2/24/2009 3:32:04 PM
Learning to play the violin is part of the program at a drug rehab clinic in Taiwan. At the Taichung Drug Abuse Treatment Center in Taichung, 20 addicts attended a three-hour violin class every week for three months and then gave a “successful concert” at the end of the program, according to the country’s Central News Agency.
“The overwhelming public response to the music therapy program prompted the center to invite the teacher to conduct a second class,” reports Taiwan News, noting that the center’s director believes “that in learning how to play the violin, the drug abusers have built new values in life—and have found the spiritual strength to help them overcome drug addiction.”
(Thanks, Bluegrass Blog.)
Image by TheAlieness GiselaGiardino, licensed under Creative Commons.
Source: Taiwan News
2/24/2009 1:08:06 PM
How do people relate across racial and economic boundaries in post-apartheid South Africa? Cape Town artist Bryan Little designed a temporary public installation that broaches the question, based, he says, on “the names we call each other in the new South Africa.” Culled from the country’s 11 official languages, the names are both epithets and endearments, reflecting the divisions that persist as well as the connections being forged. Kees Jan Husselman used the installation as a backdrop for a poignant short film that gathers South Africans’ views on race, class, and the future of their country:
(Thanks, Wooster Collective.)
2/23/2009 4:18:03 PM
The recent Academy Awards may have exhibited Hollywood’s robust health, but the current state of independent film is not so rosy. Andrew Rodgers reports for Soma (article not available online) that the world of independent film in fact experienced a seismic shift in 2008, as a number of indie distributors either shut down altogether or were folded into larger parent companies.
Rodgers hypothesizes two causes: 1) as independent film distributors became more successful, they neglected indie business practices that spread risk over a variety of small projects and instead invested heavily in larger ones, thus increasing the impact of any individual box-office failure (in other words, they acted like big Hollywood studios); and 2) the economy, of course, as marketing costs rose and ticket-buying audiences declined.
Signs of hope include the emergence of smaller niche distributors such as Oscilloscope Pictures (helmed by the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch) and Chicago’s Music Box Films. Rodgers also envisions a future in which theatrical releases are only one small part of film distribution, as audiences increasingly receive content via online or mobile device downloads.
2/20/2009 2:49:14 PM
Slumdog Millionaire may be the darling of this year’s Golden Globe and Academy Awards, but the film has Carmen Van Kerckhove and Thea Lim wondering how a story that features poverty, violence, abuse, and torture gets sold as the feel-good movie of the year. In Addicted to Race, a podcast for New Demographic, they discuss how race may have impacted public reception to the film (as an added bonus, they also analyze how race plays out in He’s Just Not That Into You). Listen and weigh in.
Sources: New Demographic, Addicted to Race
Image by A y A n, licensed under Creative Commons.
2/18/2009 11:18:34 AM
Certain clichés are nearly inevitable when writing about composer Philip Glass. He’s a master of minimalism. He knows when not to play. Postmodern, repetitive, ambient, genius: Choose your adjectives from the well-worn menu.
In previewing a Napa, California, performance by Glass, Gabe Meline at the North Bay Bohemian avoids the peril of a rote profile by writing about a 2007 Philip Glass concert in a style that takes inspiration directly from the composer. A snippet of Meline’s article:
“Sold-out house hangs. On every word. Small man is dry, is plain. Music is anything but. Plain, yes, on the surface, like glass. Dry, hardly. Like a storm. ‘Metamorphosis.’ Right hand goes tinkle tinkle tinkle tinkle tink, tinkle tinkle tinkle tinkle tink, hush hush hush and pouuuuuuuuuur.”
Image courtesy of Philipglass.com.
2/16/2009 12:14:53 PM
Artist Lawrence Yang responds to the much-maligned Pepsi logo redesign.
(Thanks, Coudal Partners.)
UPDATE (2/24/09): I think PepsiCo may be learning the difference between “rebranding” and “reblanding” the hard way. The New York Times reports that the makers of Tropicana orange juice have decided to scrap their recently redesigned OJ packaging and go back to the original design due to customer complaints. Ouch.
2/16/2009 11:30:06 AM
If your knowledge of Japanese taiko drumming is limited to that sexy Mitsubishi commercial or the soundtrack for the 1993 Wesley Snipes film Rising Sun, you now have an opportunity to watch taiko performed by the masters. Kodo, Japan’s premiere taiko ensemble, is in the midst of their 30-plus-city One Earth tour of North America and recently performed at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.
It’s impossible to convey in words the sheer power of a Kodo concert. Members coax such deep, rich sounds from their drums that they seem to somehow transcend time and space. Something ancient lives in the taiko drum, and Kodo has learned how to wake it.
Since their inception 30 years ago, they have perfected their style of taiko through a highly disciplined practice that can only be described as a way of life. Group members live in a communal setting on Sado Island, where their training includes not only famously rigorous physical exercise (stories of drummers running up mountains, carrying heavy drums on their backs, are common); but also traditional Japanese culture such as tea ceremony, Noh theater, and rice farming.
They now have a beautifully produced promotional video on their website, but an abundance of amateur tributes to Kodo also exists on YouTube:
2/16/2009 11:07:20 AM
Art history text books are often expensive, heavy, and boring tomes that don’t capture the creative and conversational experience of a good trip to a museum. Knowing that, Beth Harris, the Director of Digital Learning at the Museum of Modern Art, and Jeff Zucker, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology, gave art history an upgrade on smARThistory.org.
The free website incorporates videos, podcasts, and a ton of image and descriptive texts, into a “web-book” of art history. Unlike a normal text book, visitors can browse by date, author, style or themes. The podcasts and videos also capture the fun, conversational elements of museum-going, as Harris and Zucker argue and crack jokes with each other while imparting their vast knowledge of art.
, licensed under
2/12/2009 2:06:41 PM
New Yorkers are notoriously provincial, or so the stereotype goes. Here are two charming projects that attempt to explain the devotion:
Jason Polan asked people to name their favorite thing about New York, then did his best to draw each one. Esopus published the results of the collaboration in its latest issue. The sketches capture the city’s quiet, day-to-day movements, celebrating the humble things—from pigeons to a row of discarded chewing gum—that make New York a great place to live.
Fred Argoff publishes a zine called Brooklyn! (not available online). Argoff posesses an encyclopedic knowledge of his favorite borough, and his zine proffers seemingly endless reasons to love it. Recent issues have featured guides to Brooklyn slang, the history of a famous local rollercoaster, and a great collection of aerial photos.
You don’t have to like New York—or even know it—to enjoy the drawings or the zine. The hometown love is infectious. It’ll leave you composing local paeans of your own.
Source: Esopus, Brooklyn! (for more info, write Fred Argoff at Penthouse L, 1170 Ocean Pkwy., Brooklyn, NY 11230-4060)
2/9/2009 11:54:50 AM
If you haven’t seen the delectable landscapes of "foodscape" photographer Carl Warner, why not begin with this one, which the Telegraph describes as, "A boat made of half a marrow, some asparagus spears and a few olives braves a dark, stormy red cabbage ocean."
2/4/2009 11:57:29 AM
I feel like I should hold my breath around Vasco Mourao’s illustrations. His teetering, lopsided buildings look as though they’d be toppled by the slightest breeze. To say they’re shaky, though, doesn’t mean they’re messy: Mourao realizes his labyrinthine structures meticulously, with an almost obsessive attention to detail. It’s partially this tension—between the precariousness of the subjects and the sureness of his hand—that makes the drawings so compelling. Check out more of his work here.
(Thanks, Lost at E Minor.)
2/4/2009 10:32:25 AM
Check out these amazing “Handimals” by multimedia artist and body painter Guido Daniele.
(Thanks, Design You Trust.)
2/3/2009 1:55:04 PM
Undercover photographer JR, who I blogged about last summer, has completed another amazing project, this time in Kibera, Kenya. He installed his distinctive black and white portraits on the rooftops of one of the largest slums in Africa, depicting women who live there. The images protect the structures from water damage, and are large enough to be viewed by Google Earth. He also installed the top portions of the portraits on the sides of the train that passes twice daily through the area, which momentarily align with the bottom portions installed on the hillside to complete the image.
(Thanks Wooster Collective.)
2/3/2009 12:58:55 PM
You could easily mistake Brooklyn-born Andy Friedman for yet another aging hipster with a Tom Waits fixation. But behind the soul patch and porkpie hat there’s a more complicated character. Friedman is a visual artist (he made his name as a New Yorker illustrator), and his initial forays into music were spoken-word riffs on the life of an artist. This experimental and philosophical tone informs Weary Things, his second album. The songs include a long story about art and impermanence, an obituary for a doomed Brooklyn bar, and a wistful tune about a well-adjusted father nostalgic for his past as a drunk loner. Friedman’s serendipitous stories, anchored by a rock-steady Brooklyn-blues backup band, offer an almost clinical examination of the insides of an artist’s skull.
Image by Matt Dellinger, courtesy of City Salvage Records.
Idaho by Andy Friedman & Other Failures: Play Now
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2/2/2009 12:54:32 PM
"When starting a play, I ask myself, 'What's the last play in the world I would ever want to write?' Then I force myself to write it." That is how playwright and director Young Jean Lee describes her process. Since The Appeal debuted at SoHo Rep in 2004, Lee has been considered a leading new voice in American theater. Determined to shake both herself and her audience free from complacency, she states, "I want to create work that disarms audiences with humor and then excoriates them … until they are left disturbed, exhilarated, and without answers."
Church, which premiered in 2007 at P.S. 122 and was recently performed at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, is a provocative exploration of religion that straddles the line between earnestness and irony so delicately as to leave its audience in a constant state of unease. Structured as a religious service complete with preaching, testimonials, singing, and dancing, Church works on its audience like its namesake. Through its cast of liberal Christian characters, the show calls people out on their ego-based, petty worries and challenges them to meaningful action. What makes it all tolerable, and indeed compelling, is Lee's ability to balance piercing social satire with disarming sincerity. At various moments in the show, you may feel uplifted, moved, amused, ashamed, or devastated. But you will never feel complacent.
Image by Ryan Jensen, courtesy of Young Jean Lee Theater Company and Walker Art Center.
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