The Aurora Borealis by Charles H. Whymper.
• “In 1829, when the celebrated Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai was almost 70 years old, he created more than 100 drawings of a dazzling array of subjects: playful cats, serene landscapes, even severed heads. Hokusai’s fame continued to grow after his death in 1849, and the suite of small, elaborate drawings was last purchased a century later, at a Paris auction in 1948. Then it disappeared from the public eye.” The British Museum now has the drawings which may be seen here.
• The week in cover design: Emily Temple compares US and UK covers for the same books, while Vyki Hendy collects recent titles with objects as the main feature of the cover designs. One of my recent covers (which will appear here soon) is less minimal than these but also features an arrangement of objects.
• The compilation experts at Light In The Attic Records have put together another collection of obscure Japanese music. Somewhere Between: Mutant Pop, Electronic Minimalism & Shadow Sounds Of Japan 1980–1988 will be released in January.
“A Jamesian world is one of cursed artefacts, endlessly subsuming landscapes, forgotten manuscripts and tactile beings that punish the curious and intellectually arrogant.” Adam Scovell visits the grave of MR James.
• Dragons and Unicorns: John Boardley on the lost art of the Hieroglyphic Bible.
• I almost missed John Waters’ favourite films of the year.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: Sade’s Castle, Cardin’s House.
• Northern lights photographer of the year.
• Aurora Hominis (1970) by Beaver & Krause | Aurora (1971) by Tonto’s Expanding Head Band | Soft Aurora (1979) by Tod Dockstader
Every so often it’s necessary for me to deploy some stylised Japanese graphics in a piece of art or illustration, an occasion which always prompts a laborious search through books or websites for suitable source material. Quite often what you require is an isolated example of a single motif, something that isn’t easy to find if you’re looking at a lot of detailed prints. The pages here are the kinds of thing I’ve been after for years, being a series of books showing the many ways an artist or craftsman might render flowing water, waves, ripples and clouds.
The books of waves by Yuzan Mori date from 1903, and are in three short volumes here, here and here. Mori’s drawings run through every possible style, from realistic linework to abstract tessellations. The books of clouds by Korin Furuya are in two volumes (also from 1903) here and here. Many of these are like the clouds you find in Chinese and Tibetan art but the books also feature one or two abstract suggestions which are strikingly advanced for the period. All of these books are from the Smithsonian Libraries whose archive of rare Japanese art books includes a Hokusai collection of 82 (!) volumes. Try this one for some vintage grotesquery and weirdness.
Continue reading “Waves and clouds”
States of Ecstasy 1 by K. Lenore Siner some of whose work may be seen in Witch-Ikon: An Exhibition of Contemporary Witchcraft Imagery at Mortlake & Company, Seattle.
• Emily Temple compiles a list of “40 creepy book covers”. A shame that she (or Lithub) can’t also credit more of the artists and designers responsible. Searching titles at ISFDB would turn up many of the missing names.
• Blogging has suffered in recent years from the onslaught of social media but some persist in maintaining the form as a creative act. Poemas del río Wang is one such, its scope best seen in this alphabetical index.
• Mixes of the week: XLR8R Podcast 510 by Moodprint, Secret Thirteen Mix 232 by Alex XIII Maerbach, a mix for The Wire by Sadaf, and FACT mix 621 by NHK yx Koyxen.
Out next month: Mute: A Visual Document, being a visual history of Mute Records by Terry Burrows and Daniel Miller.
• Nick Soulsby on “the myth and majesty of Vangelis’ timeless Blade Runner soundtrack”.
• Compound in the new album by Yair Elazar Glotman. Stream it in full here.
• Killed by Roses (1963): Eikoh Hosoe’s photographs of Yukio Mishima.
• Oriental Traditional Music from LPs & Cassettes
• Hours and hours of Blue Jam. Oo ab welcome.
• 65 books of prints by Katsushika Hokusai.
• Alpha (1976) by Vangelis | Rêve (1979) by Vangelis | Flamants Roses (1979) by Vangelis
Laughing Demoness (Warai Hannya).
Halloween approaches. Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (more popularly known as Hyaku Monogatari) translates as A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales, or simply One Hundred Ghost Stories. This is a Japanese parlour game some of whose traditional stories were illustrated in a series of five prints by the great Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). For anyone wishing to play the game later this month, Wikipedia has a description:
The game was played as night fell upon the region using three separate rooms. In preparation, participants would light one hundred andon (lamps) in the third room and position a single mirror on the surface of a small table. When the sky was at its darkest, guests gathered in the first of the three rooms, taking turns orating tales of ghoulish encounters and reciting folkloric tales passed on by villagers who claimed to have experienced supernatural encounters. These tales soon became known as kaidan. Upon the end of each kaidan, the story-teller would enter the third room and extinguished one andon, look in the mirror and make their way back to the first room. With each passing tale, the room slowly grew darker and darker as the participants reached the one hundredth tale, creating a safe haven for the evocation of spirits.
The Mansion of the Plates (Sara yashiki).
Continue reading “Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai”