Here at the BAM blog, we love a polymath, so we’re excited about tonight’s Frank Tashlin double feature. Tashlin worked as an animator in the 30s, was a gag writer before becoming a screenwriter, and then became a major Hollywood director with films that helped usher in another movie genius, Jerry Lewis. Before all that, Tashlin had a comic strip called Van Boring, which has us wondering: Why aren’t there more directors who come from that world? What better analog is there for cinematic language than the gag strip? Just check out these panels from Tashlin’s strip to see what we mean:
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Monday, August 27, 2012
|Christopher Knowles in The $ Value of Man at BAM, 1975. Photo: Domonique Ponzo|
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
From David Bowie to Robert Wilson, Philip Glass has collaborated with a multifarious assortment of artists over the years. If you consider all the historical figures and the artists of past eras who are positioned prominently in his work—as well as Glass’ famously diverse set of friends—then you can appreciate the labyrinth of personalities who have populated Glass’ world over the years. So, in the spirit of the Where’s Waldo illustrations, Nathan Gelgud has drawn a condensed version of Glass’ social universe. Can you spot “Glasso” among his friends and collaborators? (If not, Nathan has generously provided a key for those of us whose eyes are stumped.)
Monday, August 20, 2012
|Title page from autograph manuscript, Einstein on the Beach. Collection of Paul Walter, |
on deposit at the Morgan Library & Museum. Used with permission. Photography: Anthony Troncale
“I still use pencil and paper,” Philip Glass said about composing. “In fact, it’s become a problem. There are no copyists who work with ink anymore. They don’t exist.”
Glass’s problem, our prize.
Currently spread out on a single wall at the Morgan Library is a rather masterfully inked testament to doing things the old fashioned way: the entire handwritten manuscript for Glass’s Einstein on the Beach. A printed score generated by notation software wouldn’t have played as well near Robert Wilson’s murkily sketched storyboards for the opera, installed across the room, nor with the grainy video of the 1976 premiere playing on a loop in the same space. It wouldn't have been any fun at all—no smudges, no mysteries to solve involving ambiguously placed note heads, no record of the hand in the canvas, as they say. What we have instead is both a sublime visual representation of the music as well as a priceless record of a work's squiggly first step out into the light of day. Note for note, it's also a reminder that these things don't spring from the head of Zeus fully formed. They require painstaking labor, and lots of it.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
|Photos by Timothy Hull (left) and Nicholas McDermott (right)|
When we think of sculpture, we often think of static, immutable objects, impervious to time. For many great sculptures, that is the boldness of their statement: the intention is a kind of permanence or immortality. This notion was a point of departure for Timothy Hull and Future Expansion Architects, designers and engineers of The Accelerated Ruin. This sculpture—dynamic and responsive—yields to the passing of time; it is ephemeral and impermanent, like us.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Koma pushes taxidermied bison across stage with his head.
Eiko crawls on belly in front of the bison.
Eiko tries to get up, falls.
Eiko tries to get up again, falls.
Koma continues pushing bison, now with shoulders.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Brooklyn has been so integral to the public persona of Spike Lee that it’s surprising to realize how long it has actually been since he ventured back to the borough of his childhood to shoot a feature film. Born in Atlanta, Lee moved to Cobble Hill when he was young, and his continued devotion to Brooklyn is evident not just in the fact that his production company, 40 Acres and a Mule, is still located a few blocks away from BAM, but also in the major local community events he has organized here, such as the Brooklyn Loves Michael Jackson celebration that draws tens of thousands of fans to Prospect Park every summer. In a recent interview Lee even spoke about commuting daily to his Fort Greene office from his current home on the Upper East Side. (As the press has delighted in noting, though, he has stopped short of switching his allegiance to the New York Knicks over to the Brooklyn Nets.)
Thursday, August 2, 2012
|Trinity and Dillinger|
Rap was invented in Jamaica. A bold statement, perhaps? Not really. The practice of rhyming or talking over records at “sound systems” (outdoor mobile discotheques) began on the small Caribbean island in the 50s. Influenced by American rhythm & blues radio DJs talking jive over records, reggae DJs took it one step further and “toasted” (rapped) over pre-existing instrumental tracks of the hits of the day. The public’s reaction was ecstatic, so subsequently, records of these DJs “riding the riddims” were released. Partly due to the incessant experimentation of the producers, and partly due to the economic necessity of reusing pre-existing music, DJ “versions” were created.
This mix below gives a nice “lickle” primer of the DJ in Jamaica – from foundation DJ King Stitt’s kinetic “Fire Corner” (over Clancy Eccles’ “Shoo Be Doo”) and U-Roy’s major leap in vocal styling, his version of The Paragons’ “Wear You to the Ball,” to the 80s with superstar DJ Yellowman’s “Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt” and DJ duo Clint Eastwood and British-born General Saint’s “Hey Mr. DJ.” Between these are fantastic performances of superstar rasta Big Youth (who, at his height, rivaled Bob Marley in popularity), the erudite cinephile I-Roy with “Buck and the Preacher” about the eponymous Sidney Poitier film, Trinity’s monster “Three Piece Suit,” a desert island disc if there ever was one, and Tappa Zukie’s militant/back to Africa anthem “MPLA” (named after Angola’s ruling political party) with lines such as “So Natty fling away your sorrow/Natty leaving on the Black Star Liner tomorrow” (the Black Star Line was Marcus Garvey’s all African-American owned ship line in the 1910s/20s).
Some non-DJ cuts are included, with their respective DJ versions (Gregory Isaacs’ “My Religion” and Dr. Alimantado’s “Unitone Skank”), but one without, because it’s one of my favorite reggae tunes ever: Linval Thompson’s “Don’t Cut Off Your Dreadlocks.” And finally, Ranking Joe, who will be performing at BAM tonight with Deadly Dragon after Rockers, has a reggae trinity of three tunes, including a dub instrumental that he produced. Take a listen, and you’ll get a sense of the unstoppable creativity of these dreads on the mic. “So right now you can feel my vibration/as you read the design for the young and the old generation/Musical sound that was created from creation as you can hear original soundtrack...”
Do the Reggae, a 14-film series celebrating 50 years of Jamaican independence, runs August 2 to 6. Find the full line-up here.