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October 23 2013

Four short links: 23 October 2013

  1. Expecting Better — an economist runs the numbers on the actual consequences of various lifestyle choices during pregnancy. (via sciblogs)
  2. Business as Usual in the Innovation Industry — the only thing worse than business plan contests for startups is innovation wankfests for small arts groups. [T]he vast majority of small and mid-sized arts organizations are not broken so much as they are in a constant state of precarity that could largely be addressed by reliable funding streams to support general operations and less onerous grant application processes that would allow them to focus more on delivering services and less on raising money. Hear! (via Courtney Johnston)
  3. Driverless Cars Are Further Away Than You Think (MIT Technology Review) — nice roundup of potential benefits. experiments involving modified road vehicles conducted by Volvo and others in 2011 suggest that having vehicles travel in high-speed automated “platoons,” thereby reducing aerodynamic drag, could lower fuel consumption by 20 percent. And an engineering study published last year concluded that automation could theoretically allow nearly four times as many cars to travel on a given stretch of highway.
  4. Portraits of Robots at Work and Play (The Atlantic) — photo-essay that is full of boggle. (via BoingBoing)

August 21 2013

Le patrimoine atteint au coeur

Le patrimoine atteint au coeur

Profitant de l’instabilité actuelle de l’Egypte, des émeutiers ont brûlé plusieurs églises dont quelques-unes sont historiques. Ils ont même tenté de commettre des vols dans le Musée national d’Alexandrie et détruire la façade de la Bibliothèque d’Alexandrie. Mais le pillage du Musée de Mallawi au sud du gouvernorat de Minya demeure la plus grande perte subie par le patrimoine égyptien. « Plus de 1 040 pièces archéologiques sur un total de 1 089 ont été volées du Musée de Mallawi », a déclaré le ministre égyptien des Antiquités, Mohamad Ibrahim Ali, jeudi 15 août.

#patrimoine #arts #histoire

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00
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August 13 2013

« Burka Avenger », la super-héroïne pakistanaise en burqa débarque en Europe

« Burka Avenger », la super-héroïne pakistanaise en burqa débarque en Europe

La nouvelle série relatant l’histoire d’une super-héroïne en burqa qui combat l’ignorance et la tyrannie, est sur le point d’être diffusée dans 60 pays. (...) « La Vengeresse en Burqa », en français, est la première série télé d’animation en trois dimensions de l’histoire du Pakistan.


June 28 2013

April 10 2011

British art schools: Class dismissed

The art schools that trained students from Tracey Emin to MIA are heavily targeted for cuts. What effect will that have on tomorrow's artists?

It's just after eight on a wet Wednesday evening, and a police van is hovering outside Sotheby's in London. Several dozen protesters are staging a mock auction beside the entrance. "Who wants our education system?" shouts a man dressed as a slick auctioneer. "Sold to the highest bidder!" Another protester stands in an empty picture frame held by two women in silver wigs. "Arts against cuts!" the crowd roars, as the two policemen come forward to move the auctioneer gently but firmly away.

This protest – mounted recently by art students, artists and anti-cuts activists – raised burning questions about the future of art education in the UK. What do the cuts to higher education funding, announced in the wake of an extensive review by the former BP chief Lord Browne, mean for art schools? Arts and humanities subjects will be particularly badly hit – Browne's review recommended replacing their teaching grants with higher student tutition fees, leading Paul Thompson, rector of London's Royal College of Art, to say that the government had "swung a sledgehammer" at arts teaching.

Art schools are the lifeblood of Britain's arts scene, training painters, sculptors and conceptual artists, many of whom, like Damien Hirst (who studied at Leeds College of Art, and London's Goldsmiths) and Tracey Emin (Maidstone Art College and the Royal College of Art), go on to have major international reputations. Others – from Keith Richards and the Clash to Malcolm McLaren, Franz Ferdinand and MIA – channel their artistic education into other areas, such as music. "The experience of just being at art school gave me a lot to draw on – Pulp's most famous song [Common People] is about something that happened there," says Jarvis Cocker, who famously studied film at Central St Martins in London. "But on a deeper level I was taught to think about things in a non-lateral way."

"The great thing about art schools," says Patrick Brill, aka artist Bob and Roberta Smith, who studied at Reading University and Goldsmiths, "is that they're like the room Virginia Woolf talks about in A Room of One's Own. They give people the space to grow up and work out what art they want to make."

So what knock-on effects might these changes have on the artists of this country? Inside art schools, there's considerable anxiety. Of the four I contacted – Goldsmiths (part of the University of London); Chelsea College of Art and Design (part of London's University of the Arts); Cardiff School of Art and Design (part of the University of Wales Institute); and Leeds College of Art – only Chelsea was happy for me to visit. "Emotions are running high," explained Cardiff's dean, Professor Gaynor Kavanagh. University funding in Wales has been cut by 12%, and the school has already announced plans to scrap four undergraduate degrees (in interior architecture, media and visual culture, and two music technology courses) from next September, and to reduce student numbers from just under 1,400 to 1,000.

Chelsea have no plans to scrap courses or reduce numbers – yet. Nevertheless, dean David Garcia is concerned about the government's funding decisions. "I do think they fail to recognise two things," he says. "One, the importance of this sector to GDP, and to national wellbeing. And two, thinking that art courses are inexpensive to run. If our students are to continue to contribute to leading-edge art and design, we need the right kit – like looms and digital printers. And it is not cheap."

In one of the college's workshops, I watch these looms in action: a small group of third-year undergraduate textiles students are weaving deftly, sending multicoloured fabrics spilling from their machines. Their tutor, Lorna Bircham, has taught at Chelsea for 30 years. "Replacing equipment is a major issue," she says. "The old looms aren't really good enough – it takes a long time to learn on them – but new ones cost between £8,000 and £10,000. The other issue is time – this isn't a subject that can be taught en masse; it has to be one-to-one. Over the years I've taught here, I've seen student numbers creep up, while the staffing has decreased. I can't take a day off sick. I pedal harder and harder, but there will be a time when the chain will break."

Several of the textiles students tell me that their finances are similarly stretched. Like all English students, they currently pay £3,290 a year towards their tuition, but on top of that they have to find the money for all their materials and equipment. "There are lots of costs on top of the fees," says 21-year-old Nichola Schofield. "The other day, I spent £64 on six digital prints for a project. Every day, you have to make decisions – like if I make those prints, can I afford to eat tonight?"

Carey Ellis, 21, shows me a series of photographs she's taken of street graffiti, pinned to a board above her desk; she plans to turn these into fabric designs. She voices the warning – shared by many of the student protesters, some of whom picketed the Turner prize-giving last year – that a hike in tuition fees, whether to the £6,000 recommended by the government, or the maximum of £9,000, could put many students off going to university. (Chelsea, like other art schools, has not yet announced its fees for 2012-13, but a spokeswoman tells me that they are expecting to charge "in excess of £6,000".)

"If the fees go up," Ellis says, "it's going to stop a ridiculous number of people from coming. It's already affecting my own decisions about the future. I want to do an MA. I'd rather get more experience in the industry first, but if I delay going by a year, the fees will have gone up, and I won't be able to afford it."

In an adjacent building, a group of third-year graphic design students are hunched over their laptops, working on short films based around the Sky Arts logo, which they're planning to pitch to the channel. Craig Sharp, 21, shows me his film, in which the camera pans across a dense web of trees until settling on brass letters that spell the word "arts", embedded among glossy leaves.

"My parents discouraged me from going to art school," he tells me. "I pay for everything – fees, rent, food – with loans and grants, and the money I've earned doing freelance graphic design. If the fees had been as much [as £9,000], I would never have been able to come."

At the Sotheby's protest, I meet Deborah, an 18-year-old foundation-year student at Camberwell College of Arts. "I really think that if the fees were kicking in during 2011 and 2012, I would be on a different life path," she says. "My family are African, and they really disapprove of the idea of me getting into debt. I think if I went to them and said, 'This course is going to cost me £9,000 a year,' they would laugh."

The government recognises the possibility that less well-off students could be put off applying to university, and has a number of measures planned to address this – from maintenance grants and bursaries, to university-run schemes working with state schools in deprived areas. As under the current system, students won't have to pay fees upfront, but can take out loans which they will then begin to replay once they're earning more than £21,000 (admittedly, a wage which is a remote possibility for most artists). But in art schools, the issue is particuarly pertinent. Unlike mainstream academic institutions, they have always drawn in a high number of students from working-class backgrounds – from John Lennon to David Hockney. Of the undergraduates currently at the University of the Arts London, for instance, 92% are from state schools who can ill afford the estimated £36,000 of debt resulting from a three-year course.

So what will happen if poorer students are unable to afford to go to art school? Could a body of art students drawn predominantly from wealthy backgrounds actually lead to a change in the nature of the art we see produced? "The possible effect," says David Burrows, an artist and lecturer in fine art at the Slade, "is that the sort of art we will see being made will be narrower, a lot less interesting, and a lot less vital and relevant to people."

Bob and Roberta Smith takes this idea even further. "What you'll get," he tells me firmly, "is art made by the very wealthy for the very wealthy, becoming more and more disconnected from real culture. The question is, do we want a culture comprised solely of wealthy artists? Or do we want to see artists coming through like Emin and Hirst, who have an axe to grind? Isn't their art much more interesting than what's produced by the privileged few?" © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

June 20 2010

George Kennethson letters donated to Cambridge

German arts broadcaster Hans-Jörg Modlmayr and his wife Hildegard have given the university 80 letters written by the 'neglected genius' Kennethson

Cambridge University will today accept gifts which mark the life and centenary of an artist that few have heard of, but is, according to his supporters, a hidden genius ignored by his own country.

In total, 80 letters are being donated to the university's library by a couple who believe the Surrey-born artist George Kennethson has been unfairly treated by the art establishment.

The couple leading the cheers for Kennethson are not even British. Hans-Jörg Modlmayr and his wife Hildegard Modlmayr-Heimath are travelling from their home in Germany for the ceremony, 100 years after Kennethson's birth.

"It is a great pity that the British public has not yet had a proper chance to discover his true genius," said Modlmayr, an author and arts broadcaster in Germany. "He is an artist of huge importance."

The German couple are leading a campaign to get Kennethson more noticed and for institutions to wake up to him. Apart from the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh and Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, no major gallery contains his work.

Kennethson, who died in 1994, spent a lifetime carving in English stone and his work is often based on everyday subjects: birds for example or relationships or the sea or the sky.

Modlmayr, who studied at Cambridge and went on to teach at Gonville and Caius College, came across Kennethson's work at an exhibition in 1972. His wife was so bowled over that she bought a piece without telling her husband.

"Both of us fell in love with his work. He is a very intelligent observer of life able to translate complicated things, like the sea, sky or clouds into beautiful sculpture and he does it with great sensitivity and musicality," said Modlmayr.

He believes that one reason Kennethson is not better known is because he did not mix in the right circles – he wasn't part of the art establishment.

"He was such an independent mind and not in the hands of a dealer," he said. "If you were interested in his work you had to go and see him in person and if he didn't like you he wouldn't sell to you. His pieces were like his children, he was loathe to part with them and if he did they had to go to the right home."

The Modlmayrs are also giving Cambridge a Kennethson sculpture and are still in discussions as to where it might go. The letters, to be handed over at the Keynes room at the university's library, were received by the couple from Kennethson, giving insights into the artist's life and work. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

March 27 2010

The Virtual Choir: Technology, Collaboration and Music

music texture by karenthephotog cc-by

music texture by karenthephotog CC-By

Composer Eric Whitacre , after seeing a Youtube video of a young soprano singing his song “Sleep” wondered: What if he could get people, regardless of where they were in the world, to record themselves signing all the other parts of his a capella choir piece? So he did, and following, you will be able to see the various results of this great experiment of online collaboration with the Virtual Choir.

In How We Did It he explains not only the process for the last iteration of his project but also the preceding experiments in conforming a virtual choir. For the first time around, he asked singers to buy a specific music track and just sing along to the a capella (without instrumental accompaniment) recording. Scott Haines, whom he had met only once before, volunteered to edit the piece. Here is the result:

Thrilled with the result, he decided to do it once again, but this time making it even more like an actual choral experience:

So this time, I made my own conductor track, filming it in complete silence, hearing the music only in my head. Then I watched the video and played in the piano accompaniment part to my conductor track… Then I offered the sheet music as a free download. As singers began posting their individual tracks, I called for ‘auditions’ for the soprano solo.

This next video shows the instructions Eric Whitacre posted for all participants. It includes recommendations on how to perform the piece, explanation about the recording dynamic and the conducting track where he directs the choir:

For the virtual choir, 128 people representing 12 different countries including Argentina, New Zealand, The Philippines, Singapore and Spain sent in the 243 tracks that compose the choral piece Lux Aurumque that Scott Haines once again helped produce.

This is what Mr. Whitacre wrote about the finished product:

When I saw the finished video for the first time I actually teared up. The intimacy of all the faces, the sound of the singing, the obvious poetic symbolism about our shared humanity and our need to connect; all of it completely overwhelmed me. And it must be said that a lot of the credit for it’s beauty should go to Scottie Haines, who spent untold hours editing and polishing the video. (BTW, Scottie and I have never met only met once in the ‘real world’, unlike 99% of the Virtual Choir, whom I’ve never ‘met’).

Lets hope the Virtual Choir continues growing strong!

Reposted bynibblerscottytmtowovvh

March 17 2010

Award-winning novelist and philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's latest novel, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, tackles one of the great debates of our time - between God-believers and the so-called "new atheists" - and explores the rapture and torments of religious experience in all its variety.

Join her and her husband, cognitive theorist Steven Pinker at the RSA for a very special conversation, addressing a fascinating array of topics at the the interface of literature, science, religion and philosophy, including the dynamic between reason and emotion, the role of fiction in intellectual life and the mystery of consciousness.

There is no transcript for this program

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