Wabi-Sabi: A Short Film on the Beauty of Traditional Japan

Source:
Open Culture



Excerpt:
“We’ve featured the work of Spanish filmmaker Cristóbal Vila before: His short film “Inspirations” celebrated the mathematical art of M.C. Escher. “Fallingwater” animated one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s finest creations. And “Nature by Numbers” showed us geometrical and mathematical formulas found in nature. Today, we bring you Vila’s latest “Wabi-Sabi: A Handful of Memories from Traditional Japan.” As he notes on his site, the animation captures the “aspects that interest me the most about traditional Japan,” featuring “scenes inspired by nature, gardens, architecture, interior scenes, etc.” And it attempts to “create a calm and balanced atmosphere through the use of light, composition, materials, movement… and the choice of the motifs themselves.” Above, you can watch “Wabi-Sabi,” a Japanese term … Read the rest

Spike Jonze’s Stop Motion Film Hauntingly Animates Paris’ Famed Shakespeare and Company Bookstore

Source:
Open Culture



Excerpt:
“Since his breakout early days directing commercials and music videos for the likes of Fatboy Slim, Weezer, Daft Punk, and the Breeders, Spike Jonze has honed a quirky visual sensibility that translated almost seamlessly to feature film. But even at his quirkiest, Jonze hasn’t been about quirk for quirk’s sake. His characters—highly emotional robots, dog-headed men with broken legs, tormented puppeteers, enthusiastic amateur dance troops—are underdogs, weirdos, figures on the fringes who make us question what it means to be people: to be lonely, in love, creatively obsessed, and emotionally scrambled…. There is a paradox inherent in Jonze’s films and videos. Their oddball plots and characters cut through the cynical veneer of cool that keeps us from asking hard … Read the rest

How Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai Perfected the Cinematic Action Scene: A New Video Essay

Source:
Open Culture



Excerpt:
“Jonathan Lethem knows a thing or two about storytelling as well as about caped comic-book characters, and on a recent podcast appearance he accused films about the latter of an inability to do the former: “I think one of the least satisfying film genres I’ve ever encountered is the contemporary superhero movie, which just seems to me kind of dead on arrival. I can’t even get into the hair-splitting about, ‘Oh, but there are three or four good ones.’ I just don’t see any life there.” How can such big productions filled with so much action play out so lifelessly on the screen? Perhaps the work of Akira Kurosawa, known in his day as the “Emperor” of Japanese film, … Read the rest

Strange Vintage Postcards Document the Propaganda Against Women’s Rights 100 Years Ago

Source:
Open Culture



Excerpt:
“The vicious, vitriolic imagery and rhetoric of this election season can seem overwhelming, but as even casual students of history will know, it isn’t anything new. Each time historic social change occurs, reactionary counter-movements resort to threats, appeals to fear, and demeaning caricatures—whether it’s anti-Reconstruction propaganda of the 19th century, anti-Civil Rights campaigns 100 years later, or anti-LGBT rights efforts today. At the turn of the century, the women’s suffrage movement faced significant levels of abuse and resistance. One photograph has circulated, for example, of a suffrage activist lying in the street as police beat her. (The woman in the photo is not Susan B. Anthony, as many claim, but a British suffragist named Ada Wright, beaten on “Black … Read the rest

DeepMind Invented a Computer That Learns How to Use Its Own Memory

Source:
Motherboard



Excerpt:
“DeepMind, Alphabet’s artificial intelligence development wing, published its third research paper in Nature on Wednesday, and it’s a doozy: the team invented a new kind of AI that actually learns how to use its own memory. They call it a “Differential Neural Computer,” or DNC for short.But what does it even mean for a computer to “learn” how to use its memory banks, and why should anyone care? Well, for one, it could help AI to become more powerful and useful than ever before—say, to help you navigate a complex commute in a new city with minimal hassle. The first thing to know is that deep learning, a highly advanced form of machine learning, is made up of a “neural … Read the rest

The Night When Charlie Parker Played for Igor Stravinsky (1951)

Source:
Open Culture



Excerpt:
“Image (left) by William P. Gottlieb, image (right) by Library of Congress, via Wikimedia Commons The history of 20th-century music offers plenty of stories of luminaries meeting, playing together, and sometimes even entering into long-term collaboration. But it typically only happened within traditions: encounters between rock and rock, jazz and jazz, modernism and modernism. And so it still thrills to hear of the time in 1951 when Charlie Parker added one more story to the most storied jazz club of all by performing for Igor Stravinsky at Birdland. Alfred Appel tells it definitively in his book Jazz Modernism: From Ellington and Armstrong to Matisse and Joyce: The house was almost full, even before the opening set — Billy Taylor’s … Read the rest

How Two-Sunned ‘Tatooine’ Planets Escape Being Crushed By Their Host Stars

Source:
Motherboard



Excerpt:
“People like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking want humans to become an interplanetary species, and a few billion years from now—if our ancestors are still around—we’ll be glad we moved on. That’s because our aging Sun will have expanded to such a point that it will gobble up its closest planets, Mercury and Venus, and maybe Earth, too.Planets that revolve around two suns, though, might avoid this fate. That’s the conclusion of a new paper, which will be published in The Astrophysical Journal, and finds that double-sunned Tatooines migrate out to wider orbits, and can avoid being destroyed.Read More: NASA Finds Us Our Very Own Tatooine 200 Light-Years AwayNot so long ago, a planet orbiting two stars was a Star … Read the rest

How Hackers Plant False Flags to Hide Their Real Identities

Source:
Motherboard



Excerpt:
“During the first half of 2015, a mysterious hacking group allegedly started attacking military and government organizations in Peru in what looked like a routine—even run-of-the-mill—espionage campaign. The group used an old exploit and “clunky” malware, nothing particularly notable. What was unusual about this operation was that the malware was signed with a stolen digital certificate that had already been used by the hackers responsible for disrupting an Iranian nuclear power plant in the famous Stuxnet attack, according to security firm Kaspersky Lab. All this made very little sense. The use of the stolen certificate made it look like the hacking group was the same as the Stuxnet attack, or was it just a trick? Security experts often repeat a … Read the rest

Isaac Asimov Laments the “Cult of Ignorance” in the United States: A Short, Scathing Essay from 1980

Source:
Open Culture



Excerpt:
“Painting of Asimov on his throne by Rowena Morill, via Wikimedia Commons In 1980, scientist and writer Isaac Asimov argued in an essay that “there is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been.” That year, the Republican Party stood at the dawn of the Reagan Revolution, which initiated a decades-long conservative groundswell that many pundits say may finally come to an end in November. GOP strategist Steve Schmidt (who has been regretful about choosing Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate in 2008) recently pointed to what he called “intellectual rot” as a primary culprit, and a cult-like devotion to irrationality among a certain segment of the electorate. It’s a familiar contention. There … Read the rest

21 Artists Give “Advice to the Young:” Vital Lessons from Laurie Anderson, David Byrne, Umberto Eco, Patti Smith & More

Source:
Open Culture



Excerpt:
“Never meet your idols, they say. It can put a cramp in your appreciation of their work. There are always exceptions, but maybe Bill Murray proves the rule. On the other hand, you should always learn from your idols. There’s a reason you admire them, after all. Find out what it is and what they have to teach you. In the series we feature here, Advice to the Young, many an idol of many an aspiring artist and musician offers some broad, existential advice—ways to absorb a little of their process. Laurie Anderson, above, tells us to “be loose.” Widen our boundaries, “make it vague,” because “there are so many forces that are trying to push us in certain … Read the rest

Free Audio Book: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Read by British Actor Hayward Morse

Source:
Open Culture



Excerpt:
“Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was originally published as a three-part serial story in Blackwood’s Magazine in 1899, then later as a novella in the 1902 collection Youth: A Narrative; and Two Other Stories. A complex and controversial “meditation on colonialism, evil, and the thin line between civilization and barbarity,” Heart of Darkness gained literary stature during the 1950s and 1960s, before peaking in the late 1970s–precisely around when Francis Ford Coppola released Apocalypse Now, a film loosely based on Conrad’s tale. What halted the novella’s momentum was a stinging rebuke from Chinua Achebe, father of modern African literature, who criticized the way it … Read the rest

Alejandro Jodorowsky Explains How Tarot Cards Can Give You Creative Inspiration

Source:
Open Culture



Excerpt:
“The practice of cartomancy, or divination with cards, dates back several hundred years to at least 14th century Europe, perhaps by way of Turkey. But the specific form we know of, the tarot, likely emerged in the 17th century, and the deck we’re all most familiar with—the Rider-Waite Tarot—didn’t appear until 1909. Popular mainly with occultists like Aleister Crowley and Madame Blavatsky in the early 20th century, the tarot exploded into popular culture in the new age 70s with books like Stuart Kaplan’s Tarot Cards for Fun and Fortune Telling, and by way of cult filmmakers like Alejandro Jodorowsky. Since its relatively recent popularization, “fun” and “fortune telling” have more or less defined most people’s attitude to the tarot, … Read the rest

Akira Kurosawa’s Advice to Aspiring Filmmakers: Write, Write, Write and Read

Source:
Open Culture



Excerpt:
“We should all learn from the best, and in the domain of cinema, that means studying under masters like Akira Kurosawa. Though now nearly twenty years gone, the Japanese filmmaker known as “the Emperor” left behind not just one of the most impressive bodies of directorial work in existence — Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, Ran, and much else besides — but a generous quantity of words. In addition to the voluminous materials related to the films themselves, he wrote the book Something Like an Autobiography, gave in-depth interviews, and offered filmmaking advice to established colleagues and young aspirants alike. “If you genuinely want to make films,” Kurosawa tells the next generation of directors in the clip above, … Read the rest