Archived Posts from this Category

Art21 5th Season

Posted by thomas-cummins on 19 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: interviews, sneak peeks, tv

Art21 returns this October with its 5th season which will premiere on KLRN on Wednesday, October 7 at 10:00 p.m. Being publicly funded, PBS has had some problems, in the past, creating shows about art and often supported kitsch values – as seen most evidently in the show ‘The Joy of Painting’ which was hosted by cultural icon Bob Ross. Similarly, NPR often supports Classical music as opposed to avant-garde or cutting edge music/sound art. While Classical music needs to still be appreciated and have a venue – it represents another generation and era. Art21 got it right by documenting some of the most prominent artists in the field today and this season’s first episode will showcase William Kentridge, Doris Salcedo, and Carrie Mae Weems.

Image as Reality

Posted by thomas-cummins on 29 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: responses/reviews, tv

Saatchi is bringing art to Reality T.V. Unfortunately, Texas artists aren’t allowed to submit to this competition as it’s a U.K. thang. I don’t think the artworld has anything to be threatened by this debasing of art to the lowly realms of Reality T. V. After all isn’t this what has been going on since Warhol and Pop Art. I’m not an expert on Project Runway, or the World of Fashion for that matter, but as an outsider it seems that they have done nothing but enhance one another. If it helps one artist get some publicity, connections, and a career then it’s a success in my book. I don’t think Saatchi has anything to worry about either. Regardless if his show fails or not his reputation will always be golden. Any publicity is good publicity and this remains especially true for the artist.

Actually this merger of art with Reality T.V. has already been done once before by Deitch Projects. That particular reality art show was a failure and I, unfortunately, never saw one of its 8 episodes but art has survived that debacle nevertheless.  Dave Hickey once noted that good art often happens when highbrow meets lowbrow – so why can’t Reality T.V. similarly be a platform for art. I seriously doubt it will be, but it will still give an interesting glimpse into one of its most richest facets.

“Be Seeing You”

Posted by ben on 15 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: r.i.p., tv

Patrick McGoohan

I’m very gratified because, when [The Prisoner] came out originally, in England, there were a lot of haters of it. A love/hate relationship, whichever way you look at it. Already there was a small cult. Now there’s a much bigger one over there. In fact, when the last episode came out in England, it had one of the largest viewing audiences, they tell me, ever over there, because everyone wanted to know who No. 1 was, because they thought it would be a “James Bond” type of No. 1. When they did finally see it, there was a near-riot and I was going to be lynched. And I had to go into hiding in the mountains for two weeks, until things calmed down. That’s really true!…

I wanted to have controversy, argument, fights, discussions, people in anger waving fist in my face saying, “How dare you? Why don’t you do more ‘Secret Agents’ that we can understand?” I was delighted with that reaction. I think it’s a very good one. That was the intention of the exercise….

— Patrick McGoohan, creator and star of The Prisoner, who died Tuesday

You can watch all 17 episodes of The Prisoner on the AMC website. The full Troyer interview (from which the quote above was taken) is transcribed here with .

A Box of Electronic Election Chocolates

Posted by michelle on 28 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: art paparazzi, silliness, tv

Nitro by Beto Gonzalez
Let’s get you caught up on all this Electronic Election Voter Fraud business.  If you’re having voting problems, here’s something to alleviate your constitution.{Highly recommend watching that with the sound OFF}

The above image is evidence of our friend Mantecatron’s adventure across Mexico, documenting subversive art that looks vaguely familiar to a gigantic woven receipt at the Museo Alameda’s Escultura Social exhibition. If you’re into the Mad Men series, you might appreciate this opinion piece. And does any mortgage-foreclosing, American citizen really have time to sift through the 1,000 art pieces to see before you die? Seems Brobdingnagian at best.

In other news, I’d like to take a reader’s poll regarding upcoming interviews. What would you rather read about? Interviews with curators/artists/collectors/musicians/or others? Just post a comment. I’ll leave you with some more images from Beto…

Continue Reading »

Scream Meme

Posted by ben on 03 Mar 2008 | Tagged as: performance art, sound art, tv, video/film

Some enterprising movie nerds have traced the history of a stock scream sound effect now known as the “Wilhelm Scream” (the original title in the Warner sound effects archives was “Man Being Eaten by Alligator”). The sound effect has been used in over 75 movies, including all the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies, as well as a number of TV shows and even video games.

This is an interesting counterpoint to a performance by Chris Kubick and Anne Walsh at UTSA last spring, which paired movie sound effects with their titles from the stock sound effect catalogs. Kubick and Walsh built collections of comparable sounds such as various recordings of ringing bells or galloping horses and created a program that projected the name of each sound effect as it was being played, showing the huge variety of linguistic associations that can be made with very similar sounds.

(via The Plank)


Posted by ben on 29 Jan 2008 | Tagged as: responses/reviews, tv

The American Prospect is hosting a dialogue on The Wire between some young political, cultural, and arts journalists. It’s much more probing than my recent post on the show, and if I hadn’t already watched through episode 7, I would think they are being a bit hard on it (they have only watched through episode 3). But the fact is, the show is descending into caricature, and with only three episodes to go, I don’t see much chance for redemption. I’ll explain more when the episodes actually air, but I think the problems with season 5 are summed up pretty well by the TAP crew (they just don’t realize yet how ridiculous it becomes).

One point that some of their commenters make is that since these are all journalists writing about the show, they find the newsroom dynamics to be lacking in subtlety, but those of us who haven’t worked in a newsroom find these interactions much more interesting. This sounds about right to me. It’s also worth pointing out that the “evil bosses” butting heads with the “virtuous editor” in the newsroom is not so different from interactions between McNulty and Rawls in the first season. McNulty wasn’t revealed in all his self-destructive, egomaniacal glory until pretty far into the first season. But I think we also need to face the fact that the show hasn’t been quite as subtle or complex as people make it out to be. This isn’t great literature, although it certainly raises the bar for TV dramas.

Finally, there’s been some discussion of “meta commentary” as The Wire becomes flatter and more caricatured. Is it possible that David Simon and Ed Burns are intentionally commenting on their own professional need to pull in viewers, much like the boss at the Sun who is obsessed with the “Dickensian aspect” of everything? Well, maybe. There is an episode called “The Dickensian Aspect” (episode 6); and, as Spencer Ackerman says, “consider that all our disbelief, objections and disappointments are voiced by Bunk. This is a big tell. Bunk stands in for the audience, thereby suggesting that we’re in for some serious misdirection.” I guess we’ll see. My feeling is that if this is true, after seven episodes The Wire’s writers have gone way too far down the rabbit hole of self-awareness and popped out on the other side: navel-gazing self-absorption. Alternatively, David Simon and Ed Burns aren’t quite as brilliant as everyone makes them out to be, and perhaps face real pressures from HBO that constricts their ability to effectively use the considerable talents they do have.

But I still can’t wait to see the final showdown between Omar and Marlo.

The Wire

Posted by ben on 18 Jan 2008 | Tagged as: responses/reviews, tv

Trouble in Paradise for Omar Little

[The following post is about Episode 3, Season 5 of The Wire, and contains some pseudo-spoilers. Nothing very important is revealed, but you might want to hold off until you've seen the episode if you worry about things like that.]

This may be a bit hasty, but I can’t help thinking that The Wire is in mid-jump over the proverbial shark (and apparently at least one or two people agree with me). What I’m thinking of primarily is McNulty’s attempt to create a serial killer out of thin air in order to scare up some funds for the BPD. In Episode 2 I was willing to roll with it, since “the smartest guy in the room” is apparently spiraling into full-on alcoholism. But now they have the imminently reasonable Lester Freeman buying into the plot. And to top it all off, Omar surfaces in some unnamed tropical paradise, while Marlo heads down to the French Caribbean so he can see his money. I’m withholding judgment until Episode 4 makes it to the torrents, but I don’t like where any of this is going. Happily, the dynamic in the mayor’s office and in the newsroom at the Sun is pretty solid so far (although I’m a bit wary of this Jayson Blair-type business developing at the Sun).

Of course, my concern comes with some caveats (as if I hadn’t hedged my shark-jumping proclamation enough in the first paragraph). The Wire is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, and the writers have done a terrific job of weaving together complex plot lines without straining the characters through four seasons. With McNulty in particular they’ve flipped the script on me in the past — through most of the first season I thought McNulty was a glorified McGarnagle, and that assessment turned out to be dead wrong. So here’s hoping The Wire’s writers have a plot twist up their sleeves that elegantly resolves all my worries and cements the show’s reputation as “best ever.” But if they don’t, I think Episode 3 will be seen as the moment everything started falling apart.

The Sopranos, RIP

Posted by ben on 14 Jun 2007 | Tagged as: responses/reviews, tv, video/film

Tony Soprano looks up

[Note: Yes, there are spoilers below.]

I wish I had something incredibly insightful to say about the conclusion of The Sopranos, but so much critical commentary is swirling around that it’s hard to feel like I can catch up with it all, much less make a contribution to the conversation.

Timothy Noah has a pretty good round-up of the current critical state of play over at Slate. I agree that the ending was nothing like City Lights (or The Graduate, for that matter); there was no epiphany, no resolution, not even an implied one. In some ways it revisited the endings of earlier seasons, with the intimate family dinner. In fact, A.J. makes a direct reference to the final lines of Season 1, while the family dined in Vesuvio’s during a rain storm (Tony: “I’d like to propose a toast, to my family. Someday soon, you’re gonna have families of your own, and if you’re lucky, you’ll remember the little moments, like this… that were good.”). In the final lines of Season 6, we are taken back to this moment:

Tony: It’s an entry level job. Buck up.

A.J.: Right, focus on the good times…

Tony: Don’t be sarcastic.

A.J.: Isn’t that what you said one time? Try and remember the times that were good?

Tony: I did?

A.J.: Yeah.

Tony: Well it’s true, I guess.

I think this reference is much more telling and meaningful than the “blackout” theory floating around. A lot of people wanted a resolution, and the ultimate resolution would be the death of Tony Soprano. But the show has never really been about that kind of resolution. It’s always been the resolution of finishing a day at work and having a few hours with your family before the next day begins.

So why the tense build-up and awkward drop-off of the final scene? Perhaps it’s a refusal to give us the comfort of an even remotely tidy ending. The show stopped not because the story was over, but because we can’t go on watching it forever (the last words we hear come from the Journey song playing on the jukebox: “Don’t stop…”). In this way, David Chase was able to succeed in conclusively not ending The Sopranos.

And he gave us all something to talk about.