William Alderwick is Editorial Director at Spring Studios, London and Contributing Editor at Near East. Former-Editor of the award-winning platform NOWNESS, he began his career as Editor-in-Chief of the cult title Under/current Magazine, more recently working on the positioning of New York members' club Spring Place. As a cultural commentator and curator he is at the cutting-edge of all that is relevant in the realm of fashion, film and art. Here, he shares his take on Twin Peaks: The Return and tell us why the ever-increasing democratisation of the tools of video production are going to build elysian virtual realms in the global imaginary.
If there was one piece of art you could feature in, which would it be and why?
Twin Peaks: The Return... With The Return, Lynch is rewriting television, recalling archaic formats, playing on the elements of daytime soaps and melodramas that were parodied within the first and especially second season, pushing on from his more avant experiments in the likes of Inland Empire and devouring video art in the process. I’ve always had a bug with video art — that the gallery context castrates the medium, video art should be hacked into TV broadcast frequencies etc. Today that would be appearing on a premium VOD network, like Netflix etc. That in episode 8 ‘Vulture’ Lynch takes us into the heart of the first atomic bomb blast in a flurry of screeching noise and clouds burning static and this is now mainstream TV is startling. I’m not sure what my ‘cameo’ would be. At one point, I was convinced I had met Frank Silva, the actor-carpenter who played the demon spirit Bob, at an open air jazz concert at LACMA by Art Davis, former John Coltrane double bassist, back in the early noughties. Turns out it was years after he’d died. But I sometimes like to think it was a visit from Bob, popping out of the Black Lodge to say ‘hi’; it was a pretty trippy road trip after all. So maybe I’d be a ‘woodsman’ I think, or more likely sway in the background to some Smith’s-like band in one of the Bang Bang bar music scenes.
How will museums impact future cities?
Museums shape our cultural identity, they’re repositories of shared memory. I think the narratives they tell and the artefacts they hold help us develop our sense of self, both on individual and collective levels. Thus, for cities, I think museums are critically important, if far too often under-appreciated, institutions for creating a sense of shared identity and community. They’re nodes in the network, if you like, sites of intersection that invisibly tie together the relations and associations that bind us together into groups, communities, societies... It’s about collective experience. That’s not really going to change. Obviously, this also extends beyond a city’s insular self-relation or identity and into the regard it’s held in across the world. One key question with regards museums of the future is, of course, virtual reality. Will museums offer their collections and histories to anyone anywhere in the world through this technology? And thus how will the role of the physical institution itself change? Perhaps less than we think.
What are your favourite emerging cultural cities and / or organisations in the world and why?
I’m excited about the emergence of new niche-serving video production studio and channels. Neil Blomkamp, the director of District 9 and Chappie, has launched a new studio specialising in sci-fi shorts. At the same time, new channels dedicated to sci-fi or horror have launched—like Dust—as well as those supporting female directors. As video capture, production, post and broadcast technologies have become so accessible—literally the studio is now in the palm of your hand—you have more technology at your disposal than almost all the movie pioneers of the past century. As we see more people using these tools, and creatively endeavouring to bring their imaginations to life, I think we’re going to see an exciting expansion of the global imaginary. Think of all the dreams, nightmares, romances, monsters under the bed, gods, angels, idols and icons waiting to be unleashed.
Who do you think are the cultural innovators of tomorrow and why?
I think cultural innovation and digital or technological innovation need to be separated. Often the two are collapsed into each other. Not to disregard the cultural impact of technology, the radical transformations of which are obvious. If we’ll permit that separation, then cultural innovation is about forging new cultures by bringing people and ideas together. The question then is who to watch out for, or who is going to have an impact on culture in future. From my own small circuit of the world, I can only mention those I’ve encountered who inspire me. I think Booker-nominated author Tom McCarthy is one of the real literary greats writing today. Beyond his fiction, Tom’s essays are wonders to read too—the talk he gave to celebrate the release of his collected essays published by New York Review of Books wove Zinedine Zidane, Don DeLillo, Ed Ruscha, Mallarmé, and Test Match Special’s Henry Blofeld into a dizzying celebration of time, chance and the writer’s mark. I'm constantly inspired by Nadim Samman, an adventuring curator who gallivants around the globe launching new visionary art projects. He’s kind of an art pirate, I guess, and always buzzing with his next mad-capped scheme. I’m also really excited to see what Dazed&Confused editor Isabella Burley does at Helmut Lang—she’s the new editor-in-residence at the brand, a new kind of role and an exciting evolution of the idea of creative direction. I’ve thought treating brands like magazines, like platforms, is the way to go for a while, and how she uses the brand as a space for collaboration and experimentation for a series of designers, photographers, models, artists and so on, is a potential game-changer for the industry. As an editor, I’m all for it!
What are you up to at the moment and where can we find it? (Please include a link(s) if possible).
I’ve just contributed a piece called ‘Love in the age of facefuck’ (i.e. Facebook + social media) to Real Review, Jack Self’s new quarterly review of modern living. The piece is a review, of sorts, of Iphigenia Baal’s new book Merced es Benz, published by Bookworks as part of a series edited by Stewart Home—which chronicles the author’s relationship with the love of her life, leading up to his death from a drug overdose, and all told exclusively through their text messages, social media chat.. It’s a kind of non-writing as writing, and an exceptionally brave/vulnerable act as a writer, that really questions what the future of writing, literature and a literary avant garde can be. We’re in an age when, as Tom McCarthy would put it, the great book of life is being writing somewhere but it’s in a black box in the Nevada desert and being writing by AI algorithms in a language we can’t read: what becomes of the novel now, what becomes of writing or the writer in this time we live in? That’s a vital question today, because it’s the question of identity and consciousness itself.