Carabosse, a film by Lawrence Jordan

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Collage animators may not be as plentiful as collage artists but this branch of filmmaking has attracted a number of heavyweight talents including Harry Smith, Jan Lenica, Walerian Borowczyk and Terry Gilliam. Lawrence Jordan worked for a time as an assistant to Joseph Cornell but he’s been making short films since the 1950s, many of which involve animated collage. Carabosse (1980) is a brief and distinctly Surreal piece set to Erik Satie’s Gnossienne No. 4. (An earlier film is titled Gymnopédies.) Watch it here. (Thanks to Erik Davis for the tip!)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Labirynt by Jan Lenica
Science Friction by Stan VanDerBeek
Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Smith
Short films by Walerian Borowczyk

Meeting Harry Smith by Drew Christie

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A short anecdotal film by artist and animator Drew Christie in which musicologist John Cohen relates his first encounter with mercurial polymath Harry Smith, a man small in stature but large in interests and influence. Christie is something of a polymath himself since he also provides the banjo soundtrack. There’s more art and animation at his blog, while Ubuweb (of course) has a small selection of Smith’s own films. Thanks to Caspar for the tip.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Smith
Harry Smith revisited
The art of Harry Smith, 1923–1991

Science Friction by Stan VanDerBeek

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Ubuweb seems to have the best collection of films by experimental filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek (1927–1984) but not the one I was looking for, unfortunately, an abstract thing entitled Moirage. Searching around turned up Science Friction (1959), one of a number of collage animations VanDerBeek made in the 1950s. The juxtapositions of collage have always been good for comedy, and here they’re put to satirical effect in a comment on the Space Race and the tensions of the Cold War. When viewed today it’s impossible to ignore the resemblance to the later collage animation of Terry Gilliam. VanDerBeek wasn’t the only person doing this at the time—Walerian Borowczyk and Harry Smith also made collage films—but VanDerBeek’s sense of humour seems close enough to Gilliam’s to have given him ideas.

For more about the director there’s also Project Stan VanDerBeek.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Smith
Gilliam’s shaver and Bovril by electrocution
Short films by Walerian Borowczyk

Weekend links 55

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From the Ornamental Age series (2009) by Seher Shah.

Seher Shah has recently updated her website giving us a better view of her extraordinary art.

The Demon Regent Asmodeus, my short film of Alan Moore’s reading from the first Moon & Serpent CD, has been posted to YouTube. In other self-promotion news, Mahakala, a drawing of mine from 1984, finds an audience on Tumblr.

• Yet more Moore: Alan Moore & Iain Sinclair “explore psychogeography” at the Cheltenham Festival in June. Alan will also be discussing science and fiction with Robin Ince. Then in July he’s performing with fine fellow Stephen O’Malley at Alexandra Palace as part of Portishead’s I’ll Be Your Mirror festival. They’ll be providing text and music for Harry Smith’s Heaven and Earth Magic.

In most countries, parents can tell their kids that if they work hard and do everything right, they could grow up to be the head of state and symbol of their nation. Not us. Our head of state is decided by one factor, and one factor alone: did he pass through the womb of one aristocratic Windsor woman living in a golden palace? The US head of state grew up with a mother on food stamps. The British head of state grew up with a mother on postage stamps. Is that a contrast that fills you with pride? (…) Earlier this month, David Cameron lamented that too many people in Britain get ahead because of who their parents are. A few minutes later, without missing a beat, he praised the monarchy as the best of British. Nobody laughed.

Johann Hari kicks the royals.

• Related to the above: Lydia Leith’s royal wedding sick bag.

Beautiful Century relates a dispiriting (and very common) encounter with Google’s blog prudery. The new Beautiful Century is now at Tumblr.

• In the future, everything will be on Tumblr for fifteen minutes. Among this week’s discoveries there’s Writers and Kitties, attractive men and vintage photos at Stuff Doer, and all manner of things at Maggs Counterculture including a picture by Jim Leon I hadn’t seen before.

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From the Ornamental Age series (2009) by Seher Shah.

“Sidewalk cafés, free from conservative business attire…” Film of groovy Greenwich Village in the late 1960s. Related: groovier fashions in Art Nouveau Barcelona.

Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009, a book from MIT Press.

The Delian Mode, a film about electronic musician Delia Derbyshire by Kara Blake.

Austin Osman Spare, a biography of the artist and occultist by Phil Baker.

• Lando Jones is giving away three limited edition prints of his artwork.

Plano Creativo, a blog (in Spanish) by Alejandro Jodorowsky.

B Magazine is a new publication for gay Americans.

Diaghilev gets his due at Coilhouse.

Baby’s On Fire (1973) by Brian Eno | Baby’s On Fire (1976) by 801 | Baby’s On Fire (from Velvet Goldmine) (1998) by The Venus In Furs.

Heaven and Earth Magic by Harry Smith

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Harry Smith’s hour-long collage film is one of the filmmaker’s major works and it can now be viewed in a rather rough form at Ubuweb. Smith made the first version in 1957 then tinkered with it for the next five years. If its effects seem rather primitive today it should be borne in mind that Smith was a pioneer of this kind of cinema which predates the more familiar work of Terry Gilliam and others by a decade. Also at Ubuweb there’s Early Abstractions (1941–1957) and Late Superimpositions (1964).

In addition to filmmaking Harry Smith was (among other things) an artist, ethnologist and the compiler of the landmark Anthology of American Folk Music. The Harry Smith Archives has biographical details and more.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Harry Smith revisited
The art of Harry Smith, 1923–1991