another game aping Hollywood. In game terms, something like the Rubik’s Cube was far more “classic” and original. But then that’s not British, is it?

9) The London Underground map. This is the one I’d vote for. Harry Beck’s solution to mapping the first underground rail network was brilliant and elegant. Not only that but it’s stood the test of time and been imitated (and parodied) in similar transport maps all over the world. While we’re at it, let’s also remember Edward Johnston and Richard Kegler’s 1916 type design for the Underground system, the world’s first widely-used sans serif lettering.

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10) The World Wide Web. Respect to Tim Berners-Lee and all, but, again, is this a design or an invention? And how British is the web? Do they mean the web or HTML?