Thursday, 31 July 2014

"Be a fucking soldier about it"

I don't listen to the This American Life podcast nearly as much as I used to. That doesn't mean I don't still idolise Ira Glass. Which is why you should read this interview with Glass on Lifehacker - skip the product promos at the start, and get straight into how the TAL team create their shows, and especially how Glass breaks hours of recording down into a story. Inspiring.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Turning it off

When I saw Shelley's post come out about turning off the tagging activities at Brooklyn Museum, I half-jokingly tweeted about how in 20 years time my cohort will be sitting up near the front of a conference while some whippersnapper gives a history of the digital GLAMs and talks about the blip that was tagging.

I'm not even half-joking, to be honest. And I think tagging has long gone the way of comments; we just do not interact and share - or contribute - like this any more. In fact, one of the most interesting points in Shelley's post points to just that: "Tagging has shifted to a more social language, not a descriptive one. For as much as we want the keywords, the notion of tags as keywords has changed considerably."

Friday, 25 July 2014

Finally it's happening to me

Or at least, it's a step closer. The Newspaper Club has launched PaperLater, a service that lets you bookmark online texts and then automagically organises them into a 20 page newspaper, delivered to your door.

I've been dreaming of this service for years: imagine making your Sunday coffee and settling down, to read on sympathetic paper, to read all those interesting things you'd noted but never got round to during the week. Here, Dan Hill shares my (future) bliss, while also discussing benevolent parasitism and online services.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Whither arts journalism?

On the long list of 'debates that will never be resolved', one item that gets the go-around treatment frequently is 'has the internet killed arts journalism/reviewing?'

A recent article that focuses on New Jersey led me to two newish models of funding arts reporting.

In one, the MinnPost - a "nonprofit, nonpartisan enterprise whose mission is to provide high-quality journalism for news-intense people who care about Minnesota", staffed by professional journalists - recently completed a $10K crowdfunding effort to expand their arts reporting

In another, the News & Record of Greenboro N.C. took $15K to fund arts reporting from a non-profit advocates for the arts and distributes funding.  

MinnPost's business model is based on sponsors, advertisers and donors. Crowdfunding to support extra arts reporting seems consistent with that model: donate to buy more of what you want to read. The agreement between News & Record and the non-profit states that the paper "shall have complete independence and discretion", while the non-profit is also clear that reporting is more authentic than paid advertising and therefore more compelling to cultural consumers.

That first article I linked to above paints both these acts as 'desperate' and states that both "[challenge] journalistic ethics to the max".

In New Zealand we suffer for a paucity of paid opportunities for professional arts journalists and reviewers. This problem is not going away. Most people who write, report or comment on the arts are doing it as part of a range of paying-the-bills activities, because as a full-time job it's just not feasible.

We've talked about this a lot in terms of what that means for the writer/commentator (it's difficultly, for example, to write negative reviews when (a) there's so little opportunity to publish that you want to be positive when you do get airtime and (b) you also need to keep friends in the industry) and the artist (who isn't getting good critical feedback, or the coverage needed to develop a career). But what does it mean for our ability to keep existing audiences and develop news ones, if arts coverage keeps dwindling in amount and quality?

People can't be interested in what they never hear about. Newspapers, magazines, radio and tv (on and off-line) are still the best places to raise awareness and create interest. If getting our stories in there means having a debate about what it means for ethics if we look at sources other than old-school paid advertising to get airtime, then count me in. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

On the radio

Belatedly, last week on the radio I spent the whole segment with Kathryn talking about Kara Walker's A Subtlety and debating whether the Instagrammed responses of some visitors could be considered to be "doing art wrong".

Friday, 18 July 2014

Jewellery jewellery everywhere

The cumulative effect of the Wunderruma show preparations and eventuation for me is that I see jewellery everywhere: houses are jewellery, streets are jewellery, trees are jewellery ...

And jewellery literally is everywhere in Wellington right now. This is your final three days to see Wunderruma in the context of Bone Stone Shell and check out new work at Pataka as well, and in this post over on the work blog I explain why you really, really need to do this.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Part swan dive, part belly-flop

Reviews are starting to come in for New York museum MAD's first biennial of 'makers'. Here's Roberta Smith of the New York Times on this 'ambitious, inchoate, sometimes dissatisfying sampling'.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Now hear this

I know podcast recommendations are about as riveting as being told about someone's dreams but seriously - this 99% Invisible episode about naming companies (ie. companies that are paid to name things) is fascinating. Different kinds of names, different naming philosophies ... fascinating.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Yet more

On the other side of the world, sight unseen, I continue to be fascinated by responses to Kara Walker's A Subtlety. The latest: a comparison between the success of that work and Jeff Koons' latest outdoor sculpture, as public art.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Some might balk

The Victoria and Albert have followed through on their promise with rapid-response collecting to get a mini-show out in the galleries, but it's the new exhibition 'Disobedient Objects' that sounds like it's going to ruffle up some important conversations:

The curators have also created a blog, with downloadable “how-to” guides, showing instructions for making a shield in the form of a book and a tear-gas mask out of a plastic bottle. 
Some might balk at such a politically charged exhibition at a publicly funded institution, but the curators at the Victoria and Albert say the museum has had a long history of socially engaged collecting, and today they see part of its mission as exploring the design of social movements and the social history of everyday objects. 
“It’s there, it’s out in the streets, so why don’t we discuss it in here?” Mr. Roth said. “It doesn’t mean that we think the same way. It doesn’t mean that we support these kinds of movements. It’s a platform for debate.”

Monday, 7 July 2014

Personal histories

A few weeks after being quite shaken by the Instagrammed responses to Kara Walker's A Subtlety comes this thoughtful interview with a volunteer docent at the ex-factory installation, who also worked in the Domino Sugar refinery for 20 years.