This Week: The Trump era is a challenge to America’s arts institutions… Artificial intelligence is teaching us how to better-design concert halls… How originality has failed art… The Metropolitans Museum and Opera are struggling… Is Canada becoming the first “post-nation” state?
- The Role Of Arts Institutions In The Era Of Trump: As what follows any seismic shift in the landscape, artists and arts institutions are trying to figure out their roles in the Trump era. This week there was controversy when the St. Louis Art Museum agreed to allow one of its paintings to be transported to Washington DC to be hung for the inaugural. Protests quickly ensued, writes Phil Kennicott in the Washington Post. “The petition, and the flurry of attention it raised, is important as a moment of what might be called the ‘stress testing’ of this country’s cultural institutions. As Trump opponents look to the next four years, they want to know how much cultural and moral capital is stored in the institutions they love. Will museums and universities and arts centers be up to the challenge of confrontation, resistance and truth-telling?”
- What We’re Learning As Technology Starts Designing More Of Our Theatres: Hamburg’s by-all-accounts brilliant new concert hall, the Elbphilharmonie was the product of great designers. But those great designers had the benefit of some amazing algorithms that helped determine the ideal acoustical form. “The auditorium—the largest of three concert halls in the Elbphilharmonie—is a product of parametric design, a process by which designers use algorithms to develop an object’s form. Algorithms have helped design bridges, motorcycle parts, typefaces—even chairs. In the case of the Elbphilharmonie, Herzog and De Meuron used algorithms to generate a unique shape for each of the 10,000 gypsum fiber acoustic panels that line the auditorium’s walls like the interlocking pieces of a giant, undulating puzzle.” So a question: As artificial intelligence gets better at designing spaces, what will we discover about ideal spaces for performances? And will our current halls, many of them guesses about what works, be deemed obsolete the way America’s stadiums and arenas from the 1960s and 70s were?
- Art, Creativity and Originality – They Aren’t Interchangeable: Somehow, a cult of originality has dominated new creativity in the past century. But Michael Lind argues provocatively that originality has been a destroyer of art rather than an engine of progress. “In the last century, originality has killed one once-flourishing art form after another, by replacing variation within shared artistic conventions to rebellion against convention itself. The moment artists were taught to consider themselves superior mutant creative geniuses rather than practitioners of traditional crafts, it was only a matter of time before some would get tired of creative variation within the inherited conventions of their art and start rejecting the basic conventions.”
- New York’s Iconic Metroplitans Struggle: Yes, both the Museum and Opera are hitting rough patches. The Opera is having difficulties filling its seats, even while it’s offering up some of the best singers in the world, writes James Jordan in the Observer. “The reasons for the Met’s less than spectacular performance at the box office remain somewhat obscure, particularly since, on a day to day basis, the company offers what is likely the strongest casting of any opera company in the world.” Indeed, the Met is in the middle of “a golden age of vocalism.” Meanwhile, while the Met Museum has no problem bloating its galleries with fans, the money part of the operation continues to be challenging. The museum has had to put off its much-anticipated new contemporary wing because of financial stress. The museum had hoped to open the extension to its main building for its 150th anniversary in 2020; now even the groundbreaking is seven years or more away.
- Is Canada The First “Post-Nation” State? Canadians have a very different view of immigration than does Europe or the US. “Ten years ago, two-thirds of population increase was courtesy of immigration. By 2030, it is projected to be 100%. The economic benefits are also self-evident, especially if full citizenship is the agreed goal. All that “settlers” – ie, Canadians who are not indigenous to the land – need do is look in the mirror to recognize the generally happy ending of an immigrant saga. Our government repeats it, our statistics confirm it, our own eyes and ears register it: diversity fuels, not undermines, prosperity.”