TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT September 2013

TOP TEN

Mark Aerial Waller

Mark Aerial Waller is an artist based in London. His practice, which encompasses video, sculpture, and constructed situations, engages a spectrum of subjects and subjectivities ranging from the biochemical mechanisms that shape our social interactions to nuclear contract workers in the UK. Last year Waller’s art was featured in the Eleventh Baltic Triennial in Vilnius, Lithuania. He is currently producing, with London’s Institute of Contemporary Art, a new video piece, Live from the Crucible, which will air on the UK’s Channel 4 television this fall.

  1. MESOPOTAMIAN CYLINDER SEALS

    Dating to circa 3500 BC, cylinder seals were typically carved in stone and pierced end to end, to be strung and worn as necklaces. Their intricate patterns, however, would not have been immediately legible. To decrypt the writing, one would have had to read the impression created by the small object when rolled onto a soft surface, such as clay. Five thousand years ago, the Mesopotamians invented a device that could be used today to produce their images—their messages transmitted across time.

    *Cylinder seal and impression, ca. 2500–2400 BC*, limestone and clay; seal, approx. 1 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2". Photo: André Perrot/ Wikicommons. Cylinder seal and impression, ca. 2500–2400 BC, limestone and clay; seal, approx. 1 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2". Photo: André Perrot/ Wikicommons.
  2. SIT SHAMSHI, 12TH CENTURY BC

    Excavated in 1904–1905, this bronze tableau was found encased in gypsum, forming a wall tile in a crypt in Susa, Elam (now southern Iran). Two nude figures kneel facing one another, worshiping the rising sun, as one pours water into the outstretched hands of the other. A rare three-dimensional snapshot of a ceremonial scene, the work was not visible to the people of its time, but meant as a gift for the gods or for the future—which is now us, three thousand years later, at the Louvre.

    *Sit Shamshi (detail), ca. 1150 BC*, bronze, 23 5/8 x 15 1/4" (base). Photo: Peter Willi. Sit Shamshi (detail), ca. 1150 BC, bronze, 23 5/8 x 15 1/4" (base). Photo: Peter Willi.
  3. DON QUIXOTE, MIGUEL DE CERVANTES (1605/1615)

    An artist’s guidebook, Don Quixote gives us a protagonist who, though tragically flawed, is a hero nevertheless: Struggling to transform ideas into actions in order to authenticate his inspiration, he is brave enough to interpret and act with lightness despite the torpor of his surroundings. The book delicately folds in on itself like a Borges novel—as though by the start of the seventeenth century postmodernity had already happened.

  4. CINEMA HOPPING

    André Breton wrote that while living in Nantes in 1916, he often went to the cinema with his friend (and love of his life) Jacques Vaché. Rather than watching a movie start to finish, however, they would select a film arbitrarily, moving on to the next one whenever ennui set in. Such a cut-and-paste viewing strategy is remarkable in itself, but so is the way in which they chose to experience space, joining cinema screen with hall, audience, and street to open up new vistas of thought.

  5. MARCEL CARNÉ, LES VISITEURS DU SOIR (1942)

    This Vichy-era film tells the tale of two envoys sent from hell to disrupt a medieval wedding. Dressed as minstrels, the duo strike a chord on a lute, apparently freezing time and causing the entire filmic apparatus to grind to a halt. With the action suspended, the diabolical pair usher a somnambulant bride and groom out of the frame (and the story’s time-space) into a garden, where they turn the couple away from each other before reinstalling them in the interrupted scene. The lute is struck again; the celebration resumes; and love, sent on a detour, must now run its course. The ensuing chaos presents an epic existential conflict, brilliantly written by Pierre Laroche and Jacques Prévert.

    *Marcel Carné, _Les Visiteurs du Soir_ (The Devil’s Envoys), 1942*, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 121 minutes. The devil (Jules Berry). Marcel Carné, Les Visiteurs du Soir (The Devil’s Envoys), 1942, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 121 minutes. The devil (Jules Berry).
  6. MAYA DEREN, DIVINE HORSEMEN: THE LIVING GODS OF HAITI (1954/1985)

    Experimental filmmaker Maya Deren aimed to reorder hierarchies of thought, time, and space—to create, in her own words, a state in which “nothing is future and nothing is past; nothing is old and nothing is new.” In making Divine Horsemen—an immersive recording of Hatian rituals—Deren grew so involved with Vodoun culture that she ultimately joined it, abandoning her place behind the camera to become her work’s subject. The decision to enter the filmic plane, to move from “making” to “being,” thrills me.

  7. GEORGES FRANJU, JUDEX (1963)

    It was the Surrealists’ belief that film might allow things to live on after death. Though the original 1916 film version of Judex, by Louis Feuillade, predates the emergence of Surrealism in full, it was lauded by the likes of André Breton and Louis Aragon. In 1963 Georges Franju remade the mysterious crime drama, warping its chronological framework so that the film shuttles constantly between 1916 and the then-present day. In conflict with its own nostalgia, Franju’s Judex exists independently from its time of viewing.

    *Georges Franju, _Judex_, 1963*, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 104 minutes. Judex/Vallieres (Channing Pollock) and Jacqueline Favraux (Édith Scob). Georges Franju, Judex, 1963, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 104 minutes. Judex/Vallieres (Channing Pollock) and Jacqueline Favraux (Édith Scob).
  8. MALCOLM MORLEY, SAFETY IS YOUR BUSINESS, 1971

    Turning photorealism on its head, this painting simulates 1970s-era children’s book illustration rather than photography, a second-generation reproduction of the hand-drawn instead of the mechanically recorded. Consequently, when the work’s own likeness is reproduced in print, it loses nearly all its value, camouflaged once again as a mass-printed picture. And the twists and turns of appropriation don’t end there. The painted world of the London-born, US-based artist is not as it first appears; faces are disfigured via expressionist marks, which, vibrating between indexical trance and pyschedelic vision, resist our direct entry.

    *Malcolm Morley, _Safety Is Your Business_, 1971*, oil, acrylic, and wax on canvas, 88 x 108 1/4". Malcolm Morley, Safety Is Your Business, 1971, oil, acrylic, and wax on canvas, 88 x 108 1/4".
  9. THE FALL, “IBIS-AFRO MAN,” ARE YOU ARE MISSING WINNER (COG SINISTER/VOICEPRINT, 2001)

    The Fall’s recordings evade definition, at times seeming intensely baroque, with chiaroscuro glimpses into indeterminate depths of sound. In this abyss exists a Wyndham Lewis–Otto Muehl–Louis-Ferdinand Céline monster that will hold you hostage until you realize that high humor is not far. “Ibis-Afro Man” is one of these voids, an Iggy Pop cover constructed on layers of abstraction and abjection that surface happily as strychnine-fueled garage rock.

  10. THE SUN (AS RECORDED BY NASA’S SOLAR DYNAMICS OBSERVATORY)

    There hasn’t been much sun over London in recent years, but new images from nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) have nevertheless sparked heightened interest in our local star. Light from the sun takes about eight minutes to reach Earth, and electromagnetic waves from solar storms can take more than a day. These large particle ejections alter the earth’s geomagnetic fields, disrupting our communication networks, our electricity supply, and possibly even our moods.

    *Plasma eruption on the sun’s surface, January 31, 2013.* Photo: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory. Plasma eruption on the sun’s surface, January 31, 2013. Photo: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory.