Tiger Mountain Strategies

tiger_mountain.jpgTaking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) is familiar to those of us in the decadent west as the title of Brian Eno’s second solo album, released in 1974. Eno borrowed the title from a set of Chinese postcards depicting a performance of a Maoist opera, and you can now see a copy of those very postcards here.

“The modern revolutionary Peking opera Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy, carefully revised, perfected and polished to the last detail with our great leader Chairman Mao’s loving care, now glitters with surpassing splendour.

Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy is one of the outstanding model theatrical works. It describes an episode in the great Chinese People’s War of Liberation, a battle in which a pursuit detachment of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army wiped out a Kuomintang die-hard gang in northeast China. The opera creates the brilliant images of Yan Tzu-jung and other proletarian heroes by the method of combining revolutionary realism with revolutionary romanticism, and eulogizes Chairman Mao’s great thought on people’s war. The successful creation of the modern revolutionary Peking opera Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy is a splendid victory for Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line on literature and art.”

Eno produced his own set of strategic cards with artist Peter Schmidt (who painted the cover of Tiger Mountain) a year later, Oblique Strategies, “Over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas.” Originally an expensive limited edition, these are now available in a variety of freeware applications or online versions. Best one if you’re among the 17% of Mac-users visiting this site is probably the Dashboard widget, the latest version of which includes the texts of all three editions. The instant access nature of OS X’s Dashboard is especially suited to small information systems such as this.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Exodus art and Plague Songs
Generative culture
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts

You, me and the continuum


More magazine covers as Time makes everyone using the web (yes, you, dear reader) its person of the year. The first Time cover to favour an object over a human also featured a computer back in 1982, in a picture that looks like one of Ed Kienholz’s assemblages. Steve Jobs must be pleased they used an iMac as the model for this year.

“It is no longer possible to be rooted in history. Instead, we are connected to the topography of computer screens and video monitors. these give us the language and images that we require to reach others and see ourselves.” Celeste Olalquiaga, writing presciently in Megalopolis: Contemporary Cultural Sensibilities (University of Minnesota Press, 1992).

God in the machines


Fm3’s Buddha Machine.


The Electronic Qur’an.

• Compact, robust and easy to use;
• Long lasting battery life;
• Large LCD with blue backlight for night time viewing;
• Built-in audio speaker;
• Built-in DC adapter jack;
• Ability to record up to 3 hours* of voice;
• Follow and compare your own voice with the reciters;
• Excellent sound quality with AudiTrax technology;
• Inter-changeable audio plug-in system;
• Bookmark function;
• Repeat function;
• Search function;
• Full audio recitation;
• Approved/licensed Qur’an text in Arabic (Uthmanic font type);
• Approved/licensed Qur’an text in English (Mushin Khan’s translation);
• Approved Islamic contents in both Arabic and English translation.


Modern Orthodox by Elliott Malkin.

Modern Orthodox is a working demonstration of my next-generation laser eruv system. An eruv (pronounced ey-roov) is a symbolic boundary erected around religious Jewish communities throughout the world. While an eruv is typically constructed with poles and wires, Modern Orthodox employs a combination of low-power lasers, wifi surveillance cameras and graffiti, as a way of designating sacred volumes of space in urban areas.


Crucifix NG by Elliott Malkin.

Crucifix NG (Next Generation) is the principal work of the Faith-Based Electronics Group at the Interactive Televangelist Program (ITP). Crucifix NG is a printed electronic circuit board in the shape of a crucifix. This handheld, wall-mountable device houses a battery-operated transmitter that broadcasts an ASCII, non-denominational version of the Lord’s Prayer at 916 megahertz. (916 has no numerological significance – it is simply a function of the availability of low-cost transmission chips within this FCC license-free bandwidth.)

Previously on { feuilleton }
Layering Buddha by Robert Henke

Folder icons


I don’t use customised folder or desktop icons much these days but this set, entitled Ink, is great, based on tribal tattoo stylings. If there were other designs as good as this in the world of lurid, gum-drop-shaped, drop-shadowed reflectiveness, I might be more inclined to customise my folders now and then. Jamie McCanless is the artist responsible and you can see these and other designs on his site, including some nice GLBT and Pride-themed works.

PS: these are Mac-only.

The Bowes Swan


“I watched a silver swan which had a living grace about his movements and a living intelligence in his eyes.” Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad.

The Silver Swan is perhaps the best known and best loved object in The Bowes Museum. It is musical automaton in the form of a life-size model of a swan, comprising a clockwork mechanism covered in silver plumage above a music box. It rests on a stream made of twisted glass rods interspersed with silver fish. When the mechanism is wound up, the glass rods rotate, the music begins, and the swan twists its head to the left and right and appears to preen its back. It then appears to see a fish in the water below and bends down to catch it, it then swallows the fish as the music stops and resumes its upright position. The whole performance lasts about forty seconds. In reality the fish has been concealed lengthways on a pivot in the swan’s beak and returns to this position. In real life swans do not eat fish.

The Bowes Museum site has more details about John Joseph Merlin’s splendid swan and this page has a QT movie of the automaton in action.