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Sam Shepard / Samuel Beckett – a Tribute

August 2, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

Much has been said in print and in video about Sam Shepard since his death on July 27, 2016 at the age of 73.

In this post we wish to celebrate his life as an Actor, Playwright, and with a brief comparison of the theme and purpose of the works of Sam Shepard, and Samuel Beckett.

 

Sam Shepard – Actor

The coolness and talent of Sam Shepard as an actor is displayed in simple the clip above.

Sam Shepard – Playwright

“Sam Shepard’s plays are performed on and off Broadway and in all the major regional American theatres. They are also widely performed and studied in Europe, particularly in Britain, Germany and France, finding both a popular and scholarly audience. A leader of the avant-garde in contemporary American theatre since his earliest work. Sam’s plays are not easy to categorize. They combine wild humor, grotesque satire, myth and a sparse, haunting language to present a subversive view of American life. His settings are often a kind of nowhere, notionally grounded in the dusty heart of the vast American Plains; his characters are typically loners, drifters caught between a mythical past and the mechanized present; his work often concerns deeply troubled families.

Before he was thirty, Shepard had over thirty plays produced in New York. In his works Shepard has repeatedly examined the moral anomie and spiritual starvation that characterize the world of his drama.

Sam began his career as a playwright in New York in 1964 with the Theatre Genesis production of two one-act plays, COWBOYS and THE ROCK GARDEN  at St. Mark’s Church-in-the Bowery. Their lack of conventional structure and the manic language of their long monologues offend critics from uptown papers. Some find the plays derivative of Samuel Beckett and other European dramatists. But Michael Smith of THE VILLAGE VOICE hails them as “distinctly American” and “genuinely original,” and declares their author full of promise.

By 1980, he was the most produced playwright in America after Tennessee Williams.

Over the past forty years, Sam has written over 45 plays, eleven of which have won Obie Awards. In 1979 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for BURIED CHILD. In 1986 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 1992 he received the Gold Medal for Drama from the Academy.  He was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1994.” (sam-shepard.com)

Sam Shepard/ Samuel Beckett

A comparison of the images of Sam Shepard and Samuel Beckett, above, is quite striking.  However, the works of both playwrights may bear a similar striking similarity in theme and purpose. The quotes below are not meant to satisfy any “academic standard;” we leave that to the work of scholars.

Sam Shepard

In high school, Sam Shepard “read Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, an experience that says transformed him … In reviewing Shepard’s initial offering, Village Voice critic Michael Smith wrote: “The plays are difficult to categorize, and I’m not sure it would be valuable to try…. Shepard is still feeling his way, working with an intuitive approach to language and dramatic structure and moving into an area between ritual and naturalism, where character transcends psychology, fantasy breaks down literalism, and the patterns of ordinariness have their own lives. His is a gestalt theater which evokes the existence behind behavior. Shepard clearly is aware of previous work in this mode, mostly by Europeans, but his voice is distinctly American and his own.” (theatredatabase.com.)

Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett ” dealt with human beings in such extreme situations not because he was interested in the sordid and diseased aspects of life but because he concentrated on the essential aspects of human experience. The subject matter of so much of the world’s literature—the social relations between individuals, their manners and possessions, their struggles for rank and position, or the conquest of sexual objects—appeared to Beckett as mere external trappings of existence, the accidental and superficial aspects that mask the basic problems and the basic anguish of the human condition. The basic questions for Beckett seemed to be these: How can we come to terms with the fact that, without ever having asked for it, we have been thrown into the world, into being?” (britannica.com)

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Sam Shepard, 1943 – 2017

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“Dreams of Dali” in 360

July 27, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

Dali

With the news of the exhumation of the body of Salvador Dali for DNA testing, perhaps it is a good time to look at Dali’s work, here especially Dalí’s 1935 canvas Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s ‘Angelus, portrayed through the video above, “Dreams of Dali,”  as an excellent use of the tools of the New Media to enhance the presentation of the work.

Fine Art in the New Media

As described by Colin Marshall in Open Culture,

“The 360-degree video, drops you into the world of Dalí’s 1935 canvas Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet’s ‘Angelus,’  an homage to an earlier work (Jean-François Millet’s painting, “The Angelus”) which enjoyed enormous popularity during Dalí’s youth.”

“Th[is] late 19th century painting depicts a peasant couple standing in a field with their heads bowed in prayer. For many it was a sentimental work, but for Dalí’ it was troubling, with layers of hidden meaning, which he explored through daydreams and fantasies.”

“As the artist himself put it, ‘”I surrendered myself to a brief fantasy during which I imagined sculptures of the two figures in Millet’s ‘Angelus’ carved out of the highest rocks.'”

“His formidable imagination converted that mid-19th-century image of rural hardship and piety into the moonlit desert landscape through which ‘”Dreams of Dal픑 flies you.”

“Created for ‘”Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination,'” an exhibit at St. Petersburg, Florida’s Dalí Museum on the friendship and collaboration between those two visionary 20th-century world-creators (see Destino, the short film Dalí and Disney collaborated on).”

“The video not only gives the painting a third spatial dimension, but a detailed sonic one featuring the godlike voice of Dalí himself.”

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Raphael – The Drawings

July 19, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

Raphael – The Drawings

“The Ashmolean’s captivating summer show brings together 120 stunning works from international collections spanning the brief but brilliant career of this Renaissance genius.

Aged only 37 when he died, Raphael’s fame in drawing had a transformative effect on European art over centuries. This exciting exhibition focuses on his extraordinary creativity, and shows how exploration and experimentation shaped his breathtakingly accomplished drawings.” (ashmolean.org.)

The Exhibition

The museum states,

“The Ashmolean’s unrivalled Raphaels are joined by superb works from the Albertina and loans from other international collections including the Louvre, the Uffizi and Her Majesty the Queen. Drawings include the exquisite Head of a Muse, [below] which broke records when auctioned at Christies in 2009, as well as the sublime Heads and Hands of two Apostles, considered to be the finest drawing Raphael ever made.”

Raphael Head of a Muse

Fine Art in the New Media

As a blog devoted to reviewing the use of the New Media tools to make art accessible to everyone, everywhere, we would have to say that the Ashmolean exhibition site “Raphael The Drawings” does now allow us to see any of the 120 works in the exhibition as pictures to enlarge and study.

However, in the video below, Dr Catherine Whistler, Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean, and Fellow in Art History at St John’s, discusses three Raphael drawings the from different stages in the artist’s career with such insight and clarity that it should serve as a model of how an institution uses a video and words to describe visual art. This is something you are not likely to get, even visiting the exhibition itself.

 

 

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Beckett Directs Godot

 

“Clips from an October 1988 WGBH Boston presentation of Beckett Directs Beckett featuring a Paris performance of “Waiting for Godot” by members of the . The film was directed by Walter D. Asmus. The play was directed by Samuel Beckett.”(You Tube.)

Beckett Directs Godot

Catchy title. The story, and comments on Fine Art in the New Media, below.

“In 1985 Samuel Beckett directed “Waiting for Godot”, “Krapp’s Last Tape” and “Endgame” as stage pieces with the San Quentin Players. All three productions were grouped together under the overall title “’Beckett Directs Beckett.’” As such they toured throughout Europe and in some parts of Asia to wide acclaim.”

“Furthermore, each time a new tour was organized for these productions, after sometimes lengthy lacunae, Beckett has, with the assistance of Walter Asmus, and/or Alan Mandell, brought them back to performance level.

Though the initial productions as staged in 1985 already brought forth substantial changes in the published acting texts of the plays, each time a re-mounting of the productions occurred additional changes were made.”

“The same was true during the production period for these television versions, with Beckett sometimes making textual changes on the telephone even as a given scene was being taped.” (MITH Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities)

 

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Beckett directing Waiting for Godot in Berlin in 1975

Fine Art in the New Media

While You Tube, and the Internet may now be considered “old new media,” the contribution to Fine Art in the New Media is enormous. Here, in one place, wherever you are on the globe, you can see clips from the production of the play, hear the comments of those involved, and see portions of the annotated text including word alterations and stage directions. This is “making art accessable to everyone, everywhere “at its finest. Moreover, the creative use of these resources in the classroom is worth a thousand lectures.

Beckett

More:  Beckett Directs Beckett – The Story of the Productions.

Research and Production Links

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“A Clockwork Orange” and “The Shining”- Music Composed by Wendy Carlos

July 5, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

Wendy Carlos’s Synth Scores- the Near-Unbearable  Tension’s in Kubrick’s Worlds

Wendy Carlos’ theme music for Stanley Kubrick’s  A Clockwork Orange and The Shining “are indispensable in creating the dread and horror that carry through these cinematic masterpieces. As you can hear in the opening title music for both films, at the top and below, Carlos’ synth scores set up the near-unbearable tensions in Kubrick’s worlds.” (Open Culture.)

Wendy Carlos

Wendy Carlos (f), born Walter Carlos (m) is “one of the great innovators in synthesized and electronic music,” (IMDb.) 

“Wendy Carlos has not followed a conventional music course. Born in Pawtucket, R.I., she started piano lessons at age six and exhibited talents for graphic arts and the sciences, winning a Westinghouse Science Fair scholarship for a home built computer. After pursuing a hybrid major in music and physics at Brown University, she earned an M.A. in music composition at Columbia University, studying with pioneers Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky at the first electronic music center in the U.S.A. Upon graduation, Carlos worked as a recording engineer and befriended Robert Moog (who currently manufactures many instruments at Big Briar,) becoming one of his first clients.(wendycarlos.com.)

Opening Music from A Clockwork Orange

“The haunting arrangement music by composer Henry Purcell, (1659- 1698), in the film’s opening title has become inseparable from the classical and futuristic elements commingled in Kubrick’s adaptation of Anthony Burgess. ” (Open Culture.)

“Her music for the title sequence (with Producer Rachael Elkind’s distorted voice)—so weirdly, dissonantly ominous—provides the perfect accompaniment to one of the most complex opening sequences in film history. Her album Switched on Bach, released the same year as 2001, won the composer three Grammy Awards, put Baroque music on the pop charts, garnered the highest praise from no less a keyboard authority than Glenn Gould, and “made electronic music mainstream.” (Open Culture.)

“The Shining”

“For The Shining, she and Elkind wrote a complete score for the film and Kubrick—writes site The Overlook Hotel—“ended up using only two of their complete tracks, ‘The Shining’ (Main Title), and ‘Rocky Mountains.’” As with 2001, the perfectionistic director instead decided on several classical compositions—from Ligeti, Penderecki, Bartok and others.”

Wendy Carlos (More)

Wendy Carlos

In 2005Wendy Carlos was presented with the SEAMUS 2005 Life Achievement Award, in recognition of her groundbreaking work in the electro-acoustic world since the ’60s. She has delivered papers at New York University, the Audio Engineering Society’s Digital Audio Conference, Dolby’s NYC Surround Sound demonstration and panel, and other music/audio conferences. Carlos is a member of the Audio Engineering Society, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. (wendycarlos.com.)

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The Getty Saves 300+ Books

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The headline above is intended to get the reader’s attention to the fact that an Art Museum, here, The Getty, has added over 300 Art Books to its Virtual Library, which are available , free, to Read Online  and to Download as a PDF.

The Virtual Library

“In 2014, Getty Publications launched its Virtual Library with more than 250 titles spanning its forty-year publishing history. Titles are searchable by title, author, and keyword and include full descriptions, tables of contents, links to read online, to purchase the print book, to find in a library, or to download the complete PDF for free for personal use. ” (Getty Publications).

How it Works – Clean User Interface

The Getty Virtual Library is a use of the tools of the New Media. Moreover, its UI (User Interface) is clean and easy to use. It eliminates the barriers which might be encountered in using the New Media tools. Below is a screen shot of the main page.

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The Cézanne Book

We’ll use the book, Cézanne in the Studio: Still Life in Watercolors, as out example. One click on the image of the book brings you directly to the book.

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A second click will allow you to download the book as a PDF, or read it online. Here is a (reduced( screen shot  of page 16.

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And, the text, and the images may be enlarged for ease of viewing.

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The Book and Fine Art in the New Media

The over-all goal of “the book and fine art in the new media” is to use the tools of the New Media to fulfill the mission to make literature and art accessible to everyone, everywhere. A finer point is to eliminate as many barriers between the viewer and the art so as to make the connection  seamless so that the viewer is there. This means a clean UI, the present holy grail of UI design. The Getty Virtual Library does this in a superb way. With just 3 clicks the viewer is there!

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The End of the One Dimension: The Paintings of David Bowie

June 21, 2017 by Jack Dziamba. New Post Goes Up Every Wednesday.

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The Paintings of David Bowie

The paintings of David Bowie demonstrate the fallacy and futility of the trend of modern culture to depict a person as one dimensional – Musician, Pop Star, Music Icon, Actor, as if there were no other facets to the person. Some of this is for simplicity, simplicity of identification. Any other accomplishment by such a person is often trivialized and a “hobby,” or a “passion” which portray significant accomplishment and depth as mere novelty adding to the entertainment value of the person.

This tendency, unfortunately, can be found in the practices of the “higher-culture” Institutions. Thus, one is “a painter,”  “a musician,” “an actor,” etc. , thus perpetuating the view that a person  can be easily categorized as one, but not another.  A creative force can have many facets. We do recognize this quality, sort of, with Michelangelo,  and Leonardo, for instance, but as an exception due to extraordinary genius, but not to be accorded to lesser humans.

But is it Art?

In this post, the narrowness of such a view is demonstrated by the paintings of David Bowie in his Very Priviate Gallery.

As written by in Open Culture,

“‘Even Bowie fans who know only his music will have seen one of those paintings, a self-portrait which made the cover of his 1995 album Outside. That same year he had his first show as a painter, “‘New Afro/Pagan and Work: 1975-1995,'” at The Gallery, Cork Street.”‘

Bowie Outside

This cover art for the album Outside by the artist David Bowie. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the label, Arista/BMG, or the graphic artist(s).

“Bowie’s “‘Berlin era'” in the late 1970s, which produced the albums LowLodger, and “‘Heroes'” (all to varying degrees involving the collaboration of Brian Eno) as an especially fruitful period of his musical career. [The] galleries and museums of the German capital also witnessed Bowie’s first immersion into the world of visual art, both as an enthusiast and as a creator. The city even found its way into some of his paintings, such as 1977’s Child in Berlin [below] “Heroes”, the final album of Bowie’s “Berlin trilogy,” even inspired a bit of Bowie artwork, the self-portrait sketch below modeled on the record’s famous cover photo by Masayoshi Sukita, itself inspired by Erich Heckel’s 1917 painting Roquairol.”

Bowie-Painting-3

‘”David Bowie paintings show a knowledgeable approach to art, influenced by Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, Francis Bacon, Francis Picabia…'” says Very Private Gallery in a post on 25 of those works of art, adding that his style “also shows a touch of post-modernism, more precisely neo-expressionism movement.'”

“‘David Bowie paintings show a knowledgeable approach to art, influenced by Frank Auerbach, David Bomberg, Francis Bacon, Francis Picabia…,” says Very Private Gallery in a post on 25 of those works of art, adding that his style “‘also shows a touch of post-modernism, more precisely neo-expressionism movement.'” ()pen Culture.)

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Lastly, check out Bowie’s “study for painting.”

David-Bowie-painting study

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