New embassies in Berlin reveal nationalism in all its stripes

from the Independent on Sunday (UK), 23 July 2000

Christopher Wren reckoned public architecture the ornament of a country. By that token, a country’s embassies abroad must surely be the architectural equivalent of those almost useless but somehow typical offerings we take with us to give to foreign hosts. For we British it might be gift packs of tea and marmalade or a bottle of Scotch whisky, or, if we are more frivolous, a plastic policeman’s helmet or Union Jack knickers

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An interview with Ron Arad is always a mildly unnerving affair

from the New Statesman, 19 June 2000

Twenty years ago, Ron Arad foresaw the demise of Rover. His prediction took the form of a chair which cannibalised the leather seat from a two-litre Rover and mounted it, with deliberate brutality, on a hulking half-moon steel frame. The Rover chair was briefly known to millions because it featured in one of those terribly style-conscious 1980s advertisements

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The trouble with technology

from the New Statesman, 3 April 2000

I smashed my telephone last week. I used the handset as a hammer and beat it into pieces. A luddite fit, a blow for freedom, incipient madness? I don’t know. The telephone was just the whipping boy. It was the computer that had annoyed me, but I dared not attack that. I am hardly a worst-case customer for technological equipment. I’m numerate, degreed in science subjects, design-aware, calm and rational, as you can tell. I should be their friend. I’m not

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Tyrannies of technology and tradition: an interview with Peter Greenaway

from Graphis (US), March-April 2000

Peter Greenaway is an exception among film-makers. His work provokes critics into revealing their cosy preference for all films to be essentially the same: they want dramatic stories told in banal dialogue between famous actors playing clear roles. Everything else becomes secondary to an idea of protagonists upon a stage that has not changed from the classical theatre. Greenaway sees different potentials in film, which he feels has been neglected as what it so obviously is—a visual medium

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Psychologists and geneticists disagree on the origins of musical talent

from the Independent on Sunday (UK), 10 January 1999

There were some 60 members of the Bach family over seven generations in the 17th and 18th centuries. More than 50 of them were professional musicians of one kind or another. Does this suggest that musical talent is in the genes? Or did it simply become the habit in these households echoing with harpsichords that each young Bach would acquire the skill?

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