Weekend

Required Reading

The week, a protest performance at the National Portrait Gallery, Disney’s weird policy towards classic Fox movies, words about perception, the lack of food in video games, criminalizing the b-word, and more.

Earlier this week, we posted photos and signs from the massive protests in Beirut, and on Friday we posted a new set on our Facebook page. You can see them (with translations) on the Hyperallergic page. (photo courtesy the author for Hyperallergic)

The protest performance piece, titled Crude Truth, was to mark the end of the BP Portrait Award exhibition.

After a monologue by clothed protester Eden, 19, calling on arts organisations to sever ties with companies “funding extinction”, one activist led a brief chant of “NPG, drop BP”.

“Who will there be left to see, who will there be left to paint, if we have no earth and no people?” recited Eden. “We cannot be artists on a dead planet. Oil means the end, but art means the beginning.”

The three activists covered in black liquid lay down for about five minutes on a plastic sheet before standing up again, wiping themselves down with towels, and cleaning up. Gallery workers had appeared to briefly close the doors to the room. However, the action, which was applauded by onlookers, passed uninterrupted.

When Neff’s requests to screen The Fly and The Omen were denied — via the Drexel, which handles the logistics of booking a programmer’s requested titles — he realized the rumors were true, and that he had to stop screening Fox films altogether. It was a devastating blow: Neff’s homegrown repertory festivals have shown many older Fox movies, including Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Zardoz, the original versions of The Day the Earth Stood Still andSuspiria, and Phantom of the Paradise. He asked the theater to double-check with Disney to make sure there hadn’t been some mistake. “Our Fox booking contact offered a very brief apology that she could no longer book repertory titles with the theater,” he says.

Sadly, Neff’s experience is indicative of a recent trend across North America, where it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly what Disney’s new policy regarding back-catalogue films is, beyond generally making it more difficult to show classic 20th Century Fox movies in theaters. The Transit Drive-In inLockport, New York, which has hosted packed screenings of older Fox films like Alien, Aliens, Say Anything, The Princess Bride, and Moulin Rouge, says those films and others can no longer be screened there.

  • Hong Kong cultural workers are running in the 2019 District Council elections. Chloe Chu writes:

Following 20 consecutive weeks of protests in Hong Kong, several artists and cultural workers have announced their participation in Hong Kong’s 2019 District Council elections. Artist and co-founder of nonprofit platform C&G Artpartment Clara Cheung; Wong Tin Yan, a sculptor, columnist, television program host, and founder of alternative art space Form Society; and Susi Law, programmer of Wan Chai’s Foo Tak Building and Art and Culture Outreach organization, are all running in the local elections. Voters are expected to cast their ballots on November 24.

  • Apple deleted an app being used by Hong Protesters, which is worrying. What does this tell us about the future of democracy and the role of tech giants? The Verge’s editor-in-chief Nilay Patel opines:

So Apple taking out this app that protesters in Hong Kong were using to coordinate is obviously a concession to the government. The big problem is that Apple says it was its own decision. It didn’t blame the Chinese government for the pressure.

It said, “We’ve looked at the app, we’ve been told that it’s being used by protesters to target the police [and] commit acts of violence.” None of this is supported. There’s no proof. And they say, “Well, you know, the Hong Kong authorities have told us this is a problem. So we’re just going with it.”

I think that it’s a mistake for Apple to enter that value judgment zone when everyone knows the real truth: The Chinese government is pressuring Apple to remove this app. They could have just passed that buck. But they didn’t. That is the center point of the conflict to me.

Flowers’s memo further states that “it is beyond the scope of the Mayor’s authority to continue to exercise control of the Art Bank or interpose other executive branch officials to supervise or regulate the exercise of CAH’s functions.” The mayor still has authority over the commission through the appointment and removal of its commissioners.

“We got art bank back!” reads an enthusiastic email from Kay Kendall, the chair of the commission’s board, to fellow arts commissioners.

But it appears as if Bowser may not abide by the AG’s opinion. An emailed statement from the mayor’s office says: “We are on solid legal ground. Residents and visitors can enjoy the art on display at government agencies and buildings, and they will continue to be able to do so.”

The vote and the AG’s legal opinion mark the latest victories for Mendelson and the arts commission in the tug-of-war over public arts in DC.

Pareidolia : the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern

Why has food, which is arguably an essential part of our day-to-day lives, been so marginal in so many games? It could be due to ingrained assumptions about their intended audiences: If these products were meant to appeal to men, why waste effort on rendering food when one could focus on more masculine motifs, like monsters and spacecraft? And yet, one of the earliest examples of game developers’ thinking outside of the box and bringing food to the forefront is one of the earliest games: Pac-Man. In an interview with Eurogamer, the game’s developer, Toru Iwatani, admits that his inspiration for the overall design had culinary origins. The fruits that Pac-Man eats up are easy to spot, but the design for the protagonist himself is, notoriously, related to food, too: “I was trying to come up with something to appeal to women and couples. When I imagined what women enjoy, the image of them eating cakes and desserts came to mind, so I used ‘eating’ as a keyword. When I did research with this keyword I came across the image of a pizza with a slice taken out of it and had that eureka moment. So I based the Pac-Man character design on that shape.” In a burgeoning scene where games were mainly about shooting asteroids and aliens, Pac-Man stood apart for having gameplay that only asked the participant to eat.

The bill adds that there will be a penalty of $150 for the first usage of “b***h” in public, and any subsequent use will garner a $200 fine. There is also the possibility that those caught using the word could spend up to six months in prison.

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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