Posts from — July 2011
Michael Elmgreen/Ingar Dragset:
The One & The Many, Rotterdam
Art Review by Miklós Horváth
After enchanting audiences and critics with the sumptuous exhibition Infernopolis last year, the curators of the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen have decided to host another spectacular installation, The One & The Many in the Rotterdam’s Submarine Wharf. The exhibition is now open to the public and can be visited until 25th September 2011.
Submarine Wharf can be reached by a 15-minute boat trip from busy Willemskade to a desolate harbour without shops or crowds. You are alone with those you came with on the boat from Willemskade. The experience a visitor may discover is similar to how Mr. Lockwood felt upon his arrival at Thrushcross Grange, described by Emily Brontë in Wuthering Heights. Far from the stir of society, Lockwood felt the desolation and considered his new living area a misanthrope’s heaven. Though he intended to spend some splendid days in the grange and wanted to enjoy its treasures, most of the time Lockwood was disturbed by those around him.
Visiting the exhibition alone can give visitors an experienc similar to Lockwood’s. Being removed from society for a short time, visitors are encouraged to reconsider their desires – their needs and their desires. This exhibition is a psychological experience, definitely for those who like taking risks. For those who choose to participate in this enticing journey, it will broaden the understanding of how the mind works.
Visitors who come alone to the exhibition often will come across completely unexpected situations. They might be provoked by wandering performers, such as a screaming young mother, young men selling themselves on the street, or an auto mechanic busy working on a luxury limousine. Due to these interruptions, single visitors may find it difficult to completely enjoy the treasures of the wharf. But, as they are advised beforehand, a visitor to this exhibit never simply observes, but becomes an object in it, as well.
For those who visit with a relative or a friend, the art project no longer offers a fearful experience on dark streets. These visitors will not be followed by performers, they do not have to consider what to do and how to act in an unexpected situation, and can enjoy their walk in a secure place of meditation.
The Exhibition Hall is reached through a tunnel, which Elmgreen suggests is a kind of vacuum cleaner hose. Although this-suctioning-you-in feeling is pronounced, you always have a choice to turn back. A reassuring poster on the tunnel wall states, “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, a reference to the Promised Land offered by God to his chosen people after their tribulations. Elmgreen and Dragset deconstruct and discredit the message of God as it becomes a soap-opera-like sentence, an advertising of a new reality show instead of a real message. Therefore, the collaborative duo claims, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. They intend to show that many people could not experience the light in their life and could not turn back when they felt a certain danger.
During the Nazi regime some people did not have a choice to avoid an unwanted situation. The vacuum cleaner (tunnel) and the fake promise therefore can be read as the symbols of the oppressive powers which guide people to their final destination. These symbols recall a circumstance when certain people did not have a choice to turn back and their private lives were under threat.
The struggle between one’s private and public lives is one of the main issues of this exhibition. Visitors can peep through the windows of a housing block, get access to the toilet, and look into a limousine. Single visitors soon realize they are part of the exhibition, as they are monitored by the performers, as mentioned above. Private life can become a public affair as young men solicit on the street with discourses of sexual intimacy.
In her review of the exhibition, Nicolette Gast says The One & The Many is the third in a trilogy, a bridge between the two first parts: The Welfare Show, and The Collectors, which were shown at various venues in London and Venice. The Rotterdam exhibition is set in the social milieu of the middle class, and addresses how we are searching for new identities in a world of constant transition.
For further information about the exhibition, visit the Boijmans official website.
About the author:
Miklós Horváth is an undergraduate student at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary, and Leiden University, The Netherlands, where he received an Erasmus Scholarship to study.
July 4, 2011 Comments Off on Review: Elmgreen-Dragset in Rotterdam
Civilization is Relative
Reflections on Life in the Slow Lane
During my recent trip to Ecuador, I had occasion to meet a gentlemen who lives in the Amazon. He is a Huaorani (Hwă răh’ni), a people who have lived in their neighborhood for thousands of years, going back to the Stone Age. It is estimated that about 3,000 Huaorani exist. This new acquaintance of mine ─ call him Sam ─ stands about 4’9” high and has dark, but not leathery skin. He has black hair and not a touch of grey, probably because he lives a stress-free life. All he has to do is spear tasty looking animals and occasional enemies, and supervise his wife, who does everything else for the family. I was going to say household, but there is no house. No clothing, either.
Sam looks 50 years old, but I could be off by 20 years one way or the other. He seems pretty healthy, considering he has no access to a health care plan. His chest has fully developed muscles that make Arnold Schwarzenegger look like Woody Allen. He also has a hole in his earlobe big enough to slide an iPhone through.
I met Sam at a rather rustic resort near a town called Mindo, Ecuador, a couple of hours from Quito. I felt sorry for myself having to drive so far to get there until I learned that Sam had traveled by foot and canoe for three days from his home in the Amazon. Now, Sam didn’t mention this fact to me directly, because he speaks only the Huaorani language, so his Spanish-speaking son did the translating.
Let me tell you about this rustic resort. A raging river borders the property, so to get across from the dirt road out of the town of Mindo, you have to ride precariously on this flat, wooden, one-person seat suspended by a rope and pulley. The seat has no sides to protect you from the raging river and its formidable boulders.
Once across the river and onto the property, I locate a common, open-aired-dining area ─ really just an unenclosed, platform and I find my wooden cabin ─ quite spacious, actually ─ with a grass thatched roof surrounded by a swarm of moths the size of pterodactyls. It could be a scene from Jurassic Park. No electricity, but there are two candles and, believe it or not, a flush toilet. That’s where technology ends.
I thought that was pretty rustic, especially for a place that calls itself a resort. But then I realized that the same location that represents a giant step backwards, civilization-wise for me, is actually a great improvement for Sam, who was quite accustomed to living without a roof over his unkempt head. He doesn’t have a satellite TV, either ─ not even basic cable ─ or a heater or an air conditioner or a refrigerator or a dish washer or even, let’s face it, a roll of toilet paper.
How can he enjoy a Barry Manilow Christmas collection on CD while munching on microwave popcorn if he doesn’t have a CD player or a microwave oven in the first place? The poor fellow doesn’t have a toothbrush or a pair of Diodoro sneakers. He has survived, day after day for maybe 18,000 days, without a cell phone and without a full-length bathroom mirror. We take so many things for granted he doesn’t even know exist.
I continued to feel sorry for Sam all the way up to the day I returned to civilization to discover my mortgage, my satellite TV bill, and two credit card payments were overdue. My electricity had been shut off, too, for the same reason.
Yes, civilization can be a relative thing. You have to feel sorry for people who don’t know what they’re missing.
About the author:
Mark Levy is a contributor editor of Ragazine. He is an attorney with the Binghamton law firm of Hinman, Howard and Kattell.
July 1, 2011 1 Comment
Bowl Food, Jon Nickoll
When we last checked in with Jon Nickoll, Cinema Music was his most recent release. (See “My Imaginary Friend Has a CD” in ragazine, April 2010). With his new album Bowl Food, Nickoll finds himself a first-time father without the free time to head to the recording studio.
The recording is decidedly and unapologetically low-fi. Think Springsteen’s Nebraska meets Lennon’s Double Fantasy. Nickoll’s voice is his strongest point, a soothing Elvis Costello. Weighty themes — emerging from periods of black, the passage of time, the transition from personhood to parenthood — are delivered with the spoonful of sugar that is Nickoll’s vocal signature. Baby Charlie appears as himself in “Liberty.” It’s a beautiful bit of harmony and, I’ll admit, made me a little teary.
An effortless tunesmith, Nickoll’s numbers flow smoothly. That’s not to say it’s a slow album. At 25 minutes, it cruises along, veering a steady course between reflective and up-tempo. “Which Friend First” exemplifies the former; “Still We Try” the latter, “Friend” contains my favorite line: “Though I didn’t cry/ I carried tears around.” Very relatable. Any guy who starts a song with a nod to “a box of records with Pet Sounds on the top” (“Beginnings and Ends”), wins my heart.
Hints of influence pop out: a little snatch of The Doors’ “The End” in “Fasten Your Seatbelts,” a dash of The Beatles’ “It’s Only Love” on “Slowly,” but this is singularly Jon Nickoll and that’s good.
— Jeff Katz
July 1, 2011 Comments Off on Bowl Food/Music Review
… (Almost) Forever Theirs …
by Mark Levy and Nick Andreadis
If you watch the news on a regular basis, chances are you have seen a YouTube video as part of a news story. For those unaware, YouTube is a video sharing website owned by Google. Users can upload and share their videos. As it happens, “YouTube video” is somewhat of a misnomer, as YouTube does not create or own the videos on its site. YouTube is simply an online hosting site for a collection of user videos, recorded by many thousands of different people all over the world. But what happens when one such video gains national attention via TV news outlets? When such a video is on the news, there is usually a credit in the corner of the video acknowledging that the video was found on YouTube. This begs the question, however, “What about the video’s creator? Doesn’t he or she deserve credit?” The answer, according to YouTube, is a simple one: no.
In YouTube’s terms of service, which every user must accept before uploading a video, the rules are stated very clearly. “By submitting User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website.” In layman’s terms, by submitting content to YouTube, you are giving Google permission to use your content however it pleases.
It is important to remember that the majority of YouTube’s profits come from advertising. Therefore, the more exposure YouTube gains, the more money Google will make. To put it in perspective, it currently costs $175,000 dollars a day to advertise on the front page of YouTube. This number can be expected to rise as YouTube becomes even more popular. You can now see why it is imperative that YouTube be able to distribute a user’s content without specific permission by the owner. This necessity for promotion leads us to another interesting phrase in the YouTube terms of service. “You agree not to distribute in any medium any part of the Website, including but not limited to User Submissions (defined below), without YouTube’s prior written authorization.” This states that no one may use any content from YouTube without Google’s permission. This prevents news agencies from using a video hosted on YouTube without obtaining written permission, therefore ensuring that Google always receives credit for YouTube videos.
Interestingly enough, YouTube takes care to state in its terms of service that the user who submits the content still “retains all ownership rights to the content.” Legally, there is very little difference between a license owner and a content owner. Therefore, while YouTube does not technically own the user content, it has essentially the same legal rights to the content’s distribution and reproduction as the owners do. However, by allowing the content creator to retain ownership rights, YouTube can avoid liability for the content. The terms of service state, “You shall be solely responsible for your own User Submissions and the consequences of posting or publishing them.” This allows YouTube to reproduce and distribute the content as it sees fit while avoiding liability.
There is a fourth section of the terms of service that, while not expressly related to distribution rights, is interesting to note. “The above licenses granted by you in User Videos terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your User Videos from the YouTube website… YouTube may retain, but not display distribute or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted.” Essentially, YouTube has the right to keep copies of uploaded videos on its servers forever, even if the user “deletes” them and cancels his account. YouTube may also continue to use the video for a “commercially reasonable” amount of time. This could potentially lead to a user video being used in promotional material for YouTube, even after the creator has deleted it.
While some of these terms may seem overbearing, or even an invasion of privacy, they are far from unusual. Veoh and Vimeo, two other popular video sharing websites, recite almost identical terms of service. While one may be inclined to view this negatively, there are some positives as well. For example, in June of 2009, rioting broke out in Iran over presidential elections. Iran has a state controlled media, and did not report the riots. However, due to the proliferation of video enabled cell phones and YouTube, news agencies all over the world were able to report on this story. It would have been almost impossible to obtain permission from these users before reporting on the story, and if these terms were not in place an important event would have gone un-noticed. YouTube and sites like it are becoming more and more a part of mainstream media. Regardless of your individual opinion of them, these terms are here to stay, and you should be aware of them before posting a video or even a comment on YouTube.
About the authors:
Mark Levy is a contributing editor to Ragazine. He is an attorney with the Binghamton law firm of Hinman, Howard and Kattell.
Nick Andreadis is a legal intern for Mark Levy. He is an Industrial and Systems Engineer at Binghamton University planning on going into Intellectual Property law.
July 1, 2011 Comments Off on Feeding the Starving Artist/Legal
No Banjo Hitters They:
The Baseball Project’s Vol. 2,
“High and Inside”
By Jeff Katz
The marriage of baseball and music has been a rocky one. Most attempts are jokey novelties: The Treniers tribute to Willie Mays (1954’s “Say Hey”), Teresa Brewer’s 1956 love song to Mantle, “I Love Mickey.” John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” connects with the joy of playing, but 26 years of incessant overplaying has rendered the tune impotent. But who will speak to the nerdy devotion of the rabid fan who listens to good music as he or she scours the daily box scores and devotes disproportionate brain space to the names and games that mark the long seasons of their lives? Terry Cashman with “Talkin’ Baseball?” Certainly not.
Coming to the rescue like Mariano Rivera, The Baseball Project strode forth with 2008’s Vol. 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails. Finally, great musicians tackled baseball in a way that was satisfying to the ears of rock fans and the researchers at SABR. Two great tastes in one musical bar, The Reese’s Cup of hardball pop. (But don’t think of Pee Wee Reese’s cup; that would be gross!).
Like the 1997 World Champion Florida Marlins, The Baseball Project brought big stars together to win it all. After their debut album, Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows), Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), Linda Pitmon (Golden Smog) and Peter Buck (R.E.M.) went their separate ways, but are back again with a new collection, Vol. 2, High and Inside.
The thirteen new tracks cover a wide range of baseball history — Tony Conigliaro’s lost possibilities, the travails of the ’86 Red Sox, the death of quirky phenom Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, to name a few — and runs the gamut from straight ahead indie rock, to surf music, to Steely Dan inspired rock. The level of detail shows these band members are no dabblers in the national past time. In “The Straw That Stirs The Drink,” a look back to Reggie Jackson’s debut season with The Yankees, a reference to Manager Billy Martin’s drunken fight with a marshmallow salesman (which took place a few years after Jax’ 1977 start with The Bronx Bombers) comes across as both minutiae that works for an obsessed fan and a bizarre bit of imagery for the unknowing.
It would be easy to fall into the “Van Lingle Mungo” trap, a straight listing of funny ballplayer names that Dave Frishberg worked to magnificent effect in his classic jazz piano nostalgia trip. The Baseball Project sets themselves apart by combining a media guide knowledge of the game with a healthy amount of philosophy. Bemoaning the early death of “The Bird” in the opening number “1976,” Wynn sings “What does it say for the rest of us when our heroes die and leave us alone?” That’s deep stuff. “Fair Weather Fans” reels in the years as each band member recounts their own lifelong love of their hometown teams as they grow up and move on to other cities. And woe to that sad soul who grew up without a nearby pro team!
“Here Lies Carl Mays” closes the album. Yankee Mays, whose pitch killed Indians shortstop Ray Chapman in 1920 ( still the only fatality as a result of a thrown ball), croons from the grave, defending his career and expressing the remorse he never showed in real life. It’s a beautiful song about the curves life throws and how we are often left futilely explaining our actions to no one. Sad and touching, it’s the epitome of what The Baseball Project does well, presenting universal emotions disguised as a sports song. It’s the old hidden ball trick, performed masterfully. Gene Michael would be proud.
Look it up.
July 1, 2011 Comments Off on High & Inside/Music Review