On Visual Arts: The Infinite Mix

Last week we were invited to see The Infinite Mix in Central London, here’s what we made of it.

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The Infinite Mix brought a sense of space, spectacle and wonder to London. A much needed injection of  creative ambition, ideas and energy to a city in dire need of colour and fun in the post-truth “age of anxiety”.

A collection of works by blockbuster film and moving image artists, the show took place in the middle of a building site – dust and rubble was around many corners.

The Infinite Mix was a Hayward offsite exhibition, organised in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory. Here’s a few of our highlights:

Ugo Rondinone, THANX 4 NOTHING, 2015, film still. Courtesy: the artist, Galerie Eva Presenhuber and Barbara Gladstone Gallery, New York/ Brussels © Ugo Rondinone

THANX 4 NOTHING, 2015 © Ugo Rondinone

Ugo Rondinone’s immersive video installation features legendary beat poet John Giorno performing THANX 4 NOTHING. In this poem written on his 70th birthday, Giorno looks back at his life – and the people and events that shaped it – with humour and compassion. Performing in a tuxedo and bare feet on an empty stage in the Palais des Glaces theatre in Paris, as well as in a brightly-lit TV studio, Giorno gives thanks to ‘everyone for everything,’ before speaking frankly on the death of friends and lovers, sex, betrayal and his frequent periods of depression.

This installation was funny, warm and full of love. The artist’s admiration for another artist is clear, the stories and humour leaping from stage to screen and enveloping the viewer. A beautiful piece that is impossible to forget.

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Work No. 1701, 2013 © the artist.  c/o the artist, Hauser & Wirth

Martin Creed’s work often focuses on a single movement or gesture. In Work No. 1701a range of individuals cross a New York street, accompanied by a jubilant pop song written and performed by the artist. Talking about the film, Creed has commented that ‘doing things in life, living and working, is always using your body’, and that ‘life can look like a dance’. Work No. 1701 is a celebration of the act of getting from A to B, as well as the different ways in which people move through the world.

Creed, who has been writing songs and leading a band for over 20 years, describes his music and his visual work as an ‘attempt to make something for the world’. As he explains, they both stem from the same place: the desire to ‘say hello, to try to communicate somehow.’

Martin Creed’s piece was about movement and place – taking the viewer out of themselves and asking people to understand different location, dance and what makes people people.

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© DACS, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin

In the holographic illusion OPERA (QM.15) Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster appears in the guise of legendary soprano Maria Callas (1923–77). Dressed in the singer’s signature red dress and dramatic makeup, the artist lip-syncs to arias from Cherubini’s Medea, Verdi’s La Traviata and Ponchielli’s La Gioconda. Situated at the end of a derelict corridor, and encountered from a distance of 30 metres, the luminous figure is at first startlingly life-like – an impression reinforced by the strength of Callas’s voice.

OPERA (QM.15) is influenced by the development of photography, early cinema and the interest in the uncanny shared by many 19th-century artists and writers. It is related to a larger body of work that Gonzalez-Foerster began in 2012: an ever-expanding ‘fragmented opera’ consisting of live and recorded performances in which she appears as a range of fictional or historical figures. To Gonzalez-Foerster, each performance – including her turn as Maria Callas – is not theatre, but rather ‘a kind of séance.’

The technical quality of the Gonzalez-Foerster installation was superb, capturing attention and imagination as people explored the building. The haunting sounds and beautiful holographic colours prove to mash together sound, space and time together. A unique experience that questions the nature of both art and performance. Wonderful.

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We’re limited by time what we can say about The Infinite Mix. First of all, it was a pleasure and a privilege to see large scale art and video in Central London. Let’s hope for more in 2017!

Secondly, we came away thinking about the title and the grouping of artists. What is really infinite? I think it’s modern culture, with its remixes, reinventions and technology opening up ever more outlandish ideas and ways to tell stories. And of course, these are mixed across countries and across cultures. But this “Infinite Mix” means we have a challenge, we only have finite time and an even smaller attention span – where does the great work go in The Infinite Mix?

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Our Neighbourhood: frosty Wanstead Flats

We love living in E12 – there’s so much green space, and time to think. And this December the cold snap means we’ve had chance to experience our neighbourhood and Wanstead Flats in a totally different way.

We hope to take many more photographs through the winter! See some more #EastLondon images on our Instagram feed too.

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And an image from E12, looking out over Forest Gate and across East London. We love living here! #Aldersbrook

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On Art: The Waldorf Project’s Remarkable Journey Through Time, Taste & Touch

The CultureJukebox team have been fans of The Waldorf Project since day one, writing about it a few times. We were invited to Chapter Three last week, and the third instalment is in our opinion the most powerful work yet.

It’s a journey through time, taste and touch and is unlike anything else. It invites people to really feel.


Image credit: Lee Arucci (Waldorf Project Ch 3, Futuro)

Stepping into the show (taking place at HereEast – the Olympic Park / Hackney Wick) you step into somewhere other from the very first moment. The room is dark, and the atmosphere is dark too.

You’re dragged backwards, forwards, and manhandled by a series of beautiful and strong performers. The Waldorf Project is part dance, part immersive theatre, and part experimental food & drink experience.

It’s the drinks that really focus the mind. The first involves balloons and some sort of chemistry experiment. Later, the audience kneels at an altar as a warm, sweet drink is aggressively poured down your mouth.

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Image credit: Lee Arucci (Waldorf Project Ch 3, Futuro)

Things get weirder throughout the show. You’re bundled through tunnels, you have to grasp strangers, and you do things in-between large sheets of plastic. It’s just brilliantly imaginative.

The production is based around the Japanese emotion of AMAE, a temporary surrender. And that’s what you have to do.

The audience has to surrender their comforts, surrender their conceptions of taste and also disconnect. This disconnection from technology and the usual sounds and distractions of everyday life has a huge impact on the feeling around the performance.

There’s strictly no phones, which means you’re focused on the music, the flavours and the people. I was dreaming of lost nights in warehouses in East London, the sounds making me reconsider what these nights meant and what the future holds.

We often don’t consider these things, or how other people consider us. But surrendering to The Waldorf Project’s spell allowed new connections to be born, and started a new way of looking at things.

The superb lighting design helps focus these unconnected thoughts, and drives a loose structure that holds the experience together – illuminating the space and the spaces within ourselves too.

8c9f562d035436ae00adf81253e93d13Image credit: Lee Arucci (Waldorf Project Ch 3, Futuro)

Everyone is separated, but brought together by the light, by the characters living in this remarkable place, and by the sound and structure as you experience this unique show. You’re never really alone.

And maybe that’s the truth. Maybe we do have more in common, and maybe we are more connected than we first thought? Perhaps, by tasting, trying and touching new things we can grow and see things differently?

We thought the show was truly amazing, well done Sean Rogg. It’s open until December 4th, tickets and more details are here.

On Entrepreneurship: Products That Look Good, and Do Good

Looking for some inspiration for your Christmas shopping this year? Check out ThisBecause – the super-cool online shop for social enterprise has all manner of wonderful things for sale. Products that look good, and do good.

Here’s the link to the online store.

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And this year it’s not just online. There’s an actual physical store too, a  showcase of some of the very best things for sale. It’s in Soho, you can read more about the store and what’s going on via ThisBecause’s social media feeds.

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Here’s a few images we took on our phone too…

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The CultureJukebox team highly recommend heading over, and getting your Christmas shopping off to a guilt-free start and pick-up some truly amazing products with great stories behind them too! Nice one ThisBecause!

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Our Neighbourhood: DJ Cash Money live in Leytonstone

Is great to live in E12, loads of great new places opening up. Not least the new ballroom at The Red Lion in Leytonstone.

The venue has booked legendary turntablist DJ Cash Money for a party early December – details here.

DJ Cash Money is a Philadelphia-based turntablist and legend of the hip-hop scene (he was the first inductee into the DJ Hall of Fame!).

He emerged from the Philadelphia hip hop scene in the late 1980s alongside his rival Jazzy Jeff. He went on to remix tracks for big-name artists such as Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes and Public Enemy.

The Moose Funk Squad are the support acts,  alongside Droppin’ Science DJs; Matman & Daredevil. Buy your tickets here for what promises to be a high quality night of Hip Hop in East London. (There’s a Central Line night tube to get you home right next door too!)

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On Ideas: Reflections on Internet Culture after our WebSummit visit

Last week I spent a few of days working from the FutureSocieties conference at WebSummit in beautiful Lisbon. The event is Europe’s biggest technology and entrepreneurship conference – a global meeting place for web-thinkers and entrepreneurs focused on changing business and lives.

The FutureSocieties conference is a big part of WebSummit – bringing together leading thinkers, politicians and academics to discuss how our cities, our working lives and our culture are being transformed.

There were a huge amount of inspiring talks, packed with useful ideas and opportunities to connect with new companies, media and organisations who could help us to go mainstream. See below for a brief summary from talks and the entrepreneurs I met – I’m obviously happy to expand on any of these themes or connections if particularly useful for anyone’s work.

Talk 1) How is tech changing giving?

A provocative talk that claimed philanthropy and giving is stuck in the past. French entrepreneur Alexandre Mars gave a super interesting talk about how philanthropic organisations often operate in silos. How do we encourage giving to new ideas and social entrepreneurs doing things a little differently?

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He claimed that much of philanthropy is failing new social organisations and ventures seeking to make wide impact on problems that assail the poor. So, he set up Epic Foundation: this innovative website uses evidence-based data tools to identify innovative social ventures and organisations, giving them the tools they need to be successful regardless of prior track record, and then monitors their progress while working with them to evaluate what works and what doesn’t.

Corporate partners love Epic’s model because it demonstrates contributions unlocking their full social impact potential. Because of this, Epic helps corporations fulfil their social responsibility goals, while supporting organisations that make global social impact, whether that be feeding children in Darfur, offering underprivileged children access to technology and higher education courses, or getting homeless people out of shelters.

There is a Comms and storytelling element too. Epic also provides news, stories, photos, and videos curated by their team from each portfolio organisations, creating not only a second high-value data point for donors to monitor, but also a growing stream of content to drive their inbound traffic and marketing. The constant flow of information that the Newsfeed provides shows that their money is working hard and that Epic Foundation and the organisations it supports are constantly in motion. Lastly, each venture Epic supports comes with an individual profile. This offers data, news, and background information – building credibility they need to build their donor community.

Talk2) Is the internet making us stupider?

Comedian David Schneider led an interesting talk on how the online world is changing the way we think. It was centred around the amount of online “content” that is out there. Consequently, our brains have learned how to read differently (with constant distractions), which has reshaped how we learn. While the Internet gives us access to more information than before, paradoxically, we are becoming dimmer and more superficial as a people.

There is a science behind this too. When you encounter hyperlinked text, your brain asks the question: “To click or not to click.” Because you are constantly being interrupted to make these decisions, you rarely “get lost” in the text and consequently the information infrequently becomes deep knowledge. The WebSummit heard how this redirection of our mental resources, from reading words to making judgments, may be imperceptible at first. But it’s been shown to impede comprehension and retention, particularly when repeated frequently. Not surprisingly, Internet usage is rewiring how we think.

Talk 3) The Filter Bubble vs democracy

I was at WebSummit as Donald Trump (surprisingly?!) won the election, so the question mark about us living and working in a filter bubble was high on the agenda. Have the open channels of the internet become ‘echo chambers’ for certain viewpoints? Does this impact the democratic process? And scientifically, the way we perceive and understand information?

Charles Arthur from from The Guardian opened the session: what is the effect on democracy of the fact that search engines and social media tend to feed back to users ideas that they already agree with? He considered that the problem of the echo chambers caught everybody – possibly also search engines and social media – by surprise particularly around Brexit and the US election. He asked to his panel if in four years time, when the UK will not be a member of the EU and the US will have new presidential elections, the filter bubble will have been addressed and burst?

Ann Mettler, Head of European Political Strategy Centre, said:  “The industrial age was about standardisation, the digital age is about customisation”.

This translates into an objective problem when it comes to today’s information world, where echo centres translate into the perpetual strengthening of biases and beliefs. Before the advent of social media newspapers were the ones responsible of fact checking and of making decisions on what was newsworthy. In today’s online world the absence of “mediators” in social media, and the fact that nowadays success depends on shares, not accuracy or precision, results in a wealth of lies and rumours dressed up as news.

The panel admitted the problem is far from being easily fixed, considering that people do not appear to really care, comfortable as they are right now in the bubble. Both Gary and Ann Mettler added that something would need to go “horribly wrong” in the democratic process for a solution to become felt as urgent globally.

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Of course, WebSummit wasn’t just about the talks. See below for a few interesting start-ups trying to make the world better in their own way:

Josoor

  • A new start-up, hoping to become the first community platform for refugees and supporters
  • www.josoor.eu

Logic@

  • Social Business who empowers Entrepreneurs to become Social Entrepreneurs, by using their knowledge and technologies to help the Governments solve Local and Global Problems, creating their own Crowdfunding Campaign where the Citizens and Investors support your Social Impact
  • A new social network for social entrpreneurs basically!
  • http://wsnetwork.co/

BrowniePoints

  • A social platform that connects non-profits, businesses and individuals to facilitate greater measured impact through incentivised volunteering and donating
  • www.brownie-points.co.za

AftLeuven

  • Introducing students to technology and entrepreneurship and inspire in them a sense of entrepreneurship, a quintessential skill in today’s economy. We provide technical students the opportunity to further develop their technical knowledge and reach out to non-technical students to introduce them to the wonderfull world of technology.”
  • http://www.aftleuven.be/

Aiden

Speak.social

  • Helping refugees and migrants connect with locals through the language barrier
  • www.speak.social

Quorom

  • A new app that changes volunteering – making it more accessible for people & efficient for organisations. Allows people to organise for action
  • http://quorumapp.co/en/

The Happiness Network

  • The Happiness Network is a social enterprise that focuses on creating technologies, brands and campaigns to empower people to maximise their quality of life and happiness.
  • http://happinessnetwork.co.za/about-us/

GiveBox

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The CultureJukebox team left WebSummit full of new ideas and promising new connections. Obrigado!

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On Ideas: Adopting An Apple Tree in Northern Sweden

The CultureJukebox team love to hear about ideas that can make a difference to the world around us. So was great to hear about a brilliant new apple adoption scheme in Sweden.

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Here’s what the press release has to say:

Sweden’s award winning maker of cider, Brännland Cider AB, is offering its Ice Cider on Michelin Star restaurants around the world, just a few years after its founding. The company now wants to give something back to the soil it depends upon and invites everyone to come along for a project, researching sustainable ecological growth of apples for making an even better product, up in the North of Sweden.

Brännland Cider is the living proof that a vision can go a long way, showing that the unimaginable can be done. In the course of 6 years, the company has succesfully launched its award winning Ice Cider, a product perfectly suited for the Nordic climate.

In October 2016 Brännland Cider planted 1000 apple trees at Röbäcksdalen outside Umeå in the North of Sweden. This orchard is the start of a new apple domain and terroir in both Sweden and Europe and will in time spawn great cider. But, it will also be a centre of research, learning and education on apple growing in the North where all results will be shared to promote science and sustainability in the name of ecology and forward thinking.

Brännland Cider is now inviting the public to be a part of the terroir for making great cider but also to help develop more eco friendly Northern orchards. Apart from supporting the shaping of a renewed and enriched Northern landscape, every donor will get its name on one of the trees, be invited to participate in the yearly harvest feast on location and also get a chance to try the fresh cider from the actual trees before anyone else. Discover more on Kickstarter here.

What a cool idea! Check out the website here.

On Media: Donald Trump: Y THO? Blowing Up A Filter Bubble

Profoundly anxious and confused, it’s the news none of us wanted to hear.

But it’s not really *none* of us, is it?

Donald Trump is now the 45th President of the USA. We feel really worried, sh*t-scared, and don’t know what to say. Was this meant to be a joke? Can it really be happening?

Baffled.

Well yes, because just like Brexit in the UK – social media has created an unprecedented echo chamber of opinion and news.

More than ever, we are only seeing, sharing and engaging with views that are similar to our own. This polarisation phenomenon is dividing both politics and people. And it is damaging democracy.

According to Facebook’s own study last year, people have five politically like-minded friends for every one friend on the other side of the political spectrum.

Perhaps last week’s – surprise? – election result just proved it.

Social scientists believe that for us to be healthy and happy its important to encounter a variety of political opinions. But, after logging on throughout, it’s clear that this isn’t happening.

The internet isn’t working, it’s making us dumb. And social media is the worst culprit in this process.

Did you know that the Facebook algorithm itself is designed to give you the content you want? Every day we see less and less “content” that we won’t find “engage” with.

So, ironically enough, if you’re reading this Blasting News article you are likely to broadly agree with what it’s saying.

So, now we’ve fallen down this echo chamber is it possible to climb out?

Of course, it’s not just algorithms that means we’re feeling both confused and scared in 2016.

Individual choice is also leading to this polarising political climate. As more and more of us take our news online, and use social media we are making decisions to not read things we don’t agree with.

It means we do not really debate and we’re losing the ability to consider an opinion that clashes with our own. If you scroll up and down your Facebook feed right about now you’ll probably see plenty of evidence of this.

By cutting ourselves off from dissenting voices, and looking at our phones and chatting with like-minded people instead, we are all – collectively – turning this year into one of the most frightening times anyone can remember.

If we’re all surrounded by people who think the same way as us, it’s easy to forget the rest of the world doesn’t follow the same pattern. There are millions and millions of Donald Trump supporters out there. But online life is shielding too many people from their problems, their anger and this means there’s little understanding.

So, what’s the answer? There’s no simple solution. But I reckon one of the best things would be not “Liking” this piece, but actually taking the time to speak to people (in real life) who are different to you. Understand why people are seriously angry, worried and more confused than ever before. After all, different ideas on the world can be a good thing.

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On Visual Art: The World’s “Pinkest” Pink

The CultureJukebox team are big fans of the super creative Brit artist Stuart Semple, and his latest big idea is a good one..

.. he’s released his own brand of pink paint, ‘PINK’, said to be the world’s pinkest pigment.

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This is what the press release has to say:

PINK is available for £3.99 from www.culturehustle.com – to all but Anish Kapoor.

Artist Anish Kapoor famously acquired exclusive rights to use the world’s blackest black in his art. Developed by NanoSystems, ‘Vantablack’ is composed of a series of microscopic vertical tubes. When light strikes Vantablack, it is continually deflected between the tubes, becoming trapped. The pigment is currently the blackest substance known – so dark that it absorbs 99.96 per cent of light. 

Although originally developed for military and astronomic purposes, NanoSystems subsequently confirmed that Kapoor alone had been authorised to use the pigment for artistic purposes. And as Jonathan Jones began when he wrote on the subject for The Guardian, “Colour is precious”.

“It’s not really very fair! We all remember kids at school who wouldn’t share their colouring pencils, but then they ended up on their own with no friends. It’s cool, Anish can have his black. But the rest of us will be playing with the rainbow!” ~ Stuart Semple

PINK is a highly reflective and rich powdered paint pigment, which repels light to effect a powerful fluorescence. Semple intends to make his paint available to as many painters as possible.

Purchasers of PINK will be required to make a legal declaration during the online checkout process, confirming that: “you are not Anish Kapoor, you are in no way affiliated to Anish Kapoor, you are not purchasing this item on behalf of Anish Kapoor or an associate of Anish Kapoor. To the best of your knowledge, information and belief this paint will not make its way into that hands of Anish Kapoor.”

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Reality? It's just a collective hunch