Allan Sekula, artist and author of such indispensable texts as "The Body and the Archive," passed away over the weekend. While Sekula's primary medium was photography, his work had no small relevance to questions that surround art and technology, and is well worth revisiting in the wake of this sad news. Among his works that have been circulating on Tumblr over the past couple of days are his 1999 work Dear Bill Gates. The work involved a photographed action in which the artist swam as close as he could to the Microsoft founder's house.
Sekula described the work as follows:
Recently I wrote a letter to a man who embodies the new paradigm of the global archivist, the facilitator of the new virtual and disembodied family of man. He's no Steichen, since he refuses the role of the grand paternalistic editor, preferring in a more veiled manner to manage the global archive and retrieval system from which any number of pictorial statements might be constructed. In effect, he allows his clients to play in the privacy of their homes the role of mini-Steichen, perusing vast quantities of images from around the world, culling freely-but for a price-with meaning in mind. Read More.
The second edition of Radar L.A. -- an international theater festival that takes place mostly in downtown Los Angeles -- will feature 18 stage productions from companies around the world as well as some prominent local groups.
The full line-up for the Sept 24-Oct. 1 fest, which was announced Tuesday, will include theater organizations from Asia, Europe, New Zealand and Latin America. Radar first launched in 2011 as a way for local audiences to experience global theater companies alongside homegrown talent. The new edition of the biennial event is organized by REDCAT at Walt Disney Concert Hall and the California Institute of the Arts, in partnership with the Center Theatre Group.
This year's line-up features co-presentations that were previously announced by other groups -- including Complicite's production of "Shun-kin" with the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA; "Prometheus Unbound" at the Getty Villa; and Roger Guenveur Smith's show about Rodney King at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Read More.
In the 1980s, Jack Goldstein’s Photorealist paintings of lightning storms and other luminous phenomena made an indelible impression. Copied from found photographs and impeccably airbrushed by assistants, Goldstein’s images of spectacular, ephemeral events (usually against night skies) form the center of this compact yet fascinating survey. These untitled paintings—such as one dated 1983, featuring a stark horizon under green clouds being struck by knots of forked lightning at opposite ends of the canvas—were among the most provocatively beautiful of their time, a period when beauty itself was suspect as a tool of patriarchal repression. But, untouched by the artist’s hand, they seemed equally challenging as illustrations of the “death of the author,” philosopher Roland Barthes’s influential idea that literary texts were cultural constructs rather than transparent instantiations of a writer’s intention and biography.
As this may suggest, Goldstein was a charter member of the “Pictures Generation,” a group of artists interested in appropriating images from popular culture for deconstructive purposes. Like several of them, he studied at CalArts under John Baldessari. He made forays into Minimalist sculpture and performance art, but a series of short films from the mid-1970s led to his inclusion in curator Douglas Crimp’s defining Artists Space exhibition, “Pictures,” in 1977. Produced by hired Hollywood professionals, these works sometimes took other moving images as their starting points. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (1975), for example, comprises a three-minute sequence of the MGM lion roaring over and over again in a stuttering loop, announcing a movie that never begins. Others stage slightly dopey, unassuming events and infuse them with pregnant hints of story lines. In The Knife (1975), an ordinary table utensil changes color and emotional tenor as, one by one, monochromatic lights play over its surface, starting with a suspenseful bloody red. Art like this, or the artist’s vinyl records composed from stock sound effects, appeared to take apart and examine the workings of movies and narrative structures in order to defuse their power. In The Jump, a 1978 film that opens the exhibition, glittering lights fill the isolated silhouette of a diver in motion (taken, it turns out, from Leni Riefenstahl’s Nazi epic Olympia), not only creating an enigmatic fragment of transient, if faintly sinister, grace, but also pointing the way to Goldstein’s paintings. Read More.
Review: Hector Zamora's quiet indictment of American dream at REDCAT
By Sharon Mizota
For his first solo exhibition in L.A., São Paulo artist Héctor Zamora sutures together two emblems of Southern California consumerism: the single family home and the shopping cart.
Nearly filling the gallery at REDCAT, "Panglossian Paradigm" consists of a single sculpture: the wooden frame of a small, six-room house entirely supported by evenly spaced metal shopping carts. An odd and unwieldy structure to be sure -- giving new meaning to the term “mobile home” -- it is a quiet indictment of the American dream.
Perhaps it speaks to the ritual nature of consumerism that I was initially struck by the impulse to start pushing the house around. It may be Pavlovian: When I see a shopping cart, I want to start moving and filling it with stuff. Read More.
'Percy Jackson' sequel aims to appease gods of the box office
When "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief" came out in 2010, it was met with angry fans and disappointed critics. Moviegoers were upset that the story veered from the bestselling novel by author Rick Riordan, and critics deemed the Christopher Columbus-directed film a "Harry Potter" knock-off. Yet the special-effects-laden movie, which stars Logan Lerman as the eponymous Percy, a young boy who discovers he's the son of the Greek god Poseidon, went on to make $226 million worldwide for 20th Century Fox, with the majority of its grosses coming from overseas.
It was profitable enough, with a loyal enough fan base, that the studio decided to embark on a sequel, but not before it made some key changes, specifically hiring "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" director Thor Freudenthal to revisit the world of Camp Half-Blood — a director who would employ a lighter touch and a more faithful adaptation to the second book in the series, "Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters." The film opens Wednesday. Read More.
Meg Wolfe and I are fed up with dance. And we love it too. We want to create spectacle and we want whoops and hollers. We often feel trapped by expectations, so in our dance-making we aim to defy expectations. We dance because we are not compelled to externalize or express a linear story or reinforce one particular technique or point of view. Our point of view is dynamic. We dance because it’s the only thing that matters, and it doesn’t matter at all.
With The Other Thing, we propose that we need to know each other and you. We want to be social and we want to connect. We want to take care of you. We want you to feel your watching. We want to hold the frame for you, the unknowner, and bring you into the dance slowly.
So, we started this piece as strangers. Why? We wanted to feel the awkwardness of not knowing each other and use it as source material. We wanted our dancing to be the vehicle to familiarity. Also, because we don’t know each other well, we could feel the process of revealing ourselves. The personal reveal became something to examine. It became a way into the work. Read More.
How, exactly, does one define Dawn of Midi? Composed of bassist Aakaash Israni, drummer Qasim Naqvi and pianist Amino Belyamani who have roots in Morocco, India, Pakistan and the fertile music program at CalArts, the group that is superficially a piano trio is far from anyone's definition of jazz with this album, which has a single, locked-groove composition that spirals through nine tracks and 47 engrossing minutes.
The closest analogue may be the Necks, a category-defying Australian trio who built a following around long-form improvised sets. But where the Necks' sound features an in-the-moment ebb and flow, Dawn of Midi is dedicated to perpetual forward motion, a rigorously composed blend of minimalism and trance music.
The record's moving parts first lock in place on "Io," a head-bobbing mix of upright bass and muted piano from Belyamani, who plays his instrument's inner strings as much as its keys. Gradually, yet insistently, the composition evolves into a seesawing ballet of rhythm on "Atlas," a hectic "Nix" and the spacious melody of "Moon," which gives way to the percolating "Ymir." Echoes of the shape-shifting patterns of Terry Riley and the more experimental tributaries of EDM ring throughout, but the record's propulsive, knotty tension carves out its own identity. It's a mysterious, vital sound with a pull all its own. Read More.
Massive 5-ton steel wheel stars in ancient Greek drama
July 31, 2013 CNET by Leslie Katz
"Prometheus Bound," thought to have first been performed around 450 B.C., gets a modern twist with a highly engineered 23-foot kinetic wheel that serves as the play's centerpiece.
A 23-foot, 5-ton steel structure recently rolled into Malibu, Calif., looking like a ferris wheel, but offering anything but amusement park fun. At least if you're Ron Cephas Jones.
The actor, who plays the lead role in an upcoming version of the Greek tragedy "Prometheus Bound," will spend most of the play strapped to the giant contraption, a staging that requires harnesses -- and surely some getting used to. The highly engineered kinetic sculpture brings a contemporary edge to the ancient play about the rebel god Prometheus, who gets chained to a remote mountain for eternity as punishment for defying Zeus by gifting fire to mere mortals.
In this avante-garde interpretation at L.A.s Getty Villa, the giant wheel stands in as that mythological mountain top.
The Hollywood Reporter Unveils the Top 25 Film Schools of 2013
July 31, 2013 The Hollywood Repporter by Tim Appelo USC boasts a new Interactive Media Building; AFI counters it's got James L. Brooks as its new artistic director. In its third annual ranking, THR surveys the nation's top institutions as they compete to turn out Oscar winners.
Forget about writing the Great American novel. Today's students want to direct the next great blockbuster -- or maybe write the next great art film. To meet that demand, film schools have been beefing up their programs. To reflect the changes, the editors of THR's third annual film school rankings consulted a brain trust of industry insiders, asking them to rate programs nationwide -- serving undergrads, graduate students and, in some cases, both. To broaden the pool of opinion, an online ballot containing potential nominees, which could be filled out and submitted anonymously, was sent to members of the Writers Guild of America West, American Cinema Editors and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. More than 600 ballots were returned, and the responses factored heavily in the final rankings.
For 15 years, Ojai Playwrights Conference has nurtured playwrights — established and emerging — through the development of their plays in a two-week, retreat-like residency that culminates in public readings of the work. Developed work from the conference ranges from Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Motherfucker with the Hat (2009) to Charlayne Woodard’s The Night Watcher (2007).
In this 16th summer of the program, four of OPC’s nine selected playwrights are women from diverse backgrounds, who are each coming to the conference for the first time: Alice Tuan, Jiehae Park, Lucy Alibar and Laura Schellhardt.
With open minds and an eagerness for the work to come, from emerging new voices to seasoned dramatists, these writers are preparing for Ojai by thinking through the personal connections driving the stories of their scripts.
Cock’s Crow by Alice Tuan
A recipient of Center Theatre Group’s 2000 Sherwood Award for emerging theater artists, Alice Tuan first made waves with her play Ajax (por nobody) at the Flea Theater in NYC (2001). Her work has been produced at Los Angeles Theatre Center, by East West Players, and internationally. She teaches at CalArts and has been a visiting professor at Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin. Read More.