April 19th, 2005


Re-titled, re-found

Re-Title is something I've been waiting a long time for: a page which lists what's on in the world of the visual arts internationally. Or, in its own words, "an international contemporary art listings guide and directory of artists worldwide". The interface is clean and practical and there's a reasonable depth of detail on either the artist or the show listed. Clever programming allows re-title to gather images and blurbs from art-related sites automatically. You can access secondary pages by clicking on the name of the artist or gallery, and the detailed information (with photographs) is presented within Re-Title's format. If you then want to leave their site and see the gallery's own page, the link is there. That's one level more detail than a local listings site like Tokyo's RealTokyo provides. What's more, Re-Title is international; there's even a little Java applet telling me the current time in art capitals from Berlin to Los Angeles.

Re-title's claim to represent the art world universally is (like many such universalist claims) somewhat overblown. The system doesn't yet know as much about Paris and Tokyo as it knows about London and New York, for instance. A keyword search on Paris produces a paltry 16 shows compared to London's 269, and New York pits a whopping 576 art shows against Tokyo's pathetic 3. This is not an accurate representation of the art scenes in these cities, and shouldn't be presented as such. But I'm glad re-title exists, and I'll certainly be using it to plan my forthcoming trips to London, Paris and New York. (By the way, the images on this page are from a show I'll be seeing in Paris, Bob Foundation & Tomoko Mitsuma's "Jeune design japonais" at La Peripherie.)

There's something the world has been waiting an even longer time for, something which has arrived quite unexpectedly, and quite miraculously. As The Independent reports, a new technique developed from infra-red satellite imaging systems is revealing, line by line and page by page, the meaning of a huge cache of lost classical texts discovered on an Egyptian rubbish dump over a century ago. The Oxyrhynchus Papyri (paper from the "city of the sharp-nosed fish") may contain hundreds of lost Greek comedies, tragedies and epic poems by Sophocles, Euripides, Hesiod, Lucian and hundreds of others. Great works lost for millenia may emerge:

"The previously unknown texts, read for the first time last week, include parts of a long-lost tragedy - the Epigonoi ("Progeny") by the 5th-century BC Greek playwright Sophocles; part of a lost novel by the 2nd-century Greek writer Lucian; unknown material by Euripides; mythological poetry by the 1st-century BC Greek poet Parthenios; work by the 7th-century BC poet Hesiod; and an epic poem by Archilochos, a 7th-century successor of Homer, describing events leading up to the Trojan War. Additional material from Hesiod, Euripides and Sophocles almost certainly await discovery." There may be lost Christian gospels amongst the papers, written around the time of the earliest books of the New Testament. Since there's some Lucian in there, there's also likely to be lots of new backstory for the character I've chosen as my alter ego, Momus.

The Independent, in an editorial, trails the possibility of a second renaissance as a result of this incredible find. A second renaissance is exactly what the 21st century needs. Count me in!