Chumlum, a film by Ron Rice


25 minutes of superimpositions, hammock swinging, fabric waving and costume play with Jack Smith as master of ceremonies. The music by Angus MacLise (under the direction of Tony Conrad, whatever that means) gives the proceedings a suitably dreamy and hallucinatory air, like an attic restaging of Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. Yesterday’s Doctor Benway operation featured Warhol Superstar Jackie Curtis as the nurse, and there are two more Superstars among the participants here: Mario Montez and Gerard Malanga; Montez had appeared in Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures a year before. (Tony Conrad was the sound recordist on that occasion.) Ron Rice’s film was made in 1964, and is another of those products of the mid-60s that anticipates the later excesses of the decade. Watch it here.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, a film by Ira Cohen

Ira Cohen, 1935–2011


Ira Cohen (1979) by Gerard Malanga.

Another of the psychedelic magi departed our mundane sphere this week, and for the moment his passing seems to have been unacknowledged by those cultural wardens who you’d think would know better. Ira Cohen was a poet with a gift for phrases which demand to be appended to Mati Klarwein paintings (one such phrase, The Surgeon Of The Nightsky Restores Dead Things By The Power Of Sound, was used by Jon Hassell for an album title); he was also a photographer whose use of a chamber covered in sheets of reflective Mylar turned photo-portraiture into a psychotropic art:

I never wanted to be a photographer like the commercial photographers. For me, it was more about the involvement of the mirror, and scrying, reflection, crystal-ball-gazing, trying to get to some other place. It was all about reflection, in the deepest sense of the word. (More.)

Cohen’s 1968 film, The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, used his Mylar Chamber as a locus to create one of the key works of psychedelic cinema. More of that work can be seen here while his 1994 album of readings and music, The Majoon Traveler, is available via iTunes.

The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, six postcards from Aspen no. 9 (1971).

Previously on { feuilleton }
Dreamweapon: The Art and Life of Angus MacLise, 1938–1979
William Burroughs by Ira Cohen, 1967
The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda