Ken Hollings

Ken Hollings is a writer, broadcaster, and cultural theorist based in London and the author of Welcome to Mars and The Bright Labyrinth (both published by Strange Attractor Press). He teaches at the Royal College of Art.

  • Inferno, Volume 1

    Inferno, Volume 1

    The Trash Project

    Ken Hollings

    A journey deep into the heart of the trash experience: tales from the underground and exploitation movie scene in America during the 1960s.

    Trash has always served me well—over the years it has become the outer form and material expression of my dreams: of tomorrow, of life in space, of the blissful alienation from this world that I have always craved.—from Inferno

    So begins the first part of this personal inquiry into the world of trash by writer and theorist Ken Hollings. Why do we find ourselves so attracted to the cheap and vulgar, the discarded, the misshapen and the abject? What do we really mean when we say that something is “so bad it's good,” and what finally does it say about us? Part personal confession and part historical roadmap of tales from the underground and exploitation movie scene in America during the 1960s, Inferno takes the reader on a journey deep into the heart of the trash experience.

    With Inferno, Hollings offers a complex and intricate timeline of connections, coincidences, and resonances that have mostly gone unnoticed. He traces the transmission of “the Purple Death,” a deadly and exotic virus first depicted in an old episode of a Flash Gordon movie serial, through the films of Jack Smith, Andy Warhol, and Kenneth Anger and into the output of such exploitation pioneers as Ray Dennis Steckler, Hershel Gordon Lewis, and Russ Meyer. Hollings also turns his idiosyncratic gaze upon key aspects of teenage culture during the 1960s, including hot rods, “Rat Fink,” surfers, bikers, and beach parties, uncovering a secretive and hidden universe of masks, fake identities, and secret desires. Even Dante would think twice about taking this trip into Hell.

    • Paperback $19.95 £14.99
  • The Space Oracle

    The Space Oracle

    Ken Hollings

    A radical retelling of our relationship with the cosmos, reinventing the history of astronomy as a new form of astrological calendar.

    Astronomy is another form of cinema. Time is fragmented and extended. Matter becomes light in motion. The camera remains fixed, looking outwards into the darkness, while the earth moves beneath our feet.

    A carefully constructed text in sixty numbered sections, The Space Oracle reinvents the history of astronomy as a new form of astrological calendar. This radical retelling of our relationship with the cosmos reaches back to places and times when astronomers were treated as artists or priests, to when popes took part in astral rites and the common people feared eclipses and comets as portents of disaster.

    Panoramic and encyclopedic in its scope, The Space Oracle brings astronauts and spies, engineers and soldiers, goddesses and satellites into alignment with speculative insights and everyday observations. The universe, Hollings argues, is a work in progress—enjoy it.

    Ken Hollings is a writer, broadcaster, and cultural theorist based in London. He has given readings, lectures and presentations of his work at the Royal Institution, the Berlin Akademie der Künste, the Venice Biennale, Tate Britain and the Royal College of Art, where he currently teaches. His previous two books, Welcome to Mars and The Bright Labyrinth are published by Strange Attractor Press.

    “Ken Hollings is a master at connecting the dots between avant-garde art history, outré culture and weird science.” —David Pescovitz, Boing Boing

    • Paperback $17.95 £13.99
  • Bright Labyrinth

    Bright Labyrinth

    Sex, Death and Design in the Digital Regime

    Ken Hollings

    A subtle and sometimes disturbing account of how technology has impacted upon human culture.

    The Bright Labyrinth is a subtle and sometimes disturbing account of how technology has impacted upon human culture. Offering a theoretical map for the future development of communication design, The Bright Labyrinth draws upon architecture and film, avant-garde art and critical theory, military strategy and machine intelligence to guide the reader through the Digital Regime that has shaped a century of human creativity and thought.

    Inside The Bright Labyrinth you will encounter Edison's talking dolls, the dream archi- tecture of world fairs and movie sets, Japanese comic books, early super- computers, sex researchers, zombies, assassins, monsters and ghosts.

    Ken Hollings reveals how our relationship with media and machines is far more dynamic, unstable and stimulating than we have previously allowed ourselves to believe. The Digital Regime throws long shadows over our past; and it is only by looking deeply into these shadows that we can begin to understand the rapid changes taking place all around us.

    • Paperback $20.95 £16.99
  • Welcome to Mars

    Welcome to Mars

    Fantasies of Science in the American Century 1947–1959

    Ken Hollings

    An iconoclastic, penetrating and darkly humorous history of America from 1947-1959, the decade in which the nation defined its image and created the blueprint for the world we live in today.

    Welcome to Mars is an iconoclastic, penetrating and darkly humorous history of America from 1947-1959, the decade in which the nation defined its image and created the blueprint for the world we live in today.

    Welcome To Mars draws upon newspaper accounts, advertising campaigns, declassified government archives, old movies and newsreels from this unique period when the future first took on a tangible presence. Ken Hollings depicts an unsettled time in which the layout of Suburbia reflected atomic bombing strategies, bankers and movie stars experimented with hallucinogens, brainwashing was just another form of interior decoration and strange lights in the sky were taken very seriously indeed.

    Seamlessly interweaving developments in technology, popular culture, politics, changes in home life, the development of the self, collective fantasy and overwhelming paranoia, Hollings has produced an alarming and often hysterically funny vision of the past that would ultimately govern all of our futures.

    • Paperback $13.95 £10.99