I think the BBC’s role in bringing to people’s attention the great things being done by arts organisations across the country and artists is phenomenally important… Do I think the BBC should take the arts seriously? Of course. But I am not there yet and I am not commenting on that stuff. The arts and culture matter to me hugely. I am not at the BBC yet, but, you know, they matter to me enormously.
Quote of the week, I think, from Charlotte Higgins’ Guardian interview with BBC Director General-designate Tony Hall. Read and remember, for the debate about the arts and the BBC that will come – and not before time. On, then, to other links from the past week, with h/ts for recommendations to @ScottEsposito, @cinetourist, @The7thArt, @LauinLA, @filmstudiesff and @KeyframeDaily.
• Donald Richie: a touching tribute by David Bordwell.
• Jonathan Rosenbaum, present: for Fandor, to mark Jonathan Rosenbaum’s 70th birthday, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and Kevin B. Lee visited the critic, drank tea and talked – the resulting video is a delight.
• There was a third man: a wonderful post by Luke McKernan about the Vienna locations of the 1949 film, but also about Rembrandt and T.S. Eliot and Catholicism and more.
• A summer with Stanley Kubrick: Tim Deegan at Unframed, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art blog, has personal recollections of the director’s legendary attention to detail.
• The Alexei German I knew: Ian Christie at OpenDemocracy.net recalls his encounters with the Russian director who died a fortnight ago; German was the director of My Friend Ivan Lapshin (1984, a trailer for which is below), and Christie describes him as an ‘uncompromising filmmaker of textures and tones rather than narratives, whom many Russians will mourn as their greatest modern master’. For more on the filmmaker see Anton Dolin’s 2012 essay for Film Comment, The strange case of Russian maverick Aleksei German.
• Errol Morris and the mask of fatality: Julie Cline at the Los Angeles Review of Books speaks with the writer and filmmaker about making films and writing.
• Signal to noise: reflections on documentary sound woven in a Moving Image Source interview by Max Goldberg with Ernst Karel at the Harvard Sensory Ethnography Lab.
• How the Oscars proved Hollywood is killing the VFX industry and The visual effects community sees red in the wake of Oscar protest and on-air snub: Lauren Davis for io9 and Drew McWeeny for HitFix on the troubles in the visual effects world.
• Assembling the billing block: did you see Ben Schott’s delightful infographic for last week’s ‘Sunday Review’ in The New York Times about the legal and contractual shenanigans involved in the formal billing of an imaginary movie?
• Chekhov in data-entry hell: Francine Prose at The New York Review of Books makes the case for HBO’s Enlightened, which has just finished up its second season and is far from sure of a third; also Denise Martin interviews the show’s creator Mike White for Vulture.
• BBC Television Centre – farewell to the dream factory: Brian Viner in the Independent says goodbye to White City.
• The stars are out tonight, with David Bowie and Tilda Swinton, directed by Floria Sigismondi: just because…
• Heaven on earth: Peter Schjeldahl at The New Yorker writes (beautifully) about a show of Piero della Francesca at the Frick Collection and about the epiphany of seeing the artist’s Madonna del Parto in the Italian village of Monterchi, describing
… the picture’s held-breath tenderness and its air of sharing a deeply felt, urgent mystery. In another age, the experience might have made me consider entering a monastery. Instead, I became an art critic.
• The noble dreams of Piero:… and this is Walter Kaiser on the same exhibition for The New York Review of Books.
• BMW Tate Live – Joan Jonas: back in 1987 I showed a half-hour video performance by the American artist in my Channel 4 series Ghosts in the Machine; now Tate and BMW stream her latest work live, upload it to YouTube – and I can effortlessly embed it here:
• The dead woman who brought down the mayor: Past Imperfect‘s Rachel Shteir has a terrific tale of murder and political scandal in the New York of 1931.
• The Dan Gunn interview: a fascinating discussion hosted by Rhys Tranter at The Quarterly Conversation with one of the editors of Samuel Beckett’s letters, which are being published by Cambridge University Press.
• Diary: Katherine Acrement writes about fan fiction in the London Review of Books, no less.
• Joe, Jerry and Bomber Blair: … and while we’re with the new issue of the LRB, do read Owen Hatherley on Jonathan Meades.
• Hello World! Processing: below is an embed of the first part of an online documentary about creative coding that describes itself as exploring
… the role that ideas such as process, experimentation and algorithm play in this creative field featuring artists, designers and code enthusiasts. Based on a series of interviews to some of the leading figures of the Processing open programming platform community, the documentary is built itself as a continuous stream of archived references, projects and concepts shared by this community.
For background, see this post by Regine at we make money not art.
• Big Data, Who Owns the Future? and To Save Everything, Click Here: for the Financial Times, James Harkin reviews three studies of ‘big data’.
• Giving viewers what they want: David Carr in The New York Times on the part played by big data in the commissioning of Netflix’s House of Cards.
• The curse of ‘you may also like’: Evgeny Morozov for Slate offers a cautionary word about big data and creativity:
[If] art is selected based on how likely it is to match the success of previous selections and if it’s produced based on immediate feedback from the audience, sales might increase, but will anything truly radical emerge out of all this salesmanship?
• The evolution of mom dancing: … and finally, blame this one on my colleague Linda Zuck – although it is pretty extraordinary (and already has more than 13 million YouTube hits) – ladies and gentlemen, Jimmy Fallon and (it really is) the First Lady!