Tape sculpture genius. Via This Is Colossal.
New 23 foot sculpture installed in New Orleans Museum of Art. Via Neatorama.
Glass & wood waves from some Italian artisan. Via BBB
Alan Bates puts in a powerful performance as an unjustly imprisoned Jewish handyman clinging to his principles in The Fixer directed by John Frankenheimer and loosely based on the infamous Beilis trial. Anti-Semitism was rife in Tsarist Russia, so when a boy turns up murdered it’s easy for the locals and authorities to blame a nearby Jew but they didn’t count on his tenacious refusal to confess despite their brutal, merciless treatment. Bates is ably supported by Dirk Bogarde and Ian Holm but they pale way into the background as Bates rounds out the razor sharp script out with a perfectly pitched portrayal of a man driven to despair and beyond.
Tony Richardson scorched the screen in ‘68 with his savagely satirical The Charge of the Light Brigade. Targeted squarely at the idiocy of the Victorian upper class twits behind the planning and execution of the Battle of Balaclava, the film follows a young officer, played by David Hemmings, who fails to talk sense into his superiors and suffers a miserable end along with the rest of the troops. Trevor Howard, Vanessa Redgrave and John Gielgud bring plenty of colour to the smaller roles and Richardson’s deft direction balances the tragic and comic beautifully. An underrated classic.
Don DeLillo’s The Names is a dense meditation on American culture, language and philosophy which masquerades as a thriller about a cult performing ritual murders in and around Greece. The narrative follows an itinerant political analyst who, along with some of his equally displaced fellow Americans, gets slowly drawn into understanding a series of bizarre murders. DeLillo’s prose, as I’ve come to expect, is quite stunning but I found his characters quite unlikeable (smug and myopic in a similar fashion to say Ian McEwan’s often are) and the myriad of musings and ruminations occasionally overwhelming. Excellent just not quite as refined as some of his other works.
Blindness by Portuguese writer Jose Saramago is an excoriating, rather harrowing novel about an epidemic of blindness which cripples society and reveals the baser sides of human nature. At the start of the unprecedented, seemingly incurable outbreak an ophthalmologist and his still sighted wife are quarantined in a dilapidated mental hospital but are soon joined by increasing numbers of sufferers. Largely abandoned by the panic stricken authorities things turn seriously ugly once supplies run dry and desperation sets in. Saramago’s crisp, clean prose gives these grim events an extra punch yet he somehow balances them with intermittent glimmers of humanity and some wonderfully poetic and poignant turns of phrase. Not for the faint of heart but heads and shoulders above most apocalyptic fiction.
Interesting article trying to settle the concept of cognitive embodiment into a larger framework. Via Mindhacks.
A Princeton paper which kicks against the myth of the primacy of rationality. Via Science Daily.
Apparently a mild electrical current between the brows alleviates depression. Gizmo to hit the shops soon. Via Torygraph.
Another tech breakthrough with the development of a cheap, portable brain scanner that uses infra-red to monitor brain activity. Courtesy of New Scientist.
Mindhacks have a nice 48 min Psychology primer video.
Actual evidence for the uniqueness of our cortical structures is offered. Science Daily
A fine explanation of perceptual bias and it’s rather serious ramifications. Via Reddit.
Jump on the split-brain roundabout here. Via Mindhacks.
The flash lag illusion gets a couple of nice animations from some Japanese boffin, Hat tip to New Scientist.
The Great Silence is an atmospheric spaghetti western directed by Sergio Corbucci (of Django fame) in 1968. During a harsh winter a mute gunslinger squares off against a band of voracious bounty hunters who store their victims in snow drifts till spring. Though there’s not much to the script and it’s seems a little clichéd 40+ years later there’s a delicious cynicism and plenty of merciless violence to keep you entertained as the atmosphere builds to an explosive and suitably dark finale. Brilliant but probably not to everyone’s taste.
Sidney Poiter joins forces with James Garner to escort a bunch of soldiers through Indian infested territory in Duel at Diablo but the wheels soon fall off their wagon haha and a relentless siege ensues. It starts off fairly atypically, the usual technicolour 60’s western bedecked in thinly veiled social commentary but it soon reveals a surprisingly dark underbelly of violence once the journey gets underway. With a strong, sharp script and some talented performances this tense little gem packs a punch and is woefully neglected.
Oliver Stone’s latest offering is a 10 part documentary called The Untold History of the United States. Covering the self styled ‘Amurican Century’ Stone weaves a somewhat supercilious narrative in and around the significant events of his country’s ascendance into it’s current militaristic and materialistic hegemony. It’s competently put together and does a decent enough job I suppose but it’s hardly Untold, occasionally simplistic and progressively less factual. Hats off to Stone for giving it a bash though as it’s a bold and brave thing to attempt and you never know it might even spark some navel gazing in the average Yank viewer.
Ken Burns' is considerably more talented documentarian and his latest, elegiac documentary The Dust Bowl provides ample evidence. A decade of drought and the ravenous agricultural expansion throughout the prairie lands of 30’s America led to a devastating, quite unfathomable series of dust storms that frequently blotted out the sun, eclipsing towns and even cities and impoverishing a generation of Yank farmers. Over the 4 hours Burns slowly charts the devastation and desperation this tragedy caused relying heavily on some rather moving testimony from a the few remaining witnesses to colour his austere cinematography and archival sources.
A lovely infrared composite of the Great Nebula in Orion via APOD.
Colourised gravitational map of the Moon courtesy of Nasa’s WISE orbitor via BoingBoing.