The Gate to the Mind’s Eye

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Turn a 6 on its head and you’ll see a number 9. Do the same with the psychedelic culture of the 1960s and you get the 1990s when psychedelia emerged again, after a fashion, in a profusion of new drugs (plus the same old ones), “ambient” music (a lot of which was never very ambient at all), and, of course, computer graphics. The resemblance of the overlit, weightless world of early computer graphics to the vivid inner landscapes of psychedelic hallucination prompted people like Timothy Leary to declare computers to be their new drug of choice, while also inspiring the resurrection of the kind of visual tripping aid that would have been considered dead and buried in the very un-psychedelic 1980s. (There were a few musical exceptions in that decade—the Paisley Underground, the Dukes of Stratosphear albums, Around The World In A Day by Prince & The Revolution—but all these were counter to the dominant trends of the time.)

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CD-ROMS were the hippest vehicle for far-out visuals in the mid-90s. Brian Eno was vocal in his criticism of the limitations of the point-and-click CD-ROM format but he still provided music for a thing called Headcandy in 1994, one of a series of “video kaleidoscopes” with 3-D visuals created by Chris Juul and Doug Jipson. Not so overtly druggy was a series of VHS tapes and laserdiscs released throughout the 1990s by Odyssey Productions, all of which had the words “Mind’s Eye” in their titles: The Mind’s Eye: A Computer Animation Odyssey (1990), Beyond the Mind’s Eye (1992), The Gate to the Mind’s Eye (1994) and Odyssey Into The Mind’s Eye (1996). Where Headcandy and its relations created far-out visuals using original data encoded on a CD-ROM, the Mind’s Eye laserdiscs wowed the viewer by stitching together the latest examples of CGI from a variety of sources—showreels, TV ads, music videos and so on—giving you an hour of coloured balls bouncing across crystal mountains, pulsating blobs of mercury, shiny objects zooming through corridors and vortices, together with the clumsy figure animation that’s a consistent feature of early computer graphics. Each instalment was provided with a soundtrack by a different musician, so each release is really a long music video in itself, rather like The Orb’s Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld (Patterns & Textures) (1992), a 50-minute collage of rave footage, dolphins, spacewalking astronauts and cheap video effects soundtracked by live music from The Orb.

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The Gate to the Mind’s Eye is highlighted here mainly for its having a soundtrack by Thomas Dolby that I hadn’t heard before. Other instalments feature original music by Jan Hammer (which may be okay), and Kerry Livgren from Kansas (which promises to be as unpalatable as Giorgio Moroder’s misconceived mauling of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis). The Gate to the Mind’s Eye doesn’t feature the best of Dolby’s music, it should be said, which may explain why the soundtrack CD has only been reissued once since 1994, while the visual material looks like a combination of music video and computer game. But there’s a lot of this stuff around today, especially at the Internet Archive which now has a laserdisc section containing several uploads from Odyssey Productions and its affiliate, Miramar Productions. Closer to the psychedelic ideal is a series of discs from Japan with the uninventive name of Video Drug. The Internet Archive has five discs from this series. I might have been happy to watch these in the 1990s when late-night TV in the UK was either dull or non-existent but today I’m more taken with outmoded things like Electric Light Voyage aka Ascent 1, a video release from 1979 which featured analogue video effects of a type you don’t find at all in the digital world.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Moirage, a film by Stan VanDerBeek
Heavy-Light, a film by Adam K. Beckett
An Optical Poem by Oskar Fischinger
Moon 69, a film by Scott Bartlett
Us Down By The Riverside, a film by Jud Yalkut
Turn, Turn, Turn, a film by Jud Yalkut
Mothlight, a film by Stan Brakhage
Walter Ruttmann’s abstract cinema
7362, a film by Pat O’Neill
Here and There, a film by Andrzej Pawlowski
Power Spot by Michael Scroggins
Kusama’s Self-Obliteration, a film by Jud Yalkut
OffOn by Scott Bartlett
The Flow III
Science Friction by Stan VanDerBeek
Chris Parks
Len Lye
Matrix III by John Whitney
Symphonie Diagonale by Viking Eggeling
Mary Ellen Bute: Films 1934–1957
Norman McLaren
John Whitney’s Catalog
Arabesque by John Whitney
Moonlight in Glory
Jordan Belson on DVD
Ten films by Oskar Fischinger
Lapis by James Whitney

Weekend links 454

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Octopus and Pike (1937) by Ilna Ewers-Wunderwald.

• At Expanding Mind: writer and avant-garde publisher Tosh Berman talks with Erik Davis growing up in postwar California, hipster sexism, the hippie horrors of Topanga canyon, his impressions of family friends like Cameron and Brian Jones, and his charming new memoir Tosh, about growing up with his father, the remarkable underground California artist Wallace Berman.

• At Haute Macabre: A Sentiment of Spirits: Conversations with Handsome Devils Puppets.

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Adam Scovell on the much-missed radicalism of Derek Jarman

• Director Nicolas Winding Refn: “Film is not an art-form any more.”

• Mix of the week: Secret Thirteen Mix 281 by Blakk Harbor.

• At Greydogtales: Hope Hodgson and the Haunted Ear.

Hans Prinzhorn’s Artistry of the Mentally Ill (1922).

Michael Rother‘s favourite albums.

Renaissance metal

Puppet Theatre (1984) by Thomas Dolby | Puppet Motel (1994) by Laurie Anderson | Maybe You’re My Puppet (2002) by Cliff Martinez

Weekend links 319

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The Sapphic Sleep Web by Oliver Hibert.

• “Google isn’t willing to say whether or not it’s censorship. That they don’t have to even address this is what’s so shocking, It seems like cowardice.” Dennis Cooper talking to Andrew Durbin at Frieze about Google’s unexplained deletion of his long-running blog. Cooper’s case has been covered by arts sites and some newspapers but I’ve yet to see any mention at all on the main US gay news sites despite Cooper being a notable gay author. I’ve cast aspersions at those sites in the past for their obsession with terrible pop acts and off-topic trivia (one site still reports every last fart of Britain’s Royal Family as “news”); this recent issue only reinforces their irrelevance.

• Creating Jerusalem: Alan Moore on the most important book he has written. Related: Alan Moore uses nine-year-old’s fan letter on new book’s cover.

• “Whatever side of the aisle you’re on, HL Mencken is as relevant as ever,” says Paula Marantz Cohen.

To say that Goodbar is an obsessive and symbolically overdetermined film would be an understatement: the film compulsively reiterates themes, visual motifs and parallel narratives, a relentless and repetitive reiteration of ideas that lends that film the aspect of a Freudian dream landscape, a baroque, Boschian sequence of fantasies, projections and illusions.

Bruce LaBruce on Richard Brooks’ film of Looking for Mr. Goodbar

Mare Teno by Michel Redolfi, performed by Thomas Bloch, Susan Belling & Michel Redolfi.

• From 2015: Suicide’s Alan Vega Talks Fiery Record With Big Star’s Alex Chilton.

• Mix of the week: The Takeover with Front & Follow & The Geography Trip.

• Psychic Spaces & Neon Nirvana: The Art of Oliver Hibert by S. Elizabeth.

• How William Burroughs‘s drug experiments helped neurology research.

Yello, absurdist Swiss pop pioneers, return with a new video, Limbo.

• Morphologies Masterclass: Ramsey Campbell on HP Lovecraft.

Cliff Martinez on horror, homage and The Neon Demon.

• A City of Dust: photos of London by Lewis Bush.

Dust To Dust (1986) by Ginger Baker | Neon Sisters (1992) by Thomas Dolby | Limbo (1992) by Sandoz

Weekend links 177

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A new Wicker Man poster by Dan Mumford appears on the cover of the forthcoming DVD/BR reissues. Prints are available.

• The long-awaited release of a restored print of Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man approaches. Dangerous Minds has a trailer while The Guardian posted a clip of the restored footage. The latter isn’t anything new if you’ve seen the earlier uncut version, but the sound and picture quality are substantially better. I’ve already ordered my copy from Moviemail.

• “It’s a fairly bleak place, and it has this eerie atmosphere. East Anglia is always the frontline when there’s an invasion threatening, so there are lumps of concrete dissolving into sand, bits of barbed wire and tank tracks that act as a constant reminder. I really love it.” Thomas Dolby talking to Joseph Stannard about environment and memory.

Dome Karukoski is planning a biopic of artist Tom of Finland. Related: Big Joy, a documentary about the life and work of James Broughton, poet, filmmaker and Radical Faerie.

The desire to be liked is acceptable in real life but very problematic in fiction. Pleasantness is the enemy of good fiction. I try to write on the premise that no one is going to read my work. Because there’s this terrible impulse to grovel before the reader, to make them like you, to write with the reader in mind in that way. It’s a terrible, damaging impulse. I feel it in myself. It prevents you doing work that is ugly or upsetting or difficult. The temptation is to not be true to what you want to write and to be considerate or amusing instead.

Novelist Katie Kitamura talks to Jonathan Lee.

Leonora Carrington: The Celtic Surrealist opens on Wednesday at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

Julia Holter turns spy in the video for This Is A True Heart.

Alexis Petridis talks to graphic designer Peter Saville.

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Al-Naafiysh (The Soul) by Hashim. From the Program Your 808 poster series by Rob Rickets.

Rob Goodman on The Comforts of the Apocalypse.

Post-Medieval Illustrations of Dante’s Sodomites.

• Annoy Jonathan Franzen by playing Cat Bounce!

Paolozzi at Pinterest

The Surrealist Waltz (1967) by Pearls Before Swine | The Jungle Line (1981) by Low Noise (Thomas Dolby) | Al-Naafiysh (The Soul) (1983) by Hashim

Weekend links 91

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Untitled (1978) by GR Santosh at 50 Watts.

Evertype Publishing produces a range of Lewis Carroll special editions including Ailice’s Àventurs in Wunnerland (a translation in Scots), Alicia in Terra Mirabili (a Latin version), and an edition printed in the Nyctographic Square Alphabet devised by Carroll.

• This week’s bookshop animations: Type Books, Toronto presents The Joy of Books while at Shakespeare and Company, Paris, Spike Jonze and Simon Cahn explore the erotic life of book covers in Mourir Auprès de Toi.

• Invisible Girls and Phantom Ladies, a 1982 article on sexism in (US superhero) comics by Alan Moore. Thirty years on, things haven’t improved much at all.

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Tilda Swinton on Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

Dark Water, Lovecraftian carpet designs (yes, carpets) by Kirill Rozhkov. Danish carpet manufacturer Ege has a catalogue showing the finished products.

Neil Gaiman ventures into the treacherous labyrinth of M. John Harrison’s Viriconium.

Nicholas Lezard reviews The White People and Other Weird Stories by Arthur Machen.

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The Dream (1910) by Henri Rousseau at the Google Art Project.

• Reassessing the Saul Bass and Alfred Hitchcock Collaboration by Pat Kirkham.

• Getting There Too Quickly: Peter Bebergal on Aldous Huxley and Mescaline.

Hidden in the Open: A Photographic Essay of Afro-American Male Couples.

Filles En Aiguilles, a new musical work by Schütze+Hopkins.

RubiCANE’s Erotic Illustrations.

Laurie Anderson has a Godplex.

Alan Bennett on Smut.

The Jungle Line (1975) by Joni Mitchell | The Jungle Line (1981) by Low Noise (Kevin Armstrong, Thomas Dolby, JJ Johnson & Matthew Seligman) | The Jungle Line (2007) by Herbie Hancock with Leonard Cohen.