Spomenik – Jan Kempenaers and “The End of History”

via the Crack 2 blog, more here, utterly beautiful!

“These structures were commissioned by former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito in the 1960s and 70s to commemorate sites where WWII battles took place (like Tjentište, Kozara and Kadinjača), or where concentration camps stood (like Jasenovac and Niš). They were designed by different sculptors (Dušan Džamonja, Vojin Bakić, Miodrag Živković, Jordan and Iskra Grabul, to name a few) and architects (Bogdan Bogdanović, Gradimir Medaković…), conveying powerful visual impact to show the confidence and strength of the Socialist Republic. In the 1980s, these monuments attracted millions of visitors per year, especially young pioneers for their “patriotic education.” After the Republic dissolved in early 1990s, they were completely abandoned, and their symbolic meanings were forever lost.

From 2006 to 2009, Jan Kempenaers toured around the ex-Yugoslavia region (now Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, etc.) with the help of a 1975 map of memorials, bringing before our eyes a series of melancholy yet striking images. His photos raise a question: can these former monuments continue to exist as pure sculptures? On one hand, their physical dilapidated condition and institutional neglect reflect a more general social historical fracturing. And on the other hand, they are still of stunning beauty without any symbolic significances.”

Much more detail on Kempenaers‘ book of these stunning monuments here and you can buy his book of the photographs on Amazon

Posted in Design, Oddities. | No Comments |

King Megatrip’s new ‘This World Renounced!’ blog

King Megatrip, the shadowy ‘5th Beatle’ of the Solid Steel crew and one of our US operatives, has got a new blog – ‘This World Renounced!’. Anyone who knows him or reads his blog will know that he is one of the world’s great collectors, he regularly sources obscure children’s books or vintage toy parts for me from overseas. But it’s come to a head, a man can only consume so much before he has to make room, and the King has reached capacity. His new blog will showcase his attempts to separate the wheat from the chaff and give some of his collection a new home whether via eBay, thrift stores or online offers. Bookmark it now, you never know what might come up.

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Chart Sweep / Time Sweep


This little piece of history has been going viral over the last few weeks after being put up on Soundcloud by a user called mjs538.
*UPDATE: Another user: DJMOOG1 has put up a better quality version which I’ve embedded above.
Although not actually by mjs538, the pieces have a strange and convoluted history in themselves as well as portraying the history of pop music based on all the #1 hits in the US charts since 1958. Both mixes use up to 5 seconds of each and every #1 since the mid fifties, in order, up until 1981 in Part 1 and into the early nineties in Part 2. Whilst a herculean effort, even in this day and age of digital editing and online stores to source the material, it’s all the more impressive that the bulk of Part 1 was made in the late seventies using reel to reel tape and a razor blade.

MARKFO_BThe piece – known as ‘Time Sweep’ – was part of an extensive radio show called The History of Rock n Roll’, made by Drake – Chenault Enterprises for radio in the US which utilized 52 hours to bring the first comprehensive history of rock music to the airwaves. Each year was prefaced with a medley of that year’s #1 hit singles (a ‘Chart Sweep’) and the whole was compiled into a ‘Time Sweep’ to end the mammoth series. The engineer responsible was Mark Ford (above), a veteran of radio jingles and production. He compiled and edited all the selections up until 1977, not only cutting and splicing but also EQing and time stretching sections to make them fit together sonically and selecting and pairing little couplets of lyrics at certain points – Roy Orbison‘s “Pretty woman, walking down the street”, segues into “there she was, just a walking down the street”.

For a little ‘behind the scenes’ info, check out this link on the making of the special

HugoKeesing-743853
But the story doesn’t end there. For those paying attention, just after the Meco version of ‘Star Wars’ in Part 1, the sound quality noticeably changes in both the stereo field, quality and editing. The reason for this is that a teacher from Maryland University called Hugo Keesing extended and updated the concept of the Chart / Time Sweep for his classes as each year finished up until 1991. With all due respect to Keesing, he isn’t a sound engineer and it shows in the application of edits and production. This is where the piece stops being art and turns to documentation and, as such, loses the essence of its greatness. Keesing was using a Wollensack tape recorder to edit with and had no way to clean up or EQ the tracks. So, the majority of Part 1 is Mark Ford’s original (up until 1977) and then Keesing’s extension, which runs the entirety of Part 2.

Five Seconds Of Every #1 Pop Single Part 2 by mjs538

How this piece came into circulation on the web was via a tape with Keesing’s name on it that was passed to the Evolution Control Committee‘s Mark Gunderson in the 90’s and the piece was widely believed to have been by him in it’s entirety by the cut and paste fraternity unfamiliar with the History of Rock n Roll programme. Eventually Keesing was tracked down and you can read an interview with him over at Jon Nelson‘s ‘Some Assembly Required’ blog.

For a comprehensive overview of the whole story check here, there is also an update of the whole concept from 1993 to 2010 if you can’t get enough of this kind of thing.

Posted in Music, Oddities, Radio, Records. | 5 Comments |

3D comics

Biz 3D ZoneFurther to the post about 3D I did last week, I’ve dug out some of the comics I was talking about. Best find was ‘Bizarre 3D Zone’ which is almost Zap Comix in 3D form, including a strip by Robert Williams which works extremely well visually. There were a few underground comics in the the 60’s and 70’s using 3D it seems but not all of them work because the printing is so bad the red/green division can’t be seen too easily.

A company called Blackthorne Publishing spearheaded the 3D comics surge in the late 80’s, buying up licenses to lots of kids shows like Transformers, GI Joe and Star Wars. Their most successful line was, bizarrely, the California Raisins (!?) but they bit off more than the could chew when they acquired the rights to print Michael Jackson’s ‘Moonwalker’ in 3D. The film didn’t do the business expected and their comic flopped, costing them the company. Most of their titles only ran for 1 or 2 issues and the projected Star Wars line (surely a golden ticket?) only made it to issue 3 before the company folded.

In Bizarre 3D Zone there are a few singular page strips that crop up that are quite bizarre indeed, some don’t even work in the conventional 3D way as they are simply only either the green or red. But in amongst the other separated images they give an odd effect and you realise that this is the ultimate in psychedelic comics as it’s playing with your perceptions of the page. I can only imagine what it was doing to hippies on acid way back when.
Zone 3Robt WilliamsZone 6

The Force is weak in this one

Posted this on Facebook last night but don’t want it to get lost in the ether. Apart from being a car ad that isn’t generic and instantly forgettable this perfectly shows what it’s all about for a 5 year old. It’s also one of the rare occasions you don’t want to wring George Lucas’ over-sized neck for whoring the Star Wars franchise to death.

Posted in Film, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

Lejf Marcussen – Den Offentlige Rost (The Public Voice)

[youtube width=”640″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZWX4hMZpdg[/youtube]

Yet another late 80’s coincidence: I saw this film in late ’89 or early ’90 on UK terrestrial TV as filler between programs. I’ve wanted to see it again for over 20 years and I finally found it on YouTube. It’s an animation by Danish director Lejf Marcussen called ‘Den Offentlige Rost’ (The Public Voice, 1988) and it’s a simple idea executed fantastically. It starts out pretty simply but starts getting interesting around the 2.40 mark and it’s all done by hand, no computer graphic trickery apparently – stunning. I can only keep searching for a better copy now.

Posted in Art, Film, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

Avatar by Tarkovsky?

Avatar by Tarkofsky
Found this on the web whilst looking for something else, nice idea, no idea where the original picture comes from, presumably an ancient sci-fi novel. Not sure if Avatar would be quite so action packed with this director at the helm.

Posted in Art, Books, Oddities. | No Comments |

West London Graffiti join-ups from the late 80’s

Tuff Times, Non Stop, Hell Raisers – The Pit, Ladbroke Grove, London, ’80s

Funké – CazBee, under the Westway, Ladbroke Grove, London, ’80s

Non Stop Are World Destruction – Kilburn, London, 80s

Enigma 137 – Rebel, under the Westway, Ladbroke Grove, London, ’80s

JUSTICE / MUM, The Pit, Ladbroke Grove, London, ’80s

I’ve been going through stuff, more info on the individual pieces plus a few more on my Flickr (click any picture)

‘The Earth’s Edge’, Trellick Tower, London, UK, ’80s

‘It’s Time 4 War’ – All Star Kings, The Pit, Ladbroke Grove, London, ’80s

Posted in Art, Oddities. | 3 Comments |

V23 Calendars from years passed

Around this time of year some of us are thinking about getting new calendars to plan our way through the next 12 months. I’ve just sold several OLD calendars, very beautiful ones designed by Vaughn Oliver at V23. Below are some examples of various months I’ve picked out. The V23 calendars were always very obscure, you couldn’t write on them and you could hardly tell which day or month it was on some, but that wasn’t the point.

V23 July 93 1V23 July 93 2V23 May 96

V23 Mar 96V23 Feb 96V23 mar 93Summer 88

V23 posters 1&2V23 Feb 90 web

Music Week magazine quotes and headlines 1983-84

Music Week mags
I recently sold a pile of nearly 40 issues of Music Week from the end of ’83 and throughout ’84. Reading the news and ongoing concerns back then, nearly 30 years ago, seems like another world next to today’s download culture. Cassette piracy was still a concern, compact discs were only just being introduced, MTV and video promos were the hot item with VHS releases a much hyped format.

No eBay –  Adrians‘ weekly listings in the back of the music press was as near as you got. No iPods –  Sony Walkmans and boom boxes were the carrier of choice. No YouTube – only Top of The Pops, Whistle Test or MTV (if you had cable). No Discogs, Wikipedia or search engines to find out about your music – The NME, Melody Maker, Sounds, No.1, Record Mirror or Music Week every Wednesday or Thursday with Smash Hits, The Face, and i-D (surely the first emoticon?) monthly.

Here are some choice headlines from the issues:
‘Chrysalis sends promo video to NY via satellite’
‘Linn set to challenge CD quality claims with vinyl label’
‘Computer games industry woos record retailers’
‘High hopes for CD’
‘CD set for 1/2m sales in 1983’
‘City reports predicts CD will be ‘household item’
‘Japanese tape 8bn songs a year’
‘Weller to support home-tapers on TV’
‘Dealers angry at the £3 12″ single’
‘No moves on Sunday trading ‘in this season”
‘Quo: End of the Road’ (apparently Status Quo played their last ever gig in ’84!!)

Posted in Magazines, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

1-Bit Symphony by Tristan Perich

1 Bit CD + mug1 Bit and jack

I’m currently listening to this amazing piece of art / packaging / engineering. There is no CD in the case, just a series of electrical components that make the music you hear when you plug your headphones into the mini-jack inserted in the spine. A battery, on/off switch, selection pad (to jump to the next track) a volume wheel and a mini headphone jack sit connected to something that chucks out the 1-bit code programmed into it. It’s basic, as the sound capabilities are obviously limited – imagine Phillip Glass played on a Nintendo – but it’s enjoyable nevertheless, also the volume seems to lose the bass as you decrease it. Beware, the last track is infinite, I sat there for a while before checking the packaging and saw a loop logo – doh!

More info at 1-bit symphony.com and you can still buy a copy although it’s not cheap, as a work of art it’s more than worth it I think. If anyone has a copy of Perich’s ‘1-Bit Music’ CD they want to sell I’d be interested.

Posted in Art, Design, Music, Oddities. | No Comments |