“We read about computers that can master ancient games and drive cars. [Turing Award-winning researcher Judea] Pearl is underwhelmed. As he sees it, the state of the art in artificial intelligence today is merely a souped-up version of what machines could already do a generation ago: find hidden regularities in a large set of data. … The key, he argues, is to replace reasoning by association with causal reasoning” – that is, teach machines to process cause and effect.
Fred Plotkin recalls the rapturous reception he’s seen terrific performances get – not just at the final curtain calls, but at the ends of acts and even after arias – and offers an idea or two as to why he so rarely sees such excitement from the audience at the Met. (It’s not just because they have trains to catch.) And, by the way, he thinks the Met should make more use of its fabulous gold curtain.
These are not dances with deep spiritual meanings, but rather they’re the most prolific forms of creative expression for young Africans right now. That has since evolved into a professionalization of these dances, as tutorial videos crop up on these very dances and professional choreographers increasingly incorporate them.
Spencer Kornhaber: “The New York Times article, ‘Welcome to the Age of the Twink,’ that Twitter has gleefully torn apart this week is a bit too slight to sustain a full reckoning with the very real questions it raises. … Certainly, if it’s the age of the twink now, it’s been the age of the twink all along. Slender, smooth types have achieved dreamy superstar status at a pretty steady pace over the years … Yet there’s something poetic in the otherwise risible idea that the ’emo boy’ of 2006 is the hetero ‘twink’ of 2018. Because if anything has shifted with regards to straight men’s bodies, it’s that they have slowly begun to be subjected to the same scrutiny women’s and gay men’s have.”
“A study published this week … found that nouns actually take longer to spit out than verbs do, presumably because they require more thought to produce. … Which is to say, the future word casts a shadow over the present one. And that shadow is measurable: the researchers found that, in all nine languages, the speech immediately preceding a noun is three-and-a-half-per-cent slower than the speech preceding a verb. And in eight of nine languages, the speaker was about twice as likely to introduce a pause before a noun than before a verb.” (The outlier was English.)
The idea that deafness impedes the appreciation of music is gradually being debunked. In 2013, sign language interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego went viral in the US for her animated performance for rapper Kendrick Lamar at the Lollapalooza festival. Rather than merely signing the words, she embodies musical textures with her face and movements, showcasing a unique technique that she describes as “showing the density of sounds visually”.
Learning to see is not an innate gift; it is an iterative process, always in flux and constituted by the culture in which we find ourselves and the tools we have to hand. Harriot’s 6-power telescope certainly didn’t provide him with the level of detail of Galileo’s 20-power. Yet the historian Samuel Y Edgerton has argued that Harriot’s initial (and literal) lack of vision had more to do with his ignorance of chiaroscuro – a technique from the visual arts first brought to full development by Italian artists in the late 15th century.
For many, the idea of the ‘creative person’ comes from popular media, which inundates us with news stories and movie portrayals of the suffering artist and the mad genius. And there are anecdotal accounts closer to our real lives: many of us have heard stories about someone who suffers from a deep depression – but also creates beautiful poetry. Repeatedly hearing these accounts fuels a stereotype. When we frequently see two unique things (eg, extraordinary creativity and mood disorders) occur together, they become paired in our minds, creating what is termed an illusory correlation.
Of course any great artist needs their champions: the curators, gallerists and institutional directors who put their boundary-demolishing work on view. So we decided to pinpoint who exactly these people are. Who will we be talking about most fervently over the course of 2018, and the years that follow? Who’s making it happen? This, from our perspective, is a gathering of the people who are truly influential in art right now.
“Thanks to a new breed of neural network machine-learning algorithms, compelling yet fictitious video, images, voice, and text can be synthesized whole cloth. Photos of imaginary faces can be realistically fabricated by computers — their emotions, skin, age, and gender dialed in by a knob on a machine. … Videos of politicians can be produced as you might control a puppet. … But in a way, this technological leap could actually be good news for journalists.” (Says a journalism professor.)
Fintan O’Toole: “[He] didn’t do kitchen-sink drama and he was always a little bit on the outside. But he produced play after play marked by soaring imagination, ferocious honesty, great artistic ambition and unshakable integrity. … What made Murphy such a distinctive, original and restless presence in the theatre of the last six decades was his ability to evade easy categorization, to bring together the intense exploration of private anguish and the epic treatment of history, politics and myth.”
Third year students, who were halfway through a tour of England and Wales when the van was taken, launched an appeal to find the costumes and raise money to replace other items in the van, which included lighting, sound and rehearsal equipment. Last night (May 14), a member of the public found the costumes in an open garage in Bromley-by-Bow in London, close to where the tour vehicle was last tracked, and called Ballet Central to report the news.
“To what moment does the rise of television respond? And what is the significance of this medium? Above all, new television responds to an omnipresent loss of normative authority, of a robust failure of humans to feel at home in their world: to trust their governments, their leaders, their role models, their traditions and, ultimately, even their senses. New television confronts this state of affairs artistically and politically, presenting – like film – some order to such a world, but over weeks and months and years.”
Live Nation is by far the largest ticket provider in America, thanks in part to President Barack Obama’s Justice Department, which approved the company’s merger with Ticketmaster in 2010. Ticketmaster controlled over 80 percent of the market before the merger, and that holds true of Live Nation today, buttressed by its role as the nation’s largest concert promoter and owner of over 200 venues. Because Live Nation manages over 500 major music artists, they can demand that venues wanting to host concerts exclusively use Ticketmaster instead of a competitor.
“Akhmatova knew that the secret police might search her apartment and find her writings, so she burnt the paper on which composed drafts of the poem, after learning it by heart. But what if she were arrested and executed? To ensure the survival of her poem, she taught it to her closest female friends who would remember the poem after her own death. She called this situation ‘pre-Gutenberg’ because state terror had forced her and other underground writers to live as if the printing press had never been invented.”
That’s what a pair of researchers found when studying firefighters in Colorado and undergraduates in London. “When you experience stressful events, whether personal (waiting for a medical diagnosis) or public (political turmoil), a physiological change is triggered that can cause you to take in any sort of warning and become fixated on what might go wrong.”
“Lee is suing POW! Entertainment for fraud and conversion, claiming the company and two of its officers conspired to steal his identity, name and likeness in a ‘nefarious scheme’ involving a ‘sham’ sale to a Chinese company. POW! was acquired in 2017 by Hong Kong-based Camsing International, and Lee says POW! CEO Shane Duffy and co-founder Gill Champion didn’t disclose the terms of the deal to him before it closed.”
That’s exactly what Mexican artist Gonzalo Lebrija has devised for a piece to premiere this month at the Soluna International Music & Arts Festival in Dallas. “Mariachi songs are always loud – they’re about passion and crying. It’s liberation,” says Lebrija. “And I think playing Wagner with the idea of a broken heart, it’s a different language. It’s not Wagner anymore.”
“Tap isn’t being used as a dance language here, much less as music. It’s being used as a sparkly outfit, and as a symbol of Broadway’s past. These numbers are fantasies. Two of the new ones are hallucinations.” Brian Seibert on the incongruous tap routines that have been turning up in new and recent shows from Mean Girls to SpongeBob SquarePants to Escape to Margaritaville and back to The Book of Mormon. (Seibert doesn’t entirely approve.)
Daniel Evans, artistic director of the Chichester Festival Theatre: “Some directors actively seek out notes and use the opportunity to test the clarity of their intention at a certain crucial moment, or confirmation of a secret doubt they harbour about a certain costume or scene change. Other directors are more cautious and can appear so anxious about the amount of work ahead of them, and their own mountain of notes, that it seems there’s little head space for any other advice. And some (very few in my experience) show no interest in receiving [feedback] or discussing their work whatsoever.”
That’s what the New Ballet in San Jose is offering for a performance of Sleeping Beauty this weekend: a group of patrons will sit together in the balcony, dial into a conference call, and listen on earbuds to live commentary as well as background on the ballet and interviews with dancers. Says company director Dalia Rawson, “It’s a bit radical, … but I think context and additional information will enhance the experience, just as it does when watching football or the Olympics.”
“A retired surgeon’s research into the deaths of 70 of the best-known classical composers has led him to conclude that many of them were unfairly tainted with reputations for ‘venereal disease, alcoholism or sexual impropriety’.” Says the researcher, John Noble, “The list of composers who had syphilis is short. The list of composers said to have had syphilis is enormous.”
Justice and Engagement
In March I participated in the Intersections Summit hosted by Milwaukee Repertory Theater. It was a gathering of community engagement practitioners from theaters (mostly) across the U.S. As frequently happens, the conference sparked a number of thoughts. … read more
AJBlog: Engaging Matters Published 2018-05-15
Tom Wolfe, R.I.P.
Tom Wolfe, who died yesterday, was a card-carrying member of the Grand Old Party of Reality, a journalist whose sole and only loyalty was to the facts painstakingly gathered by hand and scribbled down in his reporter’s notebook. … read more
AJBlog: About Last Night Published 2018-05-15
“It turned out that, among the middle-aged people (those aged 35 to 64), the higher-status participants both had more gray matter and more of this beneficial “segregation” in their brain networks. Both measures are correlated with better memory and are considered protective against dementia and other signs of brain aging. This relationship held even after the authors controlled for things like mental and physical health, cognitive ability, and even their socioeconomic status in childhood, rather than adulthood.”
Although it was the highest auction price ever for a work sold at Sotheby’s, equally noteworthy is that the painting also carried the highest guarantee ever given by the company. This meant that the auction house was willing to assure a minimum price to the owner, potentially risking millions. Sotheby’s was able to offload that risk to a third party, who became the buyer at the auction.
“The two great advantages of a royal association are publicity and trust. ‘For smaller organisations, the biggest advantage is publicity because it can be very difficult to draw attention to yourself. For larger organisations, the publicity benefit might not be so obvious unless you’re staging a big event, but trust is a big issue at the moment, and if you have a royal patron there is an assumption that there’s a royal stamp of approval and that you will have been thoroughly vetted.”