Sunday, 27 February 2011

Bugsy (1991)

Bugsy Siegel is a fascinating character, and Warren Beatty did an incredible job of portraying him, especially for a gentile. Annette Bening is amazing as his love interest, and she is even more cruel and insane than he is.

What a bizarre episode in American history. Jewish gangsters, exiled to LA by anti-semitism, build Las Vegas. I think the reason Jews finally made it out of the ghetto is because they are brilliant at understanding the secret desires of white people. Secret, often shameful desires: money, sex, power, fame...just look at Al Goldstein or Howard Stern. Like Siegel, they realize that people will do anything to satisfy their guilty pleasures. And the creation of institutions or monuments to filth and excess creates, in turn, demand for such things.

Here's a beautiful, hilarious snippet from Wikipedia:

Siegel lost patience with the rising costs [of building the Flamingo Hotel], and his notorious outbursts unnerved his construction foreman. Reputedly, Siegel told him, "Don't worry — we only kill each other."

Saturday, 19 February 2011


What's the aesthetic consequence of iPhone culture? A culture of text messages, tweets, one night stands, one year marriages, CEO turnovers, volatile stocks... You might want to say these phenomena lead necessarily to anarchy, total disorder, total breakdown. And speed does kill. But there are, also, ways of adapting to brevity. The culture of the mixtape, of rapping over someone else's beat, often leads to songs which are unusually short, and we will begin to see an increase of songs produced to be the same length, which somehow fit within a smaller frame.

If the hip hop song can support itself without needing a hook, the dance performance can shorten itself as well. From London one might think that things in the arts are better in the states, considering the enormous government cuts and the privileging of 'hard' (erect?) subjects like engineering. But non-Americans may not realize that the American arts have never, really, had the public-funding advantage that they've had in Europe for several decades. There are very, very few public grants available, so artists like the Turf Feinz are compelled to shorten their performances and distribute them over a broader cultural terrain.

The brevity of "Respiration" may have to do with the shooting location. The atmosphere, the car lights and the metal bars, the street lights and the dilapidated buildings add a sense of heaviness. It is moving you toward the pressure of East Oakland, an area which, although it is right next to the bay, feels landlocked, because it has been so reduced by economic drought. Driving or taking the bus through it, one realizes how enormously sprawling it is, how it was designed as a place of retreat for white families, a suburb. Now it has entered the suburban winter, the white people have fled decades ago, to suburbs further removed, and then, recently, returned, to other neighborhoods.

"Respiration" stresses that even in less than two minutes, a meditative moment is not only possible but crucial. To breathe again, to prevent an asthma attack, you need to take a minute or two, and even that small increment is enough to release some of the pressure. After a puff of smoke, Dreal touches his heart. At 22 seconds, the production itself breathes as he drags his foot forward after a backflip. This foot drag is synchronized exactly with a syncope in the song, to borrow a phrase from Catherine Clement: the music itself is cut, its consciousness goes under, its heart stops, and in the background you hear the faintest synth whose ominous minor key evokes Mel-Man's production on The Chronic 2001. Dreal displays the incredible ability of the human body to engage with technology, to deliver itself into a machinic operation. At 40 seconds, the film looks modified: he has appropriated a filmic device. His feet levitate as he shifts weight from one to the other.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Time on the Move by Achille Mbembe

There's so much to say about this essay--I would just highlight these passages:

"Africa is the mediation that enables the West to accede to its own subconscious and give a public account of its subjectivity."

"[Africa is seen] as headless figure threatened with madness and quite innocent of any notion of center, hierarchy, or stability…a vast dark cave where every benchmark and distinction come together in total confusion, and the rifts of a tragic and unhappy human history stand revealed: a mixture of the half-created and the incomplete…in short, a bottomless abyss where everything is noise, yawning gap, and primordial chaos"

For this latter passage he cites Christopher Miller's brilliant text, Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French, in which Miller, in direct homage to Said, draws the outline of an "Africanism" which is parallel to Orientalism, although it is more obsessed with notions of nothingness and vacuity.


also mentioned to some that I would post about this: it ought to be good...

if not there is King Midas Sound, Oneohtrix Point Never and Games coming up April 7th, for which I don't have a poster yet.

Caroline Bergvall / Imogen Stidworthy

here's a couple of links to the two exhibitions I mentioned had been on at the arnolfini recently...

a video / documentation of the Say Parsley exhibition:

this one is for Imogen Stidworthy's "I Hate" installation:

Neither video is that good at conveying the installations and use of directional sound, etc... there's probably better ones online somewhere.

there's some more articles and so on about Imogen here:

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Polski Lektor- Polish Dubbing

A snippet from the Life of Brian, the only really good example of the strange phenomenon of polish dubbing.

He's speaking so quickly to try and keep up with everyone...