Newsletter 369

Published December 14, 2020
Are android children better behaved?

This week has been too pressured for me to write a long, discursive newsletter harping on all the problems of the world. I’ve been immersed in a long essay, which is a rare pleasure nowadays, when most of my writing has to respect the amount of space the newspapers will allow for esoteric reviews on the visual arts and cinema. As we’re windng into the Christmas period there seems to be little happening. China is finding more Australian exports to reject, Donald Trump is still unable to admit he lost the election, every promising Australian cricketer seems to be coming down with concussion… nothing new here.

The art column looks at Peter Kingston: First Light at the S.H.Ervin Gallery, a survey of work by one of Sydney’s most dedicated painters of the harbour. Kingston has been making art for decades, but it is only in the past 30 years that he has begun producing large-scale oil paintings. These works are the main feature of the exhibition, although they represent a huge effort for an artist whose most obvious talents lie with his draughtsmanship.

This week’s film being reviewed is The Trouble with Being Born by Austrian director, Sandra Wollner. This subdued piece of science fiction made the news for all the wrong reasons after it was pulled from the 2020 Melbourne Film Festival as the latest casualty of Australia’s raging paranoia about anything featuring small children. In this case, 10-year-old Elli is actually an android, and that’s the whole point of a movie that looks at our increasingly complex relationship with Artificial Intelligence. When it comes to censorship in this country, the moral of the story is that Artificial Intlligence is preferable to no intelligence whatsoever.