ART/ FASHION/ FILM/ FOOD/ GAMES/ LITERATURE/ MUSIC/ THEATRE/ TV 1
Tn2 Magazine Team
Layout & Design: Lee Jones Sorcha Ni Cheallaigh Caroline O’ Connor Cover: Aisling Clark Printed by Grehans Printers
07 Features 24 Reviews 34 Sex
Lucie Rondeau du Noyer examines why “classical reboots” in literature are still relevant.
Enya O’Connell-Hussey investigates whether honey is a vegan product or not.
Laura Beston looks at the rise in docufilms.
Alexander Norton recommends the best games to buy in the January Sales.
Larissa Brigatti explores the affect of the culture industry on modern theatre.
Stacey Wrenn tackles the death of the white knight figure in television.
Aisling Grace investigates the dichotomy between art and craft.
Niamh Keating charts the evolution of punk music during the Troubles.
HEAD EDITOR Lee Jones DEPUTY PRINT Sorcha Ni Cheallaigh ASSISTANT EDITORS Alexandra Day Caroline O’Connor ONLINE EDITOR Alden Mathieu ART Alexandra Day Stacey Wrenn FASHION Caroline O’ Connor Christopher Cash FILM Robyn Mitchell | Alice Whelan Graham Kelly FOOD Amanda Cliffe Enya O’Connell Hussey Mary Hartnett GAMES & TECH Seán Clerkin Sam Cox | Sam Hayes LITERATURE Sarah Upton | Mia Colleran MUSIC Áine Palmer | ClÍona Lynskey THEATRE Amyrose Forder Lauren Boland TV Roxane Von Hurter Lily Casson SEX Maia Mathieu Hazel MacMahon Copyedited by: Hazel MacMahon Enya O’Connell Hussey
Music For... Celebrating Dolores O’Riordan On 15 January 2018, the public were shocked to learn of the passing of Dolores O’Riordan at the untimely age of 46. The Limerick-born singer shot to fame in the 1990s with her Limerick rock quartet, The Cranberries, who sold millions of albums worldwide throughout their career. She was 21 when The Cranberries reached the US Top 10 with their second single, ‘Linger’, which established them as a headline act both in the US and across Europe. Upon reflection, you’ve probably heard their songs featured on any significant television programme throughout the 90s. The public were enthralled by O’Riordan and by her passionate and eerie vocal technique. Her startling voice captivated audiences, perfectly complimenting the band’s melodicism that was a major trademark of the their sound.
J U M B L E
To celebrate the life remembered of the iconic singer, why not revisit their second studio album No Need to Argue that outsold their debut, going seven times platinum in the US. O’Riordan will be remembered as a symbol of pride for both Ireland and the Irish diaspora, mostly associated with perhaps their most famous track from the album, ‘Zombie’. Her ability to convey a faint unsettling sense of anguish in her vocals on this record is a factor that may have been partly drawn from her personal experiences. However, this single proved to be one of the defining songs of the decade. It is perfect for singing along to at the top of your lungs when remembering one of the iconic figures of homegrown music. WORDS BY CLÍONA LYNSKEY
Worth the hype? Almond Milk
FOOD is separated from the solids. Consequently, many commercial almond milk producers add vitamins to the milk. In terms of environmental impact, almond trees require substantial amounts of water to grow. However cow’s milk is still much more water-intensive to produce, and presents many additional problems such as methane production and the creation of ‘dead zones’ in the sea. Though almond milk may be slightly less nutritious than cow’s milk, almond milk has other health and environmental benefits that are worth giving it a try!
Almond milk has enjoyed a surge of popularity in recent years as more and more people are cutting down on their consumption of dairy products. But how exactly does the nut fare against the moo? The obvious advantage of almond milk is that it is dairy-free, suitable for those with lactose intolerances and for vegans. Almonds are also much higher in vitamin E than dairy milk, which is associated with lowered levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. This said, almond milk is relatively low in nutrients in comparison to cow’s milk, as many vitamins are lost when the almond liquid
Dublin Theatre Companies: Blue Raincoat Theatre Company
Who They Are: Blue Raincoat Theatre Company, founded in Sligo 27 years ago, are Ireland’s longest running Theatre Company. Alongside the upkeep of their performance space The Factory, the team produces several shows each year, interweaving new writing with adaptations of modern European greats, such as Alice in Wonderland and Beckett’s Endgame. They consistently remain a national artistic icon, touring in repertory style across country and continent, representing us across the world from Madrid to Sofia.
WORDS BY AMANDA CLIFFE
Why We <3 Them: Blue Raincoat Theatre Company are all about providing “arts related support” to other artists, the public, and including their neighbourhood in the process. Their home theatre in Sligo brought a derelict
docklands warehouse into a thriving community hub, whilst recent renovations means a Theatre Library and several studio spaces are also available for the artists. The company hosts its Annual Theatre Academy in this space, passing on their wealth of knowledge and experience to upcoming performers in mediums such as movement and voice. They also run lecturebased workshops for both performers and the public, baking a little slice of the arts for anyone who desires a taste. What’s Up Next: Straight off the back of their 7th Annual Theatre Academy, Blue Raincoat Theatre Company are returning to the Big Smoke next month with Shackleton. Running at Project Arts Centre, the production will combine visceral visuals such as puppetry and
original footage, alongside an ensemble cast, to tell the timely story of Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton’s escape from the Antarctic during the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition 100 years ago. Shackleton (2018) runs in Project Arts Centre from 26 Feb - 10 March. WORDS BY AMYROSE FORDER
The Power of the Catchphrase: “Why so serious?” from The Dark Knight Front Square Fashion: Heath Ledger’s reincarnation of the Joker is one victims, he asks them the supposedly innocuous A/W Trends of the best examples of a comic-book villain in modern cinema. But what makes so striking a performance for cinema fans?
One answer lies in his catch phrase: “Why...so... serious?”. In The Dark Knight, we’re shown a more erratic Joker than before. He’s shed the clownish dancing and the gag props from earlier Batman films, opting for more nightmarish weapons and a harrowing backstory. He doesn’t have a cartoon personality anymore, and this is apparent in his dialogue - there are no cheesy puns or catch phrases here. Instead, as he murders his
question, “Why so serious?” as if he’s checking to see why they’re not enjoying it as much as he is. It’s a twisted line - like he’s making a joke or a game out of a deathly serious situation. It’s a self-parody of the earlier, goofier versions of himself - but this line is definitely a clear turning point at which he sets himself apart from his predecessors. The Dark Knight gives us a Joker who is more human than ever. Without all of the caricaturelike frills, he’s just a man gone mad - and that’s the most terrifying thing about him. We’re definitely not laughing at this clown anymore. WORDS BY NICOLE O’SULLIVAN
Poetry Corner: Time
The air is cement, sliding down my throat, Mixing with my words and coating my lungs Each breath is thicker than the one before Until I am combusting with darkness – Not oxygen or water or regret – just Darkness. I did not realise it had become so late so soon, That the blackness of the sky was an ending – Not just a cloudy obscuration of the daylight. Tell me, do you know what your life has meant? If I had wondered, I’d have guessed it all before, But, in those seconds, all I wanted Was each breath to feed me like the last To become consumed in an ocean so vast – I did not even notice the time pass.
POETRY BY HAZEL MACMAHON
Hazel MacMahon is a Junior Sophister Business and Sociology student. She is mesmerised with the written word and hopes to leave an impact on those who read her work. Her poetry often deals with themes of love, death, and wonder. She is inspired by the darkness of Sylvia Plath, but also by the light of Mary Oliver.
Athleisure’s latest obsession, the motocross trend, is one that planted its roots back in 2015 with the oversized leather jacket of Vetements AW collection and is set to continue its takeover in Spring 2018. Having made arguably its biggest runway statement yet in Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma SS18 show, the trend is characterised by padded leathers, racing numbers and loud, colour blocked shades. Junior Sophister student, Lauren McDonald achieves the look in a high-cropped Racer slogan-jumper, layering red and yellow in a thick horizontal stripe. A dark grey, knee-length denim skirt with ribbed fraying radiating from the hem add a grunge vibe to the outfit, while a pair of black tights and boots centres the focus on the statement bolds of the jumper. She completes the ensemble with a black double zip cross-body bag sitting just below the shoulder. An easily accessible trend item, crossbodies largely made their mark on the runways of AW16. Appearing in the major shows by the likes of Prada and Gucci, the trend has now shifted over to the world of street style and is set to remain a popular must-have across the coming seasons. WORDS AND PHOTO BY CAROLINE O’CONNOR
ART Artists On the Margins: Molly Crabapple In a world where everyone with a smartphone can be a photographer and anyone with photoshop can twist images to suit their agenda, we’re becoming numb to the power of a photograph. Molly Crabapple believes that the power of art is to soap-box images that jaded eyes might overlook. Crabapple’s art style couples a dark playfulness with spidery sketchy lines and a saucy confrontational quality that’s present whether she’s rendering the curve of a burlesque dancer’s ass or highlighting the censorship around Guantanamo Bay with startling blank spaces in lieu of the faces she was not officially permitted to draw. Her work is outward-facing, staring down the world, an almost masculine sensibility more in common with the radical politics of someone like Rivera rather than the reflective qualities of something more Kahlo-esque. The daughter of an artist and a Marxist, Crabapple spent her teens and early twenties hustling in the modern bohemian demimonde as both artist and ‘professional naked girl’: then Occupy Wall Street happened. In the wake of the economic downturn, she found her niche among the protests and calls for a more equal society, combining her art and her socialist ideals, drawing the revolution. Her ‘General Strike’ poster from Occupy made the transition from street art to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art -- something she regards with wry amusement -and she now travels the world writing and drawing in places that cameras might not always be permitted, including Syria, Athens, Gitmo and Gaza.
WORDS BY MAIA MATHIEU
Dublin’s Best Geeky Relatable Character of the Month: MC Grindah from People Just Do Nothing Spots: Gamers World
When a fan of board or card games walks into Gamers World, they know they have come to the right place. To their right, are shelves adorned with card games including the big three; Yu Gi Oh!, Magic and Pokémon. To their left, shelves displaying a bounty of board games including classic titles such as Settlers of Catan. The shop provides a relaxed retail experience which draws many to frequent this board gaming juggernaut of Jervis street.
WORDS BY ROXANE VON HURTER
Gamers World can be found at 1 Jervis Street, Dublin 1.
WORDS BY SAM HAYES
JUMBLE | 6
My new year’s resolution is to take one of MC Grindah’s home truths as a life lesson: “set your goals low, so you might be able to achieve them.” What may sound depressing, is in fact the key to a successful life. Rather than being self-deprecating and humble in his role, MC Grindah (Allan Mustafa), from BBC comedy People Just Do Nothing, is known for his arrogance and prominence on pirate radio Kurupt FM. Grindah embodies that total self-admiration present only in the extremely clever or extremely stupid. Either way it doesn’t bother him, on the contrary, it spurs him on. So why not aspire to it? Ignorance is bliss, or as Grindah might say: “I’ve never done anything in life that didn’t work out perfectly.” See what I’m getting at here? Grindah is comfortable in who he is and he does what he loves. So this year, the year of 2018, I am putting my efforts into a new me. A me, who when I look in the mirror, is able to comfortably say “spot on,” like Grindah does each morning. A me, who when push comes to shove, can prioritise myself in pursuit of, well... me.
The shop has a room where patrons can play tabletop games during the shop’s opening hours of 10am to 10pm on weekdays and until 6pm on weekends. It must be noted however, that tables must be rented after 6pm. The only time you cannot do this is during one of the venue’s regular social events. From board game launches to competitive tournaments, there is a reason for any fan of tabletop games to keep an eye on the shop’s Facebook page. The shop’s website offers the ability to order board games and card games with free shipping to Ireland and the UK. It also has a nifty Wishlist feature, though it is missing information on many upcoming events. Overall however, the shop offers everything a board gamer could need.
The Beauty of Unfaithfulness
ince Greek mythology was rediscovered during the Renaissance, it has been a major source of inspiration for artists. Judging from the number of classical reboots – books whose plot or characters are directly borrowed from Greek literature – that were published last year, fiction writers are no exception. The lists of the most-awaited books of 2018 indicate that the trend is still going strong. Indeed, Circe, the new novel by Madeline Miller, author of the acclaimed The Song of Achilles (2013), is widely cited. Does it make sense to consider Greek myths as a new publishing niche or have they always been influential? What evolutions of our modern world could account for a renewed interest in Greek heroes, gods and tragedies? According to British comedian and author Stephen Fry, whose book Mythos was published last November, the appeal of Greek mythology has been constant. If he endeavours to retell the Greek myths, it is because he considers them as the best stories ever conceived. Following Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tanglewood Tales (1853), L. S. Hyde’s Favourite Greek Myths (1905) or Robert Graves’ The Greek Myths (1955), Fry devises his own prose version of Greek mythology for the benefit of the modern public. By
refusing to engage in interpreting and explaining the myths, Fry focuses on the sheer pleasure of reciting old stories with a twist. In anticipation of the detractors who would reproach him for narrating with too much enthusiasm the “dreadful cycle of bloodlust, greed and killing” that is Greek mythology, he maintains the following: “In tinkering with the details I am doing what the people have always done with the myths. In that sense I feel that I am doing my bit to keep them alive”. The charm of Mythos derives mainly from the perpetual good humour of the author: “Kronos was moody. Had he the examples to go by, he would perhaps have identified with Konstantin from The Seagull with a suggestion of Morrissey.” It is also lodged in its sarcastic footnotes where the well-read Fry basks in his own recounting of anecdotes and etymological fun facts. However, Fry’s most innovative writing choice is to provide the reader with a “coherent narrative” that is meant to be read from beginning to end. As there is no index, the readers would be otherwise lost since most characters are presented long before their stories are developed. Providing the public with a unified account will suit some but disappoint the ones who favour a piecemeal approach to Greek mythology.
Among the prolific output of “classical reboots” in 2017, Colm Tóibín’s House of Names and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire distinguish themselves as the most powerful, not the least because they are emancipated from any antiquarian concern.
Another way of refreshing Greek myths is to narrate these wellknown stories from a minor character’s perspective. The Song of Achilles aimed at elucidating a fundamental yet obscure part of ‘The Iliad’: the relationship between Achilles and his companion Patroclus. Miller wanted to give the latter a voice that did not exist in ancient sources. In the same respect, she has announced that her Circe will be a “celebration of indomitable female strength in a man’s world.” Her upcoming novel will therefore find its place in an ever-expanding corpus of “feminine” classical reboots. Since the publication of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad (2005), in which Odysseus’ wife gives her own version of the Homeric tales, rewritings of Greek narratives from female perspectives have established themselves as a consistent subgenre of historical fiction. In 2017, Natalie Haynes’ The Children of Jocasta aimed at reassessing the standing of Oedipus’ mother and wife in her husband’s gest. Along the same lines, in the two first volumes of her ‘Gold Apple’ trilogy – For the Most Beautiful and For the Winner – Emily Hauser retold ‘The Iliad’ through the eyes of the captive Briseis and Chryseis, instruments and witnesses to Achilles’ legendary wrath. It is no coincidence that Haynes and Hauser read Classics at university as their style is quite academic. They begin by tracking down the information available in ancient texts before filling the gaps. Despite the fascination it may hold, such a cautious approach might turn out to be frustrating. Even if the narrators are female, they can only tell what is in the sources: essentially male stories. In 2005, Atwood warned her reviewers against oversimplification: her Penelope was not and could not be a feminist in ancient times. If Greek myths were more relevant than ever to writers in 2017, it is mostly because of the continuous rise of violence in international affairs. This summer, in her essay ‘Enraged: Why Violent Times 8
Need Ancient Greek Myths’, Emily Katz Anhalt, a teacher in Greek and Latin at Sarah Lawrence College, suggested that rereading Greek classics might remind us to shift from anger to dialogue when confronted by ferocious politics and conflicts. Mary Beard, Britain’s most famous classicist, regretted in The New York Times that such an analysis did not leave room for just anger in the face of of barbaric violence. Based on Greek tragedies rather than on epics, Colm Tóibín’s House of Names and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire do not attempt to answer the tricky question of what political lessons can be drawn today from Greek myths. They do not try to prove that ancient mythology could be a soothing cure for our societies. They demonstrate that it is, if nothing else, a vehicle to aptly novelize the brutality of our world.
“ “Since the publication of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad (2005), in which Odysseus’ wife gives her own version of the Homeric tales, rewritings of Greek narratives from female perspectives have established themselves as a consistent subgenre of historical fiction ction” The two novels share several common features. Both stem from aborted attempts to have two seasoned novelists adapted Greek tragedies – Sophocles’ Antigone by Shamsie, The Oresteia by Tóibín – for the contemporary stage. The two writers ultimately dropped the dramatic form, though both novels are built upon the alternation of different characters’ voices, and precisely crafted dialogue. Above all, in both cases, the characters are shown to live in a disenchanted world, where the divine presence is at best flimsy.
“ Colm Tóibín’s House of Names and Kamila
Shamsie’s Home Fire do not attempt to answer the tricky question of what political lessons can be drawn today from Greek myths. They do not try to prove that ancient mythology could be a soothing cure for our societies. They demonstrate that it is, if nothing else, a vehicle to aptly novelize the brutality of our world ”
In spite of these similarities, House of Names and Home Fire take different paths. Tóibín chooses to retain the ancient setting and mythological characters, even if he frees them from religious concerns and fatality. His interest in mythology lies
in its mechanisms of vengeance and the endless violence it displays. In an interview in The Guardian, Tóibín confessed that, when writing, he was more preoccupied by the Troubles and ISIS exactions than driven by an antiquarian liking for myths. He quotes Dzhokhar Anzorovich Tsarnaev, the younger of the two brothers involved in the Boston Marathon bombing, as the main inspiration for his weak yet violent Orestes. Home Fire resonates in the context of ISIS and jihad as Shamsie’s novel translates Antigone to a contemporary setting. She often breaks away from Sophocles’ plot. It is now Ismen, not Aneeka (Antigone), who is the older and more pious sister. Aneeka, above all fierce and beautiful, has not two brothers but only a twin. The huge achievement of the novel is that, throughout the first 190 pages, the readers forget that they are reading a transposition of Sophocles’ play. Immersed in complex family and love stories, they feel for Isma, the elder who has left her sister and brother, “almost her children”, to study in Massachusetts. They feel for Aneeka who decides to seduce the Home Secretary’s son because she wants to help her twin to escape from Syria and return safely to Britain. They feel for Parvaiz, in spite of all his confusion, and hope he will survive. But Parvaiz is Aneeka’s brother. He is meant to die in order for us to begin identifying lines that could have been taken from Sophocles. “Accept the law, even if it’s unjust”, Isma tells the law student Aneeka, but not before page 196. In the afterword, Shamsie apologizes for having turned a play into a novel. She need not. If she had stuck to tragic convention and had not changed genre, her last and explosive scene would not have been possible. Like Tóibín, it is when she emancipates herself from the burden of being faithful to ancient masterpieces that her novel becomes powerful enough to give us a sense of how intense the myths were for the Greeks. ■
WORDS BY LUCIE RONDEAU DU NOYER
In the very first pages of House of Names, Clytemnestra, Agamemnon’s wife, states, after the sacrifice of her daughter Iphigenia: “I live alone in the shivering, solitary knowledge that the time of the gods has passed”. Her estranged daughter Electra similarly confesses to her brother Orestes that they are living in “a time when the gods are fading”. In Home Fire, though the story is set in a British-Pakistani Muslim family, faith is very seldom discussed. When Parvaiz leaves for Raqqa in Syria, it is mostly because he resents the way in which the father he never knew, a jihadi, was tortured by the Occidental forces. Even Isma (Ismen), his pious sister, proud of her religion, sometimes wonders: “What must it have felt like to inhabit a commonality of human experience – all eyes to the sky, watching for something mythic to land?”
Should Honey be Vegan? ENYA OʼCONNELL-HUSSEY EXAMINES THE CASE FOR AN EXCEPTION. F
ood is a wonderful thing, and what’s more wonderful is its infinite arrays and combinations waiting to be tried. Yet, food is not a manmade thing, and was not made for us — a potato forms to store starch for its leaves, not to be sliced into chips, as perfectly adapted as it seems. Humans are adept at wrangling the environment until it works for us; although the foods we enjoy did not evolve for people to eat them, through careful breeding over thousands of years we have yielded organisms that heed our will. It’s hard to refute that a rooster potato is free from human influence, when its very existence was brought about by us. From a watermelon, to a guard dog, to a cow, few forms of life have not been tampered by us. And tampering with the sentient varieties of life is where veganism comes into the picture. A diet that evokes intense emotions and debate in the public, the animal exploitation is the stronghold of the vegan movement. But whilst one can agree that meat is unfriendly to the environment and animal, where do bees fit into the picture?
“Supermarket honey will always be
a mixture from different countries. Ireland simply does not produce enough honey for a commercially viable, 100% Irish product.” FEATURES | 10
Think of a bee product, and you probably thought of honey. It’s the main product of the apiary industry, but beeswax comes in second — being used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and skin care. There’s also more niche product like propolis and royal jelly.
There is no Vegan Pope, so there is no complete consensus on what practices make bee-products unvegan, but well-recognised groups such as PETA and The Vegan Society cite removing and replacing honey, killing queens and clipping wings amongst others. Although bees are farmed on a large scale, it generates almost nothing compared to the meat industry — a measly $300 million compared to $864 billion in the US. Bees do not make enough for one country to produce exclusively native honey — save for the main global honey exporters, Turkey, China and South America. Supermarket honey will always be a mixture from different countries. Ireland simply does not produce enough honey for a commercially viable, 100% Irish product. Honey harvesting uses a process known as extraction, which involves pulling out the honeycombs, cutting off the wax caps, and in the commercial productions, spinning the comb to separate the honey out. Bees, of course, are protective of their honey, so methods to drive them away during extractions and inspections will invariably cause some deaths, more so in a commercial operation which deals with thousands of hives compared to a hobbyist’s dozen or less. New queens are killed to prevent swarming — there can only be one queen at a time, so once the old queen senses the virgin queen maturing, it will leave with half or more of the hive’s population. The swarming bees will gorge themselves on honey — about half in the hive — before they leave, so oftentimes the drop in food and population means the remaining beehive will not survive the cold winter. The only swarming prevention that involves killing is the preemptive destruction of queen cells. Clipping the queen’s wings means that if it swarms, it cannot travel far and the swarming brood will be easily gathered and put into a new box — swarms are the source of the childhood terror of a mass of bees hanging from a tree, though they are not generally aggressive. Queens are usually killed and replaced every 1-3 years, as hives only thrive with a younger queen. It’s worth noting that bees do this themselves when left to their own devices. Although the practices of beekeeping are not harmful to the bees on any large scale, there is a moral argument for the exploitation of the insect.
all take a lot of labour to produce, but whether one considers this a deal breaker for bee’s vegan status is ultimately a personal decision.” Honey, some argue, is being ‘stolen’ by humans. It’s important to lay aside any anthropomorphisms — arthropods and vertebrates have about 500 million years of evolutionary separation — as any attempt to apply human psychology to bees is ill-fated. Propolis, pollen, honey and wax all take a lot of labour to produce, but whether one considers this a deal breaker for bee’s vegan status is ultimately a personal decision, hinging on the value you ascribe to the extra labour of a bee But not all decisions made for beekeeping are made with the bee’s wellbeing in mind, something both vegans and non-vegans are implicated in. Replacing the honey produced by bees with sugar water is common practice when the honey is over-harvested and the hive will starve as a result. The exact effects are unclear, as in name honey is no more than a sugary syrup with next to no nutrients, but increasingly we find traces of antibiotics, enzymes and other natural elements in honey important for the health of a bee’s immune system. Though frowned upon, it happens nonetheless, and is inevitable in commercial productions. But a more worrying practice does not involve honey at all, but almonds. In large-scale agricultural production, particularly in the United States, beehives are hired out to pollinate massive monocultures of crops like almonds which are entirely bee-dependant for pollination. Shuttled across huge distances, subsisting on a poor diet of a single food source in an environment laden with pesticides and mixing with many other hives is a cocktail for sickly bees. It is no surprise, therefore, that this practice is attributed in part to Colony Collapse Disorder, the rapid and seemingly unexplainable sudden death of hives that threw bees into the public consciousness. Vegan or not, there is no escaping the role bees play in agriculture and their possibility for exploitation.
The greater threat to bees across the world and in Ireland is the varroa mite, present in every bee colony in Ireland. Any beekeeper will tell you of the great pains controlling the mite is — without strong chemicals to keep an infestation under check, and specialised bee boxes and techniques, it can quickly take over a hive, weakening it until it collapses. So it begs the question: in the face of rampant pesticides, monocultures and mite infestations, can honeybees survive without human help? The short answer is that it’s unclear. The steep decline of over half of wild native species could suggest that beekeepers are numbing some of the ailments bees are inflicted with — such as keeping bees locked inside during pesticide spraying, mite management and maintaining genetic diversity — but a hive paired with a bad beekeeper is much worse than it braving the elements alone. Commercial beekeeping does not equal mistreatment and hobbyists equal benevolence, as with everything we eat, trying to understand how it was made and where it comes from gives us the power to support the practices we agree with.
“Vegan or not, there is no escaping
the role bees play in agriculture and their possibility for exploitation.” Bees cut out a lot of products for vegans — popular honey alternatives include agave and malt syrup, and paraffins and other kinds of synthetic waxes replace the bee-made kind. But agave syrup, and any plantbased syrup for that matter, uses pesticides which kill more insects than beekeepers could. Agave itself is a monocultured crop imported from Mexico. In our modern word of unsustainable agriculture, can we really argue that a pot of honey from down the road is more exploitative and environmentally harmful than syrup from plantations causing the very death of our pollinators? ■
WORDS BY ENYA O’CONNELL-HUSSEY ILLUSTRATION BY CAROLINE O CONNOR
“Propolis, pollen, honey and wax
Laura Breston examines the way in which Netﬂix has transformed how we consume ﬁlms in A Tn2 Original Article
s we were growing up, a documentary would be something that casually popped up on TV screens on a Sunday evening or after a TV show that you genuinely wanted to watch. Without the internet, we had to rely solely on sporadic screenings used to fill up time or rent DVD and videos from shops and libraries. However, now with Netflix and illegal online sites, our homes are being flooded with an influx of information and material through high quality docufilms. The rise in popularity of these was reflected in last year’s Cannes Film Festival with documentaries comprising 16% of the films shown, the highest it’s ever been.
FEATURES | 12
But why choose to watch a documentary? What made titles such as Making a Murderer, Iris and others so successful? The reality is that docufilms serve to convey information or a storyline in an incredibly concise manner. The people making the film have done their research and found the best way of
conveying the story to you. Watching documentaries is possibly the easiest way of educating yourself on a subject and reduces the amount of time you need to become otherwise informed.
“ Netflix has become a double edged sword ” So what made the once niche films that had to be sought out so popular? The answer lies in the fact that the prevalence of documentaries on Netflix is due to their entertaining and accessible manner. Rather than choosing
what to watch all you have to do is log on and scroll through a list of suggestions and Google the name to see if it’s worth watching. This has not just been isolated to Netflix as other providers such as Amazon Prime and TV channels such as Sky also offer an extensive library of choices. Regardless of these new services, content can always be found through streaming websites as well as YouTube.
had to redirect itself in terms of marketing and sales but also through the actual production of the film itself ” What’s interesting about the documentaries on YouTube in particular is that they tend to be of an older and lower quality than those on Netflix, mostly as they care more about informing the public than profits. Netflix and other providers, on the other hand, present documentaries in a polished and accurate way, something which is hard to find elsewhere on the internet. However, it’s obvious that with this ease of viewing and access that Netflix has become a double-edged sword. Why would anybody bother going to the cinema and spending hard earned money when for the same price they could watch any films they wanted for an entire month? The film industry not only has had to redirect itself in terms of marketing and sales but also
The obvious change which can be noted in Netflix’s production increase and use is the availability of films and TV shows on demand. There is a build up to the release but we are no longer restricted to the typical cinema release and subsequent DVD sales which used to make up our film consumption. Netflix, in a way, has liberated the viewer, enabling them to enjoy the content in any space which they chose. Paying a tenner a month for Netflix and getting to pick whatever you want and wherever you want is far cheaper than spending a tenner on each cinema visit, and you are also not limited to a certain schedule. This creates a conundrum for the viewer. Do we continue to support films when they come to our cinema and buy the subsequent DVD? Or do we do what’s easiest and sign up to Netflix, knowing we’ll save money. It’s a difficult position for both the consumer and the producer as both parties will have to start looking at where to invest, viewers looking at what is best for them and filmmakers having to evaluate which is the most fruitful way to secure funding for their films in the future. It’s concerning for the film industry but the reality is this moment in cinematic history has been coming for quite some time. ■
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WORDS BY LAURA BESTON
“ The film industry not only has
through the actual production of the film itself. A notable film in recent times which was only ear marked for success on the small screen was Loving (2016). Surprisingly, it resulted in Ruth Negga receiving an Oscar nomination and was seen more frequently than expected in cinemas. The close-up shots which would have boded well on a television or laptop screen and which conveyed the closeness of the protagonists’ relationship was far too out of proportion and overwhelming in the setting of a cinema. Whereas Netflix is producing a new line of films tailor made to fit the laptop and television screen, there is a probability that these films will fail at festival level and therefore their only acclaim will be through that of their viewers. This problematizes the film industry for those who have become accustomed to trying to get films to festival level and to be screened by companies. With this, the film industry is undoubtedly evolving and filmmakers have no choice but to react.
Diamonds IN THE
he end of the year is typically associated with a sudden burst of spending. This is typically when a large swathe of games descends on store shelves, vying for purchase and accolades. The aftermath leaves these newly acclaimed titles with a lofty price tag, and fantastic reception. As such, they’re difficult to pick up at a low cost in the following months. But January is a month of price cuts. The produce of the previous Spring and Summer is generally reduced to the €20-40 price range. These games, while overlooked, are very often worth your time. This list is an assortment of games for people of different tastes, all are unique and push the boundaries of their genre.
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or Honor is an extremely stylish medieval combat game. It centres around the fantastical conflict of three factions; the Knights, the Samurai and the Vikings. The roster has since been expanded to include Romans, Ninjas and Celts. This game was built from the ground-up with a free DLC (Downloadable Content) system. Every map or game mode released since February has been free, with the six DLC heroes requiring a week’s play time to unlock. Consistent support, friendly community management and issue fixing have characterised For Honor’s first year. With the allure of dedicated servers and additional moves for weaker characters on the horizon.
some players. The game attempts to cater to solo players through simple communication tools and the revenge mechanic, which provides several advantages when the player is cornered and outnumbered. To review For Honor without referencing the ‘art of the battle’ system would be a disservice. It allows players to attack, block and parry in three directions, adapting the blocking mechanics of 2D fighters for the third dimension. While flawed in competitive play, For Honor’s focus on defense and mind games coupled with short combos and character variety makes for approachable and thrilling fights, with the majority of its connection issues set to be ironed out next month.
A tight combat system and meaningful character customisation bound to character mastery, makes the game an addictive experience. However, its steep learning curve and online-only nature may be a deterrent to
Verdict: For Honor will test you as you get to grips with its systems. Even after hours of practice mistakes are costly. If you can embrace your failure to make yourself stronger, For Honor is recommended.
rey was one of the most dynamic and interesting titles of the last year. It was primarily designed around the philosophy of allowing players to direct their experience through what abilities they choose. This results in having multiple ways to enter and exit every room in the game (including where you start). Entering through ventilation shafts, hacking doors, or through the use of alien abilities provides each player with a truly unique set of experiences. By drawing its atmosphere from the survival horror genre, this philosophy of explorative traversal makes Prey particularly tense. From a fantastic introductory segment, Prey puts you in control of Morgan Yu, an employee of the Transtar company, which owns a large space-station named Talos-1. Despite being split into areas, Talos-1 is physically connected in such a way that each level does not overlap, allowing players to explore the space station from both the inside and the outside. Prey can be considered less as a shooter, and more as a puzzle game. The game is about using a varied selection of tools to explore, evade and defeat enemies.. The Typhon, Prey’s enemies, maintain their menace throughout the game. Mimics take the form of objects in the environment which causes the act of collecting supplies to demand the full attention of the player. Anything you go to pick up could be an enemy if the context of the item is not analysed. Other Typhon include Telepaths, which control the minds of Talos-1’s remaining inhabitants, and Phantoms which act as their foot soldiers. Their shadowy designs create an otherworldly presence
and killing them is rewarded with essential supplies, but avoiding them entirely is also viable, especially as Prey allows players to research the Typhon and learn their abilities, which is far easier when they are not aware of your presence. The developers’ choice to allow players to save anywhere incentivises exploration, but also allows players to make meaningful choices. Players can try different abilities with the reassurance that they can return to before the ability was applied. Prey enables players to alter the difficulty of their experience through their choices, with the narrative cleverly fixating on who you choose to become. Do you become what you fight to destroy, or maintain your humanity? If you think this sounds reminiscent of BioShock (or System Shock, seeing as Prey is in space), then you are correct. Unfortunately, Prey also falls apart in the second half but offers a fantastic conclusion. Prey’s best qualities are fantastic world building, as well as the brilliant decision to make every monitor an interface in the world instead of using menu screens. This binds the crafting system directly to the world enabling Prey to trap players in its environments.
The Verdict: Prey is a unique experience. It starts with a bang, has some
surprises throughout, is less intense in its second half but its resolution is one that makes you question everything you assumed about the game. If you enjoy games that give you choice, surprise you, but also have a contained and enthralling plot, Prey might be for you.
Wipeout omega collection implementation of some WipEout 2048 elements is not integrated with the multiplayer suite, resulting in the player having to replay solo missions to unlock the final level. This is a fantastically realised package that includes everything good about WipEout. It looks fantastic. It plays silky smooth, controlling like no other racer. It has a varied selection of modes and an enjoyable multiplayer suite. Above all that, it is very good value. Repackaging games that have not aged in the slightest, WipEout Omega Collection does everything right on a technical level while also keeping the series’ staple gameplay.
The Verdict: WipEout Omega Collection is a compilation of some of the best of a sub-genre defining series. It’s recommended to any racing game fan who values technical gameplay and an exhilarating sense of speed.
2017 Unsung heroes Some honourable mentions include Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus and Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind. Both are a bit more expensive than the games featured, but offer fun for their price in certain stores. While some featured games had issues, it is worth emphasising that games can improve with time in this industry of patches and content updates. Exploration is one of the things that sets games apart. This can involve exploring a world, your own ability, or both. All games listed here realise the theme of exploration fully, and the best time to sample them is when the cost of entry is less steep. ■
tudio Liverpool was originally a CGI company back when it was known as Psygnosis. This has always been evident in their games, with WipEout HD running at 1080p and 60 frames per second on the PS3 while many current releases can’t come close to such performance. While their closure was unfortunate, it reflects fantastically on their work that little of it has been altered in this remaster. That said, every improvement that has been made is noticeable and demonstrates the power of the PS4. Colours pop and the massive changes for WipEout 2048’s first foray on console have been implemented flawlessly. The tone of the game has been maintained and Sony XDev have made an inspired re-imagining of what is arguably one of the PSVita’s finest games. The WipEout Omega Collection is comprised of WipEout HD, its Fury expansion and WipEout 2048, a prequel to the rest of the series. However,
WORDS BY ALEXANDER NORTON
The Culture Industry Does capitalism exist in theatre? How does it affect our contemporary creators and the art offered to a certain society?
ass culture is the basis of the capital industry. The mentality of the people favours the monopoly system. These concepts are influenced on a global scale, not just in a particular country which might have a utopian way of creating art, but also in our own contemporary society. Theatre has become an ‘industry’ since it became more indoor-orientated. Theatre performances were gradually moving to indoor environments in the 1500s, but not yet to playhouses. Eventually, in 1576, James Burbage built The Theatre in Shoreditch, London. Shakespeare joined this theatre, and subsequently, after Burbage’s death, Shakespeare bought part of the theatre house and it became known as the Globe. At this stage, theatre subtly made its way into the realms of industry and capital. The performance space used a smaller venue compared to open theatres, such as street theatres in Italy, Greece, and Spain. The public was charged to enter and see the indoor performances. Thus, the theatre became more selective of its audience since not everyone had financial conditions to attend theatre performances. Moreover, the price differentiation in the playhouse classified the spectators based on their social class and their financial status.
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Considering all the different movements that existed in the course of our global history, such as the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, World War I and II, the introduction of new technological sources and the
& Us development of science, the theatre adapted itself accordingly into contemporary culture. My aim is definitely not to generalize that all theatres on Earth accept the conceptual and existent ideologies in such a vast number of societies, and it is not to conclude that all creators try to make theatre a business. Yet, there is a sense of creating theatre art today in order to appeal to the mass audience, which is more convenient for profit-making.As a cyclical process, some theatre companies offer the spectators exactly what they want to fulfill their own personal expectations, such as the desire to be entertained. Consequently, the same stories are produced over and over again; what could be called the successful cliché plot. Evidently, the sameness of such productions is easily digested by the mass audience. These productions may not offer an intellectual, philosophical content based on the contemporary society. It also happens in other art forms, such as film and music. Lamentably, among theatre audiences, I have heard that some performances are more important than others since the money income is higher and that some performances are not as incendiary since the income acquisition is lower. The desire to make money is greater than the passion for art. Does capital have a greater value than the pure essence of art?
THE IDEA OF THEATRE AS A MONEY-MAKING MACHINE, CULTURE INDUSTRY AND THE INTERVENTION OF MASS MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY. ‘Culture industry’ is a term used by Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer in their critical theory book, Dialectic of Enlightenment, 1944. They also propose that art is produced with the goal to please the expectations and desires of the mass audience. As a result, the culture industry provides low art material and the spectators are essentially content with it. Some of the art products are also censored by government ideologies, which can influence the society and its moral codes.
“Yet, there is a sense of creating
theatre art today in order to appeal to the mass audience, which is more convenient for profit-making”
Consider the process of “emptying the mind”, of which the culture industry effectively controls the mass audience: the industrialization of culture guides the mass audience into a beautiful and illusionary scenery placing the society into a comfort zone. Nonetheless, our contemporary world has easy access to new sources of communication and popular media. Everything is easily accessible; anyone can buy a camera and other equipment and share videos of themselves on social media. I have watched examples of such videos on YouTube where the creators say they want to be rich and famous. Eventually, some become “well-known”, and achieve their goals by providing superficial content to the entertainment of the mass culture. It is not only based on YouTube channels, but Instagram and other social media are also used as a medium of representation or “acting”of the self. Our society has a technological domination, which influences the concerns of new art production, such as the idea of being “liked” by a large number of spectators. Additionally, films and telenovelas also present the actors or public figures surrounded by fame and high status quo. And these public figures are reported in a vast spectrum of global tabloid media. The illusion of fame influences the new actor and/or theatre practitioner. I have met a lot of people from different countries in theatre and theatre-related courses who expressed that their main concern was becoming rich and famous actors, and public figures. They wanted merely the glamourous concept of being known as “artists”. Conventional beauty helps some to become successful actors, with no intellectual or passionate knowledge about the art form itself. It is possible that these “actors” were once unconsciously influenced by the notion of being famous and so on; they become a puppet or tool for the money-making machine in the art industry. Culture industry mainly controls the mass audience by means of amusement and entertainment. Richard Wagner, a composer and theatre
The intervention of mass media and the conceptions of fame have affected theatre, as well as film practitioners. This corrupted desire is not only associated with art, but with any other profession. The desire to make money and to achieve a famous status is vaguely constructed. The will to share knowledge and to change social issues is forgotten by some contemporary artists who have greater power upon the mass audience. Playwrights and theatre practitioners undoubtedly have the power to highlight social issues, spread knowledge to both types of audience and make art revolutionary, even though they may be censored in a certain epoch and space. I hope that the will to make change is greater than the will to conform and that entertainment can be intertwined with the intellectual. Eventually, there can be an equilibrium between both forms of art, Apollonian and Dionysian—both Apollonian and Dionysian art are discussed by the cultural critic and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche in his The Birth of Tragedy, 1872.
“The industrialization of culture
guides the mass audience into a beautiful and illusionary scenery placing the society into a comfort zone” Based on my experiences, I think the contemporary theatre atmosphere should be somehow reconditioned. Since some theatres present themselves as businesses and the theatre-goers as loyal consumers. Nevertheless, some advertisements and theatre reviews use persuasive language in order to grab attention of more spectators/consumers. If you follow some critics’ reviews they always mention their own personal idea and they tend to include the following lexis: “book now”, “extraordinary”, “brilliant” and so on. I am not sure to what extent they are being biased or if there is a business between the theatre company and the press, or something alike. Theatre should provide a welcoming and friendly experience for the spectators and not treat them merely as consumers, for art is not superficially a material product to be consumed. Art and all its components are part of human nature and the soul. ■
WORDS BY LARISSA BRIGATTI
director, also refers to modern art, the folk theatre and the self-concerning business involved with theatre artwork, which he classifies as egoistic in his ‘Artwork of the Future’ essay in 1895. Theatre business is also mentioned by the theatre practitioner and playwright Bertolt Brecht, in his ‘A Short Organum for the Theatre’, 1948. Brecht interlinks the bourgeoisie with business and theatrical entertainment, as he suggests it is theatre’s business to entertain people and that these means of entertainment are forms of instruction of mass audience by mass communication. This form of theatre provided to the mass audience obtains more money and fame, which are not necessarily crucial for art. There are some recent Dublin productions that are generating a high financial income, such as Riot which is currently touring Australia. Another example of contemporary theatre and business could possibly be linked to pantomime, and how these productions tend to stay in theatres for a longer run with an exuberant and endless amount of performances compared to more sophisticated productions which have far fewer performances, audiences and less financial profit.
DEATH OF THE WHITE KNIGHT
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Alias Grace (2017). Image courtesy of Netflix.
Stacey Wrenn explores the second Margaret Atwood TV adaption of 2017, Alias Grace, as an exposé of the Nice Guy Saviour complex.
rom infancy, our expectations and desires are shaped by the media around us; from what we eat and how we dress, to what we expect from love. Young girls encounter numerous displays of the hapless woman, vulnerable and meek, with the guaranteed happy ending when she meets her white knight. Upon reaching adulthood this illusion can be quickly shattered upon meeting the real-life Nice Guy™. The Nice Guy™ goes by many different names (‘white knight’, ‘Florence Nightingale’, ‘romantic saviour’ - to name but a few) and looks just like anyone else, but they have the desperate need to save you from yourself. Film and television executives utilise this character to spur on the romance, recreating the narratives that Disney familiarised us with growing up, and we eagerly digest. Take, for example, the plot of Beauty and the Beast. Historical misrepresentations aside, it is one of the most problematic examples of film showing a child in terms of female autonomy and self-respect, and yet it grossed over $1 billion at the box office last year with self-proclaimed feminist Emma Watson leading the way. Fears for the future of humanity aside, this trend may be starting to finally fade away through one of the most accessible mediums we have ever seen – a Netflix original.
in particular on her youth and dire state of mind. While a vast majority of the contemporary public assumed Grace was guilty, there were a substantial number who believed her innocent. These people thought she had been manipulated into taking part in the murders by the stable hand who had taken advantage of her vulnerability. In a particularly sinister twist central to the plot of the series, Dr. Jordan is hired by members of this minority to discover if there is anything in her past that might indicate she is insane, or, at least, has been driven to insanity. If the doctor finds her to be insane, she may be pardoned. The public long for her to be insane, they relish in the image of a vulnerable young woman taken advantage of due to the lack of control over her own mind. This fetishisation of women with mental health issues goes hand in hand with the romantic saviour complex Dr. Jordan represents.
behind Dr. Jordan’s interest is as clear as day: he gets pleasure from her pain and at the possibility of him lessening it. Grace, however, does not escape the White Knight paradox by shaking off Dr. Jordan. She continues to be subjected to the same behaviour fifteen years later when she marries Jamie Walsh, a farmhand who testified against her in the trial – the proposal acting as a way of gaining her forgiveness. He uses Grace in a multitude of ways now he has “saved” her; he now has a woman to keep his home, to help on the farm, and to satisfy him sexually. Towards the end of the series, minutes before pulling her towards him in a one-sided embrace, Grace’s husband asks her to tell him again of “what they did” in the prison. She tells Dr. Jordan in a letter that Jamie does this on a regular basis, that “he likes to picture the suffering I have endured… like a child listening to a fairy tale.” Just like Dr. Jordan used to, she bluntly reminds him, revealing her grasp of the situation. The romantic saviour has been exposed, the darkness of his reality and purpose laid bare. The white knight is dead.
“The public long for her to be insane, they relish in the image of a vulnerable young woman taken advantage of due to the lack of control over her own mind. This fetishisation of women with mental health issues goes hand in hand with the romantic saviour complex Dr. Jordan represents.
Prisons in the 19th century were open to the public. Similar to a zoo, visitors would come and sit in front of murderers and debtors as if they were wild animals. The physical discomfort that this caused is well depicted at the beginning of the first episode, as Grace sits stiffly on her bed with Nice Guy™ psychologist, Dr. Jordan, peering in at her as he promises to help her case. The media has latched on to Grace’s story, focusing
Dr. Jordan is as entranced by Grace’s story as the group who fight for her pardon. She recounts her life story to him, beginning with her voyage on the ship over from Ireland to her journey to Toronto on the day of the murder. He hangs on to her every word, his fascination with her struggle to make a living and overcome her traumatic childhood gradually developing into an obsession. He has sexually explicit dreams about her, where she is completely consenting and reciprocates all affections he gives her – but they do not have any real-life interactions that would suggest this ever happening. I admit that I may not be well-versed in mid-nineteenth-century standards of ethics for medical practitioners, but I doubt the spurring on of these dreams by graphic depictions of the torture Grace was subject to in prison was ever acceptable behaviour. The director of Alias Grace, Mary Harron (American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page), did little to mask the perverseness of his actions, with his final dream of them together taking place hours after she graphically tells him about a scar on her chest which she was left with after she fainted and almost impaled herself on the courtroom railing. The reason
It is impossible to tell who Grace Marks really was and what she did or did not do. Grace never gave another account to contradict the confession she gave in court. Though her collective and romantic saviours reveled in her victimhood and desired her innocence, Alias Grace and its fictionalised version of her case conveys a hope that society might be gradually ridding itself of its affection for men like Dr. Jordan – the self-designated saviour that the protagonist never wanted or requested – whilst also casting a critical eye on the fetishisation of mental health issues. ■
WORDS BY STACEY WRENN
Following the success of HBO’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale in 2017, much attention has been given to another miniseries adapted from a Margaret Atwood novel: Alias Grace. The novel is based on the true story of the Irish-Canadian servant Grace Marks who was accused and convicted of murdering her master Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery with the help of the stable hand in 1843. It is a fictionalised version of events, with the addition of potential characters Grace might have encountered during the discussion of the case for sake of plot – namely our Nice Guy™, Dr. Jordan. The relationships that Grace develops with these characters, however, is reflective of the popular narratives that sprung up around her at the time.
It is important to note that it will take more than just six hour-long episodes of a Netflix original to expose and improve the structural problems of our society. This is most clear in a statement that actor Edward Holcroft who plays Dr. Jordan in the 2017 miniseries, made when questioned about the script. Holcroft said that, when he read it, he felt that “it was a love story… amongst all the sort of terrible events that happen around it, there was this, at the base of it, which I thought was moving.” Even the actor playing the role of “saviour” Dr. Jordan cannot break away from the White Knight complex and continues to see the fruition of this dysfunctional relationship as a potential happy ending for Grace.
AISLING GRACE INVESTIGATES THE DICHOTOMY BETWEEN ART AND CRAFT IN THE WESTERN WORLD AND QUESTIONS WHY PAINTING AND SCULPTURE ARE ALWAYS PLACED ON TOP.
an embroidery be art? Ever? Or is to destined to remain relegated to the confines of the decorative, the domestic, ‘mere’ craft? For centuries, Art and craft have been considered as two very different categories in the West. The former evokes reverence, cerebralism and reflection, occupies hallowed walls of national and international art galleries, and sells for millions in auction houses. Some have suggested that the galleries that house ‘art’ objects could be humanist stand-ins in for the church, given the awe, tranquility and contemplation that is induced when one is in a quiet space filled with works of ‘art’. The latter, meanwhile, may suggest something more banal, more amateur. In the public consciousness, ‘craft’ is more heavily associated with the keeping children, stay-at-home mothers and old women occupied. Art is considered Serious Business, while craft, simply a hobby. One should wonder: Why does a hierarchy exist between art and craft, and why are painting and sculpture always placed on top?
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The hierarchy of art and craft has its roots in the Renaissance. Before the fifteenth century, object-makers of all kinds were members of guilds, which were associations of specially trained individuals who oversaw the creation of objects . The guilds sought to maintain established conventions and ensure a professional finish to all the creative output of their members. They thus outlined a strict set of rules that local craftsmen had to follow, whether they were basket-makers, goldsmiths or painters. Apprentices were trained by masters of their field until they reached an acceptable level of expertise, then becoming journeymen and later masters if they possessed enough skill. Far from the celebrity status of Da Vinci, Rembrandt or
Damien Hirst, the maker of the wicker basket or gold-gilded altarpiece was generally anonymous prior to and during the Medieval period, similar to the anonymity many highly expert craftspeople have today. Prior to the Renaissance, object-makers were typically considered as a collective and it was the owner of a beautiful object, rather than its designer or creator, who would receive all the adulation.
“Perhaps long-held ideas about what is ʻArt-
with-a-capital-A’ and what is mere craft persist because painting and sculpture do hold some inherent artistic value that the humble porcelain jug or patchwork quilt simply cannot?”
Renaissance thought was marked, in part, by a shifting emphasis on the individual over the collective, and this newfound pre-eminence of the individual was reflected in the attitudes towards the creation of objects and art work. Painters broke from the guilds and began to demand that they they should be paid more if their work was exceptionally unique or well-crafted and some artists began to outstrip others in prestige. Painters, sculptors and architects began to make names for themselves by creating
unique works, and the concept of the ‘artist’ was born. Meanwhile, fields of production that remained in guilds and/or continued to value the maintenance of tradition over exceptionalism came to be known as ‘artisans’ and they largely continued to remain anonymous. Their candlesticks, rugs and embroidery were considered merely decorative and unworthy of the evaluative force of the word ‘art’. This hierarchy has remained essentially unchanged over the past few centuries and painting, sculpture, as well as architecture, are still considered the pre-eminent forms of creative expression in the West. The stubbornness of this designation makes one wonder; maybe it’s all for good reason? Perhaps long-held ideas about what is ‘Art-with-a-capital-A’ and what is mere craft persist because painting and sculpture do hold some inherent artistic value that the humble porcelain jug or patchwork quilt simply cannot? In other words, what makes art art, and what makes craft craft?
“Some crafts, such as embroidery, have
almost always been the domain of women in the West, while others, like knitting, were done by men until the industrial revolution when machines made their necessity obsolete”
Most people would identify the difference between ‘art’ and ‘craft’ to be its purpose. Craft-objects have a utilitarian function - they can be poured from, sat on, worn. By contrast, art is supposedly functionless and is simply meant to be contemplated, and this prompting of analysis, intellectualism or an emotional response is generally deemed more worthwhile than any ‘functional’ role craft-objects play. However, can something not be contemplated or prompt an emotional response while also having the ability to store objects or keep somebody warm? Or does its usefulness pose a distraction from any supposed aesthetic or intellectual appreciation it could potentially induce? Perhaps its functionality removes it from the lofty heights of art and down to the banal, where objects simply cannot be art. If this is the case, then one must wonder why embroidery or cross
‘Vase of Flowers’ by Odilon Redon (1905) stitch are deemed crafts, when they are not particularly functional. The argument is generally that they are merely decorative, but plenty of paintings are used as simply ornamentation and there is nothing inherent in woollen string that prevents a viewer from responding with more than ‘simple’ pleasure, and nothing intrinsic in paint that demands the reverence it automatically receives. Objects created with ‘craft’ materials, such as macramé creations, wood-carvings and wall hangings are lumped in as humble crafts, despite a lack of functionality and possibly ‘higher’ intentions. Surely wool, bone china or mahogany possess the same artistic potential as paint or marble? Given that so many crafts are traditionally associated with women’s work, such as embroidery, cross-stitch, knitting, crochet, needlepoint, jewellerymaking, quilting, scrapbooking, basket-weaving and decoupage, one has to wonder what role sexism plays in the differing value given to art and craft. Some crafts, such as embroidery, have almost always been the domain of women in the West, while others, like knitting, were done by men until the industrial revolution when machines made their necessity obsolete. Either way, it is undeniable that these techniques are associated with women’s domestic labour. Perhaps it it their domesticity and not their association with women that relegates these techniques to mere craft? Either way, it is unfortunate that so much of women’s creative output is looked down upon. The inferior status of craftwork not only does a disservice to the highly skilled and thoughtfully produced creations of modern craftspeople, it has certainly done a disservice to the art-objects of different cultures seen through the eyes of Westerners. The rest of the world largely does not distinguish between art and craft and the West’s emphasis on innovation and individualism is the exception rather than the rule. In many cultures, it is a craftsperson’s ability to execute artistic conventions passed down through millenia with expertise and a professional finish that will earn them respect and acclaim. From the nineteenth century, when European powers colonised large swathes of Africa, African artistic output has been deemed unsophisticated, in part because of its adherence to traditions established millennia ago and in part because of its abundance of such ‘unworldly’ forms as pottery and masks. It has been relegated the same low status as craft, lacking the intrinsic value infused in anything created with pigments, bristle-topped sticks and a piece of cloth. ■
WORDS BY AISLING GRACE
‘Woman Sewing’ by Mary Cassatt (1914)
ART BY DAVID BOYD
t n e m e t i c x e d e e n I
i need it bad
Northern Irish punk & youth culture Niamh keating discuSses What punk brought to ravaged cities during the Troubles
Henry McDonald said in his memoir: “Beyond the macho men in the woolen masks toting their rifles and laying their bombs, stands another narrative, a hidden Ireland” - this hidden Ireland needs to be uncovered. The figure of the ordinary person is often in the shadows of history but punk brought their reaction to the forefront. Punk music is a genre which has a philosophy of cultural revolt and has a do-it-yourself ethos, which made it accessible for many young people. The punk movement spread to Northern Ireland in 1977 when The Clash’s concert in Belfast was canceled. This was the first mass gathering of punks from all over the province and ended in a riot in true punk fashion. The violence that ensued in the seventies affected almost every facet of life, including young people’s social life. Venues in the city centre of Belfast were closed by 9pm and in 1971 alone 73 pubs were bombed out of business. This meant that nightlife disappeared and people ultimately forgot how to socialise. The destruction was illustrated by Bloody Friday in 1972 when the music venue The Pound was turned into a makeshift morgue for the nine people killed. Due to the immense conflict, the realm of music was deeply changed as the myth of sectarian-free music was shattered. In 1975, members of the Miami Showband were killed by members of the Ulster Volunteer Force while returning from a concert in the North. Cross-community communication was a thing of the past as bands didn’t travel to Northern Ireland to play. Punk strived to fill this void while also creating a non-sectarian centre for young people.
WORDS BY NIAMH KEATING
It was in the abandoned city centre of Belfast that punk was founded, precisely because it provided a non-sectarian hub of activity rather than the young person’s working class housing estates. Venues like The Harp and The Pound provided a sphere in which people from all forms of life could gather. Band practice as well as gig after-parties allowed young people to venture to neighbourhoods marked out by their parents as being the “other side”. This is attested by a contemporary viewpoint , Dee Wilson, who said: “it was only because of the punk scene that I met people from Catholic, Republican communities and in doing so forged lifelong friendships”. Terri Hooley opened the record store Good Vibrations and, according to his autobiography, it was a “hub for people of all ages and creeds” and inside it was like the violence outside “didn’t matter anymore”. The crucial symbolism of these venues for punk music is clearly evident in photographs of The Clash and other punk bands posing outside the Harp. According to Brian Young, a member of the band Rudi, in these venues “you were a punk rocker first”. During the Troubles, sectarianism became a key component of youth culture. Young men became central to the paramilitaries and were involved in gangs, such as the ‘Tartan Gangs’ who would attack Catholic youth. Many had
grown with a diet of violence and had no choice but to fall to sectarian violence. Estates underwent sectarian ghettoization, demonstrated by the painting of curbs a certain color to denote which side the estate lay. Conversely, it appeared that punk offered an alternative to this divided youth culture and offered a form of expression that didn’t focus solely on brutality. The genre of music didn’t immediately have sectarian connotations, unlike, for example, the GAA’s connection to republicanism, so it brought a unique cross-community element. Moreover, punk used instruments that were seen as neutral and separated itself from the more sectarian genres like traditional music. The punk-rock guitar was a neutral symbol in comparison to traditional music’s use of the bodhrán which was inseparable from republicanism.
age Kicks’ didn’t reference the brutality of the Troubles, but rather examined the experience of the young individual. The word ‘teenage’ itself, which at the time was a relatively new word, suggested that this song was truly the reaction of the youth. Rather than express their frustration towards politics, The Undertones expressed the frustration of being a young person in general. The lyric “I need excitement/ Oh I need it bad” demonstrates the boredom of youth in a place torn by violence. When it was played on Radio 1 by John Peel, it proved that Northern Ireland was more than just “bombs and bullets”. The Undertones confirmed that an existence without was possible for young people. They fought against the Troubles because they were forced to confront the crisis “every single day” and “lived and breathed” it.
The insistence of The Undertones on ordinary experience was a political statement in itself in the face of the highly charged atmosphere in Northern Ireland. Punk didn’t deny the politics of the time but rather offered a pathway to survival during an overwhelming attack upon a community’s social freedom. Being neutral was met with hostility by the people of Derry, the band’s hometown. Fergal Sharkey, lead singer of the band, explains that punk was a way of escape - “People used to ask early on why we didn’t write songs about the Troubles: we were doing our best to escape from it”. Sharkey himself was from the Creggan Estate, which was notorious for its battle between the IRA and the British army. The Undertones protested by simply existing as they brought both sides together through their impartiality.
didn’t deny the politics of the time but rather offered a pathway to survival during an overwhelming attack upon a community’s social freedom
The religious discrimination and ferocity that existed in society made punk incredibly relatable for young people. As Terri Hooley said: “New York had the bands, London had the fashion, Belfast had the reason”. Joe Strummer, lead singer of The Clash, said that punk provided “the perfect soundtrack” for the “ravaged cities” as they could understand the violence of punk because they experienced it every day. Additionally, punk was based on revolt that allowed young people to express anti-sectarianism ideals. The sentiment against sectarianism was established through zines, which formed an immediate and cheap expression. Zines enabled young people to construct their own narrative that was not dictated by outside sectarian forces, such as their parents and the media. There was also an attempt to mimic the Rock against Racism campaign, which began in the UK to combat the growth of white nationalist groups, by creating the Rock against Sectarianism and Repression. This illuminates that punk was an attempt to attack the chaos that these young people were surrounded by with music. The genre also allowed for a discussion of normal life that didn’t necessarily have a key focus on the Troubles. The Undertones’ song ‘Teen-
Bands like Stiff Little Fingers imagined an Ulster that was neither republican or Loyalist in songs like ‘Alternative Ulster’. Hence, the shows that they played appealed to a mixed demographic from both sides, which encouraged their communication.The band would also play in central Belfast which was a neutral territory for both sides to congregate. Lyrics like “Grab it and change it, it’s yours” doesn’t define exactly what this Alternative Ulster will be, but signifies possibility. The song commands the savagery as a form of communicating anti-sectarianism the idea of change with the RUC “barking at your feet”. Their other songs look to the young person to take responsibility for their lives in such a tumultuous time, such as ‘Suspect Device’ which urges one to “question everything you’re told”. Poet Paul Muldoon has said that the song ‘Alternative Ulster’ highlights the “power of imagination over nation” and called it a “key moment in the artistic life of Northern Ireland”. Punk acted as a force for young people to communicate the events of the Troubles and also as an escape. Although it was a small movement, it profoundly affected those involved. As Gavin Martin said, creator of the zine Alternative Ulster, “Did punk make a difference? You bet your life and tomorrow’s breakfast it did.” ■ 23
BLUE MADONA Børns
●●●○○ Lana features at the start and end of the album which also happen to be the better parts. Tracks such as ‘sweet dreams’ and ‘Faded Heart’ are filled with joy, showing how Børns specialises in the love song. The heavy base and the ghostly backing vocals really open up the song, making it cavernous, as if it could swallow you up and you wouldn’t mind at all. Whilst the opening is strong, the album fades away and loses the run of itself. It switches between different genres from rock to punk to 80s pop. It becomes experimental at times where the flow of the song disappears. Where these tracks should show the scope of Børns talent, they reveal an artist who has yet to make his best work. Despite its faults, Blue Madonna does stand out when it comes to originality. Børns seduces you in his love filled songs. By the end, you’ll be wishing the lyrics were written about you. Although there may be some misses, there are some shining beacons of brilliance that call out and say that there is more and better to come.
Taking on the task of the ominous second album can put pressure on artists. Sometimes first albums are improved upon but in some cases, they are not. Børns’ sophomore album, Blue Madonna, could be classified as one that misses the mark but there are too many moments of brilliance to call it a failure. Børns himself is hard to pin down. His androgynous style and soaring vocals are beautifully strange. He doesn’t fit into any one category, making him an artist that is contemporary and genre-less. His first album, Dopamine, showed us that he is a musician who is alluring and in love with love. With Blue Madonna, that was no different. His collaboration with Lana Del Rey is definitely the highlight of the album, where she features on two tracks. Their two voices complement each other fantastically well as they sing over haunting melodies of psychedelic guitars. Drifting in and out, Lana does not outshine Børns in the opening song, ‘God Save Our Young Blood’ but accompanies him as backing vocals. It is only in title track ‘Blue Madonna’, that she has her own verse which she sings in her infamous sultry tone.
I CAN FEEL YOU CREEP INTO MY PRIVATE LIFE Tune-Yards
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“I ask myself what I should/But all I know is white centrality” sings Merrill Garbus over a four-to-the-floor rhythm in ‘ABC 123’, one of the leading singles from Tune-Yards’ latest album. Released nine years after Merrill’s DIY debut Bird-Brains, I can feel you creep into my private life is a rumination and reflection whiteness set to infectious dance beats. The combination isn’t unusual. Dance music has always been political, from disco to house. This is Tune-Yards at their most danceable, but their eclectic sound draws from a range of influences, including Haitian percussion and Malian singing. This could veer towards cultural appropriation, but it’s worth keeping in mind how much pop and rock has already taken from African-American traditions. It’s odd, yet fitting,
WORDS BY SOPHIA MCDONALD
that now this musical language is being used to critique a system of institutional racism. As a fourth release, I can see you represents, if not a maturation, at least a distillation of some of the strong elements of Tune-Yards’ sound. Fans of the lo-fi, ukulele-driven music found on Bird-Brains might miss the complex compound rhythms and intricate vocal loops, but there are plenty of great tracks here, though it’s missing the consistency of whokills. Nevertheless, Nate Brenner consistently provides a great bass groove, and there’s still fun to be found in the signature use of glitchy drum machines and loop pedals. The veer towards politics isn’t a new one— previous tracks like ‘My Country’ and ‘Stop That Man’ have already critiqued American life. It’s just a bit clearer in this album. Lines like “I use my white woman’s voice to tell stories” (‘Colonizer’) may veer towards being heavy handed, yet I can see you nevertheless features an impressive integration of politically charged lyrics into a very enjoyable pop album. In its original iteration, identity politics was a tool used by black feminists to dismantle all systems of oppression, on the basis that “the most
radical politics come directly out of our own identity”. Garbo’s examination of her own status as a white woman serves a broader critique of the corrupt systems in which we are complicit. She calls upon us to do the same: ‘Look at your hands’. And though you might choose to ignore the politics at your own peril, even without the lyrics this is still a solid dance album. WORDS BY ÁINE PALMER
theatre IF WE GOT SOME MORE COCAINE, I COULD SHOW YOU HOW I LOVE YOU Project Arts Centre
THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES The Mill Theatre
only when I integrate all the parts of who I am, openly, allowing power from particular sources of my living to flow back and forth freely through all my different selves, without the restriction of externally imposed definition.” This battle for the integration of selfhood is at the heart of If We Got Some More Cocaine. Mikey and Casey, an interracial gay couple, are externally torn by expectations which attempt to divide and disintegrate their identities. They adopt different strategies for coping with the decisions they must make. Although often not understanding each other’s approach, their actions are underscored by the desperate, fervent love that emerges in the face of opposition. The near-absence of LGBT+ stories in Irish theatre is unrepresentative of Irish society.
Companies, playwrights, directors, and theatres must be called upon to act with more attention towards the diverse experiences of our population and follow the path of plays like If We Got Some More Cocaine. Even in 2018, it is vital not to underestimate the importance of two men kissing on stage in a manner that is not caricature-ish or for comic relief, but rather as an expression of love. If We Got Some More Cocaine is a piercing performance that voices an evocative story, the likes of which has previously remained unarticulated. We must hope that it will set a precedence for theatre to come. If We Got Some More Cocaine, I Could Show You How I Love You is showing at the Project Arts Centre from January 16th to February 3rd. WORDS BY LAUREN BOLAND
Twenty years after The Vagina Monologues premiered at Broadway, Eve Ensler’s iconic play might not seem as scandalous as it used to be. On January 19th, the enumeration of synonyms for ‘vagina’ that opened the play elicited more laugh than uneasiness from the – mostly feminine – audience of the dlr Mill Theatre. Later on, when one of the bold performers invited the audience to profess after her the word ‘cunt’, the public did not spare their clapping but no one took on to repeat after her. This is by no means a criticism of the production of The Vagina Monologues directed by Reidin Dunne, only the proof that she was right in rewriting or inventing certain sections of the play for it to retain in 2018 all its topicality. Indeed, Dunne did not resent breaking away from the original staging. One actress, dressed up as the slightly sadistic coach in charge of a fitness camp, replaces the three usual narrators. The successive statements are delivered without the indications given in the original script. For the spectator, there is thus no way of knowing that the moving middle-aged woman who tells the story of an atrocious rape in times of war is in fact enacting a Bosnian girl under 20. This
absence of context gives The Vagina Monologues’ words the universality that the play is sometimes said to lack. On the other hand, another achievement of the cast and crew is to provide not only a replication of an almost classic play but an adaptation perfectly adequate to the Irish context. Whereas some critics complained in 1996 that Ensler did not tackle the issue of reproductive rights, Dunne has invented a new monologue during which an Irish woman recounts how she became a mum at seventeen and the stigma that ensued. Her compelling soliloquy then evolves into a call for empowering Irish girls and young women and setting them free of what she calls “a legacy of shame”. The final scene is very relevant to this aim. After having taken turns at talking and singing, the thirteen actresses, bathed in a green hue, gather in a choreography made of sudden movements and shout in unison. In a grand final, they stubbornly repeat “We’re sorry”, hence paying tribute to all Irish women, especially the ones that have been tortured in ‘laundries’, the ones that died as Savita Halappanavar and the ones that decided to fight for their peers. WORDS BY LUCIE RONDEAU DU NOYER
If We Got Some More Cocaine, I Could Show You How I Love You has a deceptively simple premise: two young men robbing a house in County Clare must hide together on the roof to wait out the Gardaí. The night that ensues is an undulation of highs Aand lows that brings together love, danger, and questions of identity. The slanted roof Mikey and Casey must navigate visually calls forth the themes this play grapples with: coping with a sense of potential danger; living at the edge of a precipice; balancing conflicting notions of selfhood. As the night progresses, If We Got Some More Cocaine explores the frustration of lose-lose scenarios and the paradoxes faced by those who are multiply oppressed along sexuality, race, and class lines, but also the complications wrought on all by love in its many variations. Writer and activist Audre Lorde wrote: “My fullest concentration of energy is available to me
LADY BIRD ●●●●○
Greta Gerwig’s first solo flight as a director and writer perfectly captures the bittersweet transition between happy childhood and awkward adolescence. It’s a coming-of-age story, as the rebellious Christine (Saoirse Ronan) struggles with autonomy and her controlling mother (Laurie Metcalf). In an act towards independence, Christine renames herself Ladybird in an attempt to reinvent herself amongst the shuffle of a vastly clerical Catholic high school. The film follows Ladybird’s ups and downs, potential new boyfriends, bad boyfriends, family struggles, jobs, social orders and most importantly. it charts her attempt to escape the trap of hometown life by attending an East Coast college As a film, Ladybird reconstructs the feelings of growing up in the early 2000s, in a pre-mobile phone and social media era with accuracy that will make it irresistible to anyone who grew up in the dawn of commercialised internet and bad hairdos. Unlike many derivative coming-of-age stories, Gerwig does not focus on sexuality or romance to shift the plot but instead concentrates on the volatile relationship between Ladybird
and her mother. The two are so alike, yet so different to each other. In one of the very first scenes the pair joyously recite an audio book of The Grapes of Wrath whilst driving home from a college tour. The next moment Ladybird flings herself from the same moving car in an attempt to win an argument over which college she will choose. Gerwig has previously co-directed and cowritten a number of features (Frances Ha, Mistress America). However, this is her first venture as a solo director and writer and it’s an outstanding success. The script is exceptionally well written, full of word-play and subtle anecdotes. It shifts from slapstick nostalgic comedy to raw intense emotion in a fluid appreciation of what it feels like to be a teenager again. Ronan is spectacular in the title role and interprets the nuances of Gerwig’s script with commendable accuracy. Despite being 23 when she was cast in the role, Ronan tackles Ladybird’s contradictory impulses of insecurity and self-assurance, selfishness and generosity with incredible authenticity and layered depth that epitomises the reality of adolescence. “I want you to be the very best version of yourself ” assures her mother. “But what if this
is the best version?” Ladybird responds in an existential and sardonic manner. Ladybird is far from a perfect debut from Gerwig, but it does get to the depth of bittersweet nostalgia and human connections with subtle, heartwarming resonance.
Dir. Steven Speilberg
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Steven Spielberg’s The Post starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks is a riveting watch beginning in a perilous jungle war-zone in 1966 during the US invasion of Vietnam. However, the tension only mounts as the film progresses and the opening scenes of screaming bullets are replaced by the arresting hum of hundreds of typewriter keys slamming out articles under the pressure of looming deadlines on The Washington Post’s fast-paced office floor. The film chronicles the lead up to the publishing of ‘The Pentagon Papers’, incriminating state documents that reveal the reality of the loss of US control in the Vietnam War, a different story from the information provided by the government during press statements. Military analyst Daniel Ellsberg (Matthew Rhys) seeks to rectify this rift between what the public are being told and the reality of the situation by
commencing to sneak out the incrementing documents and providing them to The New York Times. Rival, and somewhat underdog of a paper in comparison, The Post is put to the test when The New York Times is brought to court by the government. The Post’s decision to publish the remaining and most damaging aspects of the documents is far from a simple one. Spielberg perfectly captures the suspense and gravity of the situation in authentic 1970s fashion with heated five-way wire phone conversations and arguing chainsmoking men in pinstripe suits. If they publish, they are risking contempt of court and could face serious charges. Most powerful is a moment where The Post’s publisher Katharine Graham (Streep), who has previously been undermined and criticised by some of the newspaper’s directors, with a newly found authoritative
flare and whilst donning an elegant nighty tells the men in her living room that her decision is absolutely final and she is off to bed, leaving them speechless. Streep effortlessly sustains her performance throughout. She maintains Graham’s kindness and humanity as she relentlessly tries to please those around her whilst conveying a growing confidence in overcoming the sexism and dominance she faces. Hanks’ performance is equally impressive; Ben Bradlee, the fearfully admired editor of The Post, is sharp with his frequently crossed arms and feet on the desk. He tackles a range of emotions and tempers throughout, making the film all the more engaging. Not only admirably accurate to historical events, The Post is thoroughly engaging throughout, a definite must-watch. WORDS BY ROBYN MITCHELL
WORDS BY SIMON JEWELL
Dir. Greta Gerwig
art DIGITAL_SELF IMMA
●●●○○ digital_self is an attempt to understand the many ways we choose to represent ourselves in digital media. The exhibition primarily concerns itself with issues of originality, identity and self-indulgence that all too often occur online and seemingly dominate social media. The pieces largely emphasise the conflict between how we choose to represent ourselves online versus how we conduct ourselves privately. Viewer interaction is encouragedw by several performance-based visual pieces that reflect the culture of online identity and self-promotion. One of the more successful interpretations of this concept is Amalia Ulman’s ‘Privilege’, a short satirical performance piece that utilises platforms such as Instagram to explore the fabricated digital identity of an office worker preoccupied with her narcissistic attempt to garner online status. In contrast, Theresa Nanigian’s ‘Not Sorry’ offers an image of the bedroom of a young adult, a far more private and intimate insight into an individual’s identity and how it conflicts with their online persona. Jonathan Mayhew’s ‘Different Thoughts Various Evenings’, a large-scale projection that domi-
nates the exhibition space, displays a collection of thoughts and observations shared online and highlights how by utilising social media practically anyone can avail of a public platform for their opinions. However positive the provision of this platform is, some of the more puzzling statements presented in Mayhew’s piece lead to the conclusion that some people are perhaps best to keep their thoughts to themselves. Individually, many of the pieces in the exhibition succeed in conveying the rapidly diversifying representations of the self in the online world. Unfortunately, the organisation of the exhibition overall is rather clumsy. Despite their correlation in subject matter, there is a certain disconnect between the individual pieces which leads to rather uneasy movement through the exhibition space. This small exhibition offers one or two intriguing observations into the question of the digital personality, but they are largely self-contained statements and offer little further insight into a subject that has already been extensively addressed. Despite some strong individual pieces, sadly many aspects of digital_self are as self-indulgent as the online culture they portray.
The first thing you experience in The Breath From Fertile Grounds is its emptiness. Your eyes move through the sparse space, latching onto the collection of pieces at the opposite side of the room Like diffusion, you gravitate towards where the exhibition is at its busiest. A staff created of lime mortar and covered in lichen leans on the black metal railing; A cloth with a poem written on it; A piece of bog and flora, the roots of which can be seen through the transparent plexiglass, shaped like a cutting of peat- and connecting these pieces, a railing. The railing itself protrudes from the wall, its twisting reminiscent of torcs. It is an orchestra of mediums, exactly what The Breath From Fertile Grounds aims to be. It is an exploration of the material history of Ireland, created by the vibrant internationallyacclaimed artist, Otobong Nkanga. In this exhibition, Nkanga expertly blends the contrasting themes of regeneration and decay through medium, from the living flora, carefully watered by the curators, to the weary brickwork that takes the main stage in a piece that quite literally can’t be missed. However, I would have to admit that the spareness of The Breath From Fertile Grounds can
THE BREATH FROM FERTILE GROUNDS Temple Bar Gallery & Studies
be intimidating. This is namely due to the lack of information given about its focus and scope. Though the website does go into some detail of the themes and the origins of the exhibition, it doesn’t give nearly enough information. Seeing how ambitious the whole exhibition aims to be, it could have really benefited with some extra contextualisation of the pieces. That said, there were pieces that I particularly enjoyed in this exhibition. Playfully named ‘The Handshake’, this particular work spans the gallery and divides it neatly in half. Two bulking pillars of brick are seated opposite each other, their appearance softened by the growth of moss on their facades. A slender piece of metal connects these colossal structures, which widens in the middle to spoon a piece of rock with lichen and moss. The piece is both visually and intellectually engaging, asking you first to see its lighthearted nature before asking you to think deeper on the relationships between the very same materials. Altogether, The Breath From Fertile Grounds is an interesting glimpse into the Ireland that has come before and the Ireland now. WORDS BY JERIE MACAPAGAL
WORDS BY JESS CLOAKE
TV BLACK MIRROR Netflix
●●●●○ beat human instinct and emotion no matter how oppressive it may seem initially. Did somebody say “Aww”? The final episode of the series is ‘Black Museum’; a long-winded execution of the classic plotline of good triumphing over evil. We meet Nish (Letitia Wright), a young woman who seemingly stumbles upon the Black Museum in America’s desert. The museum’s proprietor, the enigmatic Rolo Haynes (played brilliantly by Douglas Hodge), guides Nish through his macabre exhibits. We soon realise that he’s the antagonist of the episode - a human experimentalist who uses his patients and their technology-based tragedies to make a quick buck at his roadside show. Just at the moment that we begin to realise how sadistic Haynes is, Nish exacts her own hidden plan and he ultimately gets his comeuppance. It’s nice to see a Black Mirror episode where the good guy (or girl) really does win. There are, as ever, numerous deeper themes explored throughout the series, however, one clear and overarching one is that technology’s downfalls ultimately stem from human faults, and, as a result, humans are the only ones who can overcome them. Season four is still as dystopian, still as exaggerated, and still as scary as previous seasons - but it’s nice to see a more human side to these stories too. All seasons of Black Mirror are currently available to stream on Netflix.
WORDS BY NICOLE O’SULLIVAN
When it comes to Black Mirror, you either love its dystopian, technologically-doomed worlds, or you hate them. However, of all the themes present in season four, the one that branches further than just ‘the robots are taking over the world’ is how human emotions interact explicitly with technology. The six part series covers a multitude of themes, but three episodes especially piqued my human heart. ‘U.S.S Callister’ follows Robert Daly (Jesse Plemons), the socially awkward and reclusive creator of a successful VR game. He dislikes his coworkers for not recognising his true genius - so much so that he traps virtual clones of them in his game, forcing them to act out Star Trek-style space missions. Picture retro outfits and cheesy dialogue - topped off with Daly’s sadistic puppeteering. The scariest lesson from ‘USS Callister’ is that even though technology can physically harm people, it’s human nature itself which ultimately underpins the horrific scenarios we see in the show. It’s all a bit grim, to say the least. These human stories continue in ‘Hang the DJ’. Riding on the romantic wave of season three’s ‘San Junipero’, ‘Hang The DJ’ follows Frank (Joe Cole) and Amy (Georgina Campbell), who fall in love even though society’s matchmaking service (ominously named The System) ultimately deemed them incompatible. Our protagonists don’t like this: they know they’re destined to be together - so they rebel and try to escape. Spoiler: they succeed. Hang the DJ’s message is that technology can never really
DERRY GIRLS Channel 4
It was over Christmas break when one of my Derry gals sent a message to say the lovely Convent Grammar we shat on all the time, Thornhill College, was going to be the star of a brand new TV show. Derry Girls didn’t 28change much about the school, simply renaming it Our Lady Immaculate College while keeping the Thornhill motto on the bus. My friends and I 28 lived through our awkward as buck teenage years of 2007-2014, similar
to Erin and her gals, as a subsection of the “Thornhill Girls” – conventuniformed, morning-prayer-filled, and utterly deprived of any young male presence. Any decent looking fella who stepped on the grounds was, as Sister Michael suggests and Michelle points out, in danger of getting tied to monkey bars and getting dry humped. The magic of Derry Girls is just how accurate it is for anyone who has grown up in Derry over the last 30-40 years. Instances of revision all nighters, sambuca shots, and shite talking to cute boys were just a bit too close to the hormone-caffeine-WKD-filled times my group of “Sassy Bitchez” had when we were about to sit our GCSEs. The heart of the show lies in its characters – Michelle being a flawless example of the classic Thornhill girl/ mad friend that we all wanted at our gaff – and the fantastic performances of the cast including knockout moments from Ian McElhinney as Granda Joe and Kathy Kiera Clarke as Aunt Sarah. Including the horrid anachronistic Belfast accents that appear from time to time, Derry Girls is far from polished but that’s part of its charm. Outrageous and ungodly, Derry Girls is the best comedy that has been released in the last five years. Writer Lisa McGee has proved she can hold her ground with the likes of sitcom legends Graham Linehan (creator of Father Ted) and John Sullivan (Only Fools and Horses).
WORDS BY SORCHA NÍ CHEALLAIGH
The North is plagued by wincing and unrealistic representations. With Rupert Grint and Robert Sheehan butchering a Belfast brogue in the 2008 film Cherrybomb, and conflict saturated dramas such as Fifty Dead Men Walking dominating the screens, there doesn’t seem to be any room for an everyday, and authentic, narrative of some teenagers from the North just trying to live their best lives during quite a… troubling time. Thank God then for Derry Girls – a show with a cast of predominantly female leads from an ignored part of Ireland and the United Kingdom – for an uncanny representation of the experience of growing up in the Walled City. You’d think a lot would have changed between the 1990s setting of Derry Girls and the Derry of today, but I’ve been begging every English friend and Dublin gal to watch the show so they can finally understand the dark humour of how a bomb scare every other week becomes a damn inconvenience when you’re just trying to make it to Tropicana to get the perfect tan.
THREE THINGS ABOUT ELSIE Joanna Cannon
Three Things About Elsie has an unconventional narrator. Meet 84-year-old Florence Claybourne. She lives in a nursing home with her best friend Elsie. The novel opens with Florence lying on the floor. She’s fallen over and is waiting for someone to notice and come help her. Flo, as she’s affectionally referred to by Elsie, is confused when someone who she believed to have drowned sixty years ago comes to live in the nursing home. However, Flo is getting old and becoming forgetful, so when she tries to tell people that this man was involved in Elsie’s sister’s murder, no one except Elsie believes her. But how do you convince someone that you’re not going a little mad when you can see someone who is supposed to be dead? The two best friends must revisit the past and piece together the story: “We looked up at a wall of photographs, and the past gazed back at us. Black-and-white ballrooms. A hundred foxtrots, captured forever within a lens”. The tale is unconventional with beautifully descriptive passages. There
was no character I did not enjoy reading about and no plot point too small. Here is a novel about enduring friendship and tenderness: “She was the only one left. The only one who would know if my mind had finally wandered away and left me all to my own devices”. Who will remember us after we die, who will “dust our photograph”, as Flo puts it? What does our life amount to? Questions of mortality and love crop up again and again and are made more urgent by the looming presence of time and the imminent threat of Flo’s relocation to a different nursing home where they confine patients to their rooms while they wait for the end. Joanna Cannon spent time working as a hospital doctor and then specialised as a psychiatrist. Her debut The Trouble with Goats and Sheep (2016) was a huge success and she amassed a cult following. Three Things About Elsie is even more daring that her debut and shines all the brighter. A wonderful story with a set of strong, fleshed out characters – this book will melt the coldest of hearts and bring a tear to the driest of eyes. WORDS BY MIA COLLERAN
Glass’ writing has been compared to Arundhati Roy’s, and her careful manipulation of language makes it is easy to see why. One memorable
passage even verges on the Joycean: “Silver silent spectres sail. Silent as they dance, slow and shy [...] Shy and silent, but subtly surveying. Seeing everything. Softly sashaying around the room [...] Silently soothing me with their slight movements.” Like Ulysses, Glass’ novella might better be categorized as prose poetry, with its embedded rhymes and measured sibilance. Whatever it is, this piece of writing might be devoured in one sitting, but it will worry its way into your brain as the words take root: “In this pit I will sit. In this pit I will sit. In this. In this. Pit.” WORDS BY SARAH UPTON
Emma Glass’ stunning debut Peach is a violently evocative account of the immediate aftermath of sexual assault. Peach is a teenage girl who negotiates the days following her attack as though in a hallucinatory dream. Glass’ visceral descriptions obscure as much as they elucidate. Peach describes the “thick stick sticky sticking wet ragged wool winding round the wounds, stitching the sliced skin together” as she staggers home to parents who fail to notice that something is desperately wrong. At school, she dodges the questions of her teacher Mr. Custard— who melts into a puddle of custard on the classroom floor– and seeks comfort in the branch-like arms of her boyfriend, Green, a tall and handsome tree. Peach’s descriptions range from the happily humorous— like that of her infant brother, a wobbly Jelly Baby covered in a dusting of sugar, or Green’s best friend Spud, a potato— to the downright disturbing— Peach’s rapist Lincoln, evoked in one of the most sickening portraits I have ever read, leaves a greasy residue and odour of burnt sausage fat wherever he goes. More than anything, Glass renders with almost painterly skill what it is like to inhabit and experience a traumatised body. Peach can barely eat for the hard pit growing in her stomach, and experiences her surroundings in a kaleidoscopic rush of colours, sounds and smells. Glass’ narrative is like a surrealist painting: pink and red churn nauseatingly across the page while orange splashes upon a craquelure of black dried blood.
ASSASSIN’S CREED: ORIGINS
Microsoft Windows, PS4, Xbox One Assassin’s Creed: Origins is the tenth mainline iteration in the aging series. 2015’s lukewarm Syndicate and the 2014 disaster that was Unity proved enough of a wake-up call for Ubisoft to take action and course-correct. Origins takes on the hefty task of trying to explain the history and creation of the Creed as well as protagonist Bayek’s own quest to avenge the murder of his son by a mysterious masked cult of killers . For long time players, Abstergo’s presence in the game is noticeably scaled back, so fans of the Sci-Fi angle and modern world sections might be disappointed.
For a game touted as a reinvention of the series, the biggest disappointment has to be the new leveling system. While it encourages crafting and side quests, it quickly becomes tedious when you’re forced into grinding to keep the main quest going. Quests, weapons and enemies all have a level denoting their difficulty. It’s very frustrating to find yourself unable to stealthily take out a fort because your level is below the requirement.
Assassins Creed: Origins undoubtedly has ambitious goals. While not all of them are fully achieved, the game is still a quality story and gaming experience. An obvious amount of passion was put into the project and that’s something the series desperately needed. Assassins Creed needed to feel fun again and Origins delivers.
Assassins Creed: Origins certainly showcases the strength of the series. The timeline challenges itself by going further back in time than ever before while still maintaining a historically
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You can’t teach old dogs new tricks and, after three years of trying to get this particular dog to fly around on jetpacks, Call of Duty finds its boots firmly on the ground for the 5th WWII game in the series. The campaign sees you play as Private First-Class Ronald Daniels. Along with your plucky squad of ‘definitely memorable’ characters, you take the fight to the Nazis, led by the slight chaotic Sergeant Pierson, played by Josh Duhamel, the soldier from all those Transformers movies, continuing the new tradition of shoehorning famous actors into the single player campaigns, which started with Kevin Spacey two years ago. It’s a standard Call of Duty campaign complete with quick-time events and set pieces. You’ll operate anti-aircraft guns, drive tanks and blow up an armored train between a lot of shooting, however, the best mission of the campaign has you taking the role of a French Resistance fighter going undercover in a German garrison. You have to remember parts of your cover story while talking to German officers to find your contact. It is a very welcome and temporary change of pace. Overall the campaign is nothing special, but kept me playing for 5-6 hours.
heavy narrative that strengthens the plot. Egypt is a breath of fresh air for the game’s setting. Virtual tourism has never looked so satisfying as you climb the pyramids of Giza or sneak into the Library of Alexandria. Stunningly rendered and a wide open world to explore, the game has countless hours of content in the post game, enticing you to explore the land further and discover side quests along the way. The storyline is a strong addition to the series, Bayek is a compelling character and his passionate relationship with his wife Aya is charming. Their divergent paths when dealing with their son’s death is heartfelt. Not to mention the joy of seeing historical figures such as Cleopatra and Julius Caesar spotlighted.
WORDS BY KYLIE BRIANNE MCBRIDE
CALL OF DUTY: WWII Microsoft Windows, PS4, Xbox One
The multiplayer feels like a return to form for the series. All the weapons feel powerful and have their own unique situations where they come in handy. The maps tend to be small and the gameplay is fast paced so submachine guns are always a solid choice. The game launched with 9 maps, disappointing compared to the 16 that came with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare at launch more than a decade ago. The maps themselves are hit and miss. London Docks and Flak Tower are the best small maps favouring fast play and constant rotations, the kind of chaos I enjoy. On the other hand, USS Texas and Gustav Cannon are terrible, far too open, making objective game types almost unplayable. Thankfully with the map voting system you’ll rarely play them. Ultimately the multiplayer is fun. You will find yourself rage quitting the occasional lobby, but that’s to be expected. There’s a lot of forced social and loot box centered mechanics in this game too, but you can avoid them if you want. Call of Duty: WWII is a good effort by Sledgehammer Games to win back some of the audience who have been alienated by the last few games. They have played it safe, but that’s exactly what I expect from Call of Duty. WORDS BY EOIN ROCHE
Chickpea Falafel with Tahini Dressing
food Ingredients: 1 can chickpeas 2 spring onions (roughly chopped) 2 cloves garlic 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp paprika One bunch fresh coriander 2 tbsp flour 1 tbsp oil Juice of ½ lemon
For the tahini dressing:
When a trend, like bread, is in the creeping early stages of going stale, not a lot of people will be willing to accept the fact straight away. Toasting and buttering something in the vain hope that it will be as it was in its prime is a great option when it’s for your own consumption and you are skilled at kidding yourself. What Jamie Oliver has gone and done with his new recipe book, 5 Ingredients - Quick & Easy Food, however, is a whole other loaf of sourdough altogether. Oliver has taken a growing-stale-at-the-edges trend; toasted, buttered AND organic-strawberry-jam-coated it; made a book out of it, and is now attempting to flog this book at a target market, who will definitely know subpar bread when they see it. The trend in question? Compressing worthy ideas/concepts/the noble art of good cooking into punchy, ‘quick & easy’ soundbites that will appease the twitchy attention spans of a social-media era. Reduced to speedy accessible clickbait, or the paperback equivalent, these are stripped of authenticity and originality in favour of conforming to a culture of rushing and racing with the mantra “Nothing worth saying is over 140 characters”. It appears this trend is finally starting to taste sour in people’s mouths. Vines have died. Christmas 2017 favoured classic vinyl and literature over iTunes vouchers. Poor old Joe Wicks is riding out the last of his wave with a feeble new cookbook as his screechy 30-second slap-bang-voilà-style cooking videos are inevitably beginning to grate on people’s tolerances. And Jamie Oliver, well he’s doing his best to catch the same wave before it crashes.
Each recipe in 5 Ingredients contains, inescapably, a mere five ingredients. But how can a wholesome, substantial meal be created from so little? Jamie answers that one for us in his foreword: “Not every recipe gives you a balanced meal”. This was the first slash at authenticity that I noticed - any sense of awe I felt at the adeptness of creating a large book of meals with so little went out with a puff. Speaking of, puff pastry was another red warning sign. Recipes in the book like ‘Flaky Pastry Pesto Chicken’ and ‘Chicken Pot Pie’, while appealing, cut corners by calling for pre-made blocks of the stuff. Others like ‘Smoky Pancetta Cod’ require “sachets” of Jamie’s own-brand pre-cooked and pre-flavoured lentils. It’s no feat to think up recipes with 5 ingredients if you’re at this lark! The book is visually appealing. The recipes do look fantastic and for someone who solely favours snappy cooking it would be a good one to have open on your kitchen counter. As for whether it would suit students - this really comes down to what type of student cook you are. Type 1: a foodie who enjoys cooking new things, or Type 2: kinda just sticks to pasta and easy stuff. If you’re a Type 1 full of foodie passion, are you likely to get excited about over-simplified 5-ingredient recipes? And Type 2s are you really going to grapple with “Creamy Cooked Mussels” or “Sticky Teriyaki Aubergine” of a post-college evening, even if they do just contain 5 little things? Jamie’s latest book has failed to impress - but his ever-present ecstatic grin beaming out from the pages will always remain a great selling point.
WORDS BY EMMA HORAN
5 INGREDIENTS - QUICK & EASY FOOD
With the new year comes the inevitable resolutions to shake up our diets and “eat healthier”, but, as a student, this can seem quite intimidating when you’ve been living off Pizzini’s from Lidl for six months straight. An even more frightening prospect for any Irish citizen is making a meal that doesn’t hinge on the potato-meat-token vegetable trifecta that Mammy dinners for generations have convinced us is the only possible form of nutrition. But I have been kind enough to gift you a delicious, easy recipe for falafels, which triple up as being tasty, meat-free, and protein-packed — perfect if you’re looking to heap a gym resolution on top of your 2018 list.
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius. - De-stem the coriander, drain and rinse the chickpeas. - Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until evenly incorporated. The mixture should be just slightly sticky but not too soggy. - Shape the mixture into four slightly flattened falafel shaped balls. Place them on a parchment lined baking trap and bake them for 20 minutes. - Take them out after 20 minutes, flip them, and bake them for another 20 minutes on other side. - Combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk with a fork. - Fabulous in toasted pitta bread or a wrap, serve with hummus or the dressing alongside some lettuce.
WORDS BY AILBHE WHEATLEY
3 tbsp tahini Juice of 1 lemon 2 tsp honey or agave syrup 2 tbsp warm water 1 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste
fashion LONDON FASHION WEEK
Men’s Autumn/Winter 18/19
between fashion and nightlife, evocative colour combinations and clashing texture utilisation further encourage the British man to undergo a process of self identification through shape, material and colour. Departing from classic styles of bland adulthood, 2018 promises that the fashion of Britain’s youth will be vivacious, sharing their point of view with conviction and colour.
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy
WORDS BY CHRISTOPHER CASH
The 11th biannual Men’s Fashion Week took place from January 5-8 in London, exploring and embracing the immense creative talent present in the city. On a whole, the collections engaged with the deconstruction of silhouette and structure and satisfied current trends, challenging conventional styling and reconceptualising the graphic paring of garments. Charles Jeffery, voted Emerging Menswear Designer of the Year at the 2017 British Fashion Awards, presented his Charles Jeffrey Loverboy AW18 collection, which was polished, daring and dense in attitude embodying counter culture. Dazed Magazine declared Jeffery as “the ringleader of London’s next generation of club kids,” creating fashion that is bringing together his queer community and celebrating the vibrant talents that London has to offer. Being an excellent tailor, Jeffery delivered sharp angles and detailed suits, styled with allusive face paint and unique hairstyles, from classic inspiration of 60s bowl cuts. Texture was reimagined in earthy, cool tones,
illustrated by Craig Green, as he presented a Fall/Winter 2018 collection that challenges conventional practicality. Engaging with the current trend of layering, Green juxtaposes harsh lines against soft shading, introducing shoulder cut outs into his garments which instantly create a jarring disconnection between the historical trend of skin showing and fashion. Like Jeffrey, Green introduces highly conceptualised pieces into his collection, such as boat structures and rafters, which ultimately do not represent everyday reality, but transport us to their creative world. Sportswear was inevitably encoded in the majority of the collections, which was appropriate for the current trends, yet the scarcity of commitment to a vision left some designers lacking authenticity. Bobby Abley however was not one of these designers. Naturally comical, Abley presented a collection infused with illustrations reminiscent of 90s cartoons, which perfectly captured his unique wit. Colourful patterns and textures gave reinvention to conventional statement pieces, such as dress trousers, sweaters and shirts. His originality exudes confidence, engaging with the contemporary man with vitality and humour. In general, the collections of London Fashion Week Men’s were reflective of the youth culture in contemporary London. Blurring the lines
MILAN FASHION WEEK Men’s Fall/Winter 18/19
forcing the audience to see past male and female stereotypes in fashion. Palm Angels also expressed an intense appreciation for anonymity, presenting faceless models wearing spiked balaclavas. With obvious American inspiration, Francesco Ragazzi indulged denim and flannel prints. The use of Grant Wood’s famous painting ‘American Gothic’ as a pattern on workwear shirts was culturally significant, teasing the idea of unity of art and culture among the working class. Handbags took the main spotlight, with models holding them outward, showcasing their colourful and petit structure. Unfortunately, Prada fell short of achieving a similar audience reaction, as many critics were left underwhelmed by the repetition of 90s prints and use of the flame motif. What can be understood as an embracement of 1990s nylon fabric, the collection ultimately felt lazy, lacking the fresh creativity shown by other designers. Milan Fashion Week Men’s Fall/Winter 2018 was a departure from the vivacious youth culture expressed by British designers in London Fashion Week Men’s. Remaining true to its Italian heritage, designers dared to be extravagant, sexually charged and liberal.
WORDS BY CHRISTOPHER CASH
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Culturally reflective of Milan’s historic origins in luxury tailoring and atelier, Men’s Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2018 expressed luxe fashion with a subversive undertone. Similar to London, shorter scheduling and the merging of mens and womenswear created a frantic atmosphere, with many tailors opting out of traditional shows in general. An alluring sense of protection was the main focus of many of the collections, with anonymity and fetishisation taking control of Moschino and Palm Angels. Jeremy Scott presented an extremely confident appraisal of high-end leather provocative suits and gimp masks. Scott described it “a tug-of-war for the clothes, taking suit jackets and suiting and pinstripes and bankers’ garb and trying to render it new in a more exciting, aggressive, unexpected way.” Intertwining men and women, incorporating diverse queer identities and representing them as a cohesive attack on conventionality within the stereotypical business world, Scott elegantly presented a distinct worldview. Creating a dichotomy between aggressive rigid jackets with floral prints, the looks were cohesive, and sensually engaging. The show ended with a tandem tuxedo worn by two genderless models,
The Nuts and Bolts Of
Robot Sex Millennials are killing everything Baby Boomers hold dear. Golf. Breakfast cereal. Diamonds. Casual dining chain restaurants. And now, human relationships.
Japan not only has the technological capability to pioneer AI partners, but also the critical socioeconomic intersections to make it attractive. The economic implications of late-stage capitalism might actually lead logically to rise in virtual girlfriends. While the West
“A robot girl never
complains, never has negative emotions, never ages, never isn’t in the mood. She’s never going to make you meet her parents. She’s never going to leave you” has been struggling under a recession for years now, Japan has suffered economic stagnation for even longer. Faced with the prospect of working longer hours for stagnant wages and a lower standard of living than their parents, many Japanese men don’t seem excited to join the rat race or commit to a relationship. Yuge is a 39-year-old user of the Nintendo game Love Plus, in which he plays a 17-year-old boy in a relationship with a virtual girl, who notes: “At high school you can have relationships without having to think about marriage. With real girlfriends you have to consider marriage. So I think twice about going out with a 3D woman.” Without the security of steady, full-time work, many find it impossible to settle down in long-term relationships due to the attendant expectations of housing, stability and financial independence. Virtual assistants like Gatebox, which looks like Tinkerbell in a jar and works like Alexa (if Alexa really cared about your emotional needs), and realistically-humanoid androids like ‘Nadine’ or ‘Aiko Chihira’, not only never asks about marriage, they exemplify the brutality of the rise of realistic AI within late-stage capitalism. Men opt for relationships
he lag between a technology’s invention and it being inevitably co-opted for sex seems to be growing smaller. There was 118 years between the building of the Eiffel Tower and a woman marrying it. Porn on the internet predates the World Wide We b (though the world’s first computer a r t was a pin-up girl) but it didn’t boom until the Nineties, twenty years after it came online as ARPANET. W e haven’t even managed to create artificial intelligence that will p a s s the Turing Test, and people are already eschewing human partners for virtual girlfriends. Sexy robots -- almost exclusively buxom, plasticine females, dubbed gynoids -- have been a trope since their invention. Star Trek eventually bowed to i t , following Patrick Stewart’s Locutus of Borg with the more conventionallyappealing cyborg Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan). Austin Powers has an army of villainous Sixties-bombshell Fembots. Fritz Lang’s 1927 Metropolis features a virgin/whore dichotomy with one of the first robots ever depicted on screen, played by a teenaged Brigitte Helm. And there’s the Westworld series (2016). There have always been people more interested in sex with train stations, cars or trees than people, but it has only been since the rise of the smartphone, the adequately-intelligent chatbot and the sufficientlyrealistic sex doll that the prospect of a robot or virtual girlfriend left the realm of the committed fetishist. And it is largely girlfriends -- while there are male chatbots and sex robots, the majority of human-AI relationships seem to be human men with technological girls. There are a host of interlocking reasons for this change of attitude. The most obvious might be the general generational shift, with younger generations deprioritizing marriage and having a greater level of acceptance for casual dating and patterns of non-monogamy. The rise of geek culture plays a role. Science fiction, anime and manga are no longer marginalized, and imported Japanese media also comes with embedded Japanese culture.
with AI because they lack the economic and therefore emotional stability to pursue relationships with other humans; the AI who replace women emotionally also replace them in low- and unskilled front-facing labor like receptionists, retail and personal assistants. The alienation which turns men towards virtual girls in turn alienates real ones. It is impossible to ignore the thread of anti-feminism that runs through the entire
“As robotics and artificial intelligence get better and
WORDS BY ALDEN MATHIEU
the Internet of Things becomes more complete, it’ll be increasingly possible for a virtual girlfriend (like Gatebox) to wake you up, text you, make dinner and get you off -- so what’s the point of a human relationship?”
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phenomenon of robot-human relationships. After all, the appeal of a product like Gatebox or Love Plus is that they don’t make serious demands on the user -- the virtual girl provides all the emotional labour without having needs of her own. Marketing for KARI, a girlfriend chatbot with a permanent wardrobe malfunction, touts, “She remembers everything you tell her and is always eager to talk.” A robot girl never complains, never has negative emotions, never ages, never isn’t in the mood. She’s never going to make you meet her parents. She’s never going to leave you. While third- and fourth-wave feminism has swept up many of the people of the generations turning to robot relationships, this liberation hasn’t extended to the robot girlfriends themselves. A virtual girl is the ‘angel in the computer,’ a twenty-first century extension of the cult of domesticity. Young, demure, passive and completely dependent on their man, robot girlfriends are a retrograde approach to relationships; sex robots go the opposite direction, completing the virgin-whore dichotomy. But they always exist to serve, to support, to work, to titillate, in a wholly one-sided way. The urge to combine sex and service with robot technology runs into the absurd: Clayton Bailey’s Marilyn Monrobot is a Jetsons-esque robot woman with a miniskirt, torpedo-shaped breasts and blinking rubber nipples which doubles as a functional coffeemaker. (It’s worth remembering that fetishizing the so-called perfection of technology is not without pitfalls. While a robot girlfriend might seem like the ideal match of unaging silicone and perpetually-available circuitry, she might come with a dark side. Perhaps the void calls to her, like the Knightscope K5 security bot that drowned itself, or she plans to destroy humanity, like Hanson Robotics’ mad-eyed gynoid ‘Sophia’.) As robotics and artificial intelligence get better and the Internet of Things becomes more complete, it’ll be increasingly possible for a virtual girlfriend (like Gatebox) to wake you up, text you, make dinner and get you off -- so what’s the point of a human relationship? If that seems abstract, consider another angle: now that puppy robots exist, why bother with the organic ones? Puppy robots stay small and cute forever; they don’t bark all night; they’ll never chew up your shoes or trash your yard. The question really goes to the heart of a relationship. Is a relationship a vehicle to have your emotional and sexual needs met with the minimum of reciprocal effort, to ape the behaviors and the script of romance? Or is it to deeply interact with another person, to negotiate and compromise and support, to struggle, to push against solipsistic gravity? Until AI becomes sentient, it can only have a shadow of human awareness; once it becomes self-aware, it will represent a new form of non-human life. Before sentience, robots reflect the prurient impulses of the men who create and buy them. We inevitably interact with AI and robotics through our human-centered morality. After sentience -- that churns up all the old issues that we have failed to solve for human women. Sergei Santos, creator of the robotic doll ‘Samantha,’ described men at the Arts Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria, destroying his creation in a frenzy of sexual assault, in a scene that could be directly lifted from Westworld. “The people mounted Samantha’s breasts, her legs, and arms. Two fingers were broken. She was heavily soiled. [...] They treated the doll like barbarians.” Clayton Bailey has defended his Monrobot, asking, “Shouldn’t robots have the same right as humans to have gender and express their sexuality?” Will virtual girls have the right to say no? ■
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