Digita newsletter No.12:
I’ve put together another Digita newsletter, which went out to over 500 subscribers on Thursday. This is the longest one yet. I was sorry to see in The Birmingham Post that the list of the planned Birmingham Capital of Culture 2008 projects all but ignored digital/interactive new-media, bar one mention of a new digital Film School at BIAD. But surely, by 2008, all film-making will be digital anyway? Meanwhile, any kind of advanced subsidised short-course provision seems to be rapidly evaporating. Coventry’s Depot Studios have ceased their creative IT-based courses from April 1st. I hear also that Birmingham’s VIVID has recently given up running courses in Adobe and Macromedia software, in favour of concentrating on their core skills in ‘old media’; video and darkroom photography. Wannabe interactive-media producers are left with the time-honoured routes; a subscription to Computer Arts and years of back-bedroom trial-and-error with demo & freebie software / work for a company which may or may not send you on a commercial training course costing £1000s / fight to get a place on the hugely oversubscribed three-year degree courses. Local F.E. colleges do now provide for some short-course provision, it’s true. But there’s little trust in their ability to deliver, and only a few colleges seem to have the right blend of lecturers / kit / software to even provide “…for beginners” courses. VIVID had apparently been eager to get out of the market after Xmas – because City College had opened a ‘Training Quarter’ suite on the 6th Floor of VIVID’s Big Peg building. But the small range and basic level of production courses listed on the City College web-site doesn’t inspire, frankly. So while colleges struggle to deliver more than the occasional “…for beginners” course, I suppose it’s often cheaper and simpler to simply stay at home; install the 30-day demo, read the PDF manual, and work through the excellent online tutorials which companies like Macromedia provide.

‘Good dog, BritArt! Roll Over! Die, Die!’:
Yet another nail in the coffin of BritArt and the Young British Artists. The Observer newspaper calls Beck’s Futures…. “a dispiriting combination of the boring, the magniloquent and the wilfully secondhand”. What will come after? Both Saatchi and the Tate Modern are currently touting ‘new approaches to landscape art’ as the next ‘turn’ in contemporary art. Could be, but I’d say that’s only a stop-gap before something fresher and bigger arrives.

Photojournalism; reputed to be extinct, but found alive and well and living free on the net.

New Google service:
Google has launched a new newspaper stories search.

Good weekend:
I had a very pleasant long weekend. Perfect weather seems to have followed me from Spain. I started on Thursday evening, when having sent out the Digita newsletter I then went up into the south of the Peak District national park with photographer and lecturer Mark Wood – through wonderfully subtle full-moon illuminated landscapes – to sample a couple of country pubs on the high moors. Very ‘authentic’, but… you know that bit in Withnail and I when they’re in the pub with the eel-bashing poacher? Quite. On Friday I took the bike on the train down to Nigel and Sabine’s house. The English countryside had never looked more inviting than on the train; early morning sun, rivers and pools brimming and twinkling, clear sky, new leaves just hazing the trees. I stopped off at Birmingham first, to see how the new Custard Factory extension is progressing. Set for completion in “early 2002” (judging from what I saw it now looks like June 2002) “The Greenhouse”, will offer a hundred offices for new-media freelancers and companies:

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At Nigel and Sabine’s we talked through a Top Secret Arts Project they have planned, before a mouthwatering home-cooked meal. Cartoonist Hunt Emerson joined us for the meal too, and later Intervention artist Julian Bull arrived for drinks. Despite getting only four hour’s sleep on the Friday night, Saturday was a lovely day too; I had the pleasure of meeting a beautiful girl in beautiful weather in… well, in Tipton actually. Which, as everyone knows, is not so beautiful. But it seemed so, just for one day :>)

Rusty old scrap:
And did I get any photos of all that beauty? Er, nope. Sorry. I snapped some rusty car bits, though. As Hugh Grant says in fave film Notting Hill… “Oh, sod-a-dog, I’ve made the wrong decision haven’t I?” Feel free to nod, dear readers.

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