Monday, January 14, 2019

About The Matrix

The Matrix films owe much to the theories of Baudrillard, and when they were making the sequels, the Wachowskis approached the great man, hoping to get him involved. But he steered clear. In his words, The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the matrix that the matrix would have been able to produce.

PS: A more recent Keanu offering gets a coruscating review that almost makes me want to see it...

Sunday, January 06, 2019

About downsizing

Thanks to, ahem, influencers such as Marie Kondo, chucking out all your crap and not buying any more appears to be the new veganism. And I see the attraction, although, once sparseness has stopped being trendy, they’ll just try to buy it all back again, so capitalism remains exquisitely unvanquished.

But... yes, this.

And this.


Friday, January 04, 2019

About AI

We should no longer be surprised that Artificial Intelligence is generating much of what we are encouraged to call “content”, whether it’s words or pictures (ceci n’est pas your mum). The tipping point comes when it’s not just the product, it’s the consumers who exist beyond meatspace. As Max Read reports in New York magazine:
Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Times reported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”
Which raises all sorts of questions: can there be a valid Turing test if neither party is human (but each assumes the other to be)? And does Baudrillard’s hyperreality become hyper fraudulent? (“Wasn’t it always?” chuckle the cynics.) And if we’re not brains in vats, could we just be phones in racks?

Thursday, January 03, 2019

About high and low

I always loved the idea that TS Eliot was a devotee of the music hall star Marie Lloyd and the anarchic comic genius Groucho Marx (although their eventual meeting was a disappointment); also that Wittgenstein eventually tired of philosophy and mostly read hard-boiled detective fiction. And now I discover that Theodor Adorno, grumpy, pop-loathing mainstay of the Frankfurt School, watched at least one Gracie Fields film. I wonder whether he joined the fan club.

Monday, December 31, 2018

About Bandersnatch

I have just watched Bandersnatch, the interactive offering from the behemoth that is Black Mirror. At least I think I have.

If you didn’t know, Bandersnatch aims to subvert the vanilla TV-watching experience with the illusion/delusion of choice that runs through video games, and before that, those adventure books that allowed readers to turn to different pages according to what twist they wanted the narrative to follow next. So I made a character kill or not kill, jump or not jump, pour tea on a computer or not, choose the Thompson Twins or Frosties or anti-depressants.

My question is, how many times do I have to watch Bandersnatch, and in how many different permutations of breakfast cereal, before I’m allowed to say that I’ve *seen* it, in the way I’ve (or not seen), say, the latest Star Wars movie?

Frumious, huh?

Friday, December 28, 2018

About comments

I was wondering whether to write about the Anni Albers show at Tate Modern but, as is so often the case, it’s more fun to write about what other people have written. For example this, left on the comments board (in the gift shop, naturally).

Some thoughts:

1. What exactly is the objection to taking photographs in an exhibition? I can see there may be copyright issues, and it might have an impact on, say, postcard sales, but surely that’s a problem for the gallery, not a visitor. It’s not as if people are lugging around tripods and flash guns; someone taking a photo of a picture with a phone is no more intrusive than someone simply looking. It is pretty much impossible these days to market any kind of arts event without using social media (there was a notice up asking us to use the hashtag #AnniAlbers) so exhibitors should be seeking to embrace the form; last year’s Selfie to Self-Expression show at the Saatchi being a case in point.

2. If, for some reason, you object to being in proximity to people taking photos, I can’t imagine that counting them does much to soothe your troubled soul. It’s almost as if you want to be offended, and somehow need to quantify your degree of offence.

3. Oh dear. Those exclamation marks. Really.

PS: Vaguely related: A cheerful update to the Monkey Christ fiasco.

Monday, December 24, 2018

About drones

There I was, wondering whether to write something about the Gatwick drone, but it looks as if I don’t need to.