Art + Culture

An idiosyncratically curated look at the arts

An intimate video discussion with his friend and biographer, Barry Miles
Miles reveals a very different Burroughs than one would expect. What is commonly known about Burroughs is his wild, discursive writing style and the sensational homicide of his wife; what Miles brings to light is that while this event became a dark and visceral shadow for Burroughs, it also became an animating force, one which fueled his later writing career.
An artist's video appreciation of the Burden installation, which simultaneously makes a subversive statement and provides maximum fun

I don't usually consider myself an obsessive individual, but when it comes to art, I have found myself occasionally a devotee.  This is the case with Chris Burden's newish installation at LACMA in Los Angeles.  Rather than verbalize my fascination, I simply recorded it, and then celebrated it in my own 'art video'.  Well, I didn't just record it once. I shot on three separate occasions until I felt I had captured the essence of Metropolis II. In fact, I could continue to shoot, find new angles and new approaches to what is, in my opinion, a masterpiece.  This is a work that is at once playful and deadly serious.  Burden lures us in with...

Foy plumbs the depths of the Earth and travels wide, seeking silence...

George Michelsen Foy's writing has led him from roiling action novels and political thrillers to dystopian fairy tales. And recently, always an astute researcher and journalist, he has established a new beachhead in nonfiction with a provocative book called Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence.

A photographer who makes you stop and think

I chose Santiago Vanegas as the first Saatchi artist to feature on Realize because, though I often find contemporary photography to be facile or hackneyed, his work forces me to stop and look, and look again.  Not only is his subject matter arresting, but his technique is stunning.  

Focusing on locations both topically relevant and resonant with meaning, Vanegas urges the viewer to enter a world both known and unknown, both actual and symbolic. In some cases his imagery appears unadulterated, in others he has interjected new elements either with great subtlety or intentional brashness.  

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50 years on, a first kiss fumble morphs into storytelling touchdown.

A lone speaker walks up to a mike.  A spotlight glaring in her eyes, she faces the audience and opens her mouth. She may have note cards in her hands, or even a script of sorts, or she may have nothing at all.  Then, out comes a story.  Her story, personal, warts-and-all.  Shared with a roomful of strangers.

The age-old entertainment of story-telling is experiencing an unlikely renaissance in these techno-saturated times, at home and around the world.  Witness routinely sold-out Moth Story Slams and the enormous popularity of its public radio program, The Moth Radio Hour. 

Does this...

Charles Mingus wrote Goodbye Porkpie Hat as a tribute to Lester Young, sax player and 'hep cat'

 

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Jaron Lanier's new book warns against the siren song of Internet megasites...

Jaron Lanier has written a remarkable book that stands as a landmark in the emerging debate about the social consequences of Internet technology. Who Owns the Future? (Simon & Schuster) is both a radical critique of the trend toward concentration of economic power in a small number of Internet ventures and a passionate call for the development of a humanistic digital society. The word humanistic is seldom heard from the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley or their financial backers, but it is at the heart of Lanier’s argument. Instead of talking about bandwidth, page hits, advertising impressions, and market share as the...

Where some might see the Zombie craze as a fun fad, Haig Hovaness sees a dark mirror...

There has never been a more lively interest in the undead. Books, TV series, and films are all satisfying a public craving for zombies, preferably delivered in large quantities in an apocalyptic setting. Such widespread interest in a peculiar vision of horror invites speculation as to the cultural causes of this phenomenon. I offer two explanatory theories for zombiemania in this article: a simple one involving license to kill, and a more complex theory grounded in widespread fear of a menacing and uncontrollable future.

We don't spend nearly enough time watching music videos (did MTV just overkill our attention spans back in the day?) but there's a wealth of performance and artistry in this genre.  Whether we head into the archives to excavate moments of brilliance or tromp through the fields of the present and stumble into the future, we'll try to keep a flow going to startle and entertain.

A Jazz Drummer since the age of 16, Bobby Jospe tells his story. With a playlist of his 10 most influential Jazz Classics...

My journey into jazz began at a very early age in the 1950s.  My parents were Belgian and they both loved music. My father especially dug classical and jazz as well as music from other cultures. I grew up listening to Bach, Beethoven and Mahler but also to Armstrong, Ellington and Fitzgerald... and the list goes on. 

Shirley MacLaine a Prototype? Susan Zakin looks at a few Hollywood archetypes and contemplates the impossible parameters for seventies mothers...

 

“This is like Rashomon!” my mother used to exclaim, whenever we disagreed about an event in our family’s past.  By invoking the 1950 Kurosawa film, which retold a story of betrayal and murder from wildly varying points of view, my mother was saying: you have your version and I have mine.  My daughterly version of events often included a not-too-subtle catalogue of her sins, so this was her way of ending an awkward conversation.  But books and movies not only mediate hard emotional truths; they also elide them. 

I never understood why, even...

Prick Up Your Ears Baby!

WINTER 2012

A certain element of yearning, kind of seasonal-like.  And then some detours:)!

Some of the tunes on this month's playlist are superbly arranged and orchestrated, some a bit more raw. I guess it just seems to fit the season. Although it’s now December, when I wrote this, leaves were falling (well, maybe 5 here in LA and those were immediately blown away by aggressive lawnsmen) air chilling, (well it always seems to be 70 degrees here), reflections on time...

She might or might not like this, but she is a Living Legend

I always had this image of her as a sincere punk balladeer, but back then I wasn’t ready for sincere.  I was into Public Image Ltd. and Devo and the Talking Heads and Reggae and... Well, just looking more for anarchy and giggles. Callow youth, yes indeed.

But when I was invited to see her recently, at the Wiltern in LA, I leapt at the chance.  She had just been given an honorary degree by my daughter’s Alma Mater, Bryn Mawr, and I’d seen the amazing photo of her, with her long gray hair and black hat, looking so damn solid... I knew I had to hear what she had to say now that she’s 65....

Primal beats meet Industrial cool meet soul

DJ/producer SBRTKT (Subtract) is featured in our Summer playlist, but I found his work to be so haunting, that I pursued him through the fields of YouTube.  First earning attention for his work with Radiohead, Mark Ronson and M.I.A, his own debut last year established him as an artist in his own right.

Maybe he borrows a move from Buckethead and Banksy, with the mysterious persona thing, but it’s just Dada enough that it works; SBTRKT manages to look strangely alien in his pseudo-African mask.  His sound - akin to the dubstep genre which has flooded the clubs - with its echo-chamber bass and...

Massive entertainment for the masses

“I want to see the Big Ass Rock”

That’s what I overheard a hefty dame exclaim as I left the scene of the massive artwork known as Levitated Mass, by artist Michael Heizer. Why do I prefer her title?  Oh well, perhaps it doesn’t really do it justice. 

By now thousands of people have stared at this hulk and wondered, why is this Art?  And that's a great thing.  Because that's what Art is supposed to do - make you question it, and everything else too.  At any rate, they all use the rock as a massive photo opp.  How many museum goes does it take to hold up a huge, f'in rock?

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Robert Morgan Fisher asks - Why am I drawn to these laughably antiquated, clunky attempts at soft porn?

A month ago, I noticed an ad in the right-hand “gutter” of my Facebook page. There, among the wrinkle creams, was one for the Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Convention, happening that Sunday. I clicked on the link...

Now for anyone familiar with the Los Angeles, you know that this freeway intersection is deep in the groin of the San Fernando Valley. Porno Country. Chatsworth. More cardboard soundstages per square mile than anyplace on earth. And since I am a collector of vintage “pulp” paperbacks (“The sluttier the better!” as I like to say), this boded well for a successful salacious literary outing. I put a pin in that date...

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