Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Multimedia app celebrates the life of famed choreographer Merce Cunningham

Aug. 10, 2012, 9:09 a.m., Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller


new interactive app, available now in iTunes, celebrates the life of renowned choreographer, dancer and artist Merce Cunningham (1919-2009).

The app, designed to make Cunningham’s work accessible to more people, was released today by the Aperture Foundation. It is a new iteration of the 1997 book “Merce Cunningham: Fifty Years,” authored by the Cunningham Dance Company’s archivist David Vaughan.

The book chronicled Cunningham’s work through words, photographs, designs for sets and costumes, musical scores and choreographic notes. The app, which makes the text available digitally for the first time, is also updated to include the final years of Cunningham’s life and features new multimedia content like video excerpts and interviews.

Merce Cunningham: 65 Years, supported by Knight Foundation and developed in collaboration with the Cunningham Dance Foundation, also includes a selection of Cunningham’s drawings, journal pages as well as all of his known essays. Its release was covered in the New York Times article “Even in Death a Choreographer is Mixing Art and Technology”:

Throughout his life Merce Cunningham came up with new ways to blend art and technology. He changed the way we think about space and time onstage, he explored dance on film before just about anyone else, and long before James Cameron and Hollywood made motion-capture cool, he was using three-dimensional computer animation to choreograph. Now, three years after his death in 2009, Cunningham is again at the vanguard. On Friday the Aperture Foundation is to introduce its first interactive application for the iPad, “Merce Cunningham: 65 Years.”

Cunningham’s own experience with technology was a driving force behind the app’s development   and is chronicled in it. In 1989, As part of his choreographic process, Cunningham began to use a computer program designed specifically for him called LifeForms. His 1991 piece “Trackers” (a title inspired by the “tracking” function on the computer) was his first work made using the technology.

About the apps' release, Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen said, “Merce Cunningham’s career cannot be captured by words alone, no matter how eloquent. Knight Foundation was delighted to have the opportunity to support a multimedia publication that will allow so many more people to engage with his work.”

New report shows demand for training in digital tools and techniques

Aug. 9, 2012, 6:39 p.m., Posted by Eric Newton



Digital Training Comes of Age (PDF) by Eric Newton and Michele McLellan

Can journalism schools expand their impact and reach by offering more distance e-learning? That was the question posed today to a gathering of Knight Chairs in journalism in Chicago at the Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication convention.

The question was prompted by the release of “Digital Training Comes of Age,” a new Knight Foundation report showing soaring demand for training in digital tools and techniques. Increasingly, journalists are willing to get the training for those and other skills online.

The Knight Chairs noted that some journalism schools do offer master’s degrees and other on-line courses. They said schools should do more e-learning, but that universities are not doing enough to define best e-learning practices. Many educators have an old idea of e-learning, they said, thinking it is nothing more than lecturing on-line. Howard Finberg of the Poynter Institute had a good idea: Create e-learning modules for teachers and trainers who want to learn how to create good e-learning.

Knight Chair in International Journalism Rosental Alves pioneered e-learning at Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, which has trained more than 6,000 journalists in Spanish and Portuguese. He said e-learning has two great advantages: it’s low cost and self-directed courses can be taken at any time.

Digital Training Comes of Age” was a survey of 660 journalists trained in Knight-supported training programs. The survey showed that online classes are gaining popularity as a cost-effective way to reach more trainees. A third of U.S. journalists and eight in 10 international journalists say the online classes they took were as good as, or better than, conventional training in the classroom.

Demand for training has grown and journalists want more training in digital tools such as multimedia, data analysis and technology. Most give their news organizations low marks for providing training opportunities.

250 performers bring Random Acts of Culture™ to San Jose’s Target Pops Summer Festival

Aug. 9, 2012, 12:29 p.m., Posted by Valerie Nahmad Schimel

Random Acts of Culture™ - San Jose, California from JD Andrews on Vimeo.

Knight Foundation is celebrating its 1,000+ Random Acts of Culture™ with four big, blow-out performances in San Jose, Detroit, Miami and Philadelphia. The fun kicked off Sunday, Aug 5 with a 250-person surprise performance at the Target Pops Summer Festival at San Jose State University. There were French horns, there was Wagner and there were Viking-horned roller skaters – enjoy the video above.

Looking for more Random Acts of Culture™ fun? Read an interview with Dennis Scholl, Knight Foundation’s VP/Arts, about the program, see a TV interview about it with the Symphony Silicon Valley,  relive our past performances through video highlights and see a master list of our 1,000+ Random Acts of Culture™.

Watch out Detroit, you’re next!