Category Archives: theory

“One can look at seeing but one can’t hear hearing” –Duchamp

I want to read Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener.

”Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener” (2010) by David Toop
[Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Back in 2007, I attended[1] a lecture by David Toop. The title was Ways of Hearing.

In 2010, this lecture crystallized as the book Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener.

On the cover is a detail of «Soplones», nº 48 of Goya series Los Caprichos.

It is a book about listening, the way sound is portrayed in painting and other “silent arts”, about arts that involve sound, about the resonance of architecture, about auditory artefacts and about self-reflexivity.

Michaelangelo Matos called it “an exploration of sound in novels, poems, and paintings from before the era of sound reproduction.”

Threaded through the book is Marcel Duchamp’s observation “One can look at seeing but one can’t hear hearing” and his concept of the infrathin, those human experiences so fugitive that they exist only in the imaginative absences of perception.

David Toop is always interesting, he introduced me to the eavesdropper paintings by 17th century Dutch painter Nicolaes Maes and the concept of silence in painting.

A certain Guilherme Werneck has made a pinterest board consisting of a “visual guide” to Sinister Resonance.

Toop’s magnum opus is Ocean of Sound.

See also my current research on medium specificity.

In praise of pornosophy

Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching (2009) – [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

I want to read Art/Porn: A History of Seeing and Touching (2009) by Kelly Dennis.

Besides that pornosophy is my area of expertise, the book looks rather more clever than many porn studies that have recently flooded the American market and finding smart sentences such as the following has whetted my appetite:

“We can now see that the “sister arts,” the paragone, the hierarchy of genres, and even ekphrasis are all rooted in an opposition between word and image, between an acceptable literary pictorialism and a less acceptable pictorial literacy.”

I found this book while googling paragone and ekphrasis mentioned in my previous post on Baudelaire[1].

On the cover of Art/Porn is one panel from the Every Playboy centerfold, by decade series by Jason Salavon.

Poetry is like painting, cooking, and cosmetics

Title page[1] from the Carlos Schwabe illustrations for Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal.

I have no clue what plant it is (a flesh-eating plant perhaps?), nor if it is real or imaginary, but I’m pretty sure it fits in the horticultural horror category.

Additionally, as far as I know, this illustration is the only literal interpretation of the flowers of evil.

One thing inevitably leads to another:

On opening my copy of The Romantic Agony for the nth time brought up this passage:

“That poetry is like the arts of painting, cooking, and cosmetics in its ability to express every sensation of sweetness or bitterness, of beatitude or horror, by coupling a certain noun with a certain adjective, in analogy or contrast” writes Baudelaire in an unpublished preface to a 2nd preface of The Flowers of Evil (translation by Marthiel and Jackson Mathews).

Beautiful isn’t it, this trying to connect poetry to cuisine and cosmetics via adjectives and nouns in logical combinations, evoking diverse sentiments?

See also: literature and olfaction, synesthesia and literature, paragone and ekphrasis.

Once more, one thing leads to another

Encore” is a musical composition by Nicolas Jaar.

As usual, one thing leads to another.

This particular Youtube upload (above) features the photo “Dancers Wearing Gas Masks In England On February 1940“.

The photo stems from the Edward George Warris Hulton collection and features girls wearing gas masks and dancing a can-can-like dance.

The sample at the beginning of the song:

“from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing”

is from an audio recording of “The Creative Act,” a speech by ‘mere artist” Marcel Duchamp given in 1957.

In view of its non-elitist (although it can also be read as a defence of Duchamp’s own greatness) point of view (considering bad art also as art); its emphasis on reception and audience participation; its view as the artist as a mere medium, I pronounce “The Creative Act” to be a nobrow manifesto of sorts.

“Encore” by my poulain Nicolas Jaar is World Music Classic #699.

Metafiction, metapoetry, metatheatre, metafilm and metapainting

I was in my teens. One day, on television, an Italian film. The central scene takes place at a movie theater. A cowboy in a Western film points his gun at the theatre and pulls the trigger, killing one of the viewers in the audience.

When examined by the police, the projection screen reveals a small bullet hole.

Each time the film with in the film is played back someone else is shot. The last victim, a policeman who knows the shot is coming and who tries to evade the gunman by running up and down the theatre is followed by the cowboy, who merely adjusts his aim and mercilessly guns the man down. The cowboy then throws his cigar butt through the screen, which — if my memory doesn’t fail me — is later found by the police.

The film left an indelible impression on my teen brain and only after many years I found out it is called Closed Circuit (central scene on Vimeo).

What this cowboy did was breaking the fourth wall. Breaking the fourth wall indicates self-awareness of the medium and can be found in all the arts. The practice is usually designated by the prefix “meta- ” + “art form x.”

There is metafictionmetapoetrymetatheatremetafilm and metapainting. All of these have meta-references, meaning that they reference themselves, they are self-referential.

Related terms to self-referentiality include mise en abyme, the Droste effectrecursionMatryoshka dollsstory within a story and tautology.

I like it a lot.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili + Bomarzo + elephant = bible illustrations

It’s funny on how returning to the blogosphere after saying goodbye to it for quite some years, I bump straight into an old virtual friend when searching for “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili + Bomarzo + elephant”. The friend in question runs the fascinating culture blog Journey to Perplexity [1].

The reason I googled the words above was that my Dutch edition (translated by Ike Cialona) of Hypnerotomachia Poliphili claims that Colonna’ work inspired these works of architecture:

One thing leading to another, as they usually do, I found this [2] fascinating woodcut, of which the colour palette reminds me of Japanese woodcuts.

I wonder if the plate is part of Cranach’s illustrated version of Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible? Anyone?

Floris and Blancheflour (is) (not) the missing link …

Floris and Blancheflour (is) (not) the missing link between European medieval literature and the Arabian Nights.

Many of the details, such as the Tower of Maidens (i.e. harem), eunuch guards, and the odalisques (white slavery) derive from material carried to the west via The Arabian Nights. The frame tale of The Nights (the king “re-marries” every night) is reflected in a plot element (“the king re-marries every year”) in Floris and Blancheflour.

The tale could be originally French, or possibly of Oriental origins, or a synthesis of motifs. Kathleen Coyne Kelly, in her essay “Bartering of Blauncheflur,” summarized the discussion of the sources as follows: “Scholars disagree as to whether Floris and Blauncheflur is an oriental tale that was adapted for Western audiences, or a tale whose European author simply supplied it with an oriental setting.”

Compared to other medieval romances, the story has not frequently been brought to the screen. In 1978 Fabrice Luchini and Arielle Dombasle (photo) portrayed Floris and Blancheflour in Perceval le gallois by Éric Rohmer.

“Gradiva” by Alain Robbe-Grillet out on DVD

http://mondomacabrodvd.blogspot.com/2009/06/gradiva-cover-art-stills-nsfw.html Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet

Still from Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle) by Alain Robbe-Grillet

The good people at Mondo Macabro[1] are releasing Gradiva (C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle), the last film by French master-erotomaniac Alain Robbe-Grillet, Robert Monell points out in a recent post [2].

C’est Gradiva qui vous appelle (2006) is a French language film by Alain Robbe-Grillet starring: James Wilby, Arielle Dombasle and Dany Verissimo. It premiered at the 2006 Venice film festival on September 8 and in French cinemas on May 9 of 2007.

The film, Grillet’s last, is a Franco-Belgian production loosely based on Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy by Wilhelm Jensen. The setting has been updated to modern times, at least, no earlier than the 1970s, based on vehicles and appliances seen in the film. It begins with an English art historian named John Locke is doing research in Morocco on the paintings and drawings that French artist Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) produced when he spent time in that country (back then, a French colony) more than a century before. Locke spots a beautiful, mysterious blonde girl (Gradiva, of course) in flowing robes dashing through the back alleys of Marrakech, and becomes consumed with the need to track her down. Like most of Robbe-Grillet’s cinematic output, this film is highly surrealistic and also involves a surprisingly explicit amount of “sex slave” nudity and S&M, although it is a serious film and not just softcore fluff.

Some of the film’s prehistory.

via gutenberg.spiegel.de Gradiva: A Pompeiian Fancy

A Pompeiian Fancy is a novel by Wilhelm Jensen published by in German as Ein pompejanisches Phantasiestuck (Dresden and Leipzig: Carl Reissner) in 1903.

The story is about an archaeologist named Norbert Hanhold who holds a fascination for a woman depicted in a relief that he sees in the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Hanhold later dreams that he has been transported back in time to meet the girl, whose unusual gait captivates him as he imagines her walking on the stepping stones that cross the roads in Pompeii while the hot ashes subsume the city in 79 AD.

via www.greeninteger.com

Delusion and Dream in Jensen’s Gradiva (1907) is an essay by Sigmund Freud that analyzes the novel Gradiva by Wilhelm Jensen from a psychoanalytical point of view.

After that, Gravida became a favourite of the Surrealists. Salvador Dalí used the name Gradiva as a nickname for his wife, Gala Dalí. He used the figure of Gradiva in a number of his paintings, including Gradiva encuentra las ruinas de Antropomorphos (Gradiva finds the ruins of Antropomorphos)[3]. The figure Gradiva was used in other Surrealist paintings as well. Gradiva (Metamorphosis of Gradiva)[4], 1939, by André Masson explores the sexual iconography of the character.

In 1937 the Surrealist wirter Andre Breton opened an art gallery on the Left Bank, 31 rue de Seine, christening it with the title: Gradiva. Marcel Duchamp designed it, giving its door the form of a double cast shadow.

via upload.wikimedia.org Gradiva

Never mind the bollocks, here’s Rabelais

Never mind the bollocks, here’s Rabelais

Friar John and  Panurge give the Blason and contreblason du couillon  by  Rabelais

As I noted in a previous post[1] on satirical pornography or pornographic satire, Rabelais‘s masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel is more emetic than erotic.

There is however a strain of eroticism to be found in Rabelais, a strain of the bawdy, ribald and burlesque variety, which dates back at its earliest to the Ancient Greek Milesian tale.

The Milesian tales are the earliest instances of erotic literature in the Western world. They directly influenced ApuleiusThe Golden Ass, PetroniusSatyricon in antiquity. They were mentioned in Traitté de l’origine des romans. Aristidean saucy and disreputable heroes and spicy, fast-paced anecdote resurfaced in the medieval fabliaux. Chaucer‘s The Miller’s Tale is in Aristides’ tradition, as are some of the saltier tales in Boccaccio‘s Decameron or the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre and the later genre of the picaresque novel.

Googling for “buttocks” in Gargantua and Pantagruel five-book series. I came across the tale of Han Carvel’s ring and the blazon and counterblazon of the bollocks in the Third Book. I first mentioned the poetic genre blason here when I posted the Blazon of the Ugly Tit[2] (1535) by Clément Marot.

Rabelais‘s blason and contreblason du couillon (Eng blason and counterblason of the bollock(s)) respectively sing the praise and disparagement of the male testicles. First, there is Panurge‘s blason in “How Panurge consulteth with Friar John of the Funnels“, then Frère Jean‘s contreblason in “How Friar John comforteth Panurge in the doubtful matter of cuckoldry“.

These rhapsodic lists and enumerations of adjectives are extremely poetic juxtapositions and show how the novel, which was a genre in its nascent state was allowed a maximum of formal and content-wise liberties. In this sense, 16th century literature is quite amazing.

The c. is short for couillons (bollocks).

Panurge‘s praise of the bollocks (275 adjectives):

Mellow C. Varnished C. Resolute C.
Lead-coloured C. Renowned C. Cabbage-like C.
Knurled C. Matted C. Courteous C.
Suborned C. Genitive C. Fertile C.
Desired C. Gigantal C. Whizzing C.
Stuffed C. Oval C. Neat C.
Speckled C. Claustral C. Common C.
Finely metalled C. Virile C. Brisk C.
Arabian-like C. Stayed C. Quick C.
Trussed-up Greyhound-like C. Massive C. Bearlike C.
Manual C. Partitional C.
Mounted C. Absolute C. Patronymic C.
Sleeked C. Well-set C. Cockney C.
Diapered C. Gemel C. Auromercuriated C.
Spotted C. Turkish C. Robust C.
Master C. Burning C. Appetizing C.
Seeded C. Thwacking C. Succourable C.
Lusty C. Urgent C. Redoubtable C.
Jupped C. Handsome C. Affable C.
Milked C. Prompt C. Memorable C.
Calfeted C. Fortunate C. Palpable C.
Raised C. Boxwood C. Barbable C.
Odd C. Latten C. Tragical C.
Steeled C. Unbridled C. Transpontine C.
Stale C. Hooked C. Digestive C.
full blason here

Frère Jean‘s disparagement of the bollocks (440 adjectives):

Faded C. Louting C. Appellant C.
Mouldy C. Discouraged C. Swagging C.
Musty C. Surfeited C. Withered C.
Paltry C. Peevish C. Broken-reined C.
Senseless C. Translated C. Defective C.
Foundered C. Forlorn C. Crestfallen C.
Distempered C. Unsavoury C. Felled C.
Bewrayed C. Worm-eaten C. Fleeted C.
Inveigled C. Overtoiled C. Cloyed C.
Dangling C. Miserable C. Squeezed C.
Stupid C. Steeped C. Resty C.
Seedless C. Kneaded-with-cold- Pounded C.
Soaked C. water C. Loose C.
Coldish C. Hacked C. Fruitless C.
Pickled C. Flaggy C. Riven C.
Churned C. Scrubby C. Pursy C.
Filliped C. Drained C. Fusty C.
Singlefied C. Haled C. Jadish C.
Begrimed C. Lolling C. Fistulous C.
Wrinkled C. Drenched C. Languishing C.
Fainted C. Burst C. Maleficiated C.
Extenuated C. Stirred up C. Hectic C.
Grim C. Mitred C. Worn out C.
Wasted C. Peddlingly furnished Ill-favoured C.
Inflamed C. C. Duncified C.
full counterblason here

As I noted in a previous post[1] on satirical pornography or pornographic satire, Rabelais‘s masterpiece Gargantua and Pantagruel is more emetic than erotic.

There is however a strain of eroticism to be found in Rabelais, a strain of the bawdy, ribald and burlesque variety, which dates back at its earliest to the Ancient Greek Milesian tale.

The Milesian tales are the earliest instances of erotic literature in the Western world. They directly influenced ApuleiusThe Golden Ass, PetroniusSatyricon in antiquity. They were mentioned in Traitté de l’origine des romans. Aristidean saucy and disreputable heroes and spicy, fast-paced anecdote resurfaced in the medieval fabliaux. Chaucer‘s The Miller’s Tale is in Aristides’ tradition, as are some of the saltier tales in Boccaccio‘s Decameron or the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre and the later genre of the picaresque novel.

Googling for “buttocks” in Gargantua and Pantagruel five-book series. I came across the tale of Han Carvel’s ring and the blazon and counterblazon of the bollocks in the Third Book. I first mentioned the poetic genre blason here when I posted the Blazon of the Ugly Tit[2] (1535) by Clément Marot.

Rabelais‘s Blason and contreblason du couillons (Eng blason and counterblason of the bollock) are two blasons which are featured in the Third Book of Gargantua and Pantagruel. First, there is Panurge‘s blason in “How Panurge consulteth with Friar John of the Funnels“, then Frère Jean‘s contreblason in “How Friar John comforteth Panurge in the doubtful matter of cuckoldry“.

These rhapsodic lists and enumerations of adjectives are extremely poetic juxtapositions and show how the novel, which was a genre in its nascent state was allowed a maximum of formal and essential liberties. In this sense, 16th century literature is quite amazing.

Panurge‘s praise of the bollocks (275 adjectives)::

Mellow C. Varnished C. Resolute C.
Lead-coloured C. Renowned C. Cabbage-like C.
Knurled C. Matted C. Courteous C.
Suborned C. Genitive C. Fertile C.
Desired C. Gigantal C. Whizzing C.
Stuffed C. Oval C. Neat C.
Speckled C. Claustral C. Common C.
Finely metalled C. Virile C. Brisk C.
Arabian-like C. Stayed C. Quick C.
Trussed-up Greyhound-like C. Massive C. Bearlike C.
Manual C. Partitional C.
Mounted C. Absolute C. Patronymic C.
Sleeked C. Well-set C. Cockney C.
Diapered C. Gemel C. Auromercuriated C.
Spotted C. Turkish C. Robust C.
Master C. Burning C. Appetizing C.
Seeded C. Thwacking C. Succourable C.
Lusty C. Urgent C. Redoubtable C.
Jupped C. Handsome C. Affable C.
Milked C. Prompt C. Memorable C.
Calfeted C. Fortunate C. Palpable C.
Raised C. Boxwood C. Barbable C.
Odd C. Latten C. Tragical C.
Steeled C. Unbridled C. Transpontine C.
Stale C. Hooked C. Digestive C.
full blason here

Frère Jean‘s disparagement of the bollocks (440 adjectives):

Faded C. Louting C. Appellant C.
Mouldy C. Discouraged C. Swagging C.
Musty C. Surfeited C. Withered C.
Paltry C. Peevish C. Broken-reined C.
Senseless C. Translated C. Defective C.
Foundered C. Forlorn C. Crestfallen C.
Distempered C. Unsavoury C. Felled C.
Bewrayed C. Worm-eaten C. Fleeted C.
Inveigled C. Overtoiled C. Cloyed C.
Dangling C. Miserable C. Squeezed C.
Stupid C. Steeped C. Resty C.
Seedless C. Kneaded-with-cold- Pounded C.
Soaked C. water C. Loose C.
Coldish C. Hacked C. Fruitless C.
Pickled C. Flaggy C. Riven C.
Churned C. Scrubby C. Pursy C.
Filliped C. Drained C. Fusty C.
Singlefied C. Haled C. Jadish C.
Begrimed C. Lolling C. Fistulous C.
Wrinkled C. Drenched C. Languishing C.
Fainted C. Burst C. Maleficiated C.
Extenuated C. Stirred up C. Hectic C.
Grim C. Mitred C. Worn out C.
Wasted C. Peddlingly furnished Ill-favoured C.
Inflamed C. C. Duncified C.
full counterblason here

Christophe Bruno’s Dadameter

Via Bright Stupid Confetti[1] comes Christophe Bruno‘s Dadameter

bright stupid confetti: packets of future transmission See Dadameter

The Dadamap

Christophe Bruno (born July 1, 1964) is a French artist. He began his artistic activity in 2001, influenced by the net.art movement. His thesis is that through the web, and especially through the ability to search and monitor it thoroughly by means of Google, we are heading towards a global text that among other things enables a new form of textual, semantic capitalism, which he explores in his work. His artworks include Iterature, Logo.Hallucination, The Google Adwords Happening and many other pieces.

The Dadameter is an art project by French artist Christophe Bruno first presented in 2008. It was inspired by the work of french writer Raymond Roussel use of homophony described in How I Wrote Certain of My Books.

In the words of the Bruno “the project is a satire about the recent transmutation of language into a global market ruled by Google et al. and uses the most up-to-date technologies of control to draw cartographies of language at large scale.”

It was co-produced by the Rencontres Paris-Berlin-Madrid 2008 for contemporary art and new cinema and programmed by Valeriu Lacatusu.

The result of the project is the so-called Dadamap[2][3] in which each pixel corresponds to one couple of words. The project started from “a lexicon of several thousands of words which correspond to about 800,000 couples (as many pixels then), and we looked for homophonic correlations, as in billard / pillard [see Roussel], or for semantic correlations.”

The procedure provides three measurements for each couple of words corresponding to homophony (the Damerau-Levenshtein distance), Google Similarity (or semantic relatedness) and thirdly equivocation (to which extent a word has a univocal meaning or at the contrary is polysemic or equivocal).

The Dadamap is a topographical map resembling an ocean floor, it features green for wasteland, light blue for utilitarianism, blue for mainstream, deep blue for boredom and brown for homophony[4]. There is an equivocation separation line which roughly splits the map into two, or maybe that is a rift. From left to right, the map contains the following lemmata: OuLiPo, Roussel, Dada, rap, Tecktonik, 911, pop, Warhol, Fluxus, Duchamp, Jarry, Baudrillard, reality TV, spam, neen, bling-bling, net.art, Debord, Burroughs, Mallarmé, spam, Hapax, Googlewhacks, epiphanies, infotainment, Joyce, Nouveau Réalisme, Sarkoland, recycling, Deleuze and Google.