June 2006

Arts & Letters

‘SET’ ABC TV

By Celina Ribeiro

In this nine-part series, the ABC hands the stage to Australia’s premier experimental-music acts for live performances on occasional Tuesday nights. It is a great idea; a unique, almost noble quest to expand the audience for avant-garde music through the medium of television. But sometimes, things deserve to be better. This is one of those times. SET is one of those things.

Prior to each performance, host Kate Crawford briefs us on the night’s act. Then it is all about the music: uncut, unadulterated, unencumbered. The musicians play in a large, flat space, with blank walls that are set far back. The staging exudes a visual silence, forming a giant frame for the music. However, what makes cutting-edge music interesting – the passion and the precision – is lost in transmission. Experimental music always teeters on the precipice of alienating self-indulgence, and SET does little to temper that inclination.

The absence of a live audience should mean that the television audience is brought right into the act of music creation. But the artistry of the music is not matched by sophistication in the program’s photography. The editors seem afraid of stillness; the camera shots are a little jumpy. As a result, we are neither drawn into the musicians’ internal world, nor invited to marvel at their mastery of their instruments. What is instead produced is, paradoxically, an almost static half-hour of television so much more about sound than sight that it would make little difference to close one’s eyes for the duration. The television viewers are left ignored: not even a nuisance to the musicians, they are simply a non-entity.

SET ought to be captivating music-television – and the ABC should be commended for offering an alternative to mainstream music-programs – but, at least on early showings, it will only preach to the choir.

Celina Ribeiro

Celina Ribeiro is a journalist based in London, where she co-edits a small magazine. She has written for the New Statesman, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and New Matilda

Cover: June 2006

June 2006

From the front page

Pub test: restart the boats

The Coalition’s scare campaign is no sure thing in the suburbs

Image of Pete Shelley and Buzzcocks

Pete Shelley’s Buzzcocks: 40 years on

The history and legacy of a punk pioneer

Image from ‘Camping’

Unhappy ‘Camping’

Lena Dunham’s new comedy series is an accidental portrait of toxic femininity

Illustration

From Hillsong to the Bible Belt

Christine Caine’s Australian brand of evangelism has found its flock in America


In This Issue

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Comment

Folded brains, squashed ambitions

Peter Carey’s ‘Theft: A Love Story’

Consider the lily

For the Love of Goat

Edward Albee’s ‘The Goat, or, Who is Sylvia?’

More in Arts & Letters

Still from The Front Runner

The spectacle of a political scandal: Jason Reitman’s ‘The Front Runner’ and Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘Loro’

New films about ’80s presidential hopeful Gary Hart and Italy’s controversial Silvio Berlusconi both miss the mark

Image of Pete Shelley and Buzzcocks

Pete Shelley’s Buzzcocks: 40 years on

The history and legacy of a punk pioneer

Image of Les Murray

Les Murray’s magisterial ‘Collected Poems’

How to approach a 736-page collection by Australia’s greatest poet?

Image of a bushfire

Fair judgement without surrender: Chloe Hooper’s ‘The Arsonist’

The author of ‘The Tall Man’ tries to understand the motivations of a Black Saturday firebug


More in Noted

The 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at QAGOMA

Politics, culture and colour collide in Brisbane

Still from The Cry

ABC TV’s ‘The Cry’

This Scottish–Australian drama successfully subverts the missing-child genre

Image of Henri Matisse, A Game of Bowls, 1908

‘Masters of Modern Art from the Hermitage’ at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

From Matisse to Malevich: a considered snapshot of adventurous Russian collecting

‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

For their Netflix debut, the Coen brothers return to the Western


Read on

Image from ‘Camping’

Unhappy ‘Camping’

Lena Dunham’s new comedy series is an accidental portrait of toxic femininity

Image from ‘Russian Doll’

A bug in the code: ‘Russian Doll’

This existential comedy is 2019’s first must-see Netflix series

Image of crossbenchers Derryn Hinch, Adam Bandt, Nick McKim, Kerryn Phelps, Tim Storer and Andrew Wilkie discussing the medical transfer bill in November

Debate over asylum seeker medical transfers reaches new lows

The government’s scare campaign against the crossbench bill denigrates doctors and detainees

Image from ‘Capharnaüm’

‘Capharnaüm’: giving voice to the voiceless

Nadine Labaki on what motivated her exploration of turmoil’s impact on children


×
×