Saturday, 31 July 2010


Kleist is a collaborative photo-roman documentary constructed from found photographs that tells the remarkable story of the mysterious disappearance of the German physicist Gustav Kleist in 1942.Website here.

Scarab Close, E16

scarab close

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

"...stories tell of phantom singing, music, and words spoken in an unknown tongue."

...breaking all sorts of black magic...

Do you know what a Splodge is?

This is the BBC's first Play School record from 1972. I picked this up in the Greenwich branch of Music and Video Exchange, largely due to a track (hopefully embedded below, if Soundcloud can be bothered to work for once) entitled 'Splodges'. 'Splodges' features the voice of Rick Jones, later to present the Fingerbobs and sing the theme tune to The Flipside of Dominick Hide. The electronic music is by Malcolm Clarke of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who in the very same year as this release would provide some unearthly sound clusters for the Dr Who episode, 'The Sea Devils'. The use of Clarke's synthesizer to embody a family of 'Splodges' harks back to the old idea of electronic music being closer to the plastic arts of sculpture or, as here, painting. But rarely has this concept been explored by children's television ...

Splodges by malcolm clarke

1950s Manhattan Skyline

Friday, 30 July 2010

Utilities in Exile

I picked up this map in Rare & Racy, Sheffield, on Monday, put it in my bag as a potentially interesting bit of ephemera, and thought little more of it until the next day, when I examined the map, at which point I realised I had traced very nearly the route it suggests uphill above central Sheffield, across a landscape of impossibly heroic public housing, almshouses, puritan villas for the Victorian middle classes, the rocket-like Cholera monument, and astounding views, revealing a particularly looming sky above the city's topographically delinquent skyline.

Aside from the act of making the maps themselves, The Sheffield Publicity Department have been leaving traces of their walks around the city, stencilled ghosts and logos, and in one case a red flag, to mark the existence of Zones of Interest in a neoliberal city. In the process, they assume a role as an imaginary, public counter-utility - a ministry of walks, dedicated to outlining and delineating routes of intrigue, survivals of an otherness that the city's actual publicity chiefs are bent on destroying.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The latest addition to my collection of Blake's 7 VHS tapes, entirely sourced via local charity shops. This one features a story called "The Web", one of the earliest episodes I clearly remember watching as a child, on account of a tribe of primitive alien creatures called the Decimas. Watching it again as an adult, its obvious that these are just height-challanged actors in rubber suits (like a slightly more comical variation of the Zygons) and yet...seeing the pity-inducing pathos in those all-too-human eyes buried beneath the layers of latex, and the unholy screaming during the final 'riot' scene, I can begin to understand why my former self was so traumatised by these creatures, who have lingered in the back of my mind ever since.

As if to prove the point, my youngest son (who's three years old) was with me when I watched this last week. Now, this child can quite happily watch the new Dr Who adventures without any major psychological trauma, yet this old Blake's 7 episode left him thoroughly unnerved, to the extent that he is now refusing to even be in the same room as this tape.

Friday, 23 July 2010

First bought this in 1975 when it initially came out; stupidly discarded it somewhere along the way. Some great Chris Achilleos artwork in it (on which, check this Gutterbreakz post). Question raised by Achilleos's cover art for the Target books but also by film poster art (a largely disappeared genre now) - why is it so effective and evocative? In the case of Achilleos's art, it was no doubt because it put the humans and the monsters on the same plane of reality, something which Dr Who's special effects managed only rarely.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

'perhaps every child is a tomorrow person'

'The development of Man hasn't just suddenly stopped...'

Clip from 1973-9 television series The Tomorrow People. Works nicely out of context, with sound only.