Moirage, a film by Stan VanDerBeek

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Further proof that if you wait long enough (almost) everything turns up eventually. In 2011 I mentioned a fruitless search for Moirage (1970), a short film by Stan VanDerBeek, and here it is, in a rather scratched print at the Internet Archive. The film proves to be as I expected, an abstract work that animates the kinds of patterns that would have been deemed Op Art in the few years before LSD use became widespread, but which were unavoidably psychedelic by the time VanDerBeek came to make his film.

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The patterns were provided by Gerald Oster, a biophysicist who used his discoveries in photochemical research to create works of art. My Studio Vista guide to Op Art lists two Oster studies in its bibliography: a book, The Science of Moiré Patterns (1959), which included sheets of overlays for the reader to play with; and an article co-written with Yasunori Nishijima, Moiré Patterns, for Scientific American (May, 1963). (The magazine also had a moiré pattern as its cover illustration.) I was playing with moiré interference myself a few weeks ago so this discovery is a timely one. My experiments involved vector graphics, a much more versatile medium for creating these effects than the printed sheets that Oster and his colleagues had to create. I’d been thinking of using the patterns as part of a book design but haven’t decided yet whether they’re suitable.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Heavy-Light, a film by Adam K. Beckett
An Optical Poem by Oskar Fischinger
Moon 69, a film by Scott Bartlett
Us Down By The Riverside, a film by Jud Yalkut
Turn, Turn, Turn, a film by Jud Yalkut
Mothlight, a film by Stan Brakhage
Walter Ruttmann’s abstract cinema
7362, a film by Pat O’Neill
Here and There, a film by Andrzej Pawlowski
Power Spot by Michael Scroggins
Kusama’s Self-Obliteration, a film by Jud Yalkut
OffOn by Scott Bartlett
The Flow III
Science Friction by Stan VanDerBeek
Chris Parks
Len Lye
Matrix III by John Whitney
Symphonie Diagonale by Viking Eggeling
Mary Ellen Bute: Films 1934–1957
Norman McLaren
John Whitney’s Catalog
Arabesque by John Whitney
Moonlight in Glory
Jordan Belson on DVD
Ten films by Oskar Fischinger
Lapis by James Whitney

Weekend links 477

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Edge of Industry (2009) by Anne Starling.

• “In her darkroom with her silver salts and gelatine plates, she experimented with the mercurial effects of light, time and temperature.” Hailey Maxwell on the photographic art of Dora Maar.

• A Visionary Work Renew’d: A conversational review of Swan River Press edition of William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland by the late Sam Gafford & The joey Zone.

Brian Blomerth’s graphic novel Bicycle Day tells the story of the psychedelic ride made in 1943 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann while he was researching LSD.

• “The cinema is not the industrial cinema. The cinema is independent cinema.” Francis Ford Coppola on Apocalypse Now and related matters.

• More lunacy: “Fireworks, wild swans and super-cannons were propelling people mentally Moonwards long before 1969,” says David Seed.

• Mix of the week: Then Beautiful Swift Sparrows Led You Over the Black Earth by The Ephemeral Man.

Working (You Are), a new recording by Stephen Mallinder, his first solo work since Pow Wow in 1982.

Lost Proust stories of homosexual love finally published (but only in French for the moment).

Oren Ambarchi‘s favourite albums.

My White Bicycle (1967) by Tomorrow | Trip On An Orange Bicycle (1968) by The Orange Bicycle | Blue Bicycle (2008) by Hauschka

Weekend links 466

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The Simulator (1936) by Dora Maar.

• Surprise of the week for me was the discovery of a new album, Kshatrya – The Eye Of The Bird, by cult French composer Igor Wakhévitch. This had been out for a while but I’d managed to miss the announcements. The music was recorded in 1999 so isn’t exactly new but it’s the first new Wakhévitch release (as opposed to a reissue or compilation) since Let’s Start in 1979. Very good it is too, almost completely electronic but not as discordant as his synth-dominated Hathor album.

• “Popol Vuh is a Mass for the heart.” Gerhard Augustin talks to Florian Fricke about Popol Vuh’s music in a “rare” (lost? previously unseen?) interview. Undated but the City Raga album is referred to as a recent release so it’s probably around 1995.

Brian Dillon on the voraciousness and oddity of Dora Maar’s pictures. Related: Rick Poynor on The Simulator by Dora Maar.

The Secret Ceremonies: Critical Essays on Arthur Machen, edited by Mark Valentine and Timothy J. Jarvis.

Juliette Goodrich on the tale of the Buchla synthesizer, the repair engineer, and a dormant drop of LSD.

Scott Tobias on Midnight Cowboy at 50: why the X-rated best picture winner endures.

• A Hidden History of Women and Psychedelics by Mariavittoria Mangini.

• Previews of Chords, the new album by composer Ellen Arkbro.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 290 by Mark Stewart.

• “Somehow I became respectable,” says John Waters.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Walerian Borowczyk Day.

• The Bandcamp Guide to Earth.

Gén #1 by Ray Kunimoto.

Secret Ceremony (Theme From Brond) (1987) by Scala (Bill Nelson & Daryl Runswick) | Healing Ceremony (1990) by African Head Charge | Ceremony Behind Screens (1995) by David Toop

Weekend links 465

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The Star (1970) from The Aquarian Tarot by David Palladini.

• Artist David Palladini died in March but I only heard the news this week. His poster for Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu has been a favourite of mine ever since the film’s release, while some of his other works have featured here in the past. Still popular among Tarot users is the Aquarian Tarot (1970), a deck published a few years after Palladini had helped with the production of the Linweave Tarot. From the same period as the Aquarian deck is a set of Zodiac posters, all of which exhibit Palladini’s distinctive blend of Art Nouveau and Deco stylings. In addition to posters, Palladini produced book covers and illustrations, and even a few record covers. A book collecting all of this work would be very welcome.

Erotikus: A History of the Gay Movies (1974? 75? 78?): Fred Halsted presents a 90-minute history of American gay porn, from the earliest beefcake films to the hardcore of the 1970s, some of which Halsted also helped create. Related: Centurians of Rome [sic]: Ashley West and April Hall on the bank robber who made the most expensive gay porno of all time.

Peter Bradshaw reviews Too Old to Die Young, a Nicolas Winding Refn TV series described as “a supernatural noir”. Sign me up.

Naomi Wolf’s Outrages establishes the context for [John Addington] Symonds’s desperate efforts to justify his own sexual feelings. Since he was born in 1840, he was 15 when the first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass appeared, the same year that legislation in Britain streamlined the laws against sodomy and ensured that men found guilty of it served long prison sentences. With intelligence and flair, Wolf uses the various responses to Whitman to show the levels of intense need in the decades after the publication of Leaves of Grass for images and books that would rescue homosexuality from increasing public disapproval.

Colm Tóibín reviews Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalisation of Love by Naomi Wolf

• Record label Dark Entries has discovered 40 more reels (!) of music by Patrick Cowley dating from 1974 to 1979.

• “Is Stockhausen’s Licht the most bonkers operatic spectacle ever?” asks Robert Barry.

• Sex, Spunk, Shoes and Sweet Satisfaction: A Q&A with artist Cary Kwok.

• Tripping his brains out: Eric Bulson on Michel Foucault and LSD.

• Paul O’Callaghan chooses 10 best Dennis Hopper performances.

• “More obscene than De Sade.” Luc Sante on the fotonovela.

• Karl Blossfeldt’s Urformen der Kunst (1928).

• The Strange World of…Gong

Neonlicht (1978) by Kraftwerk | Brüder Des Schattens, Söhne Des Lichtes (1978) by Popol Vuh | Lichtfest (2017) by ToiToiToi

Weekend links 452

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Colors (1967) by Ken Nordine.

• “The Do was the thing”: a lengthy chat with Chuck Gould of the San Francisco Diggers. The second interview from Jay Babcock’s oral history of the Diggers.

Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950–1980 edited by Andrew Nette and Iain McIntyre.

Adrian Shaughnessy‘s Krautrock Top Ten. (People who know me well won’t be surprised to hear that I own everything on this list.)

See “queer” as a term has become an umbrella that accommodates not only the type of sex you have and with whom, but also how you identify the sex you have, how you identify your personality, your aura, the ineffable je ne sais queer that may or may not be related in any way to your sexuality, or even the way you present yourself to the world, but simply some deeply held, internal feeling. You don’t actually need to share a common oppression or a common romantic or sexual behavior.

[…]

The reason I mind is because queer, in functioning as a catchall, serves to obscure what it is about my life, my community, my partners, that I needed to learn to be proud of in the first place. Because for me and all the other lesbians I know, figuring out your sexuality is hard enough, but the real work is in accepting yourself, demanding acceptance from others, being willing to walk away when that acceptance is denied.

Lesbians are women, and women are taught that we’re supposed to be sexually available objects of public consumption. So we spend a lot of time saying “No.” No, we won’t fuck or partner with men; no, we won’t change our minds about this; no, this body is a no-man’s land. Lesbian, straight or bi, women are punished whenever we try to assert a boundary. Queer as a catchall term makes it really hard for lesbians to assert and maintain this boundary, because it makes it impossible to name this boundary.

Jocelyn Macdonald on how the increasing dilution and commodification of “queer” as a label does little to serve the interests of the people to whom it was applied in the first place

• Two sets of live electronica from last year: Pye Corner Audio at The State51 Factory, and Tangerine Dream at Dekmantel.

• “LSD can get deep down and reset the brain—like shaking up a snow globe,” says Amanda Fielding.

• Ewan Wilson on the impossible architecture of video games.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 279 by Marcos Cabral.

• RIP Betty Ballantine, Bruno Ganz and Ken Nordine.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: They will never exist.

Cosi Fanni Tutti‘s favourite records.

She Comes In Colors (1967) by Love | Colors (1969) by Pharoah Sanders | Balthus Bemused By Color (Mix II) (1988) by Harold Budd