Ruth White

The Clock (1969) from Electronic Voyages: Early Moog recordings 1964-1969 (LP)
May 1st, 2023

Via Wikipedia, "Ruth S. White (September 1, 1925 – August 26, 2013) was an American composer known for her electronic music compositions. While most of her career was dedicated to educational recordings, she is best known for being an electronic music pioneer, owing to her early explorations of sound using the Moog synthesizer. The back cover of her 1971 release Short Circuits stated that 'Ruth White is considered among today’s most gifted arbiters of what is termed the new music’.
Her early recordings 7 Trumps From the Tarot Cards and Pinions (1968), Flowers of Evil (1969), and Short Circuits (1970) all featured surprising uses of the Moog synthesizer as well as other electronic musical equipment. [...]

This love of music eventually led White back to education. Most of the rest of White's musical career was spent developing music teaching materials for children and getting technology into the classroom. In 1973 she was producing multi media projects aimed at getting children to read. White realized early on that TV had changed how children learned. The audio without video was dead. In 1973 she was quoted as saying, 'In the future, audio without visual, except for dance records, will be worthless'. It was in 1973 she invented the character Mr. Windbag, a character she continued to use through her educational recording career with her series The Adventure of Mr. Windbag. Her accomplishments in education resulted in her earning a Parents' Choice Award (1983) and an American Library Association notable recording citation. Her interests led her to begin a children’s books publishing company in Los Angeles. But her music was never far behind."

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

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Jayne Cortez photographed by Pete Williams.

Jayne Cortez

Under the Edge of February
February 1st, 2023

Via Poetry Foundation:

Under the edge of february
in hawk of a throat
hidden by ravines of sweet oil
by temples of switchblades
beautiful in its sound of fertility
beautiful in its turban of funeral crepe
beautiful in its camouflage of grief
in its solitude of bruises
in its arson of alert

Who will enter its beautiful calligraphy of blood

Its beautiful mask of fish net
mask of hubcaps mask of ice picks mask
of watermelon rinds mask of umbilical cords
changing into a mask of rubber bands
Who will enter this beautiful beautiful mask of
punctured bladders moving with a mask of chapsticks

Compound of Hearts   Compound of Hearts

Where is the lucky number for this shy love
this top-heavy beauty bathed with charcoal water
self-conscious against a mosaic of broken bottles
broken locks   broken pipes   broken
bloods of broken spirits broken through like
broken promises

Landlords  Junkies  Thieves
enthroning themselves in you
they burn up couches they burn down houses
and infuse themselves against memory
every thought
a pavement of old belts
every performance
a ceremonial pickup
how many more orphans  how many more neglected shrines
how many stolen feet  stolen fingers
stolen watchbands of death
in you how many times


hidden by ravines of sweet oil
by temples of switchblades
beautiful in your sound of fertility
beautiful in your turban of funeral crepe
beautiful in your camouflage of grief
in your solitude of bruises
in your arson of alert

Via the Jayne Cortez obituary: Poet whose incantatory performances could be militant, lyrical and surreal:

The arts are just a part of the weapons of life
Art can make us see and feel reality
and help change that reality
Art is revelation. Art is hard work
Art is a part of protest.

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

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EIFF Programmer Niall Greig Fulton takes EIFF TV through this year's fascinating Shirley Clarke retrospective.

Shirley Clarke

Shirley Clarke (1919-1997) was an American filmmaker
January 9th, 2023

Via Wikipedia: "Her interest in dance began at an early age, but met with the disapproval of her father, a violent bully. Clarke attended Stephens College, Johns Hopkins University, Bennington College, and University of North Carolina. As a result of dance lessons at each of these schools, she trained under the Martha Graham technique, the Humphrey-Weidman technique, and the Hanya Holm method of modern dance. She married Bert Clarke to escape her father's control, so she could study dance under the masters in New York City. Their daughter Wendy was born in 1944.[3] Her marriage to Bert ended in divorce in 1963.[4] She began her career as a dancer in the New York avant garde modern dance movement. She was an avid participant in dance lessons and performances at the Young Women's Hebrew Association."

Via Pop Matters: "Every short film, documentary and home movie here tells you something about this indefatigable dynamo and largely overlooked artist. The folks at Milestone have been industriously restoring and packaging the output of Shirley Clarke. Their operating theory, aside from loving her work, is that its unavailability has been responsible for eclipsing one of America’s most important filmmakers and for many years its most visible woman director. After releasing The Connection followed by Portrait of Jason and Ornette: Made in America, they’ve packaged a head-spinning three-disc set of shorts called The Magic Box, available on DVD or Blu-ray."

Start here: Shirley Clarke & Wendy Clarke - Butterfly (1967)

Thanks to Sarah Szczesny!

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The list is the work of the celebrated artist and educator Sister Corita Kent and was created as part of a project for a class she taught in 1967-1968.

At a time when pop art was finding its footing and the nation was in a state of upheaval, Sister Corita helped make art more accessible to the public.

Corita Kent

Love is hard work
December 30th, 2022

Via The Marginalian: "Buried in various corners of the web is a beautiful and poignant list titled Some Rules for Students and Teachers, attributed to John Cage. The list, however, is the work of the celebrated artist and educator Sister Corita Kent and was created as part of a project for a class she taught in 1967-1968. It was subsequently appropriated as the official art department rules at the college of LA’s Immaculate Heart Convent, her alma mater, but was commonly popularized by Cage, whom the tenth rule cites directly. Legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham, Cage’s longtime partner and the love of his life, kept a copy of it in the studio where his company rehearsed until his death. It appears in Stewart Brand’s cult-classic Essential Whole Earth Catalog, published in 1986, the year Kent passed away.
The list, which can be found in Sister Corita’s Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit (public library), touches on a number of previously discussed themes and materials, including Bertrand Russell’s 10 commandments of teaching, the importance of embracing uncertainty, the pivotal role of work ethic, the intricate osmosis between intuition and intellect, and the crucial habit of being fully awake to everything."

Via Corita Art Center: "Corita Kent (1918–1986) was an artist, educator, and advocate for social justice. At age 18 she entered the religious order Immaculate Heart of Mary, eventually teaching and then heading the art department at Immaculate Heart College. During the course of her career, her artwork evolved from using figurative and religious imagery to incorporating advertising images and slogans, popular song lyrics, biblical verses, and literature. Throughout the ‘60s, her work became increasingly political, urging viewers to consider poverty, racism, and social injustice. In 1968, she left the order and moved to Boston. After 1970, her work evolved into a sparser, introspective style, influenced by living in a new environment, a secular life, and her battles with cancer. She remained active in social causes until her death in 1986. At the time of her death, she had created almost 800 serigraph editions, thousands of watercolors, and innumerable public and private commissions. [...]

1985: Corita was asked to design a postage stamp in 1983. After several years in limbo, the design is issued. The unveiling takes place on the Love Boat. Furious, Corita refuses to attend saying that was not the kind of love she meant. She had wanted the stamp to be unveiled at the United Nations. In response she makes the work Love is hard work."

Via Wikipedia: "Between 1938 and 1968 Kent lived and worked in the Immaculate Heart Community. She taught in the Immaculate Heart College and became the chair of its art department in 1964. Her classes at Immaculate Heart were an avant-garde mecca for prominent, ground-breaking artists and inventors, such as Alfred Hitchcock, John Cage, Saul Bass, Buckminster Fuller and Charles & Ray Eames. Kent credited Charles Eames, Buckminster Fuller, and art historian Dr. Alois Schardt for their important roles in her intellectual and artistic growth. By the early 1950s, she had such a unique and well-known aesthetic and teaching style that clergy members from all over the country were sent to be educated at Immaculate Heart College. Her students were drawn to her selflessness and unique teaching methods such as large class assignments like asking students to create 200 drawings or take three hours to draw their arm without looking at what they were creating."

Thanks to Ulli Schumacher!

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The child-like character of her imagery and her touch like sudden lightning fill sheets of paper in one format only: A4. “Within the standard the minimum reduces immensity to distance between signs”.

Lisa Ponti

"Drawing is the least tiring thing there is."
September 29th, 2022

Via Macro - Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome: "After taking a degree in Philosophy, she worked with her father in various contexts: she assisted him in the making of the frescos at Palazzo del Bo in Padua (1940), played an active role on the editorial staff of the magazine Stile published by Garzanti (1941-1946), and was an editor-in-chief inside Domus (1940-1979), then specifically editing the magazine’s art coverage until 1986. [...]

Lisa Ponti began drawing while she was still working with Domus, but her first solo exhibition came only at age 70, in 1992, at the gallery of Franco Toselli in Milan. The child-like character of her imagery and her touch like sudden lightning fill sheets of paper in one format only: A4. 'Within the standard the minimum reduces immensity to distance between signs'
Like apparitions, the words and text graphically and ironically contribute, performing together with the rapid gesture that outlines the profile of cherub-like characters, figures of fantasy but also companions of hopes and turbulence. The duel between drawing and watercolours on the white page is enhanced by many other ways of narrating, thanks to the use of a range of materials and tools: newspaper pages and personal photographs with which to produce collages, markers and paintbrushes, cotton and wadding, stickers that dot or sketch forms on paper surfaces. For the artist, drawing is an intimate location, a moment in which to stake out and claim a private space of abandon. The A4 format is a limit to overcome through a mark that takes flight and compresses the dream or apparition into an instant."

From Lisa Ponti and Franco Toselli in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist:
"Hans Ulrich Obrist: Why should we be optimistic today in this world?'
Lisa Ponti: Because it’s not up to us! I’ve had a lot of surprises from the world, simply with optimism, without having made an effort. Making an effort is of no help at all; in fact it’s a bit depressing. Once you have found the right path, things then come along, one at a time, and so I took advantage. [...]
Hans Ulrich Obrist: What advice would you give to a young artist?
Lisa Ponto: Try all the paths, to try them all out! That’s the way to learn, by making mistakes! For example I learned from Sottsass about the color pink. In Milan, the custom is for rooms to be white, and then inside the rooms there are colorful objects and furniture. But from Sottsass, whom I visited a great deal because he collaborated on Domus, I learned the pink backdrop—the pink backdrop, with a few dashes of other colors. Sottsass came from Turin, which was outside this Milanese business according to which the house has to be a blank page punctuated with one, two, three, four, five objects. And so I painted my home in via Randaccio all pink! Even though pink was somewhat frowned upon then."

Thanks to Edda Charlie Eckardt!

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Daisies (Czech: Sedmikrásky) is a 1966 Czechoslovakian surrealist comedy-drama film written and directed by Věra Chytilová.

Věra Chytilová

An overheated kettle that you can’t turn down
September 17, 2022

Through the 2011 British documentary film about the history of film The Story of Film I learned about the stunning estate of Věra Chytilová.

Via Wikipedia: "Chytilová described herself as a control freak and, 'An overheated kettle that you can’t turn down'. Chytilová's overheated attitude made it difficult for her to gain work within the Soviet Union controlled film industry. She was known as being actively critical of the Soviet Union, stating that 'My critique is in the context of the moral principles you preach, isn’t it? A critical reflection is necessary'. She would routinely cause havoc and hysterical scenes to attempt to make films that were loyal to her vision regardless of the heavy censorship that was routinely imposed.

Chytilová embodied a unique cinematographic language and style that does not rely on any literary or verbal conventions, but rather utilizes various forms of visual manipulations to create meaning within her films. Chytilová used observations of everyday life in accordance with allegories and surreal contexts to create a personalized film style that is greatly influenced by the French New Wave, and Italian neorealism.

Chytilová actively used a filmic style similar to cinéma vérité in order to allow the audience to gain an outside perspective of the film. Her use of cinéma vérité is best illustrated in her 1966 film, Daisies, in which these techniques create a “philosophical documentary, of diverting the spectator from the involvement, destroying psychology and accentuates the humor”. Through these manipulations Chytilová created a disjunctive viewing experience for her audience forcing them to question the meaning of her films."

Via Criterion about Daisies ( Czechoslovakia, 1966, 76 minutes, Color): "If the entire world is bad, why shouldn’t we be? Adopting this insolent attitude as their guiding philosophy, a pair of hedonistic young women (Ivana Karbanová and Jitka Cerhová), both named Marie, embark on a gleefully debauched odyssey of gluttony, giddy destruction, and antipatriarchal resistance, in which nothing is safe from their nihilistic pursuit of pleasure. But what happens when the fun is over? Matching her anarchic message with an equally radical aesthetic, director Věra Chytilová, with the close collaboration of cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera, unleashes an optical storm of fluctuating film stocks, kaleidoscopic montages, cartoonish stop-motion cutouts, and surreal costumes designed by Ester Krumbachová, who also cowrote the script. The result is Daisies, the most defiant provocation of the Czechoslovak New Wave, an exuberant call to rebellion aimed squarely at those who uphold authoritarian oppression in any form."

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Written and presented by Max Tobin.

Death is a trip

Farewell, Julee Cruise
June 9th, 2022

Today the beautiful, fabulous, highly intelligent, courageous, and incredibly creative Julee Cruise passed on. Her husband said that she "left this realm on her own terms. No regrets. She is at peace [...] I played her [The B-52's song] Roam during her transition. Now she will roam forever. Rest In Peace, my love."
I had the great pleasure meeting Julee Cruise several times, in New York and in Cologne while she was working on two Pluramon albums with composer Marcus Schmickler. Every conversation with her was deep and light at the same time, and wherever she went she worked her program. Julee continues to be a huge inspiration for me. She was a giant.

“Easy, easy, and you are doing this willingly and consciously and beautifully—going forward and up, light and free, forward and up towards the light, into the light, into complete love.” –Quote from Laura Huxley's beautiful letter about Aldous' death

Via aoen: "Over the past several decades, scientists have began to better understand dying as a biological process – whether it happens over the course of weeks or appears to occur in an instant. In this short video, the UK filmmaker and presenter Max Tobin deploys a heavy dose of gallows humour to investigate a groundbreaking series of studies that may offer hints at what the stage between clinical death (cessation of vital functions) and brain death (cessation of brain activity) actually feels like. In particular, he looks at the biological and experiential similarities between near-death experiences and taking the hallucinogenic drug DMT, in discussion with Chris Timmermann of the Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London, who led the research."

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Marcel Dzama made some new large drawings that he is showing in Miami at David Zwirner & Sie & Höke Gallery at Art Basel Miami.


Author and poet Clarissa Pinkola Estés
January 26th, 2022

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. in Women Who Run With The Wolves – Myths and Stories of the Wild Women Archetype:

"0-7 age of the body and dreaming/socialization, yet retaining imagination
7-14 age of separating yet weaving together reason and the imaginal
14-21 age of new body/young maidenhood/unfurling yet protecting sensuality
21-28 age of new world/new life/exploring the worlds
28-35 age of the mother/learning to mother others and self
35-42 age of the seeker/learning to mother self-seeking the self
42-49 age of early crone/finding the far encampment/giving courage to others
49-56 age of the underworld/learning the words and rites
56-63 age of choice/choosing one's world and the work yet to be done
63-70 age of becoming watchwoman/recasting all one has learned
70-77 age of re-youthanization/more cronedom
77-84 age of the mist beings/finding more big in the small
84-91 age of weaving with the scarlet thread/understanding the weaving of life
91-98 age of the ethereal/less to saying, more to being
98-105 age of pneuma, the breath
105+ age of timelessness"

Thanks to Swantje Lichtenstein!

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Henri Cartier-Bresson Brie, France. 1968

This is water

Thích Nhất Hạnh (1926-2022)
January 22nd, 2022

Via Plum Village: "With a deep mindful breath, we announce our beloved teacher Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh has passed away peacefully on 22nd January, 2022."

"We are a wave appearing on the surface of the ocean. The body of a wave does not last very long – perhaps only ten to twenty seconds. The wave is subject to beginning and ending, to going up and coming down. The wave may be caught in the idea that I am here now and I won’t be here later. And the wave may feel afraid or even angry. But the wave also has her ocean body. She has come from the ocean, and she will go back to the ocean. She has both her wave body and her ocean body. She is not only a wave; she is also the ocean. The wave does not need to look for a separate ocean body, because she is in this very moment both her wave body and her ocean body. As soon as the wave can go back to herself and touch her true nature, which is water, then all fear and anxiety disappear."Thích Nhất Hạnh

Via The New York Times: "Thich Nhat Hanh dismissed the idea of death. 'Birth and death are only notions,' he wrote in his book No Death, No Fear. 'They are not real.' He added: 'The Buddha taught that there is no birth; there is no death; there is no coming; there is no going; there is no same; there is no different; there is no permanent self; there is no annihilation. We only think there is.' That understanding, he wrote, can liberate people from fear and allow them to 'enjoy life and appreciate it in a new way.'

Please also consider, the new Heart Sutra translation by Thích Nhất Hạnh, and the only commencemnet speech ever by David Foster Wallace, This is Water.

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New favorite record

Kirtan: Turiya Sings by Alice Coltrane
September 9th, 2021

Via Pitchfork: "Turiya Sings was the first album she made alone. Having left the commercial music industry behind, she released these uncanny compositions based on Hindu devotionals, or bhajans, on cassette through her Vedantic Center’s publishing imprint, Avatar Book Institute. Luxuriating in every prayerful syllable, naming deities like Krishna and Ramachandra, Coltrane made a small number of the tapes available to her students and Vedantic Center visitors. Though she used relatively spare components—the subtitle of the original album cover read, 'Devotional Songs in Original Composition with Organ, Strings and Synthesizer'—they contain an unusual, self-contained grandeur. In the aching shimmer of these hymns, which evoke both South Indian classical music and the Black church, you can hear Coltrane’s life coursing through: her journey from gospel accompanist to jazz prodigy, the drama of the European classical music she loved, the soulful melodies of her Detroit youth, grief and exaltation. Yet the power of this music is elemental. The tone of the original Turiya Sings is as certain and spectral as anything associated with the Coltrane name. Her voice hovers distantly above the mix as if she’s floating, or astral projecting—which she wrote about extensively in Monument Eternal—like a woman actively inhabiting a higher dimension.

The recordings of Coltrane’s ashram period have taken on a mythical status in her catalog over the past decade, particularly Turiya Sings, which has circulated online and on bootleg cassettes, never officially re-released. The 2017 Luaka Bop compilation of Coltrane’s ecstatic music included no tracks from Turiya Sings. If there is reluctance to make those particular recordings commercially available, it’s understandable: The music emerged at the very moment Coltrane was trying to divorce herself from the material world. On a more technical level, according to a label representative, the original Turiya Sings remains formally unreleased because the Coltrane family has never found its master synthesizer recordings.

What Coltrane’s son Ravi did find—around the time of his mother’s final album, 2004’s miraculous Translinear Light—were 1981 recordings she made of Turiya Sings featuring only her voice and Wurlitzer electric organ, an instrument that she once said came to her in a divine vision. ('In one meditation… the precise instrument I should get was revealed to me,' she said in an interview. 'I didn’t need to do any research; it was just conveyed to me.') These pared-back tracks of Coltrane’s most minimal music are now released as Kirtan: Turiya Sings, like seeds of the cassette that also, in some sense, expand it. As Ravi Coltrane writes in a producer’s note, this is 'functional music,' meant to guide the practice of chanting: creating vibrations inside of oneself in order to transcend, like embodied meditations. During a call-and-response kirtan performance, the leader sings devotionals, typically with a harmonium pump organ, and the audience joins in collectively. Despite the surge of interest in kirtan in the U.S. in the 1990s—and Coltrane’s groundbreaking fusion of gospel and jazz elements into the form—her spiritual music remained little known in the U.S., as scholar Franya J. Berkman notes in her 2010 Coltrane biography, in considerable part because she didn’t perform it outside of her ashram.

Where before, the stately music of Turiya Sings had evoked celestial bodies, inquisitive synth lines whirring as if in accordance with their own cosmology, now there’s the tactility of earthly reality. The click of the organ on Jagadishwar makes its soul-stirring melody—which Coltrane reimagined unmistakably on Translinear Light as well—feel newly intimate, and she enunciates each word with enlightened precision. It puts you in the room, into electric air. By this point, Coltrane had been playing the Wurlitzer for a decade, having first used it on 1971’s mind-bending galactic trip Universal Consciousness. Her subtle flourishes of extra notes make the compositions bloom and groove anew. Her mystic organ lines seem attuned to the drone of the universe. [...]

Listening to the Kirtan: Turiya Sings recordings feels less like discovering a hissy cassette lost in time than what it must have been like to experience Coltrane leading the songs at one of her legendary Sunday services."

Thanks to Frank Dommert @ a-musik, the best record store on this planet !

Also, check out this 16mm color film print. A "short documentary made for a segment of National Education Television's Black Journal television program. The segment focuses on the life of Alice Coltrane and her children in the wake of the death of her husband, famed jazz magician John Coltrane. This film was shot sometime during 1970; three years after the death of John Coltrane."

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