“The book I would really like to see would be Iain Sinclair’s account of walking through today’s Lower East Side.”

Back in February, Iain sent me this snippet from a blog on Burrough. He received it from Kevin Ring. It’s about William Burroughs, the locations of the Beat Generations and a found memorabilia.

“But back to the reality of City Lights in time and space. There might not be much to gather from the City Lights Bookstore address, but the phone number is interesting. The seven digit, all-numerical phone number was implemented across the United States in 1968. So 1967 is in doubt. The address for the City Lights Publishing House, 1562 Grant Avenue, narrows the possibilities even further. The book I wish I had when I was in San Francisco is Bill Morgan’s The Beat Generation in San Francisco. Along with Beat Generation in New York: A Walking Tour of Jack Kerouac’s City, it is a great travel guide and an indispensible Beat history book all in one. I find myself coming back to these two books often when researching Beat addresses and landmarks. I suspect Morgan’sBeat Altas: A State by State Guide to the Beat  is essential as well. Morgan as the Beat Livy. Can Morgan’s account of the Beat conquest of the world be far behind? (The book I would really like to see would be Iain Sinclair’s account of walking through today’s Lower East Side. What he could do with the current landscape of the city with his intimate knowledge of this location’s secret history would be astounding.). ”

Full article.

Fallen Empire, the book

we meet in an italian restaurant on upper street, not because we’re all italians, just because it seems to be the only place open late enough to accommodate for the late arrival of alex and valentina, the couple behind “fallen empire” – each coming from a different part of london.
earlier that day, alex has witnessed a militar-esque parade of religious people in support of the olympics; valentina instead tells stories of the magnitude of daily turnover of the store (or is it just a floor?) of a famous chain where she works, which leaves us in shock and reminds us that london is a place of such extremes and such weirdness as we have never encountered…

fallen empire have “day jobs” to pay the bills, but they are artists, photographers, writers, aspiring psychogeographers, italian expats, emigrants, immigrants, and they have just published their first book. a collection of photographs to recap their story in london so far, the dreams, the clash with the harsh reality, the choice to use a media considered at least anachronistic, film, paper, to perform all steps, photographing, developing, printing, exhibiting, writing, publishing, distributing.

italy is (or perhaps, more precisely, was) a country of “artisans”, or better “craftsmen” (sounds more anglo-germanic). there is/was a pride in the manual ability, often accompanied by the use of a traditional tools, to achieve a result of great quality and value. in an era of digital photography, alex and valentina have chosen to swim against the tide using traditional methods which remind me of that italian tradition of craftsmanship.

as alex arrives, we’ve just finished our dinner and he goes straight for an “amaro”, the closing of italian meals, followed by a beer – an almost lethal combination, until finally valentina arrives and imposes on him half of a pizza.

while they drink and eat after a long hard day at work, we flip the pages back and forth, my wife focusses on the images and asks questions about them while I, OCD driven, have to read the notes of Chapter Two for each photograph, and by jumping back and forth eventually I lose myself and realise that I have been reading the wrong notes, which upsets my OCD. finally I decide to wave OCD for once and just focus on the beautiful images.

despite we’ve lived 7 years in london, this book is for us a trip in unchartered territory, and the experience reminds me of reading Lights out for the territory before moving to London, while living in Germany, and having to imagine all the places described by Iain Sinclair in the book: watching these photograph is a trip in a world that although photographed out there in this metropolis, is an imaginary world, because we are looking at it through alex+valentina’s eyes.

there is so much to discover about each photograph, that we can just scratch the surface, it’s soon time to go, even this italian restaurant must eventually close on this Saturday night and Valentina must go to work at 10am next day.

we take our copies of the book to bring to Italy and Germany as an exotic prey from a safari in this metropolis whose lights burn at night like a vast bonfire.

The book Fallen Empire can be ordered directly from Alex and Valentina at http://fallenempire.co.uk/shop-2

Fallen empire prints can also be ordered, contact them

Fallen empire is also a photography studio: http://fallenempire.co.uk/studio



The book the “reaches the parts of Hackney Iain Sinclair doesn’t reach”

I found this book review on The Londonist:

You might think a book of short stories about redevelopment in Hackney would be a rough and tumble of Olympic gripes. You’d be wrong. As Stewart Home says on the cover quote, Acquired For Development By… “reaches the parts of Hackney Iain Sinclair doesn’t reach”. Instead, we get a literary dolly mixture of alternative takes on the borough, with barely a mention of the Games.

Hackney redevelopment is often in the news agenda. Witness the recent battle over modern tower blocks in Dalston,  and the ongoing encroachment of the City into the edge of the borough. It’s a singularly fascinating issue. Redevelopment can bring affluence and amenities to an area and provide much needed new homes. But the same developments can also have a negative effect on lives, pricing out existing residents and shops. It’s an emotive subject and one which Acquired For Development By… covers from many inventive and unexpected angles.

Three short stories look to a dystopian future. The Battle of Kingsland Road by Paul Case is a bloody burlesque charting the rivalry between a gang of gentrifiers from Stoke Newington and the fashionistas of the Hoxton Liberation Army — both of whom claim Kingsland Road as their own. Ashlee Christoffersen’s 2061, meanwhile, conjures a ghettoised, neo-feudal future for Clapton. Best of the three, in our opinion, is Kit Caless’ The Finest Store, in which the trend towards high street homogeneity reaches a hideous natural conclusion. This one deserves a longer treatment.

The non-fiction writing is also top-notch. Natalie Hardwick’s Alevism and Hackney hangs out with the area’s Alevi population, a cultural group rarely in the spotlight (even our spellchecker claims ignorance). Nell Frizzell’s account of a boating life on the River Lea is also enlightening.

Add in plenty of poetry, haikus, a ghost story and the tale of a man who falls in love with an electricity pylon, and you have a superb collection of original writing about London’s most fascinating borough. This is Hackney without the hackneyed, and a must-read for anyone who cares about the area.

Acquired For Development By…A Hackney Anthology is out now from Influx Press. 

The Olympic Park – review, by Rowan Moore on The Guardian

An article on the Olympic park by Rowan Moore on The Guardian 20/05/2012. There is mention of Iain and an article by Robert McFarlane about Ghost milk is linked.

Test centre news

Dear all,
It has been a busy couple of months at Test Centre HQ, so here is the news.
Tomorrow, Thursday 17th, we begin an 11-part weekly radio slot on Resonance FM. Every Thursday at 7pm we will be listening to and talking about words + sound + spoken word records, with plenty of new recordings and experiments thrown into the mix. Tomorrow will be an introductory show – about us, about spoken word. Listen at 104.4FM or via www.resonancefm.com.
Meanwhile, the second Test Pressing LP has been recorded with Chris Petit and is soon to be edited. As with Iain Sinclair’s album Stone Tape Shuffle we are spoilt for choice with material from Chris’s written and filmed work. Chris and sound artist Dan Scott (whose work many of you know from the Shuffle) will be employing a range of covert recording techniques for the album. For those of you with an SSAE to spare, there will shortly be a newsletter with further information about what to expect. We will be back in touch when the release date becomes clear.

Speaking of Iain’s LP, some copies have made their way to SOUND//SPACE, a pop-up record store and sound art event programme run by our friends at SoundFjord. Please see www.soundfjord.org for more information on when/where to visit.

And finally, within the next few weeks we will be putting together the first Test Centre publication of fiction+poetry. More soon.

Test Centre