Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Emperor Tomato Ketchup

Shûji Terayama's Tomato Kecchappu Kôtei [1971] is quite frankly one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. Deeply distrubing. I'm not sure if this clip is actually part of the film but I remember it being shown at the same time. There is something not quite right about the music, part Yma Sumac, part Faust, improvised in the bowels of hell.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Thought Forms Of Annie Besant

These images perplex me.  Annie Besant was a prominent Theosophist, social reformer, political leader, women's rights activist, writer and orator.  She advocated national education, womens' right to vote, and birth control in an age when these concerns were very much social taboos.  In 1888, she supported a number of workers' demonstrations for better working conditions, helping to organise female workers at the Bryant and May match factory in east London. The women complained of starvation wages and the terrible effects on their health of phosphorus fumes in the factory. The strike eventually led to their bosses significantly improving their working situation. Later in life she searched for spiritual enlightenment and embraced Theosophy, a religious movement founded in 1875 and based on Hindu ideas of karma and reincarnation.  The following images are illustrations which she created in order to to visually illustrate and understand the nature and power of human thought.

Things Ed Ruscha Told Me No. 2

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Sound Awareness Gets Blogged

I was delighted this morning to find that Acejet170 had mentioned A Sound Awareness in his blog.  I've read this blog avidily for years.  It's a great little blog on all things typographic and well worth a few minutes of your time.  I was also rather thrilled that my favourite blog, Unmann-Wittering, had given A Sound Awareness a somewhat positive and unexpected review, which can be read here in full. Helsinki indeed!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

J.R Geigy AG

I picked up this book at the start of last year, it's entitled "Corporate Diversity- Swiss Graphic Design and Advertising by Geigy 1940-1970". It's a wonderful book, beautifully presented, carefully researched and published by those very design conscious people at Lars Muller. The book illustrates the development of Geigy Pharmaceuticals design 
studio. I love the simplicity of many of the designs, it's all very Swiss and very precise. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ruth White

Ruth White [b.1925] was an early avant self-taught electronic music pioneer. Her first recording was an occult-electronic impression of the Tarot deck called "7 Trumps From The Tarot Cards And Pinions". Her second lp, "Flowers Of Evil", from 1969, is widely regarded as her masterpiece. "Flowers Of Evil" contains readings from the poetry of Charles Baudelaire set to a frighteningly eerie electronic score

The Graphic Work Of Julian House

Julian House has the uncanny knack of producing designs which I could look at for hours.  I've two framed silkscreen prints by him in my living room which I never tire of looking at.  His best work references many of the things I love, Saul Bass, Max Ernst, Lewis Carroll, Jan Lenica, Stan VanDerBeek, Bernard Lodge, Pierre Clémenti, Jeff Keen, the list goes on.  Recently, Mr. House has been busy making films for the band Broadcast and the label he co runs called Ghost Box.  Hopefully, someday, someone will release these films on dvd.  The film "Winter Sun Wavelengths" is absolutely fantastic. ......and will someone be kind enough to bundle up his Ghostbox graphics in a little bound book.  Till that day.....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Things Ed Ruscha Told Me No.1

Ronald Clyne At Folkways

A couple of weeks ago, I was delighted to find a long overdue publication documenting the graphic work of Ronald Clyne on my doorstep.  As a record collector and avid fan of his graphic design I’d often wondered why his work was so neglected and undervalued.  Between 1951 and 1981, he designed over 500 LP covers for Folkways Records label.  His work combines a simplicity of design with colour and form.  Luckily for us, the wonderful people at Unit Editions have published a newsprint booklet documenting some of his best work.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Bruce Haack

The first record I heard by Bruce Haack sent shivers up my spine. Maybe it was the strange electronically treated voices or the homemade instruments or the fact the record was about Lucifer's banishment from heaven which made me feel so uneasy but it definitely left an impression. The record was called "Electronic Lucifer" and I constantly wonder who bought this record when it came out in 1971. Mr. Haack also made some rather strange and wonderful kids records. The above clip is of Bruce Haack on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood with Esther Nelson. What exactly the strange instrument he's playing in this footage we may never know.

Bernard Voïta

Last night, I found these photographs by the Swiss artist Bernard Voïta on my hard drive.  I like them very much.  I think they come from a book by Voïta called "White Garden".  His perplexing use of perspective and high contrast tones make my brain whirr in a quite pleasing manner.  I wish I knew more about his work but I don't.  If you find out more about him maybe you could email me or leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jockum Nordström

Jockum Nordström is a Swedish artist best known for his collages, paintings, drawings and sculptures that knit together references to folk art and outsider art, jazz, surrealist collage, furniture and architectural design, human sexual habits and maritime lore.  What I like about his work is that it combines a childlike primitivism with incredible draughtsmanship.  Sadly, there are only two long out of print monographs which document his work.  Hopefuly another will go to press shortly.  Michael who runs one of my favourite blogs Stopping Off Place emailed me to say that there is also a great compilation of his first three children's books availiable from the Fine Little Day shop.

David Noonan

A few months ago I purchased a rather splendid art catalogue entitled "The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernism in British Art". As well as including wonderfully written essays by Michael Bracewell, Martin Clark and Alun Rowlands, it contained a multitude of interesting artists whose work examined the relationship between art and the occult.

David Noonan brings together an eclectic array of found imagery – sourced from film stills, books, magazines, and archive photos to create odd and oblique narratives. These collages are then photographed and turned into large-scale screen prints. I particulary like the referred nostaglia his work evokes. I hope you enjoy his work as well.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pierre Bastien - Avid Diva

About five or six years ago I became obsessed with the work of French composer and multi-instrumentalist Pierre Bastien. He builds mechanical musical instruments using items such as metronomes, cymbals, pulleys and Meccano. His work has been described as a "hypnotic swing of wheezy scratchy noises which underpin nostalgic melodies. The resulting sound is one of broken bluegrass, blues and Musique Concrete that combine to create an amazingly cohesive and alluring organic atmosphere."

Collage No.2

Another day, another new collage.

Stan VanDerBeek

Anyone with even a passing interest in collage, whether it be audio or visual, should jump instantly hastily into the oddball world of Mr. VanDerBeek.  Stan VanDerBeek was an early pioneer in the development of experimental film and animation techniques.  His films display a humour and a lightness of touch which seems lacking in much of todays experimental cinema.  It's clear to see how his work was inspirational to a young Terry Gilliam.  I hope you enjoy this cinematic wonder from 1959.

The range of his work is startling, from direct painting on film, collage and stop animation.  His work was always searching for new methods of representation, exploring the boundaries of filmmaking, opening it up to visual art, music, literature, performance, technology and architecture.  Below are a few examples of his wonderful graphic work.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sister Corita Kent

This is one of my favourite photographs. I can still remember the shock it gave me.  Nuns making art?  Who'd of thought?  I certainly wouldn't have considered this possible, but like all good images it opened doors to unknown worlds.  Sister Corita Kent was one of the most innovative and unusual pop artists of the 1960s, battling the political and religious establishments, revolutionising graphic design and encouraging the creativity of thousands of people - all while living and practicing as a Catholic nun in California.  She was respected and admired by Charles and Ray Eames, Buckminster Fuller and Saul Bass but more importantly she brought unconventional systems of graphic communication to the masses which still look ahead of their time.

Bandaly Family - Do You Love Me

Middle eastern psych of the highest order. Maybe it's accidental.  
Maybe it's not.  Produced in the late seventies in Kuwait. Hypnotic.