Thursday, April 28, 2016

_Black_Acrylic presents ... An Italo Tearjerkers Playlist





Italo disco is a dance music genre that’s never afraid to let its feelings show, and the tearjerking Italo ballad is perhaps the purest expression of the form. I don’t know if maybe this style is the legacy of Italy’s great operatic tradition but anyway, I’ve long had a love for these exquisite songs of heartbreak and pain. The music’s hardly danceable in any conventional sense and the sounds all serve to create a feeling that’s hard for me to define. There’s usually a profound disjuncture between the big emotional force of the lyrics and the limited technological means at the musicians’ disposal. The whole package creates an effect that I find to be both uncanny and psychedelic. I hope this playlist might provide a way in, so see if you can feel it:



Dario Dell'Aere – Eagles In The Night



Dario Dell'Aere is a New Wave musician, producer and singer from Milan, Italy. At the end of the 1970's Dario performed in a mime show that was influenced by the glam cliches of David Bowie. In 1979, Dario met Victor Life outside a cinema and began a lifelong collaboration of projects: Diamond Dogs, Ice Eyes and Fockewulf 190. Musically, the duo were inspired by the Human League’s “Reproduction” and John Foxx’s “Metamatic” and visually they took cues from New Romantic’s Visage and Ultravox. With the Fockewulf 190 moniker, they created their own dark blend of Italo disco releasing the hit singles “Gitano” and “Body Heat” in 1984.

By the end of 1984 the duo took a break and Dario went into the studio and recorded his debut solo single “Eagles In The Night”. One of the most coveted Italo Disco 12”s, it was released in 1985 on Market Records. The song features unique xylophone-like synthesizer notes that Dario’s deep vocals float over. Lyrically, the song is about a spirit that flies above the heights of the world in search of a true love to share with a partner. Clocking in at over 8-minutes of melancholic, the song’s mid-tempo kitsch comes with backing vocals from Dario’s sister, Nora Dell'Aere. On the B-side is the shorter instrumental version with the occasional "oh wacky co-co" refrains from Dario.
https://anost.net/en/Products/Dario-Dell-Aere-Eagles-In-The-Night/

I love this song so much.. His strong, dark voice drives me ...going crazy.. Dance with me..
Italogirl1000






Fockewulf 190 – Body Heat


Victor Life

The story of Fockewulf 190 started when you and Dario (Dell'Aere) met outside a cinema in Milan in 1979. Can you tell us about how the band evolved from there and what those early years were like?

Full of enthusiasm, we had the power of seducing everyone who got in touch with us, especially the dandy guys from the Taxy Club, the historic New Romantic club in Milan where we used to play live. Everything seemed possible for Fockewulf 190... immediately a crew of fans made us like their little stars.

By 1984 it seems as if there had become a greater mystical element in your music, in tracks like 'Gitano' and 'Body Heat', and of course you enjoyed greater commercial success in other countries during this time too. Can you tell us about the message you were trying to convey in your music, and also how the band were treated by the Italian music industry at this point?

1984 wasn't crucial only for us, but also for an entire generation brought up in 1977 between the energy of Punk and the electronics of Kraftwerk, the glorious dreams of the The Thin White Duke and the New Romanticism of synth-pop. The last wave before the end, like in the best apocalyptic prophecies, for us could be only linked to the electronic and futuristic mysticism, philosophically esoteric, imperial in its theatrical shape and plasma'd by oriental sounds. The idea was to re-unite the different styles into one centre of gravity, something so strong in spirit, soul and body, to not leave space for anyone else, recreating something mythological like the Ziggy Stardust era.

Not even the great Bowie himself, who wrote the best mythology of the sci-fi rock, managed to have such an extreme vision... the last link, the final chapter of the Diamond Dogs legend. That was our idea and in the scene they were talking a lot about us, but nobody had the guts to seriously invest in our band, not even the ones who considered us the new Rockets. In the end being Italian, as I said before, was a curse that made us live in a cage, not even made of gold... more or less a silver one!
http://magicwavesradio.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/interview-victor-life-of-fockewulf-190.html

Great melody, synths and Fred Ventura´s performance. Italoclassic! ****
mvalvee5






Flexx – Love Theme From Flexxy-Ball



'Zeit' was your first song under name Fred Ventura, but earlier you you had project 'Flexx' and the song 'You'll Never Change (Theme From Flexyball)'. What is 'Flexyball'? Movie? Could you tell us a little bit more about it?

It was just a fantasy we had in the studio when we were recording the track in october 1983, there is no movie and no soundtrack, just a funny idea....

Fred, who was or were your inspiration(s)?

A lot of different music and artists, not only dance music even if I felt a natural need to make danceable music, but my biggest influences were Joy Division, New Order, Giorgio Moroder, Bobby O, The Human League, Patrick Cowley, Kraftwerk, D.a.f, Etienne Daho…..

You sang the song 'Bodyheat' by Fockewulf 190. Did you know this is someone else song? Can you tell more about this please?

Turatti asked me to write a melody and lyrics for the Fokewulf track, they didn't like the original version, I simply wrote it and sing it in few hours, nothing else, it was very easy to do it and now I love the track more than ever...
http://www.italo-interviews.com/FredVentura_2.html

This release would fit the genre, and definitely is among the italo freaks, classic italo disco. Nevetheless, it's just an excellent piece of early 80's italo disco history.

Electro ballad a like song with strong vocals sung by one of the finest italo disco voices, Fred Ventura, telling the story, told millions of times, and giving a man's point of view regarding an heartache, will, difference and a need.

I love the arrangement of the song. It's epic, full journey, like a song mixing from ballad to another synthetic dimension.

That's exactly what italo is all about. You can always expect surprises and miracles, personal mental explosion.

At the end of the song it just goes wild, Fred Ventura has done his vocal job and has left the building, leaving space for synthesizers to create a spacey atmospheric world of italo disco arpeggiators.

I just love it. It's excellent.
GeorgeSpruce
https://www.discogs.com/Flexx-Love-Theme-From-Flexxy-Ball-Youll-Never-Change-No-More/release/387820?ev=rr







Flying D.J. – Marilyn


Marzio Benelli

easily my favourite Italo-Disco song of all times. A true gem.
cocabots






Sensitive – Driving




It is so easy and so difficult at the same time to review a breath taking masterpiece like this one... What can we say about this song except that it is the best possible example of Italo perfection. Well, at least in my personal opinion. It is loaded with a lot of emotions going through some sadness, melancholy and fragility all in a very refined way with a dark and boosted up galloping baseline. The instruments are just perfect and well thought, and the vocals, well, they maybe are even better.. All the ingredients were there to create something that won't be forgotten in the years that would follow.

Knowing this, it could be remarkable, but this song is bringing you exactly in the mood you want to be and so it doesn't have to be a sad or melancholic mood. Me for example I just get very happy with it, tons of emotions and goosebumps from the deepest! It was their very first official release as a group and their love for the music is really painted on that song. You're feeling that devotion till the very last second.
Weird that it never broke glasses into the charts back in the day.. Maybe because of the tons of releases that came out in a very short period of time in that area, but anyway, it's a real pleasure to see and discover that it finally gets the popularity it deserves!

A truly wonderful production from David Zambelli, but most of the credits goes to the real creators of it: Sergio Bonzanni as the composer & Salvatore Pileggi on the vocals. Gigi Vavassori gets the same credits for his help in creating this wonderful piece of musical history! The song was recorded in 1983 at the Regson Sound Studios in Milan (Italy), the day after Scotch recorded there famous 'Disco Band'. The instruments used in the song are an Elka Synthex, a Korg Poly 61 and a E-mu Drumulator. The picture on the sleeve is Sergio Bonzanni in the studio together with Salvatore Pileggi.

Definitely my absolute favorite song of all time!! No words could EVER describe this song as it should be...
Aftering_at_my_way
https://www.discogs.com/Sensitive-Driving/release/422118






Decadance – On And On


Franco Rago and Gigi Farina (a.k.a. Atelier Folie, 'Lectric Workers, Expansives, Decadance, Wanexa, Pleasure Discipline, Message from the Future)

"On And On (Fears Keep On)" is a total masterpiece production in the italo disco genre. The same people behind 'Lectric Workers and many other infamous italo projects present us with this song under the alius of 'Decadance'. The song shares male/female vocals - the male has a very heavy Italian accent, while the female vocals are probably the best example of just how amazing an italo song could be. All in all, this is a very dark song and is something like a love song meets electro-synth crossover. I love this song so much and don't doubt it's level of demand one bit.
magic00
https://www.discogs.com/Decadance-On-And-On-Fears-Keep-On/release/94807






Paul Paul – Burn On The Flames


Fred Ventura

I waited too much
I've wasted my time
I'm looking at shadows on the wall of my room
The beat of my heart is so tired to run
The pictures of her make me feel so alone

Burn on the flames! Walk on the flames!

I've wasted my youth
I've cried too much
Life is so hard and so full of troubles
I make my choice, my mind is still late
I wanna forget from the people I saw.

Burn on the flames! Walk on the flames!
Burn on the flames! My life, my life Burn on the flames! My life, my life Euh-euh-euh.

The night is so clear
My booze is soaked up
I'm looking for something for the bottom of my heart
The silence around sound to me like a theme
And they like it fire alone in the dessert

Burn on the flames! Walk on the flames!

I've wasted my youth
I've cried too much
Life is so hard and so full of troubles
I make my choice, my mind is still late
I wanna forget from the people I saw.

Burn on the flames! Walk on the flames!
Burn on the flames! My life, my life Burn on the flames!
My life, my life Burn on the flames!
My life, my life Burn on the flames!
My flames, my flames Burn on the flames! My life, my life






Hélicon – You ... See

All around, "You... See" is one of the finest Italo Disco songs ever created. This one is very beautiful, VERY beautiful! Male/female vocals, softer beat, instrumentation is just perfect. This is definately top 10 for my favorite Italo Disco songs of all time! This song does it for me everytime, always and forever an Italo gem!
magic00
https://www.discogs.com/H%C3%A9licon-You--See/release/299967






Felli – Diamond In The Night


Gianfranco Felli

"Diamond In The Night" is a true classic and will rank forever among my favourites. I love it how the refrain changes from "Your love doesn't shine" to "Let your love shine" in the progress of the song.
latscho
https://www.discogs.com/Felli-Diamond-In-The-Night/release/346417





Savage – Don't Cry Tonight


Roberto Zanetti aka Savage

Were you inspired by some artists to make Italo disco? For example, High-energy music existed before Italo-disco, one could say that Italo is the child of High-energy in some way (a logical continuation of disco music). You know who Bobby Orlando and Patrick Cowley are. Did they have some influence on you ?

Of course they influenced me. as you state Italo disco is an evolution of High-energy. I think our style is a medley between the High-energy's sound and the Italian melodies.

The year 1983 is far away from us now. Your first single was Don't Cry Tonight. How did you compose this song ?

I was in a blue, sad moment of my life. the melody went out from the deep of my soul. It was written in five minutes.

Italo disco is a very nice and strong music. Your song Don't Cry Tonight in an example of a beautiful, soft song, a very good song for our heart and soul, for our thoughts. Italo disco in general is the most beautiful music in the world, don't you think so?

Yes, I agree. Many thanks for you compliments.
http://www.italo-interviews.com/Savage1st.html

I Loved, I love you and I will love you forever! I remember with this song!
doge663






Mike Rogers - Just A Story

I can listen to a recording day and night, thanks to this amazing recording who created it many thanks
yakyle9






Marc Line - You Can Break My Heart

 photo maxresdefault_zpspf00f4pw.jpg
Marcello Catalano

Probably one of the most coruscating Marcello Catalano's jewels, as much smooth for the ears as it is not to be found at every street's corner ! A record seemingly that's worth the price.
vinylric






Moskow - Come Back


Angelo Valsiglio

Unlike others, I love this song because it's beautiful and, for me it doesn't matter if the record is 10 cent the euro or 3000.

Clear and easy-to-understand vocals (you're an Italo, I don't want you to be clear), excellent drums programming (lots double kicks but why that snare ? ok..), wonderful melody and sounds/effects during the song.

** You might like the Instr. version more

Is that record worth the money for a "love" song ? you decide..
MyMine
https://www.discogs.com/Moskow-Come-Back/release/216797






G.J. Lunghi – Acapulco Nights

Such an absolutely perfect song. The keyboard hook and lead female vocals are especially outstanding. Owwww!!!
beagletender






Lame' – You've Got The Night

Thank you for sharing this with me Triggerfs, I have been listening to this song in my room for the last 5 hours having an emotional breakdown. This track breaks my heart two ways, first the percussion through the track.. amazing.. The final destruction to my soul comes at 3:27ish when he starts beckoning to her, and then the final "but if you want it, you got it...." and thats when the tears pour out….
partyeffectsdotbiz6






The Hurricanes - Only One Night


Tess

If you haven't heard this Italo classic, then hear it! The intro from 0:17 gives me goosebumps and the voice is wonderful. One of my absolute favorites ever. Produced by Tess (aka Fancy).
webhamster
https://www.discogs.com/Hurricanes-Only-One-Night/release/126243






93rd Superbowl - Forever And A Day

Great and crazy synth action, wonderful long break in the middle, this song has it all for me. One of my personal favorites that never left my head since the first time I heard it. Pitch it up a little for maximum effectiveness!
https://www.discogs.com/93rd-Superbowl-Forever-And-A-Day/release/518476






Ventura - Another Time


Bruno Tavernese

One that grew on me a lot over the years, with solid production (as always) from the master Bruno Tavernese.
The singer is not out of tune at all, she has a powerful husky voice which I love.
One of few italo 12" maxis with great (different) songs on both sides, actually the b-side "Another Time" is better for me.
Be sure to watch the incredible and spirited video performance of that one.. what a stage presence!
hysteric
https://www.discogs.com/Ventura-Touched/master/120549






Jules - I Want To…

Simply amazing.
My Number One in the Top Ten!!.
TheItalodancers






Ghery M & Ocean D - Love's Emotions

VERY NICE!!!!!






George Gray - Life

Those many italo songs I have searched, I havent found. Instead of all that I found this thanks to Qlee Italo Disco Radio. and RSDH in Holland. And I am thankful for it. There is very little music like these. Its not about sounds, lyrics and arrangement only, but how it makes me feel due to the all about this itself.

It also seems more than just mainstream italo ( which was made for money).
alexelaist3






Lisa G. - Call My Name

Another wonderful 80s italo disco masterpiece! The intro has a Very cutting crew "I just died in your arms" feel imo. Lisa g"s vocals are quite lovely and the over all production Is flawless! :-) :-) :-)
garyvictor
https://www.discogs.com/Lisa-G-Call-My-Name/release/561437





For my friend and DJ colleague Scott Duncan aka Il Discotto who introduced me to so much of this wonderful music.




*

p.s. Hey. Today artist and d.l. supreme _Black_Acrylic gives us an amazing overview and sampler of the Italo Tearjerker genre. I've had a few days to play with the post pre-launch, and I can tell you that it's jam-packed with discoveries and delights galore. You will have fun. That much is guaranteed. So, have that fun at the behest of _B_A today, and please let him know what you think of what you're hearing. Thank you, folks, and giant thanks to you, Ben. Now, as you can tell by the weird shortness of this p.s., I have not been able to do my usual full-fledged responding chat with you today. The reason is that I have suddenly been hit with a severe writing deadline this morning, a deadline that I will struggle to meet as it is and would never be able to meet if I let myself luxuriate in interacting with you. I'm so sorry for the unexpected pause. But I will catch up with all of the comments from yesterday and today tomorrow morning when I will be again in a respite between work assignments. So, don't be shy about commenting today, and, especially, please speak to _B_A to let him know that his great and hard work was not for nothing. Thank you, and thank you for your patience. I will blab at and with you tomorrow. Take care until then.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Leslie Thornton Day





'Leslie Thornton has long been considered a pioneer of contemporary media aesthetics, working at the borders and limits of cinema, video and digital media. Such seminal works as her ongoing series Peggy and Fred in Hell (1985- ) operate in the interstices between various media-forms, often using simultaneous, interacting projections of film and video to address both the architectural spaces of media, and the imaginary spaces of the spectator’s involvement. Thornton uses the process of production as an explorative process, a collective endeavor “position(ing) the viewer as an active reader, not a consumer.” She is a contemporary of such fellow explorers as Chris Marker, Chantal Akerman, Gary Hill, Michael Snow, Alan Sondheim and Harun Farocki, all artists who are opening up new spaces for media, re-mapping its boundaries within the projective spaces of the museum or gallery as well as within the public spaces of the cinema, television and internet transmission. Thornton’s career to date has been a unique and unusual one. She was one of the first artists to bridge the boundaries between cinema and video, to explore their complicities and resistances, and to embrace their differences as positive, and even complementary, attributes. Thornton’s complex articulations are both edifying innovations in media form and content and tacit deconstructions of the principles, presumptions and promises of technically reproducible artworks. Her projects are ongoing and provisional, and she had been unafraid to return to, and rework, and rethink, issues, topics, subjects. Her works have had a profound impact, and an enduring influence on an entire generation of media artists, critics and theorists.

'"Her work found its first location, and inspiration, in what in those times was understood as an ‘avant-garde’ film practice; the quoted term, suspiciously suspended, is rarely invoked in these times, but the rigor, the pure oppositional avowal, and the belief in moving imagery’s electro-shock potential evinced in her work insist on its essence and instincts to be one with those of what now seems undeniable as the classical genius of, first, American, and second, transnational, non-industrial cinema, in the questioning, ransacking mode familiar since having filled one of the spaces left vacant (gaping) after modernism moved away from here." -- Bill Horrigan

'One of Leslie Thornton’s earliest interests was mathematics, a fascination that was encouraged by her father Gunnar Thornton, a nuclear physicist and engineer, and her grandfather, an electrical engineer. During the Second World War both men had–unbeknownst to each other–worked on the Manhattan Project, the top secret development of the atomic bomb. Gunnar Thornton was one of the youngest scientists working on the project. He had determined, while still a student, that an important new frontier in scientific research was probably well underway, and that it would be his chosen area of research. His professors at Harvard were evasive or noncommittal, but inference and persistence paid off, and Gunnar Thornton was brought into the project early on. His father, Jens Thornton, was the electrical engineer whose task had been to design the electrical plant at Oak Ridge where the methods of refining radioactive materials were developed. It wasn’t until after the cessation of hostilities that the men discovered–through an article in a local Boston newspaper–that they had both been working on the Manhattan Project. “I had always wondered,” remarked a family member, “why, for a couple of years, these two men, who were so passionately involved in science, only talked to each other about sports when they were home, a topic they weren’t even very much interested in.”

'Perhaps it is within this context that, even as a child, Leslie Thornton began to develop certain insights regarding technology and ethics, language and silence, and a sensitivity and attentiveness to the contradictions, ironies, and ambivalences between localized actions and global events. How was it possible to reconcile the brilliant, gentle man she loved and admired with the revelation of the consequences that ensued in the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Both images are true: he, Gunnar, was a man of character and ethics, who believed in the peaceful development of atomic energy, yet whose work had played a role in the shaping of an anxious and dangerous future. Thornton’s dark and magisterial Peggy and Fred in Hell, in its strange divarications between promissory terror and transcendence, might be read as a profound examination of the tropologies of cold-war apocalyptics, the vicissitudes of conflicting narratives, and what one might call a certain paratactics of the image. Peggy and Fred in Hell charts a troubled trajectory between event and mediation, with a profound skepticism throughout concerning the favored foregroundings of technical modernity: photography’s verisimilitude and the index of the photo-chemical trace as guarantor of the real, the consequent presumption of a privileged link to the true and actual, and the promise of recuperability through ever-extenuating forms of technical reproducibility. She finds suspect the naturalization of prosthetic instruments, and the political interests behind certain orders of narratological closure. Thornton has an almost tragic sense of loss, of what is incommensurate in technologies of the image, of the impossibilities and aporias circumscribed by language and in media, a sense of what is profoundly irrecuperable and inconsumable. And a very strange relation to cinema, its histories and practices.

'Recently Thornton has begun making larger scale installations related to Peggy and Fred in Hell, which she refers to as “environments.” Utilizing fragments from already accomplished sections of this work, mixed with newly produced sections from the 30 hours of archived footage she has shot, and with new or found footage, she has constructed a series of site-specific works. Using multiple screens and transmissions, they are a natural development of Peggy and Fred in Hell, which used simultaneous interacting film video and audio projections, which forgrounded their habitation of specific spaces. In these recent media installations she uses three registers (precisely edited loops of differing durations) which are ‘mixed,’ almost as one would music, producing a resonant three-month-long para-narrative work. The different loops are precisely edited and set to play in a randomized phase pattern so that no repetitions occur between the three registers of images on screen over the course of their exhibition, producing a tacitly self-editing work, an ‘artificial intelligence’ allegorizing itself.

'Thornton’s exploration of an intermittent episodic structure in Peggy and Fred in Hell, in her site-specific installations, and in The Great Invisible are, in an important sense, one of the most direct articulations of the problematics of media’s artifactuality in confrontation with its forms of transmission, dissemination and distribution. Media’s strange economies, reflecting a globalized and dispersed data-space far different from the traditional projective/consumptive spaces of cinema and television, become an integral axis of Thornton’s formal and conceptual working. Her works are variable, ‘mixed’ and dispersed across time, they punctuate a given architectural space or context, they are permeable and plural, stable within their instabilities. In this they reflect, and engage, a deep substrate of media, one which has always been the case, and which has always been suppressed: that technical reproducibility in and of itself, is both uncontainable and uncontaining, and that, moreover, it becomes, in itself, a structuring principle of subsequent media. As Leslie Thornton is well aware, this does not abnegate what of the world passes through mediation, but inflects and reflects upon that passage in fundamental ways. In this sense her works are also a tacit and critical link between both contemporary digital dataspaces and the tradition of formal, technical, aesthetic, and theoretical innovation within and between media.' -- Thomas Zummer



___
Stills










































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Further

Leslie Thornton @ Senses of Cinema
Leslie Thornton @ Video Data Bank
Video: Leslie Thornton works @ Crane.tv
'Hell Is for Children: ED HALTER ON LESLIE THORNTON’S PEGGY AND FRED IN HELL'
Leslie Thornton's films on Ubuweb
'The Kaleidoscopic Visions of Leslie Thornton'
'Leslie Thornton by Feliz Lucia Molina'
'ARTIST IN FOCUS: Leslie Thornton'
Leslie Thornton's movies on MUBI
'Leslie Thornton. Aesthetics of uncertainty'
Leslie Thornton @ Strictly Film School
'Constant Discovery: Leslie Thornton’s ‘Radical Symmetry’'
'horror film 1: shanghai blue', by Leslie Thornton
'For the Hell of It'
'Worn Story', by Leslie Thornton



___
Extras


Leslie Thornton. Looking and Seeing: "I Like to Watch". 2012


Midnight Moment May 2014: Leslie Thornton, Binocular Menagerie


Serpentine Galleries Park Nights 2013: Leslie Thornton & James Richards


Cognac Wellerlane interviews Artist Leslie Thornton at Winkleman Gallery



_____
Interview




Irene Borger: I’ll begin with a quote from you, Leslie. “My own interest is in the outer edge of narrative where we are at the beginning of something else.” What led you, at this time as an art maker, to de-stabilize the narrative?

Leslie Thornton: That grew out of a kind of dislocation for me. The way language works has been a life-long preoccupation, starting in childhood when I was painfully shy and had trouble speaking. The kind of extreme self-focus of shyness, the kind of analysis and appraisal that is nearly constant, and in a way objectifies language, even for a child. Language is something outside. Speech was like an object, an enemy, a barrier. It was externalized. Language was overwhelming, inadequate to describe or convey many things – I had a basic sense of this in childhood. Much later, when I began to study linguistics and also semiotics, I found an intellectualization of something I had already been struggling with – the point being that I didn’t get there through a predominantly intellectual process. Then came more complicated questions about culture and language, how culture is embedded in language. Which led – it’s not a linear process exactly – to concerns about the dynamic nature of any one culture and cultural proximities and crossing-over, change. I think my own estrangement from speech has very much shaped all of my work, and may account for some of its qualities, because it’s deeply rooted emotionally for me.

IB: I’m stuck on this phrase: “to de-stabilize the narrative”. To even question form in the way that you’re interested in is unnerving because it questions a core of the way we learn to think. The reason that [divergence] is so threatening to people is because it doesn’t operate according to the conventional structures or habits of the mind.

LT: Yes, culture as narrative. The mind as narrative. Narrative reflects specific cultural presumptions. Recognizing that, one can’t help but think: then there must be other possibilities for narrative – reflecting other times and places and agendas, past, present, and future. I’m not capable of an involvement in the dominant forms of narrative in cinema, for instance. To study, it feels oppressive and limiting. I choose to be engaged on another, perhaps more critical and intuitive side. But on this other side, there’s a potential for ecstasy that I don’t think you find in conventional forms.

IB: Why is it that ecstasy becomes possible?

LT: It is probably the case that thought is largely structured like language. But, there is a kind of thinking outside of language that can surface sometimes, especially in art-making, probably in a lot of other arenas as well. Intangible, erotic, intuitive, pre-verbal, but precise. Those moments are extremely pleasurable, frightening, or stimulating.

I’ve been reading and thinking about mysticism lately, because of the film I’m working on, The Great Invisible (2002) [about a 19th century woman, Isabelle Eberhardt, who passes herself off as a man and becomes an exalted Sufi in North Africa]. Every form of mystical practice involves techniques for reaching an ecstatic state. However, couched in religious or philosophical terminology, the process is usually body-related and could involve exhaustion, a lot of repetition, a lot of movement, and music or rhythms. One’s physical and psychic environment becomes de-familiarized. I think I use a related strategy in film to produce a heightened experience. I will work with a familiar trope like suspense, or anticipation, and then just keep pushing that button, without the expected next step or resolution. There is a familiar residue of narrative form. The exciting part is then bringing in other elements that aren’t familiar at all but that are saturating to the viewer.

IB: Like what?

LT: Illogical things, mispronunciations, peculiar combinations of sound and image that are somehow startling, excessive beauty. Working with duration that seems inappropriate. The viewer has to deal with it; it stimulates the mind to cope with boredom, for instance. Generally, in culture these discomforts, stimulations, are blocked out; they are not speakable, packageable, or they are disruptive. The closest to transcendence that we get in pop culture might be violence, the lust for violence.

IB: There are many roots into trance-making but there are two poles, even in meditation practice. One is a saturation, the other is the ascetic. In our culture, you seem to be saying, we just use the mode of over-stimulation.

LT: Probably there are similar things going cognitively at either extreme. I’m interested in boredom. My interest comes out of the experience of the most hardcore structuralist films from the ’60s and ’70s. I think these films often produced profound boredom, which forced you somewhere else. None of the artists or critics would ever say that [laughter] but in a way, watching three hours of the camera whirling around in a barren landscape, as in Snow’s La Règion centrale (1971), you have a profound response, if you commit to stay. You feel you’ve had a life-changing experience. A voluntary experience of boredom. The mind becomes very active. All kinds of images and scenarios begin to play. I think of John Cage too.

IB: I was just thinking of him.

LT: There’s a kind of mystical aspect to this.

IB: Are you saying that in your way of making films you’re very conscious of the experiential aspect for the spectator?

LT: I think that’s my main focus. And, as the stand-in spectator, I have to judge by the intensity of my own responses. It’s a thinking and feeling moment, where the thinking and the feeling – we don’t have a word for it – when they can’t be separated. That’s the moment I’m always looking for. It’s not something that comes back to rational formations or very focused arguments or ideas. It’s about a spreading out, spreading and coagulations, chemical reactions in the work that can produce surprising moments and thoughts for the viewer. It’s also important for me that the work not just be addressed to an “enlightened” or experienced audience. I’m trying to make things that are stimulating to watch at the same time that a critical voice is operating.

IB: If people are not used to looking at structures that differ from the beginning/middle/end of the classical Aristotelian scheme, how could they learn to enter your work?

LT: Seeing things more than once helps. Seeing that there is a kind of pattern or structure across several works. Talking about it. Relaxing. Often the people who are having the most difficulty are my colleagues, and not, let’s say, an audience off the street.

IB: Why?

LT: Conflicting agendas or aesthetics. The crowd that bothers me is the visual artists, the art people who don’t get into this kind of work and say they watch films for entertainment only. And the fine arts system that supports one-liner video installations, but can’t deal with anything more complex. Avant-garde film and video take up similar issues to those in the art world, yet there’s very little acknowledgement of this. The film or video work can be more sophisticated, more developed conceptually, yet media remains the most marginalized of the art forms. It’s an orphan. Because media is associated with entertainment and information systems, it’s not perceived as a formal artistic medium. The apparatus per se is limited by the conventions for its use. Photography went through this stage in the 19th century. Experimental media belongs within the history of art. Photographers fought for recognition. I think media artists haven’t done enough to try to change the system, but they are up against something huge. And now the preoccupation with “new” technologies – that has really become the bandwagon. It will take a long time to sort out what’s of value here.



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8 of Leslie Thornton's 37 films

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X-TRACTS (1975)
'This was my first 16mm film, made with Desmond Horsfield. For the image we created a gridded score of movements, both within the frame ('subject moves right to left') and between the camera and the subject (zooms, pans, tilts...,) using this as a shooting script. The sound was derived from an old journal, read out loud and then cut-up into the same units of time as the image, ranging from 3 seconds to 1/4 second. Assembling the material was largely mechanical, following the predetermined score. That a tonal portrait of a person emerges was an after effect; we thought of the film as a structural or indexical system of sound/image relations, and viewed the soundtrack as a linguistic experiment, working with the building blocks of speech.' -- LT




(Watch the entire film)



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Adynata (1983)
'A formal 1861 portrait of a Chinese Mandarin and his wife is the starting point for this allegorical investigation of the fantasies spawned in the West about the East, particularly that which associates femininity with the mysterious Orient. ADYNATA presents a series of oppositions-male and female images, past and present sounds-which in and of themselves construct a minimal and fragmentary narrative, an open text of our imaginations, fears and fantasies.' -- Women Make Movies



the entire film



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Peggy and Fred in Hell: The Prologue (1985)
'Peggy And Fred In Hell is one of the strangest cinematic artifacts of the last 20 years, revealing the abuses of history and innocence in the face of catastrophe, as it chronicles two small children journeying through a post-apocalyptic landscape to create their own world. Breaking genre restrictions, Thornton uses improvisation, planted quotes, archival footage and formless timeframes to confront the viewer's preconceptions of cause and effect. "At its most distinctive, as in the endless and eternal Peggy And Fred In Hell cycle, Thornton’s work wanders past the medium’s limits and finds the medium’s origins.” —Bill Horrigan, Wexner Center' -- collaged



Excerpt



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Dung Smoke Enters the Palace (1989)
'An anti-narrative adventure traveling through a phantasmagoric environment void of stability. The video presents a bizarre compendium of archival and industrial footage accompanied by a noisy soundtrack of music and voices from the past, as if echoing the ether of the viewer’s mind. Thornton’s distinctive visual style of collaging random elements elicits an eerie sense of being lost amidst past and present, breeding a confusion that complicates any clear reading of the image.' -- Video Data Bank




(Watch an excerpt here)



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Strange Space (1994)
'Thornton asks viewers to question how one sees “space"—whether literally or figuratively— and what is being revealed? Images of a sonogram session grant viewers access to what is typically reserved for medical analysis—“inner space.” The body, probed and revealed through technology, is collaged with imagery from lunar probes, drawing parallels with how technology also allows us to see where we were previously unable—“outer space.” A poem by Rilke about the interior quality of thought is contrasted with the clinical voice accompanying the images.' -- Video Data Bank




(Watch an excerpt here)



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The Last Time I Saw Ron (1994)
'Made in memory of the actor and my friend, Ron Vawter. Ron passed away shortly after the opening performances of the play "Philoktetes Variations," directed by Jan Ritsema and co-authored by Ritsema and Vawter. It was produced by the Kaaitheater in Brussels. All of the images in this video were originally created for the play.' -- LT



the entire film



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Photography Is Easy (2010)
'In the ongoing project Photography is Easy, Thornton continues her investigation of the production of meaning through media such as photography, film and video. Thornton and a companion are seen hiking through a desert, photographing and recording the journey. Shots of desert landscapes are overlaid with the artist’s running commentary and text about Thornton’s experience of making a photograph. Questioning the value of the rarified image, Thornton investigates the porous boundaries between the still and the moving image.' -- Electronic Arts Intermix



the entire film



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LUNA Trance (2013)
'"Coined the “Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn,” the legendary Parachute Jump at Coney Island was built in 1939 for the World’s Fair in Queens. In a moving image triptych exploring nature and technology, memory and place, Thornton follows swarming seagulls through three iterations of the same image to her imaginary space—a whole new universe, she’s said, that’s much different from the world we live in." - Artsy. LUNA is based on a single image of the decommissioned Parachute Jump in Coney Island, with seagulls swarming the structure. The iconic image is digitally re-processed to embody different eras of cinematic and televisual imagery, beginning in 1900 and leading into our present. The artifice of the digital image is accompanied, haunted, by actual (authentic) archival sound recordings spanning the same period, beginning with early Edison recordings. LUNA moves through six variations on a theme, in poetic traces that cross the span of a century.' -- collaged



Excerpt




*

p.s. Hey. ** ASH, Hey there, Ash! It's great to see you, man! Oh, very cool that you'll come to the 'LCTG' screening in Brighton. Zac and I will be there to introduce the film and do a q&a and stuff. I figured you would have done Euroheedfest before. Huh. Yeah, every year I'm dying to go, and circumstances always conspire against that, it sucks. Yeah, I'll try to pre-plan for next year. The new GbV? I've only listened to it once so far because I'm over my head with work, but I think it's really exciting. What do you think? Awesome to get to talk, pal. ** Jamie McMorrow, Hi, Glaswegian! Parisian here. I think it might just be the tiniest bit less wintry today, but it's too early to tell. My Tuesday was work, work, and more work. Heavy crunch time. That and meeting with Zac to work together for a while was it. Productive, at least. Well, we have to turn in the finished proposal to ARTE at the beginning of May. Then they will take six weeks to decide if they want to go further with us. So, there'll be a lag after the submission. Yeah, it would be really great if they buy it for all kinds of reasons. I think it's pretty fucking good, if I don't say so myself, but I have no clue what TV people think is pretty fucking good. Our thing is weird and unusual-ish, but it's pretty entertaining and not obscure or transgressive or anything. Harold Jaffe is an interesting writer, yeah. His stuff is really flat and factual seeming on the surface, but it's complicated inside. It's good. I think springing for that book is probably a good deal. I haven't read 'Down and Out in Shoreditch and Hoxton', and I need to. Oh, I've liked things by Sheila Heti. I don't that one though. Wait, you got that job? Whoa, that's cool. So, will you need to relocate for it? Awesome, congrats! Really interesting about Eilshemius. I didn't get a chance to investigate him yet due to the work swamp. I definitely will. My Wednesday is going to be basically like yesterday but with a different name, but I hope yours holds unexpected fun. Love, Dennis. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, David. Eileen is everywhere these days. She's such a star. That's so deserved and awesome. You guys are going to be scattered at sea route? I still have this weird wanting to be buried thing, I don't know why. Good morning back to you, sir! ** Sypha, Hi, James! Good to see you, man. I missed you. But it sounds like you were very fruitfully occupied. Very excited to hear the new album. So curious to hear what your current music making interests are. Great! Obviously, I'm happy you're liking the Gide. Like you know, that book was very big for me when I read it. Celine is really great, and there kind of couldn't be an any more different a kind of writer from Gide than him, which is cool and also a terribly constructed sentence. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi, D! I don't know how those things work either, and I've had a whole life of trying to figure that out. I guess they're just ... (cue moody music) ... one of life's great mysteries. Diary-like sounds good. Diary-like is cool because it can be cool for what it is and it can also be like storage room full of stuff you can use for something less diaristic work later. If that makes sense. I'm think that joining the 'thesis delaying' group must be a little relaxing for you at least. No, my day was stuffed with work. As will be today. Oh well. Tomorrow an old friend of mine from LA comes to Paris, so at least I'll get to be forced to break up the work spate to hang out with him. What was Wednesday like? ** Chilly Jay Chill, Hi, Jeff. 'Olio' was a real discovery for me. Very good, I think, and I think that new Lily Hoang book is the best thing I've read by her. I forgot to ask Zac yesterday because my head got so clouded and burnt by work, but I'm seeing him in a while, and I wrote a note myself  to ask him. Gisele's gone, but she gets back tomorrow, and I'll ask her when I see her. The only tip I can think of in the meantime is The Boros Collection. If you don't know it, it's this collector's contemporary art collection stored/viewable in this amazing old WWII bunker. They give guided tours. You have to make an RSVP in advance. It's a nice thing to do, and its worth it just for checking out the building itself, which is great. Zac's and I just finished our 'final' draft of Episode 1. Gisele is reading it, and then we'll make a final draft after consulting with her. Today we're finishing our version of Episode 2 to send to her. We're maybe half-way through finishing the synopsis for the 3rd Episode (we only have to submit a synopsis of it for now). Then we have do the overall synopsis, statement of intent, logline, etc., which is the worst part of the work. All by this weekend, so we're a bit crazed. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Yeah, right? I found his stuff recently, and it's pretty fresh and electric. 'Frazzled' is a great way to describe it. He's also a very strange painter and records very strange albums. ** Steevee, Hi, Steve. That sounds fairly promising about 'High Rise'. I don't even know who Tim Hiddleston is, I don't think, or not by name. Cool, thanks a lot! ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. Wow, 73. Just based on your descriptions, she sounds younger. Nice. Pride sounds like a perfectly rational response. Heck, I don't even know the dude, and I feel pride. Of course those work guys are ugly trolls with nothing better to do with their miniature piles of brain cells. Well, I mean, yeah, it seems like it was pills, but we'll see. But it does seem like it. So sucks. I don't really care how he died, I just hate that he did. I was lucky to see Prince live the first time really early, just before 'Controversy' came out, at this small, weird gig at a now-defunct roller rink in West Hollywood. I didn't know anything about him. I mostly just went because I thought seeing a gig in a roller rink sounded fun. ** H, Hi. Me too, about the film. We're supposed to meet with our new producer about our next film in the next few days, and we're itching to start working on it. Thank you about the books post, and have most pleasure-filled day whatever that entails. ** Okay. D.l. tender prey recently saw a film by Leslie Thornton in London, and his reporting back about that inspired me to make a post devoted to her terrific films. I hope you enjoy it. See you tomorrow.