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The Arts

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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.

The Little Screens

Lee Friedlander’s The Little Screens first appeared as a 1963 photo-essay in Harper’s Bazaar, with commentary by Walker Evans. Six untitled photographs show television screens broadcasting eerily glowing images of faces and figures into unoccupied rooms in homes and motels across America. As distinctive a portrait of an era as Robert Frank’s The Americans, The Little Screens grew in number and was not brought together in its entirety until a 2001 exhibition at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco.

Edited by David J. Getsy

Historically, “queer” was the slur used against those who were perceived to be or made to feel abnormal. Beginning in the 1980s, “queer” was reappropriated and embraced as a badge of honor. While queer draws its politics and affective force from the history of non-normative, gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities, it is not equivalent to these categories, nor is it an identity. Rather, it offers a strategic undercutting of the stability of identity and of the dispensation of power that shadows the assignment of categories and taxonomies.

Cross-Currents in Art and Technology

The daguerreotype, invented in France, came to America in 1839. By 1851, this early photographic method had been improved by American daguerreotypists to such a degree that it was often referred to as “the American process.” The daguerreotype—now perhaps mostly associated with stiffly posed portraits of serious-visaged nineteenth-century personages—was an extremely detailed photographic image, produced though a complicated process involving a copper plate, light-sensitive chemicals, and mercury fumes.

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