Weekend links 498

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The Sentinel 280, a car design by Syd Mead from 1964.

• “Boris Dolgov did not exist. The man who bore that name may have existed, but there never was a man in the United States with that name until 1956, too late for Weird Tales.” Teller of Weird Tales on the mysterious identity of a magazine artist.

• Saying goodbye to 2019 also meant saying farewell to Vaughan Oliver, Neil Innes and Syd Mead. Related: Vaughan Oliver at Discogs; I’m The Urban Spaceman; a look back at Syd Mead’s vehicle designs.

Lanre Bakare on how ambient music became cool. (Again. This begs the question of when it became uncool, especially when a ten-year-old Brian Eno piece about “the death of uncool” is being quoted.)

Westerners interpreted the peyote experience very differently from the practitioners of the peyote religion, where the focus was “ritual, song and prayer, and to dissect one’s private sensations was to miss the point”. Writers such as Havelock Ellis, who published an essay on his peyote experiences in the Lancet in 1897 (it’s likely that he also administered the substance to his friends W.B. Yeats and Arthur Symons), instead tended to focus on its visual effects. Ellis described “the brilliance, delicacy and variety of the colours” and “their lovely and various textures”. Peyote reached Europe in tandem with the X-ray, cinema and electric lights, Jay notes, and “nothing delighted the eye of the mescal eater so much as the new electrical sublime”.

Emily Witt reviewing Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic by Mike Jay

Peter Bradshaw takes on the thankless task of ranking Federico Fellini’s feature films.

Geoff Manaugh on when Russia and America coöperated to avert a Y2K apocalypse.

• “Music is an ideal medium for interstellar communication,” says Daniel Oberhaus.

Keith Allison on Karel Zeman, a creator of remarkable cinematic fantasies.

•  Japanese Designer New Year’s Cards of 2020.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Vera Chytilová Day.

2020 in public domain.

Sentinel (1992) by Mike Oldfield | Sentinels (2001) by Cyclobe | Sentinel (2004) by Transglobal Underground

The Art of Gothic by Natasha Scharf

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This weekend I was at the Louder Than Words music conference in Manchester to meet Peter Bebergal, author of Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll, and Mark Pilkington of Strange Attractor. By coincidence the event was hosting a discussion about goth music and culture based around The Art of Gothic, a new art book by Natasha Scharf. As mentioned last month, this book features some of my work but I hadn’t seen a copy until now.

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I’ve been fortunate recently to have my work appear in some impressive volumes but this outsize hardback takes some beating. It’s a very lavish production, 224 colour pages on heavy paper with gorgeous design by Paul Palmer-Edwards. Goth has been subject from the outset to mocking stereotypes, to a degree that many people would imagine they know exactly what a study such as this would contain. A recurrent theme of the Louder Than Words discussion was the growth of the goth subculture beyond its clichéd boundaries which is one reason my work is featured in the book. When Natasha was first in touch I thought it might be for the Cradle of Filth album covers but I’m in the chapter that examines the increasingly tangled goth/steampunk crossover. This is one development that’s come to seem almost inevitable given the roots of so much of the goth aesthetic in Victorian nightmares. Many steampunk novels tend towards the dark in their blend of science fiction and horror so the traffic goes in both directions.

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Elsewhere in the book there are chapters on Futuristic Goth, Japanese Goth, and Cybergoth, all of which maintain the requisite darkness while evolving away from the top hats, lace and veils (the latter are all present and correct elsewhere, of course). It’s a beautiful book, out now in the UK from Omnibus Press, and in the US from Backbeat Books. A few more page samples follow. There’s more at Amazon UK.

• See also: 13 Things That Prove Gothic Art Is Enchanting And Beautiful

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left: The Amazing Screw-On Head by Mike Mignola (2002); centre: the full-colour version of the ever-popular Steampunk Equation (2009), words by Jeff VanderMeer, graphics by John Coulthart; right: Dr Geof’s Medicine Lady, aka Steampunk Pinup #2.

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The mighty Giger again. I’ve got a framed print of that picture on the wall, a fact that will surprise nobody.

Continue reading “The Art of Gothic by Natasha Scharf”

Weekend links 180

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One of Jonathan Andrew‘s photos of coastal bunkers and concrete defences from the Second World War. In 2006 JG Ballard looked at the way these structures embody the functional nature of Modernist architecture.

• “Utamaro, whose prints of famous courtesans were regarded as the very models of sober beauty by 19th-century Western collectors, in fact produced more Shunga books and albums than non-erotic works.” Adrian Hamilton on the Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art exhibition.

• “…in Samoa, as in many traditional cultures around the world, androphilic males occupy a special transgendered category.” Alice Dreger on gay male couples and evolution.

• Robert Fuest’s film of Michael Moorcock’s first Jerry Cornelius novel, The Final Programme (1973), is out on (Region 2) DVD this month.

Masked by reticence and cloaked in tweeds, [Herbert] Read was the unexpectedly ardent and frighteningly prolific champion of nearly everything that was radical in the first half of the twentieth century: Imagism, Surrealism, abstraction, the Bauhaus, Marxism, anarchism, Freud and Jung, progressive education, Gandhian nonviolent resistance. Though now somewhat dimly remembered, he was, for decades, the Victoria Station of the arts, England’s primary explainer of the modern.

Eliot Weinberger introduces Herbert Read’s strange fantasy novel, The Green Child (1935).

• KW Jeter’s steampunk novel Fiendish Schemes is published (with my cover art) by Tor on the 15th. There’s an extract here.

• Mix of the week: An early Halloween mix (and interview) from Joseph Stannard of The Outer Church.

• At Dangerous Minds: Codex Seraphinianus: A New Edition of the Strangest Book in the World.

A trailer for the forthcoming Blu-ray release of Murnau’s Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror.

• Kenneth Halliwell: lover, killer… artist? Philip Hoare on the collages of Joe Orton’s partner.

• Clive Hicks-Jenkins looks back at Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête here, here and here.

Anastasia Ivanova‘s photo portraits of lesbian couples in Russia.

Christopher Fox on electronic music’s sound of futures past.

• At Strange Flowers: Melchior Lechter’s book designs.

Vaughan Oliver‘s favourite 4AD album covers.

Swinging Sixties Japanese film posters.

John Foxx’s favourite albums

Beauty And The Beast (1977) by David Bowie | Slow Motion (1978) by Ultravox | I Am The Green Child (2000) by Coil

Surrealism, graphic design and Barney Bubbles

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Poster for Mademoiselle (1970) by Franciszek Starowieyski.

Work has cranked into overdrive this week so posting will no doubt be minimal until some semblance of normality is restored. I can however mention two essential exhibitions which will be running through the forthcoming months.

Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design at the Moravian Gallery in Brno, Czech Republic, is curated by design writer Rick Poynor and runs to 24 October, 2010. On display is an intriguing mix of work from familiar names such as Jan Švankmajer and Eva Švankmajerová, poster artist Franciszek Starowieyski, graphic designers Vaughan Oliver and Stefan Sagmeister, and many others.

Uncanny: Surrealism and Graphic Design uncovers the presence of an alternative tradition in graphic design. The Surrealist movement of the 1920s and 1930s focused on literature, painting, photography and the object, and the Surrealists’ publishing activities provided only hints of what a fully conceived Surrealist graphic design or typography might look like. Many of the most suggestive early examples came from Czechoslovakia, where Surrealism would become a lasting influence. Subsequently, Surrealist ideas and images had a profound impact on image-makers in every sphere of art and design, and by the 1960s the effects of Surrealism were widely felt in international graphic communication. Uncanny traces this intermittent line of development up to the present.

There’s further information at the gallery site including a page of related works.

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And launching later in the year is Process: The Working Practices of Barney Bubbles, a very timely exhibition of the designer’s work at Chelsea Space, London. Bubbles biographer Paul Gorman is the curator and the event will also see the launch of a second edition of his study of Barney’s life and work, Reasons To Be Cheerful.

The show will contain many never-before-seen items drawn from private collections, including student notebooks, working sketches, original artwork, paintings, books and photography. These were the raw material for videos, record sleeves, t-shirts and posters created by Bubbles for such performers as Ian Dury, Hawkwind, Elvis Costello, The Damned and Billy Bragg (who is contributing a one-off rug with a rendition of the designer’s Masereel-quoting cover for his album Brewing Up With).

Process opens on September 14 and will run to October 23, 2010.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Franciszek Starowieyski, 1930–2009
Jan Svankmajer: The Complete Short Films
Barney Bubbles: artist and designer