Sunday links

14th March 2020

John Wyver writes: The prospect of us all spending yet more time in front of screens away from social situations has prompted me to return to the blog and to offer a new selection of links to online offerings of different sorts that have caught my eye.

• The Digital Concert Hall now free for everyone: first up, a great initiative from the Berlin Philharmonic, which is offering 30 days free access to its virtual (and exceptional) Digital Concert Hall; the latest date for redeeming an access code for the offer is Tuesday 31 March. The website is offering over 600 orchestral concerts from the Berliner Philharmoniker in the Digital Concert Hall from more than ten years, including 15 concerts with the orchestra’s new chief conductor Kirill Petrenko.

Coronavirus concerts – how the music world contends with the pandemic: … and this is Alex Ross’ piece for The New Yorker about an audience-free Berlin Philharmonic online concert this week, together with reflections on other such musical events:

The most instructive thing about the Berlin concert was how it dramatized what technology cannot supply: the temporary bond of purposeful community that forms under the spell of live music. The final silence was a vacuum crying to be filled.

Met Opera to offer up ‘nightly Met Opera streams’: in a similar vein, here’s the OperaWire report about the Met’s plans to present free online encores of past performances from its Live in HD series. As the reports notes, ‘”We’d like to provide some grand opera solace to opera lovers in these extraordinarily difficult times,” said Met General Manager Peter Gelb in a press release.’ To start, on Monday 16, Bizet’s Carmen at 19.30 EST, which these days is 23.30 in the UK (I think).

Closed by coronavirus, nimble theaters work to roll out recorded performances: Ashley Lee for the LA Times on the creative ways US theatre companies are planning to use streaming to get their shows seen.

The TV-studio audiences goes missing in the coronavirus crisis: a fascinating short piece by Troy Patterson for The New Yorker about the disappearance of audiences from the taping of US talk shows and games shows:

‘The biggest story since 9/11’ – how Covid-19 is rewriting the rules of media: Joe Pompeo for Vanity Fair with a very good complement to the story above.

It’s a necessary thing, with an eeriness that is actual and conceptual and metaphorical: a dispersal of a sort of community, a symptom of a new approach to public space. The absence of a live audience is a presence in itself.

Wash your hands: the best piece I’ve read about the science of the virus, contributed to the LRB on 6 March by Rupert Beale, a Clinician Scientist Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute:

Humanity will get through this fine, but be prepared for major changes in how we function and behave as a society until either we’re through the pandemic or we have mass immunisation available.

When Hollywood ruminates – calm after The Mortal Storm: yet another fascinating essay by David Bordwell from his blog, in this case about innovative staging strategies in classic features of the 1940s.

Noir city international: a terrific Film Comment contribution by Imogen Sara Smith about international urban noir films featured in the Film Noir Foundation’s flagship festival held recently in San Francisco.

Overdrawn: below is a video essay made by the incomparable Catherine Grant (@filmstudiesff) for the cancelled ‘Screen Star Makeup: Beauty, Stardom Masquerade symposium that was to have been held yesterday at Queen Mary, University of London. As Catherine notes, it’s ‘a study of mise en scene and performance in every closer-shot costume and make up set up centering on Joan Crawford’ in Nicholas Ray’s 1954 Johnny Guitar:

Dark Waters: How Todd Haynes and Ed Lachman created a masterful nightmare: I’m a big fan of the recently-released Dark Waters, and this is a very good IndieWire piece by Chris O’Fait about the director and cinematographer (especially good on colour and lenses), reflecting the influence on their work of classic thrillers from the 1970s:

In creating [the film’s] sense of paranoia, big touchstones for Haynes included three 1970s films: Klute, The Parallax View, and All the President’s Men, all of which cinematographer Gordon Willis shot for director Alan Pakula.

Salesman – for God and company: Michael Chaiken for Criterion on the company’s recent release of the Maysles’ 1969 verité classic.

Confronting the swarm – streaming platform strategy in an uncertain age: Jake Pitre on the strategies of curation, gatekeeping and tastemaking at The Criterion Channel (if only we could access it in the UK) and MUBI in building brand loyalty for these niche streaming services.

Stone and Sky – a new work by the great Víctor Erice: Geoff Brown writes expertly on a a two-screen video installation that lasts around 17 minutes by the great Spanish director, currently on view at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Bilbao,

Step in time – how to save the legacy of dance from being lost in history: Lyndsey Winship for Guardian is really interesting on the problems of preserving dance for future generations.

Unevenly distributed: for the exceptional Unthinking Photography blog from The Photographers’ Gallery, Florian A Schmidt considers the outsourced online image labelling practices in the service of producing fully autonomous vehicles.

• Baroque stars – the birth of a style in 17th-century Rome: not much chance at present of visiting ‘Caravaggio–Bernini: Baroque in Rome’ (the website has some smart video) at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, but here’s a very good review by Breeze Barrington for Apollo.

• Landscapes of state industry: a rich online exhibition from the Museum of Rural Life at the University of Reading featuring examples of the ways in which rural landscapes have been transformed by, among others, the Central Electricity Generating Board, the many power stations built following the 1957 Electricity Act, and the Trimpley Reservoir in Worcestershire.

For the lulz: a sobering piece by Hari Kunzru for New York Review of Books responding to Dale Beran’s study of the alt-right online, It Came from Something Awful: How a Toxic Troll Army Accidentally Memed Donald Trump Into Office.

Cough and sneezes spread diseases – from 1947, with added knife-throwing, courtesy of British Pathé:

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