Luminous Procuress

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How to describe this one? Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, pt 2? Bargain-basement Satyricon? The latter is probably more apt, Kenneth Anger’s longer films are more formal than Luminous Procuress. Steven Arnold’s only feature film resembles something made by the extras from a Fellini extravaganza after they’ve stayed overnight at Cinecittà; a series of artfully-arranged tableaux (artful arrangement being Arnold’s forte), together with a hardcore sex-scene (hetero) that seems out of place beside the relatively chaste antics elsewhere:

Luminous Procuress is an altogether extraordinary, individualistic phantasmagoria. It was filmed entirely in San Francisco over a two-year period, and describes the adventures of two wandering youths in San Francisco who visit the home of a mysterious woman, the Procuress. She is an elegant emblem of sorcery, her vivid features glowing under bizarre, striking maquillage, and one is not certain who she is or where she intends to lead the protagonists. Although the language she speaks is vaguely Russian, it appears that the Procuress has psychic powers. She discerns a sympathetic response to her on the part of the youths, and by magical means, conducts them through fantastic rooms, on a psychic journey. Through strange passageways, one voyages with the Procuress and her charges, glimpsing hidden nightmares and panoplied chambers of revelry, where celebrants, ornately festooned, dance and make love before unseen gods… (more)

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Arnold’s film follows the low-budget form by being shot without synchronised sound, so the dialogue, such as it is, has been dubbed on later. Rather than try and match words to the improvised scenes Arnold instead gives his characters foreign voices, most of which are mumbling and may not even be saying anything intelligible in their own language. This spares us any Warhol-like amateur theatricals while augmenting the dream-like atmosphere. The music by Warner Jepson is the icing on a very unusual cake. Jepson was a serious electronic composer whose rather abrasive debut album, Totentanz, was included in the Creel Pone catalogue of electronic obscurities in 2005. For the film Jepson provides swathes of synthesizer doodling interspersed with arrangements for keyboards and voices. All this and the Cockettes too. Salvador Dalí loved it.

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Continue reading “Luminous Procuress”

Weekend links 619

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A Moog on the Moon by P. Praquin, 1977. And a space helmet reflection to add to the list being accumulated by 70s Sci-Fi Art.

• RIP Klaus “Quadro” Schulze. I’ve owned many of his solo albums over the years, and while they’re historically important for the part they played in developing the kosmische sound in the 1970s I’ve never been very enthusiastic about the music. The albums I prefer are the ones where he was working with others, whether as a drummer in Ash Ra Tempel, an inadvertent member of the fake Cosmic Jokers supergroup, or part of the genuine Cosmic Couriers supergroup that made Tarot. The Tonwelle album credited to “Richard Wahnfried” benefits considerably from the presence of Manuel Göttsching and Michael Schrieve (also a rumoured Carlos Santana); I recommend it. For a taste of the synth-doodling Schulze, here he is in analogue heaven.

• Next month, Luminous Procuress, a film by Steven Arnold (previously), is released for the first time on blu-ray by Second Run: “Exploding out of San Francisco’s vibrant late-60s counter-culture, Luminous Procuress is a psychedelic odyssey of unabashed hedonism. The only feature film by artist, mystic and polymath Steven Arnold, the film celebrates gender-fluidity and pan-sexuality in a voyeuristic phantasmagorical journey towards spiritual ecstasy.”

• “Whereas [Bernard] Herrmann worked predominantly with strings and [John] Carpenter with synths, Anderson wanted to evoke a similar atmosphere with guitars.” Greg “The Lord” Anderson talks to Dan Franklin about making an album of night music.

I am troubled by how often people talk about likability when they talk about art.

I am troubled by how often our protagonists are supposed to live impeccable, sin-free lives, extolling the right virtues in the right order—when we, the audience, do not and never have, no matter what we perform for those around us.

I am troubled by the word “problematic,” mostly because of how fundamentally undescriptive it is. Tell me that something is xenophobic, condescending, clichéd, unspeakably stupid, or some other constellation of descriptors. Then I will decide whether I agree, based on the intersection of that thing with my particular set of values and aesthetics. But by saying it is problematic you are saying that it constitutes or presents a problem, to which my first instinct is to reply: I hope so.

Art is the realm of the problem. Art chews on problems, turns them over, examines them, breaks them open, breaks us open against them. Art contains a myriad of problems, dislocations, uncertainties. Doesn’t it? If not, then what?

Jen Silverman on the new moralisers

• “The website is colorful and anarchic, evoking the chaotic sensory experience of exploring a crammed, dusty shop.” Geeta Dayal explores the Syrian Cassette Archives.

• New music: The Last One, 1970 by Les Rallizes Dénudés; Untitled 3 by Final; Blinking In Time (full version) by Scanner.

• Why was erotic art so popular in ancient Pompeii? Meilan Solly investigates.

• You’ve been reframed: Anne Billson explores the history of split-screen cinema.

• At Spoon & Tamago: Japanese era names illustrated as logos.

• Mix of the week: XLR8R Podcast 745 by Wilted Woman.

Fun type

Split, Pt. 4 (1971) by The Groundhogs | Split Second Feeling (1981) by Cabaret Voltaire | Splitting The Atom (2010) by Massive Attack

Weekend links 282

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Thomas Ligotti photographed by Jennifer Gariepy.

• More Thomas Ligotti (he’s been marginalised for decades, the attention is overdue): “Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe are fugues of the creeping unknown,” says Peter Bebergal who profiles Ligotti for The New Yorker, and gets him to talk about the impulses that produce his fiction; at the Lovecraft eZine eleven writers and editors ask Ligotti a question related to his work.

• As usual, Halloween brings out the mixes. This year there’s a choice of The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XII by David Colohan, Samhain Séance 4 : The Masks of Ashor by The_Ephemeral_Man, The Voluptuous Doom of Bava Yaga by SeraphicManta, Spool’s Out Radio #27 with Joseph Curwen, and The Edge Of The Holloween Oven – 10/26/15 by The Edge Of The Ape Oven.

Broadcast’s James Cargill has provided a soundtrack for Peter Strickland’s radio adaptation of The Stone Tape by Nigel Kneale. John Doran and Richard Augood review the new and old versions for The Quietus. Related: Peter Strickland’s favourite horror soundtracks.

My mission was to make sounds that didn’t exist in reality, whether it’s a star ship or a laser or a monster or an exploding planet. You started with basic sounds that were acoustic and then you manipulated them. There’s a scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when he falls into the well of souls and pushes over that statue and there are all those snakes? The sound of the snakes was made by pulling masking tape off glass. When the statue falls over and breaks the wall there’s the noise of lots of big rocks breaking. We just took some bricks and smashed them up and then slowed the tape recording down. I remember doing a lot of great scary effects using dry ice and a bunch of pots and pans out of the kitchen. You heat them up really hot and then you drop a load of dry ice into the hot pan so the rapid thermal change would make it scream.

Composer and sound designer Alan Howarth talks to Mat Colegate about working for films

Jordan Hoffman reviews Jacques Rivette’s legendary 13-hour feature film Out 1: Noli Me Tangere (1971). The film will be in cinemas next month, and available on DVD/BR in January.

The Stone Tape was originally a one-off TV drama shown at Christmas in 1972. Michael Newton looks at the BBC’s habit in the 1970s of screening ghost stories at Christmas.

Steven Arnold’s Epiphanies: A look back at some of the artist’s surrealist photographs.

Greydogtales just concluded a month of posts dedicated to William Hope Hodgson.

• At Dirge Magazine: Tenebrous Kate on seven songs based on dark literary classics.

Phil Legard opens some grimoires for a short history of signs and seals.

Micah Nathan on Tuesday’s Child, “LA’s best Satanist magazine”.

• “The Occult was a kind of awakening,” says Colin Wilson.

Shagfoal: witchcraft and horror-blues by Dante.

Jenny Hval‘s favourite albums.

The Attic Tapes (1975) by Cabaret Voltaire | Those Tapes Are Dangerous (1997) by The Bug | The Black Mill Video Tape (2012) by Pye Corner Audio

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).

The recurrent pose 46

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Something I’d had bookmarked for ages then overlooked, French photographer Bertrand Le Pluard borrows the Flandrin pose for a Raf Simons shoes feature in Wad Magazine. In addition to another shot avec génitales at the Le Pluard site there’s also a feature here and here for German gay mag Kaiserin celebrating those queer hippies known as The Cockettes. Via Homotography.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The recurrent pose archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Flamboyant excess: the art of Steven Arnold