Polaroids

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I was given a Polaroid Instant Camera some years ago, not the cult SX-70, a later model. I still have it somewhere but never used it very much. The film cartridges were still available in shops, but at around £1 a shot Polaroids always seemed like a costly indulgence unless you had some specific use for them which I never did. The photo of Murnau’s Nosferatu was taken from a TV screen, and seems to be the only print I kept.

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Radiation Victim Holding a Rabbit and Carrot (1974) by Les Krims.

This post was prompted by a search for the Polaroid manipulations made by Les Krims in the 1970s. Krims was one of the first people (the first?) to exploit the potential of the print’s slow processing to create surreal and grotesque images. Krims self-published a collection of these as Fictcryptokrimsographs in 1975. The Francis Bacon-like “radiation victim” is one of the more restrained examples, many of the others being male and female nudes in various stages of mutation.

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Peter Gabriel (1980).

The mutation technique was more famously employed by the Hipgnosis design team and Peter Gabriel for the cover art of Gabriel’s third album. (Americans insist on calling this album “Melt” even though it was never titled as such.) The technique was also used for photos on the inner sleeve and on two of the single releases.

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No Self Control (1980). Front and back sleeve of 7-inch single.

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William Burroughs by Ralph Steadman.

Also in 1980, Ralph Steadman says discovered the same technique while on holiday in Turkey. I recall him discussing his own manipulations, which he calls “Paranoids”, on TV around this time. There’s no indication that Steadman was aware of Krims or the Gabriel album but he’s continued to use the technique ever since. The Burroughs portrait was one of a series created in 1995 when Steadman paid a visit to Lawrence, Kansas. There’s film of the meeting here although I’m more interested in the older TV film on the same page which shows Steadman creating a new composite portrait by drawing onto the emulsion.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Portrait

Weekend links 243

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Genesia (2011) by Bette Burgoyne.

• “…so I started buying these old gay porn novels, just for the covers and kept on collecting them.” Maitland McDonagh on the underexamined world of gay pulp. McDonagh’s 120 Days Books is reprinting some of these scarce titles. More gay erotica: Plans are afoot to republish Des Grieux, the rare prequel to Teleny or The Reverse of the Medal (1893), a novel often attributed (without much evidence) to Oscar Wilde.

Merricat is the name under which the Turrell Brothers, John & Tom, produce their atmospheric “nacht music”. Albums with titles such as Oneiros, Widdershins and Zerkalo give an idea of the spheres of interest. They also make short films, clips from which may be seen here.

• “Fascists don’t like satire. They don’t like it at all. And they especially don’t enjoy visual satire. Because of its unique power to communicate.” Ralph Steadman talking to Robert Chalmers about recent events.

There is an unexamined commonplace now floating around the social media, which has it that satire derogates its proper function when it stops targeting the powerful, and targets the relatively powerless instead. Theodor Adorno has also been cited here and there with his remarks on satire in the Minima Moralia of 1951, but few have noticed that the account he offers there stands in direct contradiction to the current received wisdom. For Adorno, satire is in its essence wistful and traditionalist. It looks back to something that has been lost, and dismisses the straight-facedness of everyone who attempts, against all evidence, to maintain the illusion that there is anything respect-worthy about the present state of things. It targets not just elected officials, but the yokels who elected them; not just the honcho who runs the saloon, but the sucker who hands over his last possessions at the poker table. There is a need for this: the yokels and the suckers need it most of all. There is redemption in it, and I confess to harboring whatever amount of traditionalism it takes to appreciate this redemptive quality.

Paris, 2015: a lengthy meditation by Justin EH Smith on the responses of left and right to the Charlie Hebdo killings

• “When the surface of the world is so overloaded with competing narratives…there is an understandable impulse to go underground.” Iain Sinclair on the excavation of London.

• More German music: Sinai Desert (1981) and Kailash, Pilgerfahrt Zum Thron Der Götter (no date), two films with music by Popol Vuh.

Kim Fowley: Sins & Secrets of the Silver Sixties. UglyThings Magazine makes available its definitive Fowley interview from 2001.

• More electronica and mix of the week: the FACT guide to the Yellow Magic Orchestra and associates.

• Vegetable-snake Undersea Beings: Allen Ginsberg writes to the Paris Review about LSD in 1966.

• The Edge Question for 2015: What do you think about machines that think?

Life of Cats: Selections from the Hiraki Ukiyo-e Collection.

Lake Baikal frozen over

Serial Killer Barbie

NGC 891 (1974) by Edgar Froese | Overture (1974) by Tangerine Dream | PA 701 (1976) by Edgar Froese

Weekend links 208

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The Blue Girl (2013) by Sungwon.

• “Meanwhile, in her parents’ room [Max] Ernst painted aardvarks eating ants and big human hands around the windows. ‘Sexual connotations, I think,’ she says shyly.” Agnès Poirier talks to Cécile Eluard about her childhood among the Surrealists.

• “Thrilling and prophetic”: why film-maker Chris Marker‘s radical images influenced so many artists. Sukhdev Sandhu, William Gibson, Mark Romanek and Joanna Hogg on the elusive director.

• At Dangerous Minds: Throbbing Gristle live in Manchester in 1980, and Brian Butler talks about the rediscovered early print of Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising. There’s a trailer!

• From 1981: The Art of Fiction No. 69 at The Paris Review, an interview with Gabriel García Márquez. Related: Thomas Pynchon reviewed Love in the Time of Cholera in 1988.

• “Seven years ago, a stolen first edition of Borges’s early poems was returned to Argentina’s National Library. But was it the right copy?” Graciela Mochkofsky investigates.

• “What was Walter Benjamin doing with his shirt off in Ibiza?” Peter E. Gordon reviews Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life by Howard Eiland & Michael W. Jennings.

• A video by Marcel Weber for Måtinden, a track from Eric Holm’s Andøya album. Another album on the Subtext label that I helped design.

• More Ian Miller: Boing Boing has pages from his new book, The Art of Ian Miller, and there’s an interview at Sci-Fi-O-Rama.

Outrun Europa, a free compilation of 80s-style electronic music. There’s a lot more along those lines here.

• Praise Be! Favourite religious and spiritual records chose by writers at The Quietus.

Ralph Steadman illustrated Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1973.

British Pathé is uploading 85,000 of its newsreel films to YouTube.

• Drawings by Lebbeus Woods at The Drawing Center, New York.

• At Pinterest: Ian Miller and Kenneth Anger.

Lucifer Sam (1967) by Pink Floyd | The Surrealist Waltz (1967) by Pearls Before Swine | Which Dreamed It (1968) by Boeing Duveen And The Beautiful Soup

Weekend links 194

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Untitled glass sculpture by Richard Roberts.

Lord Horror: Reverbstorm, my collaboration with David Britton, makes The Quietus list of Literary Highlights of 2013. At the same site there’s Russell Cuzner talking to English Heretic. “His methodology takes in magick, psychogeography and horror film geekdom, along with firm roots in Britain’s industrial music culture of the early 1980s, to form potent, novel topographies of an otherwise unconnected world of occultists and psychopaths.”

• A slew of London links this week: Geoff Manaugh on how the capital was redesigned to survive wartime blackouts, a piece which inadvertently explains why you see so much black-and-white street furniture in post-war films | Bob Mazzer’s photos of the London Underground in the 1970s and 1980s | Philipp Ebeling’s photos of the capital and its inhabitants today.

• “Science has become an international bully. Nowhere is its bullying more outrageous than in its assault on the phenomenon known as subjectivity.” David Gelernter on “The Closing of the Scientific Mind”. Related: “When Science Becomes Scientism” by Stanislav Grof.

• My favourite book about Orson Welles is This is Orson Welles (1992), a collection of Peter Bogdanovich’s interviews with Welles edited by Jonathan Rosenbaum. Bogdanovich’s interview tapes can now be heard at the Internet Archive.

• Brian Dillon on Dada collagist Hannah Höch who he calls “art’s original punk”, and Sean O’Hagan talking to another collage artist, Linder Sterling, who says “Lady Gaga didn’t acknowledge I wore a meat dress first”.

• One Hundred Years Of Weird Fear: Daniel José Older on HP Lovecraft’s literature of genealogical terror. More fear (and Lovecraft): Will Wiles on the growth of Creepypasta.

The Last Alan Moore Interview? A lengthy discussion with Pádraig Ó Méalóid. Shunning interviews hasn’t done Cormac McCarthy any harm so if I was Alan I wouldn’t worry.

• And speaking of Cormac McCarthy, the headline of the week: “Cormac McCarthy’s ex-wife busted after pulling gun from vagina during alien argument“.

• Where the bodies are buried: Mick Brown presents a potted biography of Kenneth Anger who offers a few reluctant quotes.

• A short animation for gore-obsessed kids: Pingu’s The Thing by Lee Hardcastle.

Helen Yentus designs a 3D-printed slipcase for a novel by Chang-rae Lee.

Ralph Steadman‘s illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 103 by Lustmord.

Collage art at Pinterest.

No Escape (1966) by The Seeds | Pushin’ Too Hard (1966) by The Seeds | No Escape (1979) by Cabaret Voltaire | Pushin’ Too Hard (1982) by Paul Parker

Beardsley and His Work

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Back in 2008 I wrote at some length about Aubrey, an excellent BBC TV dramatisation of the last years of Aubrey Beardsley’s life written by John Selwyn Gilbert, and screened once in 1982. Mr Gilbert himself added a comment to that post in which he mentioned that he’d written and directed a documentary which was screened in tandem with the play, Beardsley and His Work. I have the documentary on tape but it’s a copy of a copy and is also missing ten minutes or so of its opening so it’s good to find that the entire thing is now on YouTube. (Thanks to Dominique for drawing my attention to this.)

Beardsley and His Work is essential viewing for Beardsleyphiles since it’s the only place you’ll see Beardsley scholar Brian Reade—author of the huge monograph, Beardsley (1967)—and Brigid Brophy—author of two excellent studies, Black and White (1968) and Beardsley and His World (1976)—talking at length about the artist. In addition there’s another artist, Ralph Steadman, examining some of Beardsley’s original artwork and discussing the techniques of ink drawing. The fifty-minute film is divided into four chunks, unfortunately, but is otherwise complete:

Part one | part two | part three | part four

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Further echoes of Aubrey
A Wilde Night
Echoes of Aubrey
After Beardsley by Chris James
Illustrating Poe #1: Aubrey Beardsley
The art of Karel de Nerée tot Babberich, 1880–1909
Beardsley’s Rape of the Lock
The Savoy magazine
Beardsley at the V&A
Merely fanciful or grotesque
Aubrey Beardsley’s musical afterlife
Aubrey by John Selwyn Gilbert
“Weirdsley Daubery”: Beardsley and Punch
Alla Nazimova’s Salomé