Martine Syms’s Interactive MoMA Installation Explores the Tyranny of Screens

After entering “Projects 106: Martine Syms” at MoMA, you might not know where to begin. Surrounded by walls adorned with collaged photographs, vintage movie posters, and cryptic graffiti sit a trio of outward-facing video screens; three wire benches encircle the triangle of screens at the center of the room. Smartphone-wielding visitors can take advantage of an augmented-reality app that was custom-designed by the artist to interact with the exhibit; those without such devices may find themselves wondering what the “phone zombies” next to them are up to. On the screens are episodic segments of Incense, Sweaters, and Ice, Syms’s feature-length piece about the impact of migration, work, and digital media on people’s sense of identity and community. The movie uses text-screen animations, video vérité, and stylized film footage to weave together issues of race, class, gender, and economics. It also prioritizes interactivity: A scene will appear on one screen only to end abruptly and move to another. The resulting circumambulation — like the random migrations of the room’s phone zombies — is simultaneously bizarre and exciting. Continue reading “Martine Syms’s Interactive MoMA Installation Explores the Tyranny of Screens”

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Turns 50 This Year

On the eve of his PEN American Center celebration, the Nigerian author sits down with the Voice

At Town Hall on February 26, the PEN American Center will host a star-studded tribute to Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. This literary gala, co-sponsored by Anchor Books and Bard College, will gather fellow luminaries like Toni Morrison, Ha Jin, and Colum McCann to honor the 78-year-old polymath, who remains one of African fiction’s most authentic and prophetic voices. Continue reading “Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Turns 50 This Year”

David Byrne Looks Forward . . . and Back

Celebrating the release of Grown Backwards (Nonesuch Records) 2004:

Unexpurgated text of complete interview, partially published in October 2004 by The L magazine in New York City. Also available on Byrne’s website.

Q: As a solo artist you have worked with horn sections and now with string sections to color and embellish your songs. Aside from a more cerebral and cinematic atmosphere, what narrative abilities does a string section give your compositions that a horn section does not? Continue reading “David Byrne Looks Forward . . . and Back”

The Eyes Have It! A Modern Girl’s Guide to Better Vision . . . From Contacts to CRT

When I first discovered them back in the mid-1980s, the eye doctors at 30 East 60th Street in Manhattan were already famous throughout the entertainment world for being able to fit even the most fearful or difficult patient with a comfortable contact lens. This reputation was so well earned that for years happy clients simply referred to them as “The Contact Lens Practice”. Today, Doctors Barry Farkas, Jordan Kassalow, Susan Resnick and Associates, are perhaps best known by their surnames alone, especially now that their expertise has expanded even beyond contacts and into areas like pre-and post-op care for the kind of laser surgery which renders contact lenses obsolete. Continue reading “The Eyes Have It! A Modern Girl’s Guide to Better Vision . . . From Contacts to CRT”

XXX-Woman: An Interview With Comic Book Artist Amanda Conner

Worlds collide at the yearly Comicon in San Diego, California. For over three decades it’s thrived as a universe where the comic and cartoon industry’s biggest stars are profitably orbited by an array of still-striving peers and ambitious newcomers. Corporate moguls like Stan Lee rub elbows with iconoclastic self-publishers. Wannabe writers pursue Marvel or DC editors. And Hollywood suits descend from the planet Money to wave their checkbooks at a true creative underground. Continue reading “XXX-Woman: An Interview With Comic Book Artist Amanda Conner”

Acupuncture, Fibroids, and You

Black women of every age and economic group share similar health problems that may be under-diagnosed and under-treated by orthodox Western medicine. So, to prevent high blood-pressure, asthma, uterine fibroids, breast cancer, and heart disease, more and more of us are supplementing regular visits to our internists and gynecologists with alternative holistic medicine. Alternative medicine often includes acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapies which have proven so effective in some cases that more and more hospitals and insurance companies are supporting them. This month we have asked Dr. Nan Lu, a prominent practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, to describe his approach to some conditions typically affecting black women. Continue reading “Acupuncture, Fibroids, and You”

About Black Folks and Buddha Dharma: An Interview With Bell Hooks

Q: In re reading the chapters in remembered rapture about faith & writing and how you came to your own philosophical synthesis, it occurred to me that you’ve already done the work of syncretizing in your own spiritual practice something that I’ve been beginning to call “black dharma” even though I know the term will be controversial and loaded for some who hear it. Especially when I compare your take on Buddhist Philosophy to that of Jan Willis, Angel Wiliams, Alice Walker, and other black female activist/ intellectuals. Buddhist philosophy seems to be the next step in their evolution as they engage it during their 30s, 40s & 50s. Continue reading “About Black Folks and Buddha Dharma: An Interview With Bell Hooks”

Emerald Sapphire & Gold: Alive, Well and Working in the South Bronx

Being one of the most widely imitated and innovative live bands of the early ’80s isn’t necessarily a bed of roses.

When the production trends of the last decade turned away from real instrumentation and D.I.Y. hipness into TV. track dates and M.I.D.I., live performers like Liquid Liquid, E.S.G., James White & the Blacks, Defunkt and many others were shoved onto the sidelines of a scene they had pioneered. Today their trademark hits are regularly robbed for samples to be used on less imaginative dance and rap productions. Even some complete songs are bootlegged and sold by 12-inch retailers without a dime of those sales going back to the artists who wrote and played the originals. Continue reading “Emerald Sapphire & Gold: Alive, Well and Working in the South Bronx”