Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Artforum

Artforum
The April issue of Artforum magazine includes The Innocence Of The Image, an article by Nasser Rabbat analysing historical depictions of Mohammed and the Islamic taboo against his representation. Several paintings of Mohammed are featured, in which his face is not veiled. "The most awe-inspiring image of an episode from the life of the Prophet", a manuscript illumination from 1436, is reproduced as a full-page image.

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Googled

Googled
"The world has been Googled." Ken Auletta begins his analysis of Google and its influence with a long list of the company's operations: "Google's software initiatives encroach on every media industry, from telephone to television to advertising to newspapers to magazines to book publishers to Hollywood studios to digital companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, or eBay." Aueletta's book, Googled: The End Of The World As We Know It, was published in 2009, before other profiles of web companies such as The Everything Store (Amazon), The Facebook Effect, and Hatching Twitter. (The 2010 paperback edition includes a new afterword.)

Far more than a search engine, Google is arguably a more powerful software company than Microsoft. Auletta interviewed co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, though they took some persuading: "After months of my kicking at the door, they opened it." And Auletta remains ambivalent about the company's ultimate impact: "I came away from two and a half years of reporting on Google believing that its leaders genuinely want to make the world a better place. But they are in business to make money. Making money is not a dirty goal; nor is it a philanthropic activity. Any company with Google's power needs to be scrutinized."

The Search

The Search
The Search: How Google & Its Rivals Rewrote The Rules Of Business & Transformed Our Culture examines the search engines that were developed in the 1990s to navigate the world wide web, and how Google became effectively the last search engine standing. Author John Battelle, one of the co-founders of Wired magazine, interviewed Google's co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

The first big name in search was not Google, but AltaVista, which had the largest index of web pages at that time: "AltaVista was the Google of its era. In 1996, it was arguably the best and most-loved brand on the Web. It presaged many of the current innovations and opportunities in search, from automatic language translation to audio and video search".

The Search was published in 2005 (with an updated paperback edition in 2006), before YouTube, Android, or Chrome, though Battelle predicted Google's continued diversification: "Google as phone company? As cable provider? As university? As eBay, Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia, and Yahoo all rolled into one? It is conceivable; and that, in the end, is what makes the company - and search, the application that spawned it - so fascinating."

Monday, 18 May 2015

Michelangelo: Complete Works

Michelangelo: Complete Works
Michelangelo: Complete Works
Michelangelo: Complete Works, written by Frank Zollner, Thomas Popper, and Christof Thoenes, is a catalogue raisonne of Michelangelo's paintings, sculptures, architecture, and drawings (including drawings whose attribution is unclear). Like Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings & Drawings, it was published by Taschen in an extra-large format, and has now been reprinted as a slightly smaller folio in a slipcase (which folds into a book stand.)

The new edition (translated from Michelangelo: Das Vollstandige Werk) has several revised prefaces, and its colour reproduction has been enhanced. Michelangelo's paintings look particularly stunning, and there are several fold-out pages of panels from the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The accompanying text is extremely thorough; there is a detailed bibliography, and "the full breadth of the extensive literature is referenced and analysed" in every chapter. As the book was reissued last year, it doesn't include the two bronze panther sculptures attributed to Michelangelo earlier this year. "This is the definitive work about Michelangelo for generations to come", according to the blurb, and that claim is probably justified.

Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519:
The Complete Paintings & Drawings

Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings & Drawings
Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519: The Complete Paintings & Drawings, written by Frank Zollner and Johannes Nathan, has been republished by Taschen in a single-volume folio edition with a slipcase (which folds into a book stand). It was originally published in a slightly larger format, and subsequently reissued in two smaller volumes (The Complete Paintings and The Graphic Work, the latter also available separately and with the alternate title Sketches & Drawings).

The book's title is misleading, as its collection of 663 Leonardo drawings is incomplete, though the selection is still impressive. (It was also released with the alternate title Paintings, Sketches, & Drawings.) Most of the drawings are from the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle. The book (translated from Leonardo da Vinci: Samtliche, Gemalde, & Zeichnungen) also includes a catalogue raisonne of Leonardo's paintings and a new chapter on his codices.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The 2nd Silent Film Festival In Thailand

The 2nd Silent Film Festival In Thailand
Blackmail
The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari
Man With A Movie Camera
After the successful inaugural Silent Film Festival last year, the 2nd Silent Film Festival In Thailand will take place next month. The Festival will open on 10th June in Bangkok, and will close on 17th June.

Last year's event included several films by Alfred Hitchcock, and his first sound film, Blackmail, will be screened this year (on 12th and 14th June). Blackmail was intended as a silent film, though during production Hitchcock was given the opportunity to add spoken dialogue. Because of actress Anny Ondra's Czech accent, her dialogue was spoken by Joan Barry while Ondra mouthed the words, a situation that was later parodied in Singin' In The Rain.

This year's Festival includes two of the greatest silent films ever made: The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari (10th and 15th June) and Man With A Movie Camera (13th and 16th June). The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari is the Festival's opening film; it will be shown at Lido, as will Man With A Movie Camera, Blackmail, and six other films. The closing film will be screened at Scala. All screenings will include live piano accompaniment. All films will be screened as DCPs, except Man With A Movie Camera, which will be shown on blu-ray.

The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari, directed by Robert Weine, was the first German Expressionist film, and one of the earliest examples of avant-garde cinema. Caligari's painted scenery and stylised performances create a distorted and appropriately hallucinatory atmosphere. Dziga Vertov's equally experimental Man With A Movie Camera is a 'city symphony' documentary about everyday life in Moscow, using techniques such as split-screen, double-exposure, trick editing, stop-motion, and freeze-frames to constantly remind the audience of the camera's presence.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Muhammad Cartoon Contest

Muhammad Cartoon Contest
Today's edition of the International New York Times features an editorial cartoon by Patrick Chappatte, commenting on the recent attack on the Muhammad Art Exhibit in Florida. The cartoon depicts sketches of Mohammed being judged by Pamela Geller and other members of the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

One of the sketches shows Mohammed as a stick figure, as in a 2010 episode of South Park. This is Chappatte's third Mohammed cartoon. He previously drew Mohammed in a 2006 cartoon, after the Jyllands-Posten controversy; and in a 2012 cartoon, he drew a miniature reproduction of Charlie Hebdo's Mohammed caricatures.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

ASTV Manager Daily

สุขุมพันธุ์ระดมสาวพรหมจรรย์ปักตะไคร้ไล่ฝน
สุขุมพันธุ์ระดมสาวพรหมจรรย์ปักตะไคร้ไล่ฝน
Sukhumbhand Paribatra, the Governor of Bangkok, has brought a libel action against the ASTV Manager Daily newspaper following an article it printed in yesterday's edition. One of Sukhumbhand's staff filed a complaint on his behalf at a police station in Bangkok today. The article in question is from Manager's satirical Pjkkuan section, which contains parodies and fictitious news stories.

Headlined สุขุมพันธุ์ระดมสาวพรหมจรรย์ปักตะไคร้ไล่ฝน, the article claimed that Sukhumbhand had instructed virgin Bangkok women to plant lemongrass herbs, as this could prevent rain according to a Thai superstition. (Sukhumbhand was criticised in 2011 after Bangkok was affected by severe floods, and earlier this year he joked that anyone who wanted to avoid further flooding should move to live on a mountain.)

Manager is owned by Sondhi Limthongkul, the leader of the PAD who organised street protests against Thaksin Shinawatra in 2006, intentionally provoking the military into staging a coup. Thaksin successfully sued Manager for libel in 2009, following its series of unsubstantiated articles about a 'Finland Plot', and Sondhi has been convicted of libelling Thaksin and his lawyer.

Sondhi has mysteriously avoided jail despite numerous prosecutions and convictions. He led illegal occupations of Government House and Suvarnabhumi airport in 2008, yet the case against him is still pending. In 2013, he was found guilty of lese majeste and sentenced to two years in prison; uniquely in a lese majeste case, he was granted bail and was not jailed despite the guilty verdict. In 2012, he was convicted after pleading guilty to a one billion baht bank fraud; he received a twenty-year sentence, though he served only eighteen days in jail before being released on bail.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Vangardist

Vangardist
This month, two magazines - Audio Kultur and Vangardist - have both been printed with blood. Audio Kultur, a Lebanese music magazine, commemorated the centenary of the Medz Yeghern genocide in Armenia by infusing its red ink with the blood of five donors.

Vangardist's third issue has been printed with red ink mixed with the blood of three HIV+ donors, in an effort to destigmatise the AIDS virus. (The ratio is one part blood to twenty-eight parts ink.) The magazine is available in a limited edition of 2,500 copies; each one is sealed in a Mylar wrapper (like Madonna's Sex book), and the blood has been sterilised to prevent infection. The cover declares: "THIS MAGAZINE HAS BEEN PRINTED WITH THE BLOOD OF HIV+ PEOPLE".

The art installation Happy Hour (1998) by Fernando Arias also used HIV+ blood to destigmatise AIDS; Arias placed the infected blood in a sealed cocktail glass. Also, Geoffrey Robertson wrote in his memoir The Justice Game (1998) that, as a director of the ICA, he cancelled an appearance by "an HIV-positive performance artist whose idea of attaining empathy with his audience was to splatter them with infected blood (his own)."

Audio Kultur

Audio Kultur
Audio Kultur
This month, two magazines have both been printed with blood. Lebanese music magazine Audio Kultur and Austrian gay magazine Vangardist used red ink infused with blood to print their current issues. The blood used to print Vangardist came from three HIV+ donors, in an attempt to destigmatise the AIDS virus.

Audio Kultur has used ink mixed with the blood of five donors to print its twelfth issue, commemorating the centenary of the Medz Yeghern genocide in Armenia. The back page lists those who "gave their blood for the printing of this magazine... literally." Fifty posters promoting an event marking the anniversary were also printed using the same mixture of ink and blood.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest

Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest
Two gunmen have been killed at an exhibition of Mohammed pictures in North Garland, Texas. The two men opened fire outside the Curtis Culwell Center, though they were both shot dead by police. The attack took place at the venue of the Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest, an event organised by the anti-Islamic American Freedom Defense Initiative, which included a presentation by Fitna director Geert Wilders.

This is the third attack related to Mohammed images this year: there was a shooting at a cafe in Copenhagen in February, and a dozen people, including several Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, were killed in Paris in January. The Jyllands-Posten caricatures of Mohammed, and Charlie Hebdo's first Mohammed cover, were reprinted by the French magazine L'Obs on 16th April.

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Friday, 1 May 2015

Peace TV

Peace Special
NBTC
NBTC
NBTC
Peace TV, a television station operated by the red-shirt UDD, had its broadcasting licence revoked by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission on Monday, after the NBTC accused it of broadcasting material likely to cause political conflict. Its signal was cut last night, and now only colour bars are being transmitted. Peace TV's licence had already been suspended for seven days on 10th April. The following day, another red-shirt station, TV24, also had its licence suspended for a week.

On Wednesday night, a group of soldiers and police officers raided Peace TV's offices, ordering it to stop transmitting the discussion programme Peace Special featuring former prime minister Chavalit Yongchaiyudh. The authorities were seemingly unaware that Peace Special was a repeat, and that it had already been broadcast live that morning. (The programme's title originally appeared on screen as "Peace Spacial" [sic.], though this was corrected after the first thirty minutes.)

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