Thursday 25 September 2008

Welcome to Mars at the Other Cinema

The above are just a few of pictures taken by Kitty Keen during last Saturday’s Other Cinema presentation at the ATA on Valencia Street. ‘Paranoia in Orbit’ marked the start of the OC’s 24th season, and the audience was treated to free champagne and donuts to mark the occasion. Watching Craig Baldwin prepare the cinema was a small education in itself: multicoloured Acme Move-e-lites were plugged in behind the bar area, a giant inflatable alien was set up beside the screen and an amazing selection of movie clips set running to welcome an enthusiastic crowd of guests. Craig himself introduced the evening, laying down the subtle spirit of informed strangeness that underscored the proceedings.

I am pleased to report that my presentation of material from Welcome to Mars was extremely well received: thanks in no small degree to the fantastic electronic soundtrack put together by Simon James and the visual montage assembled by Bruce Woolley of the Radio Science Orchestra. I’m hoping to bring this 35-minute presentation to London in the very near future.

Megan Prelinger Shaw’s lecture on how the US aerospace industry used science-fiction illustrators to help sell themselves to the public after the establishment of NASA in 1958 was particularly revealing. Her book on the subject, due out next year, will definitely be worth waiting for. Meanwhile the Soviet bloc propaganda footage artist John Davis had brought back from a recent residency in Moldavia brought whoops and cheers from the audience, although for entirely the wrong reasons; Elvis looks great, even when his presence is meant to signify the inevitably destructive contradictions of capitalism.

From the top, Kitty Keen’s camera has caught a couple of moments from the ‘Welcome To Mars’ presentation, Craig Baldwin laying it all down for the assembled guests, plus Ken Hollings in spirited conversation with celebrated author and magus Erik Davis just before the ATA doors opened. Also present but not photographed: Rick Prelinger of the Prelinger Archive. More on him in a future post.

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