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In Conversation with Mahmood Mamdani | Warscapes
"MM: One night. They let you make one phone call, and I called the Ugandan Ambassador in Washington, DC, talked to him, and he said, “What are you doing interfering in the affairs of a foreign country?” I said, “What? We just got our independence! This is the same struggle. Have you forgotten?” Anyway, he got me out. Two or three weeks later, I was in my room. There was a knock at the door. Two gentlemen in trench coats and hats said, “FBI.” I thought, “Wow, just like on television.” They sat down. They were there to find out why I had gone – because this turned out to be big – it is after Montgomery that King organized his march on Selma. They wanted to know who had influenced me. After one hour of probing, the guy said, “Do you like Marx?” 

I said, “I haven’t met him.” 

Guy said, “No, no, he’s dead.” 

“Wow, what happened?” 

“No, no, he died long ago.” 

I thought the guy Marx had just died. So then, “Why are you asking me if he died long ago?”  

“No, he wrote a lot. He wrote that poor people should not be poor.”  

I said, “Sounds amazing.” 

I’m giving you a sense of how naïve I was. After they left, I went to the library to look for Marx. So that was my introduction to Karl Marx.

BS: The FBI. 

MM: The FBI. Then, of course, I took a class on Marx. Couldn’t just get Marx out of the library. But, basically, it is the US – the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement – which gave me a new take on my own experience, and on the Asian experience in east Africa. It gave me a way of rethinking my own experience of growing up in east Africa and growing up in an Africa with a lens crafted by the civil rights movement."
colonialism  academia  history  mahmoodmamdani  karlmarx  marxism  2013  interviews  fbi  radicalization  ideas  inequality  poverty  capitalism  unintendedconsequences 
yesterday by robertogreco
Janelle Monáe: Living Out Loud - them.
"When Janelle Monáe came out as queer in a Rolling Stone cover story last April, the revelation made headlines around the world. As one of the most prolific multi-hyphenate artists of a generation, her declaration carried immense weight, both for herself and for queer black women and LGBTQ+ people everywhere. The announcement was followed by the release of her most brilliant, vulnerable work to date: Dirty Computer, an album that was at its core about embracing the freedom one finds in self-exploration and discovery. Bold, unabashedly fluid anthems like “Pynk,” “Screwed,” and “Make Me Feel” further solidified Monáe as a leader for “free-ass motherfuckers” (as she delightfully referred to herself when coming out) everywhere, one who challenges social binaries and norms alike with grace and strength.

Always evolving sonically and aesthetically, today, Monáe is entering a new era of her genre-bending career. The constant, though, is her work, which remains centered in advocacy, agency, and empowerment, regardless of what form it takes. With reverence for the responsibility of an artist and activist, Monáe uses every platform she builds to amplify intersectional discourse about race, gender, and sexuality in new ways. She takes action in a way that makes everyone take notice.

Monáe’s ascent as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community has tracked alongside her own journey towards personal enlightenment and fulfillment of purpose. It has come with an understanding of the paradox of visibility, and a reckoning with the fears and challenges that queer people, specifically queer people of color, face when living authentically. In taking center stage to speak out and perform against aggressive oppression, Monáe’s voice and vision for humanity help to define what it means to advance emancipation for all.

That’s just a sliver of why we chose Monáe to star in them.’s debut cover story, “Janelle Monáe: Living Out Loud.” It would only be right to have one free-ass motherfucker interview another for the occasion, which is why we recruited Lizzo, an inimitable musical force in her own right and an unerring LGBTQ+ ally, to speak with Monáe below. Both women are known for hits that make you dance while reaching for something deeper, and both share a commitment to uplifting marginalized communities, championing self-love and self-care, subverting social expectations, and speaking their truths through their work. In the wide-ranging conversation below, they touch on that common ground and more, speaking to the terrifying, liberating process of challenging the world’s preconceptions about you, what it really means to live freely in our world today, and loving and living out loud."



[Janelle Monáe] "It's been a journey. For me, sexuality and sexual identity and fluidity is a journey. It's not a destination. I've discovered so much about myself over the years as I've evolved and grown and spent time with myself and loved ones. That's the exciting thing — always finding out new things about who you are. And that's what I love about life. It takes us on journeys that not even we ourselves sometimes are prepared for. You just adapt to where you are and how you've evolved as a free thinking person."

[Lizzo] "Absolutely. I was just talking about this the other day, about how fluidity can mean so many things. It's not just what you like in that moment. I've seen fluidity change with age. I've seen people come out in their sexual identity in their forties and fifties. Yet there's so much pressure on young people to choose an identity, when you're a teenager and your hormones are jumping off — it's like, "Choose an identity, choose a sexual orientation." It's like, "How?” When I like everything sometimes, and I like nothing sometimes.

Do you have any words for those who are struggling with their sexuality or coming out? At any age, but especially for young people."



[Lizzo] 'You know what I noticed? The more I started loving myself, and the more I started self-caring, the people around me changed and became more conducive to that. The people who were toxic and weren't conducive to a self-loving nature just were segued out by God, by the universe, by my energy just repelling them. And I wish it didn't have to be that way, I wish it was the other way around. I wish that the people around us could help us find self-care and self-love. But that's unfortunately not the world that we were given.

We have to create our own worlds. And I think that mentorship is so important. Like you were saying, therapy's expensive. But mentorship can be free. And that's something that we can start with. Especially in lower income communities, the black community. But for now, we just have you. [laughs] We have music. People are looking to Dirty Computer and artists like you as mentors, long distance mentors. And I think it's really special that you hold that place in people's hearts and that it's reaching a culture. You can watch Queer Eye and see your influence. I'm just so happy to breathe the same air as you.

[Janelle Monáe] Oh, please. I’m happy to breathe the same air as you. You also are a free ass motherfucker to me in the way that you approach how you perform, how you love yourself publicly, how you embrace your body. And you're just gorgeous. On stage, offstage, the fact that you play an instrument, the fact that you're writing, the fact that you have ideas as a black woman — you are redefining what it means to be young, black, wild, and free in this country. And you are someone I actively look to whenever I feel like second guessing if I should take risks or not. Because I see the risks that you're taking and the love and appreciation that you show for yourself makes me lean further into loving and respecting myself, and being patient with myself, and not allowing myself to live by anybody's standards."
janellemonáe  lizzo  2019  criticalthinking  feedom  sexuality  gender  interviews  queer  binaries  fluidity  dirtycomputer  identity  therapy  life  living  self-love  art  music  making  lorrainehansberry  bellhooks  meshellndegeocello  lenawaithe  rosettatharpe  janetmock  mjrodriguez  indyamoore  lavernecox 
6 days ago by robertogreco
Liberation Under Siege | Liberación Bajo Asedio on Vimeo
"Following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, which successfully fended off imperial aggression by the United States, the United States imposed an economic trade blockade as punishment, which has continued to be in place for the past 60 years. The US has undertaken repeated attempts to plunder the Cuban people through genocidal measures, which has been met with the staunch resilience of the Cuban people, who continue to have faith and confidence in the socialist principles of the Revolution, despite the blockade materially impacting their everyday lives.

“Liberation Under Siege” examines the material conditions cultivated by the destructive blockade through the experiences and stories of everyday Cubans, and reclaim the imperialist narrative pushed by the United States through billions of dollars.

Filmed, Directed, and Edited by:

Priya Prabhakar
Reva Kreeger
Sabrina Meléndez"
cuba  2019  excess  us  foreignpolicy  interviews  education  healthcare  medicine  socialism  food  highereducation  highered  politics  blockade  embargo  poverty  equality  economics  race  gender  sexuality  priyaprabhakar  revakreeger  sabrinameléndez  video  small  slow  consumerism  materialism  capitalism  less  environment  values  success  health  imperialism  media  propaganda  resourcefulness  trade 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Between Two Languages: An Interview with Yoko Tawada
"Among the finest of Tawada’s works are short stories about adapting to new cultures, both physically and linguistically. The daughter of a nonfiction translator and academic bookseller, Tawada learned to read in over five languages; she speaks English, but doesn’t write it. “I feel in between two languages, and that’s big enough,” she told me. Her stories often turn on feeling outside the culture, as an immigrant, as a citizen witnessing great national change, or even as a tourist."



"I look like a person who cannot think when I wake up, because I’m still quite between the sleep and the dream and the waking, and that’s the best time for business."



"Being multilingual is tricky. I feel more as though I am between two languages, and that feels like enough. To study that in-between space has given me so much poetry. I don’t feel like one of those international people who juggles many tongues."
yokotawada  language  languages  bilingualism  2018  interviews  japan  japanese  howwewrite  dreams  sleep  liminality  betweenness  littoralzone  liminalspaces  multilingualism  dualism  srg 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Scratching the Surface — 102. Laurel Schwulst
"Laurel Schwulst is a designer, writer, teacher, and webmaster. She runs an independent design practice in New York City and teaches in design programs at Yale and Rutgers. She previously was the creative director for The Creative Independent and a web designer at Linked By Air. In this episode, Laurel and Jarrett talk about how horses got her into graphic design, what websites can be, the potential of the peer-to-peer internet, and how writing and teaching influence her practice."

[Direct link to audio: https://soundcloud.com/scratchingthesurfacefm/102-laurel-schwulst ]
jarrettfuller  scratchingthesurface  laurelschulst  2018  interviews  design  web  online  internet  are.na  lynhejinian  mindyseu  decentralization  neilpostman  charlesweingartner  juliacameron  teachingasasubversiveactivity  teaching  education  learning  howwelearn  kameelahjananrasheed  research  archiving  cv  roombaghost  graphicdesign  websites  webdev  webdesign  p2p  beakerbrowser  decentralizedweb  dat  p2ppublishing  p2pweb  distributed 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Hay que reconciliar al cine mexicano con su público: Fernanda Solórzano - El Sol de México
"ENCONTRAR VIRTUD EN LO COMPLEJO

Otro tema que para ella es importante a la hora de dignificar las películas que se hacen aquí es revisar la idea de que el cine es sólo una forma de entretenimiento, útil nada más para el escapismo y la evasión, sin dar oportunidad a las producciones que no tienen un mensaje cerrado y que apelan a que el espectador abra su inteligencia a distintas posibilidades de mensaje.

“A mí me gustaría que en las escuelas mismas se promoviera entre los niños la idea de que no todos tenemos que entender de inmediato los relatos sino que entre más preguntas puedan provocar más pueden enriquecer. Que seas capaz de salir de una película y la puedas comentar con alguien que quizá tenga un punto de vista distinto al tuyo, justamente porque no se les dio un mensaje definido…”

Reconoce que es un trabajo lento y que puede durar varias generaciones, pero que no hay nada como encontrarle virtud a lo complejo y entender que una película que te permite tener varias lecturas puede resultarte quizá más satisfactoria que una que no va a permitir que alguien te cambie tu propio punto de vista.

Y remarca: “El cine que más disfruto es el que me saca de mis certezas; el que me hace pensar y repensar mi realidad. Me choca darme cuenta de que me están manipulando. Me gusta que confíen en mi inteligencia. A mí me gusta que los directores también confíen en la inteligencia del público y el público en su propia inteligencia”.

LA COMEDIA ROMÁNTICA

Y de todo ese panorama destaca algo con lo que no está de acuerdo, la temática con la que se están haciendo algunas comedias mexicanas actuales, ya que le parece que refuerzan valores a los que como sociedad estamos tratando de oponernos, como el machismo o la homofobia, y que en este género suelen ser abordados como algo gracioso y normal.

“Voy a poner como ejemplo la cinta Qué culpa tiene el niño, cuya historia versa sobre una chica que en una fiesta queda embarazada, no sabe de quién porque estaba alcoholizada y entonces eso es presentado como chistoso, sin importar que es irresponsable que un hombre se aproveche de una mujer en esas condiciones”.

No ve que este tipo de producciones sean tan terribles y bajas como las sexy comedias de los años 80, donde los hombres literalmente violaban a las mujeres y nadie decía nada y todos se reían, pero asumen los mismos valores. “Obviamente son más sofisticadas estas comedias, son más pulidas, pero los chistes son los mismos, apelan al mismo tipo de moral, lo que me parece triste”.

LA ERA DIGITAL

Con respecto a los nuevos formatos de filmación y las modalidades de exhibición más allá de las salas cinematográficas, Fernanda percibe que ciertamente plantean nuevos problemas estéticos y económicos, lo cual también puede ser una oportunidad para que se abaraten las posibilidades de acceso para producir cine a quien actualmente no tiene los recursos para hacerlo.

“Al final lo importante es contar bien una historia y hacerlo estéticamente. Incluso hay historias que se pueden contar mejor en uno u otro formato. Por ejemplo, hay un director que filmó su primera película en iPhone, Tangerine, de Sean Baker, que fue muy premiada, y después decidió que su segunda producción se hiciera en 35 mm porque consideró que esa cinta no aguantaba lo digital y requería cierta profundidad. O sea hay narrativas para todo tipo de formato”.

Sobre el formato de miniseries, predominante en los servicios de streaming on line, la crítica de cine también los califica de oportunidad interesante. “A mí me gustan muchísimo, yo no las veo como un producto menor. Creo que muchos directores de cine, ante la imposibilidad de tener un presupuesto tan alto, están experimentando. Y pongo cono ejemplo la serie Un extraño enemigo de Gabriel Ripstein, que me pareció muy buena, bien contada, bien narrada y muy acentuada, a pesar de que era muy difícil que una serie más sobre el 68 tuviera impacto”."
fernandasolórzano  conemexicano  education  schools  stories  film  filmmaking  storytelling  linearity  ambiguity  certainty  complexity  howwethink  conversation  interviews  race  racism  homophobia  digital  2018  literature  children  medialiteracy  literacy  teaching  howweteach  unschooling  deschooling  criticalthinking 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Scratching the Surface — 85. Mindy Seu
"Mindy Seu is a designer, educator, and researcher. She is currently a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and was previously a designer at 2x4 and MoMA. She’s designed and produced archival sites for Ralph Ginzburg and Herb Lubalin’s Eros and Avant Garde magazines. In this episode, Mindy and I talk about her early career and why she decided to go to graduate school, the role of research and archives in her work, and how graphic design is just one pillar of her practice."
mindyseu  jarretfuller  design  education  archives  internet  web  online  2018  positioning  internetarchive  claireevans  brunolatour  graphicdesign  purpose  iritrogoff  networks  connections  fearlessness  decentralization  neilpostman  teaching  howweteach  institutions  structure  interviews  research  project-basedreasearch 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Death Grips Interview (DELETED) - YouTube
"..At one point in my life I was inspired by people, but as I've grown more, humans aren't really my, I don't look really look to that for inspiration that much anymore. I look more inside and what goes on in there, internal, internal struggle, internal shit like that; look inside, more than outside, I'm not into really surface reality, that much."
deathgrip  mcride  interviews  2012  music  art  artists  zachhill  humans 
july 2018 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - Pick a Sky and Name It
"How did Momtaza Mehri go from net savvy 6th former to successful millennial poet?

A house belonging to her grandmother is the closest poet Momtaza Mehri has ever come to having a permanent home. Aside from summer months in London, Momtaza's family picked its way across the Middle East.

"Then I just realise, I'm having this typical Somali experience where we're literally going to the places that would be considered the bad 'hoods."

Across a sea, another gulf, was the country her parents no longer called home.

Talking with her mother, Momtaza revisits the childhood experiences that shaped her outlook and her coming of age as a millennial poet.

Poetry extracts are taken from:
I believe in the transformative power of cocoa butter and breakfast cereal in the afternoon
Manifesto for those carrying dusk under their eyes
The Sag
Shan
Wink Wink
November 1997

"The internet just switched up the entire game," Momtaza says.

Producer: Tamsin Hughes
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4."
momtazamehri  poets  poetry  poems  howwelearn  online  internet  web  blogging  autodidacts  somalidiaspora  tamsinhughes  2018  interviews  radio  profiles  somalia  middleeast  london  experience  childhood  dubai  mogadishu  civilwar  tumblr  publishing  howwewrite  freedom 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Ernst Karel | EAR ROOM
"Ernst Karel is an artist and researcher active in the fields of electroacoustic improvisation and composition, location recording, sound for nonfiction vilm, and solo and collaborative sound installations. Karel is currently lab manager for the Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL) at Harvard University, where as lecturer on Anthropology, he teaches a course in sonic ethnography. For comprehensive information please visit: http://ek.klingt.org "
sensoryethnographylab  anthropology  art  audio  ethnography  sound  sense  sensoryethnography  ernstkarel  interviews 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on Skipping High School and California Culture | Literary Hub
"Paul Holdengraber: I had the pleasure, a bittersweet pleasure, of speaking with John Berger two years ago (about two months before he died) and I was so amazed by his extraordinary freedom of thinking. I was wondering, though I was never able to ask him, how much of it came to him from not having been forced into a certain school, or not having gone to all the schools people feel they need to go to in order to think.

It strikes me that you have that same appetite, that same appetite that comes from not having had to follow a certain regime, but rather following what really interests you, what really fills you with passion. I wonder how much of that is true, and how much of that is true to the place you’ve committed yourself to live in.

Rebecca Solnit: I didn’t go to high school and I feel that was one of the great strategic victories of my life. In the 1970s everything was very nebulous and wide open, and I just managed by going to an alternative junior high school through tenth grade, which was a very kind place compared to the place I went to for seventh and eighth grade. Then I took the GED test and started college at 16, to avoid high school altogether.

I remember thinking the GED—which is supposed to test you on everything you’re supposed to know when you graduate from high school—and thinking, “I’ve basically goofed off for two years. I’m 15 and I’m apparently able to acquire all the knowledge you need to get out of high school—what are you doing for those other three or four years?” I’ve always felt that a lot of what people are taught to do is conform and obey a set of instructions about hierarchy. It’s really destructive of the people who succeed in that system, as well as the ones who fail. I know you didn’t grow up in this country—

PH: I’m not sure I grew up. I’m still trying.

RS: Well that too. There’s the people who feel damaged by being unpopular in high school, but there’s a different kind of tragedy of people who were so popular in high school—the homecoming queens, the football captains—who feel as though they’ve arrived at the end of the journey without ever having set out for it, who feel like now they can rest on the laurels, which aren’t the laurels that will matter for the next 50 or 60 years.

It’s a very destructive system of values. You look at schools in other countries and they don’t have proms and homecoming queens and team spirit—this kind of elaborate sports culture that is very heteronormative as well as hierarchical. It also creates monsters out of the boys who are able to get away with bullying and sexual assault because they’re good at sports.

PH: You were mentioning my own upbringing. I grew up, in part, in many different countries in Europe, but one of the countries I lived was Belgium. In the mid-70s they introduced something they called Le Test Américain, “the American test.” You know what that was: multiple choice. I was terrible at it because I always felt ambivalent. I always felt, if you look at it from this perspective, that would be the answer; but if you look at it from that perspective, this would be the answer. And of course that didn’t bode well for school.

I know now that teaching has become so much that—so much about getting the supposed right answer to a question, which really means the right answer to a question if you look at it only from one vantage point. Which is exactly the contrary of what literature teaches, or for that matter, what life teaches us to think and do.

RS: When I was young, in the 80s, I read a wonderful report on why we should teach art in schools, and one of the arguments was that there is no right answer in art. There might be good ways to do things, but there’s no simple one right answer. Two plus two might be four, but the way a bird flies can be represented in innumerable ways.

PH: I wonder also, in your escape from high school, how much California and your interest in California has had to do with the way you think.

RS: One of the things about being deinstitutionalized—because not only did I not go to high school, I did sort of sprint through college and then get a journalism degree that was training to be a writer in a practical sense rather than becoming an academic—was the freedom to be synthetic, to move through what’s considered to be many fields. In fact in Wanderlust, early on, I said that if the fields of study could be considered real fields, then the the history of walking trespasses through many of them on its trajectory. And my life has been kind of like that. There’s a curious thing in academia in which authority is demonstrated by specialization and that you have to color within the lines and stick within the lines of your discipline, which I know a lot of people feel fretful about.

California wasn’t inherently an interest in mine. It was just where my father was born and where I grew up and have lived most of my life. When I was young and working at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and going to the journalism school at UC Berkeley, I did my thesis on the artist Wallace Berman and I began the process of writing the history that wasn’t available to me to read. When I was growing up in California we were regarded, almost universally, as almost a barbarian hinterland that had gone, as I often say, from wilderness to shopping mall in a single bound. And there was a lot of sneering on the East Coast about us as a place without culture, as a place of yahoos and bimbos and babes and surfer dudes, as lacking the high seriousness.

I have a friend whose East Coast cousin once said to him, “people in California don’t read.” And it was just amazing having someone dismiss the state with the UC system and Stanford and some remarkable intellectuals, from Angela Davis to Garry Snyder.

So I really didn’t grow up here with it being treated as an interesting place, though I loved the landscape, wondered about the Native history, and actually went to Europe because of that yearning for a sense of deep past and time in history. And then came back and had to find a way to locate it in this landscape.

Of course a lot of things have changed. A lot of California history has been written by Mike Davis and many other people since then. But it really was treated as a blank and trivial place when I was younger. There were some California historians, but the public mainstream attitude was very dismissive.

PH: I remember a conversation I had with Werner Herzog who said that in New York they consume culture, and in Los Angeles they actually make it. And it struck me as very interesting because there is such an assumption in New York that everything emanates from here.

RS: I’ve noticed.

PH: That’s a fantastic response, Rebecca. We’ll leave it at that for now."
rebeccasolnit  unschooling  deschooling  2018  interviews  education  california  history  culture  nyc  johnberger  paulholdengraber  values  hierarchy  teaching  art  arteducation  pedagogy  mikedavis  journalism  wallaceberman  eastcoast  angeladavis  garysnyder  conformity 
may 2018 by robertogreco
An Interview with Fred Moten, Part 1 | Literary Hub
"In Praise of Harold Bloom, Collaboration and Book Fetishes"

[See also: "An Interview with Fred Moten, Pt. II | Literary Hub: On Radical Indistinctness and Thought Flavor à la Derrida"
http://lithub.com/an-interview-with-fred-moten-pt-ii/ ]
fredmoten  interviews  2015  adamfitzgerald  jacquesderrida  tored  collaboration  poetry  music  jazz  improvisation 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Harvard EdCast: Lifelong Kindergarten | Harvard Graduate School of Education
"The concept of kindergarten — as a place for young children to learn by interacting with materials and people around them — has existed for over 200 years, but never has the approach been so suited to the way the world works as it is today, says Mitchel Resnick, the LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at the MIT Media Lab.

“That approach to kindergarten is really aligned with the needs of today’s society," says Resnick, citing the need to adapt to the speed at which things change in the world. "As kids in the traditional kindergarten were playfully designing and creating things, they were developing as creative thinkers…. That’s exactly what we need.”

Being given the room to explore, experiment, and express oneself is vital to becoming a creative thinker — and to the learning process as a whole — says Resnick, author of Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play. If people aren't encouraged in their creativity at an early age, and if this isn't nutured throughout their schooling, then they aren't as prepared to deal with the unexpected when it arises.

“We’re trying to spread that approach to learners of all ages," says Resnick, who also leads the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at MIT. "We want to take what’s worked best in kindergarten and here at the Media Lab and provide opportunities for all kids of all ages to be able to explore and experiment and express themselves in that same spirit.”

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Resnick talks about the importance of nurturing creativity in learning and explains why kindergarten is the greatest invention of the last millennium."

[See also:
"Mitchel Resnick - MIT Media Lab: Lifelong Kindergarten" (2014)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uRxD-pe3PN0

"Helping Kids Develop as Creative Thinkers" (2017)
https://vimeo.com/244986026 ]
mitchresnick  lifelongkindergarten  mitmedialab  2017  interviews  kindergarten  play  projects  projectbasedlearning  passion  collaboration  experimentation  creativity  medialab  scratch  making  pbl  teaching  sfsh  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  risks  risktaking  education  schools  lcproject  openstudioproject  curiosity  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  mindstorms  writing  coding  programming  leaning  creating  lego  reasoning 
december 2017 by robertogreco
internet derica
"CS Julie Dash does something that no one else does: she makes people in her films look beautiful. Black women, in particular, in her films are stunningly gorgeous.

LH Why is that so important?

CS Because it never happens. In the short film that she made at UCLA, Illusions (1982), she has this close-up of a beautiful brown-skinned girl singing, and there’s an eye light—it’s a technique you use in film to make sure there’s a sparkle in the eye, you put in a kicker to do it. She’s fully separated from the background. There’s a diffused key light so her skin is soft and dewy. The framing flatters the shape of her face. I’ll never forget that frame. When I saw it I thought, A filmmaker has never asked me to look for this long at a black girl, has never applied this much attention to her appearance. I see Daughters of the Dust (1991), 12 black women lit with the setting sun in white dresses on the beach looking like goddesses and I think, That’s how we should look in movies all the time. I don’t want to see us look any other way—not until it becomes normal. I need this image in my everyday life. In cinema, the icon is everything. It’s the portal through which empathy is produced. And the more seductive you make that, the more care you put into its construction, the easier it is for people to enter and identify with that image."

—Cauleen Smith by Leslie Hewitt, BOMB Magazine
[https://bombmagazine.org/articles/cauleen-smith/ ]
caullensmith  lesliehewitt  interviews  juliedash  blackness  film  identity  beauty  filmmaking 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Geetha Narayanan at Conversations with Namu Kini - YouTube
"Geetha Narayanan, founder of Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology & Mallya Aditi International School tells Namu all about her life, work and philosophies. She has founded institutions, raised funds for movements, taught hundreds, inspired many more - and she doesn't seem to be slowing down!"
geethanarayanan  education  india  2013  interviews  technology  slow  slowness  sfsh  learning  pedagogy 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Oral history interview with Ruth Asawa and Albert Lanier, 2002 June 21-July 5 | Archives of American Art
"PK: How did you feel at the time? And I would ask you this as well, Albert. Would you give the Black Mountain experience as a kind of a watershed for you? Did something happen there? Was there an environment in which you did feel that, “Ah, this is heady stuff. We’re working with some new ideas, some new forms.” Did you feel that way about it?

RA: It probably felt as though we were ahead of the administration in that time. At that time we felt we were so beyond them.

AL: You mean as students? We were ahead of the people doing the teaching?

RA: Yes.

AL: I didn’t feel that. But go ahead.

RA: Well, we were encouraged to try out new things at that time.

AL: I think we felt that everything was possible. Everything was possible. Anything’s possible.

RA: And maybe it was our youth that gave us that feeling at that time. But we thought we were given permission to try out new things in terms of the way that . . .

PK: Materials?

RA: Materials. The things that the administration was trying to do. They were experimenting and we were also experimenting at the time. And we were so poor that we were taking materials that were around us and using leaves and rocks and things that were natural rather than having good paper and good materials that we bought. We had to scrounge around with things that were around us. And I think that was very good for us.

PK: And then the instructors there didn’t have that advantage, what you described as a kind of advantage. Since you didn’t have, you had to be more imaginative about what you could use.

RA: Yes.

PK: What you could bring together in your expression and maybe less tied to tradition.

RA: Well, it was through the teachers that we had who encouraged us to use things around us.

PK: Did most of the other students respond well to that freedom that they were offered?

AL: Some did and some didn’t. Some regarded [Josef] Albers as a Fascist, a dictator, because he didn’t react to or condone your feelings, “I feel this and I feel that.” He wasn’t terribly concerned with what we felt. He was concerned with what we saw and that we learned to see. And he would say, “If you want to express yourself do that on your own time. Don’t do it in my class.” He taught design, the same course, year-in-and-year-out. And it wasn’t Design 101, or Design 102, and Design 103. He taught the same course pretty much the same problems year-in-and-year-out. And we did the same things over and over again.

RA: The same problems had a deeper, deeper feeling, experience.

AL: This was continued with him, certainly all the time that he was at Black Mountain. And sitting here in this living room, he was about to be made head of the Design Department at Yale. But there it was about to be made a graduate school and he was very unhappy about that.

PK: Why?

AL: Because he said, “Design knows nothing about graduation. Art knows nothing about graduation.” He wanted those farm boys direct from the farm. He didn’t want them after they could spiel off all that they knew about art, which they might by the time they were in graduate school. He wanted them discovering it. That’s what he wanted. He really wanted us while we were still discovering things. That’s why I say that we had a feeling that everything was possible. And if you wanted to express yourself, and there were many that did, you either did it strictly on your own time or you dropped out of his classes because he did not go in for that.

PK: So he wasn’t one on faculty who gave that kind of permission, I gather, that you were talking about earlier.

AL: No, you had definite problems. You had definite problems and each student’s solution was discussed with the whole class. And very often you learned something from the comments of the rest of the class. They weren’t huge classes. If you didn’t bring something, you’ve got your problem, if you didn’t come back with something, you weren’t made very welcome. That’s freeloading."
ruthasawa  albertlanier  2002  interviews  bmc  blackmountaincollege  josefalbers  markjohnson  paulkarlstrom 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Coordenadas - Limbo Gurugú - 17/07/17, Coordenadas - RTVE.es A la Carta
"El juramento del Gurugú es la última novela del escritor ecuatoguineano Juan Tomás Ávila, sobre las personas migrantes que esperan allí el momento de entrar en Europa. Exiliado de Obiang en Barcelona, lo trae al programa Victor Guerrero. Y descubrimos el último trabajo de Verdcel, The plantes, Talaies i cims, con la presencia de su lider Alfons Olmo.

Escuchamos a The Drums, "Heart Basel"; Chojin ft. Barón, "Solo para adultos"; Stand up, "Something else"; Verdcel, "Foc Amic", "Optimistic"."

[via: https://twitter.com/DedalusAfrica/status/887611112774148096 ]
juantomásávila  2017  interviews  equatorialguinea  race  migration  gurugú  victorguerrero  alfonsolmo  refugees  europe  africa  futbol  soccer  football  writing  books  literature  music  literacy  libraries  guineaecuatorial 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Scratching the Surface — 24. Sara Hendren
"Sara Hendren is a designer, artist, writer, and professor whose work centers around adaptive and assistive technologies, prosthetics, inclusive design, accessible architecture, and related ideas. She teaches inclusive design practices at Olin College in Massachusetts and writes and edits Abler, her site to collect and comment on art, adaptive technologies and prosthetics, and the future of human bodies in the built environment. In this episode, Sara and I talk about her own background and using design to manifest ideas in the world, the role of writing in her own design practice, and how teaches these ideas with her students."

[audio: https://soundcloud.com/scratchingthesurfacefm/24-sara-hendren ]
sarahendren  jarrettfuller  design  2017  interviews  johndewey  wendyjacob  nataliejeremijenko  remkoolhaas  timmaly  clairepentecost  alexandralange  alissawalker  michaelrock  alfredojaar  oliversacks  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  nicolatwilley  amateurs  amateurism  dabbling  art  artists  generalists  creativegeneralists  disability  engineering  criticaltheory  integatededucation  integratedcurriculum  identity  self  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  assistivetechnology  technology  olincollege  humanities  liberalarts  disabilities  scratchingthesurface 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Time is Part of the Work: An Interview with Agnes Varda — Bright Wall/Dark Room
"For a while she sold DVDs of her movies to visitors from around the world through the window, living out a daydream, she says, of being a shopkeeper."



"I like to reconciliate black and white and color, the past and the present, the digital and the authentic. It’s like trying to make everything simple for me. It’s not ‘that time’ or ‘this time’. It’s mixing time and technique.”"



"This is a recurring idea in her work, that beyond the representational space of a film frame, an edit, a single image, a gallery space, there is an outside world only implied or imagined or rendered as unknown history."



"All images are questions. if you look at everything, a painting, an image, you can question… The way you look at it, what it brings to your mind, if it reminds you of something. My god. It does something. You could get that from one image, and there are so many. So you have to choose.

A snapshot is a real mystery. Because you do them in the street somewhere and really each time when I look at them I say who are they? From where are they coming? Why are they together? Maybe they hate each other, maybe they love each other. It’s even - in a magazine when they show all these things about war, about peace, about people in the streets, even you see them in demonstrations, I am always questioning: who are they?"



[Q: "A lot of the art you’re making asks the viewer’s imagination to be a participant…"]

"Well I ask people to participate, because an image you know… If you close the light, and you all go out, an image is nothing. It’s nothing. If nobody looks at an image it’s a dead piece of paper.

One viewer is enough. Somebody looks at the image, one viewer is enough. Two or three is fine. A thousand is, you know, in a film if you run the film in an empty theater, it’s nothing. But one spectator is enough."



[Q: "So what about our modern culture of photographs and videos? Last night at your art opening everyone was taking photos constantly of everything."]

"Well that’s interesting, cause you know when I was young it meant something to have a camera. It changed so much that now not only people start to have cheap cameras, but they all have smartphones and people do photos all the time. And it’s interesting because most, when they do selfies, they want to prove to themselves they were there.

It’s interesting because it’s saying “I need proof in my life”. When I am traveling, or I meet someone, people say “can I take a picture with you” like this [she mimes standing next to her and making a selfie]. And it has been studied by sociologists and historians because it’s something very new in civilization, that not only images are everywhere and easy to make, but we want to have memories of ourselves. So people do that.

When at the time, when I was young, people would bring a child to a photographer. And the child would be on a shiny pedestal, and the baby lying on its belly, or sitting, very posed, and it was an act, you know?

I even made a short film about it called Ydessa. And at the time, in Germany, before the war, they would always take a teddy bear with them and go into the studio with the teddy bear. The child or the couple would pose. It was like an art that would last for their whole life, they would have a photo. But the questions in this film are everywhere eight years later.

It’s very democratic in a way but still, some people now think of photos differently. And a lot of people are on Instagram and they put a lot of images, beautiful images, private images. They're beautiful. I look at a lot of Instagram pictures of people I don’t know. And I say, “Oooh he went there and did that, or she did this?” A woman that I knew, but I lost for years, and suddenly there are images of Mexico - she must have been traveling there. She’s in Mexico! Oh! And then she is back.

So it’s like in a way it becomes transparent. Like you leave information about yourself. Like all this Twitter and Facebook. Do you use them?"



"Sometimes I think in a selfish way, you know, we cannot grab all the misery and carry it in our bags.

Sometimes I feel we have to do what I feel I have to do as an artist. To do things. Maybe sharing with people. Sharing emotion, sharing information. But, I am just, too… I cannot change the world. I can only change some relation between some people in the cinema. It’s a very modest work. Touching very few people. I mean it’s, we have no possibility to do much more than the very modest work of artists. That’s the way I feel."



"I like to make films about people who aren’t spoken about.

What I think is because I know… The way you are involved in what’s happening in the world is relative. Because I cannot make a change about the desires of millions of people that want to move.

I’ve been hurt, in the heart, just by watching these images when they are on a boat and they die in the ocean and sometimes they are saved. But we cannot save them. We cannot go and take another boat and save three people and give them food and bring them home.

So we are assisting as a terrible spectacle all the hunger and migration in the world.

So I say, as artists, you can only do what we know how to do, which includes friendship, sharing, transmission."



"I have a formula: I switched from old filmmaker to young visual artist. Because people want definition. You are this or that. And I like to feel that I’m everything. I’ve had three lives: as a photographer, a filmmaker, and as a visual artist.

I am in time. I’m old. I’ve been crossing time for years. I love the idea that even with a bad memory I can pick something which is years ago or someone I met years ago and I am here, and I enjoy it."



[Q: "I ask her one final question: In all your work as a photographer, as a filmmaker, as an artist, what have you come to discover is the difference between media and memory?"]

"I don’t know, because you can see in your own life and use your memory to remember what you have. That’s not my point. My point is to get a piece of the past and bring it into my life of today.

So I don’t have the feeling that I wish to tell you my memories. I’ve done that in some of my films. What I do now, is always: make it alive now. I’ve been loving the seaside since I’m young. And it’s set where I did my first film, La Pointe Courte. By bringing the sea into a new medium, into the art world, it makes it alive. It’s not my past. I don’t care so much. I’ve been through a lot of things in my life. What I love is to make the now and here very important. That’s how I stand life.

It’s sharing what I do with people. My work is to propose, to propose the notion, to propose surprises, my view. That’s life. That’s what we call… The artist."
agnèsvarda  2017  aaronstewart-ahn  interviews  time  memory  memories  film  filmmaking  photography  audiencesofone  instagram  twitter  facebook  socialmedia  digital 
april 2017 by robertogreco
A Boom Interview: Mike Davis in conversation with Jennifer Wolch and Dana Cuff – Boom California
"Dana Cuff: You told us that you get asked about City of Quartz too often, so let’s take a different tack. As one of California’s great urban storytellers, what is missing from our understanding of Los Angeles?

Mike Davis: The economic logic of real estate and land development. This has always been the master key to understanding spatial and racial politics in Southern California. As the late-nineteenth century’s most influential radical thinker—I’m thinking of San Francisco’s Henry George not Karl Marx—explained rather magnificently, you cannot reform urban space without controlling land values. Zoning and city planning—the Progressive tools for creating the City Beautiful—either have been totally co-opted to serve the market or died the death of a thousand cuts, that is to say by variances. I was briefly an urban design commissioner in Pasadena in the mid-1990s and saw how easily state-of-the-art design standards and community plans were pushed aside by campaign contributors and big developers.

If you don’t intervene in the operation of land markets, you’ll usually end up producing the opposite result from what you intended. Over time, for instance, improvements in urban public space raise home values and tend to become amenity subsidies for wealthier people. In dynamic land markets and central locations, nonprofits can’t afford to buy land for low-income housing. Struggling artists and hipsters inadvertently become the shock troops of gentrification and soon can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods and warehouse districts they invigorated. Affordable housing and jobs move inexorably further apart and the inner-city crisis ends up in places like San Bernardino.

If you concede that the stabilization of land values is the precondition for long-term democratic planning, there are two major nonrevolutionary solutions. George’s was the most straightforward: execute land monopolists and profiteers with a single tax of 100 percent on increases in unimproved land values. The other alternative is not as radical but has been successfully implemented in other advanced capitalist countries: municipalize strategic parts of the land inventory for affordable housing, parks and form-giving greenbelts.

The use of eminent domain for redevelopment, we should recall, was originally intended to transform privately owned slums into publicly owned housing. At the end of the Second World War, when progressives were a majority in city government, Los Angeles adopted truly visionary plans for both public housing and rational suburban growth. What then happened is well known: a municipal counter-revolution engineered by the LA Times. As a result, local governments continued to use eminent domain but mainly to transfer land from small owners to corporations and banks.

Fast-forward to the 1980s. A new opportunity emerged. Downtown redevelopment was devouring hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted taxes, but its future was bleak. A few years before, Reyner Banham had proclaimed that Downtown was dead or at least irrelevant. If the Bradley administration had had the will, it could have municipalized the Spring-Main Street corridor at rock-bottom market prices. Perhaps ten million square feet would have become available for family apartments, immigrant small businesses, public markets, and the like, at permanently controlled affordable rents.

I once asked Kurt Meyer, a corporate architect who had been chairman of the Community Redevelopment Agency, about this. He lived up Beachwood Canyon below the Hollywood Sign. We used to meet for breakfast because he enjoyed yarning about power and property in LA, and this made him a unique source for my research at the time. He told me that downtown elites were horrified by the unexpected revitalization of the Broadway corridor by Mexican businesses and shoppers, and the last thing they wanted was a populist downtown.

He also answered a question that long vexed me. “Kurt, why this desperate, all-consuming priority to have the middle class live downtown?” “Mike, do you know anything about leasing space in high-rise buildings?” “Not really.” “Well, the hardest part to rent is the ground floor: to extract the highest value, you need a resident population. You can’t just have office workers going for breakfast and lunch; you need night time, twenty-four hour traffic.” I don’t know whether this was really an adequate explanation but it certainly convinced me that planners and activists need a much deeper understanding of the game.

In the event, the middle class has finally come downtown but only to bring suburbia with them. The hipsters think they’re living in the real thing, but this is purely faux urbanism, a residential mall. Downtown is not the heart of the city, it’s a luxury lifestyle pod for the same people who claim Silverlake is the “Eastside” or that Venice is still bohemian.

Cuff: Why do you call it suburbia?

Davis: Because the return to the center expresses the desire for urban space and crowds without allowing democratic variety or equal access. It’s fool’s gold, and gentrification has taken the place of urban renewal in displacing the poor. Take Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris’s pioneering study of the privatization of space on the top of Bunker Hill. Of course, your museum patron or condo resident feels at home, but if you’re a Salvadorian skateboarder, man, you’re probably headed to Juvenile Hall."



"Jennifer Wolch: Absolutely. However it’s an important question particularly for the humanities students, the issue of subjectivity makes them reticent to make proposals.

Davis: But, they have skills. Narrative is an important part of creating communities. People’s stories are key, especially about their routines. It seems to me that there are important social science skills, but the humanities are important particularly because of stories. I also think a choreographer would be a great analyst of space and kind of an imagineer for using space.

I had a long talk with Richard Louv one day about his Last Child in the Woods, one of the most profound books of our time, a meditation on what it means for kids to lose contact with nature, with free nomadic unorganized play and adventure. A generation of mothers consigned to be fulltime chauffeurs, ferrying kids from one commercial distraction or over-organized play date to another. I grew up in eastern San Diego County, on the very edge of the back country, and once you did your chores (a serious business in those days), you could hop on your bike and set off like Huck Finn. There was a nudist colony in Harbison Canyon about twelve miles away, and we’d take our bikes, push them uphill for hours and hours in the hope of peeking through the fence. Like all my friends, I got a .22 (rifle) when I turned twelve. We did bad things to animals, I must confess, but we were free spirits, hated school, didn’t worry about grades, kept our parents off our backs with part-time jobs and yard work, and relished each crazy adventure and misdemeanor. Since I moved back to San Diego in 2002, I have annual reunions with the five or six guys I’ve known since second grade in 1953. Despite huge differences in political beliefs and religion, we’re still the same old gang.

And gangs were what kept you safe and why mothers didn’t have to worry about play dates or child molesters. I remember even in kindergarten—we lived in the City Heights area of San Diego at that time—we had a gang that walked to school together and played every afternoon. Just this wild group of little boys and girls, seven or eight of us, roaming around, begging pennies to buy gum at the corner store. Today the idea of unsupervised gangs of children or teenagers sounds like a law-and-order problem. But it’s how communities used to work and might still work. Aside from Louv, I warmly recommend The Child in the City by the English anarchist Colin Ward. A chief purpose of architecture, he argues, should be to design environments for unprogrammed fun and discovery."



"Wolch: We have one last question, about your young adult novels. Whenever we assign something from City of Quartz or another of your disheartening pieces about LA, it’s hard not to worry that the students will leave the class and jump off of a cliff! But your young adult novels seem to capture some amount of an alternative hopeful future.

Davis: Gee, you shouldn’t be disheartened by my books on LA. They’re just impassioned polemics on the necessity of the urban left. And my third LA book, Magical Urbanism, literally glows with optimism about the grassroots renaissance going on in our immigrant neighborhoods. But to return to the two adolescent “science adventure” novels I wrote for Viggo Mortensen’s wonderful Perceval Press. Above all they’re expressions of longing for my oldest son after his mother moved him back to her native Ireland. The heroes are three real kids: my son, his step-brother, and the daughter of our best friends when I taught at Stony Brook on Long Island. Her name is Julia Monk, and she’s now a wildlife biologist doing a Ph.D. at Yale on pumas in the Andes. I’m very proud that I made her the warrior-scientist heroine of the novels, because it was an intuition about her character that she’s made real in every way—just a remarkable young person."
mikedavis  2016  interviews  economics  california  sanfrancisco  losangeles  henrygeorge  urbanism  urban  suburbia  suburbs  jenniferolch  danacuff  fauxurbanism  hipsters  downtown  property  ownership  housing  populism  progressive  progressivism  reynerbanham  planning  urbanplanning  citybeautiful  gentrification  cities  homeless  homelessness  michaelrotundi  frankgehry  richardlouv  gangs  sandiego  friendship  colinward  thechildinthecity  architecture  fun  discovery  informal  unprogrammed  freedom  capitalism  china  india  england  ireland  famine  optimism  juliamonk  children  teens  youth  development  realestate  zoning  sanbernardino  sciarc 
january 2017 by robertogreco
on material entanglements: an interview with morehshin allahyari : Open Space
"taking a closer look into her website, i found the 3d additivist manifesto that she wrote in collaboration with daniel rourke. the manifesto combines a mordant sense of humor with a calculated resignation to our dependence on fossil fuel materials, in this case the plastic used in 3d printing. the text immediately struck a chord with me: “its potential belies the complications of its history: that matter is the sum and prolongation of our ancestry; that creativity is brutal, sensual, rude, coarse, and cruel. we declare that the world’s splendour has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of crap, kipple and detritus. a planet crystallized with great plastic tendrils like serpents with pixelated breath.” this fatalism towards the material is posited as a way to attempt subversion towards the possibility of liberation. embracing it means that you take the glitches that will inevitably happen and that may eventually reveal within them an opportunity to corrupt the material towards a new reality.

i noticed in allahyari’s practice the willingness to seize on existing flaws in the forms and systems she chooses, pushing them towards alternative resolutions. she creates surrogate existences for her sources and materials, questioning their original and stagnant origins. humor and failure are also deployed as strategies and enablers.

we recently met to talk in more depth about her background, practice, and ongoing projects."



"Allahyari: Yeah. I have one of those personalities that is always being a rebel and not listening. I always felt this not belonging thing in a very different way. I wanted to get out. I didn’t want to live there. Of course, for also so many other reasons, because I just didn’t feel I would have the future I wanted in Iran. As a woman, it’s another whole process.

The amount of misogynistic and cultural taboos and shit around you is another thing that won’t make it easy for you to work. There are more Iranian women in universities than men. And women are very educated and they all have jobs. But at the same time, on a daily basis, you just constantly deal with sexism and sexual harassment and street harassment, and the glass ceiling is much more real. You can only move to a certain level of position. So yeah, I wanted to leave because I didn’t feel like I could belong in that society and it was suffering, living there.

The not belonging is a very different thing in the US, because then you end up constantly explaining yourself and explaining your life to people, and your daily life experience. And people don’t do that. People just do this out of public curiosity just on a daily basis, asking about your life and why did you move and how did you move and who are your parents, etc. All of these daily experiences makes this othering more real in your life. I don’t think that’s ever going to change. As long as I really have an accent and people ask where you’re from and I say, “Iran,” that will always be the case, right? You become this other because people are curious. People want to have associations about that.

I also would say that if anything, if I was going to have to go and choose countries to move to, the United States would still be my most preferable place to move to, because I think xenophobia in Europe is much more serious, and immigration…

I know a lot of friends from Iran who’ve moved to Sweden or France or, I don’t know, and you can never become a part of it. Living in the US, 98% of my friends are Americans. They’re my friends and I love them and they love me and we hang out all the time. They never make me feel like you’re just this other: “oh, you can’t be part of our community because you’re not American.”

Being American doesn’t [come with] the same resignation as being French or being Dutch, being British. All these have a really big thing, in terms of nationality, to them. Being American, unless you’re from Texas or whatever, it doesn’t really have that kind of thing, because of the history and background and…"



"Allahyari: Exactly. After I finished the recreation of these 12 artifacts that were destroyed by ISIS, I released a folder on Rhizome as part of their Download series, which contains all the information that I had gathered during the research process about the artifacts, their history, the process of research, images, and the obj/sti files.

This idea of releasing this information online became really important for me because in the last one year, with all this destruction, as ISIS has been going to Iraq and Syria and destroying these artifacts, there has been a lot of response from a lot of tech companies and Western archaeological institutions, [wanting] to recreate these artifacts. This has become a highly fashionable thing. When I started to work on my Material Speculation project I was interested in using 3-D printing as this poetic, metaphoric tool, but also a practical activism tool to recreate these artifacts. I’ve been approaching it, of course, as an artist, as this conceptual work. My project got a lot of attention and press. I would get all these emails from different — especially based in San Francisco — tech companies and different places, asking, “Do you want to do a life size version of this project? Or do you want to collaborate with us? We have a digital library.”

One thing that I started to think about a lot — and this is me now looking back and rebuilding and interrupting myself — was the fact that — there are two things. One is digital colonialism. Two was the relationship between these tech people, usually white men, this Silicon Valley ideology of recreating these artifacts. So if ISIS claims these objects, these histories, by destroying them, the Silicon Valley ideology is that the Western tech companies reclaim it by recreating it. So they become…

faustini: they become branded.

Allahyari: That’s the digital colonialism part I am interested in. Because some of these tech companies go to the Middle East and they basically 3-D scan these artifacts, and then they bring it back and they won’t release the files online or give public access to these 3D models. So there’s a question of access, ownership, copyright, profit. I know different websites that you have — for example the model is online, but you can’t really download it. If you want to have access to it, you have to pay $2,000 to download it. Basically, with these new tools, we have entered this digital colonialism era, which didn’t exist before in the same way. So these technologies have brought in these whole new possibilities and problems.

I’ve been talking a lot about this digital colonialism, and what does it mean that we are all celebrating this? “Ooh, look, they are reconstructing these things,” but not asking questions about what happens to these files, what happens to data, ignoring the whole history of colonialism. These Western companies and archeologists going there, 3-D scanning these things, bringing them back.

Did you see the new Palmyra thing that was launched in London? Palmyra was this arc that was destroyed by ISIS. They rebuilt it in collaboration with the UK-based Institute for Digital Archeology, UNESCO, and Dubai’s Museum of the Future Foundation. They recreated this in London and launched it a few months ago. People are taking selfies in front of these things, and everyone is so excited. But what does it mean? What does this act mean, for these people doing this project and then putting it out there?

Another thing that happened when my project was getting all this attention, there were a lot of titles like this: “Artist battles ISIS with a 3-D printer.” “This artist fights ISIS in virtual reality.” Obviously, that’s the problem with doing political-related art. My project definitely got hijacked by media. There has been a lot of amazing reviews by the art world about it, in-depth and really beautifully written. But with the press, it was all that. This kind of framing; and then this which is like creating these things and putting it in London or New York, it creates this thing about it’s us and them. It’s about “look at us.” These civilized Western, white people, bringing these things. We’re the heroes. We’re bringing these things and rebuilding them, against these savages and terrorists and Muslims. It had — a lot of these articles and the way they were framing it, definitely had a xenophobic narrative to it.

I have been trying to keep my project away from it and just talk about my relationship to this piece, because it comes from a lot of personal, poetic — a conceptual relationship to the 3-D printer, to printing, to information, to access… the aesthetics of these specific things.

faustini: how would you summarize your personal position in this as different from the ones espoused by these private parties?

Allahyari: Because it’s about context. It’s about why and how and what way we do things, right? What does it mean? Again, ignoring — putting these things in London and then celebrating it is so fucking dark to me, because it becomes about that position. The Western, civilized people saving the cultural heritage, which suddenly also, like the Middle East cultural heritage is the world’s shared cultural heritage, which I can go on and on about, because that’s bullshit.

If you read these articles and why these archaeologists are interested in recreating these things, the expression that they use is the universal shared cultural heritage. They refer to these things as a cultural heritage that is shared between humans and that is universal, and this ownership over it. That’s why they want to save it, because it’s our shared cultural heritage. Which is like, no! Can we talk about why it’s shared? How is it shared cultural heritage, and when did it become the shared cultural heritage? It’s this universality, which to me, is very dangerous, because then it justifies… [more]
morehshinallahyari  marcellafaustini  2016  interviews  art  siliconvalley  isis  responsibility  us  europe  xenophobia  belonging  activism  additivism  immigration  technology  future  colonialism  culture 
december 2016 by robertogreco
In Conversation With Eike König – iGNANT.de
"‘Hort’ is an old German word for Kindergarten. What does the word’s meaning say about the values of the collective, and what would you say have been its keys to success?

Yes, ‘Hort’ is a super old word for the place kids go after school. Where I grew up, in Frankfurt – where the Green party was founded – there were lots of independently-organised ‘Horts’. I think the idea of this free space is really interesting, because our lives seem to be so well organised, really structured. You go to school, you sit your exams, you go to uni, you graduate, you start working… you follow this linear path, try to organize your life around this structure, although life is actually constantly in flux, in motion – there are no real moments of graduation, only constructed ones. Having a degree doesn’t really signify anything. It’s just an example of one of the anchors to which we attach ourselves. Of course, we need goals, but these goals don’t give us (a) any satisfaction, because the process is permanent, and (b) they don’t guarantee any success. They don’t have a meaning for me. I studied, but I didn’t complete my course. I dropped out close to the end because I was offered a job as the art director for this label. You don’t get offers like that every day. For my parents, that decision was a little harder to swallow. They told me, “You can’t just not finish something.” They were scared I’d never make anything of myself.

But today it doesn’t work like that. I don’t care if someone hasn’t finished their degree. I’m interested in their personality, and what that person does, and how they share their work with me. And I always looked for a place where I could just be, and keep learning, and make mistakes – sure, you have to keep the business running, but learning and development is such an important part of life. And simply to exercise the skills I already have – that gets tired after a while. After a year, it gets really boring. It just keeps you in my comfort zone, to only use the strategies I already have to become successful. In a traditionally agency context, mistakes are avoided. But actually, for the sake of development, it’s the most important motor. To have the courage to try new things. Sometimes they work, others they don’t. To have the room to be able to take risks is super important to me.

So I thought to myself, why don’t I open my own ‘Hort’, a kind of place where older children – so not-quite adults – can go ‘after school’ – after uni. A safe space where kids from different backgrounds come together, feel safe, start to play, play with the highest level of creative energy possible, socialize, learn, grow, do things together: At its core, I find this idea really beautiful, really positive as a way to be together.

Earlier, we did a lot of playful projects, and today we work on more conceptual stuff, but when we get a brief, we don’t try to take the easiest path, the path we’ve already taken, but we look at the individual circumstances surrounding each brief, and we ask what we can learn from it too. This path always takes more energy, needs more discussion with our clients. Clients often expect ideas or concepts they’ve already seen before, or can picture in their minds. When someone says, “Nothing that you see in our portfolio will be like the concept you get,” you need to trust them. I prefer the path of the new: Let’s think differently about it and try to convey our position. So ‘Hort’ is a good idea. It’s also a nice name, has nice phonetics, and no other really clear meaning for others. Americans wouldn’t know what Hort is, say, though in Spanish it’s related to horticulture – landscape gardening, growing – there’s a lot of positive in there. All of us in the office can relate to that."



"As well as being the founder and creative director of Hort, you’re a Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Arts in Offenbach. What kinds of things are your students teaching you these days?

The role of the teacher has changed from being the professor-as-keeper-of-all-knowledge – the one that knows better than everyone else, and decides between right and wrong. Formerly, education was about repeating what others have already done. I was always a bit sceptical about this model, because the things we know and don’t yet know don’t necessarily impact on truth or falsehood – they are simply part of our biographies, the things we have taken to be true. But those things will be different for the person standing next to me.

Everything that I experienced during my studies and that I was critical of – I try to do those things differently. Today I teach in a University of the Arts – so there are separate disciplines, but they all run parallel to fine arts: painting, sculpture, etc. I’m in this warehouse section of the school, together with the painters and sculptors and the electronic artists and spacial designers. I have a very close-knit relationship with my colleagues in these fields, and I want to offer a research- and development-based approach to my teaching in design, graphics and illustration. I’m really intrigued by this apparent distinction between practical art and fine art. There’s a really interesting overlap between the disciplines.

I want to help my students to probe into this. Each of them is distinctly individual. No-one works like I do, and that’s important – I don’t want clones of myself. Of course they’ll be influenced by me as their teacher, but I try to focus on imparting and discussing ideas as opposed to the formal elements. My students include classic graphic designers, classic illustrators, but also those who do drawing, photography, painting – it’s super diverse, just like in the [Hort] office. Everyone is following the questions they’re personally interested in. I only provide space to do this, guide the group with questions – and draw upon my network to provide them with opportunities like showing their work in a gallery in Düsseldorf, or travelling to Tokyo to exchange their work with artists there, or bring in artists for talks, and introduce them to people to share their portfolio. Not to say, “this is my knowledge base and I will now impart it to you.” Working in this way is exciting, because everyone’s doing their own thing, developing along their own path side by side. We spend most of our time talking, actually. Which is a total inspiration for me too. I learn so much from our discourse.

And it keeps me young! If you work with young people, you can’t grow old. Pokémon Go? Five of my students had it. So of course I needed to see what it was, to keep up to date. I have one class where we just speak about contemporary graphic design. We don’t make anything – we just spend the whole lesson talking about things we’ve seen that inspire us. I want these students to develop their own interests – not to copy what others have done, but to find a form that relates to them, and develop a self-confidence to work on things that might not get 1000 likes on Tumblr, but actually mean something to them. Not to be pushed into the direction of self-promotion, but to find themselves first. You don’t need 1000 likes. Create something that’s relevant and interesting in real life. My teaching focus is on developing the personalities of my students, not on passing on knowledge. It’s super exciting. This daily work with people – whether my students or my colleagues at the office – is my biggest inspiration."
eikekönig  design  education  learning  howwelearn  hort  graphicdesign  art  graphics  berlin  via:jarrettfuller  teaching  howweteach  unschooling  dropouts  deschooling  play  youth  tumblr  socialmedia  discussion  conversation  interviews 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Werner Herzog on the future of film school, critical connectivity, and Pokémon Go | The Verge
"EY: Have you seen any changes or shifts in the work and in the submissions over the past seven years?

WH: There are always surprises. All of a sudden there is a film that is not really accomplished, but in the film there is a minute of utterly new unseen stuff that just makes you sit down and take a deep breath. Those are the [filmmakers] I would invite [to Rogue Film School], those who are not following on the trodden path. The MasterClass speaks to you in the same way. Find your own voice, do not just stupidly and blindly follow the so-called rules of storytelling in terms of screenplays, the three-act theory, all these things. Find your voice, find your own identity, don't be afraid just to step into it.

Because today it's fairly easy; you can make a film with a very high caliber camera that's not expensive anymore. You can record sound on your cell phone if you add a good microphone and you can edit your film on your laptop. In other words, you can make a feature film for $10,000 or under. And that's what I keep telling the students or those who watch the MasterClass: don't wait for the system to accept you. You create your own system, create your own [budget] and make your own first feature film or your first own documentary.

EY: More and more that DIY spirit is the dominant attitude of young filmmakers, especially those putting their work directly online. Do you think traditional film school will ever go extinct?

WH: No, unfortunately they are not going to go completely extinct; I wish they would. I wish everybody would come out of nowhere and be self-taught by life itself, by the world itself. No, [film school is] going to stay because there is a general demand for content, let's say, on television. And the film industry has some sort of a permanent demand for content. Let it be like that. I do not want to challenge it. But when you look into my MasterClass you better be out for something else."



"WH: No, you shouldn't watch it [the MasterClass] all at once. That would be completely mad. And be careful with the assignments, because sometimes I would say you do not need to follow them. Create your own assignments, be intelligent. Giving assignments, it reeks of high school and getting homework.

EY: Some people respond to that though, some people like that.

WH: Yes, but I always was reluctant to give any assignments. But it's fine. Let it be as it is. It's part of the format and it's part of the charm of it. When it comes to assignment I'm not the one who should be a high school principal.

EY: Right.

WH: I'd rather jump from Golden Gate Bridge if that happens.

EY: I asked about film school because I graduated from a film program less than a decade ago, and already many of the technical skills I learned are outdated. And it seems the things that remain are very personal lessons that usually don't come from the curriculum itself.

WH: Yeah, certain things you can neither learn in film school nor let's say the MasterClass nor in the Rogue Film School. It's just life, raw life as it is has to give you insight and has to allow you to make the right decisions and ask the right questions and gathering enough courage to do something."



"WH: If you are too much into the internet, yes, because it's a parallel surrogate life. It has nothing to do with the real world or examination of the real world, if you delegate too much to your cell phone and applications."



"WH: You see, I come from a world where you touch things, like a roll of celluloid. But I have to get better accustomed to the virtual world."



EY: Lo and Behold is officially being released in August, but in the meantime you've had the chance to screen it several times. What kinds of reactions have you gotten, especially from people who are perhaps more embedded in the "connected world" than you are?

WH: Well, everybody has been enthusiastic so far and the buzz is enormous. I never expected it, because in the beginning I was to do some YouTube tips on texting and driving. The financiers of the film, NETSCOUT, understood there was something much, much bigger and they supported me with that. The response has been totally unprecedented for me. What is also remarkable I get a lot of emails nowadays [from] 12, 14, 15-year-olds. And that's something really surprising because they speak a different language, the language of their age group. And yet [they are] making some very intelligent remarks."
wernerherzog  masterclass  education  filmmaking  2016  interviews  emilyyoshida  experience  unschooling  deschooling  internet  virtualreality  pokémongo  pokémon  pokemon  making  observation  roguefilmschool  diy  film  documentary  assignments  howweteach  howwelearn  learning  teaching  pokemongo  edg  srg  vr 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Song Exploder | Grimes
[via:

"“I [made] the song that would play during the trailer of this fictional movie in my mind” @Grimezsz on @SongExploder"
https://twitter.com/austinkleon/status/755047783522983936

"“Music for me is like fan fiction.” –@Grimezsz on @SongExploder"
https://twitter.com/austinkleon/status/755048032769454080

"new fave podcast! Song Exploder. (good) Candy for your ears. Episode 78: Grimes on @SongExploder"
https://twitter.com/joyfulcarla/status/754441719274278912 ]
grimes  music  interviews  fanfiction  via:austinkleon  via:carlabergman  songwriting 
july 2016 by robertogreco
BOMB Magazine — Edwidge Danticat by Garnette Cadogan
"Despite her accomplishments, it is clear from talking to her and reading her books that her ambition is to be nothing less than an attentive observer—her works display exemplary watchfulness and empathy. Over the course of a weeks-long correspondence about her writing, she kept gently nudging me to listen more closely, to be the kind of reader on whom nothing is lost, a reader who recognizes people as irreducibly various and complex. And she made it seem so simple. Except it’s not. (Relatedly, her prose’s deceptive simplicity is part of its appeal.) She has been described as “the bard of the Haitian diaspora,” but, really, her terrain is whatever world her fertile imagination takes her to. Her latest stop is the fictional town of Ville Rose, in which Claire of the Sea Light is set—a heartbreaking-yet-wondrous world."



"GC Claire, this “luminous child,” comes to us in a fable-like series of interrelated stories. Why that structure? Was there something about the themes you wanted to tackle, or about the way you wanted to delineate linked lives in Haiti, that made you choose this form?

ED Initially I wanted to write a book that was like a transcript of a popular radio show in Haiti, featuring news, gossip, interviews, and testimonials. I was not going to use the transcript format, but each chapter was going to be a story that was an episode of the show. The book is as much about Claire and her father as it is about the other residents of Ville Rose. We meet many different characters and get into each of their houses and heads. There is a schoolmaster and his wayward son. There is an undertaker, as well as Louise George, the radio hostess, and others. I imagine the reader as a visitor to Ville Rose on the one night that the book takes place. You arrive on the beach and you start meeting people and you try to piece all the pieces together. I like books, like mysteries, that leave something for the reader to do, a puzzle to solve. I hope this book does that.

GC Were you worried that the fantastical elements of your story might be taken as allegorical and therefore lessen the blow of the horrors you describe?

ED There are not that many fantastical elements in this book. Everything that is mentioned can and actually has happened in different parts of the world. Rogue waves happen. Supernovas happen. Frogs die en masse in many places. Also, even when fantastical elements appear in stories, in my experience, they often highlight rather than reduce horrors.

GC The tiny seaside town of Ville Rose is painted with magical strokes that point to a life beyond the one we can see. They reveal the townspeople’s connection with each other and also their connection to the world beyond. How do you perceive the world that we can’t see shaping the one we do see?

ED I am certainly of the belief that there is more to us than what we see. This is why I would resist the notion of death as ultimate exile. I believe that we remain connected to our ancestors long after they’re gone. It is a deep spiritual connection that is hard to explain. I sometimes think, for example, that I see traces of my grandmother in my daughter’s expressions. This is both genetic and magical at the same time. We are all part of a cycle of life, shaped by all that has come before. Some call it evolution. Some call it God, by whatever name they call God. In Haiti you might say Gran Mèt la, the Grand Master or Creator, which would be part of most religions, even ones where people have trouble agreeing what God should be or look or sound like.

GC In an essay published on the year since the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, you quoted a saying of your grandmother’s: “In Haiti, people never really die.” The dead are still among us, you pointed out. How does your awareness of your ancestors and your intimate connection to the dead influence your writing?

ED Again, not to sound too mysterious, but there is so much happening when I am writing that I don’t quite understand. In many ways this is linked to the fact that your subconscious is doing most of the work when you’re in the middle of any creative act. Yet sometimes, on good days when the writing is going well, you feel like there is someone on your shoulder whispering things in your ear that you are just transcribing. You’re a vessel. You don’t even notice time going by. The words just flow. On those days, some people say that the muse has been by. I like to say that my ancestors have been by, sharing with me some of what they have learned over several lifetimes, because there is no way I can individually know what everyone in my bloodline has known together, collectively."



"GC You seem to carry the burden—and liberation—of being from multiple worlds, Haiti and the United States, and speaking to and on behalf of both. Do you see yourself speaking from one world to another, or speaking to both worlds simultaneously? Or speaking to both worlds and the diaspora, that homeland caught between the two?

ED I carry no such burden, frankly. If you give yourself that burden, that is your burden. If I thought of myself as this person “being from multiple worlds,” then I would probably just shut down and do something else with my life. No one elected me to speak on their behalf either in Haiti or the United States. I’m certainly not going to assign myself that role because it would be presumptuous and arrogant and just plain too much. To express an opinion, I would have to take a survey first. I can add my voice to someone else’s. I can help raise other voices. But I can’t take on this massive undertaking that you’re suggesting. I would fail miserably. I don’t have the personality for it or the stamina. Also, the idea of this great anguish of living between two worlds has diminished somewhat for many immigrant people, artists and non-artists alike. Not that there is not some uneasiness, but it is no longer the single most urgent anxiety of every immigrant’s life. And honestly, maybe it never was—except, perhaps, in literature.

Recently I read Patricia Engel’s It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, in which a father wants to convince his daughter to join the family business, but she wants to be an artist. He says to her that all immigrants are artists, that the overall action of recreating your life in another country is a work of art. That was a wonderful intergenerational moment about the pressures of immigration—something I personally needed to hear, something that moves the conversation beyond culture clash and “I am neither here nor there,” to a more nuanced situation where people are talking intimately about immigration and not screaming, “I don’t know where I belong!” I would like us to move beyond these tropes of speaking to or for, and of being only between two worlds. We are at the same time speaking to no one and everyone."



"GC One truth that stands high in your work is that love is a potent combatant to loss. Elaborate on the hopefulness that runs through your recent novel and your work in general.

ED I don’t know how to do this without singing a corny love song, but if you have ever suffered a loss, or have been deprived of a love, or have watched someone’s life slip away—of course all positive emotions can offer some kind of comfort. Love is certainly one of the best for that. When things are difficult, the love a parent has for a child, romantic love, or the love a neighbor has for a stranger or a friend, can sustain a person in ways that even the person being sustained might not fully understand at the moment. The year my father and uncle both died, I can’t imagine how I would have survived if not for the love of my friends and family who got me through a pregnancy, a birth, and all the craziness—mostly with words. Words of comfort in cards, texts, and emails, when I could not even pick up the phone. Not to sound too corny, but sometimes love can also be the difference between life and death. Countless poems, novels, essays, and films vouch for this."
edwidgedanticat  garnettecadogan  writing  literature  haiti  2014  interviews  immigration  migration  howwewrite  whywwewrite  exile  motherhood  subconscious  identity  patriciaengle  nikkigiovanni  love  childhood  fiction  alienation  history  ancestry  noticing  observing  listening 
july 2016 by robertogreco
John Baldessari - Page - Interview Magazine
[via: http://austinkleon.com/2016/06/16/what-did-you-make-today-papa/ ]

"SALLE: You've been showing for a very long time in every conceivable context in the art world—on the page, on the gallery wall, in the movie theater. There's definitely times when it must have felt lonely. But it doesn't seem as though it ever kept you from doing it and doing more of it.

BALDESSARI: I still have that vestigial idea that all these other people are artists. I'm an artist wannabe.

SALLE: I guess that's what's kept you pure.

BALDESSARI: Well, maybe we never get rid of that.

SALLE: Do you think Richard Serra has his version of that feeling?

BALDESSARI: I have no idea. Although I remember a quote of his, when he first came into New York and was looking around at people doing sculpture. He said, "I can do this." I don't think I ever had that kind of self-assurance, but I admire it.

SALLE: Many artists have tried to embody a Borgesian sensibility—the "Library of Babel"—the roundabout, circuitous journey, that type of trope. It seems to me that your work does that better than most. You remind me of the Borges character who travels aimlessly around the globe without knowing why or without having any method or goal, only to discover at the end of his life that the map of his travels describes the outline of his face. Does that ring a bell?

BALDESSARI: Yeah. [laughs] That's true. I've always had this method of working: I think of following an idea to its logical trail—where would it take me—and instead of stopping there, I think, "What if I just kept pushing it a little bit further? Where would it go?"

SALLE: That seems to be one of the operating principles of your work. You can't account for how it got from this point to that point.

BALDESSARI: One of the games I play at night when I'm trying to go to sleep is that I start with a part of a word like E-A-S-T. Then I go through the alphabet. I start with A, okay, that doesn't work. B, okay, beast. I go to the end of the alphabet. You never realize so many words have E-A-S-T in them until you play that game.

SALLE: I've been playing word games with an 8-year-old girl. It's amazing what you can learn from a child.

BALDESSARI: I learned so much about art from watching a kid draw. I taught at the grade-school level. Kids don't call it art when they're throwing things around, drawing—they're just doing stuff. I think it's the first year of junior high school it ends, because the girls start drawing horses and the guys start doing fighter planes and tanks and that sort of thing.

SALLE: That marriage of word and image that we spoke of earlier—that simple binary operation of putting two things together and letting them stand, which I associate with your work from the early '70s—seems to be playing a bigger role in the work in the last four or five years.

BALDESSARI: For these fairly recent pieces, you've got high-end restaurant entrées and press clippings. People are thinking why, but in my mind, the more events escalate, the more we think about food.

SALLE: There's something very satisfying about the look of a flashcard—it speaks to the need for clarity. The aesthetic of the flashcard kind of sums up what was in the air during that time at CalArts as well. It was foundational.

BALDESSARI: That should be the goal for all art, to be as simple as a flashcard. There's that early videotape where I'm trying to teach a plant the alphabet with flashcards [Teaching a Plant the Alphabet, 1972].

SALLE: That's a crystalline presentation of it. Teaching a plant the alphabet takes on an almost Beckett-like, vaudevillian slapstick quality. Teaching a plant is so dumbly pedagogical—the sincerity of it.

BALDESSARI: Again, I'm just picking up on something in the culture. Back then, if you remember, there were people who thought one could communicate with plants.

SALLE: But do you agree with me on the Beckett-like, vaudeville-clown pathos on that work?

BALDESSARI: I think the idea of vaudeville clowns and court jesters is always to show the flaw, to point out what's not working and why it's not coherent. So I share a lot of that. I do think a lot of dumb humor is incredibly profound at the same time. An antisophistication can be kind of refreshing, I think."
johnbaldessari  2013  art  interviews  flashcards  children  borges  davidsalle  sfsh  play  worsplay  classideas 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Sara Hendren Believes Disability Is a Cultural Construct
"Do we misunderstand technology that assists the disabled?

When we talk about design technology in the context of disability, we call it assistive technology. But all technology is assistive. Curb cuts were thought to be an extreme user case for wheelchairs. But it turns out that they also make passage through a city easy for a lot of people, like children who are learning to walk, and people who are pushing strollers. Look at the use of elevators. People who are with young children, people who are injured, people who are with older adults who have trouble walking all use them. The Oxo brand of kitchen tools was designed by a man whose wife had arthritis in her hands. He made a fortune by figuring out that a lot of people need some of the same tools that she did. Disabilities occupy the continuum of normal human variation, and technology can do something similar. It’s not that there is technology for normal people, and there is assistive technology for not-normal people.

How can the stigma surrounding technology for the disabled be addressed?

There is no stigma attached to your eyes having less than 20-20 vision. People who wear eyeglasses do not feel any shame in walking out of the door. But studies show there is plenty of stigma attached to hearing aids. I want people to see technologies doing lots of things for lots of people. There are plenty of design speculations, like a hearing aid could not only control the volume of what you are hearing but also how much you are hearing of one thing in particular. How much you are hearing what is in front of you, while tuning out the rest. That can be quite useful in a noisy restaurant. I think there are lots of other opportunities like this to de-stigmatize.

What do you make of the wide publicity given to high-end gear for disabled people, like exoskeletons?

I love these exoskeletons. I am astonished at them as a feat of engineering and think we should celebrate them and support them. I also think that they monopolize the headlines about disability, about prosthetics, and about the promise of technology. We have 100 other kinds of stories about the ways people are living their lives. Lives that are worth living with artifacts and gears but also with systems, jobs, and supports that comes from lots of places. Some of them are low-tech, some of them are systems-scale, and some of them are architectural. A lot of them are hidden from you. The director of the Adaptive Design Association in New York City just won a MacArthur “Genius” award. They have been building adaptive furniture out of triple-walled cardboard for pennies, for decades, and they do it for free. Jaipur Foot in India is producing recycled rubber limbs. There is daily living advice on websites targeted for people living with muscular dystrophy. Ways to button a shirt on your own, ways to hold a fork in a steady manner. There are white canes. White canes are a smart technology. They have resisted many new market entrants. People who are blind find them incredibly elegant and useful tools. But they do not make newsworthy headlines.

Is cheap, scalable technology a necessity?

History shows that the availability of technology doesn’t actually make a more equitable world. In this country, after 25 years of working for rights for people with disabilities, we are still seeing high unemployment rates for the disabled. Look at what happens even in the best inclusive schooling situations. Disabled students who age out of the public school system, their prospects just tank. And this is the richest country in the world, with all kinds of assistive and adaptive technology products available. So you will never convince me that just the sheer production of products that can be scaled cheaply is going to change the way people think about people who have disabilities. You need people to change their minds. So, I am an unabashed culture producer. I think, does democracy come when the next five great products come to the market? History shows that is not the case. History shows that people change their minds based on a lot of things. Look at the way gay rights have been transformed in this country. Sitcoms starting in the ’90s had openly gay characters that went out on national networks, like Ellen. It would have been unheard of more than 25 years ago. So, I think there is a lot of tech-saviorism in the world around disability. People act like engineering is going to rescue these bodies. Then what? Are they going to get better jobs, or suddenly get the respect or the dignity that they are asking for? I strongly feel that engineering does some good things—and cultural forms and stories, objects and artifacts, symbols and metaphors also do things to change the world."
2016  interviews  sarahendren  disability  technology  assistivetechnology  stigma  bias  technosolutionsism  normal  adaptive  adaptivetechnology  disabilities 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Earl Sweatshirt: ‘Canadians Are Weirdos’ - The New York Times
[See also:

"After Exile, Career Reset: Earl Sweatshirt Is Back From the Wilderness" (2012)
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/arts/music/earl-sweatshirt-is-back-from-the-wilderness.html

"Loose Cannons, Now Firing Freely: Earl Sweatshirt and ASAP Ferg, Hip-Hop Progressives" (2013)
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/18/arts/music/earl-sweatshirt-and-asap-ferg-hip-hop-progressives.html

"Review: Earl Sweatshirt’s Latest Album Goes to Dark Places" (2015)
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/24/arts/music/review-earl-sweatshirts-latest-album-goes-to-dark-places.html ]

"Q: The rap collective you’re a member of, Odd Future, became famous very rapidly after you were sent by your mother to a school for troubled youth in Samoa. Did missing out on that success further your resolve to sort through the behavior issues that got you there?
A: Hell, no. Not initially, and not the way that Odd Future was coming out — it was like a temper tantrum. It was perfect. But throwing a temper tantrum in a residential treatment facility is so much less cool than throwing a temper tantrum on TV.

Q: While you were in Samoa, your whereabouts were pieced together by fans and bloggers. Did it make you worry about how much information is available online?
A: One day I hope to not have a Twitter, to be sick enough that I don’t have to use the Internet. But since we came up online, I have to be online. Twitter is a real addiction, like the color of it, the process of it.

Q: When you came home to finish your senior year of high school last year, did you have a bad case of senioritis?
A: Oh, my God, I couldn’t concentrate at all! The combination of being a senior and having a career, being the only person in my high school who didn’t have a question mark about anything, just waiting for school to end? It was tight.

Q: You were just in Toronto. How was that?
A: It was crazy. Canadians are weirdos, though. They are so nice — overbearing nice, like grandmother nice. Toronto is like a city of grandmas.

Q: The rapper Drake is from Toronto. Is he grandma nice?
A: Dude, Drake is grandma nice. He was at Frank Ocean’s show in L.A. and got into an argument with Tyler, the Creator’s mom. I left and came back in the room, and she was apologizing to him for how she came at him, and he was saying: “It’s all love. I love you, Mom. I love moms.” Drake loves moms.

Q: Your mother is a law professor at U.C.L.A. Does she ever pressure you to go to law school or anything?
A: No. My mom’s down for what I’m doing now that she knows I’m not unraveling. When she sent me to Samoa, it wasn’t like, “No rap music!,” you know what I mean? I didn’t get thrown in the cellar for swearing.

Q: Rick Ross was dropped from Reebok because of a lyric about date rape on “U.O.E.N.O.” Odd Future’s music often crosses similar lines.
A: Rick Ross! If he was everything that he rapped about, he’d be the worst coke-dealing mass murderer ever. People got mad because he said something bad on a cool song. That was ridiculous on Reebok’s part. You picked up Rick Ross, he’s cocaine — that’s what his entire career is.

Q: I think Reebok was responding to the social-media outpouring.
A: Everyone’s like sheep on social media, like one person starts making noise, and everyone’s like, ‘Hey, yeah!’ and then you got a whole bunch of people making noise at you.

Q: In 2011, The New Yorker reported that your dad, the South African poet Keorapetse Kgositsile, had not listened to your music. Has he since?
A: I haven’t shown him any music. Like if I was a plumber, I wouldn’t bring a sink home to my parents. I’m not actively trying to bring my work into the house.

Q: Your parents gave you the middle name Neruda after Pablo Neruda. You can see why people are curious.
A: Yeah, it just happens to be that people like to associate poetry and rap music. I think that idea is kind of corny. I think rap music is rap music. I mean, are there heavy writing aspects of it? Absolutely. In a sense is it poetry? Yeah. I’ve heard that so much, growing up in a house with poetry. But I think people like to use that as a shortcut for who’s good and who’s not. It’s like the word “lyrical” — “lyrical” is the worst word in the entire world.

Q: So it’s not a shocking concept that rap could be poetry.
A: It’s actually so familiar that it’s annoying"
oddfuture  ofwgkta  earlsweatshirt  2013  interviews  keorapetsekgositsile  asapferg  rap  hiphop  thebenerudakgositsile 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 197, Umberto Eco
"INTERVIEWER

You are one of the world’s most famous public intellectuals. How would you define the term intellectual? Does it still have a particular meaning? 

ECO

If by intellectual you mean somebody who works only with his head and not with his hands, then the bank clerk is an intellectual and Michelangelo is not. And today, with a computer, everybody is an intellectual. So I don’t think it has anything to do with someone’s profession or with someone’s social class. According to me, an intellectual is anyone who is creatively producing new knowledge. A peasant who understands that a new kind of graft can produce a new species of apples has at that moment produced an intellectual activity. Whereas the professor of philosophy who all his life repeats the same lecture on Heidegger doesn’t amount to an intellectual. Critical creativity—criticizing what we are doing or inventing better ways of doing it—is the only mark of the intellectual function."
umbertoeco  interviews  intellectuals  writing  creativity  criticalcreativity  criticism  class  socialclass  knowledge  knowlegeproduction  2008 
february 2016 by robertogreco
William Gibson: On Phones, Fiction, and the End of the World | Literary Hub
"In this episode [https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-one/s-0Jwns ] of a A Phone Call From Paul, Paul Holdengraber talks to William Gibson about the end of the world, writing fiction, and how crazy it is that people can make little marks on a page to represent and share their thoughts with other people.

William Gibson on writing through the world…

It isn’t that I would want to particularly be working in a better time, but I suspect that the nature of what I do in fiction has something to do with taking some sort of measurement of the zeitgeist at the time of writing, and writing somehow slightly to the side of that. And there is some way I have, but I don’t really understand it, of finding at least for myself a place of resonance around my most generalized sense of how the world is. I need to find that in order to function, and the current situation seems to have an element of goofy incoherence to it that makes it more than usually difficult to find this complementary resonance.

William Gibson on the competing urges of fiction…

Because I’m writing, I’m in the middle of my writing process now, and when I’m doing that, I’m able to read very little fiction. So whether it’s new fiction for me or old favorites, the enjoyment and the creation of it seem to me to take place in the same part of the mind, so that if the part of the day in which I’m not writing fiction has anything else going on, it’s probably not going to be reading fiction. When I’m writing fiction I tend to read nonfiction.

William Gibson on predicting the future…

I’m ever reluctant to take our predictive narratives totally seriously because I think that in spite of our best efforts at prediction, I think that our self-regard defeats us in the end. That we tend to—we imagine relatively heroic outcomes, and no one wants a prophet standing on the corner saying that everything is going to be hideously stupid and banal. Utterly atrocious, and that’s just the nature of things. It lacks even the—well, the appeal of the apocalypse is closure and a sort of clarity. Yes! The world is ending. And yeah it’s kind of a banner one can get behind, in a way. Its opposite is this kind of willy-nilly nihilistic absurdist narrative that one can feel one is living in.

William Gibson on phonecalls…

You’re reaching me through one of a number of post-urban constructs that humanity’s erected in the past hundred or so years, so we are in a common city with San Bernardino. It’s a virtual space. Even then, one could live in a rural setting and arrange one’s life in such a way that one was completely plugged in to every major city in the world and have no idea that there were trees and birds on the other side of the wall. That wasn’t previously possible, you know? That’s relatively—that’s the last century or so."

[Part 2: http://lithub.com/williams-gibson-on-technophobia-and-the-power-of-film/
and https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-two/s-my54E ]
williamgibson  interviews  paulholdengraber  future  phones  fiction  telephones  internet  web  online  virtualspace 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Williams Gibson: On Technophobia and the Power of Film | Literary Hub
"In part one [http://lithub.com/william-gibson-on-phones-fiction-and-the-end-of-the-world/ + https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-one/s-0Jwns ] of Paul Holdengraber’s phone call with William Gibson, topics included dystopias, the universal screenwriter, and the disruption of the telephone. In part two,

[https://soundcloud.com/lithub/william-gibson-part-two/s-my54E ]

William Gibson on the availability of culture…

If you had never heard recorded music and you didn’t have it as a category of experience—if it simply never existed for you—I think that your concept of what music is would be fantastically different. Something that’s happened, a change that’s occurred over the course of my own life that I think somewhat puts this vague claim I’m making into perspective, is the way in which seeing a film used to be something that was so dependent on so many factors that it made it largely unrepeatable. You could see the film on its theatrical release, but unless you lived in, say, New York, there were no repertory cinemas. So people saw a film once and then lived with it in memory, there was no television, there were no videotapes of films. Film existed primarily in memory, and the experience of actually seeing it was very intense.

William Gibson on Chris Marker…

I first saw Chris Marker’s La Jetée in a film history course when I was an undergraduate at the University of British Columbia. I had been vaguely aware of it earlier because it is, you know, technically a science fiction film even though it’s a short avant-garde French film. I had had in my life no opportunity to see any avant-garde French film, so I had no idea what to expect. I wasn’t really expecting very much. It had this extraordinarily profound effect on me, and it’s very, very brief. I actually left the lecture hall feeling uneasily that I had somehow—that something had happened, that I’d experienced some sort of transformation, and I didn’t know what it was.

William Gibson on technophobia…

I’m dubious about ranking… I’m not sure about ranking. I’ve long suspected that what our descendants will find quaintest about us it that we made distinctions of that sort. That they’ll be looking back and they’ll be going, So strange they didn’t think Facebook was “real.” There’s a wonderful, weird book, the title of which I will probably be unable to remember, but it’s a collection of first-person accounts of Victorians encountering new technologies. It’s taken from diaries and letters—it’s not famous people, just ordinary people. The one that always struck me was an Anglican clergyman who went to a garden party, heard an Edison phonograph talking, and went home and wrote this completely terrifying description of this demonic, satanic, mechanical voice speaking to the children in the garden, and how this probably presaged the end of the world. He was just writing for himself, so he wasn’t exaggerating, and I thought, Oh, wow. He had this absolutely intense experience, but I don’t think I could say that what it caused him to fear came to pass."
williamgibson  technophobia  film  chrismarker  lajetee  culture  2016  television  tv  paulholdengraber  interviews  experience  memory  recordings  music  audio  listening  nostalgia  lajetée 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Why Philanthropy Hurts Rather Than Helps Some of the World's Worst Problems | The Progressive
"In America today, big time philanthropists are often lauded for helping to even the playing field for those less fortunate. Every week, millionaires flock from TED conferences to "idea festivals" sharing viral new presentations on how to solve the world's biggest problems (give village children computers, think positive thoughts etc.). But this acceptance of the philanthropic order was not always the case. In the era of Carnegie and Rockefeller, for instance, many distrusted these philanthropic barons, arguing they had no right to horde would-be tax dollars for their own pet causes, especially since these "donations" came from the toil of the workers beneath them.

In her new book No Such Thing As A Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy Linsey McGoey reasserts this challenge to the legitimacy of philanthropy in today's new era of philanthropic superstars. McGoey’s book investigates the Gates Foundation’s interventions in US K-12 education and global health, raising serious concerns about the extent to which the massive philanthropic sector depletes funding for traditional social services and prioritizes the agendas of unelected foundation leaders.

As institutions like the Gates Foundation take increasingly leading roles in policymaking and governance, McGoey argues, the line between traditional notions of charity and top-down consolidation of power becomes unclear; and with this largely unchecked influence, philanthro-capitalists, like Bill Gates, have pushed countries across the world to accept market based solutions for crises like education inequity and disease proliferation—despite evidence that these problems are often rooted in actions taken by those philanthro-capitalists themselves.

No Such Thing As A Free Gift asks, what is the place of such philanthropy in a democratic society? The answer seems to be “none at all.”

Q: You start the book by putting the rise of today's "philanthrocapitalists," like Bill Gates, into historical context. Could you explain what philanthrocapitalism is and what is actually new about it? How do the Bill Gateses of today compare to the Carnegies and Rockefellers of old?

A: The term philanthrocapitalism was coined by Matthew Bishop, an editor at the Economist and expanded in a 2008 book co-written with Michael Green. They define the term in two key ways: First, they argue that philanthropy is becoming more business-like and results-oriented, with donors increasingly applying the profit motive to giving practices.

Secondly, they suggest that capitalism is a ”naturally” philanthropic practice, and therefore grants should be aimed at helping the private sector to solve social problems. Bill Gates has never called himself a philanthrocapitaist, but people like Bishop and Green see him as an exemplar of the trend.

What’s not new about the ”new” philanthropy is the emphasis on cost-effectiveness and strategic giving. Champions of philanthrocapitalism exhibit quite astounding historical amnesia when it comes to the history of large foundations such as Carnegie and Rockefeller, which were modelled on the corporate structures of their founders’ businesses. Results-oriented, strategic philanthropy is a modern phenomenon, but it can be dated to the turn of the 20th-century and the late Gilded Age, not to the start of the 21st century.

Q: There was a recent hullabaloo about Mark Zuckerberg's public announcement that he was going to "give away" 99% of his Facebook shares to charity—which turned out to actually mean a LLC under his control and exempt from non-profit rules against political expenditures and profit-making. Do you think Zuckerberg genuinely understands this as charity? And if so, is this profit-oriented "giving" a major new trend in the philanthropic sector?

A: Through setting up an LLC, Zuckerberg has skirted any requirements to publicly list any grants made to either for-profits or non-profits. His giving can take place in total secrecy: we’ll know only about the grants that he wishes to disclose. When an entity such as the Gates Foundation offers grants to for-profit corporations, it needs to legally exercise "expenditure responsibility," which means that it needs to take measures to ensure that the grant is used for charitable ends, rather than private profiteering. There are no such restrictions on Zuckerberg’s LLC.

Zuckerberg can legally offer the bulk of his "philanthropy" to any for-profit recipients he wants and still receive public acclaim for "gifting" his fortune. We’re seeing the rise of a new, horizontal philanthropy—the rich giving directly to the rich—at a level that’s completely unprecedented.

I think the entire meaning of "corporate philanthropy" is shifting. It once meant corporations surrendering a portion of their revenues to non-profits. Now the meaning is reversed: corporate philanthropy means getting charity to for-profits that position themselves, however disingenuously, as deserving charity claimants.

Q: Though American wealth inequality is at its greatest since the Great Depression, today's philanthropic titans receive much less skepticism from the public than they did in years past. Both Rockefeller and Gates were entangled in some of the most high-profile anti-trust cases in U.S. history. Yet while Bill Gates tops some of today's most admired celebrity surveys, Rockefeller faced so much hostility that he was forced to register his charity in New York State instead of at the federal level. What accounts for the huge shift in the public's mind?

A; Something that separates today’s donors from famous benefactors of the past is that the bloodiest, most fatal effects of wealth extraction have been largely outsourced to developing regions, where brutal labor battles occur regularly but are less visible and therefore less salient for consumers in the west. When Andrew Carnegie, the steel baron, first called for the wealthy to spend their fortunes on the poor, his workers were engaged in very visible struggles over harsh working conditions at Carnegie’s steel plants. These workers had a high degree of public support. Thus, while his philanthropic benefactors did curry some public favor, there was widespread skepticism over the motivations of his charitable giving.

Also, high-profile, 19th-century authors such as Oscar Wilde and Charles Dickens often wrote essays and fiction that satirized and denounced the way that philanthropy seemed to entrench inequalities rather than dissipate them. That literary thread seems almost absent today.

Q: In the book, you document how philanthrocapitalism is seeking to make both charities and public sector institutions run more like corporations, both in structure (with the seeding of for-profit "social enterprises") and operation (as in the case of teacher evaluation reform). What is gained and lost in this approach?

A: It’s very obvious there’s been a considerable shift in how donors, particularly at large foundations, understand and measure their own impact. Garry Jenkins, a law professor at Ohio State, has done important work here, showing how large foundations such as the Gates Foundation increasingly refuse to accept ”open-door” proposals from smaller non-profits: returning again and again to proven recipients. This tendency is undermining genuine competition.

Grantees feel increasingly burdened by unreasonable expectations and short turnarounds for demonstrating a gift’s impact. The education sector in the United States has gone through upheaval after upheaval as schools and school districts try and meet the mercurial demands of donors who are themselves accountable to no one other than a foundation’s trustees or board of directors.

Q: In a review for The New Republic, Dana Goldstein asserts that your book wrongly insinuates the Gates Foundation's philanthropic work is about laying the ground for Bill Gates' own financial gain. This seems to be a misreading of your book's entire premise, which argues that the philanthrocapitalists seek to solve problems of social inequality through market expansion—not because of their own "lust for profit" but because of a sincere faith in unbridled capitalism. Could you clarify the significance of this distinction with specific reference to the Gates Foundations' work?

A: My main argument is not that Gates is trying to position himself to profit personally. My point is that he’s overly sanguine about the value of positioning and helping other elite actors to benefit financially from his own giving. His foundation has offered tens of millions in non-repayable grants to some of the world’s largest corporations, including Mastercard and Scholastic. In email interviews, a spokesperson for the Gates Foundation suggested to me that any giving to for-profits is in keeping with IRS regulations which stipulate that grants must be used solely for charitable gain. But clearly the foundation’s giving is used in a highly commercial manner by recipients such as Mastercard.

U.S. taxpayers subsidize philanthropic foundations such as the Gates Foundation through displaced tax revenue. I’d like to see more media and congressional scrutiny over whether the Gates Foundation’s charity towards Mastercard is really a fair use of taxpayer money. I also worry about the precedent that is being set. If the Gates Foundation can offer a gift to Mastercard, there’s nothing stopping the Koch brothers from directly subsidizing any corporation they want—as long as they can argue that the gift was in line with their own charitable mandate.

Q: In the book you grapple with one tenet of this faith in business: the idea that the "data-driven" and "market-based" philanthropic efforts of today are far more efficient and productive than social services provided by the government. Is this true? What are the numbers on who philanthropy helps today and who it costs in lieu of tax revenue?

A: Scholars like Robert B. Reich place the yearly cost to the U.S. treasury at $40 billion—this is what overall deductions… [more]
georgejoseph  2015  philanthropy  philanthrocapitalism  charitableindustrialcomplex  gatesfoundation  billgates  melindagates  schools  education  policy  democracy  power  lindseymcgoey  interviews  fosterfries  robertreich  robberbarons  charity  taxes  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  control 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Refugee camps are the "cities of tomorrow", says aid expert
"Governments should stop thinking about refugee camps as temporary places, says Kilian Kleinschmidt, one of the world's leading authorities on humanitarian aid (+ interview).

"These are the cities of tomorrow," said Kleinschmidt of Europe's rapidly expanding refugee camps. "The average stay today in a camp is 17 years. That's a generation."

"In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city," he told Dezeen.

Kleinschmidt said a lack of willingness to recognise that camps had become a permanent fixture around the world and a failure to provide proper infrastructure was leading to unnecessarily poor conditions and leaving residents vulnerable to "crooks".

"I think we have reached the dead end almost where the humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis," he said. "We're doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the second world war. Nothing has changed."

Kleinschmidt, 53, worked for 25 years for the United Nations and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in various camps and operations worldwide. He was most recently stationed in Zaatari in Jordan, the world's second largest refugee camp – before leaving to start his own aid consultancy, Switxboard.

He believes that migrants coming into Europe could help repopulate parts of Spain and Italy that have been abandoned as people gravitate increasingly towards major cities.

"Many places in Europe are totally deserted because the people have moved to other places," he said. "You could put in a new population, set up opportunities to develop and trade and work. You could see them as special development zones which are actually used as a trigger for an otherwise impoverished neglected area."

Refugees could also stimulate the economy in Germany, which has 600,000 job vacancies and requires tens of thousands of new apartments to house workers, he said.

"Germany is very interesting, because it is actually seeing this as the beginning of a big economic boost," he explained. "Building 300,000 affordable apartments a year: the building industry is dreaming of this!"

"It creates tons of jobs, even for those who are coming in now. Germany will come out of this crisis."

Kleinschmidt told Dezeen that aid organisations and governments needed to accept that new technologies like 3D printing could enable refugees and migrants to become more self-sufficient.

"With a Fab Lab people could produce anything they need – a house, a car, a bicycle, generating their own energy, whatever," he said.

His own attempts to set up a Zaatari Fab Lab – a workshop providing access to digital fabrication tools – have been met with opposition.

"That whole concept that you can connect a poor person with something that belongs to the 21st century is very alien to even most aid agencies," he said. "Intelligence services and so on from government think 'my god, these are just refugees, so why should they be able to do 3D-printing? Why should they be working on robotics?' The idea is that if you're poor, it's all only about survival."

"We have to get away from the concept that, because you have that status – migrant, refugee, martian, alien, whatever – you're not allowed to be like everybody else."

Read the edited transcript from our interview with Kilian Kleinschmidt:

Talia Radford: Why did you leave the UN?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: I left the the UN to be as disruptive as possible, as provocative as possible, because within the UN of course there is certain discipline. I mean I was always the rebel.

Talia Radford: What is there to rebel about?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: I think we have reached the dead end almost where the humanitarian agencies cannot cope with the crisis. We're doing humanitarian aid as we did 70 years ago after the second world war. Nothing has changed.

In the Middle East, we were building camps: storage facilities for people. But the refugees were building a city.

These are the cities of tomorrow. The average stay today in a camp is 17 years. That's a generation. Let's look at these places as cities.

Talia Radford: Why aren't refugee camps flourishing into existing cities?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: It's down to the stupidity of the aid organisations, who prefer to waste money and work in a non-sustainable way rather than investing in making them sustainable.

Talia Radford: Why are people coming to Europe?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Everybody who is coming here right now is an economic migrant. They are not refugees. They were refugees in Jordan, but they are coming to Europe to study, to work, to have a perspective for their families. In the pure definition, it's a migration issue.

Right now everybody is going to Germany because in Germany they have 600,000 job vacancies. So of course there is an attraction, and there is space. Once the space is filled, nobody will go there anymore. They will go somewhere else.

Talia Radford: How do refugees – or economic migrants – know where to go? Via the media?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: No, it's all done through Whatsapp!

Talia Radford: What is the relationship between migration and technology?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Every Syrian refugee in the Zaatari camp has been watching Google self-driving cars moving around, so [they] don't believe the information only belongs to the rich people anymore.

We did studies in the Zaatari camp on communication. Everybody had a cellphone and 60 per cent had a smartphone. The first thing people were doing when they came across the border was calling back home to Syria and saying "hey we made it". So the big, big thing was to distribute Jordanian sim cards.

Once we had gotten over the riots over water and lots of other things that politicised the camp, the next big issue was internet connectivity.

Talia Radford: What are the infrastructure requirements of a mass influx of refugees?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: The first is the logistics of accommodation: that's the survival bit. Everyone is struggling with this now, in reception centres, camps – every country in the world is dealing with this. Eighty-five to 90 per cent of any people on the move will be melting into the population so the real issue is how you deal with a sudden higher demand for accommodation.

Germany says that they suddenly need 300 to 400,000 affordable housing units more per year. It's about dealing with the structural issues, dealing with the increased population, and absorbing them into existing infrastructure.

Talia Radford: How do you see the refugee situation in Europe now?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: The discussion in Germany is quite interesting, because they currently have 600,000 jobs to fill, but they are all in places where there is no housing. It's all in urban centres where they have forgotten to build apartments.

Half of east Germany is empty. Half of southern Italy is empty. Spain is empty. Many places in Europe are totally deserted.

You could redevelop some of these empty cities into free-trade zones where you would put in a new population and actually set up opportunities to develop and trade and work. You could see them as special development zones, which are actually used as a trigger for an otherwise impoverished, neglected area.

Germany is very interesting, because it is actually seeing this as the beginning of a big economic boost. Building 300,000 apartments a year: the building industry is dreaming of this! It creates tons of jobs, even for those who are coming in now. Germany will come out of this crisis.

In Pakistan, in Jordan, they say "Oh no! These people are all going back in five minutes so we're not building any apartments for them! Put them in tents, put them in short-lived solutions." What they are losing is actually a real opportunity for progress, for change. They are losing an opportunity for additional resources, capacities, know-how.

Talia Radford: What other technologies have you dealt with in relation to refugees and migration?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: Energy is the big one. Things are finally moving because of the energy storage, which we suddenly have with the Tesla batteries for instance. Decentralised production of energy is the way forward. Thirty per cent of the world's population does not have regular access to energy. We could see a mega, mega revolution. With little investment we can set up a solar-power plant that not only provides power to the entire camp, but can also be sold to the surrounding settlements.

And water. In the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Danish groundwater pump supplier Grundfos partnered with a water company and you now have a smart-water terminal in the slum, where with smart cards you can buy clean drinking water.

You buy your water from a safe location for a fraction of what the crooks of the water business in Nairobi would sell the water for. So suddenly it becomes affordable, it becomes safe, and you can manage the quantities yourself.

A lot of change is facilitated by mobile phones. No poor person has a bank account any more in Kenya. Everybody has an M-Pesa account on their mobile phone. All transactions are done with their mobile phone. They don't need banks. They pay their staff now with your mobile phone. You charge their M-Pesa account.

Talia Radford: Are any of these services being set up at refugee camps?

Kilian Kleinschmidt: At Zaatari, the UNHCR never planned to provide electricity for the households. So people took it themselves from the power lines running through the camp. Electricity means safety, it means social life, it means business. Big business! People were charging €30 per connection and more.

With a $3 million investment in pre-paid meters, you could have ensured every household would get a certain subsidised quantity of energy. The UNHCR didn't think it would have $3 million to invest in the equipment, and so it is spending a million dollars a month of taxpayers' money on an unmanaged electricity bill.

Talia Radford: You helped set up a Fab Lab… [more]
immigration  cities  humanitarianaid  urban  urbanism  kiliankleinschmidt  unhcr  zaatari  jordan  refugees  refugeecamps  switxboard  europe  germany  economics  españa  spain  italy  italia  fabricationtaliaradford  interviews  migration  employment  jobs  work  fablabs  safety  infrastructure  kenya  nairobi  kibera  grundfos  energy  decentralization  solarpower  solar  batteries  technology  pakistan  housing  homes  politics  policy  syria 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Q&A: William Gibson | Life and style | The Guardian
"Born in South Carolina, Gibson, 67, evaded the Vietnam draft by emigrating to Canada. He popularised the word cyberspace, using it in his first science fiction novel, Neuromancer (1984), which sold more than 6m copies. His most recent novel is The Peripheral. He is married, with two children, and lives in Vancouver.

When were you happiest?
I suspect that my happiest moments are about finding myself able to more deeply enjoy existence.

What is your greatest fear?
Now I’m older, the future suddenly looks far grimmer than anything I’d have imagined – not simply that it won’t contain me, but that it won’t contain, for instance, tigers.

What is your earliest memory?
Being in a peanut field with my mother, on a farm my parents rented in rural Tennessee, in 1950. Down a steep hill, a road. A black American panel truck driving quickly along.

What would your super power be?
Redistribution of wealth.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My posture, which is that of a tall person wishing not to be.

What is your favourite word?
“Thing”, apparently. The harder I’m writing, the more imprecise my spoken language becomes.

Which book changed your life?
A two-volume Sherlock Holmes omnibus my mother gave me, when I was just able to read it.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife of 45 years, Deborah.

What is the worst job you’ve done?
Working in a factory that made very mediocre fibreglass boats. Toxic environment, very messy, itchy, taking advantage of immigrant labour, which I was.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
In my late teens someone told me – I assume to be cruel – that my third-grade teacher, of whom I’d always been immensely fond, had come to have nothing but contempt for me over my opinion of the Vietnam war.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A paleontologist.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Procrastination.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
A Pentagon technocrat who told me in 1969 exactly how the Soviet Union would collapse. I thought it was feel-good nonsense at the time.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Victorian London, though I imagine the experience would be traumatic.

How do you relax?
I look in charity shops, though I seldom buy anything. They are museums of quotidian humanity.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
A freakish near-miss ricochet while pistol-shooting, aged 13. Or the time an officer of Franco’s Guardia Civil in Ibiza, in 1970, punctuated a rural roadside interrogation by casually shooting the dog we were with.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Perhaps the cumulative achievement of not having been an even bigger jerk?

Where would you most like to be right now?
On the Ramblas in Barcelona, un-jetlagged, having a coffee.

Tell us a joke
A man walks into a bar with a toad on his head. “What’s that?” asks the bartender. “I don’t know,” says the toad, “but it started as a wart on my ass.”"
interviews  williamgibson  inequality  wealth  superpowers  2015  economics 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Interviews – Meet Antipode’s new Editorial Collective | AntipodeFoundation.org
[via: https://twitter.com/Keguro_/status/652837835440046081 ]

"Andy Kent: Could you tell us about Dear Science, a project you’ve been working on for a number of years now?

Katherine McKittrick: The title of my next research project and monograph, Dear Science, is borrowed from the musicians TV on the Radio (Interscope, 2008). It is an affectionate invitation to engage science and hold dear creative expressions of scientific knowledge. Dear Science suggests that there exists, between and across the arts and the natural sciences, a promise of intellectual collaboration and emancipatory possibility. The project emphasizes the ways in which the creative texts of those marginalized by social structures—in particular black cultural producers—demand from us an understanding of science and knowledge that challenges biological determinism. The research will look at the ways in which three areas of the natural sciences—biology, mathematics, and physics—emerge in the poetry, music, and visual art of black cultural producers.

I have been thinking about these kinds of questions for some time because I have noticed the ways in which blackness and race—while certainly social constructions—continue to be analysed as sites of degradation and unfreedom. So even as we claim that race is socially constructed, the black body is theorized as a social construction that is biologically inferior. So, I have been interested in how our political commitment to undoing the science of race in fact involves repetitively constituting and naming biologically deterministic categories. Underneath Dear Science, then, is an analytical web that addresses the limits of analysing science and studies of science within a framework that underscores and thus reproduces racial and gendered hierarchies and dichotomies.

These dichotomies and hierarchies do ‘work’ beyond the body and biological determinism, too: through the work of Sylvia Wynter and Aime Cesaire (among others), we can also notice the bifurcation of scientific knowledge and creative knowledge—and how particular communities are said to inhabit either side of this bifurcation. This epistemological splitting has led me to think about how black cultural producers utilize locution, imagery and sound to challenge and recast the colonial underpinnings of scientific knowledge as well as the analytical and interdisciplinary provocations that arise through imagining a black creative science. Early drafts have thought about these questions alongside the long poem Zong! by Nourbese Philip, the musical text Harnessed the Storm by Drexicya, Nas’ Untitled cover art, and two visual pieces by artist Joy Gregory, Memory and Skin and Blonde Collection. I hope to draw attention to the ways in which black creative artists provide a context through which science and creativity are enjoined and thus provoke new analytical challenges for cultural studies, science studies and black studies.

AK: One of the most striking things about your work is its ‘undisciplined’ nature; from your home in gender and cultural studies human geography meets black and anti-colonial studies…And that’s not the only border being trespassed: non-academic ways of imagining and knowing the world play an important role in your scholarship, from literature, poetry and music in Demonic Grounds and the book you co-edited with Clyde Woods, Black Geographies and the Politics of Place, to more recent work focusing on the writers Dionne Brand and Sylvia Wynter. I wonder if you might say something about these boundary-crossings and encounters, and the place of interdisciplinarity and different ‘expressive cultures’ in your research?

KMc: I have found that interdisciplinarity allows one to ask meaningful questions about race and social justice. The possibilities of interdisciplinarity are hopeful and resistant. It is an intellectually rewarding stance, for me—whose undergraduate training was in History and English Literature—to think outside the disciplinary box: this is an exciting analytical space where new ideas can be shared and debated. Methodologically, interdisciplinarity insists that we take a chance on what we do not know while also thinking about how the encounter of various intellectual traditions creates something new. Interdisplinarity and boundary crossing can also be frightening—Dear Science, for example, has brought a lot of new academic challenges to my life—physics, math, science studies—but these areas have pushed me to learn differently. I am not, of course, a physics, math, science studies expert; but engaging deeply with these areas has allowed me to take a chance on what I don’t know in order to think about the poetics of scientific knowledge as a legitimate entry into black and global intellectual history. It seems to me that if black people have been both excluded from and constituted by science—all too often rendered purely biological beings who are unscientific and unintelligent—they definitely have something to say about science that would challenge this worldview.

So how might we, as Edward Said asked, invite worldliness into our intellectual projects and struggles? And thinking with Frantz Fanon, how might we put together different kinds and types of knowledge in order to engender a decolonial perspective? How do we refuse to protect our intellectual property and welcome new ways of thinking? The world, as we know it, insists on encounter (colonialism, transatlantic slavery, and globalization pushed and push us together), and through this encounter something new is made possible. Interdisciplinary thinkers insist that knowledge is relational, multiple and equally valuable to understanding social justice. What I am trying to suggest is that interdisciplinarity, at its best, thinks with and beyond intellectual categories thus forcing us to think about race, gender and sexuality differently. To put it another way, if we breach the barriers between, say, the natural sciences and the humanities, might we also notice a worldview that newly attends to challenging practices of domination? This is, too, about intellectual activism and resistance to normalcy. Interdisciplinarity, at its best, loosens up disciplinary rigor, insists the intellectual histories of nonwhite and other marginalized communities are relevant, and reinvents what it is possible to know and who is a valid intellectual.

AK: Why were you interested in becoming an editor? And how are you finding work as part of an Editorial Collective?

KMc: I have been reading Antipode for a long time; it is a journal that raises important questions about how practices of inequity unfold geographically. The consistency of the journal also appeals to me—while I am an interdisciplinary scholar I like to engage with debates about the production of space precisely because, if I can riff off of Neil Smith, respatialization leads to repoliticization. Antipode has always delivered this kind sustained thinking about space and social justice and the journal is an amazingly comprehensive archive of Left geographic politics. And remember, too, some of the earliest writings on black geographies—I am thinking specifically about the great contributions by scholars such as Bobby Wilson in the 1970s—were published in Antipode. This history, alongside the hard work of the present Editorial Collective—who has maintained the journal’s intellectual integrity while also asking new questions about the place of the production of knowledge—interested me. My work as part of the Editorial Collective has been, to date, very insightful and interesting: each editor’s unique vision and scholarship is coupled with collaborative vision that, as mentioned above, is holding steady Antipode‘s history and positioning the journal as a place where new questions are being asked.

AK: Where, as you see it, is Antipode ‘at’? What do its papers look like? Where do you (want to) see the journal going?

KMc: The papers I have received have been very exciting and, I think, speak to the ‘new questions’ noted above. I have received some excellent papers on race, location and uneven geographies—with themes ranging from hip hop to community farming; all the submissions have focussed on the ways in which nonwhite communities are meaningful spatial actors who are not simply recipients of oppressive practices. This is to say that many of the papers I have engaged with are thinking about racial matters as heterogeneously articulated yet shaped by longstanding and powerful colonial practices. I really like the ways in which the thinking on difference—race, class, sexuality, (dis)ability, and so on—are working through the paradoxes of unfreedom and what is now being called neoliberalism: situating power and knowledge across locations, outside and within the hands of disenfranchised communities (although imagined and articulated differently), and reorienting where social justice and intellectual debate are taking place. For me, I am happy to continue these conversations—to build on intellectual and activist and social justice work that honours different kinds and types of knowledge and engenders new conversations about our collective political futures.""
katherinemckittrick  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  race  geography  interviews  antipode  science  culture  edwardsaid  worldliness  frantzfanon  decolonization  colonialism  globalization  2013 
october 2015 by robertogreco
An Interview with James C. Scott - Gastronomica
"Tracey Campbell:

Given that few societies, if any, are now fully independent of the kind of market forces that you have been discussing today, how should ethnographers consider corporations as actors when they’re doing their research? To elaborate a little further, a lot of people studying peasant agriculturists bemoan the presence of a market or corporations who extract value from the peasants, but there doesn’t seem to be any robust methodology for dealing with the corporations on the other side of those transactions so that there’s a corporate perspective on the transaction. It seems to be a sort of “here there be dragons” area of ethnographic research.

JS:

I suppose that would be remedied by the kind of ethnography in which people who either undercover, or with permission, go and do ethnographies of corporations as they’re dealing with them, right? So I would recommend a hero student of mine who’s named Tim Pachirat. He had an idea which was not politically correct for a political scientist; he was interested in what it did to people to kill sentient beings every day all day for a living. And so what he did, although he’s originally of Thai-American background and was going to work in Thailand, he learned Spanish and got himself a job in a slaughterhouse working for a year and a half, including working on the kill floor of the slaughterhouse, and ended up writing an ethnography of vision in the slaughterhouse in a book that I promise you, you cannot put down, it is so gripping. Everybody said that this was a career-ending move as a dissertation, but he wanted to do it and the book is an astounding account of the way in which the clean and dirty sections of a slaughterhouse are kept separate from one another and workers treated differently, and the way the line works. You could only write this ethnography, I think, by actually doing this work. And if he asked permission they never would have given it to him, so he just did it. So, he avoided all of the protocols for the people you’re interviewing, etc., he just ignored it all and did it. To begin with nothing much happened; he spent three months hanging livers in a cold room with another Hispanic worker. I mean, three months just taking a liver that came on a chain and putting it in a box and passing it on. And so he didn’t think that there was a lot of ethnography coming out of the room where he was packing livers, but he gradually worked his way into other parts of the plant. But I wish more people would go into the belly of the beast, either of corporations or supermarkets or institutions. At the end of his book he suggests making slaughterhouses out of glass and allowing schoolchildren to see how their meat’s prepared. I always believed that social science was a progressive profession because it was the powerful who had the most to hide about how the world actually worked and if you could show how the world actually worked it would always have a de-masking and a subversive effect on the powerful. I don’t think that’s quite true, but it seems to me it’s not bad as a point of departure anyway.

HW:

Moving on to the state now, you associate developing technologies of rule historically with ever more exploitative forms of hierarchy, and of course revolutionary states come in for focused critique in your work, as you distinguish between struggles over and through the apparatus of the state and you point out that these struggles have generally been disastrous for peasants and the working poor. But in a globalized world where decisive forms—and here I’m thinking about things like vertically integrated food supply chains—operate at ever greater distances and seem ever less controllable to ordinary people, is there not some role for the state; is resistance possible without engaging the state, without using the state in one way or another?

JS:

It’s hard to see any institutional structure that stands in the way of the homogenization and simplification of these supply chains in international capitalism, unless it is the nation state, right? Unless it is a kind of authoritative state structure. So, “yes.” [laughs] Now, qualifications that will leave little of the “yes” standing. First of all, most states aren’t even remotely democracies and most of the people who run these states by and large do the bidding of their corporate masters and take bribes and are servants of international capitalism, right? So we can’t rely on those states, can we? And then you take contemporary Western democracies, let me use my own country which I know best as an example, yes, you have an electoral system, yes you reelected the first black man president, yes there are some changes. On the other hand, the concentration of wealth has grown steeper and steeper and steeper, it allows lobbyists and people who provide campaign finance to basically control a campaign and its message, these people tend at the sort of high echelons of the corporate world to control most of the media and its messaging—right? These people are also able to sit on the congressional committees and write the loopholes in the legislation. Even when there is reform, they’re able to so influence the wording of the legislation that the loopholes are built in, they don’t have to be found, they’re actually legislated. And so then you get a state that in a neoliberal world is less and less able to be an honest mediator, a representative of popular aspirations, to discipline corporations. I want to leave a little bit of the yes standing, because as the result of the financial crisis there were slightly more stringent rules on bank capitalization, on regulation, on some consumer protection, but I think by and large there is not much in that way. Now, Scandinavian social democracy is a better picture, but North Atlantic, Anglo-American neoliberalism is not providing the kind of state that I think can provide this kind of discipline and regulation. I’m pessimistic."
jamescscott  via:shannon_mattern  epistemology  agriculture  academia  geography  2015  harrywest  celiaplender  interviews  agrarianstudies  southeastasia  anarchism  toread  resistance  vietnam  burma  thailand  timpachirat  ethnography  hierarchy  thestate  goverment  governance  capitalism  socialdemocracy  homogenization 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Anthony Ptak: Solving Problems Within Constraints - LocateFlow - YouTube
"An interview with Anthony Ptak, theraminist, artist, and educator. We explore the definition of creativity, how to move past creative blocks and we perform a creative exercise."
creativity  constraints  anthonyptak  2013  interviews 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Ursula K. Le Guin - Page - Interview Magazine
"URSULA K. LE GUIN: You want strong opinions? Anybody can write. You know, one of my daughters teaches writing at a community college. She teaches kids how to put sentences together, and then make the sentences hang together so that they can express themselves in writing as well as they do in speaking. Anybody with a normal IQ can manage that. But saying anybody can be a writer is kind of like saying anybody can compose a sonata. Oh, forget it! In any art, there is an initial gift that had to be there. I don't know how big it has to be, but it's got to be there."



"LE GUIN: Yeah. Too much. This is not Tierra del Fuego, you know. I get bored with the parochialness of the East Coast. They think that the news doesn't get out here and that people out here live in rustic ignorance of real life. It's embarrassing that people can be so ignorant as East Coast people tend to be of the West Coast-and the whole Midwest-and, of course, so contemptuous of the whole South. So sometimes I have written some rather resentful and snarky things about the urban Northeast-particularly in literature-the notion that nothing is worth writing about except the suburbs of large Eastern cities. Blech. That gets nowhere with me."
2015  ursulaleguin  choiresicha  interviews  writing  oregon  westcoast  howwewrite 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Christine Jones on the notion of the gift, reciprocity, and how being a parent influences her work — Odyssey Works
"OW: WHY CREATE EXPERIENCES?

CJ: As a parent I am aware of creating a world where Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy exist for my kids. When they die it's our job to make other kinds of magic. I love what Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere says. He said he wanted to live in a world where anything can happen at any moment. His work makes our world just such a world...I think everyone has a desire to be surprised, delighted, moved, and transported. If we don't do this for each other, no one else will. Our parents will make magic for us when we are young, when we are older, we have to make it for ourselves and each other."

OW: WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO WITH YOUR WORK?

CJ: This probably sounds horribly pretentious, but lately I have been thinking of myself as an artist who uses Intimacy the way a painter uses paint. My intention with all of my work is to enhance a feeling of connection and presence that makes people feel seen, and sometimes, especially with Theatre for One, loved. It is always amazing to me how simple acts of kindness and generosity are so deeply appreciated. We very rarely slow down enough to feel truly with other people. I am trying to create fruitful circumstances for a gift exchange between audience and performer. Whether it be a big Broadway show, or an immersive dinner theatre experience, or Theatre for One, I am hoping to create a space and relationships within the space that allow the audience to feel that they are receiving a beautiful experience and in return they are giving the performers or creators the gift of their full presence and attention."
audiencesofone  2015  christinejones  art  performance  theater  reciprocity  presence  care  parenting  interactivity  immersivity  immersive  experiencedesign  magic  intimacy  audience  setdesign  wonder  discovery  visibility  gifts  interviews  odysseyworks  wanderlust  sextantworks  relationships  davidwheeler  generosity  theatreforone 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The Anthropoid Condition - The Los Angeles Review of Books
[via: "Great interview w/ John D. Peters at @LAReviewofBooks: http://lareviewofbooks.org/interview/the-anthropoid-condition-an-interview-with-john-durham-peters/ . A lot of people think they’re smart; Peters is really smart."
https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/619916078093742080

"Peters’s new book, “The Marvelous Clouds,” is easiest the smartest thing I’ve read in a ages, btw. http://amzn.to/1LY8MqQ "
https://twitter.com/mattthomas/status/619916841733894144 ]

"BRÍAN HANRAHAN: What distinguishes your understanding of 'media' in The Marvelous Clouds from other, maybe better-known uses of the term?

JOHN DURHAM PETERS: 'Media' is one of those terms whose meaning is as imprecise as a plate of spaghetti. And like 'spaghetti,' few can tell if it is a plural or singular noun. My academic preference is to say “media are” with a plural verb in order to underline the diversity of media forms and formats, but most people are happy to talk about media as a mass noun and use the term to refer to everything from journalists and publicity to furnace filters and hard drives. In the field of media studies, media typically are more clearly defined as a cluster of institutions, audiences, and programs (e.g., Disney, BBC, or Google), but there is a minority tradition I favor that sees media more broadly as staples, environments, and data processors of all kinds — as elements in the middle. Some of my critics say this view stretches the concept beyond its breaking point, but I believe ubiquitous computing has already stretched media more than our concepts have: thanks to digital transformations, media are so environmentally pervasive that we need an encompassing definition to match. Theory is usually playing catch-up.

BRÍAN HANRAHAN: The book delves into innumerable subjects, skipping through dozens of disciplines: anthropology, zoology, theology, astronomy, the history of technology, cultural history of many kinds, philosophy and literature and more. But if there is one term that you seem to identify with, it is 'media theory.' On the face of it, that might seem a modest label for such a broad vision. So what is “media theory,” as you understand it, and what can be learned from it?

JOHN DURHAM PETERS: Glad that you think it is a matter of skipping rather than skidding! The book presupposes a view of knowledge and research that it doesn’t spell out at any length. What would the university look like if we took seriously the mortality of the human knower and the responsibility to speak to the species rather than only to one’s peers? I believe it would be a less turfy, more humble, and more interdisciplinary place, one less focused on the newest thing and more open to long stretches of time.[i] Labeling fields of study often amounts to little more than a branding exercise, so my unpretentious choice of “media theory” is, among other things, an indirect comment on academic tribalism. Media theory has almost no barriers to entry — you’d be amazed at how readily some people opine on media without any sense of the field’s traditions or concepts — and almost anyone can call themselves a media theorist; as beings who live in the middle, in medias res, I think that every human being is potentially such a creature. Media theory, at its best, is a means of seeking greater awareness of the basic conditions in which we live.

BRÍAN HANRAHAN: Clouds, unlike fire, sky, and sea, don’t get chapters to themselves in the book, but they are in the title, and they are a recurring motif. What is so interesting about clouds for a media theorist and historian?

JOHN DURHAM PETERS: Clouds are interesting because they bring together so many great questions. It’s hard to boil down something I’ve thought so much about, but here goes.[ii]

First, clouds raise very fundamental questions of where significance lies. Clouds are often thought to be blank and meaningless, the playthings of whimsy. Hardly. Few things are so packed with meaning. Once you start looking at clouds, you see them everywhere in art, literature, religion, and popular culture, and of course in the sky. The question of what clouds mean is a deep one; reading clouds is the paradigm case of how to interpret nature and how not to. Clouds tell us about the weather and the future, and reading the sky is a basic human task; in Iowa, where I live, like many places, clouds are among the most spectacular forms of natural beauty. Of course, there is a long tradition of scorn starting from at least Aristophanes aimed at anyone who finds meaning in clouds, but it is just as foolish to say clouds have no meaning (ask a sailor, pilot, or farmer if clouds mean nothing). The meaning that remains once you subtract human intention turns out to be rich, and I argue that media theory should take this abundant zone of meaning seriously.

Second, from the poison gas clouds of World War I to the mushroom cloud of World War II to the data cloud today, clouds are telling historical markers. While writing the book, I would tell people I was writing about clouds, and they’d sometimes respond, Oh, I work in IT too! (The cloud metaphor, with its hints of benign oversight and calm flow, richly serves the ideological interests of the IT industry.) That the default meaning of “cloud” has become “server-based data storage” is a symptom of nature being absorbed by technology and technology becoming second nature. It is remarkable how casually we accept this monstrous hybrid of atmospheric aerosols and computing infrastructure without a second thought. Clouds are thus a symptom of what it is fashionable to call the anthropocene, the geological epoch in which human agency alters nature radically.

Third, clouds are an elemental background that surrounds us — and unnoticed environments are prime territory for media theory. A central point of the book is that if we define media as carriers of significance then media should include natural elements; studying aerosol clouds and data clouds side by side gives me a way to make this point.

Fourth, clouds raise two fundamental problems in media theory: how to record phenomena that exist in time and how to represent ones that do not conform to a symbolic system.

Regarding recording, the book is a meditation on how media capture and fail to capture time, and clouds are a good example of entities whose nature is to vanish. Clouds illustrate media ontology. Like sounds and music, clouds exist by disappearing. They exist in time. Clouds are highly material — just this morning so much rain dumped on southeastern Iowa as to trigger flashflood warnings again — and their dynamic materiality is suggestive for media under volatile digital conditions (probably one reason the cloud metaphor took hold so readily).

Regarding representing, clouds bear significance, but without any code to clarify what they mean. Their meanings are essentially vague. The history of cloud media, in painting and photography, is the struggle to capture sensuous objects that are also abstract. (The sky was painting abstract impressionist images long before humans did!) Clouds are the original white noise. Well before analog media such as film and sound recording broke the stranglehold of the symbolic in the late nineteenth century, painters struggled to depict cloud colors and forms, often with stunning results. The ability to represent the indefinite is one of the great achievements of modern mathematics and media, and clouds were at the vanguard here too. If you want to understand how meaning works, you have to understand vagueness, and clouds are a chief example.

Finally, clouds have long been associated with thinking, philosophizing and ultimate things, so they fit my atmospheric interests well. I know the title opens me up to wisecracks about academic loftiness. But in a world run by data-analytics Luftmenschen, it is good to get reacquainted with clouds and other kinds of sky media.

BRÍAN HANRAHAN: Why does the media culture of cetaceans, as you imagine it, play such a large role in your history of planetary technics? And what distinguishes your approach from previous thinking about the cetacean world? As you point out, dolphins and whales have long been subjects of utopian fantasy, as well as scientific communications research.

JOHN DURHAM PETERS: Cetaceans, the family of whales, porpoises, and dolphins, are often considered among the most intelligent animals on earth (especially dolphins), but they lack the infrastructures that anchor human existence such as feet, hands, fire, clothing, writing, right angles, celestial orientation, and all other forms of technology. Cetaceans thus present a kind of thought experiment about what it might be like to live in a technology-free habitat. Cetaceans could have techniques — say, of dancing, fishing, or communicating — but they could not have technologies, i.e., made materials that shape other materials, including their environments and minds. They live in habitats immune to fabrication, and thus offer a stark contrast to the human “technosphere,” our domesticated bubble of carbon and silicon, GMO crops and insulation. Intelligent marine mammals offer a radical alternative, at least in thought, to our essentially and externally technical history, and show us how much of what we take to be human depends on our technical supports."

[too much to quote]
johnduhampeters  matthomas  2015  interviews  media  feminism  clouds  cloud  infrastructure  hubris  cetaceans  anthropocene  technology  technosphere  technosolutionism  siliconvalley  writing  history  inderdisciplinary  silos  whitenoise  time  meaning  online  internet  tribalism  academia  mediatheory  slow  zoominginandout  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  transdisciplinary 
july 2015 by robertogreco
7 billion Others
"In 2003, after The Earth seen from the Sky, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, with Sybille d’Orgeval and Baptiste Rouget-Luchaire, launched the 7 billion Others project. 6,000 interviews were filmed in 84 countries by about twenty directors who went in search of the Others. From a Brazilian fisherman to a Chinese shopkeeper, from a German performer to an Afghan farmer, all answered the same questions about their fears, dreams, ordeals, hopes: What have you learnt from your parents? What do you want to pass on to your children? What difficult circumstances have you been through? What does love mean to you?

Forty-five questions that help us to find out what separates and what unites us. These portraits of humanity today are accessible on this website. The heart of the project, which is to show everything that unites us, links us and differentiates us, is found in the films which include the topics discussed during these thousands of hours of interviews.

These testimonies are also presented during exhibitions in France and around the world (Belgium, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Russia ...), and on other media such as book, DVD or on TV."

[Saw this at MOPA: http://www.mopa.org/7billionOthers

"A ground breaking, multimedia exhibition, 7 billion Others brings voices and compelling video portraits from more than 6,000 individual interviews filmed in 84 countries by nearly 20 directors. For its premiere in the United States, the 30-week presentation will allow visitors to identify what separates and unites us by giving direct access to individuals as diverse as a Brazilian fisherman, a Chinese shopkeeper, a German performer and an Afghan farmer. These interviews touch on our most visceral emotions and pose many thought-provoking questions and answers that speak to the human condition." ]
yannarthus-bertrand  interviews  international  global  humans  humanity  sybilled’orgeval  baptisterouget-luchaire  video  film  documentary  installation 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Fr. Greg Boyle — The Calling of Delight: Gangs, Service, and Kinship | On Being
"A Jesuit priest famous for his gang intervention programs in Los Angeles, Fr. Greg Boyle makes winsome connections between service and delight, and compassion and awe. He heads Homeboy Industries, which employs former gang members in a constellation of businesses. This is not work of helping, he says, but of finding kinship. The point of Christian service, as he lives it, is about “our common calling to delight in one another.”"

[On SoundCloud:
edited https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/greg-boyle-the-calling-of-delight-gangs-service-and-kinship
unedited https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/unedited-greg-boyle-with-krista-tippett ]
gregboyle  losangeles  homeboyindustry  interviews  2015  thewhy  compassion  service  religion  humanism  christianity  jesuits  kinship  kristatippett  scars  wounds  delight  burnout  salvation  mentoring  courage  mutualsupport  mutualaid  love  kindness  being  life  living  onbeing 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Many Faces of Tatiana Maslany - NYTimes.com
"In its subject matter, “Orphan Black” broods on the nature-nurture debate in human biology, but in its execution, the show cleverly extends the same question to matters of genre. What does the exact same woman look like if you grow her in the petri dish of “Desperate Housewives” or on a horror-film set in Eastern Europe? What about a police procedural? The result is a revelation: Instead of each archetype existing as the lone female character in her respective universe, these normally isolated tropes find one another, band together and seek to liberate themselves from the evil system that created them.

By structuring the story around the clones’ differences, “Orphan Black” seems to suggest that the dull sameness enforced by existing female archetypes needs to die. Early in the first season, there is a serial killer hunting down the clones ­— it turns out to be Helena, the Ukrainian — who ritualistically dismembers Barbie dolls after dyeing their hair to match that of her next victim. It’s a creepy touch, but one that can also be read as a metacriticism of how women are used on TV: the punishing beauty standards to which they’re held, the imposed uniformity. (Need a new sitcom wife? Grab the prototype and change the hairstyle.) Our low tolerance for difference among female characters means that they will almost always be less interesting, less memorable and less beloved than their male counterparts. In this context, Helena becomes a kind of hero, slaughtering televisual conformity and constituting, in both her savagery and her warmth, a radical expansion of what women on television can be. And each character, including the criminally insane one, gets considerable attention and respect, even when it comes to questions about butter."



"She expressed some ambivalence about the way fame produces demand, especially in an age of social media. “People just want want want want stuff,” she said. There are awards shows, red carpets; she appreciates it all, but is careful not to let it control her. “You exist without this stuff,” she said. “This stuff doesn’t define you or anything.” Maslany has pointed out that her “Orphan Black” characters, too, must deal with the discovery that they are — in some sense — property and refuse to let it define them. “That always resonated for me as a woman,” she told Vanity Fair in an interview, “this idea of our bodies not being our own. That they’re owned by someone else. That the image of them is owned by someone else.”"



"On “Orphan Black,” the clones fight constantly for control of their own lives and bodies, and Maslany obliquely linked their struggle to her own experience with the publicity machine. “This is about volition and autonomy,” she said of the show, “and that was resonating with me, being an actor who was suddenly being interviewed or being dressed.”

It was an offhand remark, but the connection she drew between self-­ownership and the alienating experience of press interviews — especially given our circumstances — was as subtle as it was smart. I thought about it that night, back at my hotel. Interviewing is a strange business, and I was impressed by the tact and frankness with which Maslany had articulated her discomfort. “Glancing blow, warmly delivered,” I scribbled in my notebook.

Weeks later, Maslany walked the red carpet at the SAG Awards, dressed and styled to the teeth. She smiled brightly. Her fans cheered her gleefully on Twitter. But when Maria Menounos invited her to use the “mani-­cam” to display her nails and jewelry (an invitation some actors walking the red carpet refused, finding it sexist), she bashfully confessed that she hadn’t gotten her nails done and then pulled off what I’ve come to think of as the ultimate Maslany maneuver: She stuck her unmanicured hand in and gave the camera a thumbs-­up, concealing her nails. A glancing blow, warmly delivered."



"“But it’s not about insanity!” Maslany exclaimed. “Her emotional life is so enormous that it can’t be contained, and I think there’s something really beautiful about that. It’s weird to call it insanity, or weird to dismiss her as a victim. I don’t see her as a victim in the slightest. She’s just off. She’s off. She’s just odd.”

I confessed that I agreed with her. Watching “A Woman Under the Influence,” I too fell for Rowlands and her fragile, nutty, compellingly huge character.

Maslany described her favorite scene in the film to me. She prefaced this by saying, “It’s not the most feminist scene on the planet.” In it, Mabel has returned from being institutionalized and manages to perform a broken kind of normalcy with some success. But her husband can’t take it; he’s devastated by what she has become — what he has done to her. He tries to slap her back to herself. “It’s just the two of them silhouetted, and he’s slapping her and going, Bah-bah! Bah-bah!” Maslany said. “And he’s telling her to do the thing that she does, which is just be herself. He can’t handle the fact that she’s been sent away to be changed and to be made homogeneous and made easy to palate.”

There are traces of Mabel in Maslany’s Helena, whom Maslany allows to become off-­putting and even genuinely frightening in ways that female characters rarely get to be. Mabel is not the safe, charming bumbler of the romantic comedy. Nor is Helena, who is erratic, hilarious and homicidal — but never predictable. As Maslany put it, “she’ll probably poop on your face or something.” Maslany cherishes roles that leave room for that kind of unlikability and risk. “The greatest gift as an actor,” she said, “is you get to go, Well, I’m doing this as a character, but really, this is me, this is me at my worst, my worst bits of me.”"



"One of the most interesting things about the show, and its metacriticism of the genres it juggles, isn’t just how elegantly it addresses the solitude that the lone female character on many shows suffers in her particular TV universe. It’s also how resolutely the show refuses to place these genres in opposition to one another. There’s no condescension here; Alison’s suburbia gets as much visual and narrative respect as Rachel’s evil corporate empire. The characters find one another because the system that produced them and scattered them is breaking down. What emerges is a full, generative map of the possibilities that emerge when you let the Strong Female Character and her lonely sisters from other genres mix. By exploring the different directions that “genetic identicals” can take when differently nurtured, “Orphan Black” shows what a single actor can do when given the opportunity — and, by extension, reveals the interesting stories that emerge when women are afforded the chance to exist in rich narrative relation to one another.

Despite Maslany’s reluctance, I managed to steer our conversation back to her magical quick-change act. I still wanted to know how she does it. “I think there’s something about being prepared enough that you can surrender,” she said. Then she quoted to me something the dancer Martha Graham told the choreographer Agnes de Mille in 1943.

At the time, de Mille was confused and bewildered by her sudden rise to fame, and Graham offered her words of encouragement. It is a beautiful pep talk, practically written in verse. I can see why it has special meaning for Maslany as she navigates the challenges of the fishbowl herself. The part Maslany recounted to me is this: “It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

De Mille asked Graham when she would feel satisfied, and Graham replied: “There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” I asked Maslany what her divine dissatisfaction was. “I don’t know how I would label it right now,” she said. “I think if I looked back on this time, I’d probably see where it lived.”"
2015  tatianamaslany  orphanblack  acting  television  lililoofbourow  tv  naturenurture  gender  marthagraham  agnesdemille  feminism  volition  interviews  self-ownership  identity  genre 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Real Education Podcast’s stream on SoundCloud - Hear the world’s sounds
"What does it mean to get a “real education”—one that prepares you for the most important parts of life, instead of just academic achievement? In this podcast, Blake Boles interviews the founders of innovative camps, schools, learning centers, and other educational alternatives, as well as authors, parents, and young adults. Topics include self-directed learning, leadership, 21st-century skills, entrepreneurship, college, unschooling, school reform, motivation, and parenting.

For more episodes, to become a patron of the show, or to leave a comment, visit: www.blakeboles.com/podcast "

["Carsie Blanton, a singer-songwriter, blogger, and lifelong unschooler (carsieblanton.com), talks with host Blake Boles about making a living as a musician, the virtues and drawbacks of college, and lessons that unschooling taught her about building a career."
https://soundcloud.com/blakebo/carsie-blanton-on-unschooling

"Kenneth Danford, executive director and co-founder of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens (northstarteens.org), talks with host Blake Boles about supporting teenagers who don’t like school, what “self-directed learning” means, the value of dropping out of junior high, nature versus nurture, parenting, and the challenge of funding a small alternative education organization."
https://soundcloud.com/blakebo/kenneth-danford-on-thriving-without-school

"Will Richardson, author of “Why School?” (willrichardson.com), talks with host Blake Boles about information abundance, Minecraft, helping young people harness technology intelligently, why students should be allowed to use cell phones during tests, and how teachers and schools can adapt to the Internet era."
https://soundcloud.com/blakebo/will-richardson-on-learning-in-the-internet-era ]
blakeboles  unschooling  podcasts  interviews  deschooling  education  carsieblanton  kennethdanford  northstar  lcproject  openstudioproject  parenting  schools  schooling  learning  howwelearn  alternative  willrichardson  edg  srg  glvo  self-directedlearning  self-directed  realeducation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
'White God' Director on Unleashing 250 Dogs on Budapest a | Indiewire
"Q: Can you tell me about the logistics of working with the dogs? There were 200, correct?

A: 250. It was a huge process. On the one hand, everybody thought, Kornél, you can't do this movie without CGI. And I thought no, my main conception was no CGI, no pure breed dogs. Just mixed breeds, mostly from the dog pound. Because I believe in equality, I didn't want to illustrate it as a human. I wanted to show what an animal feels without drawing that through a computer. It's really against the soul of this movie. Then I found two amazing people, Teresa Miller and Árpád Halász, the two lead trainers. Teresa was the trainer for the hero dogs, and Árpád was for the crowd, the bunch. And what they do is amazing. They used a totally new method for that, I can't remember what it's called....

Q: Positive reinforcement?

A: Exactly, yes. That's so great, and easily forgotten. The dogs felt they were playing. It's a dramatized nature movie, somehow. We gave lots of freedom for the animals. I don't like most animal movies because the animals [feel] dead. They follow orders with lots of fear of the trainer. What were are doing was just the opposite. Logistically, we had half a year of training time. We had a very special method for shooting: one week shooting, one week rehearsing. We built a kind of town in the countryside where we could rehearse, because you cannot block locations in the city. And for me, personally, it was like therapy. I forgot how it was to be close to animals. How much patience and how much time you need, and concentration and curiosity. I have an adult control freak attitude. The dogs taught me a lot.

Q: What did they teach you, exactly?

A: Curiosity, patience, and to change perspective. Not just using my perspective as the truth. It also taught me a lot of positive things as a father. I started to use positive reinforcement with my children, which is much better."

[via: http://morethanhumanlab.tumblr.com/post/114538083685/white-god-director-on-unleashing-250-dogs-on ]
dogs  animals  film  filmmaking  unpredictablity  messiness  whitegod  kornélmundruczó  interviews  multispecies  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  perspective  pov  truth  behavior  mutts  authenticity 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Being 12: The Year Everything Changes - WNYC
"It's no secret that being 12 years old can be tough. At 12, kids shed layers, test new roles and transform before our eyes as they explore what kind of adult they want to be. Their brains and bodies change at alarming rates. At the same time, school gets harder. In New York City, academic performance in seventh grade largely sets a student's path in high school.

New Yorkers this age often start commuting to school alone. For girls, it may be the year they buy their first bra or get their period. For everyone, it's an age for plugging in to the digital world, and tuning out adults more and more. Some may also have jobs or look after younger siblings. Friendships shift. Romantic feelings may blossom. The stakes get higher in so many ways. WNYC’s series, Being 12, brings to life the array of faces, voices and perspectives of these young New Yorkers.

See what they look like. Hear what they have to say. They are the city’s future. We think you should get to know them better."

[See also:
http://beingtwelve.tumblr.com/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/nbc-young-new-yorkers-open-about-tweenage-years/

“Being 12: The Year Everything Changes”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3Gxgv6-H3E

“What Romance Is Like in Middle School”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2HH72_AeCw

“If You Give a 12-Year-Old a Phone....”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzQ469WS9C8

and the many specific articles and episodes linked within the collection post. Examples:

http://www.wnyc.org/story/being-12-most-awkward-exhilarating-essential-year-our-lives/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/being-12-year-everything-changes-kids-schools-and-marketing/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/top-12-things-about-being-12/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/first-person-new-yorkers-being-12/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/meet-teachers-crazy-enough-teach-middle-school/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/being-12-when-relationships-reign-supreme/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/cutting-through-distractions-with-care/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/kids-and-technology/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/12-year-old-brain-peer-pressure/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/chancellor-seventh-grade-matters-lot/
http://www.wnyc.org/story/opinion-power-students-teaching-students/ ]
children  adolescence  12  age12  via:lizette  wnyc  radio  interviews  middleschool  nyc  technology  socialmedia  schools  education  learning  behavior  gender  teaching  youth  video  documentary  projectideas  classideas 
march 2015 by robertogreco
A Hundred Years Is Nothing: The VICE Interview with Alejandro Jodorowsky | VICE | United States
"I arrived at it after 22 years of struggle trying to make anti-industry films, because the industry is an economic industry. Before anything else, films are made to make money. It's an economic industry, not an artistic one, and also they're made to publicize cigarettes, wine, political ideas, different objects. It's a necessary industry, like a show is necessary to unload energies. When you're worried, you go see a movie: You enter an idiot, you rest your idiocy for two hours, and you leave an idiot. This is the cinema.

I see it another way. To make an experimental film, like poetry, like a work of art, first off, get rid of the industry—that is, make it disappear. I intend to lose money—to make art in order to lose money, since it's a shame that art is considered good if it makes money. Painting is the same: If you make money, it's good; if it doesn't make money, it's bad. I'm tired of idiotic wars. It's as idiotic as killing cartoonists who draw caricatures.

The art industry is killing the human spirit. We're not about that. So over 22 years I gathered what I was making—very little thanks to the economic crisis. All I managed to raise was a million dollars, I didn't waste it, and I put half into The Dance of Reality and lost it. It was a success all over the world with the best critics, but I didn't make a dime. Experimental film doesn't make a dime. The distributors made some money, the theater owners, that's all, but the creator makes nothing—and then after that experience I decided I had to make a second film, the continuation, with the remaining $500,000, and I looked for partners, telling them, "We're going to make a new film so we can start losing money again," and then it occurred to us to make a Kickstarter. On Kickstarter, we're asking for 10 percent of what it will take to make the film, but also to show that people—above all, the young—are tired of what the art and commercial world is putting out. I think they want to show that they want another cinema, something else, and say, "I'm going to see it if I give money," because on Twitter I have 1,060,000 followers. So if a million followers each give me two dollars, I would have two million dollars, but no, I ask for $350,000 to try and see what happens. It's only been a few days, and we already have about $330,000 donated.

It's proof that the industry loves neither the culture nor the human being, and if the people unite they can transform into collective producers and make great films. I'm demonstrating this, what a collective can do. We're going to achieve it—now it's nearly definite that we'll achieve it. It's good that we all unite to make art we want, culture we want, so the industry doesn't impose a life on us we don't want.

I am very old—I'm already 86—so what interests me? Fame no longer interests me. I'm interested in creating honest art work, and I'm interested in demonstrating that you can do it, that David can fight against the industrial Goliath."

[via: http://notgames.tumblr.com/post/113948429747/i-see-it-another-way-to-make-an-experimental ]
alejandrojodorowsky  film  filmmaking  capitalism  economics  money  profit  2015  interviews  process  fame  art  culture 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Interview: Robert Pruitt - Saint Heron
"The most immediate way that I get at pluralism is through juxtaposition. All the different outfits, hairstyles, headdresses and other objects are intended to do just that. They create multiple entryways into each figure’s interior world. Each figure’s personal choices of dress and adornment are intended to help the viewer create a narrative about the figure.

I think a less noticeable way is through the use of time. Most of the works have some reference to the Past, Present and Future. A Victorian dress can be matched with an 80’s fade, or a pair of dunks and traditional sculptures from Africa can be used in space exploration. This idea is to collapse time. These figures exist in all times at once. I’ve always kind of felt that black folks more than anyone are troubled by time. We can be obsessed with trying to reconstruct our past from the fragments of information we have, while at the same time having to move on without any real sense of that past. I think sometimes we spend our lives moving between these two notions."



"I wanted to create this lineage of black, matriarchal, power, expressed through portraiture. The guns could operate as “un-alarming” because they are meant to be defensive as opposed to offensive. Black Self defense has had a tumultuous public presence. Black people are not really allowed to be defensive. Here, the weapons are so passively placed that they can almost seem disarming. Still, those are violent objects.

The signifying would be the correlating of Western aristocracy with that level of embedded violence. I don’t often make references to Western cultures in my work but here, because of the history of photography and portraiture that I am working from, it was sort of unavoidable. I would hope the viewer would read these images as not only an “ode” to black power, but also read the form as Western and a nod to the violence and power within those forms."
robertpruitt  art  power  tanekeyaword  2015  interviews  blackness  race  matriarchy  pluralism  juxtaposition  time  atemporality  violence 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 34, Jean Cocteau
"If the ideas come, one must hurry to set them down out of fear of forgetting them. They come once; once only. On the other hand, if I am obliged to do some little task—such as writing a preface or notice—the labor to give the appearance of easiness to the few lines is excruciating. I have no facility whatever. Yes, in one respect what you say is true. I had written a novel, then fallen silent. And the editors at the publishing house of Stock, seeing this, said, You have too great a fear of not writing a masterpiece. Write something, anything. Merely to begin. So I did—and wrote the first lines of Les Enfants Terribles. But that is only for beginnings—in fiction. I have never written unless deeply moved about something. The one exception is my play La Machine à Écrire. I had written the play Les Parents Terribles and it was very successful, and something was wanted to follow. La Machine à Écríre exists in several versions, which is very telling, and was an enormous amount of work. It is no good at all. Of course, it is one of the most popular of my works. If you make fifty designs and one or two please you least, these will nearly surely be the ones most liked. No doubt because they resemble something. People love to recognize, not venture. The former is so much more comfortable and self-flattering.

It seems to me nearly the whole of your work can be read as indirect spiritual autobiography. "
jeancocteau  resemblance  comfort  interviews  adventure  via:anne  1964  ideas  memory  forgetting  writing  howwewrite 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Inspired By Monks, A Writer Embraces His Life Of Solitude : NPR
"GROSS: So when you were young and were exposed to all these monks from the abbey, did you have any understanding of why they chose a life of communal solitude?

JOHNSON: You know, that's an interesting question. I, of course - as a child, I just accepted it as a given, the donnee, in a way that... You know, of course what you did on Corpus Christi in the high heat of June is that you all dressed up. And you went over and had these elaborate processions with gold monstrances and men decked out in gorgeous (laughter) clothing and singing in Latin. And, I mean, all of that was just part of the landscape. And I suppose in some sense, of course, it drew me because I inherited from my - both of my parents - a deep love of beauty. And here were these people who had - I think this may be the best way to describe a monastic life - people who had made a conscious choice to dedicate their lives to the pursuit and - the creation and the pursuit of beauty. And what I ask in the course of this essay in Harper's is whether we can take that noble motivation and transfer it into the - into the secular world, whether we can have a kind of, for solitaries, people I call solitaries - I borrowed the word from Merton - can have a kind of dedication to beauty that operates outside of a cloistered wall in the same way that it did for these men within the cloistered wall."



"GROSS: In some ways, you are so outside the culture now because as somebody choosing a more solitary life, you are also, I am sure, choosing to not really engage with things like social media or, you know, lots of cable television or, you know, all the new, electronic device, digital kind of stuff that we have access to. And so, you know, in some respects, you're probably really losing touch with what's happening in our culture. And I wonder how you feel about that.

JOHNSON: I feel really, really good about it. (Laughter). I - my students say to me - my students are 21, 22, whatever - come into the classroom and they say, we can't keep up with the software. We can't keep up with what's happening. And I say, you can't keep up with what's happening? I have a terrible sense that this is a chatter that we are creating as a mask for the issues of serious, great consequence that we should be facing head-on and engaging."



"JOHNSON: You know, things might change tomorrow. That's tomorrow. But the enterprise of solitude is to sit down and embrace what you have in the here and now. And we've turned that observation into a kind of cliche, as we often turn beautiful, true words in our society into cliches, I think because we're afraid of them. But it really is - we're afraid of their power or we don't want to inhabit their power. But if we really - if we really lived with what we have in the here and now, it would radically change how we live in the world. Thomas Merton again, what we have to be is what we are - what we are right here, right now. And solitude can be a way of fully inhabiting that way of being in the world.

GROSS: So we've been talking about the life of solitude, of having a certain amount of solitude in your life and living alone. You were very sick last week. You had a procedure that led to a systemic infection and had to go to the hospital. And it was a rough week. How did your conscious solitude work out when you were alone in the hospital? Did you feel like you had enough connection with people who were friends or colleagues or students or whatever, who were there for you and came and visited you when you maybe really wanted company and wanted support and reassurance?

JOHNSON: That is a very good question because it addresses the challenge of living alone, if you're living alone, which is the establishment of those kinds of networks. To experience the support and outpouring of love and affection was so moving that it almost made the illness worth the price of the ticket. Those people did come together for me. They did support me in a way that was extraordinary to witness. And during this week of illness - and I was very, very ill - I have to say that I got through some of the most difficult times, the 3 a.m., 4 a.m. times in the hospital, drawing upon the reservoir of strength that I had assembled over my time of living alone, of accepting being alone, of accepting that this is happening to me and it's OK. It is what it is. It's a different version of the autumn light falling across the room. And I don't think I could have - I don't think I could have gotten - I couldn't have gotten through those - the past week - without two ways of being in the world, one of which was the great love of my friends who came together to support me and family. And the other was that reservoir that I had built up in solitude of accepting illness, even death - especially death - as a necessary and beautiful part of what is, in its way. But at 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning, what I went back to a lot was sitting alone in silence, for day after day, with a Zen Buddhist community. And I went back to those times of sitting alone. And I drew a lot of strength from them. And I thought, I'm lying in this hospital bed, and it's just a different way of sitting alone and being alone with the world."
fentonjohnson  interviews  thomasmerton  solitude  aloneness  2015  beauty  monasteries  being  hereandnow  now  presence 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How Training a Wild Hawk Healed One Woman's Broken Heart
"Helen Macdonald was at home in Cambridge, England, when she got a phone call saying her father, Alisdair, had died suddenly of a heart attack on a London street. The news shattered her world, propelling her into a vortex of raw grief.

As she struggled to come to terms with her father's loss, she began to have dreams about goshawks, the wildest, most temperamental of the hawk family. An experienced falconer since childhood, she decided to buy and train one. Her memoir of that experience, H Is for Hawk, must be one of the most riveting encounters between a human being and an animal ever written. 

Talking from her home near Newmarket, England, Macdonald describes why Hermann Göring loved hawks, what links the Turkish word for penis with a hawk's ideal flying weight, and how training a goshawk took her to the edge of madness but eventually gave her peace—and a new kinship with other people."





"All my falconry books said they're very sulky and infuriating, never behave well, never do what you want them to do. They'll just ignore you and fly off. And the more I read about this, the more it seemed that the writers were talking about hormonal women. It was never the falconer's fault that the bird had flown off. It was always something indescribable inside the hawk that had made them do that.

But I started looking at very old falconry books, ones written in the 17th century, and discovered that goshawks were perceived very differently then. They were seen as creatures you had to court. You had to be very patient and treat them right to make them love you. I thought that was very interesting. It was a window onto gender relations, not just goshawks. "



"I started writing a journal after my father died. I was trying to stitch the world back together. I didn't know who I was any longer or what the world was about. Writing was a way of trying to make it come back. And then that world had a hawk in it. So I did keep a diary. I also kept a hawking notebook, which was very technical. Lists of weights and weather, and things like that. In the end, I didn't really use them very much for writing the book. I remember all that year with astonishing clarity. It's all very present still."



"Part of the reason for writing the book was to uncover that dark history and say, We use animals as excuses. We say, Hawks are powerful and prey on things weaker than themselves. But that's not an excuse for humans to do the same thing. The big lesson of the book is that the natural world is full of minds that are not like our own."
helenmacdonald  2015  interviews  books  hawks  birds  multispecies  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  hermanngöring  alisdairmacdonald  falconry  goshawk  thwhite  hawking  lists  writing  howwewrite  whywewrite  grief  death  relationships 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Michael Winter, Ursula Franklin - Home | The Next Chapter with Shelagh Rogers | CBC Radio
"The news anchor Tom Brokaw coined the term "the greatest generation" to describe the Americans who grew up during the Depression and sustained the ravages of the Second World War. Shelagh thought of that description after she read a book of speeches by the acclaimed scientist, pacifist, and feminist Ursula Franklin.

Ursula Franklin isn't an American but she is a member of that great generation of people shaped personally by the War - very personally in her case.  

She was born in Germany and spent the war in a forced labour camp. Her parents were both in concentration camps.. Miraculously, all three survived and came to Canada. 

Ursula Franklin has spent her life in this country devoted, as she says, to "being useful". She's put her intelligence, discernment, and humanity to many uses. She's a physicist who has made important discoveries and advancements in science, a Quaker who has advocated tirelessly in the service of peace, and a ground breaking feminist.
 
Ursula Franklin Speaks is a collection of speeches and interviews from 1986 to 2012. She collaborated on it with her friend and University of Toronto colleague Sarah Jane Freeman. 

We hope you enjoy this extended version of Shelagh's conversation with Dr. Ursula Franklin."
ursulafranklin  2015  interviews  feminism  quakers  shelaghrogers  canada  collectivism  citizenship  humanism  pacifism  clarity  patriarchy  capitalism  privatization  socialism  scrupling  scruples  hope  hopelessness  optimism  change  civics  activism  discourse  problemsolving  townmeetings  commongood  conversation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Idle Thumbs > Shows > Designer Notes
"Why do we make games? Every designer has a different and very personal answer to that question. Soren Johnson, founder of Mohawk Games, sits down with noted designers to find out by examining their careers as a whole."

[via: https://twitter.com/irondavy/status/572048943321755648 ]
edg  games  gamedesign  gaming  sorenjohnson  mohawkgames  interviews  henrikfahraeus  robpardo  franklantz  videogames  tolisten 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Microsoft's Danah Boyd on the Future of Social Media | Inc.com
"During your research, what's the most interesting thing you discovered?

I really wanted to think that the internet would've transformed youth's lives since, in many ways, it transformed mine. I had to put that hope aside when I did my research and really listen to teen's stories. In the process, I realized how much of our society has changed and how today's youth are just trying to cope with the restrictions and limitations and stresses that they face.

What's the most compelling feedback you have received?

I don't know if it was compelling, but perhaps the most memorable came after I wrote a blog post in 2007 documenting the race and class divisions that I was seeing between MySpace and Facebook. The BBC picked it up as a formal report from Berkeley and I received over 1,000 messages the next day, mostly from people calling me every name in the book because, as I quickly learned, it's hard to talk about race and class in the US. What made all the difference in that process was the youth who wrote to me to help me better understand the nuances of what was going on in their peer groups. I'm still in awe of those teens who told me their stories, who helped me get clarity on things that I only partially understood.

What is one thing business leaders can do to be part of the solution, versus perpetuating the problem?

It's important that business leaders understand the cultural context in which they are building products. It's not that hard to sell products that amp up fear or that play into existing fears. This is a great way to get press and attention. It's a lot harder to recognize structural inequities, limitations youth face, and social challenges. I wish more businesses would really think as hard about the cultural P&L of their products as they think about the economic P&L.

How do you feel about brands desperately trying to connect with teens on social media? How are they failing? How are they succeeding?

We live in a commercial society. I don't like it and I think it's unhealthy for everyone, but people don't give youth enough credit. They're working with the commercial realities because that's what they've got. Brands gel with youth when youth can use them to get what they want, either social status or tangible benefits. I'm always humored at how often teens game brands without brands even realizing it. Never trust a brand's stats.

What can brands do to succeed in connecting with teens on social, while making a positive impact?

It starts by offering products that are beneficial to teens. From there, it's about actually providing youth with a service through which engagement is mutually beneficial. For this reason, plenty of brands make no sense trying to engage youth online.

What's your favorite social media platform?

I'm personally partial to Twitter because it's simple, public, and filled with information that I want. And I don't feel like I'm being manipulated every time I look at my feed."
danahboyd  2015  interviews  youth  teens  context  socialmedia  race  commercialism  inequity  control  restrictions  stress 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Interview: Teju Cole « Post45 - Linkis.com
"TC: Anyone who writes is lucky. The idea that one will be read, whether by a few or by many, is a basic expectation that makes me happy. In a somewhat childish way, I can't quite get over the mystery of written communication. When I'm writing, I'm mostly thinking, "Some other human being will read this, and probably comprehend all or most of it in just the way I intended, or in a way I will find believable." That's what I think about, and so I really leave no space for brooding about the death of the author. The author, if not dead yet, will die. The reader will die and be replaced by another reader. But literature itself—its peculiar form of communion—is a deeper miracle. You're reading Song of Solomon. That's a thing you can do. You're reading Stendhal. That's another thing you can do. I know I'm being a nerd about this, but it honestly amazes me. I refuse to get over it."
tejucole  2015  interviews  aaronbady  writing  technology  via:robinsloan  communication  atemporality 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Sonic Ethnographer: An Interview with Ernst Karel | Institute of Contemporary Arts
"Ernst Karel is Lecturer on Anthropology, Assistant Director of the Film Study Center, and Lab Manager for the renowned Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University. In his audio projects, he works with analog electronics and location recordings, sometimes separately, sometimes in combination, to create pieces that move between the abstract and the documentary. Karel collaborates with filmmakers as a sound recordist, mixer, and sound designer. Notably, Karel has worked on key films produced at the Sensory Ethnography Lab including Sweetgrass (2009) and Leviathan (2012), both of which were released in UK cinemas via Dogwoof.

Manakamana, directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez and produced by Leviathan directors Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
, is the latest feature documentary from the Sensory Ethnography Lab to play at the ICA Cinemas. On the eve of the film's release, Dogwoof's Patrick Hurley caught up with Karel for the ICA Blog to talk about his post-production sound work on this film as well as his own sonic artwork made while traveling in cable cars.

Patrick Hurley: As well as doing the mix for Manakamana, you've also created an album of recordings from Swiss mountain transport systems. What do you find sonically interesting about cable cars?

Ernst Karel: That project, which resulted in a CD called Swiss Mountain Transport Systems, an 8-channel sound installation and a 5.1 version for imageless cinema, began in 2008 when my partner, Helen Mirra, was living in Basel, Switzerland, on a year-long artist residency. At that time, walking had become a central part of her art practice, and the work she was making involved day-long hikes in the mountains. I joined her for part of the summer and the fall. Our first walk together involved traveling by train and then gondola (aerial cable car) to reach the hiking trail. I was struck by the sounds of going up the mountain: the whirrs and clangor of the base station’s machinery, the slam of the door as the small pod swings around and, with a series of thuds, is launched into a sudden and subdued near-silence, the austerely beautiful low drone of distant motors transmitted through the heavy cable to resonate in the enclosed space suspended from it, interrupted periodically by rhythmic pummeling when the car passes over rollers, the open windows that allow transient acoustic glimpses of a vast surrounding landscape inhabited by humans and other animals.

It’s an emergent music that at the same time indexes a particular emplacedness. The unprocessed recordings of Swiss Mountain Transport Systems document the various transport systems which are specific to Switzerland’s mountainous terrain—gondolas, funiculars, chairlifts—of different types, of different vintages, and accessing different elevations, recorded from within these mostly-enclosed mobile environments. In this way the project is a sonic investigation into the integration of such technology into the Swiss social-geographical landscape.

Patrick Hurley: ICA Cinema-goers will be familiar with Sweetgrass and Leviathan, and this weekend will have the opportunity to experience Manakamana. As a common denominator among these films—having done the sound mix and compositions for each—could you tell us where you've replicated certain techniques and cases in which you've tried new things?

Ernst Karel: Well, clearly the movies could hardly be more different from each other, and so the sound for each was approached quite differently. But at the same time, one thing that they have in common is simply a commitment to place, to the sounds that emerge from a particular encounter. In each case that starts with the sync sound recorded along with the image, though here Leviathan and Manakamana could not be more different: Manakamana was recorded immaculately in stereo by Stephanie Spray, in sync with but separately from the 16mm image, and the soundtrack for Leviathan started and grows outward from the weird electroacoustic music that emerged from the encounters between the plastic-encased sport camera’s built-in mono microphone and its harsh environment. So each was really an opportunity to try out new things.

Patrick Hurley: When Leviathan came out, it was often compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Stephanie Spray has commented that when you worked on the sound for Manakamana, you helped them to 'emphasise particular frequencies over others for a subtle sci-fi effect'. Regarding both films, I’m interested to know if you were deliberately trying to create or invoke something otherworldly? It’s a curious objective in non-fiction film…

Ernst Karel: I think this might be an instance of the notion that a goal of anthropology is to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar. I wasn’t intending an otherworldliness per se, but rather an in-depth investigation into the nature of the place, and for example in Manakamana in sections where there is less speaking, when we therefore have occasion for close listening to the rich acoustic environment of the cable car’s mechanism and the passing landscape, that meant paying attention to the resonant frequencies of the cable car’s drone, and sometimes tweaking the sound to subtly emphasize those tones.

Patrick Hurley: Sound takes extra prominence during the end credits of both Leviathan and Manakamana for which you have done original compositions. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process here?

Ernst Karel: The sequence following the credits in Leviathan featured an extended composition for the multichannel space of the cinema that made the most of the odd electroacoustic sonorities I mentioned before, loosened somewhat from reference to immediately present images. At the end of Manakamana, during the credits this time rather than after them, we similarly are freed from being tied to an immediate audiovisual experience, and the composition opens outward somewhat."
ethnography  2014  interviews  patrickhurley  ernstkarel  leviathan  anthropology  manakamana  film  sound  fieldrecordings  music  stephaniespray  sensoryethnographylab 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The 60-second interview: Tim Carmody, independent technology journalist | Capital New York
"CAPITAL: You were a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania before becoming a journalist. Why did you decide to leave academia?

CARMODY: “Decide” might be the wrong word. I was on the academic job market for two years, 2008 and 2009, which were really just a slaughterhouse. Getting a tenure-track job or a good postdoc in the humanities is kind of like getting drafted into the N.B.A. in any year, but schools were cancelling searches and trimming their adjunct budgets right and left, and more and more jobless PhDs were piling up. I was in the top two or three for a couple of really good jobs, which was harder in some ways because it felt really close. Some people keep playing the lottery for years and years, but I just didn’t have the heart to keep doing it.

But I was really lucky; I’d been writing online for popular and crossover publications while I was still in grad school, a couple of essays in The Atlantic. I wrote a future-of-media blog with Matt Thompson and Robin Sloan called Snarkmarket that was really smart and fun and popular with the right people. Jason Kottke liked my writing and asked me to guest-edit his blog. Then Wired took a chance and hired me—I really couldn’t have asked for a better first job in journalism. After that, all the momentum for me was in journalism, so I’ve been doing that ever since.

Still, I’d totally be Professor Carmody in UC-Santa Barbara’s English department if things had gone my way, and I don’t know, maybe that would have been a happy ending too.

CAPITAL: Does your academic background still inform your reporting, or have you found that the skills valued by academia and those valued by journalism are total opposites?

CARMODY: I think the tools of journalism and scholarship complement each other. I had to learn how to be a reporter: do phone interviews, develop sources, write up different genres of articles. In some ways, I appreciated the tools of reporting more, because when you’re writing about Citizen Kane, you can’t get Orson Welles or Gregg Toland on the phone. If you’re writing about Netflix, you might be able to get Reed Hastings or Ted Sarandos on the phone. That’s pretty amazing.

In other cases, I think my training gave me some significant advantages. I’m really good at research, at context. I’m good at breaking down a document, whether it’s a press release or a letter to shareholders or an interview, and digging out what’s important. I’m good at linking things that are happening right now to big changes that happen over decades. I’m really comfortable with the publishing and media industries; I speak their language.

Also, besides research, I was a teacher for ten years. I love working with younger writers, whether it’s as an editor or just helping them think about what they do, because that was my job. And a lot of the students I taught in college have gone on to have really great careers in the industries I write about, which is really satisfying too."



"CAPITAL: You've extensively studied the history, theory, and future of writing. So what’s the future of writing?

CARMODY: I’m bullish on writing. Movies, radio, television, and now digital media—everything was supposed to push us away from text, to video or “back” to speech. First, there’s no going back. We’re always stumbling forward. Second, writing is invincible. Thirty years ago, we thought we’d all be talking to our computers; instead, we’re all typing on our phones. Can you believe we get to play and work on machines that give you new things to read all day? If you’d told me this when I was six years old, I’d have fainted from happiness.

We live in such a hyperliterate world, soaked and saturated in writing: on our machines, on the streets, on our television screens. It’s just that writing doesn’t live in the boxes that it used to. The genie is out of the bottle. But that just means that the magic could be anywhere."
timcarmody  interviews  academia  journalism  highered  highereducation  writing  text  media  snarkmarket  context  research  television  radio  film  literacy  multiliteracies  hyperliteracy  2015  howweread  howwewrite  cellphones  mobile  phones  voicerecognition  readingmachines 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Interview: Sofia Samatar « Post45
"SS: The relationship between fantasy fiction, and the whole African literature thing... So, I get questions a lot, where people ask me why I write this, and I try to answer them as best I can.

Is that an antagonistic question? As in, "why do you write fantasy rather when you should be writing real literature?"

I think it's a little bit antagonistic, but I also think it's genuine. I don't think people are asking it to be confrontational. They honestly want to know. But genre fiction—you know, science fiction, fantasy, Western, romance—all of them are set apart from literary fiction, in the way that our literature is divided. And since literary fiction is generally felt to be realist—which is totally not the case, but it is what people think—the question becomes, well, here is this dominant literature, here is The Novel, we have this idea of the novel as a realist form... That's where the question "why" comes from, the idea that writing fantasy is not a normal thing to do.

One way I address this is to turn things around, and look at how much older fantasy is than realism, how much more widespread in the world. How deeply a part of oral tradition fantasy is—and say, you know, explain to me, "Why write realist fiction?" Because fantasy is not the fringe, really, if you take narrative as a whole. It is the center.

So, there's that answer. But that doesn't work, right? Because we are still looking at things the way they are now, the way literature is divided. So then I go to my other answers. One of them is that I don't know. I wrote my PhD dissertation on the Sudanese writer Tayeb Salih: I wrote it on the uses of the fantastic and the uncanny in his work, plus a comparative piece where I was looking at Ibrahim al-Koni of Libya, Ben Okri of Nigeria, and Bessie Head from South Africa/Botswana. I was looking at how all of these writers are using the fantastic and the uncanny in their work. I did this, in part, to try to figure out why I am drawn to this literature. And I failed! I failed, Aaron. I still don't have a satisfactory answer for my attraction to this kind of literature."

[Compare to https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:0a82a9f1b371 which references Stephen King saying something similar (https://web.archive.org/web/20151003010112/https://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/101627096303/michiko-kakutani-who-writes-reviews-for-the-new )
and Ursuala Le Guin doing the same (http://www.rc.umd.edu/sites/default/files/imported/reference/wcircle/leguin.pdf [.pdf] via http://designculturelab.org/2014/10/23/three-uncertain-thoughts-or-everything-i-know-i-learned-from-ursula-le-guin/ )

Update (4 March 2015): here's another Ursula Le Guin to add to the mix, this one referring to some Kazuo Ishiguro in the NYTimes:
95. “Are they going to say this is fantasy?”
http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Blog2015.html#New and http://bookviewcafe.com/blog/2015/03/02/are-they-going-to-say-this-is-fantasy/

Update (10 July 2017): a thread: https://twitter.com/zunguzungu/status/884431966900113408

"What would you say if I told you that there was a thing called Science Fiction that exists [screenshots]

It's unfair to Ghosh--he's a better reader than the "why no climate fiction?" hottakes citing him--but it's become an annoying cliche.

If what you mean by "contemporary fiction" doesn't include Speculative Fiction, then contemporary fiction will not speculate about futures.

You could go a step farther: the "contemporary" in that sense of contemporary fiction is composed by literally removing the speculative.

The link to that "On the Media" episode on fiction and climate change, btw: https://www.wnyc.org/story/on-the-media-2017-07-07/

This is well put. If contemporary fiction doesn't address it, it's a structural erasure of writers that do, not a lack of them. [screenshot of https://twitter.com/nathangoldman/status/884420124752719872
trope of asking "why aren't writers writing about X?" is weird imo. seems meant as way of asking why don't people care about X...

..by asking why don't writers care. but almost always some writers do care and are writing about it. more interesting question is...

...what forces make that writing invisible and what that might have to do with what broader cultures care about.
]

Related: a short thread I wrote on Kanishk Tharoor's collection as Fiction in the Age of Climate Apocalypse: https://twitter.com/zunguzungu/status/841638743123550208

The first paragraph of that Ghosh essay
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/oct/28/amitav-ghosh-where-is-the-fiction-about-climate-change-

"the irony of the “realist” novel: the very gestures with which it conjures up reality are actually a concealment of the real.""]
sofiasamatar  2014  interviews  aaronbady  fantasy  sciencefiction  genrefiction  literature  fiction  writing  africa  ursulaleguin  kazuoishiguro 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Paris Review - The Art of Poetry No. 88, Anne Carson
"INTERVIEWER: Most people are not aware that you’re a visual artist as well as a verbal artist. You make books—a single book that you make for one person or another. I remember when we were going through the Ontario countryside, and everything was white, and at one point you pointed off in the distance and said, “I used to live there,” I think it was Port Hope? I looked out and thought, Nobody used to live there. There was just nothing there. Then you handed me this white book that you’d made for your brother Michael.

CARSON: When I go on the train from here to Toronto I always dread that passing of Port Hope because it was a place we lived for six, seven years and my parents for about fifteen years and my brother intermittently, so the book, because it’s about him, is connected to that place in some ways. But it’s a place where everyone’s life fell apart. That’s too strong. It was a place where we all, my brother and I, met the end of our adolescence. So that’s a serious order."



"In surfaces, perfection is less interesting. For instance, a page with a poem on it is less attractive than a page with a poem on it and some tea stains. Because the tea stains add a bit of history. It’s a historical attitude. After all, texts of ancient Greeks come to us in wreckage and I admire that, the combination of layers of time that you have when looking at a papyrus that was produced in the third century BC and then copied and then wrapped around a mummy for a couple hundred years and then discovered and put in a museum and pieced together by nine different gentlemen and put back in the museum and brought out again and photographed and put in a book. All those layers add up to more and more life. You can approximate that in your own life. Stains on clothing."



"… I remember in grade two when we had to draw pictures of a barnyard one day, and the teacher said we could put a story on it if we wanted to, to explain our barnyard. That was quite a breakthrough moment. Putting the story as well as the picture together. And when I did my first book of poems, Short Talks, when I first produced that as a manuscript to try to publish it, it was drawings. A set of drawings that had at first just titles, and then I expanded the titles a bit and then gradually realized nobody was interested in the drawings and I just took the titles off and then they were pellets of a lecture."



"… since then there’s been what people call a paradigm shift, which means now you can’t do anything wrong, but which really means people are offering equally blind judgments of the work. I don’t know why that happens. I guess people are just afraid to think. They like to have a category that’s ready so they can say: “Okay, now we know this is good, we can enjoy it.”"



"INTERVIEWER: So there’s this dense otherness that you just want to find out about. Whether it’s relevant is besides the point.

CARSON: One thing I do understand about the Greeks is that they, too, understood this and valued it. That is what the god Dionysus is as a principle—the principle of being up against something so other that it bounces you out of yourself to a place where, nonetheless, you are still in yourself; there’s a connection to yourself as another. It’s what they call "ecstasy." The Greeks invented this concept, but they also embody it for us, which may just be just our utilitarian approach to them. But who can say. We are always going to be looking at the Greeks and figuring out who they are in relation to what we are. We can’t get out and be in a third place and judge both of us."



"INTERVIEWER: I end up putting you and Alice Munro together. In each of you there’s an attachment to the physical world and the details of life—almost like you are reveling in them—whether they’re bad, good, painful, or whatever else. Does that seem right to you?

CARSON: I recognize that. Reveling is good. A good word for it. But she and I are very different. What we have in common is perhaps an attitude that however bad life is, the important thing is to make something interesting out of it. And that has a lot to do with the physical world, with looking at stuff, snow and light and the smell of your screen door and whatever constitutes your phenomenal existence from moment to moment. How consoling—that this stuff goes on and that you can keep thinking about it and making that into something on a page."
annecarson  poetry  interviews  2004  stains  imperfections  wabi-sabi  life  living  observation  alicemunro  paradigmshifts  perspective  otherness  relativity  willaitken 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Graphic Design That Encapsulates the Golden State - NYTimes.com
"“It is common practice today to place the word ‘California’ in front of almost any vagrant word and thus achieve a magic combination hopefully intended to make the heart jump and the purse strings fly open,” the designer Alvin Lustig wrote in 1947.

But it wasn’t the word alone. Mr. Lustig and other graphic artists gave “California” a look, for periodicals, posters, packaging and vacation destinations, that also made the heart jump and loosened the purse strings. It was colorful, it was experimental, it was rough, it was digital.

And the same can be said of the new book “Earthquakes, Mudslides, Fires & Riots: California Graphic Design, 1936-1986” (Metropolis Books, $55), written and designed by Louise Sandhaus, 59, a graphic designer. As she writes in her introduction, she chose not to honor text over graphics, and she wasn’t interested in being definitive. Rather, looking through archives and talking to makers, she asked questions like, “Is this historically important work, versus is this fabulous and distinctive and sooooooo California?” The pieces in the book range in mood from the calm abstraction of John Follis’s “Arts & Architecture” magazine covers to the pixelated trips in David Theurer’s “I, Robot” Atari game.

Oh, and that title? Ms. Sandhaus wrote in an email, “It’s a cliché about California, but one that encapsulates a place where big dramatic changes happen.” She spoke to a reporter last week. (This interview has been edited and condensed.)

Q. You say in your introduction this project took 10 years. Why?

A. I worked for two-and-a-half years on the millennial exhibition for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “Made in California.” It was intended to talk about the relationship between California art and images of California, and to complicate that relationship. I saw California visual artists start to pull away from inspirations coming from Europe and from New York. Something similar had to have happened within graphic design.

I was also reading Reyner Banham’s book “Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies.” He said to tell the story of the built environment meant creating a different way to tell that story. That was impetus to think I didn’t have to become a historian, or to try to force this into a conventional model.

You also came up with four ecologies, presented as chapter titles: “Sunbaked Modernism,” “Industry & the Indies,” “Sixties alt Sixties” and “California Girls.” Why those?

Lorraine Wild, a graphic designer in Los Angeles, mentored this project early on, and she came up with those titles to be able to organize the work. A commonality was a left turn or a break from tradition. There was a colorfulness to the work. There was an independent spirit that was less about following and more about defining.

Ms. Wild’s essay for the ’60s chapter is all about the color orange. How does orange define California design?

Lorraine started that essay on an impulse. The sunset seems orange. The ubiquitous poster for “The Endless Summer” (1964) has that kind of luminosity. The Victor Moscoso “Neon Rose” series, the luminosity of orange in there. In public consciousness, that color does become conflated with California. We grow oranges.

Orange shows up in the architecture, too.

When I think of architecture of the period, Sea Ranch is front and center. Properties were going up that were more natural, and people were starting to introduce more earthy colors: avocado and burnt orange.

You also argue that California design was a more hospitable place for women, fostering the careers of designers including Marget Larsen for the department store Joseph Magnin and Susan Kare for the Apple Macintosh.

The women attracted to here were independently minded to begin with. But because it was a backwater, women had more latitude and developed bold work that got a lot of attention. Frank Gehry invited Deborah Sussman and Gere Kavanaugh to share his office. That said, Deborah Sussman, who died earlier this year, told me about how she had to assert herself in meetings and wasn’t always taken seriously.

You seem like you had fun with the design of the book. I love the pink-and-orange endpapers with little Californias and palms.

Originally I wanted there to be four books glued back to back, to suggest other books to come. This wasn’t a finished story. So the patterned papers between the chapters are like endpapers, retaining that suggestion. I had an intern this summer who did something wacky with the In-N-Out Burger palm tree."
california  graphicdesign  design  graphics  alexandralange  louisesandhaus  books  toread  interviews  2014 
december 2014 by robertogreco
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