The Null Device


The Blair government in the UK is apparently making the most of the blank death warrant for the BBC handed to it by the Hutton enquiry, and has drawn up plans to break up the BBC, revoke its editorial independence, and close BBC outlets not considered "public service". (Which could result in former BBC assets being picked up by "free-market" providers at fire-sale prices; MTV could get BBC1 and Top Of The Pops (or whatever it's called now), FOXNews and/or CNN could get news-gathering facilities, and so on. And aren't ClearChannel planning to expand into the British market? I'm sure Blair (who personally intervened to allow Walmart to buy Asda) will be more than happy to help them.)

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Nuclear weapon designs handed over by Libya to US authorities have been found to have originated in China. Could this mean that the proliferation of nuclear weapons to rogue states/terrorist groups is part of a US/Chinese proxy war? If so, that suggests a few other possibilities: what if, for example, the movement known as al-Qaeda is funded behind the scenes by China; what if, say, 9/11 was intended as a stern warning from China in some acrimonious underground negotiation (would the gerontocrats who ordered the Tienanmen massacre have any qualms about killing thousands of innocent foreigners to make a point?), and the invasion of Iraq (whose WMDs and terrorist links remain elusive) was intended as the reply? Or is that too far-fetched? (Paging Mitch...)

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The Salford Lads' Club, immortalised in the artwork of The Smiths' The Queen Is Dead, has bowed to pressure from the public and opened a shrine to The Smiths, where visitors can leave photographs and comments. (via bOING bOING)

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Recently I saw the first three films in the Cremaster cycle. They were interesting, rather odd, occasionally disturbing and possibly a bit too long. How could one describe the Cremaster films to someone who hasn't seen them? Well, if you took some David Lynch films, threw away everything but the weird bits, and multiplied the remaining bizarreness by itself, you'd have a fairly decent approximation, only perhaps without the ornate sets and costumes.

Cremaster 1, which I think was the second film made, was the simplest so far. A scantily-clad woman (or two identical women) under a table in one or both of two Goodyear blimps makes a hole in the table and uses it to grab grapes from above, which she arranges in patterns on the floor. The patterns are echoed by lines of dancing girls in the American football stadium below. The patterns are apparently meant to represent stages of development in the embryonic sex organs or somesuch. Anyway, it was an interesting concept, though could have probably been done in half the time. The image quality seemed a bit poor in places, as if it had been filmed on some sort of videotape. Also, the differences between live action and computer graphics were a bit obvious, though the audience probably didn't come in to pick them apart.

Cremaster 2 was described as a "Gothic Western", though that would be ascribing a bit too much in the way of plot to it. It ostensibly concerned Gary Gilmore, a murderer executed in Utah, and also had some sort of insectile symbolism and (for some reason) Houdini, played by Norman Mailer. I liked the part with the heavy metal band jamming along with a swarm of bees, and the petrol station with the two interlinked cars was also nicely atmospheric, in a Lynchian sort of way.

Cremaster 3, the most recently made one, started off with the story of the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, and then had some hapless soul plucked from under the ground, and locked in a vintage car which was then crushed into a block of scrap in a demolition derby/Masonic ritual killing inside the Chrystler building. Masonic symbolism and Celtic folklore kept reappearing in it, culminating in a sequence like a game show with video-game music. Which all sounds interesting, except for the fact that it went on for 3 hours, which is a bit long for that sort of thing.

All in all, the Cremaster films look like the sort of fare that, in decades to come, will probably end up being projected on the walls of trendy bars/behind art-punk bands at gigs (unless impeded by sweeping paracopyright laws/DRM totalitarianism, of course).

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A few images from my photo archive:

(all photographs © acb 2002-2004)

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