Mystical and Macabre in the Midnight Archive

Run in conjunction with Brooklyn’s Observatory (whose seminars on H.P. Lovecraft initially attracted my interest), the Midnight Archive includes a bunch of really interesting short videos on weird, sometimes sepulchral, subjects like the occult history of New York (with Mitch Horowitz), Eastern European bone ossuaries and charnel houses (with Paul Koudouaris), the fantastic automata museum and Ronni Thomas’ collection of macabre stereoscopic slides. They’re all great, fun introductions to the kind of stuff going on at the Observatory and well worth checking out. My favourite is the film below called “A. Head B. Body,” a short documentary on neurosurgeon Dr R.J. White’s head transplants which he performed on apes in the 1970s. Highlights of the film include a sequence in which White talks about the extraction and mechanical maintenance outside the skull of an ape’s brain, the head transplant itself and footage of the Soviet’s two-headed dog.  It is a fascinating subject and a film which, needless to say, arouses a chimera of ideas and responses, some more problematic than others. As someone who cares passionately about the proper treatment of animals, for example, I abhor the nonchalance with which Dr White talks about his subjects and the generalized indifference towards the animals’ suffering in these kind of experiments. However, this is deftly exposed and undermined by the filmmaker, Jim Fields, with some well-placed horror-film synth. The second season of the Midnight Archive is out soon, so keep an eye on their site for more quality videos and, if you’re in Brooklyn, maybe drop by the Observatory and see what they’re up to…

 

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~ by schoolboyerrors on June 5, 2012.

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