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Exploding Sound and Noise (London-Brighton, 1959-69 at Flat Time House
Still from Jeff Keen Marvo Movie, 1967. 16mm film. Courtesy the artist and LUX, London.
LONDON.- Flat Time House hosts a new exhibition of artworks, archive, movies and sound curated by Tony Herrington (Editor-in-Chief & Publisher, The Wire) and David Toop (musician, curator, long-time collaborator of John Latham).

For a period in the 1960s there was a great creative synergy in the UK between the visual arts, experimental film, free jazz, psychedelic rock, and the energetic poetry scene that formed the UK’s so-called Underground. BLOW UP will present a visual and aural map of those connections through art works, recordings, archival film and documents, contemporary accounts, posters and album art.

The artist John Latham, who lived at Flat Time House until his death in 2006, was a central protagonist in this explosion of cross-talk and the mythologies surrounding his film Speak (1962) were a catalyst for exhibition. Speak is a powerfully strobing, paper-disc animation and, although it precedes the psychedelics of the high sixties by half a decade, its physical effect on the viewer is typical of the whole mind/body experiences of the early light-show gigs of Soft Machine or Pink Floyd and the environmental happenings of the late 60s organised by artists including Cobbing, Keen, Latham and Jeff Nuttall.

In fact, Speak illuminated some of the seminal events of the UK’s new counter culture: it served as the Floyd’s light show at early gigs at the UFO club and the Roundhouse; it was screened at Better Books on Charing Cross Road, the bookshop where Bob Cobbing hatched plans with Allen Ginsberg and Alex Trocchi for the International Poetry Incarnation at the Albert Hall, and founded the London Filmmakers Coop with Keen and others in 1966. But it is the film’s soundtrack that really connects the dots between London’s art scene and contemporaries in free jazz and psychedelic rock: remarkably Latham rejected as ‘too musical’ scores recorded for him first by the Joe Harriott Quintet and then the Pink Floyd, before adding his own circular-saw soundtrack, pointing towards the simultaneously emerging noise aesthetic.

This exhibition begins to write a history of these connections, artistic, personal, or just in the air, and Speak’s story is just one of the many told in BLOW UP.



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