When worlds collide
This 2012 piece from the MIT Technology Review looks at how artists take advantage of (and battle the stigma over) computers and digital tools in creating their work:
People see I use computers, so they say I’m making computer art,” he said. “It’s not about making computer art; it’s just using the new thing. Everybody uses it.” To carry out certain ideas, new technology is essential—or to put it another way, computer technology is making possible projects that only a few years ago would have been utterly unfeasible.
The 'Couture in Orbit' project is another amazing collaboration - the European Space Agency buddying up with three different fashion schools to see how the latest innovations for space-tech can be applied to the fashion industry:
The space and fashion industries often influence each other. ESA innovations were recently used in thermal underwear for the manufacturer Björn Borg. A motorcycle-clothing manufacturer, Dainese, tailormade ESA’s Skinsuit to alleviate astronaut back problems.
We were at the Spaceships Above and Beyond event at the Royal Observatory and were struck by how the space industry is (no pun intended) everywhere. And growing. Beyond the economic benefits, panelist/author James Smythe shared something that really resonated, in that space gives us a return to a sort of positive heroism. Individuals, doing amazing, impossible, epic things, and in an undeniably positive way. In my mind, this somehow connects with a recent talk from Mintel and Getty Images about the return of bling and glamour. The re-ascension of epic heroism and space age optimism, after the grimdark, survivalist austerity years?
Festivals, cons and con-running
Absolutely terrific piece from Rachel Andrews, who surveyed convention guests and collected their stories into useful guidelines for con-runners:
Standout experiences were most often due to small thoughtful gestures and good organisation. Spend time and thought rather than money and it is noticed and appreciated.
There are some very good lessons in there about supporting diversity - both philosophically and practically - and the little things that cons can do that make a big difference.
She links to her collected survey results here, and, very usefully, she also has a collection of resources for both speakers and organisers. The latter includes everything from 'acceptance emails' to harassment policies. Andrews comes from a tech background, but virtually everything is transferrable to the wacky world of literary and media conventions.
Meanwhile, the debate over literary festivals 'paying their way' continues in this exhaustive Guardian feature. Alex Clark's piece is particularly notable for not finger-pointing, and is, instead, a sort of depressing litany of how the practical needs of festivals, publishers, authors and audiences aren't always compatible:
So let us all – organisers, publishers, writers, readers – find a way forward in which nobody feels that they are ill treated. I suspect that may result in a sensible scaling-down of expectations, or a more targeted matching of events to audiences, or in locating a whole different source of revenue
It is well worth a read, although it may depress you. The 'successful' literary festivals sound kind of awful, and the unsuccessful ones sound, well... worse.
Of course, on the SF/F scene, we have our own special issues (as always), as conventions are split between the quasi-egalitarian fan-run tradition (everyone pays, anyone can be on a panel, run by volunteers) and the for-profit barbarians (guests get paid, panels for professionals only, run by paid people who don't give a shit about the material). Your, uh, WorldCon/9W vs MCM/NYCC models. And never the twain shall meet, or something.
"Ghostbusters, Frozen and the Strange Entitlement of Fan Culture" (AV Club) - "the idea that hashtags, even progressive and non-sexist ones, might determine plot points of movies is a little chilling." Yes.
The value of video games [video] (Continue)
What is Goldendark? (Bardic Academy) - I'm a sucker for a new fantasy subgenre definition, and this is particularly well-pondered.
TEENS. WHAT ARE THEY?! OH GOD. WHAT ARE THEY?! (Washington Post)
Have we achieved Peak TV? (Vulture) - harkening back to a point above, have we achieved 'peak peak'? If we're breaking into a post-austerity world, we'll start seeing less of this word as we concentrate on potential, not decline? Papers on my desk by Thursday, please.
The power of yellow covers. (WSJ) - remarkably, doesn't mention the industry's heritage of yellow, with either the old Gollancz covers or the Hodder & Stoughton covers that predated them. Possibly the reliance is based on branding/nostalgia/tradition, not scientific theory? Buried in the lead: Amazon accounts for 45% of all book sales. (Feels low?)
10 ways to hack your grill (Lifehacker) - because.