Take health and income data from 200 countries over 200 years. Stir up. Add Hans Rosling‘s distinctive delivery style and a little CGI magic and you have a compelling representation of… the growing health divide between richer countries and the developing world. Sure, from the early 19th century to nowadays, life expectancy has been rising everywhere. But income differentials are now abysmal and the health inequalities are unprecedented. So, ok, this is great television, and this BBC show is all about ‘The Joy of Stats’ and a happy-go-lucky approach to life but, how can we be so positive about “a clear trend in the future [where] it is fully possible that everyone can make it to healthy, wealthy corner”?
Comment faire de l’histoire à l’heure du numérique ? Quels sont les nouveaux outils que l’historien a à sa disposition ? Le colloque L’histoire contemporaine à l’ère digitale vient de s’achever à l’Université du Luxembourg (Sanem / Luxembourg-Ville) – une plongée de 3 jours dans les digital humanities, une discipline très prometteuse.
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Between 1999 and 2002, French historian and art critic Raphael Cuir hosted a web-TV show called Memoires Actives on Canalweb. His guests were prominent personalities of European art – curators, philosophers, writers and artists. Each of them was invited to answer this simple yet “monumental” question : “Why is there art rather than nothing?”
The answers are now collected in a volume going by the same title (Pourquoi y a-t-il de l’art plutôt que rien?, Paris, Archibooks + sautereau éditeur, 2009). The book is, of course, in French, as is this short video-interview with the author:
“All in all”, Cuir writes in his introduction to the book, “by rephrasing the famous question, the ultimate metaphysical question, I asked the art world the question that Leibniz, for instance, posed to the world as a whole: ‘why is there anything rather than nothing?’ and Heidegger to existence itself: “Why is there the being instead of nothing?'”
The diverse and stimulating contributions to this book range from claims of the nihilistic nature of art (J. Baudrillard) or of art as a manifestations of the void (C. Millet), to meditations on art as the innermost essence of humankind (G. Lista) which at the same time transcends human existence (T. Todorov) and paradoxically escapes nothingness by creating value out of “almost nothing” (Orlan). Despite the seriousness of Cuir’s enquiry, the book manages to strike – thanks to its aphoristic format – the right balance between readability and depth.