28 October 02003

Korean Cinema and Carl Dreyer Web Resources

Falconetti in Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, copyrighted materialI've added two more groups of links to the Showroom Cinema's web links directory, which tie in with their film programme. The new links are for Korean Cinema and the work of Carl Theodor Dreyer, the acclaimed Danish director of early silent masterpieces and a few later 'talkies.'

The intention behind the web links is to enrich the experience of people who come to see the more left-field films at the Showroom, and thereby to encourage them back for repeat visits, thus creating a virtuous circle of audience development. By far the most popular links so far have been those for David Lynch — and the No.1 most requested resource is the hints that may (or may not) help you follow the plot of Lynch's Mulholland Drive!

25 October 02003

"Culture Online" first projects announced

The UK Government has announced the first seven projects it will be supporting under the £13 million Culture Online initiative.

The objectives of this initiative include "to open up our cultural institutions to the wider community, to promote lifelong learning and social cohesion [and to] extend the reach of new technologies and build IT skills and support wider and richer engagement and learning by all adults." Although announced by the Arts Minister, Culture Online is also intended to link to Curriculum Online, which is run by the Department for Education and Skills.

It will be interesting to see how well these projects fulfil the criteria of good culture and/or good learning.

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22 October 02003

More on the Future of Music

Following my earlier posting about projecting the experience of music into the future, there's an article by Adam Sweeting in the current RSA Journal with projections for how recorded music will be bought and sold [link to RSA Journal current issue page | download article directly].

I think some of the arguments in the article are guilty of being dazzled by technological determinism. The most interesting parts relate to new organisational structures and practices.

Continue reading "More on the Future of Music"

19 October 02003

Boyle Family - London Sound Study

Of all the shows on offer in East London's just-completed F–EST weekend, I was most excited by the prospect of a sonic art piece by the Boyle Family.

The Boyle Family are best known for their forty-year (and counting) series of three dimensional relief sculptures of squares of ground, chosen randomly. These include concrete pavement (as on show today, including manhole cover), rippled sand, and arctic tundra. The whole basis of the work is how closely it resembles the real thing as a 1:1 representation. So it was a bit of surprise — and not a very happy one — that their presentation of their London Sound Study (79 one-minute recordings made at random locations in the city) was played back using a small CD 'boom box' in the corner of their project space.

I found a recent interview with Sebastian Boyle in which he refers to the Sound Study, but sadly gives no insight into the Boyle's motivation or goals for moving into this new dimension. Anyone know any more?

John Cage Uncaged - January 2004

I picked up details of this major three-day weekend festival of Cage-related events around the Barbican.

Over ten concerts (some of them free), four feature-length films — plus a 3'50" film version of Wagner's Ring Cycle — and a string of talks. As well as Cage, there are performances of pieces by Satie, Varèse, LaMonte Young and Morton Feldman. Performers include Rolf Hind and Joanna MacGregor.

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17 October 02003

Life After Fire: Werner Herzog

I've made a couple of additions to the Werner Herzog weblinks that I originally collected and curated a couple of years ago for the Showroom cinema. [Update, 02005: I'm no longer maintaining the Showroom weblinks site, but have transferred and updated all the links in my Werner Herzog Archive on Furl.]

You might not want to live in Herzog's world all the time, but you shouldn't forget it's there, and you should visit regularly. I've also added minor postscripts to the notes I wrote about Herzog in 2001, as well as a few new entries to my list of favourite Herzog quotes.

15 October 02003

LeTTOL wins National Training Award

Congratulations to the Learning to Teach On-Line team for winning a National Training Award last night for the LeTTOL course.

I believe this may be the first e-learning course to be awarded an NTA.

Having done the course myself in 1998, and worked with some of its main architects since before then, the LeTTOL team commissioned me to write their application for the award, and I also met the NTA "inspectors" when they came to visit. The training establishment is still not used to the kind of re-thinking that e-learning often catalyses — especially when, as in the case of LeTTOL, the main driver is not simply cutting costs.

13 October 02003

Age and Unrest

In an article in Prospect Magazine, David Willets MP (yes, I know!) develops a speculative argument from the stunning statistic that, of the 25 countries with the youngest populations, 16 have experienced major civil conflict since 1995. (By comparison, among countries with the oldest populations, only Croatia has been involved in conflict in the last 15 years.)

The median age in Liberia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan is between 15 and 19. I assume Willets wouldn't ignore the very different geopolitical factors — often external — that have catalysed unrest in these countries, but he implies that a kind of Lord of the Flies effect can kick in when the proportion of teenagers to adults exceeds a certain 'tipping point'.

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12 October 02003

#2 My Neil Young Archives

The second of my articles about Neil Young from thirteen-or-so years ago is now available on this site, again in slightly revised form. See my earlier posting for details of the history of these articles.

11 October 02003

Eno on the Long Now

For one week from the time of this posting you can hear an interview with Brian Eno in which he discusses the Long Now Foundation (as discussed here a few days ago), and his exploration of bell sounds as 'demonstrations' for the 10,000 year clock project. (Don't be put off if the radio stream starts with an arts review programme: the Eno interview starts about 27 minutes in and runs for 30 minutes.)

Eno again manages to make the ideas provocative and moving. With luck the interview should be archived after 17 October on the BBC Radio 3 Mixing It page — try clicking on the pull-down menu near the bottom of the page (at the time of writing).

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10 October 02003

Audio and Image: running commentaries on films

The current (Nov 2003) issue of Word magazine includes a feature that rates some of the best and worst DVD commentaries — where those involved in making the film add their views on films, scene by scene. Thus apparently John Boorman reflects candidly on some of his mistakes in making Zardoz, while This is Spinal Tap has a spoof commentary with the characters getting their own back on the director who made such an unflattering portrait of them.

I'm interested in these commentaries because they represent another category in my list of 'para-texts' that aim to augment artworks, including indexes of novels and multimedia about paintings.

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7 October 02003

Longplayer: 1,000 Year Composition

The Dome from across the Thames This picture was taken last Saturday, when I visited the Trinity Buoy Wharf lighthouse to see Jem Finer's Longplayer. Since then, the Longplayer web site has been overhauled, and the message about the funding of the project prompts me to explain why I think you should visit and/or donate funds, as I have done.

I first heard the idea of making music for 'the big here and the long now' from — you guessed it — Brian Eno. That phrase is intended to conjure a way of seeing ourselves beyond the confines of parochial concerns and short attention spans. Some of Eno's chums decided to do something about this, since cultural re-engineering is very much the bag of people like Stewart Brand and Bruce Sterling (you can just imagine the dinner party where this was conceived, can't you?), and they established the Long Now Foundation. You can spot a citizen of the Long Now by the way they write their dates, with a leading 0 on the year — as in 02003 — to remind us that the two millenia in what people like Julian Cope refer to as the 'Common Era' are just the blink of an eye in the big picture. I'd do this myself on this site if I could only work out how to hack the Movable Type code to do it! [Update: I eventually figured that out.]

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6 October 02003

Making and Listening to Music in the Future

Listening to a two-and-a-half-year-old BBC radio programme about the future of music, I was struck by two things. Firstly, how slowly predictions about the future of music are either evolving or being realised — because this programme could have been made anytime in the last five or six years. Secondly, how little is being said about the experience of making and listening music.

In a perverse turnaround, the 'bad old' record labels now have lots of people focusing attention on what they do, and getting hung up about how we obtain and pay for music, when hardly anyone really bothered or cared before. Meanwhile what's happening to music itself is more subtle, but much more interesting.

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