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The Arts

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Art, Media, and the Environment in the Asia-Pacific Region

Images of environmental disaster and degradation have become part of our everyday media diet. This visual culture focusing on environmental deterioration represents a wider recognition of the political, economic, and cultural forces that are responsible for our ongoing environmental crisis. And yet efforts to raise awareness about environmental issues through digital and visual media are riddled with irony, because the resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and waste associated with digital devices contribute to environmental damage and climate change.

What to Study? What to Research? What to Practice?

Today curators are sometimes more famous than the artists whose work they curate, and curatorship involves more than choosing objects for an exhibition. The expansion of the curatorial field in recent decades has raised questions about exhibition-making itself and the politics of production, display, and distribution. The Curatorial Conundrum looks at the burgeoning field of curatorship and tries to imagine its future.

Ethics and Aesthetics after Remix

Remix—or the practice of recombining preexisting content—has proliferated across media both digital and analog. Fans celebrate it as a revolutionary new creative practice; critics characterize it as a lazy and cheap (and often illegal) recycling of other people’s work. In Of Remixology, David Gunkel argues that to understand remix, we need to change the terms of the debate. The two sides of the remix controversy, Gunkel contends, share certain underlying values—originality, innovation, artistic integrity.

International Contemporaneity and 1960s Art in Japan

1960s Japan was one of the world’s major frontiers of vanguard art. As Japanese artists developed diverse practices parallel to, and sometimes antecedent to, their Western counterparts, they found themselves in a new reality of “international contemporaneity” (kokusaiteki dōjisei). In this book Reiko Tomii examines three key figures in Japanese art of the 1960s who made radical and inventive art in the “wilderness”—away from Tokyo, outside traditional norms, and with little institutional support.

Long before the invention of musical notation, and long before that of the phonograph, the written word was unrivaled as a medium of the human voice. In The Ancient Phonograph, Shane Butler searches for traces of voices before Edison, reconstructing a series of ancient soundscapes from Aristotle to Augustine. Here the real voices of tragic actors, ambitious orators, and singing emperors blend with the imagined voices of lovesick nymphs, tormented heroes, and angry gods.

This book introduces programming to readers with a background in the arts and humanities; there are no prerequisites, and no knowledge of computation is assumed. In it, Nick Montfort reveals programming to be not merely a technical exercise within given constraints but a tool for sketching, brainstorming, and inquiring about important topics. He emphasizes programming’s exploratory potential—its facility to create new kinds of artworks and to probe data for new ideas.

Edited by Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg

Contemporary engagements with documentary are multifaceted and complex, reaching across disciplines to explore the intersections of politics and aesthetics, representation and reality, truth and illusion. Discarding the old notions of “fly on the wall” immediacy or quasi-scientific aspirations to objectivity, critics now understand documentary not as the neutral picturing of reality but as a way of coming to terms with reality through images and narrative.

Siegfried Kracauer’s biography of the composer Jacques Offenbach is a remarkable work of social and cultural history. First published in German in 1937 and in English translation in 1938, the book uses the life and work of Offenbach as a focal point for a broad and penetrating portrayal of Second Empire Paris.

A Research Companion

The wide-ranging texts in this book take as their premise the idea that sound is a subject through which popular culture can be analyzed in an innovative way. From an infant’s gurgles over a baby monitor to the roar of the crowd in a stadium to the sub-bass frequencies produced by sound systems in the disco era, sound—not necessarily aestheticized as music—is inextricably part of the many domains of popular culture.

The Impact of Digitization on Popular Music Sound

Is digital production killing the soul of music? Is Auto-Tune the nadir of creative expression? Digital technology has changed not only how music is produced, distributed, and consumed but also—equally important but not often considered—how music sounds. In this book, Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen and Anne Danielsen examine the impact of digitization on the aesthetics of popular music. They investigate sonically distinctive “digital signatures”—musical moments when the use of digital technology is revealed to the listener.

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