“Residents and businesses began fleeing for more popular social networks long ago. Vast acres of land are abandoned or sparsely populated by the few remaining diehard users. … Digital worlds don’t typically rot or become overgrown with foliage, after all. They exist for a time, and then someone shuts them down. Right now, Second Life resembles a city swiftly evacuated following a radioactive threat.” Just seven months after The Atlantic ran a feature on the communities (notably the disabled) who are still thriving on the 15-year-old virtual-world platform, Joe Veix writes about how empty Second Life now appears compared to the days (a decade ago) when it had millions of users.
“Trustees allowed debate over the Berkshire Museum’s financial challenges to snowball into an excessive art sale, … as officials backed a costly shift to interactive exhibits based on thin evidence. Carol Riordan and Nancy Edman Feldman say that while the museum’s money problems were real, the Pittsfield institution could have ensured its future with far less than the $55 million it is allowed to raise through sales [of art from its collection] under terms of an agreement with [Mass.] Attorney General Maura Healey.”
It would seem odd enough that the photographer was on Stanley Kubrick’s set at that point in his career. (Weegee had been working on three “Z-grade” movies just before.) But it turns out the two camera wizards knew each other from the beginning of Kubrick’s career. Not only did Weegee take still photos of the ‘Strangelove’ film shoot, he had a huge effect on Peter Sellers’s portrayal of the title character. (He also shot images of Kubrick’s absolutely ridiculous original ending of the movie.)
Encountering an alien AI would not only point to our own possible future, but also prompt a curious shift in our worldview. When Nicolaus Copernicus proposed in the 1500s that the Earth was not central in any way to the Universe, he set in motion the development of a critical scientific idea: that there is nothing cosmically special or significant about us. But meeting an ET-AI could turn that realisation on its head: if the only intelligence we meet is machine in nature, then we would be special, after all.
If a computer is sentient, then it can feel pain. If it is conscious, then it is self-awareness. Just as we have human rights and animal rights, as we explore building conscious computers, must we also consider the concept of robot rights?
“Wherever you look, whatever you do, performance has gone extreme, often policed by a tracking app or a competitive peer (sometimes masquerading as a friend). Moderation, in any form, is seen as nothing but amateurism, the habit of a slacker who won’t commit 10,000 hours of practice to master something. I long ago decided to invest in extreme moderation.”
“Featuring an outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum, a Sadler’s Wells dance theatre and a new home for the London College of Fashion, along with residential towers, the park’s planned arts district, once known as Olympicopolis, in tune with [former mayor Boris] Johnson’s penchant for ancient Greek, has been reborn as East Bank, with the addition of a new base for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and recording studios.”
While fictional stories offer escapism for autistic and allistic (nonautistic) audiences alike, for autistic consumers, they can also do much more. They lay out social scripts to follow when dealing with different circumstances, which, for people who have trouble transferring lessons from one situation to another, can be useful.
In September 2017, self-published author Faleena Hopkins filed a trademark claim for the word “cocky” in relation to a romance novel series, which was registered by the US Patent and Trademark Office in April 2018. Only series can be registered as trademarks, not individual titles, and common words can’t be registered at all, unless the public associates it with a particular use.
In recent years, being busy has become an unmistakable badge of honor in many Western societies. It’s quite common for people to humblebrag that they don’t have a minute to themselves. Feeling busy — that is, perceiving oneself to be a busy person — thus makes individuals feel that they’re prized, important members of society. In research forthcoming in the Journal of Consumer Research, we looked at busyness through this modern self-concept lens. We found that the perception of oneself as a busy person — having what we call a busy mindset — can actually increase people’s self-control via a boost in self-importance.
“In 2016, 736 films were released in US cinemas – more than double the number in 2000,” PwC notes. PwC predicts that box office revenue will continue to rely on a small number of big-budget studio “tentpole” and franchise movies, with the most successful accounting for a huge portion of overall receipts. It only takes one or two of these blockbusters to (say, Star Wars: The Last Jedi or, more recently, Black Panther) to keep revenue stable.
Much of the art that leaves North Korea actually travels to a small village outside Tuscany where Pier Luigi Cecioni runs his modest gallery devoted to the art of Mansudae Studio, one of the world’s largest art production centers operating since 1959.
In less than a decade, the realm of professional sport has been taken by storm by the rise of eSports (short for electronic sports). These video game events now compete with — and in some cases outperform — traditional sports leagues for live viewership and advertising dollars. For the top eSports players, this means sponsorship contracts, endorsements, prize money and yes, global stardom.
“Although no one knows math’s exact origins, modern mathematicians … know that spoken language precedes written language by scores of millennia. Linguistic clues show how people around the world must have first developed mathematical thought.”
One sees the dangerous level of fantasy that has engulfed the project in a press release published by the gallery after the government finally coughed up the funds. Oblivious to the deficiencies of the collection and the exhibition programme, it crowed that the grant would transform the AGNSW “into one of the world’s greatest art museums”.
The Dia Art Foundation has announced plans to revitalize its existing exhibition spaces in New York—in Chelsea, SoHo, and the upstate town of Beacon—while developing an endowment for operations in the future. Funding for the initiatives will come from a $78-million capital campaign, the majority of which will be invested in the organization’s endowment. So far, $60 million has already been raised.
“Among the award winners at the Prix Benois ceremony in Moscow was the ballet’s original choreographer Kirill Serebrennikov, who is awaiting trial on what his supporters say are charges trumped up to punish him for challenging the Russian establishment. The Nureyev ballet – which was completed by a stand-in choreographer because Serebrennikov was under house arrest – won in the best male dancer, best composer, and best choreographer categories, in addition to Serebrennikov’s gong for best production design.”
Stage director Javaad Alipoor: “The arts world has turned working-class people into a problem to be solved rather than audience members or artists to be developed. Focusing on the poorest in society also dodges the main question we should be asking: why is it not only the super-exploited but the majority in this country who do not engage with subsidised theatre or arts? These are people who fill out football stadiums, comedy clubs, gigs and commercial theatres, often paying more for tickets than is charged by state-subsidised productions. Folk who can afford a big night out, but don’t want to spend it with us.”
Matthew Todd: “Homelessness; HIV (in the west); the way app culture and HIV-prevention drug PrEP are ushering in a new age of sexual liberation; growing hate crime; marriage; the experience of black, Asian and minority ethnic people; transgender people living through hostility in the media reminiscent of the tabloid beating lesbians and gays took in the 80s; the list is endless … And the legacy of gay shame that still leaves LGBT+ people with statistically higher levels of addiction, depression and suicide is only now being aired.”
“Fountain was enrolled at the age of eight into the Alabama Institute for the Negro Deaf and Blind. While singing in the school’s choir, Fountain and five friends formed the Happy Land Jubilee Singers … [and changed] their name to the Blind Boys of Alabama at the turn of the decade. … Despite being one of the more famed black gospel groups during the Fifties, the Blind Boys of Alabama’s popularity waned in the late Sixties and Seventies as secular soul music emerged.” They returned to wide popularity in 1983 with their participation in Lee Breuer’s famous Off-Broadway production of The Gospel at Colonus.
The Philadelphians’ performances in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem have gotten unusually warm receptions (standing ovations and rhythmic clapping) from Israeli audiences. And yet, reports David Patrick Stearns, several musician visits to community organizations, including to a center for disadvantaged children and to the leading music center serving Israeli Palestinians, have been cancelled because those organizations didn’t want to get caught up in the controversy and media attention surrounding the tour.
“The Kennedy Center’s expansion project, now with a $250 million fundraising campaign, will open Sept. 7, 2019 — more than two years late and $100 million over its original cost. Arts center officials offered the first glimpse of the building Tuesday at a hard-hat tour for community members. Under construction on 4.6 acres south of the original facility, the building will encourage interaction between artists and audiences with glass-walled classrooms and studios, Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter said.”
“The Leiden Collection, owned by the US billionaire Thomas Kaplan and his wife Daphne Recanati Kaplan, has unveiled two paintings newly attributed to Rembrandt at the Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam. The Special Guests display, which opened last month, marks the return of the Portrait of Petronella Buys (1635) and Man with a Sword (around 1640-44) to the Netherlands for the first time in a century.”
“Often performing with a large American Indian headdress or a wide, flat-brimmed Stetson hat, Mr. Clearwater commanded the crowd’s attention. He duckwalked across the stage and liked to wade into the audience with his guitar. Though classified as a Chicago bluesman, his mostly original repertoire combined elements of gospel, soul and rock-and-roll — particularly the music of Chuck Berry and Louis Jordan — into a boisterous musical stew that he termed ‘rock-a-blues.’ The Blues Foundation inducted him into its hall of fame in 2016.”
David Williamson’s The Removalists, written in 1971 and now a standard part of school curricula, was to receive its Chinese premiere as part of an arts festival in Beijing. The playwright says that the official reason for the ban – which comes as relations between China and Australia are at a low point – was “that the language was too salty and that the play was too violent … [But] there’s some speculation that that mightn’t have been the real reason. Because the play does depict police authority well and truly overstepping its mark, which is a sensitive issue here in China at the moment.”
This month I reach what the Social Security system thinks is my “full retirement” age. Knowing this was coming, I have been reflecting on the future of both Engaging Matters and of my business, ArtsEngaged. … read more
AJBlog: Engaging Matters Published 2018-06-05
Brubeck And Desmond Through Fresh Ears
A new Rifftides reader, Orsolya S., joined us recently. Now and then she sends comments, an activity we encourage among all readers. Her latest communique concerns a recording that has been exciting … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2018-06-05
The Moody Splendor of the Moors
I was corresponding by email recently with Jay Jeff Jones, an American expat playwright, journalist, and poet, who is working on a new edition of Jeff Nuttall’s Bomb Culture, a long-out-of-print classic about British counterculture … read more
AJBlog: Straight|Up Published 2018-06-05
In my last post, I called out with great delight a performance of Scheherazade, conducted by Leif Segerstam, in which Segerstam and the orchestra shouted at the climax. Exhilarating! I blogged about it, not to … read more
AJBlog: Sandow Published 2018-06-05
Robin Givhan: “Fashion is no longer defining itself. Increasingly consumers are telling the industry what constitutes fashion. This is a problem. Not because the industry shouldn’t listen to its customers; it should. But then it should merge those demands with its own expertise, vision and standards to create something that is better and more relevant than the consumer ever imagined.”
The site powers sales for many independent venues across the country. Still, much of the website remains down. Eventbrite, the San Francisco-based company that owns Ticketfly, told The Washington Post in a statement that an investigation into the breach is ongoing, but it confirmed that “some customer information has been compromised as part of the incident, including names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers of Ticketfly fans.”
Higher ed is often described as a bubble—and much like the housing market in 2008, the thought goes, it will ultimately burst. But what if it’s less of a sudden pop and more of a long, slow slide, and we are already on the way down? We are living through the greatest time in history to be a learner, with the availability of so many high-quality free materials online. But at the same time, the institutions most affiliated with knowledge and learning are facing crisis.