British library CD-Rom debacle

23 Jan

Yesterday was one of those hideous days when nothing works— wifi, public transport, etc. Today is much better. I’m at the British library where I”ve booked 5 days in the sound archive listening/ viewing Forced Entertainment materials. The British Library, by the way, is as impressive as you might imagine. Many floors, a lovely new building, reading rooms, collections of some 12 millions items. One would be forgiven for imagining that viewing a CD-Rom here wouldn’t be that hard. But in fact, it is. There are two computers in the library, it appears, that have this facility and neither of them have sound. And I”m not allowed to view them on my own computer in case I pirate it. So the lovely little listening carrell when my viewing materials and I were booked was great for DVDs but useless for the CD Roms I wanted to watch. So, today, I will borrow one of the tech staff’s personal laptop to view two CD-Roms. (If he’s in today, that is.) I asked if others had mentioned this problem before– “Oh yes, all the time. It’s quite a problem” replied the guy affably. I was (for once) speechless.

The videos are interesting though. Bloody Messis like a successful verion of The World In Pictures. More detail on this later; but I think what worked in BM and failed in the other show was that the latter was “about” something. Which kept it one dimensional. The bad theatrics had nothing to play off or against, except one threadbare idea (history is anglocentric and partial) which mockery was not sufficient to animate.

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2 Responses to “British library CD-Rom debacle”

  1. Rick Massimo January 24, 2007 at 3:17 pm #

    Ah, a reminder of why England was the genesis for Monty Python …

    I think the idea of the weakness of a show being “about” something is real interesting. You don’t want a show to be about nothing, but there is a third way. Someone said that Shepard’s best plays “change the temperature in the room.” That seems like a worthy goal.

  2. xtine3 January 24, 2007 at 4:46 pm #

    Yes– I think the “about” that tends not to work is when it means “illustration of”. (as in, this show is about history). I like the Shepard plays quote. The show I saw today (today’s post on First NIght) on DVD found that third way I think. Its conceit was to create a bad vaudeville show, or a vaudeville show in which the performers were horribly trapped. So right away that set up certain theatrical, performative and visual parameters for the company to play with and push at.

    As for Monty Python– no kidding! It’s amazing how often people say “Sorry” here- sometimes just as a preface to ordering tea.

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