The huge campus of the Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Educational Community in Detroit holds a local treasure. Within this network of buildings and parks can be found the Cranbrook Art Museum. Having association with the education facility means that the museum gets to utilise some of the most eager minds in the area to bring out the best cultural displays. It's been there since 1930 and is really close to the famous Eight Mile. One of America's earliest forerunners for the provision of contemporary art is perhaps well suited to the exhibit being shown this October.
With technical support from the generous Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the exhibition called Landlord Colors has taken three years to plan. Although centred around the museum, the Landlord Colors exhibit is spread out across Detroit. Along with a tour bus called Materiality, over sixty artists are represented across various local landmarks and iconic spots. Art works and performances will work together to bring about an immersive and memorable experience.
Detroit has had a difficult history since the industry sector decline. What was a bustling city of factories and plants became synonymous with urban entropy. Even films like Robocop made use of the setting to portray semi-distopian madness. It's never as bad as they make it in the movies, is it? Struggle is real, though, and in order to show just how real the artists have banded together to liken it to other struggles on the global stage. There's a Detroit section, where the story of the city is told in creative and elaborate ways, and there are other sections too.
We also get the same treatment with the struggles felt by people in the Italian Avant-Garde scene during the 60s-80s. Here there's a sculpture installation that has two well made busts looking down at the fragments of other ones that are broken. Is this suggesting that the few get to where they are at the expense of others? There's also work to demonstrate the plight of Cuba since the fall of the Soviet Union. The Russians were sending copious financial aid to the small island nation until their political union was dissolved in the 1990s. Extreme socialist policy has led to heavy sanctions which in turn has led to hardship for many.
Cuba is represented by a blanket of rags stitched together with the old clothes of Cuban migrants. Nearly 300 pounds of clothing was used to make the piece, and it approaches 200 square inches. The art form of making rag blankets is a Cuban tradition, and by using the garments of so many people who remain nameless and faceless, their story can be told in this fitting way. Created by Novo, the untitled blanket is said to capture the feel of the Cuban people. Other works show similar stories about the difficulties in 1970s South Korea when it went under authoritarian rule. There's also a section dedicated to the more modern financial difficulties in Greece. With huge debt to the European Bank which is costing large payments and interest, the Greeks have found themselves in a situation comparable to the third world nations under the same yoke.
It will take time to get around Detroit and see everything, there's a great reason to do it though as this time they've outdone even themselves. Art bubbles up from times of hardship like bubbles of air from a pond. Some good and some bad, we have to get up close to find out which is which. Visit the Cranbrook Art Museum online. Via Forbes.
Any relation to Jack? Jamie definitely has the cool effect when it comes to crafting wood to his liking. With an expert talent and a firm hand, Jamie Frost is able to sculpt the remnants of fallen trees. The distinctive and captivating reproductions of humanity that he pulls from the bark and fibrous sinew are truly remarkable. Taking abstract elements and mixing them with superb life-like representation, the art works span the consciousness and speak to us on many levels of understanding. Jamie Frost has previously exhibited works in international galleries alongside pieces by Rembrandt, Andy Warhol, and Nicola Hicks.
Brought up in Yorkshire, and a local to the Sculpture Park which famously attracts thousands of visitors, Jamie Frost has been enriched by the local culture and beyond. This fantastic collection of wooden sculptures is touring the UK. Its first date is an exhibit in Chorley on the 13th of July. Featuring three large pieces and several smaller ones, The Way Of All Flesh depicts aspects of the human experience. With international and local acclaim to back him up, Jamie Frost is well-known for his beautiful drawings and sketches as well as the fabulous and enchanting woodwork.
Visit the Coach House Gallery at Astley Hall from the 13th of July to catch the works.
Via Creative Boom
Quick! Let's panic! Artificial Intelligence is taking our jobs! Or..let's just get along with each other. No, really, its designers intended it to be our friend and that's exactly what it can be. Neural networks are around us all the time. I'm using one every time I let Grammarly make a suggestion or when predictive text knows what I'm going to say next. They're everywhere and unless we're told it's likely we wouldn't even notice. Technology is like wizardry for a lot of us and we simply don't give it a second thought when we use a device or app. The thing is, we cannot ignore what is.
The AI revolution is upon us and sure it will do things that people do, making our lives easier and if you're unlucky maybe replace you at work. It's like having a hard working person in the room who only needs electricity to stay alive. The things AI can do really well are quite varied, provided they involve computing functions. That means it's good at making informed choices, so informed in fact that it's got several human lifetime's worth of learning behind it. It's good at doing repetitive jobs too, although limiting for its ability.
What can't it do? AI can't feel, it doesn't really care. We can train it to simulate care but it is totally fake. When a human feels something, or cares about something, it's a physical sensation in the body combined with a flood of snippets of thinking which bombard our awareness. AI just decides to do the 'best' thing and maybe show the words “there there” on the screen while it's preparing its next function. Humans are great at caring, offering compassion, and seeing to the little things which perhaps make no rational sense but help someone feel safe and secure. Expecting people to have fake caring relationships with technology is cruel, even more so that we know that lonely people do indeed turn to pretend things as friends or more. Just because you see a beggar eating food from the bin doesn't mean we all want food from the bin.
Something of great contention in the world at the moment is the ability of AI to be creative. A neural network can be taught to play music, for example. This is done in the same way any neural network learns. Its fed thousands of pieces of music and it studies the patterns in them. It then uses these patterns to predict something suitable. It's quite simple, it's not really creative or is it? How do we create things? Is our subconscious mind just jig-saw piecing the known world into something we don't recognise or do we just pull things from the cosmic potential? 50-50 perhaps.
Electronic music is growing in popularity, must be The Electro Review eh? Or maybe it's the fact that computers are easier to transport than cellos and one musician can produce a full on stage-show from their mac. Taking a band on tour costs a fortune, with visas and passports making everything complicated. Technology doesn't need any of these, not even a ticket. It's cheaper by far to employ a computer. It's why we really need to address the value of our humanity and see how it is worth so much more than even the most technical of jobs.
Finding out how far we can take musical AI is a job for musicians. Yes, some are afraid they'll be replaced but others are learning how to let AI join the band. When we put AI to use in a team, the team improves. At least that's the theory. With the help of a neural network software called SPAWN, musician Holly Herndon has made an album called PROTO. This PhD pop-star is one of the first artists in the music field to truly utilise this technology for composition. SPAWN has been taught how to play along with the band, and the output has been set in stone with the recording of PROTO. There's even going to be a tour, showcasing this new avenue of sound creation.
Instead of fearing AI and fleeing from it, Holly Herndon has made a considerate effort to find a home for it in the status-quo. Now they're rockin around the.. no we won't go there, or maybe we will? I'd quite like to see a band with an AI member. What instrument would you give them? In this case it's voice synthesisers. The music is written by people and the computer decides how to play its part. For non-musical people it may sound like cheating, but have you ever seen a composer of an orchestra? That's the bit the AI will be doing for itself, inflecting and emoting in ways that people may not consider. It's all based on what it's learned from people, it couldn't have done anything on its own. It needed us, will we ever need it?
Want to learn how to program neural networks but never even tried? Complete beginner to expert course
A wealthy Egyptian aristocrat named Khuwy lived in ancient times around 4300 years ago. His tomb has recently been discovered by a team of archaeologists headed up by Mohamed Mujahid. The necropolis dates from 2495 BC and contains spectacular art and ornaments intended to assist the passing soul into the afterlife. Situated in the ancient province of Saqqara, south of Cairo, the building contains vivid colouring and extremely well preserved images
The tomb is designed in an L shape and contains a descending hallway which leads to a waiting room. Here images of the tomb's occupant are shown along with a contribution table. This is presumably where mourners were able to leave offerings to the highly esteemed deceased. Only unearthed around a month ago, this is the first time the world is able to see the contents of this historical and important discovery.
Unusual for art of the time, the images show the use of a particular green sap which had been used as pigment. Special internment oils were used in the tomb also, which again point to a unique and high status burial. The design of the building is representative of the earlier Great Pyramids, with many likenesses included.
Located at the Minneapolis Institute for Art, a stunning array of collected artworks are on display. Loaned and borrowed from private and public collections from across the USA, the stunning examples of Native American art made by women are for all to see. The 150 individual pieces will be travelling the States to ensure they get maximum exposure. With pieces from ancient times to the modern day, sculpture, painting, photograph, needlepoint, digital, video, and more will be available to encapsulate the feminine character of Native North America.
“Hearts Of Our People, Native Women Artists” covers work from all native heritages from the country. It's been curated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Jill Ahlberg Yohe, PhD, associate curator of Native American Art at Mia, and Teri Greeves, independent curator and member of the Kiowa Nation, were both involved in the coordination of such a large collection. Over 30 sources make up the generous hoard of priceless creativity.
In Native North American culture, women were often an integral part of functioning society. With roles in all tribal matters from the beginning, even today the remaining tribes are still administered by both men and women. As a function of North American law, the legacy nations are thankfully given official recognition. Women have been a vital part of ensuring the future of Native American life can continue to thrive. This exhibition wants to show just how much of a role women play.
The way in which the curation was gathered reflects the soul of Native American society. With a committee of decision makers holding council, the individual pieces were chosen and requested. We can only wonder what items they turned down, and for what reasons. It was important to the advisor's board to represent all voices, and so there must have been some tough and heart-wrenching decisions to make. Along with the travelling exhibition, the team have also published a fantastic book which covers the culture and art for all to see. It's available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.
Via Art Daily
Step Aside Bayeux, Meet The Sudan Banner – The Longest Protest Banner In The World | Alternative Fruit
Since the toppling of the oppressive government regime in Sudan just over three months ago, work has been slow in realigning the nation to its cultural principles. The transitional military government are in continuing talks with citizens and politicians to come to an agreement. As the concrete deals gradually set, life goes on for everyone else. A team of artists from all over Khartoum have banded together for a solitary purpose. They've been working on it since the 15th of April, shortly after the idea was seeded. They're creating the story of Sudan with a theme of giving the people their voice. The story is long and full of interesting events that all stitch together to form the soul of the nation and its people. The 1.9 mile long textile banner is almost ready to be unfurled.
By enabling each artist to create a rectangular artwork of uniform size, the individual units were created in various locations around the city. In between these panels will be written thousands of signatures, each one penned by an individual protestor in this sea of intent and optimism. The last part of the banner, which is in the process of being finished, will contain portraits of the protestors who have been killed. Their signatures will not be on the banner so the honour of their image will be immortalised in cloth.
Meanwhile, confrontations with military, police, and protestors are continuing to result in loss of life. Over 90 people have already lost their lives in this transition of power. The situation has evoked various civil actions including general strikes from workforces around the capital. These further hinder progress and frictionless society, however with very few options available many feel it is their only way to send their message. The artists who have created the Sudan Banner, which will feature in the Guinness Book of Records, believe their project will be more long-lived and perhaps communicate their message in a much more appropriate way.
This Record Was Made In Georgian Prison And It's An Open Letter To The Government | Alternative Fruit
With an aim to highlight the major issues rising from the strict prohibition of recreational drugs in Georgia, an inmate from one of their notorious prisons has made a stunning electronica album. With heavy prison sentences for illegal drug users of any kind and no minimum amount threshold, citizens are being punished with five years or more behind bars for even the smallest misdemeanours. Knowing that it's so easy to crumble to peer pressure and with a strong global party culture that accepts moderate drug use, is it right to be so hard on even those who just wanted to have a bit of fun? We know about the downsides of drug taking, and perhaps sometimes it is right to ban certain substances just like we need a prescription for many powerful medicines. But is it right to happily sell alcohol and gain taxes from it in the mean-time, knowing how harmful and addictive it can be, and with the same hand lock up people who choose a different and sometimes proven to be less harmful drug? The hypocritical nature of the prohibition laws is enough to make anyone wonder.
An inmate in Georgian prison was granted access to a music studio after two years of good behaviour. Locked up for having a tiny amount of MDMA, which is a drug to make you feel blissful at the expense of feeling immortal and a heavy down period after, it's usually enjoyed at parties in groups of sociable and caring people. Michail Todua was nabbed by the cops on his way home from a holiday abroad with the remnants of a night out in his pocket. Sentenced the nine years inside, Michail immediately made it clear he needed music to survive. His wish was granted, eventually, and with the help of Georgian/German electronic musician Irakli Kiziria has produced a stunning EP.
Translating the music into words for a press release was always going to be a unique project. A press release, for those who don't know, is the document handed to journalists that describes a product or event. The journalist then uses this information to build an article. This time though, the music industry has gone one step further. Writing as an open letter to the Government of Georgia itself, this pair of intellectual misfits are making a valid and strong argument. Declaring that prison for minor drug offences to be a waste of young life, the letter explains how although one person has been strong enough to thrive under these authoritarian circumstances, countless more do not.
As it is an open letter, and being a music journalist I was sent a copy of the press release, I will share it with you. I hope you find it as inspiring and encouraging as I did.
Open Letter to the Government of Georgia and Madam President Salome Zurabishvili
Dear Governing Class of Georgia and dear Madam President,
I hope you will allow me to first write my sincere greetings. I will spare you the J’accuse, but I am going to delve into a sinister and shameful situation for our otherwise beautiful country.
My name is Irakli Kiziria, I was born in Georgia and I am a musician living in Germany for almost two decades. I first heard about Michailo two years ago through friends and activists. I listened to his music and met him during an interview with Electronic Beats that happened in 2018. To be able to meet him in prison gave me the chance to exchange with him on different projects. It is not easy to collaborate with someone alienated from “regular” society, with no access to the internet and so on, but it is also very interesting. After almost a year, I am very happy and proud to announce that my label is ready to release our record on June 15th. I believe music is an expression of freedom and that Michailo expresses in his music his longing for it. Maybe if you listen to his music, you will hear the voice of our brothers and sisters in prison. Maybe you will feel and understand that he and many others do not belong there. Maybe you will find the courage to change these laws that hurt so many of our brethren. And maybe you will try to help them see their families and their friends sooner.
My name is Michail Todua, I am turning thirty-four this year and I was raised in Tbilisi. Music was always my passion since childhood, which is why I decided to work in this industry. Thirteen years ago I met a girl named Salome in a club, we fell in love and I married her before she gave birth to our daughter who is now nine years old. Sadly for the past six years, I have only talked to my little girl on the phone. She thinks I live very far away in the USA because we did not want to hurt her at such a young age with the truth. On September 12, 2013, while I was driving back to Tbilisi from holiday, I was randomly stopped and taken into the local police station. After which I was sentenced to nine years for possession of the drug MDMA (for personal use). After two years in jail, I was granted the right to work on music, and the penitentiary administration allowed me to arrange one room and transform it into a music studio. Music is one of the most important things in my life and I could not be without it. I collected various parts of music gear that people sent me. It was not easy, and I had to depend on the kindness of many people to get what I needed. During my time in prison, I have managed to release five records. This is a labor of love that I craft and work on during the 5-hour blocks of time I get five times a week in the studio. I have created music for a play based on 12 Angry Men and for the documentary Facility 16. I also offer music therapy for my fellow inmates.
My name is Salome and I am Michailo’s wife. We are preparing his music studio space that will be ready for him after his release. Of course, Michailo has changed, but I do not know if the reason is due to his arrest or simply time, because many people change and improve without going to prison. I do think that prison showed him a different side to everything. He uses time as productively as possible there and I believe he is using his abilities to the maximum. What he is doing there no one has done before in Georgia. In September it will be six years after his arrest and I think that this a lot of time for such an offense.
My name is Beso. A few days after I had been released from prison, after serving eight years on drugs charges, three police officers took me to the police station demanding cooperation in order to prosecute Lasha.
My name is Lasha and I was arrested in 2013 for the possession of 0.00009 grams of desomorphine found in a syringe. An amount so small, it cannot be seen with the naked eye.
His name was Demur, he was twenty-two years old and in August 2016 he committed suicide. The young man left a note which spelled the abuse he had been subjected to. A policeman had threatened him into revealing the identities of people suspected of dealing marijuana in the town of Samtredia.
We are just a few names in the thousands that have been impacted by the current Georgian legislation. Our drug policy is one of the strictest in the world. Is it right? We are not just numbers, we are lives that are destroyed, children that are left alone, futures that vanish.
Maybe Michailo found solace in prison and became what he was meant to be: a musician, an artist. But what about others who don’t find this welfare, this strength? People with no support that are pressured by a police force who often do not see us as human beings, because the current laws do not encourage them to do so. Please Madam President and our government, think about this youth that is getting stolen away. We have seen and endured these sufferings for too long. We can no longer be prolonging these hardships that are unfair and unjust. What we are asking for is not to decriminalize or legalize the use of drugs, but to correct the political errors which have led to and caused so much pain for the children, women, and men of Georgia.
Georgia has one of the highest incarceration rates with 252.2 inmates per 100 000 inhabitants, in Europe, only Russia has a higher rate. (Source: SPACE 2018 survey)
Georgian law does not establish a threshold for small quantities, which means that possession of even particles automatically qualifies as a large amount, triggering criminal liability and a mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence.
Between 2006 and 2008, the first two years of the “zero tolerance” policy, the number of registered drug offenses tripled. It also coincided with a tripling of Georgia’s prison population.
All tracks Written and Produced by Michail Todua & Irakli Kiziria
Mixing by Arkita Studios Berlin
Mastering ManMade Mastering
Photography by Kurt Von Bley
Distributed by Above Board Distribution
There you have it, if you were writing an open letter to your government, what would it be about? Would you phrase it differently with an alternative rhetoric, or would this style be the one you'd pick? If you were a politician in Georgia, how would you react to this letter?
You can find out more about the album with a review and a library of links on The Electro Review.
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