Weekend links 690


The Voice of St. Teresa (1928) by Oskar Sosnowski.

• The House is the Monster: Roger Corman’s Poe Cycle forms “a body of work not only deeply coherent but uniquely inspired,” says Geoffrey O’Brien.

• Steven Heller’s font of the month is Amberwood, while at The Daily Heller there’s a profile of Otto Bettmann, “an unsung visionary of commercial art”.

• At Public Domain review: The Works of Mars (1671), plans for military architecture by Allain Manesson Mallet.

The “underlying oneness of all things,” the conviction “that everything is connected” (Gravity’s Rainbow 703), is a thesis that appeals to many mystics and even to some scientists, but Fort complains that the latter too quickly dismiss unexplainable coincidences, or feebly explain them away. Scorning “scientific procedure” and inept police investigations, Fort turns for answers to denizens of the occult—poltergeists, invisible people, vampires, werewolves, miracle healers, fakirs, psychic criminals, dowsers—and to such notions as teleportation, human-animal metamorphoses, spontaneous combustion and pyrokinesis, “psychic bombardment,” telekinesis, animism, “secret rays,” telepathy, spirit-photography, clairvoyance, and modern instances of witchcraft.

Steven Moore in a perceptive essay about the overlooked connections between Thomas Pynchon, William Gaddis and Charles Fort. Having discussed Fort’s preoccupation with coincidences, the author notes that he shares a name with the late Steve Moore, former editor of Fortean Times magazine

• Pynchonesque headline of the week: The Paradox of the Radioactive Boars.

James Balmont’s guide to the masterworks of New Taiwanese Cinema.

• New music: Solo for Tamburium by Catherine Christer Hennix.

Winners of Bird Photographer of the Year 2023.

Idris Ackamoor’s favourite music.

Radio-Active (1984) by Steps Ahead | Radioactivity (William Orbit Remix) (1991) by Kraftwerk | Radioactivity (1998) by Hikasu

The exposition moiré


Logos designed by QWER, Iris Utikal and Michael Gais.

Hannover’s Expo 2000 wasn’t very successful as expositions go but it had an attractive logo, a combination of bold sans-serif type with a moiré background pattern which ideally had to be seen in its animated form. World expositions tend to be concerned with technical innovations and novelties, and this animated design was certainly novel, if impossible to replicate in print. All the static versions of the logo are essentially screenshots of the moving version, with the moiré image frozen at a various places to generate many shape and colour variations. Not all of these are satisfactory. I think it was Matisse who said that anyone can put two colours together; the real challenge is putting three together in a harmonious manner.

expo_logo.gifThe pattern was a little more animated on the original exposition website, albeit reduced to this tiny gif. The site is mostly intact and browsable at the Internet Archive, a primitive thing by today’s standards but Expo 2000 was the first world exposition with a dedicated website, something which really did set it apart from its predecessors. Many of the exposition’s buildings and exhibits would have seemed bizarre or alarmingly ugly to the people who attended the Paris Exposition Universelle in 1900 but much that was on display in Hannover would at least have been comprehensible to a visitor from the past. Trying to explain what “a website” was to someone in 1900, even a futurologist like HG Wells, would have required considerable effort.


Video for Expo 2000 by Kraftwerk.

Ephemerality is a distinguishing characteristic of world expositions, all those splendid pavilions and eye-catching constructions don’t last very long even though the events themselves involve years of planning. A list of exposition features that have managed to survive would be a disparate collection, taking in well-known landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Seattle’s Space Needle and the Atomium in Brussels, architectural projects such as the Grand Palais in Paris and the Biosphere in Montreal, and one-off oddities like the Unisphere in Queens and the cement dinosaurs in Crystal Palace Park. If Expo 2000 is remembered for anything today it’s the one-off song that Kraftwerk wrote for the occasion, Expo 2000, which arrived with graphics and visuals based on the expo logo. Kraftwerk had been hired at great cost to create the jingles in different languages that accompany the animated logo. This is turn led to the song, the group’s first new studio composition in 14 years.


I thought these abstract images were a good match for Kraftwerk, I prefer them to the other designs for the single which show the four computer-generated figures that later appeared on the cover of Minimum-Maximum. The CD case at the top left was made with lenticular plastic which imitated the moiré effect of the animated logo. I didn’t buy this one when I had the chance, choosing instead the “enhanced” version which came with a minuscule copy of the video in a CD-ROM section. Like most CD-ROM singles, the audio tracks still play but the enhanced section no longer works. Welcome to the future.

Continue reading “The exposition moiré”



“Evoluon”: a Space Age name for a Space Age building in Eindhoven, Holland, constructed in 1966 by the Dutch electrical and electronics company, Philips. The building was designed by Leo de Bever and Louis Christiaan Kalff, and functioned for a number of years as a science museum, combining exhibits of innovative gadgetry with a three-dimensional representation of “the future” familiar from exposition architecture. I’d guess that Kalff was responsible for the flying-saucer shape, having already designed a range of lamps for Philips with similar shapes in the 1950s.


Bert Haanstra’s Evoluon was a short promotional film which was broadcast regularly by the BBC from 1968 to 1972 for trade test purposes, although I don’t recall ever seeing it before. Being someone who’s always liked architecture that looks like it fell out of a science-fiction magazine (preferably with a name to match: Skylon, Atomium, Space Needle, etc), an exhibition centre shaped like a flying saucer would have made an impression. British TV schedules were often empty during the daytime so films like this were broadcast for the benefit of TV retailers who needed something better than the testcard flickering on the screens of their brand-new colour boxes. As a science museum Evoluon looks like it was more fun to visit than the London Science Museum, with a profusion of interactive exhibits. (Although this isn’t to say that the London museum isn’t worthwhile, I went there several times in the 1970s. They have many large historical exhibits in the bigger halls, including the re-entry module from Apollo 10.) The music in Haanstra’s film isn’t much better than the bland testcard soundtracks but you do hear a snatch of eerie sound produced by a Cristal Baschet when the unique instrument makes a brief appearance. Philips’ own record division had many more suitable soundtracks at this time via their very collectable Prospective 21e Siècle recordings of avant-garde music. Most of these records aren’t easy listening by any means but the series was aiming at the same idea of a shiny future filled with surprising novelties.


And speaking of “futuristic” music, a computer-generated Evoluon may be seen flying through the 3-D concert visuals for Spacelab by Kraftwerk who also played one of their recent concerts inside the building. I thought they could have done more with the visuals for this number, and with some of the other videos in the 3-D collection. Maybe they look better through 3-D glasses. I wouldn’t know, my eyesight has always been (and will remain) resolutely two-dimensional.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The world of the future
Space Needle USA

Kling Klang rundfunk


Kraftwerk on film and video, courtesy of recent uploads at the Internet Archive. These are mainly promotional clips, together with a few choice TV appearances. I’ve never liked music videos very much, even ones made for music that I enjoy a great deal, but I’m always curious to see how Kraftwerk portrayed themselves at different stages of their career, especially the early years when they were still tuning the group persona. I’m fairly sure I hadn’t seen the videos for Radioactivity and Antenna before, while some of the later videos are present in two or more versions. The quality is variable but that’s how things go with this group; everything from 1970 to 73 is treated like a period that never happened, while the years from 1974 to 1981 have been subject to continual revision. Kraftwerk is unique in being a very popular group that buries or reworks much of its own history, record covers included, leaving us with a trail of deleted or neglected “produkt” that ends up circulating secondhand or in bootleg form. A couple of these promo videos have been attached to CD singles but only a small portion of this material has been recycled into the official catalogue as it stands today.

Winter Soest (1970)


The group in their rock-freakout period playing to an audience of bored/bewildered/enthusiastic German hippies. With Klaus Dinger on drums and Ralf playing some kind of portable keyboard. Spot the leitkegel.

Pop2 (1973)


Pop2 was French TV’s equivalent of Germany’s Beat Club and the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test. This clip is from a programme devoted to “Kosmische” German music which also featured Tangerine Dream, Guru Guru, Klaus Schulze, and (in conversation) comic artist Philippe Druillet. The music here is very much in the melodic mode of the third album, Ralf & Florian. This is also about the last time you see Ralf wearing his leather jacket. The spectacles didn’t remain for long either.

Radioactivity (1975)


Antenna (1975)


Continue reading “Kling Klang rundfunk”

A Can pin


I’ve always liked badges, and I especially like the enamel pin variety even though I tend to buy them then not wear them very much for fear of losing them. This handsome item arrived a couple of days ago from an eBay seller, and is the first Can-related pin I’ve come across. After Kraftwerk, Can were the most popular of the German groups in the Britain of the 1970s but I’ve never seen any Can badges or anything else related to them from that decade aside from the records. The resurgence of interest in German music—Krautrock, if you must—has prompted the badge manufacturers who populate eBay, Etsy and elsewhere to create a number of items based on the record covers of Can, Neu!, Harmonia and others. The quality isn’t always very good but then badges in the 1970s were often crude designs as well. You can’t go wrong with a simple logo but shrinking an album cover down to 25 mm isn’t always a good idea. A couple of years ago I bought three Can badges from another eBay seller; two of them, with logo designs taken from sleeves, were okay but the third, based on the Future Days album cover was poorly printed. This pin equivalent is much better, as well as being one of the few Can sleeves you could transform in this manner. The raised gold lines are a good match for the Art Nouveau-styled design by Ingo Trauer and Richard J. Rudow which was embossed on the original German pressing. The group may have been popular in Britain but UA gave British Can-heads a flat sleeve.


The same eBay seller also makes these Kraftwerk pins which I bought a while ago. I’d still prefer to have the traffic cone without the band name—something that only aficionados would recognise—but it was good to find a pin based on the early years of the group’s career, the period which Kraftwerk themselves have long disowned. The seller recently added a new design with the same traffic cone in green as it is on the Kraftwerk 2 album cover, but the green cone was only a variation on a theme, the orange leitkegel is the ubiquitous and definitive icon of the pre-Autobahn years.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Holger’s Radio Pictures
Jaki Liebezeit times ten
Can esoterics
Can soundtracks
The kosmische design of Peter Geitner
Reworking Kraftwerk (again)
German gear
Ralf and Florian
Can’s Lost Tapes
Reworking Kraftwerk
Autobahn animated
Sleeve craft
Who designed Vertigo #6360 620?
Old music and old technology
A cluster of Cluster
Aerodynamik by Kraftwerk