The Sunday dozen

11th February 2024

John Wyver writes: another dozen articles and elements of audio, mostly about digital stuff and cinema, that I have found intriguing, informative and challenging over the past week.

Time Canvases – Morton Feldman and Abstract Expressionism: composer Samuel Andreyev presents an edition of The Radio 3 Documentary that I found fascinating, about Feldman’s relationships with, especially, painters Philip Guston and Mark Rothko; it’s very timely too, since the glorious Philip Guston retrospective at Tate Modern has just a fortnight to run and tomorrow night at King’s Place Lucy Railton and Joseph Houston perform Feldman’s 80-minute composition for cello and piano, ‘Patterns in a Chromatic Field’.

What Medium’s CEO has learned about technology and journalism: Reed Albergotti for Semaphor on the success of the online publishing platform Medium and possible lessons for the rest of the media industry.

My McLuhan lecture on enshittification: at Cory Doctorow’s Pluralistic site, his recent essential presentation as both video and transcript.

Bluesky opens up: at Techdirt, Mike Masnick on why Bluesky (which along with Facebook) is my and Illuminations’ social media platform of choice is ‘a place that offers a fantastic user experience, which puts you in control more than any other’, and what further innovations users can expect soon.

Tipping point: how new immersive institutions are changing the art world: an informed and thoughtful report by Chris Michaels for The Art Newspaper about immersive digital art venues including Outernet and the Las Vegas Sphere. Are they, the article asks, ‘a threat or an opportunity for traditional galleries and museums?’ And here’s a related recent BBC News report with some remarkable visuals:

Where to begin with Dorothy Arzner: I’m two films in to the BFI’s current season of films by the only woman director in Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’ of the 1930s, and both have been a joy, including Working Girls (1931), above with Judith Wood and Paul Lukas; here, the season’s curator Caroline Cassin introduces the filmmaker and her work.

Cary Grant and Randolph Scott’s Hollywood Story – ‘Our Souls Did Touch’: great Hollywood history writing by David Canfield for Vanity Fair:

From the moment they moved in together nearly a century ago, Cary Grant and Randolph Scott were subjected to speculation about the nature of their relationship. They lived together on and off for about a decade, an arrangement that outlasted multiple marriages between them and paralleled Grant’s evolution into a Hollywood icon. Several men have since recounted queer sexual encounters with the pair, and still more have claimed to witness a romantic love between them. Other people who knew them firmly believed nothing went on beyond a rich friendship. Much is not—and cannot ever be—known about closeted gay life in pre-WWII America. In that messiness, biographers have been all over the map in their judgment of what exactly went on.

A craving for crime: Geoffrey O’Brien is really good for New York Review of Books [£, but limited free access] on David Bordwell’s terrific Perplexing Plots: Popular Storytelling and the Poetics of Murder and on crime fiction in general.

This must be the place – Bunny Lake is Missing: Kelli Weston begins a new series for Reverse Shot about architecture and cinema with thoughts about Otto Preminger’s strange 1965 melodrama.

‘The context Is everything’ – behind the sights and sound of The Zone of Interest: an A.frame feature written by John Boone about the cinematography and sound design of Jonathan Glazer’s dazzling and disturbing feature, which I can only urge you to see – also, here’s a short behind-the-scenes item:

J.G. Ballard – my favourite books: the MIT Press Reader publishes an extract from the new volume of the great writer’s non-fiction, in which in the list of his ten key titles he includes the Los Angeles Yellow Pages, which he ‘stole from the Beverly Hilton Hotel…; it has been a fund of extraordinary material, as surrealist in its way as Dalí’s autobiography.’

A teen’s fatal plunge into the London underworld: this is a completely compelling New Yorker [£, but limited free access] true crime story by Patrick Radden Keeffe which raises disturbing issues about establishment complicity.

And finally…: rightly, there’s been much praise this week for the Grammy appearances by Joni Mitchell, and by Tracey Chapman and Luke Combs duetting on ‘Fast Car’; I can’t embed either in full, but the links will take you to the performances, and instead here’s the official video for ‘Fast Car’ which has had 84 million views since 1988:

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