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Lord thing

52 minutes

Poetry of perception: ‘We Grow Accustomed to the Dark’

2 minutes

Tusalava

9 minutes

How ISPs violate the laws of mathematics

6 minutes

How hairworms highjack a cricket

5 minutes

Aeon for Friends

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Can a gang transform into a force for social good? The view from Chicago in 1970

The late US filmmaker DeWitt Beall was a prolific chronicler of Chicago during the tumultuous 1960s and early ’70s, amid the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, and the rise of street gangs. His documentary Lord Thing (1970), which screened at the prestigious Venice and Cannes films festivals but was never officially released in the US, charts the emergence and evolution of the Vice Lords, one of Chicago’s oldest street gangs. Shaped by the music and sounds of the times and the voices of Vice Lords members, the kinetic film chronicles the desperate conditions that gave rise to the city’s earliest gangs, and how some Vice Lords leaders attempted to transform the group into a force for positive social change in the community. Reforming themselves as the Conservative Vice Lords, the faction created a not-for-profit that used grant money to create job-training centres, recreational areas and community-based businesses before a citywide crackdown put an end to their undertaking. Out of circulation for decades, the film was restored and released by the Chicago Film Archives in 2014.

Director: DeWitt Beall


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‘Then – fit our Vision to the Dark’: exploring sight with Emily Dickinson

Written by Emily Dickinson during the depths of the US Civil War, the untitled poem known as ‘We Grow Accustomed to the Dark’ conjures hope and perseverance amid waves of chaos and uncertainty. In this animation, the UK filmmaker and illustrator Hannah Jacobs visualises the poem in fleeting scenes that oscillate between vibrant colour and darkness, through which human figures careen. Beginning with an epigraph drawing a parallel between artistic and scientific discovery, the video was created for an online neuroscience course at Harvard University as part of a series that explores the human sensory experience through poetry and animation.

Animator: Hannah Jacobs

Producer: Nadja Oertelt

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Life emerges, evolves and fights for supremacy in this 1929 avant-garde classic

The New Zealand-born artist Leonard Charles Huia Lye (1901-80), better known as Len Lye, is renowned for his work in kinetic sculpture and experimental film, and is widely considered one of the most innovative modernists of the 20th century. Lye’s first film, Tusalava (1929), produced over two years following a move to London, was born of the city’s emerging experimental film scene and Lye’s abiding interest in Maori, Aboriginal and Samoan art. Composed of some 7,000 hand-drawn images, the abstract animation synthesises modern and ancient art as it depicts simple life forms emerging, evolving and coming into conflict. As with the influence of African art on Pablo Picasso, Lye’s use of so-called ‘primitivism’ has been both praised for introducing non-Western perspectives to Western art, and criticised for cultural appropriation. The film was originally paired with a now-lost piano score from the UK-born composer Jack Ellitt. This version features the UK composer Eugene Goossens’s composition Rhythmic Dance (1928), which Lye later suggested as an alternative accompaniment.

Director: Len Lye

Score: Eugene Goossens

Websites: The Len Lye Foundation, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

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If simple logic isn’t working with your internet company, try Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory

This tongue-in-cheek animation from the US YouTuber Henry Reich – the mind behind MinutePhysics – is a creative exercise in how not to lose your cool when faced with the abyss of illogic. Recalling the mundane, mindnumbing tribulations of trying to get a straight answer on billing from his internet service provider (ISP), Reich concludes that the company isn’t just guilty of subpar customer service – their policies also break nearly every fundamental law of modern mathematics. Reich’s clever excoriation of telecommunication companies was created for The Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses (BAHFest), an annual ‘celebration of well-argued and thoroughly researched but completely incorrect scientific theories’.

Video by MinutePhysics

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Mind control and zombification do exist. Just look at these crickets

Warning: this video is not for the squeamish.

Mayflies make a quick and nutritious snack for crickets. But, rather unfortunately for the cricket population of California, some mayflies are home to hairworms (nematomorphs) – parasitic creatures that will stop at nothing to make their way back to water. Once consumed, hairworms feed off crickets from the inside, absorbing all of their lipids, and eventually putting the cricket in a state of developmental and reproductive limbo. Worse still, once these fast-growing parasites reach their adult length of one to two feet, they zombify their hosts, unleashing brain chemicals that make the infected crickets wander aimlessly until they hit water, where the worms make their final escape and start the whole cycle anew. By studying this process, scientists hope to learn more about how brain parasites might affect human behaviour. The ordeal is captured in microscopic detail in this episode of the often creepy, always fascinating science documentary series Deep Look. Read more about the video at KQED Science.

Video by KQED Science

Producer and Writer: Gabriela Quirós

Narrator and Writer: Lauren Sommer

Cinematographer: Josh Cassidy

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Can a gang transform into a force for social good? The view from Chicago in 1970

The late US filmmaker DeWitt Beall was a prolific chronicler of Chicago during the tumultuous 1960s and early ’70s, amid the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, and the rise of street gangs. His documentary Lord Thing (1970), which screened at the prestigious Venice and Cannes films festivals but was never officially released in the US, charts the emergence and evolution of the Vice Lords, one of Chicago’s oldest street gangs. Shaped by the music and sounds of the times and the voices of Vice Lords members, the kinetic film chronicles the desperate conditions that gave rise to the city’s earliest gangs, and how some Vice Lords leaders attempted to transform the group into a force for positive social change in the community. Reforming themselves as the Conservative Vice Lords, the faction created a not-for-profit that used grant money to create job-training centres, recreational areas and community-based businesses before a citywide crackdown put an end to their undertaking. Out of circulation for decades, the film was restored and released by the Chicago Film Archives in 2014.

Director: DeWitt Beall


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Essay/
Stories and literature
Lost in migration

When Walter Benjamin fled France in 1940, he took a heavy black suitcase. Did it contain a typescript? Where is it now?

Giorgio van Straten

Essay/
Stories and literature
Queering Shakespeare

So many arguments are given against Shakespeare being gay – yet his sonnets contain their own message, that love is love

Sandra Newman