304 episodes

Leading artists, writers, thinkers discuss the ideas shaping our lives & links between past & present and new academic research.

Arts & Ideas BBC

    • Society & Culture

Leading artists, writers, thinkers discuss the ideas shaping our lives & links between past & present and new academic research.

    Revisit: Tokyo Idols and Urban Life

    Revisit: Tokyo Idols and Urban Life

    Tokyo used to be presented as the ultimate hyper-modern city. But after years of economic recession the Tokyo of today has another side. A site of alienation and loneliness, anxiety about conformity and identity, it is a place where self-professed 'geeks' (or 'otaku'), mostly single middle-aged men, congregate in districts like Akibahara to pursue fanatical interests outside mainstream society, including cult-like followings of teenage girl singers known as Tokyo Idols.

    Novelist Tomoyuki Hoshino, photographer Suzanne Mooney, writer/photographer Mariko Nagai and film-maker Kyoko Miyake look at life in the city for the Heisei generation. Presented by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough.

    Director Kyoko Miyake has made a film called Tokyo Idols which looks at the obsession of middle aged men with superstar teenage girls who make a living online
    Suzanne Mooney's photographs depict the urban landscapes of Tokyo.
    Novelist Tomoyuki Hoshino's latest book to be translated into English is called ME. It's about rootless millennials and suicide.
    Mariko Nagai is an author and photographer who has written for children and adults. Her books include Instructions for the Living and Irradiated Cities.

    The translator was Bethan Jones and the speakers were all in the UK to take part in events as part of Japan Now - a festival at the British Library in London, and in Manchester, Sheffield, Norwich. Programmed by Modern Culture in partnership with the Japan Foundation and Sheffield University.

    Producer: Luke Mulhall

    • 44 min
    Revisit Rashōmon

    Revisit Rashōmon

    Who can you trust? That's the question posed in Rashōmon. In today's programme Rana Mitter's guests David Peace, Natasha Pulley, Yuna Tasaka and Jasper Sharp look at both the book and the film.

    Ryūnosuke Akutagawa's short story 'In a Grove', published in 1922, became the basis for the 1950 film from Akira Kurosawa 'Rashōmon', one of the first Japanese films to gain worldwide critical acclaim. 'The Rashōmon Effect' has become a byword for the literary technique where the same event is presented via the different and incompatible testimonies from the characters involved. David Peace's book 'Patient X' is a novelised response to Ryūnosuke Akutagawa's last years and his death by suicide at the age of 35. Natasha Pulley is a novelist and Japanophile with a particular interest in Japanese literature of the 1920s, and in the unreliable narrator implied by use of the Rashōmon Effect. Jasper Sharp is a writer and curator, author of the Historical Dictionary of Japanese Cinema. Yuna Tasaka is one of the contributors to The Japanese Cinema Book published by Bloomsbury.
    David Peace's third novel in his Tokyo trilogy Tokyo Redux is out this summer.
    Natasha Pulley's most recent novel is a time travel story set in Napoleonic times - The Kingdoms. Her book The Watchmaker of Filigree Street became an international best seller.

    Producer: Luke Mulhall.

    You can find a playlist of Radio 3 programmes exploring Japanese Culture on the Free Thinking programme website from the Tale of Genji to Godzilla, jazz to the sound of rain, Rashomon to Rampo https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0657spq

    • 43 min
    Bette Davis

    Bette Davis

    A spinster dominated by her mother in Now Voyager (1942), a strong-willed Southern belle in Jezebel (1938) which won her an Academy award for best actress, a Broadway star in All About Eve (1950): just some of the 100 film roles played Bette Davis during a career which ran from the 1930s to the late 1980s. As the British Film Institute puts on a season of films throughout August, including a re-mastered version of Now Voyager, Matthew Sweet is joined by Sarah Churchwell, Lucy Bolton and Anna Bogutskaya to talk about Bette Davis failing her first screen test because she didn't "look like an actress", her legal fight with the studios, working for the war effort and the appeal of Bette Davis eyes.

    Sarah Churchwell is professorial fellow in American literature and chair of public understanding of the humanities at the School of Advanced Study, University of London and the author of Behold, America: A History of America First and the American Dream, Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and The Invention of The Great Gatsby, and The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe.

    Anna Bogutskaya is a film programmer, broadcaster, writer and creative producer. She is the co-founder of the horror film collective The Final Girls and Festival Director of Underwire Festival.

    Lucy Bolton is Reader in Film Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. She is the author of Contemporary Cinema and the Philosophy of Iris Murdoch and co-editor of Lasting Screen Stars: Images that Fade and Personas that Endure.

    Now Voyager, directed by Irving Rapper opens at the BFI and selected cinemas around the UK from August 6th 2021. The BFI is screening 20 films and staging a series of events to celebrate the work of Bette Davis as part of a major season this August.

    You can find other discussions about "landmark" films and Hollywood stars in the Landmarks playlist on the Free Thinking programme website https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01jwn44

    Episode includes discussions about Marlene Dietrich, Glenda Jackson on Filming Sunday Bloody Sunday, Jacques Tati's Trafic, Jaws and Solaris.

    Still from Now, Voyager (1942) Warner Bros. 2021. All Rights Reserved

    Producer: Ruth Watts

    • 44 min
    Green Thinking: Food

    Green Thinking: Food

    Climate Change is expected to continue disrupting food production and consumption. Over recent years pressures have intensified on everyone, from those growing food and selling it, to those paying for and eating it. Researchers are considering how we can best ensure our food supplies are sustainable and secure into the future. We look at the possible options: from local food communities and digital small-holder farming to reducing our meat consumption – and, tackling food inequality. Des Fitzgerald asks Professor Peter Jackson and Dr Matthew Davies how we might best ensure that everyone is well fed.

    Peter Jackson is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sheffield. He is also the Co-Director of the University of Sheffield Institute for Sustainable Food which aims to find dynamic solutions to the challenges of food security and sustainability by drawing on the expertise of researchers across the sciences, social sciences and the arts and humanities. He works on social geography, cultural geography, consumption, identity, families and food. Further information can be found here: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/sustainable-food

    Dr Matthew Davies is Associate Professor at University College London. He is based at the Institute for Global Prosperity which has coordinated an AHRC funded partnership for Prosperity and Innovation in the Past and Future of Farming in Africa (PIPFA). He has been engaged in rethinking the role of small-holder farmers in the future of food production. He also works on a range of topics on environment, society and prosperity in eastern Africa. Details of his research can be found here: https://md564.wordpress.com/

    Professor Des Fitzgerald is a New Generation Thinker based at the University of Exeter.

    You can find a new podcast series Green Thinking: 26 episodes 26 minutes long in the run up to COP26 made in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, part of UKRI, exploring the latest research and ideas around understanding and tackling the climate and nature emergency. New Generation Thinkers Des Fitzgerald and Eleanor Barraclough will be in conversation with researchers on a wide-range of subjects from cryptocurrencies and finance to eco poetry and fast fashion.

    The podcasts are all available from the Arts & Ideas podcast feed - and collected on the Free Thinking website under Green Thinking where you can also find programmes on mushrooms, forests, rivers, eco-criticism and soil. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p07zg0r2

    For more information about the research the AHRC’s supports around climate change and the natural world you can visit: https://www.ukri.org/our-work/responding-to-climate-change/ or follow @ahrcpress on twitter. To join the discussion about the research covered in this podcast and the series please use the hashtag #GreenThinkingPodcast.

    Producer: Marcus Smith

    • 26 min
    Connecting with nature

    Connecting with nature

    Music from Orkney thunderstorms, dog walks in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park that have inspired a set of tiles, essays about the seasons from a diverse collection of writers: Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough's guests, composer Erland Cooper, writer Anita Roy, artist Alison Milner and Dr Pippa Marland, compare notes on the way they filter countryside experiences to create art, music and literature.

    Anita Roy and Pippa Marland have co-edited a collection of essays titled Gifts of Gravity and Light featuring Luke Turner, Testament, Tishani Doshi, Michael Malay, Jay Griffiths and others with a foreword by Bernadine Evaristo.
    You can find a selection of blogs and poems pulled together in a lockdown nature writing project run by Pippa at landlinesproject.wordpress.com
    Anita Roy has also published a selection of her stories called Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean.
    Alison Milner's tiled artwork is on show at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park https://ysp.org.uk/ https://www.alisonmilner.com/
    Erland Cooper's music inspired by Orkney and the poet George Mackay Brown will be heard on an episode of Between the Ears broadcasting on BBC Radio 3 this autumn. His music is being performed in concerts at the Edinburgh International Festival, the Cathedral Arts Quarter Festival Belfast, Stroud, Bristol and Birmingham. https://www.erlandcooper.com/

    Producer: Sofie Vilcins

    You can find a Green Thinking playlist of programmes exploring different aspects of nature and our approach to the environment on the Free Thinking programme website and an episode of the Verb exploring the experience of going for a walk hearing from guests including Testament and Stuart Maconie.

    • 44 min
    Alain Robbe-Grillet

    Alain Robbe-Grillet

    A "cubist" story - with a plot and timeline broken up and repetitive descriptions of objects, like a painting by Picasso, is one way in which the French nouveau romain of the 1960s has been described. Alain Robbe Grillet (1922 – 2008) was one of the main figures associated with this literary movement. He was also a member of the High Committee for the Defense and Expansion of French and published novels called Les Gommes (Erasers), Le Voyeur (the Voyeur), and collaborated on films with Alan Resnais which included the1961 film Last Year at Marienbad. This film was nominated for the 1963 Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay and won the Golden Lion. Matthew Sweet and his guests, the author Tom McCarthy, the film historian Phuong Le and the French cultural historian Agnès Poirier discuss the screen-writing, novels and philosophy of Alain Robbe-Grillet.

    Tom McCarthy is the author of novels including C, Satin Island, Remainder and Men in Space and a series of art installations and manifestos put together with the philosopher Simon Critchley as the International Necronautical Society (INS).

    Producer: Luke Mulhall

    • 44 min

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