ArtsJournal: Arts, Culture, Ideas


Blackface Didn’t Start With American Minstrel Shows. It’s Been Around For Centuries

"The origins of blackface minstrelsy are much older than most people know, with deep roots in the English medieval and Shakespearean theatrical traditions. Understanding the often-forgotten medieval roots of blackface might help us to end old performance traditions and to create new ones." - Smithsonian Magazine

Machines Are Getting Pretty Damn Good At Writing

In July of 2019, Microsoft invested a billion dollars, which allowed OpenAI to create a supercomputer with two hundred and eighty-five thousand C.P.U. cores, ten thousand G.P.U.s, and four hundred gigabits per second of network connectivity per server. Microsoft claims that it ranks in the top five supercomputers in the world, processing more than twenty-three thousand teraflops per second. The power of the supercomputer has been transformative. GPT-2, which John Seabrook took for a test drive in 2019, asking it to write an article for The New Yorker, had 1.5 billion parameters. GPT-3 has a hundred and seventy-five billion. - The New Yorker

If You Don’t Start Until Your Teens, Can You Still Make It In Ballet?

"The ballet world is filled with stories of dancers who first pointed their toes as toddlers and became professionals as teenagers. But what about those who started ballet as teenagers — and then realized that they wanted to make it their career? Their experience can be as thrilling as it is overwhelming, and also inspire a bit of panic." - Pointe Magazine

Indonesian Theme Park Ordered To Take Down Lights That Violate Chris Burden Copyright

The theme park had recreated Burden's collection of street lamps that he made for the front of the LA County Museum in Los Angeles. "The court has ordered Rabbit Town to take down its Love Light installation within 30 working days since the verdict." - Coconuts

How Kate Winslet Went About Mastering The Notoriously Tricky Philadelphia Dialect

"Few sounds are as difficult to master as the rounded Os, erratic As, dropped consonants and smushed syllables of the Philadelphia accent — or Filelfia acksent, as the locals would say." Winslet says it's one of the two trickiest accents she's ever had to learn; here's a look at the hard work she put in to get it right. - Los Angeles Times

These $63 Million Paintings, Literally Kidnapped And Held For Ransom, Are Now The Subject Of A Billion-Dollar Lawsuit

The Shchukin Gallery, which sells Russian art in Paris and New York, is suing a Russian oligarch for damages and attorney fees of $950 million — in what might or might not be the culmination of an unusually tangled legal battle over three paintings by Kazimir Malevich and two by Natalia Goncharova that were, as Shchukin's attorney puts it, "hijacked" and are now in an "art hostage situation." - The Art Newspaper

How Pixar Pushes The Boundaries Of Color To Push The Buttons of Moviegoers

"In a way, every filmmaker is really just playing with moving light and color on surfaces. That's the whole ball game, a filmic given. But Pixar takes it further, or perhaps just does it more self-consciously and systematically. Its emotionally weighty, computer-generated animated films deploy precisely calibrated color and light to convey narrative and emotion … But I'll tell you a secret: When it comes to wringing emotion from color, Pixar cheats." Reporter Adam Rogers explains precisely how they do it. - Wired

Germany Takes Care Of Its Opera Houses, Even Through COVID — But There’s A Problem

"'What we learned in the crisis was that the public purse was very much willing to keep alive in Germany,' says Dieter Haselbach, a German cultural sociologist and consultant. 'But in the long run the state-funded system covers a structural crisis which is an oversupply of theaters and opera houses, with competition from digital performances.'" - The Christian Science Monitor

Amsterdam Branch Of The Hermitage In Danger Of Closing Permanently

"After laying off 25% of its full-time staff, including those who had been there since opening day," the only Western European satellite of the St. Petersburg institution "finally reached the bottom of its reserves last month. Because the Hermitage is a private institution ineligible for government aid, it is now calling for one million euros in donations by May 1. … Whether that will even be enough to survive the pandemic is difficult to say." - Hyperallergic

France’s Cultural Venues Get An Official Reopening Date

"Museums, theatres, cinemas and concert halls will reopen on May 19, along with non-essential shops and outdoor seating at cafes and restaurants, Macron told regional French newspapers in a highly-anticipated announcement." - Yahoo! (AFP)

Scottish Government Ordered To Reconsider Six-Foot-Distance Reopening Rule After Arts Groups Rebel

Following a personal intervention by the culture minister, "controversial new guidelines which will force Scotland's arenas, concert halls and comedy clubs to impose two metre social distancing on audiences are to be reviewed in the wake of warnings they will force most venues to remain closed." - The Scotsman

UK Artists Demand Action On Post-Brexit Touring Crisis

"We are extremely concerned by the lack of progress which has been achieved over the last three months to unravel the mountain of costly bureaucracy and red tape which now faces the creative industries," the letter said. "With scheduling already under way for creative work later this year, you have a limited window of opportunity to resolve this crisis which is threatening our industry." - BBC

A $2 Billion Plan Would Transform LA’s Arts District

An Arts District cold-storage plant dating to the 1890s would be replaced with housing, offices, a hotel and shops in a proposal unveiled Thursday by Denver developers. With a price tag between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, the complex would rank among the largest L.A. commercial real estate developments in recent memory. - Los Angeles Times

Theatre Festivals Are Reopening In The UK. But What Should Their Role Be?

Many will grapple with an uncertain theatre landscape and uncertainty over how audiences might behave as society opens up. And this is at a time when cities have been devastated by the pandemic, and many are still reeling from the loss to life and livelihoods. - The Stage

Poetry Foundation Picks A New President

Michelle Boone’s appointment "may mark a turning point for the foundation, which has been criticized as insular and slow to respond to changing times. In addition to serving as commissioner for the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Boone is wrapping up her tenure as chief program and civic engagement officer for Navy Pier." - Chicago Tribune

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