Saturday, 23 April 2011

Coil — The Price Of Existence Is Eternal Warfare

COIL is a hidden universal. A code. A key for which the WHOLE does not exist. Is NONEXISTENT, in silence and secrecy. A spell. A spiral. A serpents SHt round a female cycle. A whirlwind. A double helix. DNA. Electricity and elementals. Atonal noise, and brutal poetry.

COIL is amorphous. Luminous and constant change. Inbuilt obSOLescence. Inbuilt Disobedience.

A vehicle for obsessions. Dreamcycles in perpetual motion. We are cutthroats. Infantile. Immaculately Conceived. Dis-eased. The Virus is Khaos. The cure is Delirium.

COIL are Archangels of KHAOS. The price we pay for existence is eternal Warfare. There is a hidden coil of strength, dormant beneath the sediment of convention. Dreams lead us under the surface, over the edge, to the Delerium state. UNCHAINED. Past impositions and false universals. Reassembling into OUR order.

COIL. Who has the nerve to dream, create and kill, while the whole moves every part stands still. Our rationale is the irrationAL. Hallucination is the truth our graves are dug with. COIL is compulsion. URGE and construction. Dead letters fall from our shedding skins. Kabbala and KHAOS. Thanatos and Thelema. Archangels and Antichrists. Open and Close. Truth and Deliberation. Traps and Disorientation.

Coil exist between Here and Here. We are Janus Headed. Plural. Out of time. Out of place. Out of Spite. An antidote for when people become poisons.

COIL know how to destroy Angels. How to paralyse. Imagine the world in a bottle. We take the bottle, smash it, and open your throat with it. I warn you we are Murderous. We massacre the logical revolts. We know everything! We know one thing only. Absolute existence, absolute motion, absolute direction, absolute Truth. NOW, HERE, US.

"Not Knowing What Is And Is Not Knowing, I Knew Not" - Hassan i Sabbah.

Coil's 1983 Manifesto.

John Balance (first name also spelled Jhon and Jhonn; born Geff Rushton/Geoffrey Laurence Burton), 16 February 1962 – 13 November 2004 & Peter Martin Christopherson, a.k.a. Sleazy, 27 February 1955 – 24 November 2010.

The Last Amethyst Deceiver — The Ape of Naples — 2005

Tattooed Man — The Ape of Naples — 2005

All the Pretty Little Horses — Black Antlers (disc i) — 2006

Things We Never Had — Black Antlers (disc ii) — 2006

Further information here, here & here. Video content here, here & here.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Timeslip (ATV 1970-71)

ATV for ITV, 28/9/1970 - 26/3/1971. 26 x 25 min episodes. Creator: Ruth Boswell, Producer: John Cooper, Scripts: Bruce Stewart & Victor Pemberton, Directors: John Cooper, Dave Foster, Ron Francis & Peter Jefferies.

Cast: Spencer Banks (Simon Randall); Cheryl Burfield (Liz Skinner); Denis Quilley (Commander Charles Traynor); Iris Russell (Jean Skinner); Derek Benfield (Frank Skinner); Mary Preston (Beth Skinner); David Graham (Controller 2957); John Barron (Morgan C. Devereaux); Iain Fairbairn (Dr Frazer / Alpha 4); Teri Scoble (Miss Stebbins / Alpha 16).

In general terms an ITV rival to Doctor Who, Timeslip may have borrowed that series' immensely useful 'magic cabinet' concept of time travel providing a handy bus between anthology adventures but it also added genuine attempts to explore time travel's effects and theories. Magpie science correspondent Peter Fairley even fronted episodes with earnest and supposedly plausible facts (even though 'time bubbles' sounds ridiculous in retrospect). The 26-week series, of four-interlinked serials set in different time periods, began promisingly enough with 'The Wrong End of Time', a trip to 1940 and the onset of WWII. Two teenagers, swotty speccy boffin Simon and headstrong if sometimes hysterical Liz, found an invisible portal to other times at the gates of a seemingly abandoned Naval base and this 'Time Barrier' returned the pair to the days when the base was operational and under attack from Nazis seeking scientific research secrets. Enlivening the escape-capture goings on, Liz met her own father as a young Naval rating. For the second serial, 'The Time of the Ice Box', Liz and Simon visited an Antarctic research base in 1990, 20 years hence. Amid a toybox of future technologies, the unit is developing a longevity drug and its director, Morgan Devereux, turns out to be a malfunctioning clone. The third serial, 'The Year of the Burn Up', foresaw global warming in an alternate 1990, where weather control attempts have gone disastrously wrong and turned southern England into tropical jungle. Having met a coldly scientific version of herself in the Icebox future 'projection', Liz now encountered an 'Earth mother' rendering, while Simon had become 'Controller 2957', one of 1990's technocratic ruling elite. Scientific progress is seen as bad and depersonalising, creating "a future in which technology comes first and people last". Devereux's deranged quest for immortality and unethical research into cloning and longevity drugs in the 1960s (the location for the concluding serial 'The Day of the Clone') threatens to set a course to the two awful 1990 futures witnessed by the time travellers. Examining advanced technologies such as cloning (far-fetched in 1970), the serial also asked questions of research ethics and fatalism - could Liz and Simon plot a better future for both mankind and themselves?

Further information here, here and here. Video content here, here & here.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Stanisław Lem

"The ancients used to say: mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur — the world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived."

Stanisław Lem was born in Lwów (now Lviv, Ukraine) as the son of Samuel Lem, a prosperous physician (a laryngologist). The family lived on the second floor of Number Four of Brajerska Street. In his childhood Lew was a voracious reader - he read poetry, novels, popular science books, and his father's anatomy books. During the war and Nazi occupation Lem worked as a car mechanic and welder, and was a member of the resistance fighting against the Germans. With false papers that concealed his Jewish origins, he avoided concentrations camps. Toward the end of the war Poland was occupied by the Red Army and the country was closely controlled by the Soviet Union for the next 50 years. In 1946 Lem moved from Lwów to Kraców. His family had lost all of their possessions in the course of the war.

After finishing his studies Lem received his MD. He worked a research assistant in a scientific institution and started to write stories on his spare time. He also wrote articles in the professional press. In 1953, he married Barbara Lesniak, a young student of medicine.

In the beginning of his career Lem published lyrical verse, essays on scientific method and realistic novels. His first work was a story CZLOWIEK Z MARSA (1946), which appeared in a magazine. In the 1950s Lem turned seriously into science fiction, publishing ASTRONAUCI (1951), OBLOK MAGELANA (1955), and EDEN (1959), a prophecy in which five ship-wrecked space traveling scientist explore a world where chemical manipulation is a part of the social lassez-faire. He had written in 1948-49 a three-volume autobiographical novel CZAS NIEUTRACONY, but it did not appear until 1957 - due to its first volume which was a problem for the censor. Hospital of the Transfiguration, a novel set in a mental institution, was not published until 1956, three years after Stalin's death.

In the 1960s Lem was very productive: he wrote among others CYBERIADA (1965, The Cyberiad), a satire in in which two robots have too creative talents, OPOWIESCI O PILOCIE PIRXIE (1968), stories about Pilot Pirx, and SUMMA TECHNOLOGIAE (1964), philosophical essays on cybernetics and biology. BAJKI ROBOTÓW (1964) was a mixture of fairy tales, social satire, and science fiction, in which highly developed artificial beings have all the negative personal and societal traits of human beings. "The theme he stresses in most of his work," wrote Phil José Farmer in The New York Times, "is that machines will someday be as human as Homo sapiens and perhaps superior to him. Mr. Lem has an almost Dickensian genius for vividly realizing the tragedy and comedy of future machines; the death of one of his androids or computers actually wrings sorrow from the reader" (September 2, 1984).

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (trans. 1973) is a story about an aspiring agent, who seeks his mission and the meaning of his existence. In Return from the Stars (trans. 1980) a space pilot returns to Earth after a 10 year journey. He has to adjust himself to a new world - meanwhile 120 years had passed in Earth time. Imaginary Magnitude (trans. 1984), moves into the literary world of Jorge Luis Borges, and consists only of introductions of 16 (imaginary) books. However, Lem has criticized Borgets's hermetic approach to literature: "We are building newer, richer, and more terrible paradises and hells; but in his books Borges knows nothing about them." A Perfect Vacuum (1971) was a collection of essays masqueraded as reviews of books that have not yet been written. The second ''review'' is about ''the military evolution of civilization'', seen from the viewpoint of the 21st century. It describes how arms builders managed to overcome all obstacles and create really effective "synsects'' to fight a modern war. "The war of good and evil present in all religions does not always end, in every faith, with the victory of good, but in every one it establishes a clear order of existence. The sacred as well as the profane rests on that universal order..." (from One Human Minute) FIASKO (1986, trans. 1987) was a meditation on the nature of culture and technology, in which aliens avoid contact with humans. A spaceship, the Hermes, is sent to Quinta, which reveals evidence of life but remains silent. When the spaceship approches the planet, they find out that the Quintas have developed a Cosmic War Zone.

Lem's most famous work, Solaris, is among the classic science fiction novels of the 1960s. In it the author explored one of his favorite subjects - the limitations of human understanding. The story is set in a space station hovering above the planet Solaris. Scientists probe the mysteries the planet where the only living thing is an intelligent ocean, that covers the whole surface. Andrei Tarkovsky's film adaptation of the novel from 1972 has been called the 2001: A Space Odyssey of Russian sci-fi cinema. However, the director was not interested in special effects or superficial science fiction elements, rockets and space stations, and later said that the film "would have stood out more vividly and boldly had we managed to dispense with these things altogether."

Read more here.

More information here, here and here.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The films of Andrei Tarkovsky

"An artist never works under ideal conditions. If they existed, his work wouldn`t exist, for the artist doesn`t live in a vacuum. Some sort of pressure must exist. The artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect."

Andrei Tarkovsky is almost certainly the most famous Russian filmmaker since Eisenstein. His visionary approach to cinematic time and space, as well as his commitment to cinema as poetry, mark his oeuvre as one of the defining moments in the development of the modern art film.

Although he never tackled politics directly, the metaphysical preoccupations of films such as Andrei Rublev (1966), Mirror (1974) and Stalker (1979) provoked ongoing hostility from the Soviet authorities.

Like many other artists in the Soviet Union, his career was marked by constant struggles with the authorities to realise his vision.

Although this meant he completed only seven features in his 27 years as a director, each one is strikingly uncompromising in its thematic ambition and formal boldness. Whether or not he would have fared better under the capitalist film industry in the West is open to debate – Bresson and Dreyer, for example, both suffered frequent frustrations in creating their formally radical investigations into human spirituality.

Tarkovsky was born April 4, 1932. Zavrazhe, Ivanono, Russia and died December 28, 1986. Paris, France. He was the son of noted poet Arseni Tarkovski and actress Maria Ivanovna. His parents divorced while he was still a child. His father’s poetry features in Mirror, Stalker and Nostalgia (1983) and his mother appears in Mirror.

Tarkovsky studied Arabic at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Languages between 1951 and 1954 and geology in Siberia, before enrolling in the famous VGIK Moscow film school in 1959. His teacher was Mikhail Romm. While there, he worked on a short piece for television There Will Be No Leave Today (1959). His prize-winning graduation short, The Steamroller and the Violin (1960), was written in collaboration with future director Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky who would also work on the Andrei Rublev script.

The release of Andrei Rublev was delayed until 1971. In the meantime, Tarkovsky worked as an actor and screenwriter before completing his next film, an adaptation of Stanislaw Lem’s science fiction novel Solaris in 1972. Often compared to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), a film Tarkovsky judged as too cold and inhuman, Solaris tells of a scientist (Donatas Banionis) sent to investigate mysterious events on a space station orbiting the planet Solaris. Theories have been put forward that Solaris is made of conscious matter, functioning like a giant brain. Upon arriving, Banionis discovers the planet has been trying to make contact with the station’s inhabitants by reaching into their subconscious and creating living replicas of whatever it finds locked in there. In Banionis’ case, a replica of his wife (Natalya Bondarchuk), who committed suicide years before, appears to him and they embark on an intense affair.

Read more here.

1956 - The Killers, Soviet Union, 19 min.
1959 - There Will be No Leave Today, Soviet Union, 46 min.
1960 - The Steamroller and the Violin, Soviet Union, 46 min.
1962 - Ivan's Childhood, Soviet Union, 95 min.
1966 - Andrei Rublev, Soviet Union, 205 min.
1972 - Solaris, Soviet Union, 165 min.
1974 - Mirror, Soviet Union, 108 min.
1979 - Stalker, Soviet Union, 164 min.
1982 - Voyage in Time, Italy, 63 min.
1983 - Nostalghia, Italy, 125 min.
1986 - The Sacrifice, Sweden, 149 min.

More information here, here and here.

Directed By Andrei Tarkovsky (Documentary, 1988).