Saturday, December 9, 2023

 "To hell with the fourth dimension. It's now that matters!"

Crack-Bell, from Titus Alone, by Mervyn Peake


  1. "It's now that matters!"

    That sounds quite the futurist slogan. And I'm using that laboured segue to send you this recording of Club X. Club X was a 1989 Channel 4 arts show that had the ambition to "make art" rather than just discuss it. It was even more disastrous in practice than that ambition would suggest. This, the only episode I could find online, is their attempt to recreate a futurist food happening, whilst having other performance pieces happening in the background, and simultaneously hosting a discussion on Marinetti and his legacy conducted by a presenter who, to be as generous as possible in assessment, is utterly inexperienced. Not only ill-conceived, but also shockingly inept on every technical level. The dance piece 1 hour 7 minutes in reminds you that some spectacles are so inherently preposterous that parodying them is futile and irrelevant. At one point early on Paul Morley thumps someone. Fascinatingly dreadful. Endure!

  2. Fantastic, thanks.

    Early Channel 4 was pretty amazing. Things like that Ghost Dance film with Derrida in it.

    Even if this is as awful as you say, I feel it should be saluted, or memorialized. I wish I'd watched Channel 4 more at the time but I was hardly in for much of the Eighties, out seeing bands or drinking or whatever. If I was at home at night, I'd often be pulling an all nighter, doing the singles page or a big feature. Quite long stretches of the 1980s I didn't have access to a TV at all.

    On balance, I'm glad I was up to other stuff, nobody has golden memories of evenings in with the telly.... but yeah I missed a lot of stuff. Well, I can catch up with it now.

  3. Oh, I'm grateful that early Channel 4 at least had the balls to try an experimental arts show with concurrent performances, a rejection of the high/low-brow distinction and a refusal to dumb down. But that doesn't mean the show was good. I mean, despite intrinsic problems with many of Club X's conceits, the overriding, fatal error of Club X is that it just wasn't well-executed. Case in point: the other famous episode of Club X (the one which, along with the futurist episode, you see clips of on those TV moments from Hell rundowns) consisted of performance art pieces and a play written and acted during the show, all while conducted in a club hosting an acid house rave. As such, nobody watching could hear a bastard thing anyone was saying, and the audio distortion made the experience sensually unpleasant for the viewer. Indeed, the sound in the futurist episode is similarly shoddy. The resultant impression is not one of avant-garde adventure, but laughable incompetence.

    There's a performance by Pere Ubu towards the end of the show. And Paul Morley discusses the meaning of Zang Tumb Tumb at one point.


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