The editors' blog


    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, December 2nd 2014

    François Fouilhé has always been enamoured of nature. As a child he wanted to work with birds. Now he makes illuminated works of art in the shapes of trees and flowers as one half of TILT, a French design studio that creates light installations. The other half is Jean-Baptiste Laude. The pair met aged 19 when they were production hands at a theatre called La Comédie de Valance, in southeastern France. A decade later, in 2001, they started TILT because, rather than using light as a tool, they wanted to make light a work of art in itself, and, François says, to “make people imagine different things about their surroundings”. This Christmas, they are making people reimagine Kew Gardens (above).

    read more » ArtGardensLondonLucy FarmerSculpture

    ~ Posted by Maggie Fergusson, November 28th 2014

    Yesterday afternoon, when the news came through that P.D. James had died aged 94, the image that sprang immediately to my mind was of the Queen of Crime gliding down the stairs of her green-fronted Holland Park home in a stairlift. Generally these contraptions suggest decrepitude and decline; not with her. Always immaculately dressed and coiffed, she descended to her hall with an expression of keen anticipation and joie de vivre.

    read more » BooksLiteratureMaggie FergussonMemoir

    ~ Posted by Simon Willis, November 28th 2014

    “Conflict, Time, Photography”, which has just opened at Tate Modern, begins shortly after a big bang. On the wall as you go in, there’s a large photo of rural Afghanistan by Luc Delahaye (above), with flat dry fields, low mud buildings and mountains in the background. In the middle of the picture a cloud from an explosion hangs in the air: an American bomb dropped on Taliban positions. The explosion itself is dispersing and the scene is recovering its calm. As in every picture in the exhibition, something violent has already happened. This isn’t a show about the clamour and crash of war itself, but the atmospheric disturbances and deafening silences that follow.

    read more » ArtExhibitionsPhotographySimon WillisWar

    ~ Posted by Kassia St Clair, November 26th 2014

    "Leviathan" closes as it opens: with a sequence of lingering shots of a rock-strewn, wave-pummelled peninsula in north-western Russia in a palette of thick greys and sickly yellows. In another film such deliberate symmetry might feel heavy-handed. But Andrey Zvyagintsev's 142-minute epic is sufficiently muscular—and leavened with touches of dark humour—to bear operatic flourishes. What begins as a David-and-Goliath fable of a small man taking on a corrupt politician soon stretches its jaws and bites into far bigger prey: the state, organised religion, God and the bleakness of life itself.

    read more » FilmKassia St ClairRussia

    ~ Posted by Georgia Grimond, November 25th 2014

    “Garbage is fascinating,” says the Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. “I’m kind of addicted to it.” He knows his subject well. For three years he worked with a group of rubbish-pickers in a Rio de Janeiro favela, helping them to create giant self-portraits from the trash. The project culminated in an Oscar-nominated documentary, “Waste Land” (2010). “I had so many ideas being in among the garbage,” he goes on. “I started to see the back of my mind as a dump, then I began to think of what an image looked like inside there. It was fragmented, pulled together by myriad little pieces of references and bits of ideas.”

    read more » ArtBrazilGeorgia GrimondPhotography

    ~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, November 20th 2014

    Homer called salt a “divine substance”, but nowadays it’s the culinary bogeyman. Countless studies and stats warn us about eating too much, or eating too little, but there’s no denying that in the right proportion it’s essential for our survival—and it makes food taste great. I recently ate a scallop cooked on a heated Himalayan pink salt block, and it was the best scallop I’d ever tasted. The salt block seasoned and seared it so delicately that the spectrum of flavour slowly revealed itself, from clear light juiciness to deep caramelly crispiness.

    Salt-block cooking is a new trick in the kitchen. The marble-like slabs have a curious beauty, but they’re robust pieces of kit: by firing them up or freezing them down, food can be grilled, cured, cooled, frozen, or just served, all with that subtle, rounded hint of seasoning. Mark Bitterman (above) is an expert on culinary salt—the natural kind, not the fortified white stuff. Founder of The Meadow, a store specialising in salt in Portland, Oregon and New York, he has also written two books on his favourite mineral: the award-winning “Salted” and the recently published “Salt Block Cooking”. I spoke to him about his obsession with salt, and the taste, nutrition and sustainability of salt-block cooking.

    read more » cookingFoodhealthLucy Farmer

    ~ Posted by Simon Willis, November 20th 2014

    For each issue of Intelligent Life, we ask a selection of contributors to record their pieces for our digital editions and website. Below you can listen to Rebecca Willis on how touch, sound and smell influence our fashion sense, Ed Smith on whether cricket is better than baseball, Kieron Long on a design that has stood the test of time, Oliver Morton on geoengineering, and Robert Macfarlane on Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea".

    read more » audionovember/december 2014Simon Willis

    ~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, November 19th 2014

    Our pick of the best new songs to slip into your pocket. Hear a selection on our player below, or find the playlist on Spotify by searching for IntLifeMag. All songs available on iTunes, unless otherwise stated.

    read more » intelligent tunesMusicTim de Lisle

    ~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, November 18th 2014

    If you’re a boxer, a gangster, a soldier or a globetrotting super-spy, you must get used to seeing your own profession portrayed in films. Certain types of journalists—crime reporters, gossip columnists—must be accustomed to it, too. But I had never seen a film devoted to a film critic until I saw “Life Itself”, Steve James’s superb documentary about the late Roger Ebert.

    Admittedly, one reason why the film is so whirlingly entertaining is that Ebert wasn’t just a critic. He reviewed several new releases every week for the Chicago Sun-Times for over 40 years, but he was also a Falstaffian bon viveur who used to prop up the same bar as the author and radio broadcaster Studs Terkel and the rest of Chicago’s newspapermen. He was a motor-mouthed television star, with a long-running, sometimes hilariously fractious onscreen partnership with fellow critic Gene Siskel. He wrote a science-fiction novel, a screenplay for Russ Meyer’s “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”, and a political blog with a fervent following.

    read more » DocumentaryFilmMemoirmoviesNicholas Barber

    ~ Posted by Matthew Engel, November 14th 2014

    It was nearly 25 years ago, shortly after the Berlin Wall fell and just before the failed state of East Germany officially died of shame. A contact took me to visit a small flat on the far side of the fast-disappearing wall. Someone, I was told, wanted to meet me. It all sounded excitingly cold war-ish.

    read more » BerlinCold WarGermanyMatthew EngelMemoir