Books

  • Simon Denny

    Edward Snowden’s ongoing revelations have unveiled not just information but a total feast of complex visual and stylistic material, and the sprawling range of leaked interior documents—from the naff to the authoritative (and arriving in as many formats)—is proving to be among the richest cultural content released within the past year.

    In this unparalleled news experience, Snowden’s authorial equal might be Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose comprehensive No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State (Metropolitan) will likely stand as

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  • Svetlana Alpers

    Instead of waiting for the summer, I read That Which Is Not Drawn right off—another brilliant design from Seagull Books, presenting the artist William Kentridge in conversation once again. This time, he is in Kolkata with the anthropologist Rosalind C. Morris. The topic is the spoken and the hidden, or, what Kentridge has not yet drawn. At the heart of the matter are the distinctions that make his timely art what it is: moving images rather than still; metamorphoses instead of individuals; continuity, not loss. The “virtues of bastardy” is the provocative phrase Kentridge uses to sum it

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  • Darby English

    Summer is the season for foreground music, when our desire for melodic accompaniment is on spectacular display. It cradles the widely held conviction, astutely explored by Barry Shank in The Political Force of Musical Beauty (Duke University Press), that the word song does rotten justice to certain units of musical experience. As, for instance, when some tune, in the process of unfolding itself, appears at once to exist for us alone and to matter beyond measure. It can happen in a club or a car or a chair. Such an experience’s apparent privacy can make its “political force”—Shank’s apposite

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  • Mark Flood

    I can’t wait to own The Complete Eightball 1–18 (Fantagraphics), the forthcoming collection of Daniel Clowes’s legendary ’90s series—which includes, among many amazing things, the original “Art School Confidential” comic (1991). The reissue looks like it will be delightfully lavish!

    And I will certainly read filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Where the Bird Sings Best (Restless Books) whenever it finally emerges. The memoir is being billed as a “psychomagical” autobiographical narrative.

    Mark Flood is an artist based in Houston.

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  • D. Fox Harrell’s Phantasmal Media

    THE MYSTERIOUS GRAY AREA between cognitive science and computer science has long held broad allure, seducing thinkers at least since the time of Norbert Wiener and the theorization of cybernetics at midcentury. In the ensuing decades, what began as the technical field of artificial intelligence has increasingly captured the imagination of an emerging generation of prolific scholar-artists who are mining AI for new forms of expression and reception. Working primarily in institutional contexts characterized by descriptors such as new, integrated, and digital media, they are pursuing intensive

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  • Masha Gessen’s Words Will Break Cement

    IN THE MONTHS since journalist Masha Gessen wrote the postscript to her riveting history of Pussy Riot, a lot’s happened. Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, two of the women imprisoned for their guerrilla performance at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior in early 2012, were released in advance of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, thanks to Vladimir Putin’s grudging, Christmastime concession to world opinion. In February, after Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina spoke at an Amnesty International concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, an open letter from Pussy Riot appeared

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  • the writings of Marcel Broodthaers

    AT SOME POINT, perhaps as early as the 1940s, Marcel Broodthaers—then a café poet and used-book dealer who had yet to publish a volume of his own—wrote a line he liked so much he used it in two of his later poems: “mélancolie aigre château des aigles” (melancholy bitter castle of eagles). The proximity of the key French words aigre and aigle undergirds the surreal disjunction of terms with a material logic. In fact, Broodthaers would famously go on to establish a Département des Aigles in his fictive Musée d’Art Moderne of 1968, an impermanent collection of objects brought together

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  • Semiotext(e)’s Schizo-Culture

    There’s always an energy that is slightly to the side, and vast. And without fees or tariffs. Not to say that it’s without cost. Think of Tesla’s scheme of harnessing electricity freely from the surrounding atmosphere. Rhizomatic years. Where are we now? The ’60s were a grand movement called counterculture, perhaps ending in ’68, or maybe in ’69. . . . The ’70s were the beginning of the rhizome years. Counterculture broke up. You cannot overestimate the effect of infiltration, COINTELPRO. Everyone had to proceed under the assumption that there was no integrity to their group, that movements were

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  • Laurence Rickels’s SPECTRE

    I CONFESS THAT I have always found James Bond somewhat dull, but apparently that was the idea. Ian Fleming, author of the Bond novels, conceived his hero as a boring character, a cipher, around whom interesting things happened. Indeed, he lifted the moniker James Bond from an ornithologist of the time, for its exemplary blandness. Betraying his own preferences, theorist Laurence Rickels has titled his new study of Fleming’s spy novels SPECTRE, not after Bond or Fleming but in honor of the Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion, Fleming’s fictional United

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  • T. J. Clark’s Picasso and Truth

    IN 2009, T. J. Clark delivered the fifty-eighth installment of the A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Those six talks have now been published under the title Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica, and together they constitute an exemplary lesson in art criticism and the significance of the act of looking.

    In his book, Clark cites various thinkers for whom he feels a special affinity (and whose ideas, he believes, are keys to understanding Picasso’s work). Prominent among them are Nietzsche and Wittgenstein. What attracts him to the latter

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  • Making Art Global

    AROUND THE TURN OF THE MILLENNIUM, books dealing with the relatively new art-historical subgenre of exhibition history were few and far between. The category pretty much comprised the anthology Thinking About Exhibitions (Bruce W. Ferguson et al., 1996), Bruce Altshuler’s The Avant-Garde in Exhibition (1998), and Mary Anne Staniszewski’s The Power of Display (1998). These methodologically disparate works had little in common beyond their obscurity: Simply being aware of them felt like being part of an esoteric minority seeking cult knowledge. Since the late 2000s, however, as institutionally

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  • Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière

    ALAIN BADIOU has likened the relation between philosophy and art to that between master and hysteric in Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic terms. The hysteric seeks a master to explain to her who she is and to convert her unprocessed truth into a form of transmissible knowledge. But the hysteric—or art—is never satisfied with what she is told. Philosophy’s answers always fall short or miss the mark, and his own status as master is ultimately called into question.

    To preserve his authority, philosophy has three choices. He can, taking decisive measures, as Plato proposed should be done with

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