Thursday 28 October 2010

‘U.S.80 Exotic County’ – Let No Man Come Back Alive

Having recently posted something on Found 0bjects about Left London, their previous collaboration, now seems like a good moment to take a look at the latest offering from photographers Alexander Shields and William Eckersley to be published by Stucco Press. U.S. 80 Exotic Country follows a ragged route across America from Savannah in Georgia to San Diego in California: the first human highway to stretch from coast to coast and restlessly trafficking in people guns, drugs and gold – which is to say, history – for almost a century now. So what defines Exotic Country here? What fences it off? Separates the domestic from the alien? It’s a certain sense of isolation that arises when the energies of conquest and exploration have spent themselves across distance – the great push West is also towards exhaustion.

After the enclosed interior spaces of Left London come the wide open horizons of U.S. 80 – to pretty much the same disturbing effect. Once again Shields and Eckersley show great sensitivity for the abandoned and empty sapces – be they motel rooms or shacks, museums or concert halls, superhighways or parking courts. The civic search for the institutions of public life reveals only chaos, while the mythological search for a better life wears space down to nothing. Ruins multiply much more effectively in the open air.

The most startling feature about their newest collaboration are the portraits Shields and Eckersley present of individual people – holding handguns to their heads, hawking refund loans, carrying skateboards or simply standing around looking sharp. I was particularly surprised to discover one of my former students pictured among their number, sporting a repeating rifle and a shadowy mass of stubble and standing outside a California shack, looking a lot less lost than I remember him. I hope he will always remain that way. Order details for the book can be found by clicking here.

Monday 25 October 2010

Dead Fingers Talk - William Burroughs

First published in Great Britain by Calder and Boyars Ltd
Copyright (c) William Burroughs 1963
Tandem Editions 1966

‘Build it yourself obscenity kit... savage and funny attack on repressiveness of all kinds.’ Guardian, quoted on back cover

Photograph of the Author by Brion Gysin

Rubber stamp on title page identifies former owner as Michael Havers QC, 5 King’s Bench Walk, Temple EC4

Originally posted on Found 0bjects.

Friday 22 October 2010

Ken Hollings on ResoVision

It’s easy to like television but much harder to make it like you, I’ve discovered. The reason why television is such a delirious medium is that it entirely transforms you. You no longer have the protection of an isolated sensory impression to hide behind – as you can when presenting texts or conversation on radio or when recording an album. Nor can you entirely dissimulate yourself behind a live performance, which is the one forum that encourages you to act out a role, however natural it might appear to the audience. No, television demands a total transformation of the self into some kind of isolated other – not one sense, but all of them at once – not working together but completely against each other. You no longer know where to place your hands, or where to look – even the phrasing and punctuation of your thoughts seem oddly at odds with each other. Many thanks to the ResoVision staff for creating in real-time the retro chroma-key effects for my talk ‘The Whole World Is Watching: McLuhan, Marcuse and History – or Something’. Their efforts in the control room made it feel as if I were part of some early 70s BBC2 happening. McLuhan would have been proud.

Pictured above: four studies in online TV, KH goes all the way live, photos courtesy of ‘Hollingsville’ girl about town, Hana Tanimura.

Thursday 21 October 2010

Frieze Art Fair 2010: Look Away Now

It was hard to believe we are ten years into a new millennium when wandering around this year’s Frieze Art Fair. There was no long perspective on display, except the endless lines of booths – only a sense of market fluctuations: a feeling that visitors carried with them from the ticket touts hawking ‘Frieze tickets’ outside Regent’s Park tube station to the exclusive Deutsche Bank hospitality offered to those who had the right passes. The step from one millennium to another is the work of a moment – barely the pop of a champagne cork – but the challenge it offers was already there in the period immediately leading up to it, and it still haunts us today. The truth is that, like all ghosts, this creeping sensation only manifests itself at inconvenient times – like at a crowded art fair, packed with people either deliberately looking away or simply staring in the wrong direction. The makeshift ResoVision studio, broadcasting 80 hours of live online television including the talk I was scheduled to give on the Sunday afternoon, seemed as good a vantage point as any to watch the great distraction unfold – and unfold it did.

Pictured above: Frieze Art Fair Logo seen from the exit side; Deutsche Bank welcomes you aboard; a Resonance reporter going undercover; Richard Thomas outside the ResoVision studio

Tuesday 19 October 2010

ISTD ‘Talking Books’ Recollected

I am indebted to Paulus M Dreibholz  not only for these charming pictures of last week’s ‘Talking Books’ evening at the Russian Club Gallery but also for the invitation to take part in the first place. It was indeed a pleasure and an honour to address such a large and enthusiastic audience. The real interest for me, however, lay as always in the opportunity to talk about text with those who see it primarily as a design element, no more no less. It is true, as Fraser Muggeridge observed (recalling the words of Fluxus bibliographer Ulises CarriĆ³n), that writers do not produce books – they produce texts instead. Unfortunately, these texts mostly come freighted with literary forms that have adapted themselves all too readily to the conventions of the printed page. Writers do not so much produce texts as follow the rules of literary production, turning out novels, plays, poems or histories. What I find so refreshing about talking with typographers and graphic designers is that, from their perspective, the text has the potential to become another piece of information design. This is why Norman O. Brown’s Love’s Body suggested itself so readily to as the subject of my talk: the simple agreement between the author, the editor and the designer to create a template, in which Brown could present his text as a series of self-contained aphorisms, each supported by its own individual bibliographic references, represents one of the cleanest and most elegant transformations of a text into a book I have ever encountered. There were brighter, more inventive and certainly more flamboyant publications on display that night, but none that held out the same promise – of collaboration between designers, writers and publishers to produce texts that no longer represent thought but express it instead. My thanks and appreciation to all who took part.

See also:
Love’s Body – Norman O. Brown
Norman O. Brown’s ‘Love’s Body’ at ISTD’s ‘Talking Books’ Stammtisch

Pictured above: the audience before the event (in the background KH in conversation with fellow speaker Hana Tanimura); view from the back of the hall; KH with hardcover and mass-market paperback editions of Love’s Body, both from 1966; (from left to right) fellow speakers Gary Bird (partially obscured) Caroline Roberts, Fraser Muggeridge and Gilmar Wendt in the front row.

Saturday 16 October 2010

ResoVision Debut at Frieze Art Fair

On Sunday October 17 at 1.00 pm I shall be making my debut appearance on ResoVision, Resonance FM’s new television platform, which is making its first test transmissions from this year’s Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park. I am giving a talk entitled ‘The Whole World Is Watching’, which examines different contemporary perspectives on the electronic delirium of the 1960s, specifically those found in the writings of Marshall McLuhan and Herbert Marcuse. By connecting the two, I am hoping to contrast Herbert Marcuse the media theorist with Marshall McLuhan the radical philosopher. Or something.

I also hope to be joining Richard Thomas and his guests for a moment of ResoVision reflection at around 6.00 pm by way of a conclusion to the day’s events. Nothing is rehearsed; everything occupies its own time – even the mistakes. Resonance FM can be found at booth P12, so please come along if you happen to be in the vicinity – otherwise you can follow events by clicking here. Full schedule details of all ResoVision broadcasts can be found by clicking here.

Pictured above: KH at Phlight, photograph courtesy of Simon Tyszko

Thursday 14 October 2010

Love’s Body – Norman O. Brown

Love’s Body

Copyright 1966 by Norman O Brown
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto
Manufactured in the United States of America
Vintage Books are published by Alfred A. Knopt Inc. and Random House, Inc
Random ketchup stain above the word ‘DEATH’ of unknown origin – my thanks and appreciation to all who attended last night’s ISTD ‘Talking Books’ event. The Pulp Modernism label is now active.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Norman O. Brown’s ‘Love’s Body’ at ISTD’s ‘Talking Books’ Stammtisch

On Wednesday October 13 I will be giving a short talk on Norman O. Brown’s amazing 1966 volume Love’s Body as part of an event organized by International Society of Typographical Designers with the Helvetic Centre. Their ‘Talking Books’ Stammtisch is to coincide with the Most Beautiful Swiss Books exhibition, which has been touring since 2009, and features a number of writers and designers talking about their favourite book. I had no hesitation in selecting Love’s Body as my volume of choice – but you will have to attend the event to find out why: it is taking place at the Russian Club Gallery, 340 –344 Kingsland Road, London E8 4DA, and the whole event is due to start at 7.00 pm. See the flyer reproduced above or the appropriate Google Calendar entry elsewhere on this page for more details.

I am also using this post to announce a new feature on this blog. My talk on Love’s Body also marks the start of ‘Pulp Modernism’: a series of posts devoted to examples of fabulous paperback cover art from the 1950s through to the late 1970s – the truly great decades for mass-market sex, violence and intellectual splendour. I am indebted to Mark Fisher and Andy Sharp  for framing the concept so marvellously during the course of the ‘Spaces’ episode in the original Hollingsville series on Resonance 104.4 FM. I’m not sure which of the two came up with the term first, but I do know who intends to exploit it ruthlessly from this point on – my thanks to them both.

Friday 8 October 2010

‘Bright Labyrinth’ extract now available online in #3

‘The welcome is a transitory ritual to which we are all long accustomed. Words of welcome indicate a point of entry where we might not otherwise detect one.’
According to a recent email from Hana Tanimura, the first issue of #3, a new journal she has co-founded and co-edits with Josh McNamara and Neal MacInnes dedicated to eradicating the dialectics of communication by adopting the ‘third position’. Alongside contributions from Zanele Muholi, Paolo Pedercini, and Kay Rose, among others, is an extract from my forthcoming book The Bright Labyrinth: Sex, Death and Design in the Digital Regime. Comprising the first five sections of the opening chapter, ‘Welcome to the Labyrinth’ should give you some idea of the feel and structure of the finished book. The journal itself looks fabulous, and I very pleased to have this early extract from the book to be available in this format. To download a PDF of the #3 please click here. A limited-edition print version of the issue will be available later in the year. Please check this blog for further announcements.

Monday 4 October 2010

New Lecture Series at Central St Martins

From this Wednesday, October 6, and for the next ten weeks, I will be presenting a new series of lectures in the MA Communication Design Main Studio at 10 Back Hill, Clerkenwell, EC1R 5AD. Each talk will reflect some aspect of my work over the past year in developing material for my new book ‘The Bright Labyrinth: Sex, Death and Design in the Digital Regime’ and exploring with invited guests on ‘Hollingsville’, my weekly show for Resonance 104.4 FM. Each lecture starts at 10.00 am and will last an hour with the possibility of a discussion afterwards. All are welcome. The first four in the series are as follows:

Lecture One – Media: The Extensions of God, October 6 – for a ‘Hollingsville’ podcast on this subject, please click here.

Lecture Two – Machines: History and Hardware, October 13 – for a ‘Hollingsville’ podcast on this subject, please click here.

Lecture Three – Networks: Welcome to the Labyrinth, October 20 – for a ‘Hollingsville’ podcast on this subject, please click here.

Lecture Four – Dreams: While the City Sleeps, November 3 – for a ‘Hollingsville’ podcast on this subject, please click here.

Please check this blog regularly for updates and further details.