Saturday, June 28, 2008

Three films by Ryan Trecartin

Ryan Trecartin (b. 1967)

Three films by Ryan Trecartin are now available as streams and for download from UBUWEB. I-Be Area has been mentioned on this blog before with an excerpt shown. Now you can see the whole one hour and forty eight minutes of it.

I-Be AREA (2007) 1:48 hr, color, sound
Holland Cotter, writing in The New York Times, describes the "sensationally anarchic" video I-Be Area, in which Trecartin uses what Cotter terms "very basic digital tools to create a highly personal narrative art, almost a kind of folk art."
Cotter writes: "We're in a house of many tight, messy rooms. In the suburbs? Cyberspace? Hard to say. Anyway, it's night. A door bangs open. A girl, who is also a boy, dashes in, talking, talking. Other people are already there, in gaudy attire, dire wigs and makeup like paint on de Koonings. Everyone moves in a jerky, speeded-up, look-at-me way and speaks superfast to one another, to the camera, into a cellphone. Phrases whiz by about cloning, family, same-sex adoption, the art world, the end of the world, identity, blogging, the future. Suddenly indoors turns into outdoors, night into day, and we're at a picnic, in dappled sunshine, with a baby. Then this all reverses, and we're indoors again. A goth band is pounding away in the kitchen. The house is under siege. Hysteria. Everyone runs through the walls."

(Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me) (2006) 7:15 min, color, sound
Trecartin describes (Tommy-Chat Just E-mailed Me) as a "narrative video short that takes place inside and outside of an e-mail." Trecartin's intense visualization of electronic communication is inhabited by a cast of stylized characters: Pam, a Jewish lesbian librarian with a screaming baby in an ultra-modern hotel room; Tammy and Beth, who live in an apartment filled with installation art; and Tommy, who is seen in a secluded lake house in the woods. Pam, Tommy and Tammy are all played by Trecartin, who, wearing his signature make-up, jumps back and forth between male and female roles.

A Family Finds Entertainment (2004) 42 min, color, sound
Dennis Cooper writes in Artforum: "If A Family Finds Entertainment can be reduced to a thumbnail description, this might be it: Trecartin stars as Skippy, a clownish but terrifyingly psychopathic boy who has locked himself in the upstairs bathroom of his family home during a wild party. Ignoring his siblings' and friends' pleas that he come out, he paces the little room, cutting himself with a knife and musing opaquely on his existential dilemma in a kind of King Lear-style delirium. Downstairs, the partiers are experiencing wild mood-swings and having complex, disassociated conversations (mostly about him) that are constantly interrupted by bursts of visual effects and animated sequences that disorient the cast of characters like so many lightening strikes. Eventually Skippy emerges, borrows money from his creepy, sexually inappropriate parents, and heads outdoors, where he runs into a documentary filmmaker who decides to make a movie about him; but then Skippy is immediately hit by a car and, apparently, killed. Back inside the house, a hyperactive girl named Shin, also played by Trecartin, gets a call on her cell phone with the bad news. She spends twenty or so hysteria-filled minutes trying to focus and construct a sentence linear enough to tell her friends what has happened. When she finally does, a band plays music that seems to magically raise the young man from the dead, and everyone runs outside and sets off fireworks. Then everyone runs back inside before the police show up.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Harold Blooms Stirs the Pot

Segment 1: Harold Bloom, Yale University

Segment 2: Chuck Jones, Animation Director

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Genius of Hijikata

Originator of Butoh, Tatsumi Hijikata
A Girl 1973

Tatsumi Hijikata (Hijikata Tatsumi, March 9, 1928 - January 21, 1986) was a Japanese choreographer, and the founder of a genre of dance performance art called Butoh. By the late 1960s, he had begun to develop this dance form, which is highly choreographed with stylized gestures drawn from his childhood memories of his northern Japan home. It is this style which is most often associated with Butoh by Westerners.
Hijikata was an innovator in movement technique. He was a master of the use of energy qualities in constructing expressive movement. He would use sounds, paintings, sculptures, and words to construct movement, not exclusively in a formal or literal memetic application, but by integrating these elements via visualization into the nervous system to produce movement qualities that could be very subtle, light, angelic and ghost-like, or demonic, heavy, dark, grotesque, violent and extreme.
This use of visualization (triggered and supported by the above mentioned elements) masters sophisticated movement qualities similar in many ways to the Mime System of Jacques Lecoq.

The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda (1968)

Ira Cohen's legendary 1968 film The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda

Ira Cohen says: "It was in 1968, the year before Woodstock, between the giant bottle of liquid mercury Tony Conrad found in a doorway on 42nd St. and the Mylar chamber, we experienced a shared voyage conceived in three parts: The Opium Dream, Shaman and Heavenly Blue Mylar Pavilions, an alchemical journey born of out common consciousness -- culminating in the akashic bindu drop swirling in the sky's reflected azure. No minimalism here, but a maximalist adventure . . ."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Brody Condon Does Neuromancer

Brody Condon (b. 1974) will receive a grant through the Rhizome Commissions Program for 2008. Condon's project is "Case" (working title), a performative recreation of the classic cyberpunk novel Neuromancer by William Gibson from 1984.
"The performance will be created in the summer of 2009 at a small rural red barn theater in a public park near Codon's stepfather's trailer home outside Colombia MO.
The main character Henry Drosett Case, a drug addicted hacker hired to complete an impossible cyber-crime, will be played by ex-political activist and infamous local hell-raiser, Ray 'Bad Rad' Radkte.
The supporting characters will be performed by a group of amateur actors from the nearby Baptist Church that produce Shakespeare plays in the park each summer.
The performance will be executed in the deadpan style of the videos of Raymond Pettibone. A distinct lack of emotion will be present and some actors will read directly from the script.
All virtual reality scenes will be accompanied by a live band performing Indonesian Gamalan music, while all cyberspace environments will consist of moving, painted cardboard props."
I wish I could be there.

Gary Snyder: Visionary Poet Angel

Gary Snyder (born May 8, 1930) is interviewed here this year in May. Gary Snyder is an American poet, often associated with the Beat Generation and the San Francisco Renaissance, essayist, lecturer, and environmental activist. Snyder is a winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Since the 1970s, he has frequently been described as the 'laureate of Deep Ecology'. From the 1950s on, he has published travel-journals and essays from time to time. His work in his various roles reflects his immersion in both Buddhist spirituality and nature. Snyder has also translated literature into English from ancient Chinese and modern Japanese. As a social critic, Snyder has much in common with Lewis Mumford, Aldous Huxley, Karl Hess, Aldo Leopold, and Karl Polanyi.[citation needed] Snyder was for many years on the faculty of the University of California, Davis, and for a time served on the California Arts Council.

We pushed the bike down past the various college hangouts and cafeterias and looked into Robbie's to see if we knew anybody. Alvah was in there, working his part-time job as busboy. Japhy and I were kind of outlandish-looking on the campus in our old clothes in fact Japhy was considered an eccentric around the campus, which is the usual thing for campuses and college people to think whenever a real man appears on the scene -- college being nothing but grooming schools for the middle-class non-identity which usually finds its perfect expression on the outskirts of the campus in rows of well-to-do houses with lawns and television sets in each living room with everybody looking at the same thing at the same time while the Japhies of the world go prowling in the wilderness to hear the voice crying in the dark mysterious secret of the origin of faceless wonderless crapulous civilization. 'All these people,' said Japhy, 'they all got white-tiled toilets and take big dirty craps like bears in the mountains, but it's all washed away to convenient supervised sewers and nobody thinks of crap any more or realizes their origin is shit and civet and scum of the sea. They spend all day washing their hands with creamy soaps they secretly wanta eat in the bathroom.' From 'The Dharma Bums' by Jack Kerouac (1958)

Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
placed solid, by hands
In choice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
in space and time:
Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall
riprap of things:
Cobble of milky way.
straying planets,
These poems, people,
lost ponies with
Dragging saddles –
and rocky sure-foot trails.
The worlds like an endless
Game of Go.
ants and pebbles
In the thin loam, each rock a word
a creek-washed stone
Granite: ingrained
with torment of fire and weight
Crystal and sediment linked hot
all change, in thoughts,
As well as things.

Gary Snyder

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Henry Porter: Suspect Nation

"Surveillance and its potential for diminishing the human experience and robbing individuals of political power is one of the most pressing issues of our time. We stand on the boundary between two societies - one where freedom and privacy are the norm; the other in which our movements, habits and transactions are monitored for signs of aberrant behaviour. Let there be no misunderstanding: the surveillance society is one that necessarily reduces us all from citizens to subjects."
Henry Porter, We are already at the gates of the surveillance society

Last Tuesday the Swedish Parliament passed the so-called 'FRA-lagen':

The FRA law (FRA-lagen in Swedish) is the common name for legislation with the stated purposed of fighting terrorism in Sweden, including a new law put forward by the government as well as several modifications to existing laws, formally called proposition 2006/07:63 – En anpassad försvarsunderrättelseverksamhet (proposition 2006/07:63 – An intelligence agency accommodation). The law, taking effect in 2009, gives the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA, Swedish Försvarets radioanstalt) the right to intercept all Internet exchange points that exchange traffic that crosses Swedish borders, though experts argue that it is impossible to differentiate between international traffic, and traffic between Swedes.
The law was passed by the Swedish parliament on June 18, 2008, by a vote of 143 to 138, with one delegate abstaining and 67 delegates not present.
News reports from Sweden's state broadcast network and other sources report that FRA have in fact been conducting potentially illegal eavesdropping on Swedish citizens for a decade. According to the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishment's General Director, Ingvar Åkesson, they destroy the data collected after eighteen months, but they confirm that they have, in fact, been collecting information not just on foreigners but also on Swedes as the presence of Swedish search terms used on the data would indicate.

Protests are being organised now throughout Sweden (Umeå: Thursday 26th June 16:00 Rådhustorget). The opposition Social Democrat Party has stated they will revoke the FRA Law (link in Swedish) if they are elected to a majority in the parliament in 2010.

L'Âge d'Or (1930)

L'Âge d'Or (The Golden Age) is a 1930 surrealist film directed by Luis Buñuel and written by Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. The film cost a million francs to produce and was financed by the nobleman Vicomte Charles de Noailles, who beginning in 1928 commissioned a film every year for the birthday of his wife Marie-Laure de Noailles. When it was first released, there was a storm of protest. The film premiered at Studio 28 in Paris on 29 November 1930 after receiving its permit from the Board of Censors. In order to get the permit, Buñuel had to present the film to the Board as the dream of a madman. On 3 December 1930, a group of incensed members of the fascist League of Patriots threw ink at the screen, assaulted members of the audience, and destroyed art works by Dalí, Joan Miró, Man Ray, Yves Tanguy and others on display in the lobby. On 10 December, the Prefect of Police of Paris, Jean Chiappe, arranged to have the film banned after the Board of Censors reviewed the film. The Noailles family pulled the film from distribution for nearly 50 years. The film did not have its official United States premiere until 1-15 November 1979 at the Roxie Cinema in San Francisco.

While in Paris last week we took tea at Studio 28 where L'Âge d'Or was first shown in 1930, in the foyer of the cinema are pictures of the wrecked theater after the opening night when a riot ensued.

Anyone visiting Paris I recommend a visit to Le Studio 28, 10 rue Tholozé, 75018 Paris (in Montmartre just up the hill from Pigalle Metro)It provides a glimpse of a Paris that has all but disappeared over the past half century.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Good Life

We have an allotment where we go to walk on green and dig. We plant potatoes and turnips (short summer here in the far north) and the kids run between the rows. It reminds me of The Good Life, a show I watched when I was a kid.
The Good Life ('Good Neighbours' in the USA) was a BBC series that ran from 1975-78, about Tom and Barbara Good, a 40-ish couple in the morgage belt of London. He works as a draftsman, she keeps house. They are both unhappy in their own ways. Tom is something of a zealot, who gives up his job of 8 years and becomes "a son of the soil", cultivating his own garden and getting an alottment with the plan to be self-sufficient.
In pursuit of this good life, they dig up their front and back gardens and convert them into allotments, growing soft fruit and vegetables. They introduce chickens, pigs (Pinky and Perky) a goat (Geraldine) and a cockerel (Lenin). They generate their own electricity, using methane from animal waste, and they even attempt to make their own clothes. They also work at selling or bartering surplus crops for essentials which they cannot make themselves. They try to cut their monetary requirements to the minimum with varying success.
Their actions horrify their kindly but conventional next-door neighbours, Margo and Jerry Leadbetter. Originally, Margo and Jerry were intended to be minor characters, but their relationship with one another and with the Goods soon became an essential element of every episode. Under the influence of the Goods' homemade wine called "peapod burgundy", their mutual, intermingled, attractions for one another become apparent. Both couples are childless.

Six Episodes of The Good Life:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Baba Rampuri Gives Satsang

Baba Rampuri addresses the World Psychedelic Forum in Basel, Switzerland on March 21, 2008. The title of his talk is "The Edge of Indian Spirituality." He speaks about inner pilgrimage, finding that place where worlds meet, and how an oral tradition passes down knowledge through the millenia. He connects the current exploration of consciousness through alchemy and plant deities with the oral tradition of India as well as the hermetic traditions of Europe. Baba Rampuri is the first foreigner to be an initiate of the Naga Sannyasis, (Naked Yogis), India's most ancient order of Yogis, and the author of BABA, Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Yogi. More information can be found at

Baba Rampuri, an American expatriate, has lived in India since 1970, when be became the first foreigner to be initiated into India's most ancient order of yogis and shamans, the Naga Sannyasis.
He is now a guru with a number of disciples within the order.

During his long discipleship in this mystical and sometimes dangerous world, he received traditional teachings in Language, mantra, tantra, ayurveda, logic, ritual, and, encompassing all the above, the way of the yogi in the Yoga Tradition. Baba says, "Your tool of knowledge is language, because its boundaries establish the possibilities of the world."

After founding the Hari Puri Ashram in the Himalayan foothill town of Hardwar, in 1984, Baba has since become a member of the Council of Elders of Datt Akhara, Ujjain, Central India, and the special envoy of its Pir. He divides his time between his ashram in Hardwar, Ujjain, and Goa. He hosts an international camp at Kumbh Melas (the most recent being the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, 2007), hosts retreats, teachings, and initiations in India, and gives lectures and teachings throughout the world on consciousness and inner exploration.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Bo Diddley Dead

The bacchanalian rush remains. This footage of Bo Diddley performing in 1966 on The Big TNT Show movie, fantastic and iconic guitar hero, with the marvellous Norma-Jean Wofford, aka "The Duchess", on the second square guitar, the amazing Bo-ettes, Lilly "Bee Bee" Jamieson and Gloria Morgan. Singing "Bo Diddley" and "Who Do You Love".

The swamp stomping driving rhythm of the guitars is still of great influence. On May 17, 2007, Bo Diddley was admitted to intensive care in Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, following a stroke during a concert at Council Bluffs, Iowa on May 13. He had a history of hypertension and diabetes, and the stroke affected the left side of his brain, causing receptive and expressive dysphasia. The hospital reported him in "guarded" condition at the time.

While recovering from the massive stroke and heart attack, he came back to his home town of McComb for the unveiling of a plaque, on the National Blues Trail devoted to him. The plaque stated he was "acclaimed as a founder of rock and roll." He was not supposed to perform but as he listened to the music of local musician Jesse Robinson, who sang a song written for this occasion, Robinson sensed Bo Diddley wanted to perform and handed him a microphone. That was the first time Bo Diddley performed publicly since his stroke and heart attack.

On June 2, 2008, Bo Diddley died at the age of 79 of heart failure at his home in Archer, Florida Garry Mitchell, a grandson of Diddley and one of more than 35 family members at the musician's home when he died at about 1:45 a.m. EDT (0545 GMT), said his death was not unexpected. "There was a gospel song that was sung and he said 'wow' with a thumbs up," Mitchell told Reuters, when asked to describe the scene at Diddley's deathbed. "The song was 'Walk Around Heaven' and in his last words he stated that he was going to heaven."