A Film For Friday: Grace Of My Heart by Allison Anders.

 

One of the things I did during my brief jaunt to The Big Apple in 2001 was to walk from Times Square- where I was staying – and down Broadway to place my hand on the Brill Building. And I did. It was a hot summers day and I burnt my hand.

It’s a fantastic looking building, of course, but that wasn’t the reason for my pilgrimage.

You see, not a lot of people know this- not even Michael Caine – but once upon a time, I wanted to be a songwriter. Indeed, after the band Oceans 11 split up in the mid ‘80s, me and guitarist Peter Ord decided to write songs together. Like Bacharach and David. Goffin and King, Fagan and Becker. But, of course, nothing came of it.

In the 1960s the Brill Building, though, was a hit factory that  housed some great songwriters. Including the ones that I mentioned above plus Paul Simon, Laura Nyro and more.

And Allison Anders’  wonderful  Grace Of My Heart is the story of that era, that great period of musical creativity. Well, it’s a fictional amalgam of a couple of people’s stories-mainly Carole King, I think – and it’s a gem.

Music is by Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Burt Bacharach and others and it’s a smashing story, very well told, with fine performances from Ileana Douglas, John Turturro, Matt Dillon and others.

Short, Sharp Interview: Andrez Bergen

bullet galPDB: What’s going on now?

What’s not going on now is p’raps a better question, particularly overseas! In my own walled-up ballpark here in Tokyo my daughter is about to compete in her first ballet competition at age nine, while I’m set to release the 12-issue trade paperback of my noir comic book ‘Bullet Gal’ via Under Belly Comics in North America, just started a new noir series called ‘Trista & Holt’ (a ’70s crime-oriented revamp of Tristan and Iseult) via IF? Commix in Australia, and I’m working on my next novel ‘The Mercury Drinkers’.

 

PDB: How did you research this book?

‘Bullet Gal’ is my kiss-off homage to film noir and hardboiled literature of the 1930s and ’40s, mostly related to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett —thrown in with the off-beat science fiction of Philip K. Dick and artistic sensibilities of Dada and Terry Gilliam. So, the research? Growing up with this stuff, along with comic book art from Jim Steranko, Will Eisner and Jack Kirby.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

Jeez, that’s a toughie—they all have their moment in the sun depending upon the mood I’m in. But I think I’d swing with my second novel ‘One Hundred Years of Vicissitude’ (2012). There’s something there that I just really love.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

Fave film bounces between ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and ‘The Big Sleep’. Book-wise I’d best cite ‘The Maltese Falcon’ as I’ve read it thirty-odd times. Song? Easy—Ary Barroso’s ‘Brazil’. TV programme is tough. Let’s go with ‘Black Adder II’ for now.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

Yeah, I think so—most of my stuff is set in my hometown Melbourne, even though I’ve lived in Tokyo going on for 14 years.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Ha Ha Ha… shhh! Every now and then. Not to often, I swear!

PDB: What’s next?

Focusing on ‘Trista & Holt’ (I just finished #5, and I think the arc will be about 12 issues) along with the new novel, and working with Matt Kyme and a bunch of artists on our next ‘Tales to Admonish’ anthology. Otherwise applauding Cocoa at her ballet performance!

Tobacco -Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez BergenBio: ANDREZ BERGEN is an expat Australian author, journalist, DJ, comic book artist, and ad hoc saké connoisseur who’s been entrenched in Tokyo, Japan, for the past 14 years.

He makes music as Little Nobody and previously ran groundbreaking Melbourne record label IF? for over a decade, before setting up IF? Commix in 2013 in collusion with Matt Kyme.

The duo do a comic book together titled Tales to Admonish.

Bergen has also written for newspapers such as The Age and the Yomiuri Shinbun, as well as magazines like Mixmag, Anime Insider, Australian Style, Remix, Impact, 3D World and Geek Magazine.

He’s published four novels: The noir/sci-fi novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (2011), surreal slipstream/fantasy One Hundred Years of Vicissitude (2012), comic book, noir and pulp homage Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? (2013) and the gothic-noir mystery Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth (2014).

Bergen is current working on novel #5 (The Mercury Drinkers).

In 2014 he unveiled his first graphic novel, a 144-page adaptation of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat that Bergen both wrote and illustrated, along with the monthly comic book series Bullet Gal.

In 2015, all 12 issues of Bullet Gal have been collected together as a 348-page trade paperback, and he’s started a brand new series called Trista & Holt.

He’s further published short stories and sequential yarns through Crime Factory, Shotgun Honey, Snubnose Press, Solarcide, Weird Noir, Big Pulp, 8th Wonder Press and All Due Respect, and worked on translating and adapting the scripts for feature films by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), Kazuchika Kise and Naoyoshi Shiotani, for Production I.G.

Short, Sharp Interview: Tracey Edges

Tracey edgesPDB: What’s going on now?

This very minute I am ‘coming down’ from the Sunday morning madness that is Sunday Girl! Today was the Christmas Show so lots of indies, a couple of oldies, some non-Christmas tracks. Usual Sunday Girl eclectic mix but with a festive twist. The show airs 9-11am every Sunday morning but I am really at the go from about 7.30 to 12.30 plus, just chasing my tail trying to keep up with all the interaction on social media. It’s crazy but fun crazy.

PDB: How long have you been a Sunday Girl?

My very first show for Lincoln-based station, Siren FM 107.3 was on 11th August 2013. Today’s show (21st December 2014) was my 68th Sunday Girl. I really can’t believe that I have done that many!

PDB: What’s it like getting up early on a Sunday Morning?

Hell – I am a lazy sausage! I am terrible at getting to bed. Last night I was writing some of the next show until nearly 3am. I’ve always enjoyed lazy Sunday mornings but now I am running about the house like a mad thing trying to get ready and it’s straight on to social media which, once started, doesn’t let up for the next few hours.

PDB: How important are social media?

Immensely. I have accounts on all the main sites but I really only have time to fully service Facebook and then Twitter. As my listener base is global and in various time zones, getting show reminders out regularly is very important. Every week I take the time to put together a photo-playlist which has all the links, of the indie artists and authors, on as I love to be able, in my small way, to promote all that great talent that is out there but bubbling under the radar.

Also, without social media, I wouldn’t be able to communicate so easily with Artists from all over the world. I never take it for granted how easy it is to communicate with someone from New York, Japan, Costa Rica or even Poland! Actually – that can account for some of my late nights…

PDB: Which of your projects are you most proud of?

Oh gosh, that is a tough one. I am amazingly proud that I have my own radio show – I would never have thought that I would have had the nerve to do that, even though it was something that I wanted to do from being at school. In those days DJs were rather revered and I remember always dying to go to the Radio 1 roadshow when it came to Cleethorpes. With their big glitzy trailers it all seemed very glam!

I am also an artist and I am very proud that I have had very well received solo exhibitions and I am looking forward to getting back into painting, after a small hiatus.

I also have written some short stories and have been very flattered by the response to those. Writing more is also on the agenda and getting more published. It was a Tigger-moment to have ‘Memento’ accepted for the anthology “Off The Record 2 – At The Movies” and that book is very proudly sitting on my bookshelf. I have also written a continuous story blog called PI GY. It is a mix of fact and fiction and basically ‘me’ being a Private Investigator in Grimsby – a bit of a (very) low level NYPD or NCIS! I did record some for a radio series. That was my first experience with Siren FM – in fact my first experience of doing anything for radio, other than being interviewed on Estuary Radio about a smaller solo art exhibition I was showing at the time.

You can listen to that interview, and find out all about me as well as watching a slideshow of my work, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5depLM8R6RU  The first radio series of PI GY can be heard at: http://www.sirenonline.co.uk/archives/3274

I also write a column for a magazine, The Peoples, called ‘Girl About Town’. That is available, free to read, on Issuu.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

Oh, blimey – I hate this question! I really don’t know – it’s usually the last one I enjoyed. I like to relax when reading, watching or listening so nothing too heavy or esoteric, although I like to be carried along by the ride – one that twists and turns and makes you wonder what is going to happen next.

I am a really frustrated bookworm and, as I’ve moved into a house that needs a lot  of work, I haven’t had the time to read much. I have just been engrossed in ‘After The Storm’ by Jane Lythell, which I have reviewed for a Sunday Girl Book of the Week feature (that was my 3am work last night!) and I will always have a soft spot for Tony Schumacher’s brilliant debut novel “The Darkest Hour”. I was lucky to be able to read that as he wrote it – bit by bit. That was frustrating and exciting in equal measure. It was also very interesting to see the journey it took from conception to being taken up by a major publisher, the editing process, and ending up on the bookshelves with the ensuing marketing and promotion. I also love Luca Vesta’s books, I have his second, in-waiting and so many more. I have a biography by Liz Kershaw, half read (brilliant as all about radio!) and “Pretty Broken Punks” by Martin Belk, madly waving at me to get them read.

I’m not really a film person, in an academic sense. I did watch Brief Encounter, for the first time last year, and it has inspired me to get going on a painting project based on that – the fleeting moment. That needs my house to get sorted out first though. At the moment I can’t get into my Art Studio for chairs (don’t ask!)

Music – all and everything. Sometimes I’m in the mood for something tinkly and classical, mostly I’m still a punk girl though and like a good blast. I love discovering new (to me) music and I find that the Indie radio presenters are such a great bunch that they are not at all precious and love to share the people they play so I have listened to a lot of people that I may never have come across otherwise. I have started to get into Electronic bands such as Naked Lunch, Rossetti’s Compass and Attrition – not a genre that I have ever really known much about but there is some really great new, and reinvented, music coming from that direction. I can’t say that I am a great fan of Country or Folk but I can even be turned in that direction by great music. Americana by Jane Allison is great and I even enjoy a bit of Yee-Haa-ing supplied by the likes of Mark Glazier and Morgin Breen. I am lucky to have some great local bands such as Kismet Ryding, Sunny and Boo-Boo, The Moth Lantern and many more.

Phew – TV! I have to admit to liking a good ol’ US of A television series. At the minute I’m watching Stalker and have just finished the first season of Nashville. As I said – it’s relaxing stuff to just flop out with. The Mentalist, Castle and sci-fi, such as Fringe are all favourites. I’m also watching the radio/podcast based sitcom, Maron.

PDB: What’s next?

Just carrying on, carrying on. Expanding all that I am doing and making it all even bigger and even better. Crossing fingers and working hard. I’ve tried to drop one thing or another but I have realised, that for me, I need to do less of all but more as the whole and bring it all together. I may start to include music and words in my Artwork, for example. You never stop exploring, learning and discovering and that is what I love doing. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

sunday girl

Bio: Tracey Edges is an Artist/Writer/Radio Presenter from Cleethorpes. She has lived in Oxfordshire, where she had great fun for 2 years at Art School and then loved studying Graphic Design, Illustration and Advertising at High Wycombe, Bucks.

After a few years, in a beautiful area of Cornwall, owning a village shop and post office, and pretending to be Mrs Goggins, she returned to Grimsby to concentrate on her Fine Art career. The past couple of years she has extended her creativity to include writing and radio presenting. Starting off with Estuary Radio, in Grimsby, she now has a weekly, Sunday Morning, 2 hour, well-received show with Lincoln’s Siren FM 107.3.

Links: Sunday Girl: www.sirenonline.co.uk/section/shows/sunday-girl
Facebook: Tracey Edges (profile) Tracey Edges Presenter (page)
Twitter: @tedges
Website: www.traceyedges.co.uk (woefully out of date – it’s on The To-Do List!)
Blogs: www.alittlebitoftraceyedges.blogspot.com (short stories)
www.traceyedges.blogspot.com (PI GY, continuous story blog)

Guest Blog: DEPTH CHARGING THE BLACK & WHITE by Andrez Bergen

BLACK-WHITE-comic-COVEROver the past three months I’ve rammed through Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s entire run on Captain America, their superb reconstruction of the birth of Marvel heroes in the ’40s (The Marvels Project) and the duo’s recent work on espionage thriller Velvet.

I also rifled through issues one to twenty of Brubaker’s horror-noir Fatale with artist Sean Phillips, all of Matt Fraction’s insanely cool take on Hawkeye with artists David Aja, Annie Wu and Francesco Francavilla, and other recent comics like Black Science, Red Sonja, From Above, New Avengers, and Day Men.

Along the way I backpedalled into classic stuff like The Spirit by Will Eisner, Miss Fury by Tarpé Mills, the Jim Steranko run on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Kazuo Umezu’s Orochi Blood, Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä, and Hergé’s Tintin.

I also stumbled once more into the fairly hilarious (and dated) Avengers comics from the mid 1960s by Stan Lee with Don Heck and Dick Ayers — I mean, in #25 alone Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) has a crush on Captain America. Hawkeye is jealous and calls Cap an over-aged square. Pietro (Quicksilver) is kind of like background wallpaper. And Hawkeye then defeats Doc Doom with a “Sneeze-Smog Arrow”. Of course. The Fantastic Four from the same period (by Lee with Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott) has aged far more gracefully.

Meanwhile, book-wise, I was being buffeted by Jedediah Berry’s The Manual of Detection; a hundredth reread of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and way too many Dr. Seuss tomes to count (with my daughter Cocoa).

Thing is, at the same time, I’ve been making my own comic books with artist Matt Kyme (our Tales to Admonish series), assembling an anthology of sequential art noir by a bunch of other artists (the Black/White project we just released), and finishing up my fourth novel.

That’s titled Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth, will be published mid-year via Perfect Edge Books, and is no doubt subliminally influenced by all of these things (above) along with nudges and winks at three of my favourite comic book artists (Kirby, Mills and Steve Ditko) and a whole wealth of 1980s post-punk/goth music. The cover painting, by French artist Kmye Chan, was chosen as much because of its references to manga and gothdom as it was for the likeness to the art of Ditko.

Zig-Zag_Drezz-RodriguezI think my head is a bit of a mess, but messiness has its good points since you’re not exactly thinking straight, and creativity bounces off at right angles.

Which brings me back (in black?) to Black/White, that comic book anthology I mentioned, which captures the mind-bending artwork of guys from the UK (Andrew Chiu), the USA (Nathan St. John), Canada (Drezz Rodriguez, Michael Grills) and Argentina (Marcos Vergara) — messing with my hack words.

It’s the art that speaks volumes here.

Their focus? Noir, tongue firmly in cheek on some occasions; withheld in others. Set in a near-future Melbourne, these yarns veer into the territory of crime, graf, femmes fatales, assisted suicide and post-apocalyptic dystopia — and that’s just for starters.

Black/White is being published by our indie Aussie comic book house IF? Commix in March 2014, with the digital version available already to pre-order online — for just $1 — at the website: iffybizness.weebly.com

Bio: ANDREZ BERGEN :

AUTHOR PROFILE @ AMAZON
http://www.amazon.com/Andrez-Bergen/e/B009I1QB2I
Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat / Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? / Tales to Admonish

MUZAK as Little Nobody and Funk Gadget
http://www.beatport.com/artist/little-nobody/69970

Senior Writer/Editor @ Impact magazine (UK)
Writer/Editor @ Anime Update / Gaijinpot / JapaneseCultureGoNow! / Yomiuri Shimbun

Comics @ IF? Commix
http://iffybizness.weebly.com

Short, Sharp Interview: Richard Sanderson.

PDB: Can you pitch the latest LINEAR OBSESSIONAL RECORDINGS release in 25 words or less?

Tulse Hill” by Hannah Marshall is an introspective solo cello album, built around hypnotic repetition and strange extraneous noises.

PDB: What music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I loved David Peace’s “Occupied City” – probably his most experimental yet, but so well researched and compulsive he really captures the true horror of the way crime effects ordinary people. I also really enjoyed Kate Atkinson’s “Started Early, Took My Dog”, which reminded me of my Barbara Vine kick of a few years ago.

I recently watched “The White Ribbon” which is still reverberating round my bonce.

Music – Petrels, Joni Mitchell, Vic Godard, Evan Parker, Chic, Bob Dylan

Also,can I add http://www.mobydickbigread.com/ to my stuff that I like? It’s an amazingly inventive thrilling serial…with terrific artwork and more terrific readers. What the internet is for.

PDB: Is it possible for a musician to be an objective listener?

Unless you’re one of those weirdos who only listen to yourself, I don’t see why not. I listen widely, even though the music I produce or distribute is generally classed as “experimental”, so I’m rarely thinking “could I do better?”

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing music for films, theatre or television?

Yes, and I have done a bit – the last was the soundtrack for Clive Shaw’s “True North” a brilliant animated film about a polar bear. On the whole it seems a hard area to get into.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you?

Quite important – although I kind of resent it too! I can’t see me ever using Twitter though and I recently deleted all my blogs.

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2012?

An EP with Alex Charles, recording with Foulkestone and the Horse Trio. Concentrating on noisy solo work too. A gig with loads of others at Cafe Oto for the wonderful Mike Cooper’s 70th Birthday. New releases on Lin Ob from Kev Hopper, Alex Charles, John Love, Jude Cowan Montague, Hanetration etc. Boxing day tour with Blackheath Morris. Possibly a compilation album of my old songs – to say goodbye to them…

RICHARD SANDERSON’S BIOG:

I’m originally from Middlesbrough in the North East of England, but I’ve lived in London since 1985. I started off playing guitar and singing in punk and post-punk bands in Teesside. The most successful of which, Drop (1978-1979) was championed by Julian Cope who praised the band’s “sheer confidence and succinctness”. Drop have been dragged out of retirement a couple of times in the 21st Century, and may be again. In 1980 I released a 12″ EP with the band Tick Tick that has remained resolutely underground ever since.

Since arriving in London, I gravitated towards the improvised music scene, initially playing toys, samplers and electronics alongside musicians such as Adam Bohman, Mark Browne, Mike Walter, Mark Wastell, Chris Burn, and others before joining the band Ticklish with Kev Hopper, Phil Durrant and video artist Rob Flint. Other groups I was in included Kelsey Michael’s widescreen pop octet “Minnow” and a trio with Steve Beresford and Anna Homler. From the late ’90s onwards I played many gigs throughout the UK experimental scene as well as at festivals in Germany, Austria, Holland, Denmark and France. I was also active as a promoter, organising clubs such as The Club Room (with Mike Walter and John Russell), Reaction Time, The Departure Lounge and Baggage Reclaim. For nearly 10 years I was a director of the London Musicians Collective.

In the last 7 years my interests have widened to include traditional English music and dance, taking up morris dancing (with Blackheath Morris Men) and the melodeon (a diatonic button accordion). These interests are also reflected in the group Foulkestone (with Jude Cowan Montague) which performs traditional songs with modern accompaniment. As well as playing solo gigs with amplified melodeon, I play in the Horse Trio with Sue Lynch (saxophone and flute) and Hutch Demouilpied (trumpet), and in duos with Paul May (drums) Clive Pearman (guitar and banjo) and Steve Moyes (‘cello). I’m also continuing to make music with Mark Spybey and my cousin Mark Sanderson – a collaboration that has lasted 38 years.

In 2012 I started the netlabel Linear Obsessional Recordings to release music by experimental musicians from around the globe under a Creative Commons licence.

 

Short, Sharp Interview: Anne Pigalle

(photo by Kevin Cummins)

PDB: Can you pitch L’AME EROTIQUE in 25 words or less?

AP: 21 vignettes about eroticism, not pornography; people laughed when I first started, they are all doing it now, badly.

PDB: What music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

AP: There seems to be a lack of anything interesting at all in the mainstream, that it is in music, films or art; I am sure there is some great underground stuff, but without the exposure, it is always hard to know what and where.

I have an enormously eclectic taste, I am very curious, I listen, watch, read old stuff and everything, everything interests me, not just the Arts, everything  is a lesson if you know how to look and listen – a bus ride or cooking dinner… But please, gimme something new… Mind you, this way I can concentrate on my own stuff, but it would be so good to be inspired, rather than only inspire…The stuff out there is not new. Derivative or stolen/copied, waste of time – Wake up kids !

PDB: Is it possible for a musician to be an objective listener?

AP: Objective, yes, in a way, if you really believe in what you do and work extremely hard at it and dedicate your life to it – with no lies – ( I mean no bullshit about fame and money ) then there is a strong chance you might have an objective view on things; people have different tastes, but they tend to agree when something is a masterpiece.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing music for films, theatre or television?

AP: I have written a music film. Hollywood was even interested in it, but I will only be interested in Hollywood when the times and conditions are right – Of course some of it has been ripped off, like the rest of my work, but honestly, they just trash it all the way… It’s laughable how they miss the point of my work…

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you?

AP: Social media, well, it was nice to experiment a few years back; some of it has been good and some really bad…There is an interesting film called ” Living In Public ” which shows the damage that living in public can produce…So I don’t keep my close friends on FB for example, as I want to keep them in real life…The power seems to be in the hands of who owns these media networks…And F**K that, it just seems to perpetuate the bullshit music out there ( a little bit of good stuff I guess ), so I take it with a pinch of salt…

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2012?

AP:  Working on my new album, now that is exciting, because it is the accumulation of all my work and a middle finger to today’s excruciating cut and paste show business…  Never mind the cunts, here comes Anne Pigalle!

Bio:

The Last Chanteuse needs no introduction…

Like Edith Piaf , The Last Chanteuse grew up at the back of Montmartre in Paris, France. Her teenage years were spent playing guitar in a punk band and watching films.

Anne Pigalle moved to London, recorded with Michael Nyman and Adrian Sherwood and then went on to sign a recording contract with Trevor Horn’s record label ZTT, where she will record an album and a few singles. Hailed as the queen of Chic Bohemia, she will tour Europe and Japan.

Anne Pigalle then moves to LA where to work on her film idea, and meets the late Donald Cammell; she consecutively returns to London where she produces some experimental music pieces as well as some classic songs, erotic poetry, paintings and some beautiful self portraits polaroids, exhibited at the Michael Hoppen Gallery (the show Amerotica voted 4th best in The Times ); her role as a multi media artist becomes apparent and influential.

2011 sees the release of the trilogy : L’Amerotica I and II as well as L’Ame Erotique, a compilation of poetic and surrealists vignettes declaiming the values of personal love and erotic experiences in a world of generic and stolen ideas.

ANNE PIGALLE’S WEBSITE IS HERE.

THE VIDEO FOR SAINT ORGASM FROM L’AME EROTIQUE IS HERE.

SHE PLAYS ‘WITH MY BLONDE’ HERE.

L’HISTOIRE  D’ANNE PIGALLE IS HERE.

AND SHE EVEN HAS A BLOG HERE.

Short, Sharp Interview: K A Laity

PDB: Can you pitch CHASTITY FLAME in 25 words or less?

KAL:  Sexy super secret agent has mad flings and chases wild things as a Norwegian mastermind and a Belgian hacker try to crash the European market.

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

KAL: I’m reading so many books! I’m deep into Vol 3 of Len Wanner’s Crime Writer Interviews, as well as Off the Record 2 which is just chock full of good stuff, same goes for my colleagues in Tales of the Nun and Dragon and I’m plunging into K. T. Davies’ The Red Knight which has massive battle scenes, quite different stuff. I haven’t been to a film since I got to NY and we don’t have television out here in the country, so we just rewatched all of Arrested Development. Steve Holt!

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

KAL: No. Wait, you wanted more than a monosyllable? I read with different levels of attention, but it doesn’t take much of an error to get me scribbling in the margins or annotating my Kindle. I hate anything that takes me out of the story.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

KAL: I do but I’ve been so busy with prose that everything’s fallen by the wayside. Horrible to be gainfully employed all of the sudden. I’m getting so much less done.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

KAL: It varies: I used CHASTITY FLAME as an excuse to hang around my favourite spots idling: the National Gallery, the Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge. I did have to research the lounges on the Eurostar because I have no intentions of being suffocated in a tunnel under the British Channel.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

KAL:  My lifeline! I don’t know how I’d manage without it. At any given time I am too far away from some people I love and being back in the States in the midst of a political race is a monumentally depressing thing. I don’t know what I’d do without my friends cheering me. I’m a bit of gypsy, too, so social media is how I make sure I have some place to sleep at night! 🙂

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2012?

KAL: My dark fiction collection UNQUIET DREAMS is out on October 4th from Tirgearr; I’m wading through the submissions for WEIRD NOIR that needs to be out in e-book form before NoirCon in November, so I am feeling the whip. I’m also stealing time to work on my next novel WHITE RABBIT which is also a kind of weird noir tale with fake psychics, a murdered trophy wife and a strange drug cult. I hope to have the first draft done before the end of the fall semester. The next CHASTITY FLAME book, LUSH SITUATION comes out in January,so there’s no let up, eh?

WIN A COPY OF CHASTITY FLAME HERE.

NOIR NATION 2 IS OUT NOW !!!

Noir Nation is an eBook journal of high quality crime fiction, essays, and author interviews, illustrated with living art: tattoos.

Issue No. 2 is rich with stories that tell of being stopped at a tense Israeli checkpoint, a man reflecting on the death of his sadistic mother while getting a tattoo, hunting jaguars in the Chimalapas jungle, a fatal conversation between a married couple on a Japanese mountain cliff, the consummation of a macabre wedding in Tangiers, a German psychopath who thinks himself a werewolf, a missing prostitute in Cambodia’s red light district, a Boston businessman trying to survive a murderous economy, barroom pickups that turn deadly, soldiers captured in World War II taking grisly revenge on their guards, the renovation of a theater that hides a crime, a pistol-packing Harlem grandmother who fends for
her young, a road trip from New Orleans to Vancouver that ends in a Pulp Fiction style shootout, and hitchhikers who should have kept hiking.

Contributors hail from no less than sixteen countries: Finland, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Germany, Ireland, Mexico, Israel, Cuba, Canada, Columbia, Puerto Rico, South Africa, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

Entries include stories by classic noir writers such as Edogawa Rampo, considered by many to be the father of Japanese crime fiction; Paul Calderon, an actor who appears regularly on the television show Law & Order and who played Paul the bartender in the film Pulp Fiction; and first-time authors Mary Therese Gattuso, Hubert Osprey, and Pierce Loughran.

Afficionados of hardboiled crime noir will see new works by Nick Arvin, Ray Banks, Paul Calderon, Atar Hadari, Sophie Jaff, Susan Lercher, Julia Madeleine, Court Merrigan, Joe L. Murr, Andrew Nette, Thomas Pluck, Victor Quintas, Stephen D. Rogers, Ulrike Rudolf, Bob Thurber, Ruben Varona, Corinna Underwood, and Tom Vater.

The issue also contains an interview with Madison Smartt Bell talking about blowing his knees with Tae Kwon Do and the influence on his fiction by Harry Crews, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and Dostoyevsky. And darkly disturbing entries from 400-year-old London’s Criminal Court logs that show how little has changed in the human drive to murder, maim, and enslave others.

Tattoo photos by Miguel Angel, Madeline Keller-Yunes, Julia Madeleine, Ilya Shchanikov, Shaireproductions.com, Aroon Thaewchatturat, and Chris Willis.

Translations by Andrew Kirk, Rowena Galavitz, Mary Tannert, and Eddie Vega.

You can get Noir Nation 2 from Amazon UK, as well as loads of other places.

And while you’re there, you can pick up the first issue of Noir Nation, which includes stuff from Les Edgerton, Scott Wolven and me.

Robert Mitchum – The Soul Of Film Noir.

‘Some walk like they own the place /Whilst others creep in fear/ Try if you can to walk like a man /You’ve got to walk like a panther tonight’

Robert Mitchum by Kate Gabrielle

Or so said, Jarvis Cocker,and, indeed, he really could have been talking about the great uncaged beast that was Robert Charles Durman Mitchum.

Big Bob, certainly prowled though many films like he ‘owned the place’ although, in typically self-deprecating fashion, he said this: “People say I have an interesting walk. Hell, I’m just trying to hold my gut in.”

For most of his life Mitchum was also uncaged. After being expelled from High School, he traveled throughout the country on railroad cars, taking a number of jobs including a ditch-digger and a professional boxer. He experienced many adventures during his years as one of the Depression era’s “wild boys of the road.”

However, in Georgia he was arrested for vagrancy and put on a local chain gang . Years later, in August 1948, he was arrested by narcotics officers for marijuana possession and sentenced to 60 days at a California prison farm.

But in film he always seemed free. Roger Ebert called Mitchum ‘the soul of Film Noir’ and this was true in films such as Crossfire, The Big Steal,. Otto Preminger’s Angel Face and Out of the Past, directed by Jacques Tourneur ,where Mitchum’s cynical, mischievous attitude, along with his lascivious droopy eyes and lazy mouth, were ideally suited to the role of the anti-hero.

However, the Charles Laughton helmed The Night of the Hunter is still considered by many to be Mitchum’s best performance, playing a psychotic criminal posing as a preacher to find money hidden in his cell mate’s home.

Hell, Mitchum was so cool that  he recorded a calypso album and Julian Cope wrote this song about him.

THIS POST FIRST APPEARED AT SILENTS AND TALKIES.

THE SPLENDID MITCHUM PAINTING IS BY KATE GABRIELLE.

Short, Sharp Interview : Sean Hartter

PDB: Can you pitch your latest project in 25 words or less?

SH: Collaborations are germinating , poster work, awesome odd jobs, daily new blog content and the dogged pursuit of new opportunities.

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

Recently? I’d say straight off, without batting an eye, Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” is a new classic and a film I have probably watched 5 times in the last 6 months. I am a NUT for his films, even going back to his Danish “Pusher” trilogy.

I recieved a copy of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” in the HUGELY oversized “Absolute” format as a gift this year. Even after 26 years it still hits me like a freight train.

I read a lot of trade paperback comic collections like Jack Kirby’s “Black Panther” and “Devil Dinosaur” that almost radiate heat from the page because of the vivid colors available with today’s printing methods.

I watch TV sparingly, but I have loved Futurama since 1999, was crushed when it was cancelled by Fox, overjoyed when Comedy Central picked it up for new episodes. But I generally watch movies on DVD if I’m in front of the tube.

PDB: Is it possible for an artist to be objective about other artists?

I can only speak for myself, I am unabashedly NOT objective, every day I see a piece by someone I know or even someone I don’t that just makes me nod my head and say “Yes. AWESOME”. there are dozens of artists that I know and even don’t know at all that have me lookingforward to what they are going to do next. I never down anyone’s attempts. Who am I to judge what you felt you had to create? But I am a HARDCORE cheerleader for art I like.

PDB: Do you have any interest in films, theatre or television?

I’d say of the three, 99.9% of my interest is in film. Some of my best experiences in life have taken place in movie theaters. From when I first saw John Milius’ “Conan” at age 9 (and more than a few other fantastic films in the year 1982 alone) to when I finally saw Vader unmasked at the end of “Jedi” in 1983.

 

Officer Alex Murphy’s painful transformation into “Robocop” in 1987 floored me. I wanted to know what the Secret Army of the “12 Monkeys” was about in 1996.

 

I left the theater boiling with righteous geek anger TWICE in 1998 after seeing “Godzilla” and “Batman and Robin”.

I rooted for The Bride to ultimately “Kill Bill” in 2003. I yelled at the screen with GLEE during”The Cabin The Woods” this year. I am a FOOL for film.

 

I have to kind of limit my answer to that because it s a VERY involved topic for me as I haven’t even mentioned films I didn’t see in theaters when they first came out, a number of which were made before I was born.

 

I wish I had more exposure to live theater but I just haven’t in life. It is a definite shortcoming.

 

TV? I can’t even scratch the surface of the surface on that. Let’s just say I am a rabid lover of everything from Battle of the Planets to Garth Marenghi’s “Darkplace“. I think that about covers what I’m about as far as TV goes.

 

 

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as an artist?

 

Wow, I can’t describe to you what an equalizer social media has been for me in the last 8 years. I’d be in the weeds without it. POWERFUL tools if you realize that you have to use them without seeming like you’re using them, and the best way to do that is to not have any ulterior motives with people and be genuine. Deal above the boards at every level, in every situation.

punisherhartter

Social media has put me in contact not only with people I would LOVE to work with, but more importantly, people who like what I do from all walks of life. I’ve been able to strike up lasting friendships with artists and non artists alike, people whose opinion carries ultimate weight with me.

 

I’ve also met a number of people further along in the art world than I am and without their mentorship, combined with the kind words and encouragement of self-professed fans, there is no way I would have grown, no way.

 

I was able to meet a longstanding artistic idol of mine, Aidan Hughes (BRUTE!), who ALWAYS has time to help me sort out professional issues. I have been a died in the wool MEGA FAN of his since I was 15 or 16 (I’m almost 39 now), and  if you would have told the ME of back then that not only would I correspond with BRUTE! eventually, but he would over the course of five years give me expert insight into how an artist should hone his skill into a method that can be wielded with not only as much ferocity as you can muster but also the decisive calm of a master, the ME of then would have laughed in your face.

 

There are a whole cabal of folks that have steered me in the right direction; Geoff Boucher, founder of Hero Complex, hired me for a handful of gigs for him this year. Emmy winning  artist Thomas N Perkins IV taught me a thing or two about valuing myself and my work.

 

Never say die artists like Kurt Belcher, Daniel Th1rte3n and JB Sapienza taught me to, well, never say die. All of this became possible when I decided to sign up for Facebook, twitter and the like back in 2008-ish, so yeah, social media is great for a guy like me.

 

PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012?

 

Whew, well, that is an ever shifting schedule that changes dramatically day-to-day.  I try to make my work “a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom”  to quote Sailor Ripley. The rub is that everything comes in cycles. Crazy busy or not so crazy busy I still produce SOMETHING every single day; some for fun while projects that don’t require me at this stage percolate and become reality.

 

One of the most satisfying working relationships and friendships that has developed over the last year is with a Rhode Island film company called Scorpio Film Releasing. Those guys are GREAT. I talk to director Richard Griffin daily since they hired me to work on their film ‘Murder University” at the tail end of 2011. They absolutely have a sly 42nd street in the 1970’s appeal to their films that I am more than glad to be part of. They have 3 productions coming up, so there’s poster work for those as well as another film going into production soon that hired me based on my work for SFR.

 

I’m also involved with the “My Name Is…Jonah”documentary about real life warrior/harpman Jonah Washnis (yet another valued friend I have made because of art!) I do a lot of fill in commissions for companies and private people, some I can’t mention because, like I said earlier, they are percolating projects that don’t kinda involve me yet.

 

There are a few possible BIG projects that are just in their infancy that I am trying like hell not to over think or get antsy about.

 

In down times, I contribute to websites like Retroist or sites that have championed my work like The Cathode Ray Mission out of NY State, Super Punch out of LA or Cultural Compulsive Disorder out of Brooklyn will run something I posted on my blog, and that helps me keep my momentum going, no doubt. Actually the admins and fellow contributors to all of those sites have become personal friends that I talk to often and collaborate with.

 

I know I am forgetting things and people but I am not in the least bit shy about letting everyone know what I’m working on, so I guess we’ll all just see what transpires.

 

Sean Hartter’s magnificent blog is here.

Days Of Futuramas Past

Here comes the sun, which means the rock festival season is already upon us. Young and old alike are turning up at football stadiums or muddy fields for the likes of Coldplay, The Stone Roses and, er, probably loads of people I’ve never heard of. And all in the name of ‘fun’. Apparently. Not me, though. No way. And here’s why…
 
Dexy’s Midnight Runners once sang ‘Lord Have Mercy On Me/ Keep Me Away From Leeds’, in the brilliantly titled Thankfully, Not Living In Yorkshire, It Doesn’t Apply.
 
And, to be honest, many people would probably agree with Dexy’s, since Leeds certainly fits a lot of folk’s idea of the grim, industrial wastelands of the north of England.
 
What could be gloomier, in fact, than, say, Leeds on a cold and rainy weekend in September? Maybe watching Joy Division, too? Ah, well …
 
And so it came to pass … it was 1979, at the age of 17, when I first visited Leeds to attend the Futurama Festival (nothing to do with the cracking telly showat the Queen’s Hall. Organised by local boy John Keenan, the festival was billed as ‘The World’s First Science Fiction Music Festival’ – even though there seemed to be  little sci-fi to the experience, apart from a couple of people dressed as robots.  
 
Mind you, sleeping in a municipal building’s drafty hall, on a grubby and sticky floor, with a bunch of other waifs and strays (who had travelled the country – and further afield – to see some of the hippest, most cutting edge, post- punk bands around) did have a touch of the dystopian future about it, when I come to think of it.
But the sci-fi angle wasn’t important. It was all about music. And what a line-up of ‘hot’ bands it was.
 
Yes, of course, the now legendary Joy Division were among the odds and sods  of bands playing over the Festival’s two days, along with their fellow Factory Records glum chums A Certain Ratio and, electro-pop  superstars in the making, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.
 
But, there was also The Teardrop Explodes (who were beaut and performed a cracking version of Aretha Franklin’s Save Me)Scritti Pollitti, Cabaret Voltaire, The Monochrome Set, Spizz Energy, Echo and The Bunnymen (complete with drum machine, Echo),  The Only Ones, and, er, The Invaders.
 
And there was also one of the first performances of former Sex Pistol John Lydon’s Public Image Limited (I slept through a bit of them but bought a Bowie bootleg from Lydon’s brother Jimmy.)
 
And, of course, The Fall who, for my money, were the best band of the whole two days. I still have fond memories of Mark E Smith hassling the Hawkwind fans about their ‘cosmic crap.’ Hawkwind, along with other sixties psychedelic types, such as Nik Turner, seemed prehistorically out of place but their stoned fans seemed happy enough to wander around and take abuse from the younger punks and long-mac wearers.
 
futurama pass.Joy Division, by the way, were damn fine. At the time, they were on the crest of a creative wave, after Unknown Pleasures and Transmission, and before the synthesizers softened their sound. They were, for most people, the stars of the show. The bees’ knees, the cat’s whiskers, the dog’s bollocks.And any other animal’s anatomy.
 
As was the Futurama Festival.
 
More than a few of those bands went on to make something of a name for themselves and when Keenan organised another Futurama Festival in 1980, I went along, hoping to recapture the magic of the previous year. But as little as a year later, though, it looked to my naively jaded eyes as if the Futurama Festival was already moving towards the mainstream.
 
Acts then, included Siouxsie and The Banshees, who were promoting their mega selling  Kaleidoscope album, The Psychedelic Furs, Altered Images, Soft Cell (who, I remember, did a pretty tasty version of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid in front of projections of hard core porn) and, ahem,  Gary Glitter.
 
The Bunnymenwere back, too, complete with a real  drummer, and seemed to be on their way to a bombastic psychedelic form of what became known as stadium rock. Speaking of which, there was also a newish band from Ireland, who were being raved about by Sounds’ Garry Bushell – the ill-fated U2.
 
I actually thought they were alright, on the night, what with their Television-lite pop rock, although I –along with my mate Ronnie Burke – did spend most of their set shouting Nanu Nanu at the singer because of his remarkable resemblance to Mork From Ork.
 
The annual Futurama Festival  apparently carried on for a few more years after that but I didn’t go again or, indeed, go to another music festival.(Apart from Dock Rock in Hartlepool, my home town.) It could never be bettered.
 

Guest Blog: Kent Adamson on After the Triumph of Your Birth

The superb directorial debut of Jim Akin, After the Triumph of Your Birth, breaks boundaries as a personal film. It is unmediated storytelling from the heart, brain, and hands of a director using digital tools as instruments to communicate in words, visuals and music. Carefully crafted, it expands form and content in truthful and intimate ways. It is a touchstone of modern digital movie and music culture, the singular achievement of a lone filmmaker testing himself against the limits of new digital technology.

After the Triumph of Your Birth explores the interstices of life. It probes the personal corners of time in the lives of its characters, visiting the internal spaces that have long been missing from American film. A diverse cast conveys human life and love in the heart of a modern megalopolis. Most notably, legendary soul singer Maria McKee makes her feature film debut and gives a rare on camera live performance in the film. It is an L.A. road movie on foot. The city has never been more lovingly shot nor seemed as hidden onscreen. It opens a world of secret inner desires and fears amid the beauty of hidden paths, side streets, rusty rail yards and panoramic vistas, as it makes its trek from the desert to the ocean.

The visual language of After the Triumph of Your Birth flows like California Plein-Air Painting in motion. It is set to rich harmonies and musical counterpoints. The approach to filmmaking is direct, made possible by the recent shift in technology, which allows infinitely programmable digital tools to respond and operate like finely tuned instruments.  New creative doors have opened, as they did in the 1950s and 60s, when the availability of compact lightweight 16mm cameras, smaller lighting units, portable sound recording and high speed film led to filmmakers breaking new ground in Direct Cinema and Cinéma Vérité. At that time the Arriflex camera became a standard with filmmakers, and new subject matter emerged from people as diverse in background and discipline as artist Andy Warhol and psychologist Albert Maysles.
Writer/director Jim Akin’s path to feature filmmaking did not follow the usual steps of a longtime Los Angeles resident. The avenues of film school to television to feature length project were replaced by a period of intensive self schooling while maintaining a successful professional career in music and still photography. Beginning with cameras and music at an early age, he initially found work as an in demand multi-instrumentalist for studio sessions and live tours.
As the music business converted to digital sound recording, mixing and mastering, he trained himself on the new format workstations. This led to producing and engineering several music albums while still maintaining his profile as a musician and singer. Finding that it had become possible to retain complete creative control and ownership of music projects led to running a self-owned record company. As the combination of digital cameras and production tools combined with post production solutions like Final Cut Pro and After Effects, it was clear that professional quality equipment was readily available for all phases of any film and sound project.
Conception and Pre-Production
In its earliest stages, After the Triumph of Your Birth began as a series of camera tests and experiments. Filming commenced with no shooting schedule, budget, or deadline. Establishing a lead actor, Tom Dunne, and initial locations in the desert, a series of tests of light and image were begun with the Canon 5D Camera. Eventually production would be augmented with two additional Canon 7D cameras. Equipment trials tested light and image for highlights, detail, warm dimensionality and depth of image before arriving at acceptable production presets for each of the three cameras. The cameras were finely tuned to his personal feel with the same precision given a rare guitar or concert piano. Having developed a look for the picture, Akin began to develop the flow of story content.
As the story outline and characters began to take shape, the fluidity of the production tools was matched on the writing side by expanding the script to take advantage of the varied strengths of each actor in the cast. Male lead, Tom Dunne had developed intuitive creative shorthand with the director after playing together in bands for several years. Versatile vocalist, songwriter and live performance star Maria McKee has recorded and toured together with Jim Akin, and they’ve released several acclaimed albums. Multitalented Tessa Ferrer can trace the roots of her powerful singing and acting style back to her grandparents who were the beloved Rosemary Clooney and Jose Ferrer.
With this combination of talents, Jim Akin began production of songs for the movie. The score was developed during the shoot, as music was tested against footage from After the Triumph of Your Birth shortly after each scene was shot. Recorded as part of the ongoing work flow, the soundtrack became a production project on its own terms. As more cast was added, more dimensions were brought to the project with the rock and roll/vaudeville style of Rob Zabrecky. Finally, the young but compelling voice of nine year old Dean Ogle added a unique strength to the cast.
When singer Maria McKee joined the production as an actress and creative producer, she began developing her character with Jim Akin as an acting challenge apart from anything she had previously attempted in film or music. Early in her career, she was signed to a major music label, and had made several videos to promote her albums. Maria has appeared in videos directed by Martin Scorsese, Mary Lambert and Julien Temple. Surrounded by show business from birth, she was raised in a family with roots that go back to the Vaudeville era. Singing and acting came to her naturally as a child prodigy. Her songwriting is known for its strong point of view, realistic emotions and characters.    
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Maria McKee’s affinity for Southern California goes back many generations in her family. They were original homesteaders, and she was christened in Plaza Church (a location in the movie) at the site of the first Pueblo de Los Angeles. In her debut performance, Maria enacts the search for human contact, emotion and community in a highly disconnected modern Los Angeles. She holds the screen beautifully in dramatic dialogue sequences, sings and plays keyboards on the film score, and sings directly on camera. Her interpretation of the soul classic “Save Me” is the centerpiece of the film. It was performed and recorded live, direct on camera, in a bravura performance of immediacy and spontaneity. 
PRODUCTION
Jim Akin shot After the Triumph of Your Birth single handedly with no crew. On location, he was the director, cinematographer, sound recordist and production department. He started and stopped three cameras and aimed the microphone for sound while making each shot. In post, he served as both editor and his own digital filing assistant. He mixed and mastered final digital sound and picture. The immediate responsiveness of the actors and equipment allowed the production to change direction on the set, evolving creatively as the film was shot.
  
The natural process of the production moved it completely away from the mechanistic, industrialized approach to filmmaking which has dominated the creation of feature films since the early twentieth century. In the hands of the studios film language became a mannerist form, vernacular shorthand, solving questions of expedience in shooting coverage and achieving communication with the widest possible audience. The same breakdown of shots that had become commonplace in feature films, also translated handily to television production. Even in academic training, the standard approach of commercial filmmaking also began to corrupt the teaching of the art of film.
For Akin, pushing the limits of the tools also meant pushing the form and language of film, and the boundaries of self. The language of film has expanded in the digital era. Filmmakers have turned genre inside out, as well as looked back at expressive silent movie techniques, and even widened the relationship between music and dialogue through the style of the early ‘transition to sound’ era.
After the Triumph of Your Birth is filled with abundant language onscreen, in dialogue and voice over narration, sometimes sung, in superimposed titles, and in words on found locations. Its visual compositions are complex and rich in vivid color. The camera carefully studies nature, while the characters express themselves directly in heartfelt terms, with a stream of passionate ideas. Each character finds their place in the film through a non dogmatic series of dialogues. Their thoughts in voice over, and in music, often challenge their actions, with songs and music score providing ever deeper levels of meaning.
Giving as much significance to the soundtrack as he did to creating imagery, writing the script and capturing the performances of the actors, Jim Akin produced a score that stands on its own as a musical narrative. There are quiet instrumentals and extended passages of inspired vocalization. The original songs composed for the project are sung by the characters for emotional development and as harmonic exposition, flowing in onscreen solos and duets. Throughout, the cast gives inspired acting performances and moments of musical brilliance.
The film is at all times aware of nature, even when the characters fall out of synch with their surroundings. The relationship between harmony and counterpoint is a central source of tension between characters and against the framework of the movie, as the story constantly moves forward. In a brilliantly depicted Los Angeles, action, language and music cry out between people within the film as they express thought and emotion directly to the audience.
JOY OF CREATION  
Jim Akin’s stated goal at the start of the project was to fully explore the joy of creation in a new format and medium, while achieving maximum use and mastery of digital tools. He undertook the full exploration of obsession while questioning everything during production from every point of view. The final film was spun through a process of technical, spiritual, intellectual, and mechanical assessment.
The creative process can be healing if the artist allows for pleasure in the experience of creation. With humility, the spirit and experience of the artist can enrich life. The grace of putting something back into the world at the end of a long search of dreaming, suffering, and keeping the aim high while accepting both gains and losses, is to portray the spark of life.
After the Triumph of Your Birth is a compressed allegory. It captures the absurdity of the way life unfolds, allows elements of chaos and random experience to direct the plotting of character movement and the shape of the production. It grants access to the deep focus, shared experience, feelings and thoughts of writer/director Jim Akin as he stretches form and style to open something new and different in his portrayal of people.
It is a movie of quiet ambition, one that questions itself as it plays. The beauty and inspiration of the imagery come from the real locations and people of Los Angeles. Through the sensitive handling of the characters, the meaning of a scene can be allowed to emerge in a brief moment like the delicate glow of a slowly breaking smile.
The driving and joyous search of the director results in a movie of found places and people living together in simultaneous disjunction and harmony.
It is a movie filled with the generosity of acceptance.    
A movie that says: Time is. We are. I am.

Bio:Writer/Filmmaker Kent Adamson has contributed to over one hundred feature films, and countless hours of broadcast programming. He has worked with major studios and small independent productions. His happiest times on any set were making his own Super-8 movies and working with Oliver Reed and Charles B. Griffith.

Guest Blog: Gary Widdowfield- The Anarchic Art of Hilary Lloyd

 

If you have read the pages of certain of the British newspapers over the years of the TurnerPrize, you will have been confronted with an overdose of what Roland Barthes, called ‘blind and dumb criticism’ about it. The kind of criticism which mocks the work of the artist and offers its readers a guarantee of informed opinion (after all these are critics of national newspapers!): if we The Daily Mail just don’t get it then it must be rubbish. The blind and dumb critic throws up their arms in a gesture of simultaneous indignation and ignorance and their readers are satisfied – thank god we don’t have to think and reflect about this stuff now that the Daily Mail has expressed itself. I am reminded of Heraclitus’ “present, they are absent’“. There are those who see nothing as if they were absent rather than present and those who see something and are most definitely present.

There has been more suggestive responses to Lloyd’s work. For example the C4 arts correspondent tweeted: “Hilary Lloyd punky, mischievous and tantalisingly tough to crack.” And the booklet that comes with the Turner Prize exhibition suggests the images are pensive. Punky and pensive: how could these two go together?

Recently during an afternoon in Gateshead, I heard Lloyd talk about her work with interviewer and Tate curator, Jeremy Corner, who mentioned how he felt when Lloyd looked at him – it was as if she was seeing more than most people when she looks. Maybe we really need to take a closer look ourselves. What will we see? What will be visible? The difference between nothing and something – the visible itself is at stake. That visible which is all over the place but which is not always said to be something.

What is the art saying? In a delicious moment from the video that accompanies her Turner Prize entry she responds to just this sort of question: she doesn’t know – you can speculate about it . . . but maybe, not her, but rather you, could tell her what it’s saying. Yes . . . she is tough to crack. It is the visible matter that matters. If you don’t ‘get’ it, that doesn’t matter.

hilary artLloyd is not anti-thought – she tells the audience at The Baltic that she doesn’t think her work is over-interpreted. But there is just no authority to tell you what it is you should get. You can’t get it. There is no authority or arche (meaning authority or principle) that could illuminate you. This art just exists without authority so it exists as the an-archic.

Is it an object that can be subjected to authority? None of the art rests like paintings may seem to rest. The pieces all move or change. So the art doesn’t rest. It doesn’t stay still. In fact it seems to try to impose itself as subject between us and the world – we have to move around it to proceed! Lloyd says she likes the fact that it gets in the way.

Here at The Baltic it’s like as if us and it are co-habitants of a space, we are not just spectators of it, it is not just spectacle. All this engenders a kind of restlessness but not without a certain excitement – like walking into a new and strange nightclub for the first time: difficult to negotiate, not sure where to stand but there is stuff happening that sure looks interesting, yet we are definitely out of our comfort zone, it’s impossible to feel smug or self-satisfied. It doesn’t seem to guarantee any foundation. Indeed, here at the Baltic in the space of Llloyd’s art, we are reminded that we are a long way from the foundations of the building by the large window looking out onto the Tyne – there is only some vertiginous flux below – which at her Baltic talk Lloyd refers to: she likes the way that in that space you can look out onto the immense Tyne and its way to the sea. The work engages me as possible thrill but also as a threat – it lives! This stuff – what am I to make of it? It may be that the certainty of objects underlines my own subjective certainty. But these are things that appear to be on the edge of the visible and the invisible and so provoke a kind of ontological uncertainty. With this art some alarm registers, yet I want to look, to see, to be here.

hilaryLloyd’s work can have an almost mannered anti-media professionalism about it. It is more or less guaranteed that the techno-code-obsessed editors and camera operators of the media industries would judge some of the framing and the camera movements to be amateur, with their sudden jolts and movements. But the point is that the camera has caught something and that something has value in it – look!

The specially published Turner booklet references Jacques Rancière’s idea of the pensive image in relation to the art. The reference is too fleeting for the casual reader to be able to make much sense of it. But we can enter into a proper engagement with Lloyd’s work by emphasising this idea of the pensive image and another of Rancière’s angles – his political thought, which anyway is never separated from his aesthetic thinking. His is a thinking of the an-archic and the consonant anarchic tendency in both Lloyd’s presence and art would seem a reasonable point for entry into discussion of it.

How might the artwork be pensive and an-archic? Rancière’s (2011) idea of the pensive image is of an image that conjoins two regimes of expression without homogenizing them – so to paraphrase Rancière – Lloyd’s work is an art poised between cinema, documentary photography, sculpture, and painting, in which none of these regimes dominate – there is an an-archic relationship between them. Floor, (2011) for instance, has a cinematic projection of light across a space. There is something of documentation – there is clearly an existent object but it is hard to define, seemingly an erect stick joined to a piece of what weirdly looks like a piece of pregnant wood with a navel. It is also beautifully and seemingly haphazardly vertically lined by a purple stripe of light vacillating between appearance and disappearance. Other images hardly move and have something of the photograph about them. We sometimes are not sure where to look – indeed Moon frustrates our attempts to see both its screens at the same time. The projectors have sculptural qualities. There are screens which have a long-held affinity with television. So in the artwork there is a Rancièrean refusal of regime domination and there is ‘resistance to thought’ but also because of that a ‘reawakening of perceptual possibilities’ And in interviews Lloyd is ‘punky’ – resistant to thought that may enclose her work within a single regime of expression because the art may, should, must, open up possibilities.

At the very least it is a reminder that the boundaries between the perceivable and the unperceivable can be changed, opened, unpoliced. So suggesting another way of seeing and so another way of being and of course that necessitates thought about other ways of living: politics
At Lloyd’s piece at the Turner Prize at times we are confronted with just white screens. So somebody says we see nothing. Yet of course we do not see nothing, we just see that somebody has the idea of nothing. To rework a famous ontological consideration here there is something and the something somethings.
Bibliography:

Roland Barthes: Mythologies

Jacques Rancière:

The Emancipated Spectator

Biography

Gary Widdowfield lives in Middlesbrough, teaches Philosophy and was on strike five days before the Turner Prize was awarded.