Aoi Kotsuhiroi: creator of the The Official Shoes of Tumblr. The France-based designer’s dark, textured art-fashion pieces have certainly madetherounds, but did you know that Kotsuhiroi is also the photographer, poet and model behind these creations?
Kotsuhiroi’s website feels like a fleeting vision. Page after page of large-scale images reveal a mysterious world full of fetish objects, in both senses of the word. In a series of fragile, dreamlike images reminiscent of Sarah Moon, Kotsuhiroi’s adornments appear to radiate profound magical power, while making your fetish platform boot look like a pair of flip-flops by comparison.
In addition to fashion and photography, Kotsuhiroi has the sensibility of a writer. Rather than releasing her work in collections, such as”AW12,” she releases them as chapters of a book on her site, which is rife with poetry. On Twitter, she describes herself as a novelist. Follow her to see what she does next!
Have you ever wanted Tarot card explanations that rejected the gender binary, referenced political movements, and quoted riot grrl music? If so, this deck is for you.
In The Collective Tarot, wands, coins, cups and swords are replaced with magical found objects: keys, bones, bottles and feathers. The court cards (page, knight, king and queen) are replaced with the Seeker, Apprentice, Artist and Mentor. While most card names in the Major Arcana remain unchanged, all have inspired new interpretations. Certain cards that contain outdated tropes (for example, “The Hierophant” – when is the last time that metaphor was relevant to your life?) have been replaced with more relevant symbols, such as “The Code” (referencing the hanky code) and “Intermission.”
The deck is designed by 5 core collective members and 25 contributing artists/co-collaborators. Artist Annie Murphy, one of the deck’s creators, said she felt inspired make a new Tarot deck when she found that she and her friends were unable to relate to the Christian, Euro- and hetero-centric symbolism found in many modern decks. In crafting the Collective Tarot, Murphy and other artists wanted to represent “beings and bodies of size and of color … as well as differently-abled, multi-gendered and multi-generational characters.” The card interpretations speak to the problems of modern people – the struggle to complete an art project, negotiate a polyamory agreement, or organize a volunteer group – while remaining rich with magical lore.
The deck has been out of print for two years. Now, the artists are putting out a limited third edition. A Kickstarter (with only 5 days left to contribute!) is going on for the third print run of the Collective Tarot. Those who contribute $30 or more will get a copy of the deck. In addition to a deck, one of the prizes is a T-shirt featuring the Ace of Bones by Annie Murphy, as seen below:
In the next room, tucked away in a fireproof lockbox, there’s a handwritten note from 1952, hastily scrawled down on looseleaf paper by a man named John (aka Jack) Whiteside Parsons. (My partner and I are both fascinated by the tales surrounding Parsons and his equally scintillating wife, Marjorie Cameron.) Purchased a few years back from a reputable private collector, it’s a short list of the books from Parsons’ personal library– the ones he planned to take with him when he relocated from Southern California to Mexico. Everything from biochem science to William Blake to Alice in Wonderland. Only… Parsons never made it to Mexico. Within days of writing that note, the man blew himself up amid persistent, weird rumors of ritual workings, sex magick, portals.
Sixty years ago to this day, in fact.
June 17th, 1952: a “brilliant young rocket scientist and occultist was killed in an explosion in Pasadena of origins that remain mysterious [...] Five days later, Pasadena police closed the case and announced that he dropped a vial of fulminate of mercury onto the floor of his home laboratory [...] He was 37 years old and one of the country’s top chemical engineers, a founder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the inventor of the solid fuel that would take man to the moon.” (via)
Such a strange fellow, with such an utterly bizarre life trajectory! And for me, for whatever reason, something about that list of indispensable books feels more eerie and portentous than any of his “Do What Thou Wilt”/”As Above, So Below” writings. But in any case, thoughts of Parsons’ mythic Moonchild loom large in my sky tonight. His biography is one of the most compelling stranger-than-fiction stories of the 20th Century. Here’s some highly recommended reading for the newly intrigued:
Edmund Welles, 2010 press photo. Aaron Novik, Jeff Anderle, Jon Russell, and creative mastermind Cornelius Boots in the foreground.
Confession: I’ve been meaning to write a feverish and swooning rave-up of Oakland-based musician Cornelius Boots‘ absurdly beautiful and strange and intelligent and mischievous and sincere and meditative and heavy-as-fuck bass clarinet chamber music group, Edmund Welles*, for years now.
It certainly isn’t for lack of reverence for Boots or his compositions that I’ve lagged. When suffering from blogger’s block, my editorial purview tends to be “when in doubt, crap it out.” But occasionally, there are those subjects that you can’t just casually hork up. You want so badly to do them every justice– to elevate and praise them to the highest and most lofty of misty, Middle Earth-worthy mountaintops. Boots’ ouvre definitely lives in that non-horkable category. Well, then! Having unburdened my guilty conscience…
Yes, Cornelius Boots and friends make music that I want throw a parade for. Or, alternately, throw my frilly undergarments at. While his group Edmund Welles definitely is not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s 100% my cuppa, and hopefully, it’ll resonate with Coilhouse readers who also love waaaay-off-the-beaten-path-no-srsly-bring-your-machete-cos-we-be-bushwhackin’ music.
Edmund Welles [...] has the distinction of being the world’s only original, composing band of four bass clarinetists, they invent and perform heavy chamber music. The bass clarinet has a five octave range and a huge span of tonal, melodic, and rhythmic capabilities.
Drawing virtuosic precision from the classical realm; innovation and texture from jazz; and power, rhythm and overall perspective from rock and metal, the quartet’s sound is characterized by a thickness of tone, a density of texture, absolute rhythmic precision, and the extreme use of dynamic contrasts: a dense, pulsing sound capable of expressing and reflecting the full range of human emotions.
They ain’t foolin’. It’s a massive, meticulously structured bass reed sound like nothing else you’ve heard. (Parallels have been drawn between John Zorn’s more recent works and Edmund Welles, for sure, but Boots’ steez feels simultaneously more West Coast and Far East-steeped.) Weirdest Band in the World‘s assessment is pretty spot-on as well: “The bass clarinet is an inherently weird instrument. Put four of them together in one group, and it sounds like a chorus of demon cats in heat fighting over a chicken bone. A demon chorus whose eerie caterwaulings just happen to occasionally assemble themselves into passages from Pixies and Nirvana songs.”
In 2005, they put outAgrippa’s 3 Books, which offers up original compositions by Boots that reflect his abiding interest in the occult and his talent for interpreting uber heavy spine-crunching metal. (Hilariously, Boots calls this stuff an attempt to create “Muzak for conspiracy theorists.” ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED!) Additionally, there are Sepultura and Spinal Tap covers. Not to mention the most bewilderingly esoteric and brilliant liner notes you’ll find north of a Trey Spruance solo project. (Buy the goddamn CD. Seriously. No, seriously. Totally worth it.)
Edmund Welles’ second album is called Tooth & Claw, and it’s comprised predominantly of original composition that are as bizarre and heavy as anything Boots has ever written, but with more nuanced elements of avant jazz and modern classical woven into the dense sonority.
For the past two years, Kevin McTurk –a world-renowned cinematic effects artist– has been hard at work on a breathtaking personal project called The Narrative of Victor Karloch. McTurk describes it as a ”Victorian ghost story puppet film”.
Featuring the voices of Christopher Lloyd, Elijah Wood, and Maurice LaMarche, Karloch combines bunraku style rod puppets, shadow puppetry, and an array of traditional in-camera effects to present a tale from from the journal pages of one Victor Karloch: weatherbeaten alchemist, scholar, and ghost hunter. This film, very much a labor of love for McTurk and his crew, was made possible by grants from Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams Film Series and from The Jim Henson Foundation.
Photo provided by Kevin KcTurk.
As you can see from the above preview, it’s a stunning piece of work. And did I mention that the film’s score was provided by Zoe Keating, Lustmord, and… our very own Meredith Yayanos? Yes!
This Thursday, April 19, at Meltdown Comics/NerdMelt Theater in Los Angeles, McTurk will be holding a sneak peek/wrap party reception. There will be a live marionette performance by Eli Presser (one of the film’s key puppeteers) and limited edition Narrative of Victor Karloch t-shirts (designed by comics legend Mike Mignola!) available for sale.
Congrats to all involved! Attendees of the wrap party are enthusiastically encouraged to report back in comments.
Should they choose to delve deep into the dreckish pools of distant memory, some Coilhouse readers may recall this cheeky wee embloggening from 2009, written about the Dictionnaire Infernal, with illustrations by Louis Breton.
She wants to design and print a deck of 69 large (3.5″x5.75″), full-color heavy-stock art cards, each one featuring a Breton illustration from the Dictionnaire Infernal. She’s also planning to create “a supplementary PDF for the deck, with all 69 card images and extended information about each.” She’s given the project room to expand and evolve, depending on how much she raises beyond her minimum goal.
Ariana is all about fastidious documentation, immaculate restoration, and TEH LULZ (see below). EVIL GOOD TIMES. Click on MISTER SCARY ANTEATER OV DOOOO0M to learn more:
Knots, keys, insects, and magic numbers: the work of Toulouse-based Guy le Tatooer is full of secrets. Too studied and obsessive to be dismissed as a meaningless †Δbleau of woo-woo symbols, Tatooer’s work radiates power, magic and history. The style seems to be inspired by retro tattoos (especially, it seems, this image of Maude Wagner, a circus performer who became first female tattoo artist in the United States, and her partner, legendary tattooist Charlie Wagner) as well as the anatomical drawings of Ernst Haeckel, traditional Mehndi patterns, a page or two from Histoire de la Magie, and much more.
Guy le Tatooer’s work was recently exhibited at the Gimpel & Muller gallery in Paris. For the exhibition, le Tatooer created silicone casts of his arm and tattooed them using the traditional electric system method. The tattooed arms were displayed in glass-covered, velvet-lined boxes with ornate carved frames, resembling fancy display cases for pressed butterflies.
Recently, Berlin-based tattoo arts collective AKA released a pack of temporary tattoos that includes an extra-weird design by Guy le Tatooer, as well as pieces by several other talented tattoo artists. More images of le Tatooer’s work, and a video, after the jump!
It’s the Friday before Halloween. Very exciting. In that spirit, the FAM has a Double Feature for your weekend. Today we present two films: one a horror movie and another a horror movie of a kind but both sort of forgotten classics that play to the man’s strengths as an actor.
First up is 1973′s Theatre of Blood directed by Douglas Hickox and starring Price and Diana Rigg. The rest of the cast is a host of distinguished British actors: Harry Andrews, Coral Browne, Robert Coote, Jack Hawkins, Michael Hordern, Arthur Lowe, Joan Hickson, Robert Morley, Milo O’Shea, Diana Dors and Dennis Price. Price plays Edward Kendall Sheridan Lionheart who, by his own account, was the greatest Shakespearean actor of his day. Others are not so sure, especially a group of critics who give an annual award for such achievements, specifically the “Critic’s Circle Award for Best Actor”. When they give the award to another, Lionheart attempts suicide. He survives, however, unbeknownst to his detracters, and is taken in by a group of homeless meths-drinkers. Ridiculed throughout his career by these people and denied their highest honor, Lionheart, with the help of his daughter Edwina, exacts his revenge, murdering each critic, one by one. Each murder is based on the deaths featured in the plays of Lionheart’s last season of Shakespeare before his alleged death, many of them chosen to exploit the weaknesses of their victims, and the critics can be seen to correspond with the Seven Deadly Sins.
Theatre of Blood was one of Price’s favorite movies, mostly because it allowed him to act in Shakespeare, something his long string of B-movie horror casting had kept him from doing. It did not seem to bother him, or many other people at the time, that it very much resembled The Abominable Dr. Phibes which had come out two years before, in which Price plays an organist who takes revenge on the doctors he blames for the death his wife, with the help of his assistant Vulnavia, using the Ten Plagues of Egypt as inspiration. Regardless of these similarities (each film is great in their own right) it is a pleasure to watch Price dig into his role as Lionheart, especially when he is acting out his scenes from Shakespeare before each gruesome murder. It also manages to be a fairly funny film, with each slaying taking on an air of absurdity. The sight of Price disguised as an effete, hipster hairdresser —complete with sunglasses and afro — being a particular highlight. In many ways this is the more traditional of the two performances featured here, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.
Our second film is more historical drama than horror movie, but it is, indeed, horrific. Released in 1968 and directed by Michael Reeves (who would die a year later, at the age of 25) Witchfinder General (renamed Conqueror Worm in the US to tie into Price’s run of Roger Corman directed Edgar Allan Poe adaptations) stars Price as Matthew Hopkins a real life witch-hunter who operated in the Eastern counties of England in the 17th century, during the English Civil War. With his sadistic assistant John Stearne (also a historical figure) played by Russel Roberts (whose voice was overdubbed by Reeves using actor Jack Lynn, as Reeves felt Roberts’s voice was too high-pitched) he travels through England extracting forced confessions from the accused in exchange for money and, it turns out, the sexual favors of the countryside’s young women. He makes a mistake, however, when he reaches Brandeston, Suffolk and executes the town priest, John Lowes, for conspiring with the Devil and takes advantage of his daughter, Sara (who Stearne later rapes), for Sara’s husband, Richard Marshall, a soldier in Cromwell’s army, is not the forgiving type.
Price is absolutely fantastic in this one. His depiction of Hopkins contains none of the hammy overacting found in many of his traditional horror roles and, as such, he comes off as truly evil. His performance was due, in some part, to his contentious relationship with the director. As originally written in the script, Hopkins was meant to be an ineffective leader, a buffoon of sorts. Reeves has Donald Pleasance in mind for such a role but was informed by American International Pictures that Price, their contract star, had to be placed in the role instead. Having rewritten the role for him, Reeves never got over it and made Price’s life as miserable as he could on set. The two clashed repeatedly throughout the filming and it was only after he had seen the finished film that Price realized what Reeves managed to get out of him, calling it “one of the best performances I’ve ever given.”
Despite the tension between the two men during the production, when Price saw the movie the following year, he admitted that he finally understood what Reeves had been after and wrote the young director a ten page letter praising the film. Reeves wrote Price back, “I knew you would think so.” Years after Reeves’s death, Price said, “… I realized what he wanted was a low-key, very laid-back, menacing performance. He did get it, but I was fighting him almost every step of the way. Had I known what he wanted, I would have cooperated.”
In the US, where it was released uncut with additional prologue and epilogue narration by price to establish the aforementioned Poe connection, (though without the added nudity meant for the German release), it made little impact, being shown mostly in drive-ins and grindhouses. In the UK, however, where 4 minutes were removed due to violence, it shocked critics, many of whom dismissed it as sadistic though, by modern standards, of course, it is fairly tame. It’s not particularly concerned with being entirely historically accurate, but it does manage to capture the paranoia that must have been present during that time and the hypocrisy that, no doubt, proliferated among those who rooted out so-called witches.
And here we are, dear readers, at the end of our Vincent Price-a-thon. A sad day. No doubt, there will be those who would have wished to have seen other films here, but there will always be another time for those; Vincent’s catalog is vast, after all. I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at his career. Until next time, then.