Saturday, February 13, 2016
Café Royal Books
Southport, UK: Café Royal Books, 2015
42.3 x 21.4 x 21 cm.
Edition of 10
Café Royal Books is a small independent publisher of zines, primarily photo-based, that is ran out of Southport, England. The operation began in 2005, and at peak times has released a new publication every week. These 28-page booklets are typically produced in small runs, with most being published in an edition of 150 copies. They are sold online and through bookshops in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia, Japan, Canada and Switzerland.
Martin Parr has described the project as "a great archive of much forgotten documentary photography". The books predominantly document "social, historical and architectural change, using both new work and photographs from archives." Emphasis is given to work that "encourages new ways of thinking about existing material or language which demonstrates the importance of using, documenting, collecting and observing a particular process or thing."
Archive One was published in December of last year, on the tenth anniversary of imprint. The elegantly designed box includes the first 100 books of the current series, featuring works by Homer Sykes, David Levenson, John Claridge, Joni Sternbach, David Carol, Matthew Birchall, Geoff Howard, Patrick Ward, Marc Valée, Brian David Stevens and Craig Atkinson, who founded Café Royal.
It's available from the publisher, here, for £750.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
18cm x 18cm x 66cm
Edition of 500
The "first artwork designed to be seen with your eyes closed" was conceived on a bus ride
by Brion Gysin in 1958.
"[I] had a transcendental storm of colour visions today in the bus going to Marseilles," wrote the artist/author, in a diary entry from December 21st, 1958. "We ran through a long avenue of trees and I closed my eyes against the setting sun. An overwhelming flood of intensely bright colors exploded behind my eyelids: a multidimensional kaleidoscope whirling out through space. I was swept out of time. I was out in a world of infinite number. The vision stopped abruptly as we left the trees. Was that a vision? What happened to me?"
Gysin was born in England to Canadian parents and grew up in Edmonton, Alberta. He is best known for his "discovery" of the cut-up method of writing popularized by his close friend William S. Burroughs, who employed the technique in books such as Naked Lunch and Interzone. The Beat author once remarked "Brion Gysin was the only man I ever respected."
When Gysin wrote him about his unusual experience, Burroughs replied "We must storm the citadels of enlightenment, the means are at hand". He also sent Gysin a copy of the The Living Brain by Dr. W. Grey Walter, a neurophysiologist, which described the effect of flickering light on the brain. A shared friend, Ian Sommerville, had also read the book and wrote to Gysin in 1959 announcing that he had produced a protoype of the machine based on Gysin's descriptions:
"I have made a simple flicker machine. You look at it with your eyes shut and the flicker plays over your eyelids. Visions start with a kaleidoscope of colors on a plane in front of the eyes and gradually become more complex and beautiful, breaking like surf on a shore until whole patterns of color are pounding to get in. After awhile the visions were permanently behind my eyelids and I was in the middle of the whole scene with limitless patterns being generated around me. There was an almost unbearable feeling of spatial movement for a while but It was well worth getting through for I found that when it stopped I was high above the earth in a universal blaze of glory. Afterwards I found that my perception of the world around me had increased very notably. All conceptions of being dragged or tired had dropped away..."
From Sommerville's description, Gysin built the Dreamachine in early 1960 in the Beat Hotel in Paris, and obtained a patent the following year.
The Dreamachine consists of a lightbulb inside a cylinder on a 78 RPM turntable. Subjects face the cylinder with their eyes closed and light flickers on the eyelids at a frequency of about 20 Hz, stimulating the optic nerve and altering the brain's electrical oscillations. Users are said to experience increasingly bright, complex patterns of colour behind their closed eyelids.
Aldous Huxley remarked: “The Dreamachine is an aid to visionary experience.” According to Dreammachine.ca, who has produced this new version in an edition of 500 copies, other proponents of the device include David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Kurt Cobain, Laurie Anderson, Steve Lacy, Keith Haring, Allen Ginsberg, Iggy Pop, Bruce Labruce, Marianne Faithfull, Kenneth Anger, Beck and Floria Sigismondi. The site features testimonials by John Giorno, Dj Spooky, Genesis P-Orridge and many others.
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
New York City, USA: 303inprint, 2016
Edition of 250 signed copies
"Loud Song was recorded in Venice Beach California in a house that I rented in the winter of 1985.
I recorded the song on an electric keyboard.
I used two cassette tape recorders.
I Would play the keyboard and record what was played on the first cassette.
Then I would play what I recorded and play more keyboard and record both sounds on the second cassette.
Then I would play back what I recorded on the second cassette and play more keyboard and record all that onto the first cassette.
It was like I was using the cassette players as musicians.
I would record this way until the song got really loud.
At the time I was under contract with Warner Bros.
My job was to try to write “hit” songs. At least that’s what I thought my job was.
Nothing I wrote for this job ever appeared on a record."
"Loud Song was self-recorded in 1985 in Venice California. My band at the time, “Him,” played once in 1980 at Jenny Holzer’s loft at one of her “band parties.” By the time I had recorded “Loud Song” in 1985 I had reduced the members of Him to one. By 1986 I reduced the only remaining member to no one."
- Richard Prince
Previously released (in 2013) as a CD single, Gallery 303 will be launching a new special limited edition vinyl version of Prince's 1985 sound work at the LA Art Book Fair later this week.
In 2004 Prince designed the cover for Sonic Youth's LP Sonic Nurse. Here, Kim Gordon returns the favour, designing a new cover for the 2016 release. The original graphic (below) now appears in the LP as a fold-out poster.
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Lightbulb to Simulate Moonlight
London, UK: Bookworks, 2008
25 x 16 x 11 cm.
Edition of 10
Katie Paterson’s research-based projects often see her collaborating with specialists from the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, genetics, and nanotechnology. For the installation work Lightbulb to Simulate Moon Light, Paterson worked with engineers to determine the spectral measurements of moonlight. They took light-meter readings, analyzed wavelengths, and found an appropriate surface coating in order to produce a bulb that emits rays approximating the light of a full moon.
Paterson commissioned OSRAM Licht AG, a multi-national lighting manufacturer based in Munich, to manufacture the 28 W bulbs with a lifespan of 2,000 hours. The work is exhibited and sold as a wooden crate containing 289 bulbs, which corresponds to the average human life expectancy of 66 years (based on 2008 estimates). Each time the work (produced in an edition of nine copies) is exhibited - with a single bulb burning in the gallery - the lifespan of the artwork is shortened.
This version from Bookworks contains two of the bulbs in a cloth-covered, letter-pressed box.
Monday, February 8, 2016
After befriending artists such as Andy Warhol (who cast him in Sleep and the unreleased Handjob), Roy Lichtenstein, John Cage and Merce Cunningham, John Giorno came to believe that poetry was lagging far behind the advancements being made in visual art, music and dance.
Determined to reach a broader audience, Giorno founded the free Dial-a-Poem series, and founded Giorno Poetry Systems. The non-profit record label released a series of recordings from 1972 to 1989.
Artists often designed the packaging: many of the performer portraits were taken by Les Levine and both Keith Haring and Robert Williams contributed cover illustrations. The discs included spoken word, audio art and the occasional pop performer (Nick Cave, New Order, Patti Smith, Frank Zappa, etc.). Artists/authors/composers included Laurie Anderson, William S Burroughs, Philip Glass, Diamanda Galás, Allen Ginsberg, Jim Carroll, Lydia Lunch, John Cage, Anne Waldman, and Brion Gysin.
Sunday, February 7, 2016
Cologne, Germany: Galerie Gisela Capitain, 1990
136 pp., 32 x 24 cm., hardcover
Edition of 250 signed and numbered copies
Designed to resemble an embossed high school yearbook (with a removable mylar dust jacket containing adolescent doodles), Reconstructed History presents a series of iconic American photographs, defaced with crude drawings and marginalia.
The collection of heroic idealized images of a shared American heritage are culled from scholastic textbooks, all altered with puerile scrawlings, mostly sexual and scatological.
"Here we have a collection of grotesqueries, defacements of some of the most cherished images of our American past," Kelley writes in the introduction, on faux parchment paper, emulating a colonial design. "Who could be responsible for such defilements? What could be the purpose of tarnishing the heroic figures and events we hold so dear?"
Historical figures are seen sporting elongated noses and erections. The Statue of Liberty appears twice: first with added breasts, pubic hair and 'stink lines' emanating from the armpit of her raised torch arm, and later as a phallus with the addition of crudely drawn testicles and ejaculate. The Washington Monument and Empire State Building suffer similar fates.
A gold rush prospector defecates in a stream while panning for gold. The Declaration of Independence is covered in vomit. Speech bubbles convey sentiments such as "Your horse is hung heavier", "Sniff my finger" and "Eat Shit Dad".
Kelley notes that this is not the work of "candidates for a revolutionary youth army or satanic murder cult", but rather grade school students. But - in addition to some recurring motifs - the handwriting appears remarkably consistent throughout.
Unlike the bawdy cartoons, Kelley’s essay employs the jargon and tone of psychoanalysis. He asserts that the lewd doodles go beyond schoolyard mischief:
“Childish resentment is the cause of the defacements presented here. The inability to accept their lower position in the order of things provokes these ‘artists’ to drag back to the surface garbage long buried–to sully, vandalize, and render inoperable our pictures of health. Not that such a tactic is always bad.”