Redditor jamieleto posted a fun series of classic Disney cartoons where a technique called rotoscoping was used (before computers, natch).
If you’re unfamiliar with rotoscoping, here’s some background information on the subject via Wikipedia:
Rotoscoping is an animation technique in which animators trace over footage, frame by frame, for use in live-action and animated films. Originally, recorded live-action film images were projected onto a frosted glass panel and re-drawn by an animator. This projection equipment is called a rotoscope, although this device was eventually replaced by computers.
In the visual effects industry, the term rotoscoping refers to the technique of manually creating a matte for an element on a live-action plate so it may be composited over another background.
Probably the most famous example of rotoscoping was A-ha’s 1985 music video for “Take on Me.”
Update: There’s some debate as to whether or not the rotoscoping technique was used for these cartoons or if they were just reference shots for the animators.
Patti Smith’s advice to the young (and not-so-young) artists:
“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful. Be concerned about doing good work. Protect your work and if you build a good name, eventually that name will be its own currency. Life is like a roller coaster ride, it is never going to be perfect. It is going to have perfect moments and rough spots, but it’s all worth it”
A recording of author Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) reading his poem “Alexandria.”
Durrell may be slightly out-of-favor these days, in part because he was a writer’s writer—more interested in method and style of writing than plot and narrative—yet, his books can be profound and very enriching reads, in particular The Black Book, The Dark Labyrinth and of course, The Alexandria Quartet, which made him a star when it was first published. There is also The Avignon Quintet, which has its moments but is too often caught up with its own mythology—think Dan Brown, secret organizations, Nazis and the intricacies of love.
Though Durrell will never be considered a truly great poet—he is more A. E. Housman or Robert Browning than T. S. Eliot—there are always cleverly constructed poems to be found in his work, such as this gem, “Alexandria,” which was written during the Second World War.
To the lucky now who have lovers or friends,
Who move to their sweet undiscovered ends,
Or whom the great conspiracy deceives,
I wish these whirling autumn leaves:
Promontories splashed by the salty sea,
Groaned on in darkness by the tram
To horizons of love or good luck or more love -
As for me I now move
Through many negatives to what I am.
Here at the last cold Pharos between Greece
And all I love, the lights confide
A deeper darkness to the rubbing tide;
Doors shut, and we the living are locked inside
Between the shadows and the thoughts of peace:
And so in furnished rooms revise
The index of our lovers and our friends
From gestures possibly forgotten, but the ends
Of longings like unconnected nerves,
And in this quiet rehearsal of their acts
We dream of them and cherish them as Facts.
Now when the sea grows restless as a conscript,
Excited by fresh wind, climbs the sea-wall,
I walk by it and think about you all:
B. with his respect for the Object, and D.
Searching in sex like a great pantry for jars
Marked ‘Plum and apple’; and the small, fell
Figure of Dorian ringing like a muffin-bell —
All indeed whom war or time threw up
On this littoral and tides could not move
Were objects for my study and my love.
And then turning where the last pale
Lighthouse, like a Samson blinded, stands
And turns its huge charred orbit on the sands
I think of you — indeed mostly of you,
In whom a writer would only name and lose
The dented boy’s lip and the close
Archer’s shoulders; but here to rediscover
By tides and faults of weather, by the rain
Which washes everything, the critic and the lover.
At the doors of Africa so many towns founded
Upon a parting could become Alexandria, like
The wife of Lot — a metaphor for tears;
And the queer student in his poky hot
Tenth floor room above the harbour hears
The sirens shaking the tree of his heart,
And shuts his books, while the most
Inexpressible longings like wounds unstitched
Stir in him some girl’s unquiet ghost.
So we, learning to suffer and not condemn
Can only wish you this great pure wind
Condemned by Greece, and turning like a helm
Inland where it smokes the fires of men,
Spins weathercocks on farms or catches
The lovers at their quarrel in the sheets;
Or like a walker in the darkness might,
Knocks and disturbs the artist at his papers
Up there alone, upon the alps of night.
Em’s post about A Certain Ratio reminded me of the above show, a double-billed Psychic TV and ACR gig held at the Hammersmith Town in 1984. I was in attendance, age 18. I still have that flyer as well (note ticket price). In the days before the Internet, you had to truck on down to the Rough Trade Store to buy tickets for a show like this and that’s where I bought mine. I doubt even the biggest ticket sales offices in London were computerized back then.
This was an extremely intense show. I’ve been to some pretty crazy gigs (Einstürzende Neubauten trying to burn The Palladium down and Julian Cope slicing his stomach open onstage at the Hammersmith Palais for two notable examples from that same era), but this show was so insane that (not kidding here) had demons materialized on the stage—or something even weirder happened—I would not have been the least bit surprised.
Let me try to describe the atmosphere to you: First off, I don’t think I have ever, before or since, seen such a degenerate fucking crowd. A fair percentage of the punters looked mentally ill and an equal number looked criminally inclined or overtly sleazy. Diseased in both body and mind, or at least people who cultivated such qualities in the way they presented themselves to the world. I will never forget one lost soul, with her Thorazine-slacked features and one tit hanging out wandering around on her own. She had the blankest look that I have ever seen on a human face, a bottomless pit of psychotic misery in human form. I mean to tell you there were some right fucking weirdos there, and I’m someone who has made a career out of dealing with odd people. The single time I’ve ever been in a weirder scenario was a visit to NYC’s notorious Hellfire Club a few years later, but that’s another story…
There was a seriously dark vibe going on even before Psychic TV started due to the dozen or so television monitors flickering their spinning logo and candles lighting the stage. Then it started to ramp up. The imagery flashing across the monitors was intended to shock and shock it did. Much of it was footage from the First Transmissions and Cerith Wyn Evans’ (amazing) “Unclean” video (with Leigh Bowery), but there was some stuff that made even that level of an assault to the senses seem tame, like a gay S&M porn-style clip with Peter Christopherson having someone stretch his eyelids out as someone else jerked off and ejaculated right into his eyeball. Cheerful, eh?
When the band walked onstage—and this was when Psychic TV were coming off their evil masterpiece Dreams Less Sweet—the “spirits” that were swirling through the hall that night felt so malevolent that my friend and I both opted to back away from where we were standing at the front of the stage. The back of the hall just seemed “safer” in case something, well, something infernal happened.
It’s one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. It completely blew me away. It was actually scary. Have you ever been to a scary concert? I recommend it!
But what of A Certain Ratio? Well… they came on second. It was utterly preposterous to think that anyone could have followed what Psychic TV had done. Most of the dazed and confused audience just got up and left and the ones who stayed on for ACR sat on the floor. I seem to recall that the house lights went up after PTV finished and just stayed up.
When I emailed Em to tell him that I’d seen ACR in London in 1984, and Em, consummate rock snob that he is, sniffed “1984 was also post-Simon Topping for ACR, a very different band.”
Yeah, but I saw Psychic TV, too, motherfucker!
Below, a 1984 Earsay report that shows you just a few fleeting moments from the Hammersmith Town Hall gig. You’ll note that they couldn’t show what was on the monitors and so placed their cameras accordingly. They even say so in the piece.
I was going to post a short notice about these two sure to be interesting evenings at NYU this week, but I thought the story told by the press release was worth presenting here in full.
Of mild interest to DM readers, my own tape-recorded recollections of the late Nelson Sullivan are part of this archive (I knew Nelson and rented a tiny room from him for about 6 months in his ramshackle house at 5 Ninth Ave. when I was 21). Robert Coddington, who valiantly cataloged this amazing collection and kept it together, is a friend of mine and someone I hold in high regard. It’s really a tribute to his scholarship and tenacity that this collection is going to be housed at NYU, where it belongs, for future scholars who want to understand what happened “downtown” during the 1980s (I can’t help but to add “...before NYU drove up the property values and forced all of the bohemians out!”). Robert, and the wonderful Dick Richards, the real hero of this story (and a man who should have a documentary made about him) have done history a big favor, they really have.
The 1980s were the plague years in NYC, make no mistake about it. A lot of us had close friends who died. But it was also a fun, decadent and deeply weird time to have been young. Sullivan’s tapes capture that time like literally nothing else could.
Long Days’ Journey Downtown—Nelson Sullivan’s Video Archive Back in NYC After 23 Years
Completing a trek across many miles and more than two decades, a remarkable trove of video tapes chronicling the golden age of New York’s 1980s club scene is back where it was created—in downtown Manhattan. In October, New York University’s Fales Library & Special Collections accepted the Nelson Sullivan Video Archive as a donation from Atlantans Dick Richards and David Goldman, and Robert Coddington of Durham, N.C.—operating collectively as the 5 Ninth Avenue Project.
On April 25, the Fales Library will host a panel discussion to mark the archive’s official entry into its collections. Coddington will talk about Sullivan’s body of work, and how he and his partners worked to preserve it. Several artists featured in the video tapes also are expected to attend and add their recollections of Sullivan and the scene he documented. The event begins at 6 p.m. on April 25 at the Fales Library, third floor, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square South. This event is free and open to the public.
In the early 1980s, Nelson Sullivan began using then-newly available portable video technology to document the highs and lows of downtown’s world of invites, catfights, train wrecks and rising stars. The equipment was heavy and expensive, but night after night Sullivan lugged it along from SoHo to Coney Island and all points inbetween—from huge discos (like Limelight and Tunnel) to tiny dives (like the Pyramid) and private parties (where he circulated with Warhol-era superstars and freshly minted celebrities like RuPaul and Deee-Lite).
Sullivan’s video archive grew rapidly, taking up shelf after shelf in the creaky three-story townhouse he rented in the Meatpacking District (at 5 9th Ave. and Gansevoort, today site of the restaurant 5 9th). And while he accommodated friends’ requests for copies, he jealously guarded the original tapes—confident he would one day devise a way to present them to the world. Finally, in the spring of 1989, Sullivan decided to make the collection his life’s work: He quit his job at the famous Joseph Patelson Music House (just across from Carnegie Hall’s stage door) and set out to launch a public access cable program showcasing his tapes. But tragically, after completing just one episode, he died of a sudden heart attack in the early morning hours of Independence Day. Seven years after it began, Sullivan’s quest to document the downtown scene was over.
Sullivan’s one-of-a-kind archive might have been picked apart by souvenir-hunters—or worse, left on the curb—had it not been for Dick Richards. Though grief-stricken at the loss of his lifelong friend—the two grew up together in rural South Carolina—Richards acted quickly, flying to New York, securing the collection, and shipping it to the Atlanta home he shared with his domestic partner David Goldman and his business partner Ted Rubenstein (co-founder, with Richards, of Funtone USA, which released RuPaul’s first three recordings).
“The video archive Nelson had created was so extraordinary that I knew I had to do whatever I could to save it,” Richards recalls. “What Nelson was doing was entirely unique. When you watch the tapes, you’ll search in vain to find another person who’s video taping these events. With AIDS ravaging the community and changing it forever, his was basically the only personal video testimony of a scene that was rapidly disintegrating.”
Back in Atlanta, Richards publicized the tapes by showing selections on “The American Music Show,” the weekly public access cable program he co-produced with Potsy Duncan and Bud “Beebo” Lowry.
Then, on a 1993 trip to tape the show at Foxy’s Lounge in Chicago, Richards and Goldman met Robert Coddington, who was involved in the Windy City’s club scene and burgeoning Queercore movement. Coddington, 23, longed to learn about the wild days that had preceded his own coming of age in the gay community, and upon hearing about the archive was eager to learn of the lost landscape it revealed.
“As a young gay man at the time, I had this acute sense that I was arriving at a fabulous party—five minutes after the lights came on,” Coddington says. “I knew that AIDS was ripping apart the gay culture that had existed before. I began to ask myself What was that world and what were those people like? Upon experiencing Nelson’s tapes, I began to learn the answers to those questions.”
Beginning in 2001, Richards and Coddington worked together to organize and chronicle the collection, producing four highlight DVDs (“Mad About Manhattan,” “The Club Kids,” “Nelson Sullivan’s Fabulous Friends,” and “Legends of New York”). In 2004, Coddington edited Sullivan’s “My Life In Video” for the New Museum’s East Village USA exhibition, which also featured works by Basquiat, Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring and Nan Goldin. In 2007, Coddington presented and discussed archive highlights at Atlanta’s Eye-Drum Gallery. Richards launched a YouTube channel dedicated to the collection: To date, it has logged more than 750,000 views.
Sullivan’s videos have been shown in more than 20 solo and group shows and film festivals across Europe, Australia, South America and North America. Videographers from Switzerland and France produced short documentary films on Sullivan for Europe’s ARTE channel. Los Angeles-based World of Wonder created a film on Sullivan for Britain’s Channel 4.
But as the collection’s fame spread, its ultimate survival was far from certain. The archive of more than 600 tapes remained boxed in a back room at Richards’ and Goldman’s century-old house in Inman Park (site of the 1864 Battle of Atlanta). Without an institutional “forever home,” the three partners feared the tapes’ initial escape from the dumpster might have been only temporary.
That’s when Sullivan’s videos got a powerful champion in the form of the Fales Library. The addition of the archive brought an exciting new dimension to Fales’ Downtown Collection, which already included the papers of such influential entities as the Gay Cable Network, the Red Hot Organization, Dennis Cooper, Michaelangelo Signorile, Richard Hell and Ande Whyland.
“Nelson Sullivan was the chronicler of the demimonde downtown New York scene,” said Marvin J. Taylor, director of the Fales Library. “He was everywhere that was important at just the right time. But, he was more than that. When Nelson turned his video camera on himself as flaneur of downtown, he found his own artistic, queer, postmodern voice. We’re honored to have Nelson’s videos here at NYU.”
“Seen on the Scene”
Here are a few of the personalities of note featured in the Nelson Sullivan Video Archive. Click on the links to view selected clips.
A lecture/screening presented by Robert Coddington will take place on Wednesday April 24 at the Einstein Auditorium in NYU’s Barney Building on Stuyvesant Street. It is free and open to the public and will feature videos of Keith Haring, Rock Steady Crew, RuPaul, Leigh Bowery, Ethyl Eichelberger, Fran Lebowitz, Michael Musto, Lady Miss Kier and more…
The following evening, Thursday April 25th, at the third floor Fales Library at the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square South, there will be a celebration of the life and work of Nelson Sullivan with Michael Musto, Lady Miss Kier, Robert Coddington, drag historian Joe E. Jeffreys, performance artist Flloyd and photographer Paula Gately Tillman.
Towards the end of my research for the original version of Wormwood Star, I managed to track down the master copy of Ed Silverstone Taylor’s film of Cameron entitled San Francisco Street Fair 1959, to the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. I impressed upon the archivist there, Jon Shibata, what a valuable document the film was of Cameron’s life and he thankfully agreed and said he would look into obtaining funds to have the film digitally transferred. Well, that funding came through at the end of last year, and the film has just been uploaded on to their website.
The film also features Wallace and Shirley Berman and Cameron’s daughter, Crystal.
It’s very likely that this is the first time that San Francisco Street Fair has been seen publicly for nearly 40 years. The last time it was shown was at the benefit for Cameron held at the Cinema Theatre back in 1964 which, as you’ll remember, turned into a debacle when Kenneth Anger and a couple of biker goons turned up and stormed the projection booth to grab the copy of Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome that had been screened that evening.
Wormwood Star, Kansa’s Cameron biography will soon be re-published in a new edition containing fresh eyewitness accounts of the above referenced night at the Cinema Theatre, as well as rarely seen images of Cameron and Jack Parsons.
This edited Ektachrome home movie with professional titles documents a 1959 street fair, upper Grant Avenue, San Francisco—the center of Beat culture. The film includes shots of filmmaker Dion Vigne and his wife Loreon, artist and occultist Marjorie Cameron, and artist Wallace Berman, displaying and selling their art works.
Uh… WOW. Just… wow. You see incredible stuff coming up for auction every single day on eBay, of course, but this is something extra, extra special: twelve drawings—twelve really good ones, too—in a sketchbook by the “divine draftsman” of the occult, British artist Austin Osman Spare, a contemporary and ‘frenemy’ of Aleister Crowley.
Executed between April and May 1925, ‘A Book of Automatic Drawings’ is Spares most highly finished early sketchbook. Created in what was a particularly dark and turbulent period of his life, the books comprises twelve full page drawings and four pages of calligraphic titles, signatures and other devices.
Originally produced for publication, but due to the high costs of printing and the failure of his magazine ‘The Golden Hind’ it was sold unpublished to Spare’s great patron Pickford Waller. After his death in 1930 the sketchbook passed to his daughter Sybil. The book remained in her collection until the late 1960s, when it was then placed in auction. The book then reappeared in the early 1970s in a Hammersmith Gallery where it was then purchased jointly by Roy Curtis-Bramwell and Ian Kenyur-Hodgkins. Together they arranged a reproduction of the work (which unfortunately never did the sketchbook much justice), where the book went next is unknown, but it was purchased by a private collector in the early 1980s and remained in his collection.
Artist and illustrator Mark Dawes has designed this fabulous poster of one of my favorite actors, Charles Gray, in his unforgettable role as the Crowley-inspired villain Mocata, from The Devil Rides Out (aka The Devil’s Bride).
Adapted by Richard Matheson from Dennis Wheatley’s classic, occult novel, the film starred Christopher Lee as the Duc du Richelieu, who pitted his wits against Satanist Mocata (Gray), for the souls of Simon (Patrick Mower) and Tanith (Nike Arrighi).
Mark has a brilliant selection of work over at his Illustrated Blog, which myself and Mocata will you to check out….
These days Richard Butler, the seemingly ageless front man of the Psychedelic Furs, considers himself more a painter who sometimes sings with a rock group and not so much a singer who paints.
As you can see from the work, he’s not “dabbling” in art. I’ve seen some of Butler’s paintings in person and he’s quite accomplished. They look great even on a computer screen, but in person they’re really dazzling. He’s perhaps the only rock/art crossover of high artistic merit to come along since Don Van Vliet (unless of course you rate Ronnie Wood or Paul Stanley as painters).
Imagista’s Michael Williams interviewed Butler in his home studio in Beacon, New York for this delightful video portrait. Click thru to Imagista for Rob Howard’s photos of Butler and his work space.
Richard Butler’s “ahatfulofrain” show will run from April 18 - May 25 at the Freight + Volume gallery in New York City.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.