Archive for the Transmission Atelier Category

From Horror to Ecstasy – Dave McKean Turns Silence into Expression

Posted in Century Guild Contemporary, Dave McKean, Silent Cinema, Transmission Atelier, Uncategorized with tags , , on 26 April, 2012 by SeanChase

On February 26th, 2012, something rather extraordinary occurred:  The Artist, a contemporary silent film won the ‘Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year‘.  Almost coinciding with this momentous occasion is the fact that a few days later, March 4th marked the 90th anniversary of what is my favorite film of all time, Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens, directed by German silent filmmaker Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau.  On March 4th, the film had its gala preview showing back in 1922.  The film, for those who aren’t familiar with it, has become an iconic classic among the annals of horror films and is one of the most visually poetic of the films often collectively referred to as German Expressionist cinema.

Max Schreck as Count Orlok and Greta Schröder as Ellen.  In the starkly climactic scene of the 1922 film “Nosferatu”, the vampire Count Orlok is lured to his demise with an offering of blood by the virtuous and virginal heroine, Ellen Hutter.  As she sacrifices herself to his monstrous appetite, Count Orlok is diverted and unaware of the passing time, thus rendering him helpless to the lethal first rays of sunlight.

“Nosferatu” (2010, mixed media).  Dave McKean’s marvelously expressionistic interpretation of the same scene in the film.  One of the great examples of his ongoing “Nitrate” series of paintings which are a glorious homage to classic films of the early era.  The use of tortured angles, rich textures, and chiaroscuro effects would have met with great approval from the film’s director F.W. Murnau.

Many of these silent films possess a symbolic quality and a visual poetry that most modern films lack entirely.  The filmmakers of the Expressionist movement took advantage of the environment in which the story played out and used it to serve as a visual metaphor for the emotional state of the characters.  Cinematographers and cameramen employed new techniques in moving the camera around while shooting, in addition to placing an emphasis on the contrast between light and shadow.  Meanwhile editors experimented with cutting scenes so as to create the illusion of geographical and emotional continuity from one shot to the next.

It was a new era and because no one had ever laid out the rules or guidelines for what couldn’t be done in the cinema, many filmmakers approached their craft with an experimental curiosity, both in terms of the subject matter that they explored and the way in which they went about creating the haunting imagery being shown on screen.

The ominous figure of Mephisto, played by German character actor Emil Jannings, hovers over the town as his colossal wings fan a miasma of plague on the people.  This classic scene from F.W. Murnau’s 1926 film “Faust” was a showcase not only for special effects of the day, but also a wonderful opportunity to display the operatic scale of the battle between good and evil in the cinematic medium.

“Faust” (2007, mixed media).  Dave McKean’s impressive take on the memorable scene.  The way in which he has fabricated the effect of the wind and the cloud of plague blowing over the rooftops is extremely creepy and stylistically rivals the same effect achieved in the film.

Interestingly, there has been in the past few years a growing appreciation and understanding of why silent cinema is so special.  While film scholars and cineastes have long championed silent films for their artistic merits and their technical innovation, many modern film audiences have until recently dismissed them as relics of the past, but now with the this new recognition that silent films are receiving, many movie goers are reevaluating their initial stance on these classics.  No more are they being viewed as fading relics of redundant or obsolete technologies.  Finally, more people are beginning to see their artistic value and the important part that they played in the continuing evolution of the movie industry.

Without the films of Georges Méliès, Robert Wiene, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Sergei Eisenstein, Fritz Lang, Georg Wilhelm Pabst, Victor Sjöström, Paul Leni, and others, we wouldn’t even have had the wonderful European art house films of the past 50 years.  And these are but just a few of the great filmmakers from Europe.  There were many wonderful silent film directors in America and throughout other parts of the world.  Taking that into consideration, the long lasting effect of these films cannot be understated;  they are an essential part of our culture and of cinematic history.
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This weekend: Sex, Murder, and Anarchy at La Luz de Jesus in Hollywood!

Posted in Antique Fairs, Century Guild Contemporary, Century Guild Events, Silent Cinema, Transmission Atelier on 11 August, 2009 by Thomas Negovan

Still not sorted out from San Diego, we’re loading up the caravan again to head to Los Angeles for an exhibition of our most disturbing and sexy posters at the legendary La Luz de Jesus.

Billy Shire, founder of La Luz de Jesus, is Godfather of the whole LA art scene.  He was instrumental in the careers of Joe Coleman, Shag, The Clayton Brothers, Glenn Barr… his resumé reads like a “Who’s Who” of art legends.  Our favorite Gail Potocki shows at his elegant BSFA space, and he is one of the most gentle and inspired human beings I’ve had the honor and pleasure of meeting.  We’re holding our 2010 Dave McKean/ silent cinema exhibition at his BSFA space, but to properly appease the raunchy Gods of Victorian Sex and Murder, we need to be in- where else?- Hollywood…!

Syphilis, 1918

Syphilis, 1918

Voluptuaries & Vivisections:
A Celebration of Depravity

Guest Curator: Thomas Negovan

August 14 – 30
Opens Friday, August 14, 2009
8 – 11 PM

These are images that burned themselves into the minds and hearts of unwitting late 19th/early 20th century citizens, inciting unparalleled controversy all over Europe and beyond… and promise those same reactions in those who cross paths with them today. Decadence, dandyism, sex, and murder: more than mere posters, these are windows into the darkest corners of human compulsion.

In an event curated by Thomas Negovan and Century Guild, a Chicago gallery known for museum quality Art Nouveau and Symbolist Art, La Luz de Jesus invites you to be a part of an unprecedented event that explores the taboos that have titillated and tormented since the turn of the century. Masterpieces of lithographed poster art from 1880-1940 illustrating subjects ranging from seminal S&M literature to STD warnings to serial killers will be shown, all of which shall be sure to incite reactions of lust, terror, anger, nausea, and inspiration. NOT TO BE MISSED!

The Haunted Castle, 1924

The Haunted Castle, 1921

I would heartily agree with the “not to be missed” aspect… here are some of the other images that will be on display…  No excuses, get over to this show and say hello!!!

Carriage No. 13, 1921

Carriage No. 13, 1926

Mistresses of the Pope, seminal S&M literature from 1891

Mistresses of the Pope, seminal S&M literature from 1884

Grand Guignol, c 1920

Grand Guignol, c 1920

White Slavery, 1926

White Slavery, 1927

July recap, part 2 of 2: San Diego Comic Con!

Posted in Antique Fairs, Century Guild Contemporary, Century Guild Events, Comic Conventions, Dave McKean, Gail Potocki, Jeremy Bastian, Olympian Publishing, Silent Cinema, Transmission Atelier on 9 August, 2009 by Thomas Negovan

I feel as though there should be some celebration for post number 13.  A party around a cauldron, perhaps?

We are getting ready for the LA exhibition, things aren’t slowing down a bit, and I have to get something up about San Diego Comic Con so that I can write a post before leaving for California again- we are all racking up the frequent flyer miles, that is certain.

Crowds begin to form at the San Diego Convention Center (photo taken by Dave from his hotel window)

Crowds begin to form at the San Diego Convention Center, from Dave McKean's hotel window

Ummm… what do I remember?  Setup was long but not too difficult, opening night was upon us before we could blink.  The big news opening night?  Kildanny.

I have footage somewhere of Jeremy Bastian‘s expression of surprise when he saw his character come to life thanks to my friend Lex Rudd of Primal Visions.  We publish Jeremy’s book Cursed Pirate Girl, and Kildanny is a character in a tale that Cursed Pirate Girl weaves to scare some young boys.  (Cursed Pirate Girls are known to like to scare boys.  For fun.)  Cameras were flashing NONSTOP all weekend, and the amount of photos online are wonderful.  Here’s one:

The dreaded pirate Kildanny, from Jeremy Bastian's Cursed Pirate Girl

The dreaded pirate Kildanny, from Jeremy Bastian's Cursed Pirate Girl

Jeremy Bastian, with Kildanny come to life!

Jeremy Bastian, comparing moustaches with Kildanny-come-to-life

So as you can imagine, he was very happy, which made me very happy!

The rest is a bit of a blur.  We’ll make a formal announcement soon about our new artists, but in brief: Lisa Black’s sculptures were a massive hit and everything sold, with them entering some pretty impressive collections.  Boingboing.com and Wired put them in their Comic Con review, and io9.com listed them under “The 17 most expensive things at Comic Con“…

Lisa Black's Fawn, from her Fixed series.  Taxidermy, metal and clockwork parts, 2007

Lisa Black's Fawn, from her Fixed series. Taxidermy, metal and clockwork parts, 2007

I was very happy that my sister/sweetheart/partner-in-crime Sioux Sinner drove in from Las Vegas to help out.  Her Doctor Who-related tattoos of a Dalek and an Adipose were quite the conversation starters for the boys.  Something that happens a lot at these shows is that pretty girls get hired to be “booth babes” and pass out postcards for whatever crap someone is promoting, so the ongoing joke with how successful our show was that obviously all we needed was a booth babe.  (Just to be clear, that was a joke.  Sioux is very smart and was there for non-booth babe reasons.)

Reason number one being David Tennant, current lead in the legendary BBC programme Doctor Who, who was at the show, along with producer Russel T. Davies and cast members from the fantastic spin-off Torchwood, which has become massively successful in the US.

Doctor... Tennant?

Doctor... Tennant? Not really. (Notice the girl in the back pointing at him?)

I am one of the people who has come to like Torchwood perhaps even MORE than Doctor Who, and was happy that Sioux brought star John Barrowman (affectionately known to the world as Captain Jack Harkness) to our booth.  He had just watched the movie “Freaks” with his sister, and was SO excited about Gail Potocki‘s new Freak series that I wish I had it on camera… he was very charming, and explained that as he and his sister watched the film they looked up facts on the internet.  Gail had done quite a bit of serious research, and he knew trivia that even she didn’t about her subjects!

The charming John Barrowman looking at Gail Potocki's Freak paintings

The charming John Barrowman discussing Gail Potocki's Freak paintings

'Pip' from Gail Potocki's new Freaks series.  (Who, thanks to John Barrowman, we now know was incontinent- hence the dress...)

'Pip' from Gail Potocki's new Freaks series. (Who, thanks to John Barrowman, we now know was incontinent- hence the dress...)

During set-up, we teased Gail that her Freaks prints were going out in the hallway because she was “old news” behind Jeremy Bastian and Dave McKean.  After the hysterical fun that the VERY charming John Barrowman brought into our booth she joked, “Don’t underestimate Pip- he saved the day!  Even though you tried to stick me out in the hallway.”

When John said that Gail should paint his portrait, she joked that she should do him as a 'Freak' with two heads

John Barrowman joking with Gail Potocki

Freak Appreciation Society

Founding members of the Freak Appreciation Society

Of course, the painting “Destiny” by Dave McKean was a huge hit, and the Transmission Atelier prints of Dave’s Nitrate series sold VERY well.  When Dave approached the booth, he said, “Hmmm… I like my billing- over Klimt, not too bad!”, something Gail had joked about during set-up…

Dave McKean's 'Destiny' painting (plus that guy Klimt)

Dave McKean's 'Destiny' painting (plus that guy Klimt). Jeremy Bastian and Jack help a customer, Emily appeears to be... reading? I'm not sure.

Century Guild booth: Opium, Cocaine...

Century Guild booth: Opium, Cocaine...

Gerard Way, looking at Symbolist artifacts

Gerard Way, singer for My Chemical Romance and author of The Umbrella Academy, appreciating the Symbolist artifacts

Sioux seemed to run into the most random people while she wandered; Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, cast members from Torchwood, True Blood, Twilight… the best story of all is when she pushed Stan Lee’s wheelchair around, but it’s sunrise here and I need to sleep.

Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer (creators of The Venture Brothers) with Sioux Sinner

Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer (creators of The Venture Brothers) with Sioux Sinner, right after she unknowingly crashed their interview- Not kidding.

A Day in the Life of Century Guild: Silent Films, Dave McKean, and Gardening.

Posted in A Day in the Life, Silent Cinema, Transmission Atelier on 28 May, 2009 by Thomas Negovan

What we did today:

Jim Kay of Transmission Atelier: “I brought all of my gear- lights, monitors, and computers- into Tom’s bedroom so that I could color correct our edition prints of these Dave McKean paintings for the umpteenth pass.  I barely even noticed all the dirty laundry on the floor.  Barely.”

Jim Kay with multiple color variations of "Mélies (Untitled)" checks them against the monitor.

Jim Kay with multiple color variations of "Méliès (Untitled)" checks them against the monitor.

Jim and I have spent a lot of time together in my bedroom these past weeks.

Jim and I have spent a lot of time together in my bedroom these past weeks. Alone.

Checking the prints against the original Dave McKean painting

Checking the prints against the original Dave McKean painting

Hour four.

Hour four.

What Jim Kay sees (1).

What Jim Kay sees (1).

What Jim Kay sees (2).

What Jim Kay sees (2).

Bob Reveley: “The things we do for Gail Potocki and her garden.”

Upside?  Bob gets to be outside.  Downside?  He is digging a trench.

Upside? Bob gets to be outside. Downside? He is digging a trench.

Lyta and Lucyfur supervise Bob's gravedigging... from the cushy chaise on the back porch.

Lyta and Lucyfur supervise Bob's gravedigging... from the cushy chaise on the back porch.

Meanwhile, down in the cellar… (Jack will kill me if I pretend to be him and type something here.)

Jack hard at work on the posters for the Nitrate and Kinogeists weekend.

Jack hard at work on the posters for the Nitrate and Kinogeists weekend.

Thomas Negovan: “While Jack rots in the cellar and Bob wallows in the dirt, I ascend the staircase to the tower where the library resides.  In the recording studio, we are transported to Berlin in 1923; I use the wall space in here to hang silent film posters as I work on the Kinogeists book. Giant originals, and for sake of space, small prints that Jim from Transmission Atelier custom produces for my endeavor.”

Ok, I wouldn’t really use the word “endeavor” in a sentence, but it reads well.  The last photo shows not only my desk, but how much more sunlight I get than Jack.  I do, however, somehow still match him in pastiness.

Original 1915 poster for Italian silent film Zinga (Gypsy).

Original 1915 poster for Italian silent film Zinga (Gypsy).

Miniature Transmission Atelier prints...

Miniature Transmission Atelier prints...

Command central: the library.

Command central: the library. (I really need a steampunk keyboard.)