media and technology

Think you’ve‘seen it all? So did Susannah Beaumont till she took home a new CD-ROM celebrating the late Robert Mapplethorpe’s most er, upfront photographs.

It’s nothing new. Robert Mapplethorpe and controversy have long been bedfellows. Breaking out from a Catholic homelife in the neat ’burbs of New York, Mapplethorpe went on more often than not with a vial of cocaine in his back pocket to cruise Manhattan’s S & M scene, uttering the words ‘Do it for Satan’ to prospective partners.

It was said of Mapplethorpe that he only wanted people in his life who were rich, famous or willing to have sex with him. But then he never was one to hold much truck with the mundane. His coolly photographed black and white studies of lithe men in full sexual combat shocked America’s moral majority. Held up as evidence of the sordid underbelly of perversity gatecrashing the bastions of decency, these photographs brought notoriety to the man who proclaimed: ‘Sex is the only thing worth living for.’

And the controversy. albeit posthumously (Mapplethorpe died in 1989 of AIDS) goes on. Now there’s Robert Mapplethorpe The Controversy on CD-ROM. Timely stuff coinciding with a retrospective at London’s

Hayward Gallery, where several works were removed by the police’s Obscene Publications Squad. But wait. This is no intriguing exposé or particularly titillating visual romp through the life and times of Mapplethorpe.

In the time-honoured but oft dull approach to artist as a god-like creature, The Controversy is a cross between an essay in veneration and Brodie’s Notes. With an intro of wafty music, the narrator’s dulcet tones talk you through various stages in Mapplethorpe’s life - Early Works, Mature Works etc with an ooze of cheesy language that’s more an insult to the ears than any S & M pix on the eyes: ‘His legacy is an art of perfection, ceasing exquisite moments and encapsulating them for eternity .

. the very concept of beauty itself.’ With little praising asides from Mapplethorpe’s lawyer, Susan Sontag, and the man himself (looking the very picture of a homeboy in cosy homeknit) there’s no real picture of the man and his true grit. The accusations of racism, levelled at him for numerous photographs of black men, is given no real critical overhaul, though the ‘controvcrsy’ surrounding Washington’s Corcoran Gallery’s withdrawal of an exhibition due to heated public debate over the boundaries between art and pornography is covered.

The format is also dull and there’s a disappointing lack of the slick multi-media effects you’d expect from such a high-priced CD-ROM. But the Photo Gallery with countless repros of Mapplethorpe’s work to rifle through. comes with a handy word search allowing a quick call up of photos of everything from Patti Smith (his one-time lover), to flowers and phalluses, with the possibility of zooming in big on the images if you think you can handle it. But that said. a


lowell Smlth: Rear vlew mirror

flick through a glossy coffee-table book of Mapplethorpe’s work is a far more intimate way of viewing than manoeuvring a mouse around a screen.

Digital Collections lnc has definitely scored a first with this comprehensive catalogue of Mapplethorpe’s images (yes even the really risque ones). but at the hideously inflated £200 coverprice, even Bobby’s biggest fans might be better off with the censored version (ie no S & M) at £69.95.

Robert Mapplethorpe: Controversy (New Media Solutions, Windows/Mac, £200); An Overview: Robert Mapplethorpe, Windows/Mac, £69. 95).

@ame on

Weeks after opening the doors of London’s much-hyped Sega World theme park, the games giant that has long been just one level away from market leaders Nintendo. and more recently Sony, is attempting to attract further custom on this side of the Atlantic with the launch of the UK’s first dedicted cable games channel. the Sega Channel. Made popular in Canada and the States at a time before next-

seriously committed to the obsolete technology of the Megadrive to pay $l20 per year over and above your annual cable subscription to enjoy these games. (John Henderson)

Watch this space for news of the Sega Channel in your area.

Speedway. Currently on offer in Newcastle are titles like Dungeons and Dragons, The Art Of Fighting and a preview of Summer Olympic Games. Bought over the counter, these games cost around £40 a shot, so for die-hard, title-collecting Sega fans the $10 a month cable option could prove a moneysaver.

Emma Mummford. public affairs manager of Edinburgh- based cable company TeleWest Communications Scotland is confident that gamers north of the border will be sampling the Sega Channel very soon. ‘It all

generation consoles had been thought of, the Sega Channel is already carried by over 400 cable systems, and available to over 20 million cable subscribers. It is now undergoing trials in Newcastle and the north east of England.

In the States the channel offers unlimited access to 25 Sega Megadrive titles, 24 hours a day. fora monthly subscription of less

than $l0. Subscribers are given


Megadrive: Sega boots up tor the UK launch at Its cable channel an interface module, effectively a memory chip. which plugs into the cartridge port of the Megadrive. Games can then be downloaded from a menu in less than a minute. The games library is divided into five sections: Arcade, Strategy, Family. Sports and

depends upon how trials go elsewhere,’ says Mummford. ‘But I would have thought it will be available in the first quarter of next year.’

Unfortunately, due to storage and memory problems, Sega subscribers are unlikely to see the extremely popular Sega Saturn games pop up on their menu of choice, and this is likely to be the channel’s biggest commercial failing. You’d have to be

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