Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
There was supposed to be a Lillian Schwartz retrospective at Pop Montreal this week but it looks like it's been canceled. That's too bad. She's such an amazing, inspiring artist. I've really enjoyed perusing her back catalog on Youtube over the past few years (the documentary below offers a great intro to her world). I've also been reading her book The Computer Artist's Handbook, which is quirky and strange in all the ways I was hoping, and even includes a chapter on computer music.
It sounds like Bell Laboratories was something of a Hall of Justice for electronic music geniuses in the 70s. Schwartz regularly commissioned music from her colleagues Max Mathews and F. Richard Moore, as well as from Jean-Claude Risset, Gershon Kingsley, Emmanuel Ghent, Albert Miller, and Joe Olive. Here's a mix I put together of my favorite music from her films. Interestingly, Schwartz used to screen her film Pixillation (1970) with as many as four different soundtracks. The one by Gershon Kingsley is probably the best known, but my favorite is by F. Richard Moore. Here's a picture of him with the GROOVE machine he invented with Max Mathews, and a few others of Lillian.
Friday, September 14, 2012
Stills from Leslie Thornton's ongoing film cycle Peggy and Fred in Hell. Two kids navigate a post-apocalyptic future littered with AV equipment, glowing lightbulbs, and junk. Thornton has described Peggy and Fred as being "raised by television," and there's something about this description that recalls the official origin story for hypnagogic pop. The first part of the film appeared in 1984, which would make these kids basically my contemporaries -- I think I even occasionally rocked a blazer like that when I was little(!) Watch a clip of the first part of the cycle here. There's a fantastic piece about the film by Ed Halter in this month's Artforum.
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Just reading in the Guardian about Dominic Harris's new book The Residents, which looks into the world of R.D. Laing's experimental therapeutic community at Kingsley Hall in the 60s. "The sprawling house," Sean O'Hagan writes, "became an asylum in the original Greek sense of the word: a refuge, a safe haven for the psychotic and the schizophrenic, where there were no locks on the doors and no anti-psychotic drugs were administered. People were free to come and go as they pleased and there was a room, painted in eastern symbols, set aside for meditation. There were all-night therapy and role-reversal sessions, marathon Friday night dinners hosted by Laing and visits from mystics, academics and celebrities, including, famously, Sean Connery, a friend and admirer of Laing's." Amazing photospread here.
I was encouraged to track down a few photos of Kingsley Hall's most famous resident, the late painter Mary Barnes.
Friday, September 7, 2012
I wrote a short piece on Alfredo Jaar for Paper Monument's See Something Say Something series. Read here. And make sure to check out Paper Monument's fantastic recent book, Draw It With Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment, in which artists tell stories of outlandish art assignments. "Take an 18X24 inch piece of paper and make a drawing using nothing but your car."
Monday, September 3, 2012
Susan Bösche, Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin (Gay Men's Press).
This is a Danish book, but most people know it for the role it inadvertently came to play in British history during the 1980s. It was one of the publications dragged through the mud by the Thatcher administration in its passing of Section 28 of the Local Government Act of 1987-1988, which outlawed "the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship."
It is hard to fathom the ignorance of anyone who could possibly find this book threatening. The book tells the story of a weekend in the life of Jenny, a little girl who lives with her father, Martin, and his partner, Eric. The weekend begins with a surprise party for Eric's birthday, which they celebrate over cake and tea with Jenny's mother, Karen. It's a charming book full of great photographs (the extended family should really consider starting a band), and I imagine it's quite a useful book for parents of all stripes, and for teachers as well. There is a dark moment in the story when the family runs into a grumpy neighbor, who mutters some homophobic oaths Jenny struggles to make sense of. Eric breaks things down in a simple cartoon doodle that speaks volumes.
For more on this book and Section 28 see this speech by actor Ian McKellan.