Here’s the idea:
Television is a one-to-many technology, where one entity controls the flow of content out to many individuals. Companies use the 30 second spot, or short television commercial, to entice consumers to the products or services they offer for sale. “30 second spot” takes this icon of controlled corporate communication and flips it on its head.
In this ART(inter)ACTION version, artists, especially those who have little access or few outlets for the distribution of their work, are invited to talk about an artwork and why it is of value.
“30 second spot” acknowledges the current explosion of media channels, where audiences are splintering off in dozens of directions, watching TV shows on iPods, watching movies on videogame players and listening to radio on the Internet. In this case, the local art gallery becomes an additional media channel, advertising artworks in an open and eclectic format.
More here. [Thanks to Zeina Assaf.]
Niall Ferguson favorably reviews Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (while taking swipes at Jeffrey Sachs in the process). In the NYT:
Now comes another white man, ready to shoulder the burden of saving Africa: Paul Collier, the director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University. A former World Bank economist like Easterly, Collier shares his onetime colleague’s aversion to what he calls the “headless heart” syndrome — meaning the tendency of people in rich countries to approach Africa’s problems with more emotion than empirical evidence. It was Collier who pointed out that nearly two-fifths of Africa’s private wealth is held abroad, much of it in Swiss bank accounts. It was he who exposed the British charity Christian Aid for commissioning dubious Marxist research on free trade. And it was he who pioneered a new and unsentimental approach to the study of civil wars, demonstrating that most rebels in sub-Saharan Africa are not heroic freedom fighters but self-interested brigands.
Collier is certainly much closer to Easterly on the question of aid. (He cites a recent survey that tracked money released by the Chad Ministry of Finance to help rural health clinics. Less than 1 percent reached the clinics.) Yet “The Bottom Billion” proves to be a far more constructive work than “The White Man’s Burden.” Like Sachs, Collier believes rich countries really can do something for Africa. But it involves more — much more — than handouts.
Dani Rodrik notes, ‘Ferguson himself has long been a proponent of benign imperialism, so it is not difficult to see why he likes this particular prescription. [Rodrik cites Fergueson, “Reflecting on the tendency of postconflict countries to lapse back into civil war, he [Collier] argues trenchantly for occasional foreign interventions in failed states. “] But it is hard not to keep in mind “the ruins of Operation Iraqi Freedom” when thinking about the efficacy and desirability of this option.’
In Outlook India, Aditi Banerjee discusses her book (Krishnan Ramaswamyand Antonio de Nicolas co-editors), Invading the Sacred: An Analysis of Hinduism Studies in America:
Shortly before I began practicing law, my guru advised me to begin wearing a bindi every day–not the stick-on kind but actual kumkum mixed with water… However, I then came across Prof. David Gordon White’s book, Kiss of the Yogini: Tantric Sex in its South Asian Context, in which he remarks that the bindi a Hindu woman wears represents a drop of menstrual blood.
I grew apprehensive about wearing the bindi to work–would others mistakenly see it as some primitive, (literally) bloodthirsty rite? Still, I have followed my guru’s instruction and wear the bindi every day, and I have never regretted it. I do wonder sometimes, though, when catching the surreptitious curious stares of others, what exactly they think when they see the red oval between my eyebrows, and whether that perception has been shaped by the speculation of ‘renowned’ scholars such as White.
Because I have faced this Hinduphobia, which often shows itself in the subtlest of ways, because I have seen my friends and peers suffer from similar experiences, and because we have never had the voice or the ammunition with which to fire back–with which to say that this is wrong, not because it is offensive or politically incorrect, but because it is baseless and untruthful–because of all this, I could not say ‘no’ when the opportunity arose to become involved with this book. For, what starts in American universities does not remain there–it spreads globally, percolates through to mainstream culture, to primary and secondary schools, and to the way ordinary citizens interact with and react to each other.
The storm had golden hair flecked with black
and moaned in a monotone, like a simple woman
giving birth to a future soldier, or a tyrant.
Vast clouds, multi-storied ships
surrounded us, and lightning’s scarlet strands
The highway became the Red Sea.
We moved through the storm like a sheer valley.
You drove; I looked at you with love.
Adam Zagajewski’s poem is at TNR here.
Music has soul. We operate as though it does. In fact, music is one of the few areas of human endeavor where the word soul, even among secular types, is liable to go unchallenged. All kinds of music are occasionally imputed to have soul. Even music that doesn’t have anything but volume or a tiresome double-kick drum sound. Ray Coniff, to a listener somewhere, has soul. Who am I to say otherwise? Soul in these cases perhaps indicates earnestness, rhetorical force, and/or vocal polyps. Nevertheless, there are persuasive indications that the word soul does indeed manifest itself in music, and so maybe it’s useful here at the outset to point to a recording that demonstrates why music belongs in any discussion about heaven. So, along these lines, I’m going to describe briefly the mechanics of one example of soul music, namely, a live recording by Otis Redding entitled “Try a Little Tenderness.”
more from Rick Moody at Salmagundi here.
History, sadly, is on Anna Politkovskaya’s side. Last Oct. 7, Politkovskaya, a reporter for Novaya Gazeta, one of Moscow’s smallest but most daring newspapers, was murdered. A 48-year-old who was about to become a grandmother, she had gained fame in the West, and infamy at home, for her writings on the war in Chechnya. Politkovskaya fell in an all-too-common post-Soviet fashion: three bullets to the chest, one “control shot” to the head. Within days, Vladimir Putin reassured the West that Politkovskaya, the 13th journalist killed during his reign, had “minimal” influence. She was, he said, “known among journalists and in human rights circles and in the West, but I repeat that she had no influence on political life. Her murder causes much more harm than her publications did.”
Putin was callous, but right.
more from the NY Times Book Review here.
Ramachandra Guha in The Nation:
In recent years the Maoists have mounted a series of bold attacks on symbols of the Indian state. In November 2005 they stormed the district town of Jehanabad in Bihar, firebombing offices and freeing several hundred prisoners from the jail. Then, this past March, they attacked a police camp in Chattisgarh, killing fifty-five policemen and making off with a huge cache of weapons. At other times, they have bombed and set fire to railway stations and transmission towers.
The Indian Maoists are referred to by friend and foe alike as Naxalites, after the village of Naxalbari in north Bengal, where their movement began in 1967. Through the 1970s and ’80s, the Naxalites were episodically active in the Indian countryside. They were strongest in the states of Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, where they organized low-caste sharecroppers and laborers to demand better terms from their upper-caste landlords. Naxalite activities were open, as when conducted through labor unions, or illegal, as when they assassinated a particularly recalcitrant landlord or made a daring seizure of arms from a police camp.
Until the 1990s the Naxalites were a marginal presence in Indian politics. But in that decade they began working more closely with the tribal communities of the Indian heartland. About 80 million Indians are officially recognized as “tribal”; of these, some 15 million live in the northeast, in regions untouched by Hindu influence. It is among the 65 million tribals of the heartland that the Maoists have found a most receptive audience.
Philip Ball in [email protected]:
By transplanting their genomes, US scientists have converted one species into another.
John Glass and his co-workers at the J. Craig Venter Institute in Rockville, Maryland, have taken DNA from a bacterium called Mycoplasma mycoides and inserted it into cells of the closely related species Mycoplasma capricolum.
They find that the recipient cells with the new genome behave like those of the donor species, making protein molecules characteristic of the donor. It’s like re-booting a cell with a new operating system, says Glass.
“The method is very impressive,” says biomedical engineer Jim Collins of Boston University. “It’s surprising that they could get such a large piece of DNA into the bugs, and even more surprising that they could get the new genome jump-started.”
To swap the genomes, the researchers encased M. mycoides cells in a gel and used enzymes to break them apart and destroy their proteins, leaving only their naked DNA.
Over at Bloggingheads TV, Bruce Feiler and Reza Aslan on Iran, multiculturalism in Europe and Los Angeles, Salman Rushdie and Palestine.
Ryan Olson in Red Herring:
Corporate software maker Seriosity on Thursday released a lengthy report detailing some of the ways in which people who play massively multiplayer online role-playing games are developing skills vital to business success. And the company believes these types of games are shaping the next generation of corporate leaders.
While the idea isn’t new, the study provides a detailed look at some of the ways in which gamers are learning to collaborate, stay organized, and take risks. For dedicated players, it could prove that the hours they spend each week managing their fellow warriors, mages, and priests might actually help them conquer the corporate world as well…
The Palo Alto, California-based company, which teamed up with IBM and researchers from Stanford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the study, found that logic and visualization skills, as well as creative thinking and collaborative abilities, are widely applicable in both domains.
You can find the report here.
From 2001, Neil deGrasse Tyson over at the Hayden Planetarium:
What will future civilizations think of Manhattan Island when they dig it up and find a carefully laid out network of streets and avenues? Surely the grid would be presumed to have astronomical significance, just as we have found for the pre-historic circle of large vertical rocks known as Stonehenge, in the Salisbury Plain of England. For Stonehenge, the special day is the summer solstice, when the Sun rose in perfect alignment with several of the stones, signaling the change of season.
For Manhattan, a place where evening matters more than morning, that special day comes on May 30th this year, one of only two occasions when the Sun sets in exact alignment with the Manhattan grid, fully illuminating every single cross-street for the last fifteen minutes of daylight. The other day is July 13th.
Had Manhattan’s grid been perfectly aligned with the geographic north-south line, then our special days would be the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, the only two days on the calendar when the Sun rises due east and sets due west. But Manhattan is rotated 30 degrees east from geographic north, shifting the days of alignment elsewhere into the calendar.
[H/t Linta Varghese]
There are lots of things you can’t criticise Hirst for. You can’t complain about the fact that he doesn’t make his work by himself—neither did Rembrandt or Rubens or Warhol. You can’t complain that he’s made too many similar works—Pissaro, Magritte, Dalí and many others churned out substandard stuff on demand. The real difficulty with coming to a judgement on Hirst is that contemporary art theory does not permit one to assess whether an artist’s work is superficial or deep, because it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between a banal work of art and one that takes banality as its theme, or between a simple work of art and a simplistic one. A critic could spend hours trying to decide if something is superficially superficial or deeply superficial—and never come up with an answer.
The contemporary theory of the icon is also relevant. Icons were originally images of Christ and the saints. Warhol revived the icon, by making images of celebrities who were already icons in the media. Nowadays, an iconic work of art is something even simpler. If a series of works of art are acquired by a sufficient number of collectors, or achieve such a media presence that they are instantly recognisable, then they become, de facto, iconic. That’s why the world’s best historians of modern art, Rosalind Krauss and Benjamin Buchloh of October magazine, have remarked contemptuously that, in the art of Hirst, the aura of artistic inspiration has been replaced by the auras of media celebrity and of luxury commodity.
more from Prospect Magazine here.
In a hushed, darkened side gallery in a university exhibition space in Orange County, a series of simple glass display cases hold an array of intricately fashioned reliquaries — ornate housings for sacred objects such as slivers off the Bodhi Tree or a bone from the big toe of Mary Magdalene. The more than four dozen works on view display the gilded ornamental woodwork and oddly architectural forms that are the hallmarks of this rarely considered art-historical side stream, and they have a glow of musty intimacy and antiquarian mystery about them.
Until you look a bit closer. Then you start to see what exactly it is that’s been enshrined here: the broken neck and cap from a bottle of Orange Crush, a Jägermeister shot glass, a Morticia Addams bubblegum card, a red carpenter’s pencil, a pair of well-used black boxer shorts, a depleted can of Paul Mitchell Extra-Body Sculpting Mousse, various bits of dry wall and stucco, and a wide assortment of mass-produced touristy knickknacks and commercial premiums. What kind of religion is this, anyway?
more from the LA Weekly here.