Weekend links 723

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Flags of the Undiscovered Planets: 3 (1985) by César Manrique.

• “That mysterious font is Festive, not Stymie.” Ray Newman goes looking for a typeface that immediately says “Britain in the 1950s”. I used to refer to one of its relatives as “the launderette font”, although it was also a common sight on shopfronts, public buildings and other mid-century signage. Today I know it as the slab serif named Profil (aka Decorated 035), although as Newman demonstrates, this is only one of several slab-serif variants popular in the 1950s and 60s.

The Man Who Killed Google Search is a deep dive by Ed Zitron into why Google’s search has turned to shit. I recently changed the search option for all the browsers on my machines to DuckDuckGo. It’s not perfect but it’ll do for now.

• New music: Daddy’s Gonna Tell You No Lie, music by Sun Ra performed by Laraaji and the Kronos Quartet; Chroma by Loscil / Lawrence English; Homage To Hennix (The Electric Harpsichord Reinterpreted) by Dave Seidel.

• At Colossal: Tune into your own brain waves with Steve Parker’s suspended constellations of salvaged brass.

• At Bajo el Signo de Libra: Caspar David Friedrich (1774–1840): Icono del Romanticismo Alemán.

• At Public Domain Review: Maria Catharina Prestel’s Printed Cabinet of Drawings (ca. 1780s).

• At Unquiet Things: The teeming, tumbling, tangled cosmos of Madeline Von Foerster.

• Mix of the week: A mix for The Wire by FUJI||||||||||TA.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: 77 planetariums.

Planet D (Portishead Remix) (1994) by The Sabres Of Paradise | Planet Munich (1998) by Add N To (X) | Planet Vega (2000) by Air

New Moon Safari

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In the mail today from Burning Shed, the debut album by Air French Band [sic] in an expanded three-disc set, housed in a card wallet and featuring blu-ray audio and video. On the second CD there’s a live version of Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain. Who knew? etc. The duo’s last album was in July 2014, so it’s anyone’s guess when they might record again, but this will do nicely for now, thanks.

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Previously on { feuilleton }
Le Voyage dans la Lune

The groovy video look

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Under Water/In Air.

This recently-released video for Under Water/In Air by Starfucker (or STRFKR, as they often have to style themselves) is an animated production by Edward Carvalho-Monaghan, an artist whose visuals may be seen to similar effect in an earlier animation for Starfucker’s Armatron. Carvalho-Monaghan’s artwork has appeared on a number of the group’s record sleeves, including the latest album, Parallel Realms, which combines a Surrealist dose of the visual style that I refer to as the groovy look with the kind of impossible architecture popularised by MC Escher. Armatron, meanwhile, features more architecture in what may be borrowings from Giorgio de Chirico.

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Armatron.

I lost interest in music videos years ago, I’d much rather listen to the music than have to experience it as a soundtrack to some director’s attempt to illustrate a song with visual novelty. But animated music videos are easier to take, in part because the pairing of animation with music goes back to the earliest days of the medium. The Starfucker videos have had me wondering how much video or animation might suit the “groovy” definition if you went looking for it. And by this I mean following the limits defined by my earlier post which is predominantly concerned with heavy outlines and flat, bold colours rather than quasi-psychedelic effects. I don’t have the time just now to start searching for other examples but The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine is the Ur-text in this department, and the film’s influence may be found in both Carvalho-Monaghan animations.

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Sing, Sang, Sung.

One other music video that does come to mind is for Sing, Sang, Sung by Air, directed by Mrzyk & Moriceau. The colour palette is desaturated but the rest of the graphics are definitely in the groovy zone, with the video as a whole coming across like a Surrealist take on those endlessly scrolling, mutating computer games. When the black ball reaches its destination you’re tempted to watch it all again.

(Under Water/In Air tip via Scotto Moore’s This Newsletter Cannot Save You.)

Previously on { feuilleton }
The groovy look
Tadanori Yokoo animations

Weekend links 692

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Illustration by Alfred Pearse for The Horror of Studley Grange by Clifford Halifax & LT Meade. Via.

The Haunting at 60: Guy Lodge asks “Is it still one of the scariest films ever made?” I say yes but then it’s always been a favourite. Also, Robert Wise is something of a cult figure in this house, not for his big-budget directing jobs on The Sound of Music and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but for his RKO horror entries (The Curse of the Cat People and The Body Snatcher), his film noir (Born To Kill, The Set-Up, Odds Against Tomorrow), and two smaller science-fiction films from different decades, The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Andromeda Strain. All this and he also edited Citizen Kane.

• “This show makes an irrefutable case for her technical mastery while also affirming her as a first-rate fabulist whose disparate influences—chivalric romance, medieval architecture, tarot, psychology, astronomy, and much more—cohere into a visionary whole.” Jeremy Lybarger reviewing Science Fictions, the retrospective devoted to the art of Remedios Varo.

• New music: Improvisation On Four Sequences by Suzanne Ciani; Incorporeal by Hidden Horse; Atlas by Laurel Halo; Infinito (Version) by Moritz von Oswald.

While Ballard’s more outwardly conventional books may give us solider, more stable realities, what these realities often present…is a child (or childlike figure) frolicking against a backdrop provided by the destruction of an older order of reality that the world previously took for granted. It’s a cipher for his oeuvre as a whole: endlessly playing among the ruins, reassembling the broken or “found” pieces (styles, genres, codes, histories) with a passion rendered all the more intense and focused by the knowledge that it’s all—culture, the social order, the beliefs that underpin civilization—constructed, and can just as easily be unconstructed, reverse engineered back down to the barbaric shards from which it was cobbled together in the first place. To put it in Dorothean: In every context and at every level, Ballard’s gaze is fixed, fixated, on the man behind the curtain, not the wizard.

Tom McCarthy: JG Ballard’s Brilliant, Not “Good” Writing

• At Public Domain Review: Behold the Nebulous Smear: ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi’s Illustrated Book of Fixed Stars (ca. 1430).

• At Unquiet Things: Shake, Shiver, and Shriek: The Haunted Gothic Nightmares of George Ziel.

Winners of Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2023.

• The Strange World of…Gavin Bryars

Watch The Stars (1968) by Pentangle | Stars (1983) by Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno | Kelly Watch The Stars (1997) by Air

Weekend links 552

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White Peacock and Garden God (c. 1922) by Henry Keen.

• “Though both writers confront some of the most unsavory and unjust dimensions of human life, Genet revels in moral ambiguity and coarse language, while Erpenbeck satisfies her audience’s desire for tidy ethical responses by using careful, equally tidy sentences. Genet’s world is dirty; Erpenbeck’s is clean.” Christy Wampole compares two newly-translated collections of non-fiction writing by Jean Genet and Jenny Erpenbeck.

• Gaspar Noé’s notorious, controversial (etc, etc) Irreversible receives the prestige blu-ray treatment from Indicator in April. Still no UK blu-ray of Enter the Void is there? I had to order a German release.

Stereolab release Electrically Possessed: Switched On Vol. 4 next month, the latest in their series of albums which collect singles, compilation tracks and other rarities.

• At Nautilus: Antonio Zadra and Robert Stickgold on how dreaming is like taking LSD.

• At Dennis Cooper’s: Bollo presents…Éliane Radigue (& The Lappetites).

• Playwriting & Pornography: Adam Baran remembers Jerry Douglas.

• At Spine: Vyki Hendy on the joy of monochrome book covers.

• Mix of the week: Subterraneans 2 by The Ephemeral Man.

John Boardley’s favourite typefaces of 2020.

• New music: Spirit Box by Blanc Sceol.

Life In Reverse (1981) by Marine | Reverse World (1995) by David Toop | Reverse Bubble (2014) by Air