In Rotation: Hikashu – At the end of the 20th century

Some day I’ll get around to posting a mini history of early Japanese new wave, but for now, this may well be the actual, best reason, for the invention of the internet.

Knowing singer Makigami Koichi later collaborated with John Zorn and Masonna amongst other noise merchants, helps make everything make a little more sense.

Image of the Day: Twenty Six

Luis Bunuel regarding Un Chien Andalou. 1929

Image of the Day: Twenty Four

Charlie White - The Persuaders. From the series “And Jeopardize the Integrity of the Hull.” 2003

Image of the Day: Twenty One

Gottfried Helnwein. L.A. Confidential (Cops II) 2000

Image of the Day: Fourteen

Irma Vep - Les Vampires. 1915

The found poetry, Dada-isms and glass arm of a telegraph operator.

Tapping here into a particular strain of J.G. Ballard’s beloved invisible literature. A training manual written by George M. Dodge, owner of a training center for would-be telegraph men, discovered while I was noodling around for more information on a favorite ailment; the glass arm of the telegraph man. Decades before carpal tunnel or repetitive stress, the continuous dot-dotting and dash-dashing of Morse code wrecked the connect between mind and body. There’s an 1898 booklet of remedies if you are equally blighted. The curse of the glass arm numbed the operator. Dead fingers could no longer talk.

First published in 1899, The Telegraph Instructor passed through multiple editions until 1921. There is no joy within these pages. It appears a standard text.  The life of a machine talking to a machine. Humans seem in the way. There is no hint of career obsolescence. No hint of change. This is the job you make.

Ballard wrote how drifting through similar texts “provides the most potent compost for the imagination.” And some of this material could have been grist for Kurt Schwitters sound poetry. Some of it comes at you askew. And some it makes no sense at all. Within a book about communication.

None of these sentences have been manipulated. They’ve been sat sitting inside Mr Doidge’s book.

The word “Telegraph”, strictly defined, means “To write afar off.”


Note.—Perhaps, to make this latter paragraph clearer, it might be added that on a circuit of fifty instruments, should forty-nine of these detach their sounder and local battery, the remaining one would not be aware of it.


Take an easy and graceful position.


The alphabet should be attained theoretically.

Aim, buy, care, dove, easy, farm, good, hill, ice, jot, keep, life, many, none.


Uniformity of space is highly essential for correct sending.

I have found in my experience that a great majority of beginners are inclined to put the characters in letters too closely together, thereby creating a style of “jerk sending”, which is bad in the extreme.


Erie, error, choice, & Co., piece, price, bicycle, voice.


Never Contend For the Circuit.


Whenever one is asked to “sine” he should give his office call, and if he is asked “wo” he should give his personal signal.


stop for breakfast, sfb

stop for dinner, sfd

stop for night, sfn

stop for tea, sft


Q. Wt ty doin dwn tr—What are they doing down there?

A. Gtg 2 mt gonds to set in at WS—Getting two empty gondolas to set in at Winslow.


Q. 5 P—Have you anything for Plymouth?

A. Es r hrs a roast—Yes sir, here is a roast (a great number).


Q. Hw do u count East St L—How do you count East St. Louis?

A. 1 w—One word.


Chief wants to know why it is so hard to raise you?


Bug-in-the-wire—A slang phrase frequently used when a wire is in trouble.

Getting Old—As applied to telegrams, means they are being delayed.

Local Is Bad

Wire to the Air.


As a matter of fact, suggestive thoughts will frequently present themselves, which are other than those spoken of, and these should be discussed and receive proper consideration, but one system of each branch of the work should be adhered to so far as possible.


Wild trains are inferior to all regular trains of whatever class.


“No. 71 a—on sdg clr order 127 is NG to 72?” (“a”, arrived; “on sdg clr”, on siding clear—meaning clear of main track; “NG”, no good). The Despatcher would answer “OK 31 copy one” and send the following order:—“Order No. 133 to opr V. If No. 71 is clear order No. 127 is annulled.” The Valparaiso operator upon receiving this order would repeat it to the Train Despatcher in the regular way, signing his own name, whereupon the Despatcher would “complete” the latter order “No. 133”. The Valparaiso operator would then write across the face of order No. 127, “annulled by order No. 133”, and file together orders numbers 127 and 133, and allow No. 72 to proceed without the order. Operators are not permitted to bust or file orders without first receiving a “31” order to do so as shown in order No. 133 herewith.


Obedience to the rules is essential to safety.

Dwarf Signal.—A low home signal.


Q.  Should torpedoes be placed near stations, road crossings, or in yards where persons are liable to be injured by them?  A.  No.

Q.  When does a train lose its right? 

Q.  What is the “X” response?


“Art”, “OK” and “I” are used for acknowledging verbal instructions, meaning the same as “yes sir” in the English language.

Apollo 16’s Readymade in Flux

Curious to wrest emotion from corporate soft sell. Further, to discover NASA funded conceptual art.

In October, astronauts Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford and Charlie Duke attended a promo event for Omega watches at Crystals, Las Vegas’s very high-end mall in CityCenter. Does it ever feel normal to write astronaut? The event was well run, like the rest of Crystals. The video and audio were excellent. Former CNN correspondent Miles O’Brien never pandered to the guests or the audience and even ventured into hardcore space-geek land. O’Brien was always a passionate and intelligent advocate on CNN and has kept that spirit rolling. Even so, this could have been a simple celebrity divertisment. It was not.

At some point I became shocked at a personal disconnect during the matter of fact telling of these men’s actions. And the actions of their colleagues. The tales were wedged up against the images of these men in space. And on the moon. Why it was not obvious to me on arrival, I can’t say. Here was an event to sell a wristwatch. And here was an event that escalated to become profoundly moving. The Right Stuff-now such a dumb cliche. But it was right there. 50 foot in front of me. They went to the moon. And video taped it. And they just told me how they did it. That man right there.

In the midst of the talk, O’Brien brought up the story of photograph taken by Charlie Duke. He carried a photograph of his family up into space, laid it on the moon’s surface and snapped a photo.

Here’s video of him explaining how it all went down. Starts at 4:32 in. Thanks to the video uploader.


I think this image is more powerful than any looking back on earth. That’s me. It’s extraordinary in the truest sense of the word. It seems so obvious a picture, but it’s such a non sequitur. It fights NASA slide rule culture. It’s sentimental. It’s a throwaway. But it’s also more alien and unreal than many surrealist automatic dream-scapes.

Once taken, the photograph immediately entered a state of flux. The heat on the moon mutated it and kept it moving. Which it infinitesimally probably still is. A blow up shows just after placing it down, it had started its turn.

An art installation lasting less than a few seconds.

There are a number of crops of this image. The one used in Michael Light’s Full Moon I assume is the full scale. I think the lunar tracks lessen the poignancy.

Gene Cernan in an effort to explain the pseudo rustic tech of their ventures, referenced the cell phone of everyone in the audience. How they contain more computer power than was evident on all the Apollo missions. So this is my cell phone, taking a photo of the astronaut, who took a photo on the moon and flew there and back with less computing power than it took to make this image as blurry as an old instamatic.

First thing that popped into my head on hearing this photograph had rapidly decayed to nothing, was William Gibson’s Agrippa. Here’s the wikipedia entry.

Agrippa (a book of the dead) is a work of art created by speculative fiction novelist William Gibson, artist Dennis Ashbaugh and publisher Kevin Begos Jr. in 1992. The work consists of a 300-line semi-autobiographical electronic poem by Gibson, embedded in an artist’s book by Ashbaugh. Gibson’s text focused on the ethereal nature of memories (the title is taken from a photo album). Its principal notoriety arose from the fact that the poem, stored on a 3.5″ floppy disk, was programmed to erase itself after a single use; similarly, the pages of the artist’s book were treated with photosensitive chemicals, effecting the gradual fading of the words and images from the book’s first exposure to light.

“The shutter falls
Dividing that from this.”

In 1992 I saw poet Robert Ashley read Agrippa at the Kitchen in New York. The poem scrolled towards oblivion. Only a rare breed was thinking this work could be bootlegged or cataloged on the nascent net. I looked away at one point and Ashley fired the pistol. It startled me, although I knew it was coming and I knew it was there. The poem ended and the program died. It was all gone, but I have that moment. Sometimes that’s enough.

A coda. Jeus Diaz over at Gizmodo cleverly remembered an echo of this image in Alan Moore’s Watchmen. And now we know what happens to the photograph Dr Manhattan and Janey Slater.

Image of the Day: Three

J. Champroux: La voiture renversée. 1929

Image Of The Day: One

Salvador Dali and friend