"The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed."

-- author William Gibson, quoted in The Economist, 12/4/03


Commentary: New idea for UK's regional theatres: partner with local cinemas?

Laura Brown, The Guardian [UK] Culture Professionals Network, 1/7/13

It's just before Christmas at my local independent cinema. It's a slightly older crowd than usual, arguably more diverse with a few more families, but tonight is less a night at the movies than an evening at the theatre. This cinema is one of many in the UK bringing shows from the biggest stages in the West End, New York and Moscow to the screen. But with high-quality theatrical productions staged nightly throughout the country's regions, could local theatres be next? [It's] a creative way to boost income. And this is also about widening audiences -- something both regional theatres and [independent] cinemas dearly need. Digital Theatre CEO Robert Delamere [said]: "Both cinemas and audiences have told us there is a demand for more performing arts content in cinemas." Less convinced is Iain Christie from Liverpool's Royal Court, a theatre that champions local writers: "We produce long runs of shows, so if we were to screen one of the productions in a cinema then I would be looking at the audience thinking: there's a potential ticket buyer for us who is sitting in someone else's venue, eating their popcorn and buying their drinks." No one is going to argue that every regional production deserves to be transferred to the silver screen,. Costs are an important factor, as well as production qualities. High-quality capture and broadcast is expensive but working with an independent cinema could help a regional theatre expand its productions as well as its horizons.


New way to launch a Broadway cast album? Write the songs for a TV series.

Associated Press, 1/6/13

The Broadway show-within-a-show on NBC's "Smash" is getting its own cast album. NBC and Columbia Records said Sunday that a 22-song cast album for "Bombshell," the mythical Broadway play at the center of the television show, will be released on Feb. 12. Katherine McPhee, Megan Hilty and other "Smash" cast members perform the songs on the disc. NBC premieres the drama's second season a week before the album comes out. Producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron said they'd often talked about launching "Bombshell" as an actual Broadway show but haven't taken any steps to make that a reality. Zadan said he believed the cast recording for "Bombshell" could stand up with the music on any current Broadway show.


Commentary: New lovers of classical music via CDs & MP3s, not concerts?

Michael O'Donnell, The Nation magazine, issue dated 1/21/13

Glenn Gould, the great interpreter of Bach, once described the way recordings of music "insinuate themselves into our judgments, and into our lives," thereby giving recording artists "an awesome power that was simply not available to any earlier generation." Music in the age of recording is the subject of Reinventing Bach, an unusual book by Paul Elie that champions recording technology as the means of survival for classical music generally, and the music of Bach in particular. It is the latest in a wavelet of books by authors with no claim to any kind of musical expertise who discover classical music and write a book about the experience. Classical music has experienced years of diminishing ticket sales and the indifference of young listeners and so must exploit technology, Elie believes, in order to endure. To prove as much, he lived for "1001 nights" with Bach's music on compact disc, MP3 and radio, and he emerged on the other side of the experience eager to proselytize both the music and the recording technology that captured it. Against the instinct of purists to denounce the ubiquitous cheapening of classical music in ringtones, overheated movie trailers and hip-hop songs, Elie contends:  "The more various our encounters with Bach, the more objective his genius is." [But] it grates a bit when Elie reveals he attended very few performances of Bach's music, noting he did his listening "almost completely through recordings." To be fair, his enthusiasm for Bach's music is infectious; even the greatest of composers needs champions in every generation. But Elie should make some time for the concert hall.


New streaming music website emulates "the classic album experience"

Pitchfork website, 1/7/13

Pitchfork is happy to announce the launch of Pitchfork Advance, an immersive music streaming platform designed to emulate the classic album experience. Pitchfork Advance showcases an interactive listening environment featuring pre-release albums streams with dynamic graphics and a host of tools that will allow fans to engage with album art, lyrics, credits, track listings, artist info, and more while they listen. Pitchfork Advance debuts with a stream of the Yo La Tengo album Fade, out January 14 in the UK and January 15 in the U.S. All pre-release streams will be exclusive to Pitchfork.com. Similar in design to Pitchfork's state-of-the-art Cover Stories, the Pitchfork Advance platform allows users to scroll through multiple screens of artwork in full-browser graphic mode while listening to a fully-controllable stream of the album. Users can choose the amount of info and artwork displayed on-screen, including tracklist, credits, context, and release info. Each stream will be unique and tailored to the album art. The service also includes pre-order links. "Digital music has evolved, but album art hasn't," says Pitchfork founder/CEO Ryan Schreiber. "In the vinyl and CD eras, album packaging was considered an extension of the music. The artwork, lyric inserts, and credits added another dimension that mp3s haven't replicated. Our hope is to bring that experience online, and perhaps even help it to evolve. There are no limits to the medium online."


A new visual format informs 'the art documentary of the future'

Kyle Chayka, Hyperallergic.com, 1/4/13

Bruce Sterling might be the most influential art writer you've never heard of. The sci-fi novelist and cultural commentator is extremely active in the world of new media and creative coding, writing about artists who work with technology as a medium. A new video interview, part of artist James George and documentarian Jonathan Minard's CLOUDS documentary, shows Sterling explaining why he's so passionate about code-based work. The video is shot in RGBD, a new visual format pioneered by George that mingles regular camera footage with infrared, depth-based data from a Microsoft Kinect camera, the same device that helps video gamers control games with their bodies instead of controllers. The depth data from the Kinect allow George and Minard to manipulate how their footage looks at will even after the shoot -- they can simulate what the scene would look like shot from any angle, at any distance. The data points swirl and coalesce to form faces and human forms, or break apart to visualize what Sterling describes as the urban landscape of code. He decries the standard visual cliches of new media art, but still concludes, "writing art-code is an intellectual adventure." Hyperallergic emailed with George and Minard about their project and [asked for their] predictions for technology and digital culture in 2013. "In the last months we've just begun to see DIY drones (ARDrone), household 3D printing (MakerBot, Form1), and spatial reconstruction (ReconstructMe) capture the public imagination. The implications of these processes are not yet well understood. In 2013 artists and technologists will be hard at work creating projects that reveal the aesthetic, creative, and social possibilities of these emergences, separating the hype from the reality."  

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