The art of Stephen Aldrich


Take Me to Your Leda (2000).


The City at the End of Time (2005).

I wrote about the history of the engaving collage in Sandoz in the Rain: the Life and Art of Wilfried Sätty, an article for Strange Attractor #2 (2005). I hadn’t come across Stephen Aldrich’s work at the time, if I had I would have mentioned him as being one of the artists continuing in this style after Sätty. You can see more of Aldrich’s work at the Foley Gallery, New York, and on Artnet.

Stephen Aldrich was born in Westfield, MA in 1947. In 1989 Aldrich began to explore the possibility of making collages from 19th Century illustrations and (Fredrick) Sommer, always one to “master the advantages”, asked Aldrich to cut engraved illustrations from text books in anatomy. This made it possible for Sommer to create hundreds of collages, and the medium became his principle form of artistic expression throughout the last decade of his life. During that time Aldrich continued to make his own collages with Sommer’s enthusiastic support and encouragement, and joined in a collaborative partnership with photographer Walton Mendelson to produce “collagraphs” (collages photographed) which were first exhibited at Turner/Krull Gallery in 1992. The partnership with Mendelson ended in 2002.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The fantastic art archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Shinro Ohtake

SAJ again


Yes, it’s that magazine again, the perfect thing to feed your head for the new year.
Mark P and SAJ are profiled in the latest Wire.

Ken Hollings rides the world’s subcultural currents mapped by London’s Strange Attractor.

The Wire #275, January 2007

Strange Attractor is well named. There’s really no escaping it. Starting out as a series of live events, it has slowly transmuted into an annual publication, set up an online clearing house for the weird and the wonderful and recently made its first move towards establishing itself as a publishing house. “Strange Attractor celebrates unpopular culture,” runs its mission statement. “We declare war on mediocrity and a pox on the foot soldiers of stupidity. Join us.” Who could possibly resist such a challenge? Sooner or later you have to get involved. (In the interests of full transparency: the writer of this article has taken part in a number of Strange Attractor evenings and is a regular contributor to Strange Attractor Journal.)

With orders for the Strange Attractor publications coming in from all over the world, and mainstream media like The Independent On Sunday praising it for producing “one of the most weirdly beautiful, beautifully weird magazines of the past hundred-odd years” a bigger problem presents itself. How do you celebrate unpopular culture without losing its unpopularity?

“There’s certainly no business plan,” admits Strange Attractor Journal‘s publisher and chief editor, Mark Pilkington. “We’re really making it all up as we go along. I hope that Strange Attractor‘s approach to culture is simultaneously that of the archaeologist, the ethnographer, the anthropologist, the occultist, the showman and the curator.”

It’s a heady mix. The first two issues, both book-sized anthologies running to more than 200 and 400 pages apiece, have presented material ranged across such elusive topics as mind control experiments, mould art, hair sculpture, cargo cults, neglected gods and forgotten waxworks. Such a list limits more than it clarifies, however. Strange Attractor Journal is concerned less with the unexplained than with the unexpected. You never know what it will cover next.

“I think Strange Attractor is refreshing to people in that it manages to straddle several cultural channels while still following its own agenda,” Pilkington admits, “and it’s one not driven by the same obvious memes. But at the same time it’s important that it doesn’t become obscurantist for its own sake—some things are lost for a reason, others will only resurface when the time is right.”

Strange Attractor‘s wayward eclecticism dates back to a series of monthly events begun in the summer of 2001 by Pilkington in collaboration with artist John Lundberg and continuing over the next two years. Staged at London’s Horse Hospital venue, they gave an early indication of the loose network of experimental enterprises that was starting to come into existence, linking outsider artists with cultural anthropologists, textual hackers and practising occultists.

“We’d mix talks, films, music, presentations, each night being themed around a different topic,” Pilkington recalls. “I rather pretentiously called them ‘information happenings’. Subjects ranged from conspiracy theory to theremins, Esperanto to magick, hoaxes, illusions and psychic deceptions: basically anything that interested us and could draw people that we liked or wanted to meet into one place.” Highlights included a live and bloody demonstration of psychic surgery, sci-fi movie themes played on vintage electronic instruments and a live Lovecraft-influenced Chaos Magick ritual with a soundtrack performed “by a band who couldn’t see what was going on.”

After Lundberg enrolled at the National Film and Television School, Pilkington went solo but eventually grew tired of doing regular live events, deciding instead to do something that would last longer: hence the Journal.

The notion of outliving the moment, of being around for more than just a quick cultural fix, is very much a part of SAJ‘s overall look and feel. The first thing you notice is that the front and back cover of each issue is devoid of text or title, which only appears on the book’s spine. If you want to know who the contributors are, you’ll have to look inside.

“For me, it was about giving as much space as possible to striking images and therefore making them stand out on the bookshelf,” Pilkington explains. “I imagined people being aware that something was wrong with the cover but perhaps not being able to put their finger on it.”

The absence of cover copy also binds together the Journal‘s various contributors in the anonymity of a collective endeavour. “We’re lucky enough to live in an age where we can clearly trace the influences of the past on our present,” Pilkington continues, “and it’s not always today’s most celebrated ideas, musicians and writers who will be remembered. This notion of timelessness is very important to what SAJ is and does. I’d like the books to be as irrelevant to a reader 100 years in the future as it would be to someone 100 years in the past. It’s a re-manipulation of the notion of built-in obsolescence.”

The Journal‘s pages teem with old woodcuts, antiquated typefaces and intricate layouts, giving the impression of having been produced in some parallel past: one that runs counter to established tenets of historical development. Having previously worked as a journalist for periodicals as varied as Fortean Times, Bizarre and The Guardian, Mark Pilkington remains keenly aware of what’s going on around him.

“There’s a particularly vibrant, very loose cultural network in London at the moment,” he remarks, “one that incorporates music and sound, ideas and information, visual arts and almost anything else you’d care to imagine. It’s inevitable that these people, places and events all bounce off and influence each other in a kind of subcultural Brownian motion.”

As well as working closely with designer Alison Hutchinson, readying volume three for publication, Pilkington has also been getting Strange Attractor Press up and running. Its first book to date, The Field Guide: The Art, History And Philosophy Of Crop Circle Making by Rob Irving and John Lundberg, is a particularly cerebral blend of art theory, paranormal phenomena, hoaxes and speculations, ruggedly bound and designed to fit snugly inside your knapsack while out exploring the British countryside. Conventional wisdom says it shouldn’t work, but Strange Attractor‘s own particular blend of parlour magic proves that it does.

“I sometimes see myself as a medium,” Mark reveals, “a channel for all the material that has formed Strange Attractor. I’ve been incredibly lucky with the amazing contributions the Journal has attracted so far.”

There’s no escaping it. Strange Attractor really is well named.

Strange Attractor Journal Three, and The Field Guide: The Art, History And Philosophy Of Crop Circle Making by Rob Irving & John Lundberg, are available now.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Strange Attractor Journal Three
How to make crop circles

Strange Attractor Journal Three


The wonderful and essential Strange Attractor Journal will be with us again next month.
The previous number (now sold out, I think) included my essay about psychedelic artist Wilfried Sätty.


Contra Genesis—Catherine Eisner
Unusual cases of extra-genital conception, extra-uterine
gestation, and other anomalous exits.

Burmese Daze—Erik Davis
In which the author submits to the pleasures of a transgender spirit possession festival.

Adventures in the Fourth Dimension—Mike Jay
A Victorian time machine and history’s first theme park ride.

Ego in Exotica Sum—Ken Hollings
In memoriam Martin Denny, crown prince of the exotica sound.

A Psychoactive Bestiary—Richard Rudgley
The joy of zootoxins, from the ant to the giraffe.

Liberté, Légalité, Éternité—David Luke
Some notes on psychonautic misadventures in time.

Kandinsky’s Thought Forms—Gary Lachman
The occult roots of modern art.

Magic Words—Steve Moore
Virgil the Necromancer in mediæval legend.

Abu’l-Qasim al-Iraqi—Robert Irwin
12th century Arab alchemists on the edge
of knowledge.

The Electrochemical Glass—Richard Brown
A slow-evolving artwork from a living alchemist.

The Man Behind the Screen—David Rothenberg
Hans Christian Andersen’s greatest and least-known work.

The Mole of Edge Hill—John Reppion
Joseph Williamson, Liverpool’s tunnelling philanthropist.

La Maison de Poupées—Robert Ansell
A photographic study of a magnificent compulsion.

The Dirty Thirties—Alexis Lykiard
From Arthur Koestler’s Encyclopædia of Sexual Knowledge.

Paint it Black—Stewart Home
Autohagiography of an artist.

Redonda and Her Kings—Roger Dobson
The island life of early science fiction author MP Shiel.

Magic in Paris—Phil Baker
Demons of the opium den in Thirties Paris.

The Dark Man’s Dreams—Doug Skinner
An introduction to Xavier Forneret, Surrealism’s lost poet.

Ghosts: A short Story
by Lady Vervaine.

Plus original artworks by Alison Gill, Josephine Harvatt, Betsy Heistand, Katie Owens, Arik Roper.

Editor: Mark Pilkington.
Print Design: Alison Hutchinson.

Strange Attractor celebrates unpopular culture. We declare war on mediocrity and a pox on the foot soldiers of stupidity. Join Us.

Strange Attractor Journal Three available now from Strange Attractor Shoppe and all good bookshops.

£14 inc p&p by mail order or £13.99 in UK shops.

It’s a pulp, pulp, pulp world


The (low-res) digitisation of the past continues apace on this site which is accumulating cover scans from a host of American sf and fantasy magazines. Oddly enough, I’d been looking for a place with pictures of the early Omni covers just recently, but this site didn’t come up on Google, or if it did, I missed it. I bought most of the first year’s run of Omni so it’s interesting seeing which covers I remember and which I’d forgotten about. Now, where is there a site with a complete run of New Worlds covers? Link via Strange Attractor.


And an item of contemporary magazine news:
Jonathan Barnbrook designs the latest issue of Adbusters.

Previously on { feuilleton }
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

How to make crop circles

crop_circles.jpgThe Field Guide: the Art, History & Philosophy of Crop Circle Making
by Rob Irving & John Lundberg.
Edited by Mark Pilkington

Three decades ago, two men in their fifties began flattening circles into the fields of Hampshire and Wiltshire. Little did they know that their Friday night antics would seed an international phenomenon that continues to change people?s lives to this day.

Now, in the first book of its kind—part history and part how-to guide—the secrets of the crop circle world are revealed, by the people behind the modern era?s most astounding artform. Whether you think crop circles represent a genuine mystery, a new kind of art, or an elaborate practical joke, The Field Guide is sure to leave a lasting impression.

The English landscape would never be the same again!

• How two men in their fifties “conned the world” and spawned an international phenomenon.
• Three generations of crop circle makers tell the stories behind the amazing crop formations, in the first book of its kind.
• Secrets of the artists revealed in a complete “how-to” guide!
• Inside the world of the “croppies”, the people who study the crop circles.
• Bizarre beliefs examined, bogus science exposed!
• In-depth interviews with Doug Bower, the man who started it all, and The Circlemakers, the team behind some of the most spectacular formations on record.
• From the team behind and the editor and publisher of Strange Attractor Journal.

£8.99, Pb, 288pp, heavily illustrated. ISBN 0954805429
File under Art / Culture / Paranormal Phenomena
Available late August 2006 from all good bookshops
or from and
Strange Attractor Press