Malick Sidibé Creative Force Of African Culture

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CreditCourtesy of Malick Sidibé and Jack Shainman Gallery

Malick Sidibé’s images of popular and youth culture still resonate among young photographers who have been influenced by the noted Malian documentary photographer. Mr. Sidibé was born into a peasant family, and his life was changed when he was selected to attend the School of Sudanese Craftsmen in Bamako. Later, he became the first African and the first photographer to be awarded the Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Biennale in 2007. Even the Malian-French singer Inna Modja paid tribute to him in a 2015 music video, “Tombouctou.”


À côté de la boîte à musiques. Circa 1969-2002.
À côté de la boîte à musiques. Circa 1969-2002.Credit Courtesy of Malick Sidibé and Jack Shainman Gallery

“He’s such an important figure,” said Jack Shainman, whose New York gallery is now featuring his work. “In terms of African photographers there are two masters, Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keita. Sidibé is in his 80s, still influencing pop culture.”

Mr. Sidibé, who was born in Bamako, Mali, in the 1930s, had a career-changing apprenticeship at Gérard Guillat-Guignard’s Photo Service Boutique in 1955. He bought his first camera, a Brownie Flash, in 1956 and became a full-time photographer two years later.

Focusing on youth culture in Bamako, he became known for his black-and-white studies of popular culture. His documentation of Mali’s postcolonial period portrays smiling, dancing couples, street scenes and young men seducing girls at parties with a sense of newfound freedom and identity.

In the ’70s, he opened his first studio, where he began making portraits, positioning his subjects with backgrounds that give the appearance of movement and liveliness.

Decades later, his images full of humanity, dignity and life continue to speak to a shared spirit of modernity and diaspora.


Vues de dos. 2003-4.
Vues de dos. 2003-4.Credit Courtesy of Malick Sidibé and Jack Shainman Gallery

Much of the work in this latest exhibition — which runs through April 23 and is his sixth solo show at the gallery — focused on Mr. Sidibé’s most recent series, “Vue de Dos,” which depicts women with bare backs and views of the shoulder suggesting a concealed, sensual beauty rather than something explicit.

Mr. Sidibé resists exhibiting this work, which has been considered risqué, in his native, predominantly Muslim country, where revealing parts of the body is taboo. The series experiments with an artistic variation of the female nude, the goddess as a voluptuous muse, in his singular, powerful style.


Sine Sidibé au sortir de chez lui. 2001-8.
Sine Sidibé au sortir de chez lui. 2001-8.Credit Courtesy of Malick Sidibé and Jack Shainman Gallery

“He’s done something that’s kind of normal for us, but it’s taboo in Mali to reveal parts of the body,” Mr. Shainman said. “Throughout art history it’s been done many times by so many artists and he’s putting his own spin on it, in a beautiful and even sculptural way.”

Fayemi Shakur is a writer based in Newark. Her work has been featured online and in print in Nueva Luz Photographic Journal, The International Review of African American Art, and Hycide magazine.

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Creative agencies need right balance of art, science & technology: Alasdair Lennox

Creative agencies need right balance of art, science & technology: Alasdair LennoxOn day 3 at the Goafest 2016, Alasdair Lennox, Executive Creative Director, EMEA, Fitch deliberated on how advertising agencies can avoid being obsolete and the creative manifestos for the same.

Lennox did that by comparing six stages of extinction of an agency vis-à-vis the hypotheses around Dinosaur’s extinction from earth.

The six chapters included volcanic eruption, starvation, mammals eating the Dino eggs, meteors hitting the earth, climate change and the bodies of the Dinos being too big for their small brains.

Laying importance on the involvement of younger people in the creative process, he said, “One more reason why the Dinosaurs became extinct was because the mammals ate the Dino eggs. The agencies should be working with the undergraduate, creating internship programs. The creative people have to be an apprentice to both wise and raw mentors.”

He added, “If the agency stops feeding themselves with younger creative people, they could die.”

Comparing the need of balance with Volcanic Eruption he said, “The creative agencies need to have the right balance of art, science and technology. It needs to start again and again. There has been a continuous change over the years in the way designs are being made and accepted; hence the agencies need to change and balance creativity and technology.”

Lennox also elaborated on the necessity of being flexible and optimistic in an agency, “A senior creative person has to remind oneself to not be a negative meteor in the agency. Ego is the most negative thing for an agency. Creative Dictatorship is all about stepping forward and stepping back. You need to step forward like a leader also, step back and listen to the team and respect their leaders.”

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Indie Film ‘Creative Control’ Looks at the Near Future of Personal VR

Indie Film 'Creative Control' Looks at the Near Future of Personal VR

What does technology look like five minutes in the future?

It’s a question that’s on a lot of artists’ minds lately. Whether it’s the Siri-like companion in Spike Jonze’s ‘Her,’ a beautiful AI in Alex Garland’s ‘Ex Machina’ or the ability to instantly rewind and project memories in the “Black Mirror” episode of TV’s ‘The Entire History of You,’ on nearly every screen there seems to be someone’s vision of the not-so-distant future – and usually a warning about how the purportedly convenient technologies are damaging our realities.

The latest entry is the bold indie ‘Creative Control’ (out Friday in limited release and expanding on March 18), about an ad exec who gets lost in the possibilities of Augmenta – an augmented reality system in a pair of glasses. In this highly stylized, ‘Google-utopia’ world, Augmenta even looks cool. Think Warby Parker, not Google Glass or Microsoft HoloLens.

Director Ben Dickinson, who co-wrote and stars, didn’t have the VFX budget of some of his contemporaries, but what he did have was time to really hone in on an idea, and a few friends in the tech world to help – including Vimeo co-creator Jake Lodwick.

Together they designed Augmenta – from the retinal projection interface to a user’s guide. The French digital effects company Mathematic brought it to life. It looks familiar, but slightly askew. The screens and monitors are like the ones we have now, but in ‘Creative Control’ they’re sleek and completely clear. With Augmenta, the world becomes a screen, but video messages still skip in transmission and texts and emails still pop up incessantly in front of your face.

And then David discovers that he can also create a virtual version of a woman he loves with Augmenta too – putting ‘Creative Control’ somewhere between ‘Her’ and ‘Ex Machina.’

“There’s that little boy part of me that really enjoyed making a fake product,” Dickinson said.

Lodwick helped Dickinson understand details about tech design that he hadn’t considered otherwise. Big, theatrical swiping movements in the air might look great in something like ‘Minority Report,’ for instance, but it’s impractical.

“If you’re working all day it doesn’t make sense to be reaching out into space all the time. Sometimes you need to rest your hands,” Dickinson said. “The usual approach in science fiction is to expand something to its most exciting, but ours was to make it feel really realistic and familiar.”

So in ‘Creative Control,’ the movements are small and ergonomic. Legs can be used as typing surfaces, and texting can be done just by tapping your fingers together.

Like many others before him, Dickinson was interested in how technology affects our lives.

“It’s accelerating so much quicker than our bodies so I think there’s a trauma happening,” Dickinson said. “It’s difficult to not just be overwhelmed with the relationships you’re trying to manage through text messages increasingly and the ego roller coaster of social media and then on top of that trying to make a career.”

“It’s much easier to program a digital girlfriend who says exactly the right things at the right time and just fulfills your needs. I think there’s a part of all of us that is attracted to that. The way technology exists right now offers that false hope to people and we’re starting to get lost.”

Just recently, Dickinson was in San Francisco meeting with a company that’s developing Augmented Reality – and it’s coming a lot faster than he thought would be possible when he started making “Creative Control.”

“Basically I made a movie set in the modern day. It just has a little extra sauce,” he said. “You could have done this movie with smartphones – but it would have been less fun.”

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Tags: AI, Artificial Intelligence, Creative Control, Gaming, Google Glass, Her, Home Entertainment, Internet,Microsoft HoloLens, Samantha, Virtual Reality, VR, Wearables

Creative Sound Blaster FRee Review

Creative Sound Blaster FRee Review

Singapore-based Creative is an industry expert when it comes to audio, whether its sound cards for PCs, headphones, or portable speakers. The iconic Sound Blaster series of products has a formidable reputation itself, and now even covers the company’s personal audio range, including the excellentSound Blaster Jam and Sound Blaster Roar.

The latest wireless audio product from the Creative stable is the Sound Blaster FRee. Launched in October at a price of Rs. 7,999, the portable Bluetooth speaker has had a price drop and is now available at Rs. 5,999. Designed to be used outdoors, the speaker has IPX4 certification for dust and splash-resistance, and is capable of 360-degree sound when placed vertically. We go in-depth with the Creative Sound Blaster FRee in our review.

creative_soundblaster_free_standing_ndtv.jpgDesign, specifications and features
The Creative Sound Blaster FRee is, like many other basic wireless speakers, rather plain to look at. It’s got some interesting design cues, but is primarily designed to be simple and straightforward. The front has an ordinary grille and a somewhat hexagonal but mostly conical shape that we’re quite used to seeing on similar products. Some of the controls are on one side, while others are at the back. We do however like the red accents on the corners, and this gives the speaker a hint of style.

Although the FRee can be placed and used horizontally if desired, the positioning and orientation of the buttons are more suited to placing the device vertically. The vertical placement position is said to give the speaker 360-degree sound, while the horizontal position has the sound targeted at a sweet spot. Depending on your listening preferences or requirements, you can place the speaker either way.

creative_soundblaster_free_back_ndtv.jpgThe back of the speaker has a rubber flap that covers the Micro-USB port, Aux-in socket, and microSD card slot (supporting storage cards up to 32GB), which is useful in providing protection from water and dirt and maintaining its IPX4 protection. Alongside this flap are the bass port and buttons, which include play/ pause, next, previous, microphone mute, repeat/ shuffle, and loud mode. The buttons on the side control volume, power and Bluetooth mode/ call answer.

The Creative Sound Blaster FRee offers Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity, as well as standard Aux-in and microSD connectivity options. It also has two neodymium drivers and twin passive radiators to deliver full-range audio, and also has a microphone for hands-free calling capabilities. The sales package includes a USB cable for charging, and you can also use any standard Micro-USB charger to charge as well.

We tested the Creative Sound Blaster FRee with an Android smartphone, using both Bluetooth and a 3.5mm stereo cable to test audio output. Additionally, we also used a microSD card to test the in-built media player. Focus tracks for the review were Bonobo’s Ten Tigers, 2Pac’s California Love and Delta Heavy’s Ghost (Zomboy Remix).

Starting with Ten Tigers, we felt that the Sound Blaster FRee pumps out a sound that comes off as entertaining at times, thanks to the thumping bass and general aggression. However, this is only the case at low volumes, and the minute we raised the levels to anything even moderately loud, we were met with distortion and low-end levels that were imprecise and all over the place. Despite the track not being a very aggressive one, the drive and attack felt a bit too overbearing and forced.

creative_soundblaster_free_controls_ndtv.jpgMoving on to California Love, we found that treble was a bit weak, and high frequencies are also weak and tend to spike at certain moments in the track, rather than play out evenly. Mids are alright, but the speaker tends to have mid-focus with level spikes at both ends, especially with bass. Additionally, sub-bass is virtually absent, and any bass we heard only tended to resonate from the mid-bass range. It’s a sound that is all about thump, and won’t really suit any purpose except parties where you’re looking to fill a room with thumping sound. It’s all about loudness, with very little attention given to detail and definition.

Finally, with Ghost (Zomboy Remix), we heard a hint of fun from the speakers, thanks to the raw attack that a good dubstep track can bring to the party. Furthermore, track quality seems to make no difference to the Sound Blaster FRee, and the sound is rough and overly aggressive no matter what you listen to. Certain genres may sound acceptable, but in general, the FRee isn’t going to win any awards for sound quality.

creative_soundblaster_free_logo_ndtv.jpgWe also tried all of these tracks in both placement positions, as well as with loud mode switched on. The horizontal position tends to provide a better sweet spot, a decent soundstage, and better targeting for the sound, which is suitable for when you’re listening to the music by yourself. Placing the speaker vertically makes the sound audibly more three-dimensional, and it sounds acceptable even outside the sweet spot, making this position more suited to social listening. Loud mode is best avoided though, as it only adds to the distortion and lack of definition and clarity in the sound.

Creative has been consistent thus far with its personal audio and multimedia offerings, so it’s unfortunate the company’s latest product, the Sound Blaster FRee, isn’t quite up to the mark. The wireless speaker is poorly tuned and falls short in terms of sonic performance. However, it is a conveniently designed speaker that offers decent ‘party’ performance and can even be used in rough conditions thanks to splash-proofing and a fairly three-dimensional sound. Although it isn’t quite the best option available in its category and price bracket, it might be worth an audition if you’re looking for a loud, punchy speaker for your parties and picnics.

Price (MRP): 7,999


  • Decent design and build
  • Good connectivity options
  • Can get very loud


  • No definition or clarity to speak of
  • Distortion at high volumes
  • Treble is weak, bass is overbearing

Ratings (Out of 5)

  • Design: 3.5
  • Performance: 2
  • Value for money: 3
  • Overall: 2.5