Weekend links 353

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The Critics (1927) by Henry Scott Tuke.

• Geeta Dayal talks to ambient musician Midori Takada about Through The Looking-Glass (1983), an album being reissued this month by Palto Flats/We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records.

Jacob Brogan reviews The Abominable Mr. Seabrook by Joe Ollmann, a graphic biography of writer, occultist, explorer and determined cannibal, William Seabrook.

• More from the usual suspects (on these pages at least): Jonathan Meades on his new cookbook and a recent bout of heart surgery; and Iain Sinclair on The Last London.

The law only applied to men, but that didn’t mean same-sex relationships between women were immune to opprobrium. Dorothy Todd was hired as the editor of British Vogue in 1922. Under her visionary stewardship, the magazine became a bastion of high modernist style, swapping petticoats and corsets for Picasso, Cocteau, Man Ray and Woolf. Todd lived with her lover, the fashion editor Madge Garland. Sacked in 1926 because of declining circulation, she planned to sue the magazine, but was silenced when the publisher Condé Nast threatened to publicly expose her “morals”.

In such an inimical climate, it’s not surprising that art became a zone of enchantment as well as resistance. The plenitude of camp aesthetics, the lush excess, the cross-pollination of high and low forms might be conceived as a direct response to the paucity and hostility of the culture at large. From the mannered decadence of Aubrey Beardsley’s naughty woodcuts, to Cecil Beaton’s portraits of Stephen Tennant as a radiant boy prince, to the cabaret high jinks of Danny La Rue, to the wickedly doctored library book covers made by the playwright Joe Orton (a crime for which he received a jail sentence), camp offered a way of remaking the world, cutting it down to size and reassembling it in richly strange and strangely rich new forms.

Olivia Lang on the British artists working in defiance of iniquitous laws prior to the (partial) decriminalisation of homosexual acts in 1967.

• Due for publication later this year, You Should Come With Me Now, a new collection of short fiction by M. John Harrison.

Daniel Marner reviews Scarred For Life Volume One: The 70s, a book about the dark side of British pop culture.

Jay Babcock talks to Erik Davis about the end of Arthur magazine and his new life in the Californian desert.

• The nature photography of Nobuyuki Kobayashi and the ruin photography of Gina Soden.

Jon Forss of design team Non-Format on his time designing The Wire magazine.

Mac McClelland on how doctors treat mental illness with psychedelic drugs.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 216 by WSR.

Hisham Matar on Jorge Luis Borges.

London Boys (1976) by T. Rex | Last Train To London (1979) by Electric Light Orchestra | London (2004) by Patrick Wolf

Weekend links 212

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Poster for the recent Ballard-themed Only Connect Festival of Sound in Oslo. Design by Non-Format.

Bulldozer by Laird Barron was my favourite piece in Lovecraft’s Monsters, the recent Tachyon anthology edited by Ellen Datlow that I designed and illustrated. So it’s good to hear that Nic Pizzolato, writer of the justly-acclaimed HBO series True Detective, is among Barron’s readers. True Detective, of course, created a stir for referencing Robert Chambers’ weird fiction in a police procedural. The series is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, and I can’t recommend it too highly.

• Citation-obsessed Wikipedians don’t believe Hauntology is a genuine musical genre, a sentiment which will probably surprise some of its practitioners. Whatever the merits of the argument, I rather like the idea of a musical form that resists strict definition.

• “This year, in order to do things differently, I will make a conscious effort to separate the man from his writing.” Giovanna Calvino, daughter of Italo Calvino, remembers her father.

With ideology masquerading as pragmatism, profit is now the sole yardstick against which all our institutions must be measured, a policy that comes not from experience but from assumptions – false assumptions – about human nature, with greed and self-interest taken to be its only reliable attributes. In pursuit of profit, the state and all that goes with it is sold from under us who are its rightful owners and with a frenzy and dedication that call up memories of an earlier iconoclasm.

Alan Bennett delivers a sermon.

Zarina Rimbaud-Kadirbaks, aka Dutch Girl In London, reviews the Chris Marker exhibition that’s currently running at the Whitechapel Gallery, London.

• Exteriorizing the Inner Realms: Christopher Laursen talks to Phantasmaphile and Abraxas magazine‘s Pam Grossman about occult art, past and present.

• The Beast is back: Erik Davis talks to Gary Lachman about his new book, Aleister Crowley: Magick, Rock and Roll, and the Wickedest Man in the World.

• The body as factory: anatomy of a New Scientist cover image. Rick Poynor on the recurrent use of a familiar visual metaphor.

• Mix of the week without a doubt is FACT Mix 445 by Stephen O’Malley, a three-hour behemoth.

• Jennifer in paradise: Photoshop developer John Knoll on the story of the first Photoshopped image.

• The trailer for Grandfather of Gay Porn, a documentary about Peter de Rome by Ethan Reid.

Giorgio’s Theme is a new piece of electronic music by Giorgio Moroder.

Agender, a series of androgynous photo-portraits by Chloe Aftel.

• RIP Little Jimmy Scott

Evil Spirits

Chase (1978) by Giorgio Moroder | Call Me (1980) by Blondie | The Apartment (1980) by Giorgio Moroder

Weekend links 1

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• Two covers from a new range of Penguin reprints for the AIDS awareness fund (RED), all of which are based around quotes from the books in question. Non-Format‘s stylised extract concerns the blazing red of the Count’s eyes while Coralie Bickford-Smith plays some Tom Phillips games with the text of The Secret Agent. The random circles no doubt relate to those which the doomed Stevie Verloc occupies his time in drawing. More at Caustic Cover Critic.

Artspeak? It’s complicated. Jon Canter at The Guardian makes a blazingly obvious point which few in the art world would ever admit: that the specious pronouncements of many galleries and contemporary artists are the worst kind of bullshit.

• I helped judge the Ballardian/Savoy Microfiction competition whose winners were announced last week.

• Designer Jonathan Barnbrook enjoys Neu! and Wendy Carlos.

Nuit Blanche, a short film by Spy Films.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The book covers archive

In print

magazines1.jpgBattling through the Xmas post, two new volumes arrived here this week, from Black Velvet and Black Dog Publishing respectively. First up was Serpenti & Scale, the Italian edition of Snakes & Ladders by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. This has been available for some time in English, of course. The translated version features some of my artwork for the Moon and Serpent CDs by Alan and Tim Perkins in the lengthy interview section that precedes Eddie’s comic strip. Thanks to Smoky Man for that.

Inevitably overshadowing this was 100 Years of Magazine Covers which author Steve Taylor very graciously had sent to me. A heavyweight book in all senses of the word, with a solid cover, thick paper stock and tremendous design by Neville Brody. Taylor navigates the overcrowded field of 20th-century magazine design with great skill, managing to cover all the principal areas of magazine as news medium, fashion journal, literary forum and vehicle of cultural transgression, whether that be the Sixties’ underground, Seventies’ punk or the disparate worlds of gay life and feminism. Illustrations range from the elegance of early Collier’s and Vogue to the garish incoherence of today’s celebrity rags such as Heat. Given such a broad field of study there are bound to be omissions; I would have liked to have seen something from the New Worlds of the late-Sixties, for example, and maybe one of the Non-Format covers for The Wire. But they got Lilliput in there which is pretty impressive considering that magazine now seems to be largely forgotten. Essential stuff.

Previously on { feuilleton }
It’s a pulp, pulp, pulp world
A few thousand science fiction covers
Vintage magazine art II
Neville Brody and Fetish Records
View: The Modern Magazine
Vintage magazine art
Oz magazine, 1967–73