Saturday, December 28, 2002

Arts&Culture File
The year in television was all about getting back to normal. Unfortunately, the medium succeeded. By summertime, things were so normal, so far removed from the elevated future some had predicted in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, that "American Idol" and, briefly, "The Anna Nicole Show" were sensations. Things were so normal that "The West Wing," a show about issues and governance, had lost viewers so that "The Bachelor," a show about a serial French-kisser from Missouri, could gain them.,1,1293150.story

PARIS, Dec. 21 — Accidents happen. In fact, they have always happened, from the asteroid that presumably wiped out the dinosaurs to the great fire that razed central London in 1666. ... But many more are human accidents provoked by the very technology that we celebrate: they represent the dark face of progress. Paul Virilio, 70, a French urbanist, philosopher and prolific writer, began developing this thesis after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the United States in 1979. Now, he believes, we are more accident-prone or rather, technology and communications have made accidents more global in their impact. In his view, if an accident was long defined as chance, today only its timing and consequences are hard to predict; the accident itself is already bound to occur. ... Now, as a sort of pilot project for a Museum of Accidents, Mr. Virilio has been given a chance to illustrate what he means in an unusual exhibition called "Unknown Quantity," on display at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art here through March 30. Accompanying it is a large catalog in which, amid myriad photographs of every imaginable natural and man-made disaster, Mr. Virilio elaborates on his argument that recalling accidents is the best way of avoiding them.

NY TimesIn the living room of Laura Carton's apartment in Manhattan hangs one of her artworks, a photographic portrait of a serene-looking horse. A storm is brewing in the dramatic sky behind the animal. Nothing in the image would suggest that it is the backdrop for a pornographic scene. That, Ms. Carton said, is exactly the point... Because of her fascination with pornography, her training as an artist, and her patience and skill with Adobe Photoshop, Ms. Carton is making inroads in the contemporary art world. Her digitally altered pornographic images recently appeared in two gallery shows in New York and will be part of another next month at White Box in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. ... In studying the backdrops of pornographic scenes, she became interested in the context, in deconstructing the images. "Why aren't the bodies just shot on white backgrounds?" she wondered. The answer, she found, was that pornography, like other storytelling forms, employs narrative technique.

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