FROM TC: Here are four recent stories featured on the indispensable ArtsJournal.com...
Using technology to get the public more involved with Shakespeare's plays
James Bridle, The Observer [UK], 12/8/12
The "World of Shakespeare" festival is just drawing to a close, but its digital offspring will hopefully be with us for some time. The last few components of the My Shakespeare project, surveying all Bard-related activity online, are just starting to emerge, and they cover an extraordinary breadth of formats, from online and physical artworks to new renderings and visualisations of sonnets and plays. Most of these works are available online and highlight how changing technology exposes us to new work in new ways. So it's good to see the RSC posting work to YouTube in the form of Kate Tempest's new poem "My Shakespeare", or Will Power's hip-hop version of Caliban's speech on Soundcloud. They've also been making the work of the theatre visible in different ways. Natalia Buckley's Alarum project senses noise and activity in the Stratford playhouse and broadcasts them to the web, while Tom Armitage's Spirits Melted Into Air reveals the uniqueness of each performance of Shakespeare by mapping actors' motion across the stage and turning it into abstract birch wood sculptures. This mapping, connecting and revealing of places and themes continues in two Shakespeare apps. The first, Eye Shakespeare, is a self-guided tour of Stratford allowing users to access the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's archive of audio, video and images. Meanwhile Macbeth: Explore Shakespeare uses a subway-style map to visualise themes and storylines within the Scottish Play.
Using technology to get the public invested in creating a new symphony
Jessica Wong, CBC News, 12/7/12
Composer Tod Machover and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra have been hard at work on an "interactive symphony" -- a composition inspired by the city that also incorporates public input. First announced in June, Machover has compiled a collection of everyday city sounds recorded and submitted by the public, kept everyone updated on his progress via blog posts and worked with local music students on the developing piece. The latest step is [last] Friday's launch of a digital app Machover created with his team at the MIT Media Lab. It allows regular Joes to mix and rearrange certain sections of the musical work-in-progress. "What I'm interested in right now [is] 'What's the relationship between professional musicians...and the general public?'" he explained. A music-maker long interested in technology and audience participation, Machover has more recently been fascinated at how his teen daughter's generation is taking popular songs and morphing them. The interactive project is his attempt to turn that involvement into true, two-way communication. Beyond letting the public mash up music he's created after the fact, Machover is keen on incorporating the various interactions into the final product. Submissions he's received range from audio clips submitted by Torontonians to feedback about a chord progression he was puzzling over. "It's a really interesting opportunity to think about different models of how an artist would have a real collaboration with the public, with colleagues," he said.
Using technology to get the public to 'fast-track' production of new films
Robert Everett-Green, The Globe and Mail [Canada], 12/8/12
[N]obody tells us about [good films] till way too late in the process. That's the word from Vancouver digital entrepreneur J. Joly, who says filmmakers ought to build their audiences before they shoot their pictures, not after. To test his case, he has launched CineCoup, a one-year "film accelerator" that gives social media a starring role in film production. Any team with a 2-minute trailer and $150 can sign up from now till Feb. 21 for a 17-week program that will run participants through a series of competitive "missions," designed to build a following and refine film ideas. By the end of June, one team will emerge with up to $1 million in funding (from private sources and tax credits), six months to make a film, and a release in Cineplex Odeon theatres in January, 2014. CineCoup is an unusually audience-aware part of a small but vigorous movement toward what could be called impatient filmmaking. Filmmaker Ingrid Veninger's recent 1K Wave: $1,000 Feature Film Challenge was also about vaulting over the steep cash barriers that often deter or delay filmmakers. The 48 Hour Film Project, which challenges people to make a movie in that time, has iterations and imitators around the world. Joly's twist on these speedy, rule-based ventures is to put up more money and get the marketing into the process from the beginning. The goal, he says, is not to make a commercial film in the usual sense, but a desired film: "We're not a contest, just a competitive, tough-love studio model that's very transparent. Instead of having these filmmakers run around looking for capital, we're saying, 'The money's here. Just concentrate on building up your audience equity.' "
Using technology to get the public to delve deeper into books
Hillel Italie, Associated Press, 12/9/12
Author Jennifer Gilmore is reading a biography of the late David Foster Wallace. She's curious about his most famous novel, Infinite Jest, and wants to learn more. Her destination is SmallDemons.com, an encyclopedia and "Storyverse" that catalogs names, places, songs, products, and other categories for thousands of books. Officially launched in August, Small Demons is the book world's latest mind game and guilty pleasure and a proving ground that everything really is connected. "I was sure they featured Infinite Jest, which of course they have," Gilmore [said]. "I can get deep(er) into the Wallace brain there and as I do so, learn about the context, the ether around the book. I can relent and buy Wittgenstein or Ethan Frome or Irving Berlin." Small Demons founder Valla Vakili, a former Yahoo executive, [says] the company's name is itself a game of free association. Vakili was inspired in part by a Jorge Luis Borges passage declaring that history "is the handwriting produced by a Minor god in order to communicate with a Demon." As Vakili sees it, "minor gods" are writers, and demons the passion to read and to write. And so, "Small Demons," or, as Vakili likes to joke, the devil is in the details. Publishers are sensitive to letting outside companies use copyrighted text, and several members of the Association of American Publishers sued Google when the Internet giant began collecting snippets from books without permission. But Small Demons has the cooperation of most major publishers. One of the first was Simon & Schuster. "It was a unique approach that looked at the interior of books and provided discovery and browsing of books by utilizing fun and imaginative concepts," said Simon & Schuster's chief digital officer, Ellie Hirschhorn.