Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas reading and listening, 2009 edition

It's that time of year when the pace slows and it becomes possible to step back a little. This blog has been exceptionally quiet, partly because I've been busy elsewhere, trying to build up stuff over at UWS - and the UWS tweetstream will give you an idea of the kinds of things we're doing. Lots of interesting developments planned for 2010, but we'll save announcing them until January in case they get lost in the festive haze.

In the meantime, here's a quick roundup of some of the books, music and film and other media that I'm consuming at the moment (in no particular order)...

Art School (propositions for the 21st century): a pedagogic compendium/manifesto for the changing face of art schools in this new millennium

Lots of bits of Bourdieu - including The Logic of Practice and Michael Grenfell's very useful edited primer Pierre Bourdieu: Key Concepts; this is in preparation for various streams of thinking, including the revival of a proposed series of events around 'Art and Money' and some workshops exploring the ramifications of so-called practice-based research> (oh, no, I'm beginning to give away some of the info I said I'd hold back until January...but there's plenty more to come...)

And I'm looking forward to getting stuck into ex-UEL colleague Tim Lawrence's biography of NYC musician Arthur Russell - Hold on to Your Dreams; which explores the connection between individual creativity and the networks/rhizomes of the NYC downtown music 'scene' in the 70s and early 80s. Russell was one of those technological pioneers and individual musical visionaries who worked across forms and genres long before this became routine...

Michael Sorkin's "Twenty Minutes in Manhattan" - a minor masterpiece of microscopic cultural studies, in the form of a series of essays exploring the twenty minute walk from his apartment in Greenwich Village to his studio in Tribeca, with plenty of detours, literary, historic and geographic. Great little book in a tradition of street-level urban studies with lots of eclectic and illuminating insights - ultimately humorous, playful and optimistic set of proposals about how to live in cities better..

Experimental Geography: radical approaches to landscape, cartography and urbanism; this excellent and provocative book accompanies a travelling exhibition over in the US. Partly a manifesto for a slightly more practical and, dare I suggest, socially useful, form of cultural/artistic intervention in the situationist tradition.

I'm interested in the conversations going on over at Art Work: a conversation about art, labor and economics; and I've yet to properly digest the various media outputs from the Institute for Distributed Creativity's conference on The Internet as Playground and Factory. Holiday reading? Not sure where the line between work and leisure/pleasure is there too...

On the music front, the generalpraxis page at has various bits and bobs. Planning to catch up with a bit of composing over the next couple of weeks - working on the music for another Anton Califano documentary - about the slightly surreal Glenrothes by-election.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Solitary Life of Cranes

Here's a film I wish I had been involved in making. Excellent. Very polished. Great sound, effective music, superb editing, wonderful cinematography. Very thoughtful. Absolutely makes you look at the city in a new way - and makes me nostalgic for London!

Here's the director Eva Weber talking about the film. And the whole film is available to watch (I don't know for how long) on 4OD.

All somewhat in the same vein as The Seafront. A nice clean stream of that film has popped up on the BBC Film Network here.