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The Radio as an Apparatus of Communication by Bertolt Brecht; July 1932
In our society one can invent and perfect discoveries that still have to conquer their market and justify their existence; in other words discoveries that have not been called for. Thus there was a moment when technology was advanced enough to produce the radio and society was not yet advanced enough to accept it. The radio was then in its first phase of being a substitute: a substitute for theatre, opera, concerts, lectures, cafe music, local newspapers and so forth. This was the patient's period of halcyon youth. I am not sure if it is finished yet, but if so then this stripling who needed no certificate of competence to be born will have to start looking retrospectively for an object in life. Just as a man will begin asking at a certain age, when his first innocence has been lost, what he is supposed to be doing in the world. ...As for the radio's object, I don't think it can consist simply in prettifying public life. Nor is radio in my view an adequate means of bringing back cosiness to the home and making family life bearable again. But quite apart from the dubiousness of its functions, radio is one-sided when it should be two-. It is purely an apparatus for distribution, for mere sharing out. So here is a positive suggestion: change this apparatus over from distribution to communication. The radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, a vast network of pipes. That is to say, it would be if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit, how to let the listener speak as well as hear, how to bring him into a relationship instead of isolating him. On this principle the radio should step out of the supply business and organize its listeners as suppliers. Any attempt by the radio to give a truly public character to public occasions is a step in the right direction.
There's a line often found in books and magazine articles that claim to tell the history of rock'n'roll that a greasy kid from Memphis named Elvis Presley, goofing around in Sam Phillips' Sun Studio in Memphis in the summer of 1954, belted out a version of Arthur "Big Boy Crudup's That's All Right Mama, and in doing so, brought together the music of white folks and black folks, and invented something called "rock'n'roll". Like most of what is purported to be "the history of rock'n'roll", this is so much hooey. Whites were singing black blues almost within minutes of black "inventing" the blues. If there is something we can call "the truth" (and there is not, but let's pretend), nobody "invented" rock'n'roll, just as no one "invented" the blues or jazz or ragtime, or anything else for that matter. These strains of music, bastardized forms of all the other types of music to found in various regions of America came together in all types of combinations over the years: black men singing ancient Scottish ballads, white men singing cotton patch tunes, classically trained New Orleans Creoles playing the unwritten "rags" of unschooled, uptown blacks, women from the street singing the songs of women from the church, black men with fifes and drums playing the beats from Africa under melodies from Scotland in the hills of Mississippi, waltz's from France sung by African-Americans with accordions whose had come here from Santa Domingo after the slave revolt of 1793, white men in black face, black men in black face, men dressed as women balancing chairs on their face; all of them singing about fucking. These musics all came together, constantly blending and separating, like cells in a petrie dish, and what would would last was the music that someone would pay a buck to hear, the music no one would pay for would fade into obscurity, sometimes to be revived when the dollar was waved from the faraway shores of Europe or Japan. If this sort of thing interets you may I suggest you go and and buy two book by Nick Tosches: Country: The Twisted Roots Of Rock'n'Roll (revised edition, DeCapo Press, 1996) and Where Dead Voices Gather (Little, Brown, 1991), then read them. Then listen to the records he wrote about in those books, much easier to find now than even when they were first released. Then report back here and continue where you left off. By the late 1920's there were dozens of white men singing and recording dirty, lowdown, blues.
In August 1970, Forcade undertook another high-profile caper. Warner Brothers was filming a movie entitled Medicine Ball Caravan, that chronicled the adventures of a tribe of hippies—including ex-Merry Prankster Wavy Gravy and his Hog Farm commune—as they made their way cross-country to attend the Isle of Wight rock festival in England. Forçade intercepted the caravan near Boulder. In his Cadillac limousine (now painted a militaristic olive drab) was a wide assortment of fireworks and smoke-bombs. In his entourage was one of the Yippies' most provocative characters, David Peel—the group's official songster, whose John Lennon-produced album The Pope Smokes Dope was an underground classic then being banned all over the world (and who took his name from his habit of smoking banana peels). Peel's incessant taunting of the caravan leaders as whores for Warner Brothers finally brought the situation to violence. The camp boss pulled a knife on Peel; then Forçade (decked out like a frontiersman in a fringed leather jacket with a skull-and-crossbones button reading "The American Revolution") jumped the boss from behind. The whole episode was caught on film—and used in the movie. While Forçade claimed his aim had been to expose the caravan as corporate exploitation of the counter-culture, rumors circulated that he had actually been in Warner Brothers' pay—to provide some on-camera violence and publicity. Others claimed he was piggy-backing a big cross-country marijuana run on the caravan.
the breaking of a weather underground
For the buyers and their representatives, the Giacometti sale was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. The sculpture is considered to be one of the most important by the 20th-century Swiss artist.
There was a genuine sense of anticipation in the auction room. Not only could you smell the expensive perfumes and colognes, you could smell the money. Interest in the sculpture was clear from the start with bids being shouted before the auctioneer had even had chance to ask for them. "On your marks, get set, I'm going to start at £9m," said auctioneer Henry Wyndham.
"£12m," came the first bid. "That's my kind of price," said Wyndham.
The figure then rattled up quickly, ping-ponging around the room. In total there were 10 bidders but it came down to two telephone bidders from the mid-£30m mark onwards. When it went from £47m to £50m in a giant leap – what's £3m after all – there were gasps. When the hammer went down, there was loud applause.
The Bauhaus was more than just an idea, of course, it was an actual institution. That institution’s historical background figures in each of these accounts -- to a point. In general, however, what strikes me is how bloodless most descriptions of the Bauhaus are. History appears more or less the way it did at the MoMA show, as a timeline outside the galleries; that is, as ornament, not as integral to understanding the meaning of the artwork. To truly recover the spark of relevance of Bauhaus practice, you need to thoroughly dig into what happened in Germany in the years 1919-1933 -- to put the history back into art history, so to speak.
Four giant facts that loomed over the founding of the Bauhaus in 1919:
* World War I, 1914-1918. The War killed some two million Germans, and left Germany’s economy -- then the world’s second largest -- in shambles. The conflict had begun in 1914 with substantial working-class support, on all sides. It ended with German soldiers in revolt against their officers, and a deep hatred of the leaders who had initiated the hostilities. Many Bauhaus students were veterans of the war. Walter Gropius, its first director, served on the Western Front, was wounded, and won two Iron Crosses.
* The Russian Revolution of 1917. Growing out of war fatigue, a successful Marxist-led revolution on Germany’s doorstep overthrew a much-loathed Czar and replaced him, for heroic moments, with history’s most far-ranging experiment in worker-run government (soon to be strangled by civil war and reaction). The Russian example ignited a wide-spread enthusiasm for social experiment and revolutionary politics, in Germany and elsewhere.
* The German Revolution of 1918. In November, the discredited German Kaiser fled the country; the German Empire became the German Republic. Inspired by the October Revolution, the next months saw power pass over into a woolly collection of grassroots workers and soldiers councils across the country. Authority was soon consolidated, however, in a National Assembly dominated by the disastrously centrist German Social Democratic Party (SPD), socialist in name, but in practice bent on placating a still-monarchist right-wing. The workers council movement, however, persisted -- and was wildly influential with artists; Gropius became head of the architect-led Working Council on the Arts in February 1919, which issued an "Appeal to the Artists of All Countries."
* Months of civil war between a still-monarchist right and a socialist-inspired left in 1918-1919. The police and army were so penetrated by radical agitation that the SPD government fell back on the "Freikorps," irregulars formed from the rump of the German officer corps, to maintain order. In January 1919, a rebellion in Berlin, the "Spartacus Uprising," ended with the murder of the left’s most popular speaker, Karl Liebknecht, and its most capable thinker, Rosa Luxemburg. In February, Freikorps troops used artillery and mass arrests to crush the workers movement in Bremen, on the northwest coast, and the Ruhr, in the west, then went into central Germany to liquidate various organs of popular power. In March, there was another upheaval in Berlin. In April, Bavaria declared itself an independent "Soviet Republic" under workers rule, and was violently put down (becoming subsequently the cradle of Nazism).
These were the cheerful headlines that formed the backdrop for the birth of the Bauhaus. Imagine: Walter Gropius issued the Bauhaus Manifesto in April 1919, when the hope in the new ultra-democratic structures was still running hot, when the post-war economic chaos was acute, when class war was an inescapable fact -- Weimar, where the Bauhaus was to have its home, had recently been sealed off for a radius of 10 kilometers by the government, to secure it against the left!
heavy weave paintings of dani marti
As the days remain short and post-holiday gloom sets in, we wanted to spread some cheer from our latest trip to the archives.
Any creative rut can be cured by a quick dive into historic printed ephemera. The Museum Archives are quite extensive, and we’ll often use their finding aids before beginning on new exhibition or advertising projects. Recently we all took a trip to the archives to look through our department’s files
Below is a small sampling of work created in the 1960s by design legend Ivan Chermayeff and his firm Chermayeff & Geismar.
via reference library
How the open-source movement in design is helping in places like Haiti.
kevin morra carny diary blog / last entry over two years ago after getting laid off
hatch show prints nashville - large format carnival woodblock letterpress prints