The Vatican Secret Archive isn’t much use to modern scholars, because it’s so inaccessible. Of those 53 miles, just a few millimeters’ worth of pages have been scanned and made available online. Even fewer pages have been transcribed into computer text and made searchable. If you want to peruse anything else, you have to apply for special access, schlep all the way to Rome, and go through every page by hand. But a new project could change all that. Known as In Codice Ratio, it uses a combination of artificial intelligence and optical-character-recognition (OCR) software to scour these neglected texts and make their transcripts available for the very first time.
Archives for April 2018
Even now, d’Amboise still comes to the Harlem building each day — that is, when he’s not traveling the country, visiting one of the 13 affiliate dance institutes (there’s also an exchange program in China) and working on fundraising. “Yes, he’s here every single day,” confirms Ellen Weinstein, NDI’s longtime artistic director, who met d’Amboise some 30 years ago as a student at SUNY Purchase, where d’Amboise was teaching “for a minute” (academics did not suit him). “And four to five times a day I get a call, ‘Ellen how about this?’ It’s always something exciting, always fabulous!” she laughs, mimicking her mentor’s enthusiasm.
Burning Man is far, far, far from perfect. It’s still mostly hedonistic (with some awesome exceptions) and corny at times. It’s very white (The Root and The Guardian have both done great interviews with black Burners talking about why). There is always some percentage of douchebags (usually around 20-30 percent) who suck and do stupid things. And, sure, there’s plenty of sex and drugs and music, and some people can’t handle that in a mature way. But I can’t overstate how much I owe to Larry Harvey. Thanks to him, I learned what it is to be inspired by astonishingly creative people, weird people, sexy people, challenging people; to let go of the New York cynicism for a little while; to experience some of the most intense, vivid, and alive times of my life. I learned how to live.
Internationally, Infinity War dislodged Jurassic World ($316.7M) at No. 2 (that movie also had China at open). In comps that did not include China at the bow, Infinity War‘s overseas start blew past Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ($314M) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($281M). Worldwide. Only three movies had previously topped $500M in their openings: F8, The Force Awakens and Jurassic World.
The power of theatrical visibility has the potential to create real change in society towards the acceptance of “othered” individuals, as we have seen from the power of queer characters onstage, which translated from the stage to movies and TV, and, finally, into the national vocabulary. But this progress has notably lagged when it comes to the representation of disability onstage.
This August will mark Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday. The centenary celebrations started last August and are worldwide. The Bernstein estate counts more than 2,000 events on six continents. And there is plenty to celebrate. But if Bernstein remains a figure of limitless fascination, it is also because his story is archetypal. He embodied a tangled nexus of American challenges, aspirations, and contradictions. And if he in some ways unraveled, so did the America he once courted and extolled.
Walker State Prison, home to about 400 inmates, is unique among Georgia prisons. In 2011, the facility became the testing ground for the Georgia Department of Corrections’ new Faith and Character Based program, which focuses on accountability, responsibility, integrity and faith. Inmates in the Faith and Character Based curriculum have all requested to be there and have gone through a vetting process before being allowed to participate in the two-year program.
What is the meaning of ‘meaning’ in ‘the meaning of life’? We talk about the meaning of words, or linguistic meaning, the meaning of an utterance or of writing in a book. When we ask if human life has meaning, are we asking whether it has meaning in this semantic sense? Could human history be a sentence in some cosmic language? The answer is that it could, in principle, but that this isn’t what we want when we search for the meaning of life.
At the beginning of the 21st century, a new world is emerging. Not since Marx identified the manufacturing plants of Manchester as the blueprint for the new capitalist society has there been a deeper transformation of the fundamentals of our socioeconomic life. A new commons-based mode of production, enabled by information and communication technology (ICT), what we now call digitisation, redefines how we (can) produce, consume and distribute. This pathway is exemplified by interconnected collaborative initiatives that produce a wide range of artifacts, from encyclopaedias and software to agricultural machines, wind turbines, satellites and prosthetics. And much of this relates to the little pipe-seller’s attitude.
It’s a fine line, and it’s very easy to get it all wrong: “Too many ads can motivate users to pay for an ad-free version, but push many more to listen less or abandon the service. The study found that the additional subscription revenue does not make up for the lost ad revenue from those who listen less or leave the service.”
Behind the aphorism’s sudden ubiquity lies a long and surprising history—one that yields a fresh perspective on our present technocultural moment. It suggests that Facebook’s business model is neither as novel as it might seem, nor as deterministic of its values as critics assume. The pithiness that makes “you are the product” so quotable risks obscuring the complex pact between Facebook and its users, in ways that make social media’s problems seem inevitable and insoluble. They’re not—but if we want to fix them, the first thing we need to do is redefine our relationship.
An art historian raised the alarm after noticing that paintings attributed to Etienne Terrus showed buildings that were only constructed after the artist’s death in 1922. Experts confirmed that 82 of the 140 works displayed at the Terrus museum in Elne, the artist’s birthplace in southern France, were fakes.
“The decision to do this rests very strongly on my commitment to rewrite the postwar canon,” Baltimore Museum of Art director Christopher Bedford told artnet News. And while institutions sell art to fund new acquisitions every so often, the BMA’s latest deaccession stands out. While museums usually sell work to trade up, angling for major pieces by the hottest artists, the BMA is instead expanding out, redirecting the funds to correct the historical record. “To state it explicitly and act on it with discipline—there is no question that is an unusual and radical act to take,” Bedford says.
Meural is one of the more notable startups in the digital art subscription space. For hardware that is ultimately just a high-end digital photo frame, the companies are more focused on the idea that a certain type of consumer is interested in a monthly subscription to digital art. It’s a wild idea that has been a tough one to chase.
A blockbuster strategy has two basic, and massive, problems, one being that people who come for blockbusters simply don’t return for anything else. (The other is, basically, marketing costs.) What’s the way forward for museums like Britain’s National Portrait Gallery, museums that have relied on blockbusters in the past but can’t really sustain that now?
Writer Celeste Ng explains the Gen X bookstore experience, including those joys of the mall: “I grew up haunting the B. Dalton and Waldenbooks in the mall. So my first indies—the long-gone Booksellers in Beachwood, Ohio and the redoubtable Mac’s Backs in Cleveland Heights—were revelations; they carried such a wide array of books, including niche titles that a more mainstream retailer wouldn’t have. I discovered many of my favorite authors just by browsing their shelves.”
Parliament had to intervene so the show could be produced in London – yes, it took an act of government to allow the actors to be naked onstage. Back on Broadway, during previews in 1968, show co-writer Gerome Ragni explained that the rules about nudity were flexible in the production: “Anybody who feels like it can take his clothes off. Everybody wants to now, even the stagehands. We turned them on.”
Why? It’s obvious: “More than 50% of U.S. consumers aged 18-49 in U.S. are ‘light’ TV viewers (in the bottom one-third of the total TV audience based on minutes viewed), according to Nielsen. However, 90% of that group watches YouTube videos.”
In Boyle Heights, there’s a delicate balance to maintain – the city knows Boyle Heights residents are not interested in a threatening wave of gentrification. So a one-day “play street” plan might actually be a good solution. “What a play street is not is a replacement for permanent parks. … But it bridges the gap in a way that’s really needed.”
Abilene Christian University spent many years quashing college students who wanted to dance on campus; the first on-campus dance was held a mere six years ago. But now a donor has stepped up to pay for a full-time dance instructor – and the head of the department says dance classes fit well within the university: “It’s missional because we’re helping students grow their God-given gifts.”
Hank Azaria, the white actor who has voiced Apu for 29 seasons, says he’s ready to step down, and that a South Asian actor could step in – but, while that would be welcome, the problems with Apu stem from areas far beyond his voice.
That’s one theory, anyway, but it’s a bit more complicated in practice. Look at the history of Cairo’s opera house, where Arabic-language works gradually came to coexist with European repertoire. “In the late-19th century, a hybrid Arabic and Turkish (and Greek, Armenian, French and Italian) cultural economy of musical theatre developed. Arabic music made European acting acceptable and contributed to the acceptance of the new performance genre. Arabic operetta developed in ‘low’ and ‘high’ versions that remain alive today.”
Wow: “Spurred in part by allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men across the country, three former teenage employees of a youth symphony orchestra in Utah County say one of its longtime leaders either sexually abused them or inappropriately touched them years apart.”
That’s what one artist believes. “Fuller said he was inspired after a cycling tour of the Great Wall of China in 2014 and ‘felt compelled” to move to the ‘Chinese mega city’ last year. He said he ‘underestimated’ Beijing’s scale after walking 861 miles (1,386km) in nine months around its ring roads.
Ohhhhkaaaay, Silicon Valley PR machine: “AR board games promise a host of advantages over their real world counterparts. They eliminate the need to set up complicated boards and remove the foot-piercing pieces you eventually need to round up and put away (and the mess when someone flips the board in frustration). Perhaps even more importantly, augmented-reality board games let you play your favorite titles with friends and family regardless of whether you’re in the same room.”
Oh: “The dramatic photograph of an anteater approaching a glowing termite mound in the dead of night was originally considered a worthy winner of a Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. The prize has now been withdrawn after judges noticed a problem: the anteater pictured is almost certainly a stuffed animal kept outside a visitor centre.”
The game – for instance, getting more money back on CVS cards, or figuring out which credit card to use in which specific situation – is infinite, and rigged. “It’s not a zero-sum, winners-and-losers sort of game, like Monopoly or cage fighting, but rather one that continues as long as you want to play and one that, in a sense, you can’t win.”
Whoa: “The orchestra, founded in 1978 by Bruce Morton Wright and supported by Gannon University, announced it would officially disband at the end of its current season after 40 years of offering free concerts.” Its final concert was Saturday night.
Andrea Bruce took a photography class for fun in the last semester of her undergrad degree in 1995, and since then, she’s photographed some of the most challenging and conflict-ridden places in the world. “I have experienced many roadside bombs and suicide bombs and been under fire. Most of the time it’s just unpredictable — you’re in a war zone and things just happen. You have to know what is worth the risk and what’s not.”
The city has gone through various creative processes to fund its other attractions, including Union Station, the National World War I Museum, and the Kansas City Museum. “Why didn’t city officials and museum stakeholders explore progressive options to breathe new life into the American Jazz Museum? It’s puzzling that none of these creative solutions was seriously considered.”