Cities crumbling, zombies attacking, tsunamis engulfing, brutal regimes or killer machines crushing the human race to dust. Dystopia has now become so pervasive it’s almost engulfed the entire science fiction genre.
I felt driven to search for an alternative to the tiresome predictions of everything getting much worse; I wanted to imagine a world where everything has got much better.
Thus begins the pitch for News from Gardenia, the forthcoming novel by one Robert Llewellyn. The nerds among us will recognize the name which will forever be evocative of a head covered in rubber as Kryten in the belived scifi comedy Red Dwarf. Yes, I said pitch, not press release, not announcement, for the publication of this book is funded with support from fans and readers. Here’s where it gets interesting to one who has been involved in two crowd funding campaigns in 2011, namely the successful bid to fund the filming of Strange Factories and the current campaign to help bring Modern Mythology to the next level.
Unbound is a platform for authors to pitch their book ideas directly to readers for readers to support through funding, or as they put it: Unbound is a new way of bringing authors and readers together. We believe both deserve a greater say in which books get published. Wired mag called Unbound “The Kickstarter For Books”, but with a targeted domain of authorial endeavour and curated list of authors, which I note includes Terry Jones and one Mrs. Stephen Fry, could prove to be of much more use to writers. What makes the service stand out is that those who pledge to fund a project get to be in on the process of its creation through access to a private area, called the author’s “shed”, and they get a copy of the book and several levels of goodies depending on the level of financial support they give, much like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, but here the turtles al the way down are books.
Here’s the rest of the pitch for News From Gardenia:
A world where we eventually get it right, where we don’t oppress each other, where we don’t burn anything to make anything else, we don’t rip the planet to shreds to maintain our way of life and we don’t need to rely on endless growth to achieve contentment.
News From Gardenia will be a science fiction novel; a man called Gavin Meckler who was born in 1979 arrives 200 years into the future where he discovers a world that is recognisable and yet utterly different. It’s a place where it’s possible to travel from one side of the world to the other in a matter of minutes without burning fuel, but it’s also a place where everyone is a gardener because that’s how they can be sure to eat.
It is at once extraordinary and mundane. It is not finished, it is, as in any period of history, a world which is
constantly changing, but the changes are sustainable, gentle and by default put people first.
As Gavin learns about this new world and the society he eventually becomes a part of, he also begins to learn about himself.
Everything in News from Gardenia could happen, there is no technology in Gardenia that hasn’t already seen the light of day. In the current turmoil it could be argued that such optimism could only be suggested by a fool, indeed, such benign developments may not be very likely, but we may need to be reminded that they are entirely possible.
I would think that this premise would be immensely challenging to a writer. In contemplating a fictional future where humanity has “gotten it right”, first thoughts go to the world of Herman Hesse’s Glass Bead Game and its owlrd where culture and conflict has been settled in amber, as it were, the chaos of new creation and thought wiped out and dad culture is in the hands of the Magister Ludi of the Glass Bead Game. Another one that springs to mind is “Amelior”, the saccharine, turgid runaway bestseller of a novel within a novel in Martin Amis’ “The Information”. In The Information Amis describes Amelior thus:
In Amelior itself twelve youngish human beings forgathered…. Each of them boasted a serious but non-disfiguring affliction: Piotr had hemophilia, Conchita endometriosis, Sachine colitis, Eagle Woman diabetes. Of this twelve, naturally, six were men and six were women; but the sexual characteristics were deliberately hazed. The women were broad-shouldered and thin-hipped. The men tended to be comfortably plump. In the place called Amelior, where they had come to dwell, there was no beauty, no humor and no incident; there was no hate and there was no love.
Above: Wet Liberal Whenever: Occupy Wall Street
I’ll be interested in seeing where it falls either within or outside this spectrum. The latter case is quite unlikely, coming from a man who comes across as pretty self-aware, a self confessed “wet liberal” and being possessed with the bite and wit in the authorial voice in evidence in previous work. Characteristically, Llewellyn entertains conversation on his G+ stream. Here’s what he says on the reception of the funding campaign:
…I do want to try and find ways to develop ideas and take input from a wide variety of sources. Google+ strikes me as the ideal platform to try it. I now have to be patient and read that book about delayed gratification I’ve been delaying reading.
So far the reaction to the Unbound book launch of News From Gardenia has been nothing short of record breaking. Unbound have never had such a response, I am equally nervous and proud, it’s a big thrill but I have to believe the book will live up to expectations. Okay, I’ve got all my digits crossed which makes typing a little tedious.
An announcement for my new book. A utopian vision of how the world could be, a science fiction novel set 200 years in the future. Gavin Meckler, an engineer from 2011 arrives in a new world that is oddly familiar yet incredibly different.
This use of new media tech is nothing new for Robert Llewillyn, nor is writing fiction:
I wrote my first novel at the age of 12. By the time I’d published The Man on Platform 5, my first grown-up work of fiction, 30 years had passed. In the intervening period I’d worked as an artist’s model, a bespoke shoemaker, a tree surgeon, a screenwriter, a comedian, actor and TV presenter.
I’ve appeared on British television regularly since 1987 in various guises including under quite absurd amounts of rubber in Red Dwarf, covered in grease and dust inScrapheap Challenge, in terrifying machines on How Do They Do It? and sitting in a car chatting in Carpool.
I write under a rack of solar panels in Gloucestershire and News From Gardenia is my fifth work of fiction.
I was delighted to come across his web show Carpool when there were but a dozen or so episodes and was struck by how simply and effectively he used the means of production at hand, a simple premise and services like blip.tv with their lost and much missed multi-episode player embedded in the front page of a hosted wordpress site.
Carpool is a web series presented by English actor and comedian Robert Llewellyn. In each episode he interviews a guest while giving them a lift in an eco-friendly car (normally a Toyota Prius hybrid electric vehicle). The guests are often well-known British television personalities such asJonathan Ross or Ade Edmondson. However Llewellyn also interviews less-well-known figures as long as he feels that they will prove to be an interesting subject. The guests have also included Llewellyn’s fellow Red Dwarf actors, Danny John Jules, Craig Charles, Chris Barrie and Hattie Hayridge (as well as Tony Hawks, Arthur Smith and Ruby Wax who all appeared in cameo roles in Red Dwarf).
The show became very popular His early adoption of, massive presence on and enthusiastic evangelizing of twitter has become somewhat of a calling card. Combine the media production with committed engagement on youtube, facebook and G+ with free services like Audioboo, which lets one record messages and share to twitter quite easily, (and lately using the latter for transmitting a complete audio book, which is a first, as far as I know), and you have an example of someone from “old” media (BBC) transitioning into a combination of self-produced projects while still doing Red Dwarf and the televised version of Carpool for Dave TV. So for the creative types who are fleet of mind his example show one need not panic because the big house is collapsing.
If you want to see where your coutry is headed in the next five years, look to the state of the culture and those who produce it. Artists are the canaries in the coalmine. Artists will be shut out first on the march towards totalitarianism. First the creative, hard to control individuals need to be put on the defensive, made to think more about whether they can survive than is good for their work.
First, they removed the poets from the national conversation. I was not a poet, so I said nothing….
And any consideration of art or philosophy becomes indefensible, as I touched upon in Is It Art? Is IT Legal? Is It, Bugger… on the kkoagublogg:
It’s kind of a bourgeois thing to sit and speculate on w(h)ither art?, declare this form or that form dead, and debating back and forth to estimate the time of death. Hey, it’s all dead and in ruins along with the future, literacy and quite likely the industry currently eating up your time in exchange for the means and permission to stay alive for your natural span and do so in sheltered accomodations, owned or rented. The future is here, the future once promised is dead, long live the future, dead music and all.
It may be a stretch, but as I see it, the life is being wring from culture, as life giving qualities is being removed from the food. Well, here’s an offering made, and a curse placed. Of course from a group of artists:
5th public Curse on the Most hated corporation in the world the Monsanto corporation that makes genetically modified foods that cause real health problems. Up to 90% of what Americans eat is genetically modified.
Performance with Jeanelle Mastema & Halie Koehler. Music by USAF, Adam Cooper Terán and John Gross
Watch it until you vibrate with its current, and you’ll be a conduit for the rebuilding. It is audacious to ask “What is Art?”, to devote ones energies to it, unless sanctioned by the 1%, but our survival depends on it.
Trailer for the documentary “What is ART? Inside the Mind of the Artist as They Speak the Truth” by Steven Johnson Leyba featuring H.R.Giger, Genesis P-Orridge, Howard Bloom, Joe Coleman, Richard Metzger, David J, Mark Bode and more answer the difficult questions, what is Art?what is TRUE ART?, what is the difference between art and entertainment?, what is more important the artist or the art? Is art important?
|Inside the mind of the artist as they speak the truth|
|Director:||Steven Johnson Leyba|
|Region coded:||region 0|
|Run time:||2 hours – 20 minutes|
|UPC bar code:||885007122548|
|Release date:||July 19 2010|
|Opinion based documentary on the subject of “WHAT IS ART?”|
Concise Noise Fractionale Ltd. is an independent audio collective of unsigned various artists interested in exposure through numbers.
The genres represented here are eclectic or even difficult to pigeon-hole, ranging from random noise to methodical notation, but usually it’s a combination of both. Ultimately, there are no pretenses of preferred style.
Composed by Scott Gallant & Matt Davis in 1998.
Noise End Rapture is a project best defined as Melodic Soundscape, standard musical instruments were modified. Sound-generating devices included effects pedals, samplers, and delay echoes, all of which were either cheap or cheaply rigged. A wide variety of unorthodox appliances and electronics were also miked whenever its sonancy was appropriate.
Video produced by Scott Gallant
Noise End Rapture
This Music Sucks
Mad Shad (5H4D)
CNF on Soundcloud:
CNF on Facebook:
“Have you ever had a dream so strange and unusual you felt that it wasn’t your own?”
Stronheim’s Village – $500 / £310
For braving to venture to Stronheim’s village, you will choose a framed photograph by DOP Yiannis Katsaris from the story world to take home as a souvenir and an invitation to the Theatre of Manifestationworkshop. You will also receive two tickets to the live event screening the film, a collector’s edition DVD of ‘Strange Factories’ and a thank you in credits.
You are at the heart of our story and we have left a space for you to interact with our film and venture into Stronheim’s strange world. In addition to thesubscription of experiences you will receive, you can also send in details of dreams, stories and secrets to the switchboard, and enter yourself into Stronheim’s Tombola to win a weekend away to his mansion in the Czech countryside.
Image by Bettina Fung Wan Shan
Tune it to our second 48 hour tweetathon next Friday 15th July- Sunday 17th July to hear some of FoolishPeople’s stories and secrets as well as our audience.
Follow us: twitter.com/foolishpeople
You’ll have to make a move right now on this one, for the number of slots is limited and they’re filling up fast. No matter what form of art you create, learning about Theatre of Manifestation will add a new dimension to every creative act on which you embark.
-P. Emerson Williams
For Milestone V of our campaign for ‘Strange Factories’, FoolishPeople will be running a professional theatre and arts workshops in London in August, with the proceeds going directly into our funding campaign for ‘Strange Factories’.
This is a rare opportunity for actors, performers and artists to introduce themselves to the core techniques and concepts of FP’s working practice, Theatre of Manifestation.
Theatre of Manifestation combines mythology, shamanism, drama therapy and open source collaboration to create immersive experiences that have the power to raise a numinous experience within the audience. It dismantles the notion of the spectator being a passive recipient of a theatrical experience; active engagement and participation is vital and absolutely necessary.
The workshop will take place on Saturday 13thAugust from 10am-6pm in central London, venue TBC. Over the course of the day, you will work withJohn Harrigan, Artistic Director and founder of FoolishPeople to explore the core techniques and skills needed within immersive theatre and how you can unlock and open the essence of your imagination and creativity.
You will be taught techniques to dismantle creative blocks, attain a truthful performance and formulate new ideas and processes for each project you undertake. This will offer participants a focused framework for their continuing artistic development.
This workshop will leave you feeling confident and empowered with new skills and techniques that you can apply to your own working practice within a variety of mediums and performance styles. This workshop is open to all arts professionals and those interested in exploring their creativity.
Previous workshops have been held in collaboration with organisations such as the University of Hertfordshire, the BBC and The Central School of Speech & Drama.
You can book onto this course online via our online funding campaignwww.indiegogo.com/strangefactories
You can purchase your ticket in two ways:
- By contributing $65 (£40) to the campaign, using the ‘Contribute now’ button.
Spaces are limited- there are 10 places available.
You just need to scroll down and enter $60 into the total contribution amount, enter your personal details and choose payment method.
Alternatively, please contact us to arrange a bank transfer in GBP.
Once you’ve purchased your ticket, please e-mail us at email@example.com.
Once the workshop date has been sold out, we will make an announcement on our update page, so be sure to check this before you book your place. Please note, invoices can be provided for the workshop for either payment method.
- By purchasing Milestone V – The Village Pub in our subscription of experiences. The Village Pub perk costs $250 (£156) and includes access to both workshop dates, a Collector’s Edition of ‘Strange Factories’ and a pair of tickets to the live event screening the film.
The Village Pub
Milestone V: The barman gives you a strange-coloured spirit on the house, which you down in one. “That’s the way to do it!” As you start to hallucinate, you will meet Punch, who adds your name to the list of attendees for the Theatre of Manifestation Workshop by Director John Harrigan that he tells you explores FoolishPeople’s working practice. As you stumble out, you’ll also find a pair of tickets to the live event screening the film & a DVD copy of ‘Strange Factories’ in your bag.
Photography by Yiannis Katsaris, Director of Photography for ‘Strange Factories’
Punch would like to personally thank everyone who has helped take us over $2,500. We’re now well on our way to our goal, but still have far to go, so please help us spread the word!
Look out for the video of Sam that we are releasing very soon, so you can meet the face behind the mask.
‘Strange Factories’; an immersive feature film that tells the story of a world haunted by a phantasmagoric fiction. A unique and powerful project that fuses cinema and theatre within a dreamlike environment to create an experience like no other.”
As the immersive art of FoolishPeople extends into the realms of cinema, the immersive art that is the essence of our work is brought into another realm. Those of you who have experienced the living narrative of FoolishPeople know that what is to be created with Strange Factories will transcend what we think of as cinematic form.
This film explores the ideas and background to FoolishPeople’s first feature film ‘Strange Factories’.
Stories and myths are given life by those who engage with them and we would like you to become part of our story. You’re a crucial element of how this project is produced, created and experienced.
Join our IndieGoGo campaign and become a part of ‘Strange Factories’.
When the Soviet Union fell many pondered what would happen to the spy agencies and the main strains of paranoia that characterized the cold war period. And what would happen to the spy genre and the archetypical characters who inhabited this oppressive world. Film noir style and atmosphere could be used in a light-hearted manner in a post-historical context, but viewing the original films while living in an empire in fast decline brings out the undercurrent that gives lie to a Father Knows Best view of the -50′s.
There are parallels between with past decade and the mid to late 1950′s, culturally and politically, but the situation is inverted economically. The loans taken out by the Greatest generation (TM) and the baby boomers has come to term with no payments having been sent in in the meantime. The -50′s was the crest of the wave of prosperity and that wave has now crashed against the rocks.
The sunny gloss of -50′s popular culture covered an underbelly crawling with tension, political subterfuge and the gradual intertwining of oranized crime and power. In recent memory the popular culture and media of the West combined a Brave New World tabloid «reality» TV peopled with orange-tanned hedonists coupled with news organizations reduced to being propaganda mouthpieces for the corporate paymasters who own you, me, our government and even our :grass-roots» movements, divided into «left» and «right» wing outlets arguing over whether the populace should be drinking political and economic bleach or gasoline. Different substances, same outcome.
My own perspective may singular in its vantage point. I have been working nearly three decades of working with the Lord of Hallucinations, so it may logically follow that I should find my consciousness invaded by disturbances, hypnagogic impressions and that I would be drawn to projects that inhabit dream worlds. Film noir, german expressionism, electronic voice phenomena and hauntology inhabit different countries in the same dark parallel world. The haunted landscape of Witch House is the dread beneath the crumbling suburban veneer, just as the world of the films of Harmony Korinne lifts the lid of the psyche of that majority of people who were left out of even the boom times.
As with Cirxus, its theme of nuclear meltdown and utopian promises was met with dismissal from some corners with a notion that the nuclear energy question was one settled in the favour of the industry. Now we have the nuclear disaster in Japan and it turns out many of our facilities are similarly vulnerable. So it is with dreams and monsters that for a few generations have seemed to be innocent and hokey. Zombies grab our collective imagination, and witches are potent archetypes in one subculture and another subculture is hard at work trying to bring literal witch hunts back elsewhere on the globe with a view to importing them back here. A possible dystopian future could be as much The Crucible and the rat-infested Nosferatu as Mad Max, and the mood is definitely dread and maximum schreck…
The stories we tell play a role far greater than to make the period between shift at work pass by more quickly. They help us interpret our reality and more importantly, to shape it.
Strange Factories is FoolishPeople’s first feature film, which explores the power of stories and myths and how they are ultimately given life by those who engage with them.
We would like you to become part of our story. You’re a crucial element of how this project is produced, created and experienced.
Join our IndieGoGo campaign and become a part of the ‘Strange Factories’ story.
A special thank you to Arban Severin, designer and maker of the Punch mask.
Of the moonless nights they are kings,
darkness is their kingdom.
Carrying death and sowing terror
the dark Vampires fly,
with great suede wings,
ready not only to do evil… but to do even worse.
I’m having a lot of fun creating a score for this. Les Vampires is a film serial that gave us so much of the aesthetic for iconic gothic imagery its influence can not be overstated. Not a single vampire in sight, but enough mystery, twists and wickedness to fill twenty vampire novels.
Les Vampires (1915) is a 10-part silent film serial. It was written and directed by Louis Feuillade and stars Musidora as “Irma Vep” a femme fatale whose name is a suspicious anagram of “vampire.” The serial is set in Paris, France and follows the exploits of a gang of master criminals (known in the period as an “Apache gang“) who call themselves “Les Vampires.”
There are 10 episodes, averaging around 40 minutes each, totalling about 6 and a half hours.
Olivier Assayas 1996 movie Irma Vep, with a story line of a director’s attempt to remake Les Vampires, is both an homage to the innovative nature of the original film and a critique of the then current state of French cinema.
Over the next few months I’ll be scoring all the episodes of this series:
- La tête coupée (The Severed Head) 33 min. Released on 13 November 1915.
- La bague qui tue (The Killer Ring) 15 min. Released on 13 November 1915.
- Le cryptogramme rouge (The Red Cypher) 42 min. Released on 4 December 1915.
- Le spectre (The Ghost) 32 min. Released on 7 January 1916.
- L’évassion du mort (The Escaping Dead Man) 37 min. Released on 28 January 1916.
- Les yeux qui fascinent (The Hypnotic Gaze) 58 min. Released on 24 March 1916.
- Satanas (Satanas) 46 min. Released on 15 April 1916.
- Le maître de la foudre (The Thunder Lord) 55 min. Released on 12 May 1916.
- L’homme des poisons (The Poisoner) 53 min. Released on 2 June 1916.
- Les noces sanglantes (Bloody Wedding) 60 min. Released on 30 June 1916
Show dedicated to my dearly departed friend: Dave Szulborski
Information: In the SLEEPCHAMBER bit, John Zewizz and co. gives updates on the band, shares tracks from the forthcoming album “Stolen Sleep”, and thanks the fans and collaborators who have supported the return of SLEEPCHAMBER.
Exerpt from Cirxus, a FoolishPeople production written and directed by John Harrigan. This psycho-audio sequence is produced and performed by P. Emerson Williams and directed by John Harrigan. A promenade performance will run from 25th May – 13th June 2009 in Arcola Theatre’s new industrial space, Studio K in London.