Regenerating the Arts
By Amy Chmielewski
In his research on neoclassical England, University Professor of Art History and English Bruce Redford quotes a Greek saying: “When you know ancient things, you will clearly know new things.” Redford is one of a number of scholars at BU demonstrating that innovation is as alive and well in the arts as it is in the sciences. Artists and musicians push the boundaries of sensory perception to extend what we are able to know, while historians of the visual and fine arts seek new relevance for creative efforts from times past. Whether researching a centuries-old academic society or using new technology to adapt a classic novel for the stage, these scholars and artists reveal fresh insights through careful study and imaginative reinvention of the old.
- From Great HeightsWhen the French photographer Nadar captured the first aerial images of Paris from a hot-air balloon in 1858, he discovered a new means of depicting the urban landscape. Since then, aerial photography has been employed for a variety of purposes: military reconnaissance, land development, environmental monitoring, and even entertainment, as anyone who has whiled away an hour with Google Earth can attest. But the practical value of aerial photography does nothing to diminish its aesthetic value, as a recent exhibition at the BU Art Gallery shows.
- Inside the Mind of a MadmanThe incorporation of technology with creative expression is by no means unique to the visual arts. Composer Joshua Fineberg’s latest project, a multimedia adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov’s most notorious novel, not only required him to develop a score but also to design and perfect innovative computer technology necessary to realize his vision for Lolita. Fineberg, a visiting associate professor in the School of Music, is no stranger to the use of technology in musical compositions, both to help compose acoustic music and to create original sounds and situations. His production premiered in Marseille in April 2008.
- Filming los Bailaríns de CubaWhile Cuba seems poised to encounter immense social changes in the coming years, many of the island’s traditions remain intact—including its reputation for training internationally acclaimed ballet dancers. This is the subject of Associate Professor of Film Mary Jane Doherty’s latest project. Over a span of three years, she is documenting the lives of six children between the ages of 9 and 15, all of whom hope to star in Cuba’s National Ballet.
- Messiaen 2.0Although the Internet is indispensable to any university’s functioning, its role in circulating academic discourse is still uncertain, with books and articles remaining the preferred media for sharing new research. Andrew Shenton, a musicologist at the School of Music as well as director of the Sacred Music program at the School of Theology, is one of a growing number of scholars looking to redefine the Internet’s relation to academe. In 2006 he founded the Boston University Messiaen Project (BUMP), a Web-based resource for the study of 20th-century French composer Olivier Messiaen.
- Amateur AntiquariansWith faculty appointments in two departments and specializations in English literature and European art of the 17th and 18th centuries, University Professor Bruce Redford put several of his varied scholarly interests to use in his most recent project, an exhibition at the Getty Villa in Malibu, California, entitled “Grecian Taste and Roman Spirit: The Society of Dilettanti.” As Guest Curator, Redford worked with Getty Curator Claire Lyons to prepare a visual history of the Society of Dilettanti, a London drinking club dedicated to the celebration of classical culture.