Whatever I wrote was surrounded by rays of light. I used to close the curtains, for I was afraid that the shining rays emanating from my pen might escape into the outside world through even the smallest chink; I wanted suddenly to throw back the screen and light up the world.
‘This was painted by a person with a rare and severe mental disorder. He was constantly seeing his own fantasies all around him. He also had a certain phobia (undisclosed).
‘A psychiatry professor showed this painting in a lecture, and said there was one tell-tale sign in it that showed the painter’s insanity.
‘The professor didn’t say what that sign was, leaving the students to do the guesswork. The only clues he gave was, “don’t look for small details, look at the whole; if you figure out what the phobia was, you’ve got the answer; ask yourself what could have preceded this scene; think of what the place would look like with all the objects removed“.
‘The professor said that during the 15 years of his teaching, only one student had figured it out.’ — sightless, 2 + 2
‘Noise may not be to everyone’s taste (in fact by definition noise is classed as “unwanted” sounds) but to the hardcore few it’s a way of life. People Who Do Noise follows some of those artists and shows them performing live, often on homemade or radically modified kit, and talking about the philosophy and influences behind their work.
‘The film takes a very personal approach, capturing the musicians working alone with no interference from a live audience. What often took place in crowded basements or dark smoky venues was stripped bare for the cameras, providing an unprecedented glimpse of the many different instruments and methods used.
‘Covering a wide range of artists and styles, the film features everything from the absurdist free-improvisations of genre-pioneers Smegma, to the harsh-noise assaults of Oscillating Innards and everything in between. Many of the artists in the film, such as Yellow Swans and Daniel Menche, have performed and sold records all over the world. In spite of such successes, noise music remains one of the least understood and most inaccessible of genres.’ — Dangerous Minds
The allotted function of art is not, as is often assumed, to put across ideas, to propagate thoughts, to serve as example. The aim of art is to prepare a person for death, to plough and harrow his soul, rendering it capable of turning to good.
‘A new study in Nature Neuroscience by MIT postdoctoral fellow Jason Fischer and his University of California-Berkeley colleague David Whitney suggests that humans are equipped with “serially dependent” visual perception, a process that uses prior stimuli and current information to construct the scene in front of us.
‘The researchers tested the idea with experiments that asked subjects to look at flashes of “randomly oriented gratings presented several seconds apart in time” and then report “the perceived orientation of each grating” by marking it on a computer screen. “We found that perceived orientation was strongly and systematically attracted toward orientations seen over the last several seconds,” the scientists write. “This perceptual serial dependence was modulated by attention and was spatially tuned, occurring more strongly for successive stimuli that appeared nearby in space.”
‘The researchers term the space in which the phenomenon occurs a “continuity field,” and conducted other experiments to ensure that it wasn’t simply the result of consistency in “motor responses or decision processes.”
‘But isn’t spotting subtle change important? Why are our eyes deceiving us with this stale field of croissants?
‘Without a visual mechanism to adjust the current scene for recent prior stimuli, daily life would be more akin to a jarring acid trip, according to the authors. “The continuity field smoothes what would otherwise be a jittery perception of object features over time,” David Whitney, senior author and associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, told the university’s news center. Accounting for an aggregate of small recent changes in the environment—due to “head and eye movements,” shadows, and lighting—allows us to walk around without feeling like we’ve stepped into a field of melting clocks.’ — Ryan Jacobs, Pacific Standard
‘The Descriptive Camera works a lot like a regular camera—point it at subject and press the shutter button to capture the scene. However, instead of producing an image, this prototype outputs a text description of the scene. Modern digital cameras capture gobs of parsable metadata about photos such as the camera’s settings, the location of the photo, the date, and time, but they don’t output any information about the content of the photo. The Descriptive Camera only outputs the metadata about the content.
‘After the shutter button is pressed, the photo is sent to Mechanical Turk for processing and the camera waits for the results. A yellow LED indicates that the results are still “developing” in a nod to film-based photo technology. With a HIT price of $1.25, results are returned typically within 6 minutes and sometimes as fast as 3 minutes. The thermal printer outputs the resulting text in the style of a polaroid print.’ — Matt Richardson
To make things “perfectly clear” is reactionary and stupefying. The real is not perfectly clear.
For pleasure to be what it is, it has to exceed a limit of what is altogether wholesome and healthy. Our idioms reflect this: when we like something we tend to say we were “blown away” or “It killed me,” and other deadly utterances. To the extent that pleasure is something that one seeks, it also has to make us confront the limits of our being. Otherwise it’s something like contentedness, which can be shown to be in fact an abandonment of pleasure.
So. Sometimes you have to scream to be heard.
‘It’s one of those harsh truths that no one really wants to accept: vintage porn was kind of terrible. Films had the herky-jerk motion of old Charlie Chaplin movies, soundtracks all sounded like they were pulled straight out of failed sitcoms, and grooming was non-existent. I like a nice set of pubes as much as the next guy, but there’s a fine line between a manly bush and, “Holy shit, why does your cock look like Cat Stevens’ face?”’ — Jeremy Feist
‘The story of Cuba’s National Art Schools is at the same time the story of the Cuban revolution, of its saddest failures and its most ebullient hopes. Born and educated in Venice, Roberto Gottardi was working in Caracas when Fidel Castro’s victory march arrived in Havana in January 1959. Like many European leftists, he was enthralled by Cuba’s revolution. In Caracas he had met a Cuban architect named Ricardo Porro, a young radical who had fled Fulgencio Batista’s government. Porro returned to Havana and invited Gottardi and another Italian architect, Vittorio Garatti, to join him. Their talents were sorely needed, as half of the island’s architects had left. A new nation was to be built, and not only that. Cuba intended to construct, in Che Guevara’s words, a ‘new man’.
‘In 1961, as legend has it, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara played a round of golf on what had until recently been the manicured greens of the Havana Country Club, a few miles west of the capital. The society they envisioned had no place for country clubs, so the two revolutionaries agreed to build an art school. Culture would be no longer a commodity hoarded by the wealthy but the birthright of the people. It would begin here, where the rich had played, created by the children of the poor. Castro assigned the project to Porro, who brought on Gottardi and Garatti. None of the architects had any experience with such scale, but then, Gottardi pointed out with eyebrows raised, ‘the revolution meant that anything was possible’.
‘The schools would be located on five campuses, and Gottardi would design the School of Dramatic Arts. Aside from a few basic directives, the architects were given complete creative licence. ‘The euphoria of that time’, he told me, ‘is difficult to describe’. The project was not merely inspired by revolutionary ideals – it embodied them. The buildings themselves were extraordinary, departing equally from the chilly Modernism that had dominated the architecture of the time and from the colonial Neo-Classicism that had preceded it. Porro designed the School of Modern Dance as an explosive complex of interconnected, fragmentary vaults. His School of Plastic Arts turned to Cuba’s African roots – a surreally erotic sub-Saharan village recast in brick among the palms. The cupolas of Garatti’s School of Ballet curved through a ravine and his School of Music wound like a lizard’s tail tracing the banks of the river that limned the old club.
‘Gottardi’s School of Drama, a complex of airy classrooms surrounding a central amphitheatre, strived to recreate the intimacy and spontaneity of urban space. Brick-walled corridors curved like alleys in a North African medina. Sight lines were intentionally obscured, ‘so that you wouldn’t know what’s coming’, Gottardi said. ‘Like life.’ On 26 July 1965, though they were far from complete, the National Art Schools were officially declared open. But their inauguration was also a death sentence; construction would never resume.
‘A lot had changed in four years. “Architecture must add a poetic dimension to everyday life”, no longer fitted the prevailing ideology. Castro began to lean towards a Soviet model. The art schools’ ecstatic organicism suddenly reeked of heresy. Their design, possessed as it was by revolution, was accused of being ‘insufficiently revolutionary’. In the end only Porro’s buildings were substantially completed; Garatti’s music school was not even half done. Although most of the classrooms were finished, the theatre at the centre of Gottardi’s drama school would never be built. Its winding corridors converged on empty space. The metaphors are impossible to resist: as the years passed, Castro’s revolution grew more stultified, and the art schools languished. Roots and vines ate at the mortar and cracked the terracotta tiles. Looters took what they could. The revolution’s bright dream was pilfered and abandoned.’ –– Ben Ehrenreich, Frieze
BLACK METAL BOY GOES TO THE GROCERY STORE WITH FRIEND
BLACK METAL BOY’S NEW YEARS EVE
‘Louis Wain was a man of some artistic talent, and he adored cats. While his young wife was gradually succumbing to illness over a period of several years, Wain often used the household cat, Peter, to amuse her, dressing him up in glasses and making it seem as if he were reading the paper, just for chuckles. He began to draw Peter, of whom he would later say “To him properly belongs the foundation of my career, the developments of my initial efforts, and the establishing of my work” — and indeed, many of his early published drawings and paintings are of the family cat. In the beginning, his work was more or less naturalistic, like the above.
‘After his wife passed away, he became more and more obsessed by cats. His furry subjects were often anthropomorphized in cutesy ways — in fact, he seemed almost incapable of drawing human beings. He wrote, “I take a sketch-book to a restaurant, or other public place, and draw the people in their different positions as cats, getting as near to their human characteristics as possible.” His cats-doing-people-stuff work got him a lot of attention, and he became something of a national sensation, with his drawings reproduced on cards and posters.
‘In the 1910s and 20s, things took a turn for the worse. His behavior became increasingly erratic. In 1924, his sisters committed him to the pauper’s ward of a mental asylum. He languished there for a year until a newspaper article was written about the deplorable conditions he was forced to endure, and when big-name fans came out of the woodwork — H.G. Wells said “English cats that do not look and live like Louis Wain cats are ashamed of themselves” — he was moved to a much more pleasant asylum, where he lived for another ten years or so before passing away. In that time, he began to paint and draw again, and though his subject was the same as ever, his increasingly bizarre style seemed evidence of some mental disorder, possibly schizophrenia.’ — mental floss
Bijijo ‘Saturday Evening with Justin Bieber’
‘If used properly, the Faces of Justin Timberlake may be employed as a fortune-telling device. Each Face is assigned a specific meaning which may be viewed by hovering over or clicking on the Face. Study the Faces of Justin Timberlake, then choose either the Man Face or the Woman Face as a Significator from which to read a spread of the Faces. Once the choice is submitted, a spread will be generated and guidance provided.’ — Bijijo
Two boys, wearing track jackets,
with shaved heads and smooth hands,
are breathing Pine-Sol out of
a plastic bag and breaking
into a car with coat hangers.
Sad, thin-skinned kids with flammable
names and feathers for lungs.
Who tape their regrets to the top of the Atari.
Who write out their girlfriends’ names in gasoline.
Who take a match to the front yard
before cutting a path through police tape
to get to a tall, cool, catholic school gym.
From the bleachers they stand as if to say
I sing for the canary gassed beyond belief
in the basement of the biology building.
I scream City of Love! City by the River!
Don’t disown your skinny fisted sons
locked inside the locker room.
They too are the father of you.
They too are made mostly of noise.
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p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. I’m happy you’re a fan of Breer’s films, of course. I’ll … Everyone, If you’re in LA, here’s an awesome opportunity from Mr. E in his own words: ‘For those living in the L.A. area, I have a press screening of Coppola’s recut “The Cotton Club” on the 25the at 4:30 at the Lionsgate screening room. Let me know if you’d like to come by dropping me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.’ And, also, speaking of golden opportunities in LA, and this one for a very good cause, here’s David again: ‘My seemingly endless sale of CDs, DVDs and books has reached a crisis point. I am badly in need of funds. Please write me, drop by and BUY.’ ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Thank you. Well, I sent it to my agent. She’ll read it, and, assuming she doesn’t hate it and drop me, I guess she’ll have publishing ideas, and she and I will talk about that. Everyone, Here’s Mr. Erickson: ‘David Ehrenstein posted a link to his review of WHERE’S MY ROY COHN? yesterday. Here’s my interview with its director Matt Tyrnauer.’ My email is finally back, thank you. Blut Aus Nord! I haven’t heard the new thing, and of course I’ll check it out. Thanks for that too. Everyone, One more goodie from Steve E., in his language: ‘Also, here’s my New York Film Festival overview for Gay City News, with my thoughts on YOUNG AHMED, ZOMBI CHILD & BORN TO BE.’ Look forward to reading that. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Cool, very glad he/it caught your fancy. His big moving sculptures are really great if some art venue near you ever curates them. Awesome about The Call getting there. And, yes, very large demo here too yesterday. I would love to think it’ll matter. ** Brendan, B-ster. Oh, cool, great. Very happy you connected with it. Very sweet about the camera, especially the 4×5 option. So love those. ** Misanthrope, I’m of the belief that if a writer is true to and uncompromising in getting at their exact personal interest in what they’re writing about, the work will be different and unique. Thanks about the novel. Now the real test begins as it comes up against what the world wants and thinks. I liked Justin. We literally just said hi and talked for maybe 30 seconds, but he seemed very nice and very cool. Be chill. ** rewritedept, Hi, Chris. Nice to see you, man. You have a blog! You’ve bought into this dying or at least fading format. High five. I’ll bookmark it. Everyone, rewritedept has started a blog! And, knowing him, it will be a must-check kind of situation. The first post is up, so please start your inevitable addiction (in the good sense) by clicking this. I’m good. I’m glad you found some cozy meds. I did just have the great pleasure of hanging with Mark and Erin here in the city of lights, yes. Oh, my email: email@example.com. Take it easy, man. ** MyNeighbourJohnTurturro, Hey, bud! Always a super pleasure to get to see you! Mm, no, I don’t think I’ve devoted a post to that medium at large but I’ve made posts about a number of filmmakers who work therein. I’ll look into it. Awesome that you liked a lot of what I liked in the gig, you of the impeccable tastes. Totally, the new JPEGMAFIA is amazing. It’s my go-to addiction right now. Halloween officially starts eating most of the blog as it does annually starting on Monday! I quite like Rob Zombie’s music. I really liked his first two films. I was disappointed by his more compromised ones, although I liked things in them. I hear really good things about the new one. I’m way into seeing that. Have a great weekend, sir. ** Kyler, Hi, K. Thank you, man. I sent it to my agent yesterday, so that seems to be the moment of it officially being finished. It’s been basically finished for a few weeks, but I was waiting on some feedback to make sure I wasn’t deluded about it. And hopefully the great feedback means I’m not, but we’ll see. It’s a strange one. Very nice to hear that about you and your sister. That’s very heartening. And then there are the brownies! ** IfICouldKeatonBackTime, Ouch. The escalator motor kick. That scared me. What does that say about me and escalators. The obvious them over us thing, I guess. Hope you snared some great throw backs. Great weekend to you! ** Armando, Hi. Glad you liked it. My email is back so I’ll get to you. Think I’m going to see the new Serra film today. Maybe try out this new vegan burger place. And the usual. You? ** Shane Christmass, Thank you, Shane. Ha, yes, I had seen the original news thing about that Daniel Johns kerfuffle. Seemed a bit dodgy at the time, not that I know DJ, obviously. I did sort of meet him once years ago at a vegan restaurant in LA where we shared our worship of The Melvins while King Buzzo ate in our vicinity. Man, he looks different now, but I guess he would. Well, I’m on his side. Why not? Happy weekend. ** Bill, His stuff’s very good. I want to see ‘Desolation Center’ very badly. Friends of mine organised it, and a bunch of my friends went, but I couldn’t go for reasons I don’t remember. I can’t imagine it will open in France, but it seems like an obvious streaming thing, so I figure I can see it when I’m in LA for Halloween if nothing else. Cool you got the chance. ** Right. So, on my old, murdered blog, I used to do this series of posts called ‘Varioso’ that consisted of things I was interested by but which didn’t have the heft to warrant entire posts to themselves. This, the 30th one, is the first of them that I’ve restored. Enjoy the array. See you on Monday.