The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

  • Arts

    'MelanchoLalaland': Knight Arts Challenge winner pioneers high-tech opera-making

    Aug. 31, 2015, 10:45 a.m., Posted by Neil de la Flor

    “MelanchoLalaland”—an opera conceived by composer and Florida Atlantic University professor Joey Bargsten—opens Sept. 13 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque. The transmedia work, which won a Knight Arts Challenge South Florida grant, presents a not-so-distant, dystopian future in which a drug giant called Melancuria Inc. peddles happiness. It’s a future where drive-through pleasure pods can simply pop up, providing users a reprieve from existential angst and anxiety.

    Combining traditional opera with animation, videography and electronic music, Bargsten is charting a risky new course for opera-making. It was at the 2015 FilmGate Interactive Festival that I first encountered a work-in-progress version of “MelanchoLalaland,” and at the time, it felt oversaturated with ideas and gimmicky. Even though what was presented was only Act I, it lacked the coherent narrative arc that a fleshed-out opera can communicate.

    However, Bargsten says he and collaborator (and wife) Thea Zimmer have spent the last seven months perfecting and refining “MelanchoLalaland” for its upcoming, full-length premiere.    


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    Sports is MVP at digital media summit as journalism industry tackles disruption

    Aug. 28, 2015, 10:28 a.m., Posted by Fernando Gonzalez

    Rick Horrow, CEO of Horrow Sports Ventures and a pioneer in the business of sports, teed up the SportsManias Digital Media Summit, a daylong forum in Miami last Friday, with just a couple strokes.

    He spoke of how Super Bowl I, played in 1967, was broadcast simultaneously by CBS and NBC, something now unthinkable, and the 30-second TV spots were sold for $38,500 each. “Fast-forward 50 years later, NBC sells a 30 -second [Super Bowl ad] for $5 million.” And then Horrow recalled a conversation about wanting to give a young member of his family a TV as a gift. The response, he said, was, “What do I want a television for? All I need is right here,” showing off a smartphone.

    The sports industry is no game — and digital media is not just covering it; it’s changing this multibillion-dollar business. Addressing the intersection of traditional sports journalism and social media, the conference featured six panels on themes such as sports journalism do’s and don’ts on social media; the impact of blogs and non-traditional media outlets; the evolution of sports writing; the shift to mobile; and the fantasy sports phenomenon.

    The discussions included both print and TV journalists such as Bob Ryan, columnist emeritus for The Boston Globe; Jemele Hill, a columnist and analyst for ESPN; and Dan Le Batard, of the Miami Herald and ESPN, as well as editors and executives from the sports media industry, such as Noreen Gillespie, deputy sports editor for the Associated Press; Pete Vlastelica, executive vice president of Fox Sports Digital Media; and Mitch Gelman, vice president of product at Gannett Co.

    The summit, an invitation-only event, was funded in part by Knight Foundation.

    For Aymara Del Aguila, co-founder and CEO of SportsManias, “the reason for the summit is that our mission is to promote quality journalism and to deliver it via the most innovative digital platforms. We thought it was important to bring sports digital entrepreneurs, writers and editors from across the country who are facing the challenges of finding ways of bringing traditional journalism to the new consumption habits. We are trying to promote journalism but also trying to be fast and attractive.”

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    Choreographer Marissa Alma Nick explores life in South Florida post-climate change

    Aug. 28, 2015, 9:45 a.m., Posted by Neil de la Flor

    Adaptive Chassis:SFL” is a site-specific performance piece created by dancer and choreographer Marissa Alma Nick for Grass Stains, a project that was one of the winners of the 2014 Knight Arts Challenge South Florida. In the work, Nick addresses life in Miami after climate change. Can we stop it? And, if not, can we survive it? These are the questions Nick asks us to consider.  

    I ran into Nick at Kush (recently voted Most Green Restaurant in Florida by the Nature Conservancy), where she was meeting with her collaborator Sebastian Ruiz, a Miami-based visual artist. I was eating Key lime pie at the table next to them as they mapped out plans for “Adaptive Chassis:SFL.”

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