MixediNews (UK)This husband-and-wife team have been thorough: Bacon’s childhood and the peculiarities of his background are lovingly chronicled, as is his little-known early career as a furniture designer ... while it is not short of gossip, Revelations falls short on its titular promise: if anything, it punctures some of Bacon’s most notorious episodes. Unlike their subject, Stevens and Swan prefer not to let a good story get in the way of truth, suggesting that well-known tales such as the artist hiring an Alsatian dog to inflame his asthma so as to avoid being conscripted for active service had been sexed up (or even fabricated) ... While the tale is pacy, there is an odd sense of distance from Bacon – a formal froideur – that almost feels like disapproval. Perhaps the authors fear, had their subject still been alive, the sentiment would have been mutual.
PositiveThe GarageIn James Bridle’s New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, technology is a force for confusion and opacity rather than enlightenment ... James Bridle wants you to embrace the darkness ... The new book...is a doomy overture to a new era: a work of digital gothic in which the chills are provided by the unpredictable and unstoppable forces we’ve unleashed on the world ... In Bridle’s book, creeping horror seeps from an environment of overwhelming confusion and opacity. He suggests that rather than fear it, perhaps we should learn from it, and, with cynicism firmly in place, even come to accept it: \'We have been conditioned to think of the darkness as a place of danger, even of death. But the darkness can also be a place of freedom and possibility, a place of equality.\' ... Groping through Bridle’s darkness for a way forward, hope seems to lie not in running from the monsters, but in working alongside them. It’s happening already: the \'Optometrist algorithm\' developed by Google Research tempers high-powered computation with human judgement to make complex decisions in nuclear fusion tests; in Advanced Chess, first introduced by grandmaster Garry Kasparov, human-machine teams compete at a higher level than either member alone ... That’s what it takes to survive in the new digital gothic: submit to the bite of the AI vampire; learn to love the re-animated corpse of big data; but more than anything, stay cynical.