Weekend links 228

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White, Red and Black (1949) by Marlow Moss.

• British television’s greatest director, Alan Clarke, rates on the cult scale here for his work on Penda’s Fen but his career was long, uncompromising and still hasn’t received the full appraisal it deserves. His more violent dramas—Scum, Made in Britain, The Firm, etc—have all appeared on DVD but many of his less notorious films can be hard to find. Paul Duane looks back at the remarkable Contact (1985), an hour-long study of the conflict in Northern Ireland, and a better film about soldiering than any number of big-budget features.

• I’ve wondered for years why one of the Daft Punk helmets seemed so familiar. It’s because they swiped the design from industrial designer and visual futurist, Syd Mead. Mark Wilson talked to Mead about wearable technology; Mr Mead, it seems, isn’t impressed by the French popsters. Related: paintings from Mead’s Sentinel (1979), and Syd Mead designs at Pinterest.

• Remembering that time in 1982 when Alan Moore interviewed Hawkwind. More interviews: Adam Bychawski talks to Jenny Hval about “sonic extremity, the violence of voyeurism and inhabiting bodies”, and Laurent Fintoni talks to (that man again) Bernard Szajner about Visions Of Dune, laser shows, and finding his way back to music.

Our attitudes towards work are extremely schizophrenic: we secretly aspire to sloth, while we loudly praise work. There isn’t an election poster that doesn’t promise more jobs. The call for more work is similar to the Stockholm syndrome, in which the victims of hostage-taking eventually develop a positive relationship with their captors.

Patrick Spaet on the universal employment fetish

• “Marlow Moss was one of Britain’s most important Constructivist artists…a radical lesbian and Drag King,” says Dal Chodha. An exhibition of Moss’s work has just opened at Tate Britain. Related: Marlow Moss: forgotten art maverick.

Yuki Koshimoto plays the Hang, aka the Spacedrum. Via Metafilter where there are more Hang links. The instrument was prominently featured in the score Cliff Martinez wrote for Solaris (2002).

• Broadcast’s Trish Keenan would have been 46 last week. James Cargill posted two demo songs for her birthday.

• At the BFI: Exclusive materials from the making of Powell and Pressburger’s The Tales of Hoffmann.

• Of Tutus and Tortures: Thoughts on the Decadent and the Weird by Christopher Burke.

Faber has launched a Modern Classics imprint with some smart cover designs.

• At Dangerous Minds: Good to see big scans of the Surrealists’ playing cards.

• Mix of the week: Afrofuturist Flowering by Nigel Rampant.

• Writer and editor Russ Kick has a new website.

Infographic: Why Readers Still Prefer Paper.

Superficial Music 1–3 (1981) by Bernard Szajner | Fahrenheit 451 (1982) by Hawkwind | Black Lake (2014) by Jenny Hval & Susanna

Weekend links 179

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Summer Swell (2007) by Fred Tomaselli. The artist is interviewed at AnOther.

• Mixes of the week for the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness: Forever Autumn Mixtape by The Outer Church, and celebrating what would have been Trish Keenan’s 45th birthday: Trish’s Toys & Techniques Birthday Tape (with cover art by Julian House).

Jirí Kolár: His Life, Work and Cultural Significance to the Czech Republic. Leah Cowan looks into the life and work of this influential Czech artist. Related: Jirí Kolár: poet and collage artist, and collages, rollages and prollages by Jirí Kolár.

• “Name any well-known poet from any age, any country. He or she wrote at least one poem about death, most likely several poems.” Russ Kick introduces his new book, Death Poems.

[M]any pictures in the splendid exhibition at the British Museum show men having sex with men. One of the earliest erotic handscrolls, from the 15th century, shows a Buddhist priest casting longing glances at his young acolyte. Indeed, among some samurai, male love was considered superior to the heterosexual kind. Women were necessary to produce children, but male love was purer, more refined.

The question is why were Japanese – compared not just with Europeans, but other Asians, too – so much more open to depicting sex? One reason might be found in the nature of Japanese religion. The oldest native ritual tradition, Shinto, was, like most ancient cults, a form of nature worship, to do with fertility, mother goddesses, and so forth. This sometimes took the form of worshipping genitals, male as well as female.

Ian Buruma on The joy of art: why Japan embraced sex with a passion. Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art is a forthcoming exhibition at the British Museum.

Harold Offeh on how the cosmic life and music of Sun Ra inspired the artwork decorating the Bethnal Green, Notting Hill Gate and Ladbroke Grove Tube stations in London.

• Fearful symmetry: Roger Penrose’s tiling by Philip Ball. Related: Penrose Tiles Visualizer, and lots more Penrose tiling links at The Geometry Junkyard.

Masculine / Masculine. The Nude Man in Art from 1800 to the Present Day, a new exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay.

• Into the Croation Zone: more derives from Christina Scholz here, here, and here.

Stephen Eskilson on Heteronormative Design Discourse.

Applied Ballardianism

The Zero of the Signified (1980) by Robert Fripp | The League of Gentlemen (Fripp/Lee/Andrews/Toobad, 1981): Minor Man (with Danielle Dax) | Heptaparaparshinokh

Weekend links 137

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Self-portrait by Jon Jacobsen from his Home series.

Steven Arnold: Cabinet of Curiosities is “a retrospective exhibition of this groundbreaking yet under-recognized queer artist at the ONE Archives Gallery & Museum in West Hollywood. The exhibition celebrates Arnold’s radical imagination, presenting many of his tableaux vivant photographs alongside never before exhibited drawings, sketchbooks, paintings and original poster art. In conjunction with the exhibition, ONE will screen Arnold’s four films, including Luminous Procuress (1970), which featured The Cockettes and was lauded by Salvador Dalí.” The exhibition runs to  January 12, 2013.

• “The boundary-pushing techno/sound design duo Emptyset will transform London’s cavernous industrial space Ambika P3 into an immersive sound installation for one night only—and here’s how they’re going to do it”.

• “At one time he was a well-known figure in Montparnasse, where he had a reputation as a master of the occult sciences.” Aleister Crowley is interviewed about his expulsion from France in 1929.

Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded… [T]hey forbid our premature closing of accounts with reality.

William James (1842–1910) quoted in What Should We Do With Our Visions of Heaven—and Hell? by John Horgan at Scientific American.

Screws is an album of piano music by Nils Frahm that’s currently available as a free download (inc. aiffs).

• At Pinterest: Art Visonnaire. Related: Ain’t We Got Fun: The magical surrealism of Jen Ray.

Rowan Somerville “challenges the purpose and legitimacy” of the Bad Sex Awards.

Jimmy’s End: the website for the film by Alan Moore & Mitch Jenkins.

Douglas Rushkoff in conversation with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.

• Linda Rodriguez McRobbie explores The History of Boredom.

• Recreating the sounds of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Alchemical Emblems, Occult Diagrams, and Memory Arts.

Rocaille: A Blog about Decadence, Kitsch and Godliness.

• A new video for Goddess Eyes II by Julia Holter.

• The complete audio recordings of Jean Cocteau.

The Rumpus interview with Russ Kick.

Forgotten Bookmarks

• RIP Spain Rodriguez

Astradyne (1980) by Ultravox (produced by Conny Plank) | Biomutanten (1981) by Les Vampyrettes (Conny Plank & Holger Czukay) | Never Gonna Cry Again (1981) by Eurythmics (feat. Holger Czukay, produced by Conny Plank).

Picturing Dorian Gray

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It’s taken a while but here at last are some of the pages from my series of illustrations based on The Picture of Dorian Gray, as featured in volume 2 of The Graphic Canon (“The World’s Great Literature as Comics and Visuals”) edited by Russ Kick. I agreed with Russ not to run everything so there’s some incentive to buy the book (or books…there are three volumes altogether). Now I’ve seen the printed edition the whole project seems even more remarkable: 500 large illustrated pages in a variety of media and art styles. Volume 2 runs through the 19th century and ends with my contribution; I opted to do this story in black-and-white but there’s colour used throughout the books. I especially like the Moby-Dick sequence by Matt Kish, a very different take on a very familiar tale.

As with many of the things I’ve been doing recently I opted for adapting materials of the period. Since I have a lot of Oscar Wilde-related reference material I was able to go further and incorporate details that relate directly to the book and Wilde’s life. All the text is taken from a scan of the first printing of the novel at the Internet Archive, the title lettering being drawn originally by Wilde’s friend, publisher and illustrator Charles Ricketts. A heavy black square on each page provides some continuity as well as resembling the frames of comic pages. (Or a picture frame.) The silhouette on the opening page is another of Wilde’s friends, the writer Max Beerbohm, taken from a drawing by William Rothenstein. The pair were dandyish Café Royal regulars throughout the 1890s.

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This is my favourite page. I liked the way the composition came together and also enjoyed being able to use John Singer Sargent’s portrait of W. Graham Robertson as the picture of Dorian. I’ve noted in an earlier post the similarity between this painting and the portrait seen in the BBC’s adaptation of the novel by John Osborne. Robertson was a theatre designer and illustrator who Wilde consulted when planning stage designs for what would have been the London debut of Salomé. Robertson was also (so far as we know) homosexual which adds an extra resonance.

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The Sibyl Vane page: a combination of details from The Studio, The Strand and The Magazine of Art. The motif at the foot of the page is by Walter Crane. Nothing of Wilde’s appeared in The Strand but that magazine’s most popular writer, Arthur Conan Doyle, had his second Sherlock Holmes adventure, The Sign of Four, commissioned at the same dinner that saw the commissioning of Dorian Gray, both novels being published by Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in 1890.

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A page depicting Dorian’s distracting obsession with jewels and luxurious goods. This chapter can seem somewhat superfluous unless seen in the light of Wilde’s intention to write something like Huysmans’ À rebours (1884).

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The “Love that dare not speak its name” page. This makes explicit the subtext of the book although if you read the two paragraphs I selected it’s evident enough why Dorian is causing a problem for so many young men. The blindfolded Eros was a drawing by Walter Crane which I doubled then re-drew slightly so the pair were holding hands. The boy below is a picture from The Strand of the young Edward VII, a robust heterosexual in later years but with a son, Prince Albert Victoria, who became linked to the notorious Cleveland Street Scandal which involved a male brothel catering to aristocrats. The two young men in the picture frame are described as a pair of “panthers” in Neil McKenna’s The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde (2003), by which he means that they were fin de siècle rent boys (as in Oscar’s remark about “feasting with panthers”); McKenna doesn’t give any further details about the photo but it suited the picture.

In addition to this series of illustrations, volume 2 of The Graphic Canon includes two of my Lewis Carroll illustrations in a section by different artists based on the Alice books. I’d be recommending The Graphic Canon even if I wasn’t a contributor, as I said above it’s a remarkable achievement. Watch out for it.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The Oscar Wilde archive

Weekend links 130

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Sarah and Writhing Octopus (New Wave Series, 1992) by Masami Teraoka.

Strange Flowers continues to push all my buttons. For a while now I’d been intent on writing something about the strange (unbuilt) temples designed by German artist/obsessive naturist Fidus (Hugo Höppener) but I reckon James has done a better job than I would have managed. Also last week he wrote about Schloss Schleißheim, a palatial estate outside Munich with connections to Last Year in Marienbad and another eccentric, pseudonymous German artist: Alastair (Hans Henning Voigt).

• The circus poster that inspired John Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper song Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! has been reproduced as a limited edition letterpress print. Related: Wikipedia’s page about Pablo Fanque (1796–1871), “the first black circus proprietor in Britain”.

• The first two volumes of The Graphic Canon, both edited by Russ Kick, are reviewed at Literary Kicks. I’ve not seen either of these yet but volume 2 contains my interpretation of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Related: the second book previewed at Brain Pickings.

You only have to read [Alan Bennett’s] diaries to see that, underneath the wit and humour and sandwich-filled pottering around old churches, there is a deep resentment at what has happened to England in his lifetime and an instinctive distrust, sometimes amounting to deep loathing, of most politicians. Listening, for instance, to Alan Clark and Kenneth Clarke talking on the radio about the arrest of General Pinochet in 1998, he writes: “Both have that built-in shrug characteristic of 80s Conservatism, electrodes on the testicles a small price to pay when economic recovery’s at stake.”

Michael Billington on Alan Bennett: a quiet radical

Hauntologists mine the past for music’s future: Mark Pilkington draws a Venn diagram encompassing Coil, Broadcast, the Ghost Box label, Arthur Machen, MR James, Nigel Kneale, Iain Sinclair and others.

Hell Is a City: the making of a cult classic – in pictures. The mean streets of Manchester given the thriller treatment by Hammer Films in 1959. The film is released on DVD this month.

The Function Room: The Kollection, Matt Leyshon’s debut volume of horror stories, has just been published. The cover painting is one of my pieces from the 1990s.

New Worlds magazine (now apparently known as “Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds“) has been relaunched online.

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A drawing from Anatomy (part 1), a series by Alex Konahin.

• The forthcoming Scott Walker album, Bish Bosch, will be released on December 3rd. 4AD has a trailer.

Cormac McCarthy Cuts to the Bone: Noah Gallagher Shannon on the early drafts of Blood Meridian.

• The Velvet Underground of English Letters: Simon Sellars Discusses JG Ballard.

• Michelle Dean on The Comfort of Bad Books.

The typewriter repairers of Los Angeles

Cats With Famous People

Marienbad (1987) by Sonoko | Komm Nach Marienbad (2011) by Marienbad | Marienbad (2012) by Julia Holter.

(Thanks to Ian and Pedro for this week’s picture links!)