Review of Dreamweapon III with VU (1965, New Yorker)

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mangue
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Review of Dreamweapon III with VU (1965, New Yorker)

Post by mangue » 23 Sep 2018 13:57

As posted before I'm going through 1960s editions of The New Yorker, very few mentions of The Velvet Underground found. But one very interesting and good one is a review of Rites of the Dreamweapon - Part III - The Mysteries of the Essence Chamber - by Angus MacLise [with as mentioned in the review: music by The Velvet Underground and afterwards the reviewer talked with Angus MacLise].
Review is on pages 52-53 of the 1965.Dec.04 edition of The New Yorker, under the title "Festival I", author of the piece isn't mentioned (at least I couldn't find).

-- Festival I --
The Film-Makers' Cinematheque, a society of avant-garde film-makers, with headquarters at the Astor Place Playhouse, devoted last month to something called the New Cinema Festival I, which was described in a prospectus as "a survey of recent experiments to expand the dimensions of cinema" through the use of "multiple screens, multiple projectors, multiple images, inter-related screen forms and images, film-dance, moving slides, kinetic sculptures, handheld projectors, balloon screens, video tape and video projections, light and sound experiments." We have always had a weakness for ambitious prospectuses, so when we read this one we headed for the Astor Place Playhouse to take in a representative sample of Festival programs. We came away convinced that the Cinematheque is fulfilling all its promises, and then some.
The Playhouse is in the basement of 434 Lafayette Street, which was constructed in 1831 and was occupied by both John Jacob Astor and Washington Irving. The Cinematheque, by contrast, was founded only in 1963, and already it has had six homes and is planning another move, according to John Brockman, its new managing director. Mr. Brockman is a clean-shaven, wellscrubbed man of twenty-four who graduated from the Babson Institute in 1961 and took an M.B.A. in finance at Columbia Business School in 1963; his taste in clothes runs to dark threepiece suits, white shirts, and muted ties, and makes him easy to find in the lobby of the Playhouse, where most of the patrons dress just about the way struggling film-makers might be expected to dress. "We've signed a year's lease on the 41st Street Theatre, which is between Sixth Avenue and Broadway," Mr. Brockman told us. "All this moving around has got to stop. I took this job to bring some sanity to the experimental-film world. The Cinematheque has been too inefficient, too incestuous up to now. Which doesn't mean it hasn't had a great impact. This is a festival that wouldn't have been possible five years ago. Everybody knew what a film was then. Not anymore. We've invited people from all the creative arts. We're trying to break down people's ideas of what film is. Film doesn't have to be movies. We don't define it at all, except as 'a visual experience.'"
We understood Mr. Brockman's difficulties with definition when we saw our first program, which turned out to be Part III of a week-long presentation entitled "Rites of the Dreamweapon" and "coordinated" by Angus MacLise. Part III, "The Mysteries of the Essence Chamber," was set on a stage that resembled the inside of a bombedout church being used for a rummage sale. An assemblage of objects, dimly lit by a revolving red-and-green beacon, was separated from the audience by a gauzy, see-through screen, on which two movie projectors were trained. One projector had no film in it, and the other had a short loop of film and kept repeating a few unrecognizable images. The operators of the machines occasionally held colored filters in front of the lenses; sometimes they swivelled the machines around the room, so that the light from them shone briefly on the ceiling and walls. The effect that we found most pleasing was a tattoo of brown spots beamed, possibly by accident, onto the neck of a man sitting in front of us. While the projectors were going their own way, a number of people walked or danced around the stage, accompanied at times by a group of musicians known as The Velvet Underground, who specialize in "mystical rock-'n'-roll" - a form of music that, they have explained, is attained primarily through the use of "amplified distortion." Later, Angus MacLise, a tall, ascetic-looking man of twentyseven with a wispy brown beard, recited some of his poetry. During most of the performance, the noise level - abetted by a demonnically programmed tape recorder - was literally deafening, yet no one left the theatre except a young couple in tlie front row who seemed to be having a private argument.
After the program, we went backstage to ask the coordinator if he was satisfied with the evening. Mr.MacLise said that several people had told him they found the experience painful, but that he thought this could be attributed to tension caused by an inability to participate directly in the proceedings. "What I'm trying to do is blend as many elements of existence in our time as possible with the whole stream of ritual motifs developed through history," he explained. "For me, the rock-'n'-roll dancer is an archetypal figure. The fashion model is an archetypal figure." He went on to say that much of his work had been influenced by his travels - especially a recent hitchhiking trip from Istanbul to Benares. He arrived in Benares in time for the Festival of the Great Goddess and, in the courtyard of a Brahman house, saw a celebration in which an attempt was made to "overload the senses" with a barrage of noise and motion. "The theory is that the senses have to be got beyond, because they stand in the way of contact with ourselves," he said. "It's the opposite path to meditation. Only when we batter down the threshold can we hear other things, including the proverbial still small voice within."
When our own senses had returned to normal, we paid another visit to the Festival and saw a performance of "The March of the Garter Snakes," by Standish D. Lawder.


*acc.an Advert in The Village Voice, 1965.Nov.04, page 22:
Rites of the Dreamweapon - Part III [The Mysteries of the Essence Chamber - by Angus MacLise] was performed 1965.Nov.05 at the New Cinema Festival I in the Film-Makers' Cinematheque
see https://news.google.com/newspapers?id=S ... 76,3863259
*Benares is the old English name for Varanasi, India, the holiest of the sacred cities in Hinduism.
Last edited by mangue on 23 Sep 2018 14:05, edited 1 time in total.

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mangue
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Re: Review of DreamWeapon III with VU (1965, New Yorker)

Post by mangue » 23 Sep 2018 14:02

Sorry, something went wrong with the topic subject (may be too long?).
Shortened it now in my reply, hope this works and makes it clear.

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iaredatsun
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Re: Review of DreamWeapon III with VU (1965, New Yorker)

Post by iaredatsun » 23 Sep 2018 16:33

mangue wrote:
23 Sep 2018 14:02
Sorry, something went wrong with the topic subject (may be too long?).
Shortened it now in my reply, hope this works and makes it clear.
Brilliant find. Enjoyed reading it. Very evocative.
underground, overground

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taxine
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Re: Review of Dreamweapon III with VU (1965, New Yorker)

Post by taxine » 24 Sep 2018 12:50

Fantastic !!
Huge thanks for sharing mangue !!
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Mark
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Re: Review of Dreamweapon III with VU (1965, New Yorker)

Post by Mark » 25 Sep 2018 22:23

Thank you - great find. I always find these glimpses into the lost world of the pre-Warhol VU fascinating.
Michael Barbiero, J.C. Convertino - no no no! Gary Kellgren, Val Valentin - yes yes yes!

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taxine
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Re: Review of Dreamweapon III with VU (1965, New Yorker)

Post by taxine » 27 Sep 2018 11:47

Image

Yep,I came across this hot flyer from the show wanna share...Enjoy !!

https://www.mallorybooks.com/pages/books/28831/angus-ma
But there are no stars in New York sky, they're all on the ground.
This is the place where she lay her head when she went to bed at night....

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Re: Review of Dreamweapon III with VU (1965, New Yorker)

Post by alfredovu » 29 Sep 2018 08:42

Fantastic findings! Thanks a lot

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