Links for the weekend

25th November 2012

As detailed on Thursday, I am posting my links twice a week from now on – on Thursdays and on Sundays. Today’s lead is the excellent news that images from the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts at The British Library are now provided under a Public Domain Mark. This means that – as the library’s Medieval and earlier manuscripts blog explains – ‘within certain restrictions of reasonable use, images from this catalogue are freely available to the public’ (details of the one above are below). Which is exciting, truly enlightened of the library, and a MAJOR shift in the provision of museum images in this country. There are more than 35,000 images in the database from 4,231 manuscripts. Bravo BL – and let’s hope other institutions follow your lead. Across the jump, more links, collected with the help of – and thanks to – among others, @filmdrblog, @emmafgreen, @AlxButterworth and @mia_out (each of whom more than deserves a “follow”).

Spirits Melted into Air: a really terrific project from Tom Armitage creating data-visualisations of actors’ motion during speeches in Royal Shakespeare Company productions – take a look at the short video; the link takes you to a page with further details.

Creating and destroying the universe in twenty-nine nights: Daniel Shulman contributes a wonderful post to The New York Review of Books blog about Kerala’s living traditions of classical Sanskrit drama and the Drama of the Ring, a performance that lasts for 130 hours spread across twenty-nine nights.

• Damien Hirst – jumping the shark: Andrew Rice has a great story at BloombergBusinessWeek about the ‘stunning deflation’ in the market for Hirst’s art…

How Larry Gagosian is like Goldman Sachs: … and this too is a good piece by Felix Salmon about one of Damien Hirst’s main dealers.

Beyond the froth and jargon: Jackie Wullschlager in the Financial Times laments the obscurantism, celebrity and cupidity of today’s art world.

The other shooter – the saddest and most expensive 26 seconds of amateur footage ever made: a compendious and fascinating post by Alex Pasternack at Mother Board about the ‘canonical ur text’ of JFK’s assassination.

• Art in the digital age: courtesy of the Guardian, two overview 4-minute videos – here and here – which are inevitably superficial but still worth a look.

Affleck and the argonauts: further stimulating discussion from David Cairns (and others) about the Ben Affleck movie.

You’re watching it wrong – threats to the image in the digital age: Scott Tobias at A.V. Club on the problems with the motion smoothing and other ‘enhancements’…

With 35mm film dead, will classic movies ever look the same again?: … and there’s more on the dangers of digital from Daniel Eagan in The Atlantic.

Playful IoT futures unconference: a post by Vicky Spengler and a delightful video from BBC R&D about possible media applications of the Internet of Things.

Can Channel 4 rise again?: Stuart Jeffries’ Guardian piece was most definitely the most insightful of the few published to mark the channel’s 30th anniversary.

Why Britain can’t do The Wire: it’s from a month three years ago, but this is a good piece by Peter Jukes from Prospect, I was particularly struck by this paragraph:

Last year [that is, 2008]… Jane Tranter, who until recently was BBC controller of fiction (yes, all BBC fiction), gave a speech about drama at the Royal Television Society awards. She spoke of the role of the executive: “In the modern world of endless media possibilities we can help a drama to succeed by encouraging it to be succinct, to declare its intent, to make its premise clear… ensuring that the heart of the drama is not only true, but is not opaquely or perversely hidden.” I came across her speech as I was reading Stephen Greenblatt’s essay on Hamlet, which demonstrates how Shakespeare added a “wilful obscurity” to the original tragedy to increase its emotional power and depth. I couldn’t help feeling Tranter’s stand was a misunderstanding of what drama is, what a writer does, and what the audience wants.

Imperial Rome writ large and perverse: a reminder of BBC Drama’s glory days in this New York Times review by Thomas Vinciguerra of the DVD box-set of I, Claudius, first broadcast in 1976.

Homeland, time and titles: one of the best things I’ve read this week – Jason Jacobs’ short piece at the Critical Studies in Television blog about the Homeland titles and why they remind him of the work of Adam Curtis.

Berlin in the golden twenties: Spiegel Online is celebrating the 775th anniversary of Berlin with some long read posts about the history of the capital; this one is Mathias Schreiber’s rich discussion of the decade before the Nazi’s rise to power.

Capote’s swan dive: Sam Kashner for Vanity Fair on the later life of Truman Capote and his hardly-begun manuscript Answered Prayers.

One shade of grey – how Nicola Beauman made an unlikely success of Persephone Books: lovely interview by Rachel Cooke for the Guardian with the imaginative founder of a publisher of forgotten titles.

How authors write: Jason  Pontin at MIT Technology Review on the technologies of composition and their impact on words on the, mostly, page.

The e-reader over your shoulder: Dennis Baron post to the OUP blog brings together some of the perceived threats to privacy of reading in the digital world.

The Carp and the Seagull: I think we’re going to have to come back to this one, but let’s start with the trailer for a truly intriguing interactive film created by director Evan Boehm at Nexus Interactive Arts in association with The Creators Project…

Image: detail of a miniature of angelic Powers tearing at the heads of demons; from Convenavole da Prato, Regia Carmina (Address to Robert of Anjou), Italy (Tuscany), c. 1335-c. 1340, Royal MS 6 E. ix, f. 6v., courtesy of The British Library.


  1. Ian says:

    John, interesting though the Peter Jukes piece undoubtedly is, it is actually dated Oct 2009, which makes it 3 years old! However, his observations about the overweening power of executives who mostly have no experience of television production, or understanding of cultural issues, is more relevant than ever.
    I would also recommend David Simon’s website The Audacity of Despair (how apt) for collected thoughts on tv, politics and journalism. Here are his renowned arguments about newspapers in the age of the internet:

    • John Wyver says:

      Gosh, sorry about that – stupid of me – I’ll correct (but leave the mistake visible). And yes, David Simon’s blog is terrific and I need to link to it here more frequently. Many thanks.

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