Montrer patte blanche.

http://rmc.bfmtv.com/mediaplayer/video/la-deputee-france-insoumise-qui-hesite-a-dire-vive-le-france-957225.html

“The failure mode of clever is asshole” – il faut que je trouve une traduction à cette pépite de J. Scalzi, bien appropriée à cet échange: le journaliste pense faire une transition maline entre “Nique la France” et “Vive la France” mais comme madame le député ne se laisse pas embarquer, voire se montre surprise, il se retrouve pris de court – ce qui nous vaut d’entrevoir le fond putride de sa pensée: “Mais vous êtes née au Gabon”.Je ne sais pas pourquoi je suis surpris.

Après tout, qu’attendre de plus d’un gars qui pense que “Grandes Gueules” est un bon titre pour une émission? 

Ce qui me gêne plus: la chantilly médiatique de BFM décriant après coup l'”hésitation embarrassante” de Danièle Obono, alors qu’il suffit de regarder le clip pour comprendre où est l’embarras! Moi aussi j’aurais hésité, surpris par tant de bêtise crasse, et un tel barrage. “Ce n’est pas très convainquant!”, pour reprendre les termes d’un autre chroniqueur.

En tout cas, à retenir cette règle: si tu es métèque ou barbare, il va falloir donner des gages de francitude avant de siéger au Palais Bourbon. RMC veille au grain. 

Vive la France!

Un âge sans conscience.

Une erreur profonde de ma génération et ses suivantes est de penser que la montée du Nazisme est limitée aux années directement précédant la guerre. Il y avait au contraire un terreau, que cet article décrit bien. Les luttes académiques pourries par un racisme qui vient forcément de l’air du temps..

Ce qui ne me rassure pas: malgré tout, l’époque était au positivisme, et le science avait bonne presse. Aujourd’hui, en plus de la montée purulente de la merde brune, la science elle même n’a plus d’écho – on préfère penser “alternatif”. J’ai peur.

How German Mathematicians Dealt With the Rise of Nazism – Tablet Magazine

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/224161/hitlers-math

It is a kind of slavery of expectations.

Chris Arnade’s new piece shows the reality behind the “brutal” neighborhoods stereotyped by Trump is more complex, and sadder, than he’d have you believe.

‘Living in hell’? Milwaukee’s black residents defy Trump’s stereotypes | US news | The Guardian

Lytro-graphs

I’m sure some of you have seen the latest announcement by Lytro: they’re coming up with version 2 of their “light field” camera (well, version 10.0 if you believe the PR hacks).
There’s going to be the usual battle, flinging names like “gadget” and “game-changer” around (it gets serious when someone says “paradigm-shift”).
I don’t really have an opinion for now. It looks interesting from a physics perspective. This light-field thing sure is fun, and I kind of like the images they have on their website.
My problem is from an artistic perspective. I don’t see how we’re going to view these images, how we are going to visualize them, to consume them.
In film, the contract between the artist and the spectator is that you devote a period of time to a narrative, and the artist controls the pace.
In photography, the contract is similar, but the spectator controls the pace of viewing. It’s up to the photographer to guide the eye through composition, light etc … but he can only do so indirectly.
All examples I’ve seen of Lytro-graphs (whatever the accepted term is, I like this one) break that contract. Either they are not much more than animated GIFs, where the focus-change or pseudo 3D movement grates against the path of my eye in the picture, or I need to interact to “animate” the picture, which disrupts my relation to the image.
To me, this is the greatest obstacle to these images becoming “game-changers” in the near future: I simply don’t think there’s a market for them.

Of course, that kind of statement can become claim chowder very quickly, and I’d happily be proven wrong. But for now, I really don’t see how.

GPP Kool-aid

The Mamiya C630 is a perfectly acceptable point and shoot. The Mamiya C630 is a perfectly acceptable point and shoot.

So my last tweet got retweeted by @zarias, and he even took the time to tweet a thank you note.
To (mis)quote @bruko, I’m as giddy as a kindergartner at a birthday party, because it’s awesome and it’s never happened to me., and because I’m getting to spend the next week rubbing shoulders with him and a dream team of photographers.

Last year, a fellow student took me aside during a class, and said to me: “we’ve spent all this money, and all we do is follow this guy around. He’s not teaching us anything.” I felt sad for him, but it kept nagging me. Had I and others really drunk some GPP Kool-aid, and been blinded to something more sinister?

Then I realized what the answer should be. My first year at GPP, I went home to Abu Dhabi every night. It was good (Zack, and David N. were my first instructors). But the second time, when I stayed at the hotel every night, and made some friends, it went from good to great. Because what we get that week is more than just “classes”. It’s access to the creative minds of people who are at the top of their game. We’re not getting an MFA at GPP University. We’re spending a week around these people while acting like sponges. Can you imagine what breakfast is with McNally, Heisler, Burnett and Harvey? Yeah, that. Then when you think it can’t get anymore awesomer, Keatley walks up and takes this in front of your eyes, in a dingy Holiday Inn corridor.

There’s a catch, of course. There’s effort on our part, as students. And I’m not talking about the effort of turning up to class and absorbing the material. I’m talking about the effort of being gracious to people who are so open with their time and knowledge, of not treating them like mere vendors [1].

So yes. You can look at it as a simple transaction, and bemoan the value you’re “not getting” from Dave Burnett not telling you which setting he’d use on your camera (maybe he can take the picture as well, right?). Or you can suck it up, spend some time talking to him, and get this awesome portrait from my pal Keith Rogers.

Your call.


  1. chances are, if you’re doing this, your photography doesn’t have much soul, so it doesn’t matter to you. It does to me.  ↩

Another one bites the dust

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It wasn’t as bad as this Rihanna concert, but Muse succumbed to the same syndrome a lot of these A- list players do: “*It’s a captive audience of idiots who live in the desert and have too much money – why would we get out our A game?*”

Well, for starters because we paid a an arm and a leg to come see you, and just because we don’t live in New York doesn’t mean we’re hicks.

And second, because it’s starting to show. Jay-Z is a top notch entertainer. I really can’t stand his music, but he’s an absolute pro at interacting with his public. The result? the largest audience my wife’s ever seen at Du Arena, and she had a blast even though she didn’t know his act. Muse, on the other hand, was the highest exodus of spectators we’ve ever seen at a concert here. despite the -admittedly impressive – pyrotechnics; I could’ve put the radio on a bit loud in my garden, and it would’ve been exactly the same – nice background music to have a chat with friends.

My theory is that, contrary to other venues, Abu Dhabi and Dubai probably offer very attractive packages to artists to perform – as an incentive to come to these untested waters. I’d bet they guarantee revenue even if attendance is low, or something like this. And some performers probably see this as an excuse to give a “relaxing” gig. The Grand Prix probably skews this even more, with the promise of a captive audience.

What I don’t get is how, in an age where album sales are increasingly irrelevant, and notoriety is built on interaction, bands can continue to take this short sighted view of things.

That said, judging from yesterday nights twitter feed, the die hard fans where really happy. But the fact that – arriving late – I managed to walk up with no effort to the middle of the stadium tells a different story: even Abu Dhabi fans are starting to tire of being fooled.

Here’s to hoping tonight’s Dépêche Mode concert is better.

A first post on concerts in Abu Dhabi

Rihanna-Abou-Dhabi-Concert-2013 Rihanna-Abou-Dhabi-Concert-2013

Abu Dhabi rarely plays host to A-list artists at the top of their game. We tend to get big names that are definitely on the downward leg of their careers, or finding a second wind.

In some cases, it works really well. When Prince played the closing Formula 1 concert in 2010, it was one of the best performance I’ve ever seen, period. Madonna didn’t stint either on her show. She was 3 hours late, but she gave her usual polished, professional appearance. Sade is another case inpoint: a clear has-been, she was playing with no pressure, obviously enjoying herself and giving us – pretty unexpectedly – a great time.

But then you have the others. Those who so obviously come for the check it’s painful. Three come to mind in particular: Sting, Shakira, and tonight, Rihana. They don’t even pretend to be their to entertain, and they certainly bring no polish nor professionalism to their performance. It’s their job, and they’re phoning it in. It’s insulting to the audience, and it’s demeaning to them. It assumes that we’re so starved for culture that we’ll buy tickets to anything. It may be true, but it’s no reason to give half baked performances.