Sunday links

Sunday links

This weekend’s The New York Times Magazine has an essay by Heather Havrilesky, ‘Clues that lead to more clues that add up to nothing’, lamenting the narrative plotting of post-Lost television drama. ‘The empty thrills, the ticking clock that never runs down, the pointless twists and turns that are neither motivated nor resolved’ are in danger, runs the rather shrill argument, of killing American television’s new ‘golden age’ (The Wire, The Sopranos, Mad Men et al). For a more nuanced discussion, take a look at Lost in a great story: evaluation in narrative television (and television studies), scholar Jason Mittell’s October 2007 blog post at Just TV from with his appreciation of, among other qualities, the show’s ‘twists and turns’: ‘For me and many other viewers, the ability to be pleasantly surprised by a television series violating conventions and expectations keeps us tuning in and anticipating future twists, offering a wealth of pleasures within both the show’s story content and storytelling form.’ Mittell has just posted the text of a keynote that’s also directly relevant, The qualities of complexity: aesthetic evaluation in contemporary television. It’s an essential read – and see also posts at InMediaRes about Popular seriality (one of them Mittell’s). Across the break, further links to good stuff.


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Sunday links

Sunday links

This is not the first time we have led a selection of links with one of Adam Curtis’ essential posts at The Medium and the Message – and I trust it won’t be the last. His latest The Bitch, the Stud and the Prawn is subtitled The rise of geezer capitalism in Britain, and it continues his analysis of the narrowing of political possibilities in post-war Britain. It is also a wonderfully colourful and profoundly depressing tale of tycoon George Walker, Guy Hands, bankers and boxers, film finance, tax dodges and a mutant prawn boxing movie. The post also features some fabulous extracts from BBC programmes – here, if nowhere else, is the BBC archive being productively plundered in the most imaginative and intelligent way. Below, a handful of other links to stuff that I’ve found interesting over the past week (and which remains a work in progress until I add some more later on).
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Sunday links

Sunday links

Highlight of the weekend was definitely Thomas Ostermeier’s Hamlet at the Barbican. Today’s matinee performance was the last (Wednesday’s show was cancelled because of strike action), so any recommendations of reviews will only give you a sense of what you missed. Staged across nearly three hours with no interval, acted by a cast of six (one actor plays both Gertrude and Ophelia), and set on a large square of dark, damp earth, it is certainly one-of-a-kind: bonkers, brilliant at times, silly, self-indulgent, extraordinarily physical, intense and thrilling, vibrantly theatrical and anti-theatrical, but also at moments all-too-obvious. For more, read the Guardian‘s Lyn Gardner, Kate Kellaway for the ObserverDaisy Bowie-Sell for the Telegraph. Then, go below for other links to interesting stuff from the past week.
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Sunday links

Sunday links

Looking for a Christmas present? For the start of Advent, here are links to my five favourite 2011 exhibition catalogues: Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement by Richard Kendall and Jill DeVonyar, from the wonderful Royal Academy of Arts show (above, until 12 December); Eyewitness: Hungarian Photography in the Twentieth Century by Peter Baki and Colin Ford, also for a wonderful RA show this autumn; de Kooning: a Retrospective by John Elderfield, accompanying the landmark MoMA show (until 9 January); Pacific Standard Time: Los Angeles Art 1945-1980, edited by Rebecca Peabody, Richard Perchuk and Glenn Phillips, which provides the background to all the shows on at present in L. A. and the surrounding area; and Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970-1990 edited by Glenn Adamson and Jane Pavitt for the current V&A show (until 15 January). Across the jump, links to articles that I’ve found interesting across the past week.
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Sunday links

Sunday links

Friday in Denver, Colorado saw the opening of the long-awaited Clyfford Still Museum. The reclusive Abstract Expressionist painter, who died in 1980, stipulated in his will that his personal collection (which was far and away the bulk of his work) should be given to the American city prepared to build him a museum. The fascinating tale is told well by Leah Ollman for The Los Angeles Times in Clyfford Still’s will is executed with Denver museum, while in Abstract expressionist made whole Carol Kino files from Denver for The New York Times. The Denver Post has a terrific slide-show from Friday with images (including the one above) by Andy Cross. [Update: Christopher Knight in The Los Angeles Times is also hugely enthusiastic: 'a graceful small museum, reserved for experiencing one great artist's art.' Inside the new Clyfford Still Museum is a brief New York Times slide-show narrated by the artist's daughter Sandra Still Campbell.] Below, the usual Sunday links to other stuff that interested me during the week.
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Sunday links

Sunday links

Among a host of good writers who blog regularly about cinema (David Bordwell and Jonathan Rosenbaum are two obvious names) The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody is one of my favourites. And this week he posted a short piece, Redeeming criticism, that we would all do well to recall whenever we write about any cultural object. Prompted by the responses in the States to Clint Eastwood’s new movie J. Edgar (above) and by a great Los Angeles Review of Books essay by Jonathan Lethem, My disappointment critic (read this too), Brody teases out what criticism should do: ‘Criticism is, at best, contacting the spark, the idea, the inspiration, the creative moment, the inner life from which the work arises, followed by working outward to see how the work became that which it is—in effect, re-living the artist’s creative process.’ Below, more links to pieces that caught my eye this week.
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Sunday links

Sunday links

Perhaps you have all already seen Adam Curtis’ latest post, Dream on (it’s been up a week), but if not you have to take a look now. It tells what he describes as ‘an odd, romantic, but ultimately very sad story… [about] a pessimistic belief that all one’s dreams for a better future are just illusions – and [suggests] how that pessimism then came to paralyse the left in Britain throughout the eighties and nineties.’ The cast list for this saga of the sixties is extraordinary: activist and agent Clive Goodwin, painter (and Goodwin’s wife) Pauline Boty (above), filmmaker Ken Russell, philosopher Herbert Marcuse, writer Nigel Kneale, radical Michael X and the nineteenth century utopian writer Charles Fourier. Adam Curtis illustrates his story with some glorious archive extracts – and if you surrender youself to its twists and turns, his story should make you both sad and angry. Across the jump, more links to good stuff…
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Sunday links

Sunday links

At his Confessions of an aca-fan web site, Henry Jenkins discusses a richly illustrated and fascinating post from the USC Civic Paths research group, The visual culture of the occupation: month one and counting. The stand-off at St Paul’s makes this study of the images created by #Occupy movement all the more pertinent. ‘The Civic Paths team has been studying alternative forms of activism,’ Jenkins explains, ‘especially those which involve the intersection between popular culture, participatory culture, and youth, for more than two years.’ And he adds his own gloss to the visual analysis: ‘Occupy is not so much a movement, at least not as we’ve traditionally defined political movements, as it is a provocation. If the mainstream media has difficulty identifying its goals, it may be because its central goal is to provoke discussion, to get people talking about things which our political leadership has refused to address for several decades now.’ Below, the usual Sunday miscellany of further links to good stuff.
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Sunday links

Sunday links

The influential media theorist Friedrich Kittler (above, in 2010) died on 18 October. Stuart Jeffries last week contributed an erudite and elegant obituary in the Guardian (‘arguably, Pink Floyd meant more to him than Foucault’). Mubi.com has a round-up of reactions to his death. For anyone who wants something a little more testing, there is a very good online interview conducted by John Armitage, published in 2006 in Theory, Culture & Society (and available as a free .pdf). Kittler’s Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, published in an English translation in 1999, is a comparatively readable and engaging history of the changes brought about technological change at the end of the nineteenth century. I saw him speak once, in Berlin, and it was a memorable presentation – I was sorry to learn of his death. Below, further links from the past week, some of which are a little happier.
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Sunday links

Sunday links

Much of the interesting reading of the week has been concerned with archives past and future. I’ve already blogged Tony Ageh’s excellent speech about the BBC’s archive ideas, and on the BBC Internet Blog Jake Berger has just posted an exemplary round-up of recent items about the Digital Public Space initiative. In a rather different context, reports from the recent Pordenone silent film festival in Italy have started appearing online, each one prompting envy among those of us who (again) failed actually to attend: Caylin Smith’s New light cast on The White Shadow explores the recently discovered fragments of Graham Cutts’ 1924 melodrama, while Luke McKernan’s diary at The Bioscope has wonderfully detailed posts for Day One and Day Two (including Clara Bow in Mantrap (1924), above), with futher dispatches promised. Across the jump, more links to good stuff.
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