Saturday, February 26, 2011

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Post to Monitor 02/24/2011 (a.m.)

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

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Friday, February 18, 2011

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Friday, February 04, 2011

Post to Monitor 02/04/2011 (a.m.)

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

1940s AURORATONE PsychoTherapy

(Restored in HD!) "This is an AURORATONE produced and created by British filmmaker Cecil Stokes for use in the treatment of mental disorders - definitely a kinder, gentler alternative to the electric-shock treatments which were then in vogue! The soundtrack features Bing Crosby and organist Eddie Dunstedter. An online biography of Bing Crosby notes that he was a shareholder in Mr. Stokes' "Auroratone Foundation." It also notes that Mr. Crosby made exclusive recordings of "Ave Maria," "Home on the Range," and "When You Wish Upon a Star," for Auroratones, but there's no mention of this film's soundtrack "When the Organ Played Oh Promise Me." It's possible that Mr. Stokes used a recording that Bing and Mr. Dunstedter had made several years earlier.

This 16mm film print belonged to my grandfather, Gustave Martens of College Point, NY. He probably acquired it during the time he worked as a film projectionist at various psychiatric institutions in the New York-New Jersey area during the 1940's. Only once, during the 1960s, did Grandpa show the movie to us kids, and as you would expect we didn't know what to make of it. We asked him "What's this weird stuff, Grandpa?" and he himself wasn't sure!

In 2007 I put on YouTube an inferior, low-resolution video of the film and, still not knowing what it was, gave it the best descriptive title I could think of: "Psychedelic Bing Crosby Video". Many of the comments it received were along the lines of "What was Bing smoking in that pipe?" Only recently was I informed by Crosby afficiandoes that this was an "Auroratone."

Regarding the films themselves, I've found scant information other than a few mentions in psychiatric journals from the period. Several websites devoted to experimental film do mention Mr. Stokes and briefly describe his work and technique, but none of them offer any visual examples at all. One website promises to teach you how to create "The Auroratone Effect" for a fee - but its preview shows a modern re-creation only. It appears that my YouTube clip is currently the only example of an original Cecil Stokes Auroratone that exists on the internet anywhere.

If you've seen the earlier version, you'll no doubt find this restored version to be much richer in color, and more crystalline in detail (literally - Mr. Stokes created these films using crystallized chemicals and polarized light). Unfortunately, Der Bingle's song remains as corny as ever.

It's debatable if films like this really worked as visual therapy, but you need not be afflicted with mental disorders to appreciate them today. Enjoy!

Robert W. Martens
April, 2010"

Post to Monitor 02/03/2011 (a.m.)

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Wednesday, February 02, 2011