Skip to main content

A bit of the old ultra-violence


Speaking of Paris, and speaking of films, I remember that it was in Paris that I saw Stanley Kubrick's film A Clockwork Orange for the first time (the title of this post is one of the central character's catch-phrases). This was 1986, and even though the film was more than ten years old by that point, Kubrick had refused to allow it to be seen in Britain after the furor cretaed by its initial release. So it was that I was strolling along the Rue de la Huchette on the left bank (I think it was there), and crammed in amid the bars, creperies, and porn shops was a small cinema showing A Clockwork Orange.

It was one of those places that mainly showed the same two or three films every day, a few times a day -- there were a few like that in Paris back then -- just like the porn places that surrounded it. After I bought my ticket at the tiny guichet and entered the cinema, it continued to feel like I was entering a place that I should feel guilty about. It was a narrow room with only about ten rows of seedy looking seats. I watched A Clockwork Orange with about three other people, all of us sitting as far apart from each other as we could in that small space. My memory of seeing the film is that I thought it was not bad, a decent document of the fashions and social concerns of early 1970s Britain, and that all the violence and the raping was so stylised and childish that I couldn't believe it had caused so much shock and offence.

But mainly I remember the cinema, and the worn and stained seats, and the walls covered with heavy black and red drapes, and the closeness of the screen, and the cold winter air of the Paris night when the film was over and I returned to the street.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Soft Ground Etching with Baldwin Intaglio Ground

This is another post where I talk about my own research into how to obtain the best results from non-toxic etching materials -- specifically, the Baldwin Intaglio Ground. This is a form of etching resist developed by printmaker Andrew Baldwin, from the UK, as a non-toxic alternative to the nasty chemicals contained in traditional hard ground and soft ground resists. It comes in a tube, and when you squeeze some out onto an inking slab it looks like etching ink. You roll it onto the copper plate with a brayer, as if you were inking a relief block, in contrast to the traditional hard grounds, which are either melted onto the plate or poured on as a liquid hard ground. Applying the BIG to make a hard ground is relatively easy. Using it as a soft ground can be quite tricky, and it has taken me many tries and many failures to achieve a satisfactory etch.

The main problem, unfortunately, is the lack of specific instructions in preparing the BIG soft ground. Andrew Baldwin has some excellen…

A List of Every Drink in Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises"

I first read Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" when I was a teenager, and immediately fell in love with it. For the last couple of years, I have had the incredible privilege of teaching a class based around Hemingway in Paris -- while living and teaching in Paris itself, close to the Boulevard du Montparnasse, where most of the action of the novel's first half takes place.

Of the many things that one notices about the book, the colossal amount of drinking is something that stands out. These people didn't just drink like fish: they drank like whales, as if the ocean they swam in was alcohol and they had set themselves the task of drinking the seas of the world dry of it. During my read-through of the book before class started last year, I tried to underline every mention of drink in the book. And now, purely in the interests of science, I am listing the entire menu of booze mentioned directly by name. Some preliminary observations:
Most of this is…

How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.


A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…