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Issue 10, 2014

The Internet Issue

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News

  • Clubbing with Judith Collins

  • Hubba Hubba

  • LET ME GO HOME

  • Features

  • The Future of Internet Anonymity

    The internet is an amazing thing, relatively new in human history. You will come across various topics ranging from politics to finding out how you are a fag OP.

    by

  • eleanorcatton

    An Interview with Dr Eleanor Catton

    Salient editor Cam and feature writer Alexandra sat down for a chat with Eleanor Catton, the youngest-ever winner of fiction’s prestigious Man Booker Prize. She was in town to receive an honorary doctorate from Victoria, the university she credits with her success.

    by

  • HOT CONCEPTUAL ARTWORKS IN YOUR AREA

    judy // 15 // artist-in-training // cats // storms // sometimes I’m a lil bit ~random~ // soft grunge // stamp on u w my velvet docs // we’re the kids your parents warned you about // bffl <3

    by

  • kdotcom inter

    Kim Dotcodotnz

    Salient editors Cam and Duncan chatted to Kim Dotcom about politics, Megaupload and his future business plans.

    by

  • understandingversharing

    Understanding Oversharing

    Despite popular opinion, according to Instagram’s privacy policy and your public profile setting, use of your Instagram posts does not amount in any way to a breach of your privacy.

    by

  • philipookitupongoogle

    Look (It) Up (on Google): In Defence of the Internet

    Just 20 years ago there were no forums, no circulation of information, personals in the paper were unvetted and risky; that our cultural landscape has changed so swiftly for the better is a testament to how fucking great the internet is, surely?

    by

  • The Future of Internet Anonymity

    The internet is an amazing thing, relatively new in human history. You will come across various topics ranging from politics to finding out how you are a fag OP.

    by

  • eleanorcatton

    An Interview with Dr Eleanor Catton

    Salient editor Cam and feature writer Alexandra sat down for a chat with Eleanor Catton, the youngest-ever winner of fiction’s prestigious Man Booker Prize. She was in town to receive an honorary doctorate from Victoria, the university she credits with her success.

    by

  • HOT CONCEPTUAL ARTWORKS IN YOUR AREA

    judy // 15 // artist-in-training // cats // storms // sometimes I’m a lil bit ~random~ // soft grunge // stamp on u w my velvet docs // we’re the kids your parents warned you about // bffl <3

    by

  • kdotcom inter

    Kim Dotcodotnz

    Salient editors Cam and Duncan chatted to Kim Dotcom about politics, Megaupload and his future business plans.

    by

  • understandingversharing

    Understanding Oversharing

    Despite popular opinion, according to Instagram’s privacy policy and your public profile setting, use of your Instagram posts does not amount in any way to a breach of your privacy.

    by

  • philipookitupongoogle

    Look (It) Up (on Google): In Defence of the Internet

    Just 20 years ago there were no forums, no circulation of information, personals in the paper were unvetted and risky; that our cultural landscape has changed so swiftly for the better is a testament to how fucking great the internet is, surely?

    by

  • Arts and Science

  • The City

    excerpt from The City

    Sometimes, I like to go out swimming. There’s no harm in it. It’s the feeling, you understand, of looking out that appeals; that there is nothing past these waves but Antarctica. The wind scatting up a surface blank as a cow’s eye. The edge of the world. Hands and feet reduced to white blurs in motion. I don’t know. A long way from nowhere in particular. Distant, but from what. You’ll understand. All to watch me perhaps an occasional sealion.

    The stink of it across the sand. Insects tasting at the delicate skin about its eyes. A spot of blood. You would think that they were clean, they are in the water so much.

    There’s not so much else to do, after all that. Mark time. Write up my diary. Wait for something to happen, the wind to turn. The sheep on the hills live out their lives without much intervention by me. Except when it’s lambing. Once a year, the shearing gang comes, and I make scones and take them up to their quarters, because that’s what my mother did. There are certain proprieties. Sometimes I have to shoot a possum that’s got into the fruit trees. I recall the feeling of power in the roar of a gun. I wring the necks of chickens. I perform the necessary acts of life, and people do not find it in themselves to ask much of me.

    It’s not as if I’m the only woman alone on a farm now, after all, drawing out a life at a kitchen table. Or women with legless men, men coughing up their guts at night and half-wild children going into the gorse with their father’s binoculars to play at the next war. It’s no concern of mine. I deserve no pity. I demand no pity. I’ve no sons to give to a war, anyway. I’ll wait out what remains of a life until some neighbour finds me dead on the kitchen floor with a black fly crawling my face, and they bury me with a view of the sea and a headstone that says beloved wife of. I’ve never even had the hope of a son.

    There’s a great peace on the land, and sometimes when I go out into the grey water, I tilt my head up and feel that everything is so well with the world I hardly have to move at all.

    It wasn’t my fault, that’s why. Strange things go wild here, always have, always will. Neat hedgerows of gorse go rich and strange along the contours of the hills. I see stoats on the lawn in the morning, dancing an appropinquation to strange gods across the frost, and they crack eggs for sacrifices, squeezing sinuous bodies through the chicken wire. And people – people are dying all around the tumbling globe. What’s one more or fewer? Who’s to count if there is one more or one less clod of earth? The chickens try to slip away, and make their own little nests in the leaf-mould. I find the eggs, or the stoats, do, and they cluck their way over making their deep broody noises, find it empty, and forget. A hen has life, a hen forgets it. In a few days they don’t sound like a duck any more, they are back to the art of being themselves and scratching up the damp earth in just the right way and running to me for a feed.

    Look, they have it right here. They’re fine people, the best in the world, but they don’t like strangers. Let them see a stranger walking by, and they’ll stop talking and roll their eyes like dogs to watch as he passes, take him by instinct for an unamiable liar and an unreliable friend. You have to understand the way it feels, watching the value of the land sink out from under you and knowing that you’re here for life or until the bank gets tired of waiting for its money. Your neighbours, they understand, but some cockatiel stranger?

    “God save us from new chums,” my husband used to say. “God save us.”

    So we are decent to one another, and we do not expect much of strangers. Good people, I say it again, good people, but. Broad-shouldered men, and women calling in on one another for cups of tea. Scrubbing the table on Friday, laundry on Saturday, and wringing out their souls on a Sunday, or on those Sundays the priest comes. Rearranging the plates if they see him coming up the driveway. Good to one another, and not expecting much of strangers.

    I first saw him coming up the road in a black coat on a blazing day. I did not – I did not – go seeking him out, which is what they say now, plotting their absurd social demarcations over the teacups, spreading baseless rumours of false intimacies. He came to me; or, rather, he came to us.

    I was, as I often found myself in those days, in my garden. I had, I remember, just seen a bud growing up between and beneath the mat of wandering jew I hadn’t the time to be rid of. I thought, though, that I had been rid of the poppies. They were marvellous, bright blazes of colour, but it was just a feeling that I had. One could hardly grow poppies anymore, or at least not for a small delight in ornament. Save for coat lapels in the early morning on the darkened streets, the people flowing down like a river to stand in silence by the graves and wait for the inevitable sun. I was down on my knees to drag it out, noticing the rim of filth under my fingernails as I reached, and I looked up to see him coming, walking down the centre of the road with small careful steps. I was reminded, oddly, of a cat trying to avoid puddles. At any rate, I felt sympathy. Pity? I don’t know, but I resolved to let him down gently when, he asked – in the shy sideways way of talking such men have – if there was any work going. Maybe I was even intending to offer him a meal before I set him on his winding way; certainly a glass of water. How should I be expected to know; it is hard to remember exactly and with a pure clarity my intentions. They were bad years, I suppose, to set men on the roads again, and to make monsters of women who begrudged them a plateful of scrapings.

    But I stood up to watch him coming, shading my eyes from the sun. As he walked by, he nodded his head to me, politely – one could not fault the politeness with which he disregarded me – and kept on. Perhaps there was no reason not to: still two houses past ours before the road ran out, where the sawmill used to be.

    I shouldn’t have been surprised, and I wouldn’t have been surprised, had I not already constructed a sort of internal story of my own generosity, and expected the world to conform naturally to my imaginings.

    He was back that night, sooner than I expected, and when he spoke I noticed how white his teeth were. He was wearing a tatty bush shirt, and he didn’t seem to have a coat, I remember, but his clothes were scrupulously clean: there was no hint of dust or dirt. It was this, I think, that decided me. I looked him over once more, head to toe.

    “So, how do you come to be here, Mr ––?” I asked, in a sort of half-parody of sincerity. “I’m travelling in the margins of the country”, he said, “having a looksee at whatever there is to be seen.” I said, perhaps a bit more bluntly than I intended, “So you’re not looking for work?”

    “Well”, he said, and paused. “I am looking for a place to say.” He smiled, again, perhaps in acknowledgement of his slip, perhaps in gentle toleration of my blunt clumsiness, my failure to play the game. “Stay, I mean.” His gesturing hands (long-fingered, pale, elegant) seemed to wave away my hovering and unspoken jellyfish doubts. He looked at me looking at him, and said “Of course, if you wanted, I could give you a hand about the place. Are you alone out here?” “No,” I said, “I am never alone.” I could see him gauging the risk, until he decided to take the chance. “Well, in any case, I could, I suppose, pay, if that’s what you’d prefer,” he said. “I wouldn’t dream of it,” I said. “Come in and be welcome.” He smiled.

    I was certain he hadn’t a cent to his name. “Our name,” I said, with an obscure need to bring my husband into it, “is Sinclair.” He didn’t take his cue; as I remember it, he was looking at the mud on his boots.  Considering my husband’s condition, I thought, knowing that I was rationalising in a way I hadn’t for the benefit of other men, there were of course plenty of useful jobs for him about the place. And such a nice man. It would do my husband good to have someone like him about, rather than forcing those unpleasant encounters with his friends who would come and stand awkwardly in his darkened bedroom, or by his old armchair, shuffling their feet uneasily across the uncarpeted floors with the air of schoolboys called to the front of the class, with nothing to say. They would stand about uneasily for the length of time they took to be decent, and no longer, and then – when they turned to go – would leave in a rush, as if wounds and unhappiness were contagious, hardly speaking to me however much I might have longed for a conversation when they crossed the kitchen. Not of course, that they had much to say. Philistines all.

    If I wasn’t there, they would pour whisky down his throat and tell incomprehensible stories about the war, and that night I would have to deal with a dreamer whose dreams were made more vivid than the living, a restless shuffling and turning, a sweat that smelt of faded and unmistakeable alcohol and fear. It’s no good to watch someone else’s memories and stories playing out an eyelid away, it is no way to live, to wipe the brow and pretend no morning memories.

    “Dear,” I called through his door, “the new man is here.”

    “The new man?” “The one to help you with the heavy work.” “What new man?” “I told you. He’s here to help you, you know?” “And who decided that I needed the helping?” “Dear,” I said, “don’t be like this. I do hear you at night, you know.”

    There was a touch on my shoulder, and the inevitable smile. “If I may?” Then he was past me, and through to my husband’s room. The bedroom. I ought to have protested the intrusion. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Then he paused, and I imagined a look of grace and commiseration. “The war?” “The war.” “Ach, it’s a terrible thing.” “You saw it, then?” “In another country’s army, I saw it.” “And came out in one piece.” (Said with implications.) “More or less. A few scars, an added few ounces of metal.” “Ah so,” my husband said, “a lucky man then.” “We were all the lucky, or the dead.” “But some of us were luckier than others. And – forgive me – I think you know Ireland.” “You hear it in my voice? I am surprised. We didn’t – Yes.”

    I guessed that this was a dangerous set of questions to embark on asking, and moved to intervene. “You should hear some of my husband’s stories. About the war, I mean. Such stories.” Though he hated to talk about the war.

    “You can’t,” said my husband, “trust a word that she says. No stories worth the telling.” Or maybe he meant no story’s worth the telling, I’m not sure. “My parents were Irish, you know. I’ve never seen the country myself. I do not think that you could call it a lucky country.” “Ay,” said the stranger, “well, there are few valleys as green as this. It is a country worth the seeing. A pity…” he trailed off, waving one hand in a small hopeless gesture that reminded me of the flop of a dying fish. I always thought how they must have thought that with one more smooth push of muscle, the water could be flowing over them again. “Small countries far away,” he said, as if this was supposed to mean something.

    “As I understand it,” said my husband drily, “pity is not a quality much in evidence there, just at this moment. But as you say, it’s a small country far away, and it’s a cold night. Did my wife” – a slight emphasis on that word, no more pronounced than the exaggeration of the stranger’s intonations when he thought my husband might be calling him Irish, a warning – “offer you anything?”

    My husband rarely said so much. I understood that the stranger had passed a test, but I was still unsure of the moment it had happened, and I felt that rather a lot had been said, not that I didn’t understand, but that was outside the limited bounds of my experience. It was that feeling of being a child with my mother and her sisters gossiping away while they did something in the comfortable warmth of the kitchen, the men in the other room with a bottle of something and drifting lines of blue smoke from their cigarettes, me sitting there disregarded shelling peas or peeling potatoes and their voices over my head:

    “But of course, she would say that.”

    “She never.”

    “She did.”

    by

  • Breakfast/Still Breathing

    Breakfast
    He had his eftpos card out before entered the café. He liked to be prepared when making a purchase. “Flat white, please.”

    “Small?” Her skin was very white and her lips were very red. Her fringe — very black — sat level with her eyebrows. The effect was that of a flag.

    He nodded. The grinder rattled, crunched and whizzed the beans. The milk steamer howled. Then, quiet.

    She said, “Time for a shave.”

    He brought his hand to his beard and looked down, as if he might be able to see his chin. He shaved once a week, on Saturday mornings, when he got itchy. One razor blade would last three months. A can of foam would last a year. On Friday nights, if he got the angle just so and pulled his skin tight and gritted his teeth, he could pluck out one of the longer whiskers using the nails of his thumb and index finger. It would usually bleed a little.

    He looked up. She was watching him. Her eyes were all colours at the same time. He slid his fingers up to his sideburn, and then to his ear, where little stiff hairs had begun to sprout out of his auditory canal. He exhaled through his nose and made a sound like a laugh. She placed the coffee on the counter. A puff of milk froth periscoped up through the drinking slot. She balanced two pieces of biscotti on the lid, arranging them artfully, carefully avoiding the froth.

    He stared at the biscotti. Two pieces? If he used them wisely, that would be all the breakfast he’d need.

     

    Still breathing
    Doctor Something, handshake full of tepid meat and ointment, says, How can I help? I tell him, while looking at the snap-lock spinal cord leaning against his desk, I need a new prescription. I watch the carpet, frayed at my feet through to hessian fibres; he watches his computer. Lorazepam? he asks. He makes slow circles with the mouse, says, I will give you ten. I think I am supposed to say thank you. I slip my hand, up to the wrist, through the hole in my jeans. He says, You know, instead of these, you could just have a few beers. I say, This prescription is three dollars, but a dozen beer is twenty bucks. He says, You’ve done the maths? and I say, You haven’t? His tongue pokes out between his lips, pink and wet, as he types. One keystroke per second. I use my breathing to measure time.

    by

  • Drowing City by Ben Atkins [Review]

    4 stars

    Ben Atkins wrote Drowning City when he was 17. It’s the sort of novel I wish I’d written at 17: a story about Max Fontana searching for his friend Luca in the bootlegging underworld of the 1920s. While it may seem like the average hard-boiled crime novel that continues to be popular, it isn’t. Max Fontana is a criminal himself, and the book rarely dips into the tropes found in crime novels, though Atkins was clearly inspired by them. His clichés (a black pianist named Sam, for example) are forgivable if not forgettable.

    Atkin’s writing is fast-paced and conversational. The dialogue is sharp, witty and (if the rumours are true) will suit being made into a film script. The story does occasionally sink into deep metaphors that sometimes seem unnecessary, but at less than 300 pages it’s still not too deep and dragging for young-adult fiction. The city becomes a character in itself with the lively descriptions associated with it. Fontana is a criminal with a conscience. He won’t carry a gun and he questions more than the novel seems to answer. Drowning City is occasionally more dark than necessary but this is a fault of the bleakness of the era, and not Atkins’ writing.

    It’s apparent that Atkins has done his research, and you can barely tell this wasn’t written by an American writer. Drowning City is a brilliant first novel from a highly talented young author. I look forward to reading (or seeing!) his future endeavours.

     

    by

  • Lily Allen – Sheezus [Review]

    Lily Allen – Sheezus
    Zero stars.

    Lily Allen meant a lot to me in my teen years. I loved her so much that I once serenaded an ex-boyfriend with ‘Not Fair’ on a table at a crowded party. Feminism may not be all about hating men, but Allen damn well did it anyway. Post-party/partum Allen prefers to police other women while making cringeworthy innuendo about her conjugal sacraments.

    The title track ‘Sheezus’ documents Allen’s tragic attempt to be relevant, with an entire chorus comprised of name-dropping other female pop stars. The Queen Bey comparison might bear out better if Allen had redeemed her endless domestic-bliss ballads with an artfully timed rising of the partition. Unfortunately, the painfully autotuned ‘L8 CMMR’ is the first of many odes to monogamy, and blows in a way that would seriously displease H.O.V.A. Allen croons: “when I see his face / I feel like I could win the race,” requiring serious suspension of disbelief for anyone who has seen Allen’s husband (think Paul McCartney/mole-rat). In ‘As Long As I Got You’, Allen whines that “staying home with you is better than sticking things up my nose.” That’s all very well, but did anybody ever write a good album by not snorting cocaine? Maybe, but not Lily Allen.

    Then we reach the awful mess that is ‘Hard Out Here’. “If I told you about my sex life/you’d call me a slut,” Allen bemoans, after 40 minutes of endorsing vanilla monogamy. “Grow a pair of tits,” she snaps, with ‘You tell ‘em, gurrrl!’ panache. It is hard out here for a bitch, no thanks to Allen’s essentialist conception of womanhood (“We all get periods”? No, honey.) This sad attempt at a feminist anthem is the same old ‘girl power’ tripe masquerading as something radical.

    Judging by the frankly shameless promotion of Sheezus on YouTube and Spotify ads, Allen (or her producers) really want a shot at becoming the pop mum-cum-messiah, no matter how little anybody cares. At time of download, The Pirate Bay’s most-shared version of Sheezus had a miserable 462 seeds. Iggy Azalea’s ironically titled debut The New Classic had 1771, making her about four times closer to being the lady link of the holy trinity. Either album is likely to make you rethink your stance on crucifixion.

     

    by

  • YR BOI BANGS [Gig Review]

    3.5 stars

    Bangs is shit. His rapping is as ferocious as a Bichon Frisé, his rhymes as deep as a puddle of vomit. His millions of YouTube hits are evidence only of hipsterdom’s thirst for irony. At least, that’s what I assumed as I waited for his concert to begin, not quite sure why 130 of us had packed into Puppies at $20 a pop.

    The opener was ABRZY Rahman, apparently booked because he knew the promoter from high school. This was his first gig. Expectations were low. But he was actually kinda good. Rough, definitely – his rhymes sometimes slipping off their beat or going quiet completely when his mic left his lips. But his tracks were well-composed and he had the energy to pull them off. I muttered to a mate that ABRZY might be showing up the main act, not joking as much as I’d have liked.

    But the crowd hadn’t come for ABRZY, and at the end of his set he had us chanting for Bangs. Who, soon enough, was pushing through the crowd, mounting the stage. The chanting quelled. The music began.

    And, quite quickly, the gig felt very normal. There was the squeeze of bopping bodies, the shuffling for a better view – even the obligatory whiff of a sneaky J. People knew the words. The lyrics were still naff but, shouting them out with a hundred other fans, that didn’t really matter. It wasn’t just the lack of the cheesy music video or the sound engineer who actually knew what he was doing. If the good time was ironic I didn’t notice. People were here for Bangs, and Bangs knew how to deliver.

    Bangs is not the most technically proficient rapper I’ve seen, nor the one with the best-produced tracks. But when he closed the concert with ‘Take U to Da Movies’ his fans went wild. When it comes to doing what he does, Bangs may be the best in the world.

    by

  • Impersonal Effects of Simon Denny

    In January 2012, New Zealand Police raided a mansion half an hour outside of Auckland. The owner, Kim Dotcom, was accused of costing the entertainment industry $500 million through the hosting and distribution of pirated content. Among the items seized were 22 cars, 60 computer servers, $170 million in cash, and a life-sized Predator figure. You may remember this. You may also remember the bizarre feeling that followed. As if overnight, our proximity to a global discourse around privacy and the exchange of cultural property shifted. If it was a watershed moment, though, it succeeded only in ushering in Dotcom’s presence as simultaneous defender of personal freedom and megalomaniac.

    Two years later, and the conversation we were supposed to have about privacy and the international exchange of data never really happened. Stifled, perhaps, by Dotcom’s persisting novelty. Currently, the objects seized, or copies of them at least, are on display at firstsite in Colchester as part of Simon Denny’s The Personal Effects of Kim Dotcom.

    Denny’s concern here is ownership and translation. What we lack, it seems, is an adequate vernacular, both legally and socially, to talk about existing in a digital context. Denny is considered a pioneer of Post-Internet art – art produced in a context in which the internet is normalised. With The Personal Effects, Denny seeks a reconciliation between the immaterial Dotcom as the familiar cultural oddity and the material Dotcom offered by this catalogue of objects.

    In October, Denny will be given the entire space of Adam Art Gallery to stage the largest iteration of the show to date. I recently spoke with gallery director Christina Barton about Denny’s philosophy, practice, and position within a globalised art world.

    One of the big challenges for us is that we’ve got to help him source and materialise these items that were taken from the house. He’s very specific about being accurate, but at the same time he’s interested in the processes of translation that take place.

    Denny reconstructed the objects from a publicly available list. As a sculptor, Denny is less interested in the value of the original object in relation to the copy. The concern here is what happens when that distinction is collapsed. Instead of shipping the items from Europe, the gallery is sourcing new versions of the objects: “This is a response to the logistics of actually borrowing objects from the other side of the world,” Barton says, “and I suppose that is also a feature of how he operates.”

    These objects, it must be said, are not attractive. Which may be precisely why Denny is so taken by them. Another translation takes place here. Upon entering the gallery, they are “put through the filter of art,” as Barton puts it; the tasteless object becomes tasteful by virtue of its context:

    I think Simon’s been a master of this right from the start. If you look at some of his installations, they don’t employ precious materials, they’re not finely crafted: we see tawdry packaging of a high-end digital flat screen and he asks us to appreciate it as a sculptural object.

    These objects, then, not only contribute to an understanding of Dotcom as a collector of luxury items; they engage in a conversation about the artistic economy. The conspicuous consumption of tasteless objects is not, for Dotcom, a symptom of his lack of taste, but rather a facet of an expertly navigated brand.

    Dotcom is a master of publicity. He’s very strategically allowed people into his domain… It’s not just that he owns all of this stuff, it’s somehow that it’s there to be seen. I’m sure that Denny is very curious about who the man is and how his possessions reveal something of him.

    Art sustains itself through this kind of consumption. Last month, Pace opened a pop-up gallery in Silicon Valley, with the objective of reaching an untapped market of potential art collectors. “This is the wealthiest community in America,” Pace’s president Marc Glimcher told Re/code. “And they’re smart and creative. And they don’t yet collect art. They’re the only community in the world like that.” In a way, Dotcom is among them, as someone whose wealth has been amassed so rapidly by means that would have been inconceivable not long ago, and in a way, this is the root of the exhibition’s strangeness. Temporally, the exhibition exists in the liminal space between Dotcom’s ascendancy to power and his adoption by the arbiters of taste, between the cessation of the cult of the original object and the way of reconciling economic and legal interests, between the proliferation of new data and a means of comprehending it.

    Simon Denny: The Personal Effects of Kim Dotcom opens at Adam Art Gallery on 1 October.

    by

  • One Man’s Trash or A Hidden Treasure

    Look, I was going to do something pretty academic this week on this show, dabbling in consumer culture; wider culture; the mystery narrative; value. Basically, I was going to have another go at a Media 208 essay I tried to write a couple of years ago. But instead, I think I’m just going to do that more peripherally and you can take what you like from the inevitable rambling to come.

    Now, this is the kind of show you’ve seen as a kid and sort of forgotten all about. Because let’s face it: there are way better things to be doing as a child than learning about historical events and cultural movements and trends through the medium of old men in blazers on TV, musing excitably in rather proper English English as they examine artefacts which look nothing like toys or video games or sports or interpretive dance or whatever you were doing from 1979 onwards (this show has been running since 1979. That means we’re in our 36th season. Which is counterintuitive arithmetic; don’t even get me started).

    Point is, it’s the kind of thing you pick back up when you return home for the uni holidays for a week or so. Your parents are out during the day, you’re pretty bored. You’ve decided that since there’s a full fridge, you might as well sloth up and make the most of it. At some point the family has attained Sky, but only the shitty channels, like Living, and so you stumble across this show. But what you discover is a beautiful televisual union that Nicholas Sparks couldn’t have written better himself… I should stop making fun of this show actually.

    This show is supreme.

    Full of rich cultural anecdotes and historical fact. These antiques dealers are machines; they know things.

    People come in with heirlooms, bought goods, sometimes found goods. The stories behind these objects are discussed by dealer and valuer alike. Somewhere along the line, we learn how to discern authentic from faked goods – not so much a valuable life skill in and of itself, but you will have sparkling conversation for parties.

    I’ve been thinking about why this show is so successful. The British version has three separate spin-offs and the American version (airing 1997) has one or two. Several other countries have also adapted the programme. Perhaps there’s something very satisfactory and comforting in the way we’re presented with ordinary-looking people with occasionally exciting tales. Perhaps from my point of view in New Zealand, there’s something interesting about a family which has held an heirloom for hundreds of years.

    The show I just watched included a man with a 400-year-old crossbow made in Germany, made apparent in the wood used and also the stylistic traits of the decoration. The thing was worth a thousand quid or something because it was missing the firing mechanism which actually sounds pretty sophisticated, operating as a sort of dual slide system; this would confer more control and accuracy to the firer.

    Perhaps what I’m really describing is Wikipedia on television: later in the episode there was a Samoan club; later in the episode there was a 17th-century clock valued at £15,000.

    So, much learning. Along with this learning, we’re also kept entertained by the possibilities of the value of objects, learning to appraise items ourselves. This makes for an interactive viewing experience. And while not operating to the extent a soap opera would in terms of viewer engrossment and immersement (including after the show), the fun of being a pretend expert is evidenced in the longevity of the programme. Certainly it’s more fun than watching Deal or No Deal, which my grandparents seem to be always watching.

    And I think the key difference there is that many of the protagonists on Roadshow are not looking to sell, they’re looking to learn more about their item. There is far less of the grossness of vapid consumerism when watching a small outdoor English antiques fair, as opposed to the obscenely lit and coloured, indoor-set, glamourised Deal or No Deal. Basically, a show like that needs to dress itself up; Antiques Roadshow lets its stories talk.

    I think that given the current trends in television right now, it’s a very comforting thought that Antiques Roadshow has been around for so long. It seems just as many people hate reality television as love it, though to me this show sits somewhere outside the paradigm of what we currently think of as reality TV. There’s no pretence to this. And though it’s clearly edited and probably scripted in parts, none of this is aimed at deceiving the audience into buying into a narrative – instead, the show sustains itself on the strength of those stories they choose to show us. In this way it really is different from other programming.

    To end, I have more to say on this, but I’ve run out of words.

     

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  • Black-and-White Films

    If I stood in the Hub and asked passers-by what words they associated with black-and-white films, ‘boring’, ‘old’ and ‘pretentious’ would probably come up. I didn’t stand in the Hub and ask, due to a lack of journalistic courage and approachability, but let’s just say I did. Why, imaginarily surveyed Vic students, do you feel this way? Who turned you against black-and-white?

    Was it the Film lecturer, Media Studies teacher, or well -meaning grandmother, who made you sit through some impossibly dull film from the 1930s and spent half the time pausing it to tell you about their favourite bits? If so, I sympathise, I do, but I want to implore you to move on from the cinematic trauma and give black-and-white films a second chance.

    Film-making, in recent decades, seems to be following a path of ever-increasing technical wizardry. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (although it did fuck up The Hobbit), but it seems harder to find big films that care about cinematography or acting and don’t involve at least one robot death-battle. If you want to sit back, crack open a brew, and watch a film that doesn’t leave you in a state of sensory overload, then B&W has got you covered. When the majority of B&W films were being made, the digital fireworks we are used to today didn’t exist to save audiences from bad acting or a lacklustre tone. The whole thing was at risk of falling flat. So when you watch a bad black-and-white film at least you know it’s bad, as opposed to a bad blockbuster where you’re too distracted by a digitally enhanced Scarlett Johansson and 3D explosions to tell.

    Or what if you hate old things on principle? No problem: the last few years have seen more B&W films released than any other comparable time frame in recent history, according to Variety. Modern filmmakers have seized upon the format as an alternative to the special-effects onslaught, using it to make modern films with small budgets, ingenuity, and a refreshing absence of superheroes.

    If my lengthy waffle has not convinced you, then see for yourself. Below are a few black-and-white films, old and new, to stream, rent, buy or steal. Beyond that, the monochrome world is your oyster.

    Bande á part (1964) Dir. Jean-Luc Godard
    Described by its director as “Alice in Wonderland meets Franz Kafka”, Bande á part has it all – well-dressed French people, an unbearably cool dance scene, and more snappy dialogue than a Quentin Tarantino movie. In fact, Tarantino named his production company after the film.

    La Dolce Vita (1960) Dir. Federico Fellini
    Fellini’s dazzling masterpiece about celebrity culture follows Marcello Rubini, a gossip journalist, as he trails around Rome after starlets. Yes, it is three hours long, but three hours with Fellini is time well spent.

    Deadman (1995) Dir. Jim Jarmusch.
    Jarmusch called it a “Psychedelic Western”, Neil Young did the score and Johnny Depp is in the lead role. What more could you ask for?

    Frances Ha (2013) Dir. Noah Baumbach.
    Frances Ha is like the TV show Girls except it’s filmed in black-and-white, the main character is endearing and a few people manage to get their shit together. Set in NYC, and a hilariously unromantic Paris, Frances Ha shows off B&W in all its glory.

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  • About the Author ()

    Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

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