• A minimum of Moon-related links this week because this is a subject I always return to. Previous links to NASA’s photo archives are now redundant after they changed their website but the archive of photos from the Apollo missions are currently hosted on Flickr…while Flickr lasts, anyway. The Albums section features whole film rolls from each of the missions.
• Mixes of the week: Stephen O’Malley presents In Session: Richard Pinhas (a re-posting of a mix from last year), and The Ivy-Strangled Path Vol. XVII by David Colohan.
• Living With The Human Machines: experimental artist Sarah Angliss speaks to Matthew Neale about the cyborgs, dummies and ghosts that populate her work.
• On And On And On: A Guide to Generative Electronic Music. Related: Deconstructing Brian Eno’s Music for Airports.
• At Dennis Cooper’s: Jesse Bransford presents…A List of Grimoires for the Twilight of the Age of the Book.
• A Dandy in Aspic exclusive: Paul Gallagher interviewed cult author Derek Marlowe in 1984.
• From Ted Hughes to HG Wells: Jeanette Winterson picks the best books about the Moon.
• Tate acquires vast archive of British surrealist Ithell Colquhoun.
• At Greydogtales: Ten supernatural stories which stay with you.
• Emptyset turn to machine learning on new album Blossoms.
• Paul Grimstad on the absolute originality of Georges Perec.
• Valerie Stivers on cooking with Bruno Schulz.
• Blown out ’77: in the studio with Suicide.
• Astronauts on record covers.
• Back Side Of The Moon (1991) by The Orb | Moonshot (1999) by Hallucinator | Under The Moon (2019) by Brian Eno with Daniel Lanois & Roger Eno
If you’re an obsessive cineaste there’s a good chance you maintain a mental list of the films you’d like to see, the films you’d like to see again, and the films you’d like to see reissued on DVD. The vagaries of distribution and ownership often conspire to make older films fall out of sight even when they’ve been produced and promoted by major studios, have had TV screenings and so on. This was famously the case with five of Alfred Hitchcock’s features—Vertigo and Rear Window among them—which managed to remain out of circulation for two decades; more notoriously there was Stanley Kubrick’s neurotic embargo on any screening of A Clockwork Orange in the UK which meant that my generation of Kubrick-watchers had to make do with a variety of pirate VHS recordings.
Penguin edition, 1973. Photo by Van Pariser.
DVD reissues have chipped away at my “must see again” list with the result that Stuart Cooper’s The Disappearance (1977) recently found itself at the top of the catalogue. This film has never been as inaccessible as some: it received at least two TV screenings in the UK, and was available on VHS cassette for a time. There was also a DVD release although by the time I started looking for it the only available copies were secondhand ones commanding high prices. A year or so ago I read Derek Marlowe’s Echoes of Celandine (1970), the novel on which the screenplay is based, and as a result became more eager than ever to see the film again. Having finally watched a very poor-quality transfer of a VHS copy on YouTube I now feel sated, even if the experience was unsatisfying.
The Disappearance is one of those odd productions that ought to have all the ingredients to make a very memorable film but which never works as well as you might hope. The screenplay was by Paul Mayersberg, written between his two films with Nicolas Roeg, The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) and Eureka (1983); there’s a great cast: Donald Sutherland, David Warner, Peter Bowles, David Hemmings (who also produced), John Hurt, Virginia McKenna, Christopher Plummer; Kubrick’s cameraman of the 1970s, John Alcott, photographed the film shortly after winning an Oscar for his work on Barry Lyndon; the source material is very good: Marlowe’s novel is described as “a romantic thriller” but when the quality of the writing easily matches any literary novels of the period such a description makes it sound more generic and pot-boiling than it is.
Continue reading “The Disappearance, a film by Stuart Cooper”
Dreams before Surrealism: a sheet music cover from 1926 by René Magritte.
• The week in music: Listen to compositions by Annea Lockwood. | At the Free Music Archive: Uncomfortable Music, a tribute to David Lynch’s Eraserhead (and, it should be said, to Alan Splet’s unique soundtrack). | Alan Licht plays a track from Trout Mask Replica then loops some Donna Summer and improvises guitar noise over it. | Music Experiments with Terror: The Spooky Isles presents Joseph Stannard‘s list of recent eldritch sounds from British musicians.
Great art, or, let’s just say, more modestly, original art is never created in the safe middle ground, but always at the edge. Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or, to use the catch-all term so beloved of the tabloid press, controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution.
Salman Rushdie on the censorship of art
• All Diamond, No Rough” says the School Library Journal about the first volume of The Graphic Canon. Volume two should be out in August.
• Scientific American asks: Do Psychedelics Expand the Mind by Reducing Brain Activity?
• From 2010: A Dandy in Aspic – A letter from Derek Marlowe.
• Tom Phillips and A Humument: how a novel became an oracle.
• Timeline Maps at the David Rumsey Map Collection.
• Happy 50th birthday, A Clockwork Orange.
• Jim Dandy (1956) by LaVern Baker | Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, part one (1972) by King Crimson, live on Beat Club.