Nigel Warburton is one of the guests on the new series of BBC Radio 4's The Philosopher's Arms this Tuesday (Radio 4, 3pm -3.30pm 14th August - then can listen again on iPlayer and website), and the topic is fakes and copies...
Hendy discusses the Reithian vision of the early days of the radio station from its beginnings in 1967 (dispelling some myths about Lord Reith's alleged elitism in the process). He goes on to illuminate difficult route it plotted for itself in the 70s, 80s and 90s, at one point steering between the unlikely Scylla and Chaybdis of Mary Whitehouse and Stuart Hall.
Listen to mp3
of David Hendy discussing Radio 4 and morality (18'28")
You can listen again to my BBC Radio 4 Archive Hour programme 'I'd Like to Teach the World To...' (first broadcast 13th May 2006). It was repeated yesterday, so should be available for six days here (scroll down till you get to 'Archive Hour'). It was inspired by discovering that my grandfather Reg Warburton had written a correspondence course on popular singing in 1957, but ranges across the genre of distance learning taking in everything from Jane Fonda's workout tapes to The Open University. There is an interview with Hubert Dreyfus on online learning cut in from about 32.30 mins into the programme (and then throughout). For thoughts about Dreyfus's views on distance learning see this earlier post about Dreyfus.
I'm doing a short interview on the Irish national radio station NewsTalk today on the Sean Moncrieff show some time between 2 pm and 4.30 p.m today (they webcast the programme live here). It's on the topic of moaning again (see previous post on moaning relating to an interview I did for 'Woman's Hour' on BBC Radio 4).
The interview I did today for BBC Radio 4's The Message on the topic of the end of Open University course-related television broadcasting (the last such programme goes out tomorrow at 5.30 a.m.) is available for a week from today on Listen Again. This item begins at approximately 15.50 minutes into the programme.
I explained why the Open University was never really correctly described as 'the university of the air' in a previous post on Virtual Philosopher.
The Open University was originally conceived as a ‘University of the Air’. Television and radio were always seen as central to its activities. Since 1971 it has been broadcasting course-related television programmes, mostly through the night on BBC2. These programmes, often presented by the academics who had written the relevant course materials, had a cult following amongst insomniacs, people feeding babies in the middle of the night, and shift workers as well as among the students they served and the independent autodidacts who recorded them religiously. Many who began as accidental viewers became addicted and ended up taking the courses that they supplemented.
Some of these programmes were decidedly amateurish; others highly professional. The caricature of the Open University professor with a kipper tie and bizarre facial hair pontificating incomprehensibly about differential equations was quite useful to the University in one way: through comic sketches it kept awareness of Open University broadcasts high.
Anyway, that era (in which I’ve played a very small part with my ‘A103, Philosophy in Action: Debates About Boxing’ ) will come to an end on 16th December at 5.30 a.m when the last course-related programme , 'A103 Art: A Question of Style, Neoclassicism and Romanticism' will be broadcast.
This isn’t the end for Open University television. The University is now funding prime time television with an educational angle, including series such as Coast and a forthcoming analyis of humour Lenny’s Britain. Other course-related audio-visual material is now being put onto DVDs. New media will provide more efficient ways of delivering course content. For example, on A207 From Enlightenment to Romanticism, the students receive an interactive CD-ROM that provides a virtual tour of the Sir John Soane's Museum with hundreds of hotspots showing close-ups of objects and providing information about them.
Actually the Open University has never been close to being a university of the air: we have always used a range of teaching strategies and media of delivery, and for most of its life, the University has been far more a university of the postbag than of the airwaves. This is changing too now that email and online course content are possible. Audio-visual course material will undoubtedly be available online too. Even Jennie Lee, widely recognised as the driving force behind the Open University's creation, wanted to move away from the idea that we would be simply a university of the air:
'I hated the term 'University of the Air' because of all that nonsense in the Press about sitting in front of the telly to get a degree'
I will be discussing the OU’s changing use of media live on BBC Radio 4’s The Message this Friday afternoon (15th December) with television critic Chris Dunkley…the programme goes out from 1.30pm - 2pm (repeated on Sunday at 8pm).
I'm presenting the programme 'Rembrandt Today' on Radio 4 at 11.30 a.m. on 26th October (not 11 a.m as previously suggested!). The programme focuses on the famous self-portrait at Kenwood House in Highgate on the edge of Hampstead Heath (it is well worth a visit if you havent been - free entry, and there is a beautiful Vermeer painting of a young woman playing a guitar in the same room as the Rembrandt). 'Rembrandt Today' includes interviews with artists Maggi Hambling and Idris Khan, art critic/curator Bill Feaver, and art historian Joanna Woodall.
Previous posts relating to this programme here and here.
I spent yesterday morning interviewing the artist Idris Khan for a radio programme 'Rembrandt Today' (to be broadcast at 11.30 am on 26th October on BBC Radio 4 - the interview with Idris is at the end of the programme). His first solo, exhibition at the Victoria Miro Gallery, is just coming to an end. The pretext for the interview was a composite image of Rembrandt built from every Rembrandt self-portrait digitally superimposed. This image at first glance looks like a vignetted soft-edged late self-portrait, but look at it for a minute or so and the younger self-portraits start emergering in a succession of aspect-shifts, as if it were a video of the images.
Born in 1978 Khan's work already demonstrates maturity and musicality. He works by building up images by scanning series of images on top of each other, much as the 19th century French photographer Batut had done. So, for example, Khan scanned every page of a modern version of J.S. Bach's cello sonatas to produce an image in which ghostly clusters of notes are visible, but which blend into abstraction. Indeed, the three large monochrome musically-inspired pieces which hang as a triptych in the exhibition share underlying proportions with Rothko's Seagram murals - a conscious influence for the artist. Another visible link is to finely patterned Islamic carpets - Khan was brought up as a Muslim. Most illustrations fail to do justice to the subtle textures of these large-scale prints.
Khan has taken his project one step further by making a video piece, currently on show at INIVA (until 22nd October). For this he extracted three minutes of each of the six Bach cello suites and overlayered both the musical sounds and moving images of the cellists hands and bow. Filmed in black and white, the effect at times is close to Moholy-Nagy's abstract film-making (again, a conscious allusion). The sound, although abstracted and overlayered is surprisingly musical and rhythmic. Snatches of familiar motifs are audible, but new dissonances too. In making the film, Khan used the rhythms he'd recorded from his father, a Muslim, praying. The film is mesmerising.