Sunday, 30 March 2014

Ren & Stimpy - Powdered Toast Man

The Ren & Stimpy Show, often simply referred to as Ren & Stimpy, is an American animated television series, created by Canadian animator John Kricfalusi. The show premiered on August 11, 1991, on Nickelodeon as part of its Nicktoons block along with 'the titular characters: Ren Höek, an emotionally unstable chihuahua, and Stimpson J. Cat, a good-natured, dimwitted cat. The show ran for five seasons on the network. The show has received critical acclaim and developed a cult following during and after its run, while some critics credit it along with The Simpsons for leading the way for satirical animated shows like Beavis and Butt-head and South Park, and playing a significant role in television animation. Throughout its run, The Ren & Stimpy Show was controversial for its off-color humor, sexual innuendo, and violence which were rare for television animation of the time. This controversy contributed to the production staff's altercations with Nickelodeon's Standards and Practices department.

Powdered Toastman is a superhero seen in "Powdered Toast Man". He is an extremely dramatic and oblivious vigilante and spokesperson for Powdered Toast, the breakfast treat that "tastes just like sawdust". He was based on a Frank Zappa inspired character. Powdered Toast Man appeared in various Powdered Toast commercials within The Ren and Stimpy Show, and starred in two episodes of the show, "Powdered Toast Man vs. Waffle Woman" and "Powdered Toast Man" (which had a guest appearance by Frank Zappa as the Pope). Oddly, Powdered Toast doesn't taste right unless Powdered Toast Man farts on it before it is consumed.

Powdered Toast Man can fly, either by releasing flatulence, by inserting his head into a special toaster and launching from it, or merely by pushing off from the ground. Importantly, he flies backwards. He can also hover in mid-air. His powers include some offensive weapons: high-velocity raisins shot from his mouth, hyper-corrosive croutons fired from his armpit, butter pats that are launched from the top of his head, and hyper-acidic marmalade from his navel. There are several signals that alert Powdered Toast Man to danger — his tongue phone, the inflation of his briefs, the dissipation of the toast particles in his head, or the reading of emergency messages encoded in slices of olive loaf. He is apparently made entirely of Powdered Toast, as he can produce fully formed Powdered Toast by flicking his wrist or by separating his head (which is made of two pieces of toast) and scraping the interior with a butter knife. His head is therefore depicted as being made of two identical pieces of toast, each complete with a face.

I remember when I first saw Powered Toastman. I begged my mom to find the Powdered Toast in the grocery stores and she gave me a weird look.

All of the drawings are incredible!!!!
Sandra Rivas 

Early in the second season of Ren & Stimpy, there appeared a rollicking and utterly disrespectful segment called “Powdered Toast Man.” 1992. The character of Powdered Toast Man unified the clueless and self-important silliness of The Tick with the tendency to wreak havoc of, say, Inspector Clouseau or Maxwell Smart. Voiced by the incomparable Gary Owens—and you might not know the name, but if you’ve ever seen Laugh-In or Space Ghost, you sure as hell know his voice—Powdered Toast Man was the spokesman for, obviously, a product called Powdered Toast, which was billed as tasting “just like sawdust!” According to Wikipedia, he was based on the character of Studebacher Hoch, from the epic song “Billy The Mountain” of off the Mothers of Invention’s 1972 album Just Another Band from L.A. I frankly don’t quite see the connection, but anything’s possible.

It’s kind of amazing just how dark and subversive the Powdered Toast bit is. The anti-advertising message is just the start of it. Tasked with saving a kitten from being run over by a truck, Powdered Toast Man causes a passing jetliner to crash into the truck, thus saving the kitten at the expense of who knows how many lives (the injured survivors cheer him on anyway). A few moments later, Powdered Toast Man thoughtlessly tosses the kitten out of frame, where he is apparently run over by a truck, to judge from the sound effects. Later on, he uses the Bill of Rights for kindling. He induces projectiles to emerge from his armpits by doing that “fart noise” maneuver, he uses his own tongue as a telephone…....... actually, you really need to see the video to believe it. The satire of the prevailing superhero ethos really couldn’t be more savage—or more entertaining.
Martin Schneider 

Powdered Toast Man had appeared in a bumper during season 1, and this time he takes center stage.  It’s significant because it’s the first time that Ren and Stimpy merely appear in cameo roles.  There would only be a few other instances in the series where the duo were minimal or absent entirely, but thankfully this episode is still enjoyable despite their limited screen time; it proves the show can be engaging following other characters.

The titular hero (this time played by veteran actor Gary Owens), normally disguised as a mild-mannered government clerk, kicks into action when he gets the all-important distress call.  First up in need of help is a cat crossing the street that’s about to be hit by a truck.  A common problem, but how PTM handles it is absurd:  He takes down an airplane to hit the truck before it collides with the adorable kitten.  Yay, hundreds of innocent lives lost, but at least the kitty is okay!  And he discards the feline very soon after getting another distress call anyway.

Next, the pope’s in trouble.  He’s been taken hostage by Muddy Mudskipper, who is now a villain, I guess.  Side note:  The Pope’s voiced by famed musician Frank Zappa, the only cartoon he ever did.  And one of his few roles, period.  It makes sense that he would voice a religious figure on a subversive cartoon; it totally fit in with his “challenge the system” personality.

After saving The Pope, it’s time for a more down-to-earth (but no less severe!) problem to solve:  Ren and Stimpy are out of their beloved Powdered Toast breakfast!  PTM zooms in, restocks them by scraping one of his toast heads, and takes off.  But the two are less than satisfied; it turns out PTM forgot to give the powdered toast that extra “spice” to make it extra nice.  So PTM returns, apologizes, and farts on their breakfast as he takes off again.  NOW, they’re pleased.  Hey, don’t ask me; maybe PTM’s farts are bakery fresh.

Finally, PTM rescues the president of the U.S. from his own zipper.  I’m surprised what the show got away with; what other kid’s cartoon was this edgy in 1992?  After a successful rescue (if you want to call it that; he’s clearly out of commission), PTM is abruptly made president, promising to deprive all citizens of their human rights.  I dunno, this may have been a funny gag at one time, but when you consider some corrupt/totalitarian governments in the world do just that, not to mention that we have to constantly remain vigilant to ensure that our own government doesn’t fall into the same trap, it loses much of its absurdity.  That said, the crowd at his inauguration doesn’t mind, so that makes the gag a little funny, I guess.

The cartoon ends with PTM and his beautiful secretary in need of some heat, so PTM casually burns the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in the fireplace.  Again, see the paragraph above; it’s honestly a little uncomfortable nowadays.  Doesn’t mean Nick was right to censor it back in the day, though; besides the obvious negative of censorship, it’s not like kids out there can imitate this action or anything.

“Powdered Toast Man” is a good episode, showcasing a superhero who gets results, but often in the worst way possible and not caring after he reaches his goal (besides the cat throwing, he places The Pope on a tall, remote mountain just because Ren and Stimpy need more breakfast).  And Gary Owens is perfect for the part, sounding sort of like a nasal Space Ghost.  “PTM”‘s flaw is that it’s merely a series of unconnected set pieces; as entertaining as they are, it’s just PTM going from one disaster to the next, with no particular story arc or momentum.  While season 4′s “Powdered Toast Man vs. Waffle Woman” had a simpler art style, it had a better plot and even a touch of emotion.  But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.


Friday, 28 March 2014

Navid Nuur - RENDERENDER @ DCA 28.03.14 - pictures

To the DCA this evening for the opening of Navid Nuur's show RENDERENDER, an "inventive and playful array of new and existing work" featuring "magical mixed media installations". I took a few photos and here they are:

When you end I begin, 2008-2014

The Dundee art massive

City Soil, 2009-2014

 Ours, 2013

Never Mind the Map Never Map the Mind, 2009-2013

Recaptured from the Collective, 2006-2014

Untitled (broken ellipse), 2014, Untitled, 2006-2014

 Untitled, 2014

Somewhere at night, black got stabbed, 2012

Untitled, 2014

Thursday, 27 March 2014

ART101 preview

ART101 is an actual thing, a YouTube channel that's due to launch sometime in 2014. What follows  is my interview with Art in Scotland from January with a compendium of clips and images: 

Dundee based artist Ben Robinson introduces his project ‘ART101‘, a YouTube channel created by Ben as a response to the government’s discussions to get rid of art education. Ben pitched his idea of an arts channel to the Dundee Visual Artist Award, and won thus helping him kickstart the project.

Art 101:
Written and directed by Ben Robinson
Performed by Morgan Cahn
Editing and FX by Andrew Maclean

Sequence 01 1 from Ben Robinson on Vimeo.

Sequence 02 from Ben Robinson on Vimeo.

Sequence 03 from Ben Robinson on Vimeo.

Sequence 04 2 from Ben Robinson on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Öyvind Fahlström - maps

ESSO-LSD, 1967

Öyvind Axel Christian Fahlström (1928–1976) was a Swedish Multimedia artist.

Although some critics such as Frances Richard dismissed him as a "throwback to Surrealism or Agitprop at worst" other critics, such as Mary Flanagan have seen his use of games as constituting examples of critical play.

Pentagon Puzzle (detail), 1970

With images based on jigsaw puzzles, dollar bills, and pie charts throughout, it`s easy to see why Fahlstrom`s work gets lumped under the rubric of Pop. But he doesn`t really belong there. Notes 6 (Nixon`s Dreams), 1974, for instance, shows a blue-faced, insomniac Tricky Dick counting panthers jumping over a police barrier and an electrified map of South Vietnam lying on a catafalque surrounded by gold bullion. Notes 7 ("Gook"-masks), 1971-75, a handcolored etching, depicts Smokey Bear, Angela Davis, Uncle Sam, of course, and personifications of Hiroshima and South Africa. What American Pop-ist would base an entire composition on snatches of poetry by Sylvia Plath (Sixteen Elements from "Chile I," 1976/89), or include in a dense, rollicking silkscreen a request addressed "Dear Picasso" that the artist remove Guernica from MOMA until the United States withdraw from Southeast Asia (Column no. 2 [Picasso 90], 1973)?

Fahlstrom`s relative lack of critical lionization is belied by the fame of some of Pop`s abject, punk-rock offspring whose work was prefigured in his-among them Raymond Pettibon, Matthew Ritchie, Carroll Dunham, and Mike Kelley. In fact, any contemporary artist who mixes words with pictures, sociocultural reference with dreamlike personal form, or writing and performance with painterly and graphic production is, to a certain degree, Fahlstrom`s inheritor. There`s little about this artist that isn`t, still, en avant.

Indeed, like the late Mark Lombardi, whose post-Conceptual depictions of political and financial malfeasance bear a distinct relation to this very body of work, Fahlstrom is an artist one wishes were here to comment now: Guernica, rejected by the UN in February 2003 as a too-embarrassing backdrop for a press conference on Iraq, has again become symbolic in the struggle against a crypto-imperialist US-led war, while the problem of creating effective agitprop that maintains aesthetic independence is, of course, perennial.
Frances Richard

Eddie (Silvie's Brother) in the Desert, 1966

His art was a stew of references, half-submerged allusions, enthusiasms and conversations, both with the living and the dead. It is difficult to see how, precisely, he got from A to B, from a fascination with Antonin Artaud (whom he translated) and Marquis de Sade to AA Milne's Winnie the Pooh, or from championing an American comic book artist like Robert Crumb, to producing an installation of shiny, flat metal cut-outs derived from the forms in Crumb's cartoons. And from here to his interactive artworks based on the Monopoly game, to his gorgeous annotated maps and to his final works, with their moveable elements (if nothing else, Fahlstrom's work is a precursor to the fridge magnet), and their pointy, bulbous, extruded, blunted, somehow nasty, Miro-esque forms.

Fahlstrom's sketchbooks and notes are, throughout, wonderful jams of words, diagrams, fanciful machines, pictographs, petri-dish dictionaries, highly wrought but unreadable hieroglyphs, lists and graphic explosions. I dare any commentator to untangle their logic, but perhaps that doesn't matter. Their fertility is the thing. While his drawings and private notations show Fahlstrom's thought in flight, his early paintings are just clogged, agglutinative and somewhat dead layers of formal and linguistic material. 

Fahlstrom was in essence a graphic artist. His enthusiasm for comic-book illustration and cartoon strips as well as his interest in Matta (a terrible painter who could have been a great comic-book artist) serve to highlight where Fahlstrom's own talents really lay.
Adrian Searle

World Map, 1972

What really separates Fahlstrom from most American Pop artists is the literary underpinning of his work. His art is less concerned with showing than with talking. Its origins, in fact, are primarily in concrete poetry, for which he wrote a manifesto in 1953. No wonder he was captivated early on by the work of Giuseppe Capogrossi, the Italian artist whose paintings consisted of swarming iterations of a single highly variable letterlike character. Writing and drawing existed on a continuum for Fahlstrom, with innumerable intermediate varieties and no inherent contradiction. (Maybe that's why he never saw formal exuberance and referential specificity as antithetical.) Similarly, he recognized no essential distinction between work in two and three dimensions, or between a painting on the one hand and a board game with movable pieces magnetically attached to their wall-mounted support on the other. Such "variable paintings," probably his best-knownwork, engaged him from Babies for Africa, 1963, through Night Music 4: Protein Race Scenario (Words by Trakl, Lorca, Plath, and Pietri), realized in 1976, the year of his death.

And yet Fahlstrom's art was not as protean, as infinitely permutable as he may have wanted it to be. In particular--and in contrast to the brilliant use of photographic imagery by the equally adept draftsman Warhol--whenever Fahlstrom stepped away from that drawing/writing continuum and yielded to the temptation to use the neutral gaze of photography, his work loses energy, looks dated. (I am thinking, notably, of The Little General (Pinball Machine), 1967, with its flotilla of pictorial elements drifting freely on a pool of water.) His subject matter extended to the grand scale of geopolitical events (essentially a new form of history painting) and, though his political aspirations are less interesting than his anxieties and even paranoia, to utopian desires for humanity at large, as in the installation Garden--A World Model, 1973. But its embodiment was always entrusted to the eccentric immediacies of the hand, the insubordinate divagations of a line that had more than a little affinity with Surrealist automatism, as shown, for instance, in the studies that make up 20 Improvisations (for Chile 2), 1973-74. Such forms, as incorporated into Fahlstrom's more elaborate compositions, could be deliberately athwart their constative meaning. Their intricacy, as the artist himself once observed, "may have something of the surprising beauty of tropical fish."
Barry Schwabsky

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Nami Shimada - Sunshower

Nami Shimada was (she retired from singing in 1990) a J-Pop artist and although I’m not fond of that genre, a few tracks she did, like Sun Shower released in 1989, are really more Garage or House than Pop. And they are good.

On a side note, Nami Shimada now appears to be DJing in Japan.

Nami Shimada (島田 奈美) was one of the aspiring idol singers of Momoco Club. She had a very pure and  girlish appearance and a charming smile that guaranteed that her face was seen as well in TV commercials of Clearasil and Sapporo Ichiban ramen (with famous actor Takuya Fujioka 藤岡琢也). Nami Shimada never had a real hit song, but she was always present in chart shows like Top Ten and Best Ten, usually in a place 9 or 10. A fact that might give some ideas to those, who have for a long time suspected that the lowest places on chart shows were open to the highest bidder. 

In her final recordings Nami Shimada was no more an idol singer. She had become a club beat vocalist, whose voice was distinctive and clear. Sunshower (1990) became a much played house hit thanks to remixes by Larry Levin and others. It made Nami Shimada’s name known in brand new musical circles. However, Nami was no longer around. In the last releases she didn’t even appear as Nami Shimada. She used her real name Naoko to point out that the idol career was over. 
jari lehtinen

In September and October 1992 Larry Levan had a triumphant D.J. tour of Japan. Even though The Paradise Garage had closed five years before his star was still shining bright around the world. On that tour he played amazingly to rabid crowds but he was suffering physically due to his deep drug addiction.

One of his last remixes was Sun Shower by Nami Shimada. This deep house mix of a song by an 80's Japanese pop star was released in 1991 on Columbia records Japan. The 12" also featured a Mark Kamins dance mix. Danceteria legend Mark Kamins and Paradise Garage star Larry Levan enjoyed a particularly elevated status in Japan and could easily fill dance floors as often as they were willing to play in clubs like Gold, and EndMax.

This one runs deep. Apart from being an amazing track it also brings fond memories of the times we spent in Japan and the friends we made there. For a few years we toured extensively through Japan. DIY Crème-style of course, in trains, crashing on couches, in weird plastic hose-down hotels, playing back alley gigs in off brand towns etc. This network disappeared after a while, after everybody branched out in all kinds of directions. One of the best nights there was a gig in Tokyo where we presented the record and Nami DJ-ed with a Yakuza style body guard standing there the whole time and middle aged Japanese fanboys in the audience waving autographed pictures.

A short history, [Nami] was a big J-Pop lolita star in the 80′s in Japan, and her vox on this Soichi Terada prodution are a bit of a fluke. The track got picked up by Larry Levan who made it a footnote in House-history. She choose a different career path and became a writer.  We managed to drag her out of exile for one night and put her behind the decks. It all felt pretty special. The place was a real sweatbox too, a ram packed basement with no emergency exit and just a small concrete staircase leading down into it. Proper Asia-style. I remember thinking, “If faith strikes tonight and we don’t make it out of here, then I’m OK with that.”


Saturday, 22 March 2014


Bought a few items:

Elizabeth Mikesch - Niceties: Aural Ardor, Pardon Me (Calamari Press), £5.93

Salvador Dalí - Oui: The Paranoid-Critical Revolution (Exact Change), £0.21 

Mica Levi - Under The Skin OST LP (Warners), £11.00

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Society - shunting

Society is an American horror film. It was finished in 1989, but not released in the US until 1992. It was Brian Yuzna's directorial debut and was written by Rick Fry and Woody Keith. The film stars Billy Warlock as Bill Whitney, Devin DeVasquez as Clarissa Carlyn, Evan Richards as Milo and Ben Meyerson as Ferguson. Screaming Mad George was responsible for the special effects. Society is considered to be a minor classic in the body horror sub-genre.

Bill finds a large, formal party. He is snared by the neck and Dr. Cleveland reveals all of the secrets he has been searching for. He is not really related to his family after all. In fact, his family and their high-society friends are actually a different species from Bill. To demonstrate, they bring in a still-living Blanchard. The wealthy party guests strip to their underwear and begin "shunting". The rich literally feed on the poor, physically deforming and melding with each other as they suck the nutrients out of Blanchard's body. Their intention is to do to the same to Bill. In a fight with Ferguson, Bill manages to pull the pliable Ferguson inside-out. With Milo and Clarissa's help—who is also of this alternate species, but has fallen in love with Bill—he escapes.

The 20-minute climax, in which a disbelieving Bill is presented to the nouveau riche as the latest addition to their flesh fondue (the 'Shunting'), remains one of the most startling, shocking, and frankly exhilarating endings in the genre, let alone one of the kinkiest uses of latex in any medium. 2005's Slither may have upped the latex stakes, but SFX genius Screaming Mad George's sobriquet is entirely justified, as a crowd of thoroughbreds, stripped to their underwear, and "bent out of shape by society's pliers" to quote Bob Dylan, rearrange their DNA - dad really is a butthead - and slither through one another's yawning cavities like wet, red slugs.

Had the Marquis De Sade taken too much Camembert before bedtime, he'd be hard-pressed to imagine anything quite so brilliantly disgusting. It may be a one-gag picture, but it executes that gag with wit, flair and delirious abandon. Marx and Engels would surely applaud. Unfortunately, so would David Icke.

What exactly is "shunting," you might ask? Well, if I could try to put this as mildly as I possibly can, it's got something to do with the Beverly Hills nouveau riche asserting their privilege in ways that suggest a Salvador Dali nightmare of Caligula. And given that the man responsible for bringing this indelible image to life is Screaming Mad George, who handled Brooke Theiss' cockroach disintegration scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, you might want to lay off the munchies given that the entire third act of Society involves a mass shunting party held for the indoctrination of teenage lead Bill Whitney (Billy Warlock, Baywatch star and son of stuntman Dick Warlock from Halloween II & III).

Society has been waiting for Billy, but he's been left wanting. Despite his affluence presenting him alpha male status as both a basketball jock and senior class president, Billy still visits a shrink, Dr. Cleveland, confessing to a home life plagued by "incest and psychosis," and that there is something dubious about his privilege that he's afraid to explore. Enter David Blanchard (Tim Bartell), the chunky ex-boyfriend of Billy's pampered sister Jennifer (Patrice Jennings), whose planted tape recorder unveils references to "copulation" in regards to the girl's coming out party that frighten Billy even more. Blanchard turns up dead, and the unctuous taunts of elite preppie Ted "The Tycoon" Ferguson (Ben Meyerson) force the reluctant Billy to scratch the surface of society.

Society packs plenty of unforgettable images involving the goopy, ghastly contortions of flesh. Early on, a voyeuristic glance at Jenny in the shower hints at shapes of things to come, and Billy's sexual encounter with Clarissa, in which she is found in a rather "funny position," is shrugged off with a "pissing in the tea" joke. It all culminates in a finale that gives Yuzna and Screaming Mad George (credited with not merely special, but "surrealistic make-up effects") the chance to one-up the methyl cellulose monstrosities of Stuart Gordon's From Beyond. To arrive there, though, we have to consider the notion that Bill might potentially paranoid, a bit of character detail that doesn't particularly shine through in script or performance. It really isn't a matter of whether or not Bill might be too self-absorbed in his angst, but of waiting for someone to recognize the shady goings-on involving (dis)appearing corpses and incestuous sexuality are not detritus of the imagination.
John Bishop

Tim Bartell: After getting the part, I remember initially being a little freaked out reading the script. Especially my character going through the shunting. I drove to my agent's and said, "Um... there's people I don't even know licking my body in this." He talked me into going through with it. But I was still a little nervous.

And the shunting is of course what stands out for me about the shoot. I remember lying on that couch, screaming and crying as I was being sacrificed to Society... half naked, covered in slime with lots of people fondling and licking me. I had made the mistake of telling one of the crew I was a big fan of art house filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. Between takes he would lean in and say, "Tim, Bergman just called! He's very proud of you."

But I really went for it as an actor. I wanted to make my death uber-painful to watch. And I succeeded. Director Brian Yuzna later told me while he was editing my death, he had a visit from one of the actors from Night of the Living Dead. The actor was so disturbed by my performance, he left the editing bay. I was really proud of that. Brian decided my death had to be lightened a little. He cut and trimmed, brought down my screaming and added in some waltz type music under the scene, so it wouldn't play too heavy. Which was probably a wise directorial decision. I screamed so much over the course of the day we shot most the shunting, I lost my voice. We shot a little more the next day, but I had to do that part sans my voice.

The whole thing was frankly a little creepy to play at times. You know you're in a film, it's just a part. But I'm crying, screaming, begging for my life. Everyone is laughing and growling at me like animals. I got a little overwhelmed at one point. I thought it was just pain in my legs, because I was crouching then inside the couch, with the prosthetic version of my body attached at my neck. My legs were really sore. I got a break and an extra came over to me and said "It's hard, isn't it?" He didn't mean my legs. He meant just playing this whole weird scene. His acknowledging that really made me feel a lot better.

But I don't regret the experience at all. It's been nearly 24 years since we shot Society and I have nothing but really the fondest memories of it. Yes, even the shunting.

Monday, 17 March 2014


Isidore Ducasse Memorial Plaque, 2009

Extract from Paul Zweig - Lautreamont: The Violent Narcissus:

Apparently Lautréamont understood the danger of his poem, and was fascinated by it. The starkness and the strange immediacy of the language here characterize Maldoror. The entire poem seems to take place at an intersection between literature and madness. The language is warped into uniqueness by the associative pressures of the primitive mind (the unconscious), and yet controlled, magnificently, by the rhetorical form of which the poet never loses sight. The result makes the poem seem self-generating and monolithic. One experiences Maldoror as a unique vision of cruelty and revolt, a poem whose rhythm is so compelling that it must be "authentic," a true if terrifying call from the depths.

   This undoubtedly explains the reverence for Lautréamont expressed by André Breton and the French surrealists, who insisted that Maldoror must never be allowed to enter literary history, inserted between "this fellow and that fellow"; that Lautréamont had, at all costs, to be rescued from "literature." It also explains the feeling of scandal created when large passages in Maldoror were found to have been cribbed word for word from naturalist encyclopedias, and others were shown to echo, in a style just short of plagiarism, a whole panoply of popular writers from Michelet and Victor Hugo, to Goethe, Byron, Baudelaire, Sue, Shakespeare and others, too. In fact, on the evidence, few works of literature in the nineteenth century (which was so compelled by the romantic values of "authenticity" and "sincerity") were so resolutely literary as Lautréamont's late Gothic epic.

   Ultimately, the fascination Maldoror continues to exert on readers probably will be defined by this enigma of a poem which breathes a uniqueness that is all but hallucinatory, while clinging at every moment to all its cultural and literary origins. In the end, one cannot decide whether Isidore Ducasse was a master of rhetorical effects, and a very great master at that, or a man driven mad by writing, whose poem must be read as a history of his madness.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Plastik Zine Launch @ Generator Projects 14.03.14 - pictures

To the Generator this evening for the launch of Plastik, a new bi-monthly Zine coming out of Dundee. I took a few photos and here they are:

The name of the zine is Plastik Zine

The New Young Masons scout for recruits

Plastik features artistic contributions including images, drawings, photomontage, haikus, poems etc

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Jack Rabbit ‎– Only Wanted To Be

Me and James used to DJ back in the 80's and the concept behind this song was about a crush he had on my ex girlfriend's best friend . We all used to hang out together but she only saw him as a friend and believe it or not he actually cried over this girl. He was one of the coolest cats you would ever want to meet. R.I.P. " Rabbit " that's what we called him back in the day,we rarely called him James 

If there is a Robert Johnson of Chicago House Music, it's James "Jack Rabbit" Martin.

For nearly 25 years, Martin's poorly distributed (and often poorly pressed) records have been discovered, re-discovered, treasured, bootlegged, bought and sold for extortionate prices. It's not uncommon for an original pressing of his only long player, There Are Dreams And There Is Escape, to fetch several hundred dollars from record collectors (at press time, there is but one up for grabs on - for the asking price of $970.02).

In 1988, James Martin's four track record There Are Dreams And There Is Escape was pressed by Yoton Records, an imprint which Martin appears to have created especially for his first original release. Yoton released no other records; its business address was a small house at 10847 S. Prospect.

UK label Westside Records released a version of There Are Dreams' "Only Wanted To Be" as a white label. In a one-sheet preserved and posted to, Westside's Paul Ruiz alludes to the buzz about Martin in the country. "If you've gathered who Jack Rabbit is, you can convince yourself that this one of the softest records he's ever made!" But the real treat was what was on the flip: an acid mix that is absolutely mental, and - adding to the legend of Jack Rabbit - has still never been commercially released.

This is a fact: what is often regarded as the greatest acid record ever made has been limited to bootlegs and a reported 200-run white label pressing.
Terry Matthew

This is a rather rare record that has recently been bootlegged. I’m pretty sure my (bootleg) copy has the labels on the wrong sides. The title of the release is ‘There Are Dreams And There Is Acid” and both tracks features a very high level of sound quality and production compared to other acid house records of the time, with individually effected drums – heavily flanged hi-hats and reverbed claps. Whereas a lot of acid tracks are just quick jams knocked out in an afternoon (and it’s true that if you gave 100 monkeys 100 TR808s and 100 TB303s, you’d probably get more than 70 decent acid tracks) this track stands out as a seriously thought-out song with fantastic sounds and structure.

The vocal is oddly disconnected, like those Italo records in which you can tell the vocalist doesn't really understand English and is singing the words phonetically. And really with that climbing bassline and spartan chords, it does remind me more of an Italo record than anything else in Jack Rabbit's catalog.

For the acid remix, you have simple drum patterns and a 303 line - relatively simple by Jack Rabbit standards - vibrating like a rubber band. But note that little 2 note rise buried in the mix that throws the whole thing awry again and then takes over entirely just before the fade at 4:00. This is a more subtle track than the pyrotechnics of "Rabbit Trax" - and still raw as fuck.

It wouldn't be a legend if there wasn't the rare b-side obscurity. And this is a rarity among rarities. The white label from UK label Westside Records was released with 200 copies to start with and obviously that number has dwindled significantly since 1988. Phuture's "Your Only Friend" is an obvious reference point with that demonic voice of the River Styx that takes a bit too much satisfaction in calling you out and rattling in the steel ribcage of this incredible track. This is nearly the only track with those creepy vocals from the era that doesn't sound kitschy today. It sounds terrifying.
Terry Matthew

Im not sure really how to start this review about this 12, as no matter what I write it just wont be able to tell you enough. I had this white lable for a long time before I knew who actually did it. This 12 is all about the side that was never released, the acid mix of 'only want to be'. I have a large collection of acid house from the time but this was truely and is still the darkest piece of them all. The production is magnificant, the acid line and 707 that runs the trk is sublime but the genius is in the f-ked up vocals and the dark story of emotion that it tells...Such a shame that he only released a few trks.... The 'jack rabbit' was a master of the Acid House. If you are after the definitive acid house trk of all time, you have found it.  

"Such a shame that he only released a few trks"

FYI:James "Jack Rabbit" Martin died of an asthma attack in 1990, this is the reason why he didn't go on to release more trax.

R.I.P. James


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Monday, 10 March 2014

Tom Burr - Bulletin Boards

Brutalist Bulletin Board (detail), 2001

Tom Burr (born 1963) is an American conceptual artist, based in New York.

In the late 1990s Burr embarked on a body of work that remains ongoing; derived from the language and forms of both Tony Smith's sculptures, on the one hand, and closed architectural spaces such as bars, cages and boxes. These works, often borrowing Smith's matte black palate, evoke spaces of control and containment, as well as the "safe zones" of underground cultures.

Alongside these works, Burr developed his now iconic Bulletin Boards, originally created out of the excessive collecting of images and materials that are part of his working methods. Constructed through plays of juxtaposition, the boards are markers of place, often reflecting the situation of their exhibition.

Slacks, 2008

Here, a collection of photographs layered black-and-white images of the Minimalist vocabulary and yet sinuous and mostly jet-black forms of Tony Smith alongside (and on top of, and beneath) stills from Kenneth Anger’s cult film, Scorpio Rising (1964) , with its ironic rock-and-roll send-up of 1950s American values, its youthful James Dean rebel-types polishing and rubbing their “Christmas tree versions of motorcycles” (to paraphrase Anger), with its fetishization of the black leather uniforms of biker culture, and its exaggerated overtones of homoeroticism, violence, and brutality. The incongruence of the pairing, of Tony Smith and Kenneth Anger, of deadpan Minimalism and parodic exaggeration, gave way under these image-conditions to an overarching work of correspondence, as the accumulation sought out visual rhymes between black sculptures and black leather jackets, polished Minimalist surfaces and the gleam of the boys’ bikes, the play of light off crisp sculptural facets and the bathing of beautiful male bodies in shadow, serial sculptures and the repetitive phallic pool cues or metal stools of the biker bar, esoteric geometries and the arcane symbols (including the Nazi swastika) of the bikers—between one form of sexiness, or one form of violence, or one form of fetishization, and another . The result is a contagion of meaning, in the wake of which none of the former valences of the objects in question will remain.

Such has been the work of most of Burr’s bulletin board projects. In Brutalist Bulletin Board (2001) , for example, various photographs of the corrugated, rough-hewn sur faces of that Minimalist variant of architecture known as Brutalism were grouped with and compared to the seductive and idolized “character” of the rock star Jim Morrison of The Doors. In a series of photographs worthy of the fanzine, we are shown Morrison posing, and laughing, and vamping for the camera. We see the star pulling sensuously on a cigarette, or staring vapidly, his plump lips at times half-open in the notorious Morrison scowl, or simply in toothy, empty, perhaps slightly stupid abandon. And the implication of the collection is that the Brutalist architecture, presented here in fetishistic pieces and image fragments like the body parts of Morrison, is doing all of these things, too: it is a pose, a vamp, a scowl, a per formance; it is empty, and vapid, and masculine, and seductive. Incongruity, in such works, arises from a potentially jarring historical com
George Baker

Black Bulletin Board, 1998

TIMOTHY HULL: You've used this appropriative physicality of photos in works like "Brutalist Bulletin Board  (2001), and so I am interested to hear your thoughts on the queer aesthetics of the brutalist style of  architecture.

BURR: The first time I worked with that imagery was for an early bulletin board that juxtaposed images of Jim Morrison with these Paul Rudolph buildings from my hometown of New Haven, which added a heightened sense of my own autobiography. It's important to have multiple parallel reasons to include something in your art so you can't be pinned down to any one. But the idea of Brutalism as an abject, ugly, and bulky architecture was appealing to me, because of its rebellion against conventions. There is a real subversive contradiction there because Brutalism became the dominant style of government and municipal architecture, yet it also had an erotic quality to it. I was interested in that contradiction; the latent adolescent rebellion of Brutalism.

HULL: This may sound like a left-field question... do you believe in ghosts and other psychic phenomenon? What is the nature or role of ghosts in your life or work?

BURR: Do I believe in ghosts? Well, I suppose this is a similar question to the one earlier on about modes of memory or history... because I think that ghosts do exist as buoyed by a collective memory or consciousness regarding a person or the idea of a person. Our desire for lingering essences of people is enormously powerful and can certainly take on the trappings of a phenomenological experience.

Caged Kate, 2009

By sexualizing institutional critique Burr’s work reveals the waste and luxury of any spectacle. His work makes available the sexualized zone of seeing anywhere at all ­ the body existing liminally between sex/not-sex, which is the inescapable, spectacular, mutating instantiation of seeing/being seen. His work should be considered in relation to the sparse erotic environment of Calvin Klein’s John Pawson-designed flagship store, the situational burdens of Paul Reubens, and the dizzying contradictions of Travis, as much as in relation to Minimalist sculpture (Tony Smith and Richard Serra), institutional critique, and the allegorical site (Robert Smithson). Burr allows all these things to be the commentaries and reflections of one another. Call it Brutalist in that it necessitates a confrontation between different registers of cultural discourse.

‘Brutalism’ was the title of Burr’s most recent show at Galerie Neu, Berlin. It built upon previous work: Black Box (1998), which broke down a plywood black box into four corners, using a mirror for one of the sides, and providing a ledge, bar height, upon which were placed black ashtrays; Black Bulletin Board (1998), which juxtaposed stills from Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising (1964) with pictures of work by Tony Smith and photos of a dark, butch bar; Black Pavilions (1999), black plywood garden pavilion mock-ups; and his discrete photographic study, Palm Beach Views (1998), of four and a half metre ficus hedges in Palm Beach, Florida, ‘through which only extremely rare, and potentially criminal glimpses into private gardens were possible’. ‘Brutalism’ centred around Quartered (2001) where the black box, divided into four Goth cubes, generated a black boxing ring. Bringing his interest in site mobility to a new level, the entire structure was poised on rolling wheels. Instead of biker boys, bars, and Smith, there were two black bulletin boards with photos of architectural works situated in New Haven, Connecticut (Burr’s place of birth, and the academic residence of architect Paul Rudolph, Brutalism’s paterfamilias). Insinuated darkly among these structures glowered photos of Jim Morrison (as Burr wrote for the press release) ‘... posing, dancing, and being arrested on stage in the New Haven Coliseum ... for verbally assaulting a police officer who accused Morrison of making a public sexual display with his girlfriend ... further secur[ing] his arrest by chanting ‘fuck the police’ on stage during the concert and encouraging the audience to accompany him.’ Two of a suite of six black ‘chairs or chair-like forms’ in wood with cushions of black vinyl completed the exhibition’s decor, providing ‘the anti-brutal with heavy residual traces of repressed brutality’.

The paths taken to expedite the transactions of desire have environmental consequences, an ecology. The landscape design term for such shortcuts is ‘desire lines’. Burr is tracking such lines.
Bruce Hainley