How art transforms the internet

6 minutes

Shelter in place

15 minutes

ORIGINAL

How we build perception from the inside out

10 minutes

False teeth

5 minutes

Making music from brainwaves and heartbeats

6 minutes

Digital art can help us see and judge the internet before it consumes everything

The internet has created a vast new canvas for artists seeking to explore the intersection of physical and digital spaces. In this video essay, Evan Puschak (also known as The Nerdwriter) argues that the best of these artists could help us preserve our humanity as we become increasingly reliant on algorithms to make decisions, and develop aesthetic principles that guide our transition to a more digital world.

Lockdown is a way of life for the US asylum-seekers living in churches

While much of the world was adjusting to lockdown and socialising via screens, life went on more or less the same for Vicky Chavez and her two young daughters. For more than two years, they have been unable to leave the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City in Utah, their makeshift home. After Chavez was ordered to deport to her native Honduras, which she fled to escape an abusive relationship, the church provided her refuge from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – which doesn’t pursue raids at places of worship – while her case is being fought in court. In her moving short Shelter in Place, the US director Kelsie Moore captures the family’s precarious life in limbo, which includes Chavez’s regular video calls with other asylum-seekers living in churches around the country.

Director: Kelsie Moore

Website: RadioWest

Anil Seth on why our senses are fine-tuned for utility, not for ‘reality’

It’s easy to mistake our conscious experience for an ongoing, accurate account of reality. After all, the information we recover from our senses is, of course, the only window we’ll ever have into the outside world. And for most people most of the time, our perception certainly feels real. But the notion that our senses capture an objective external reality can be dispelled by considering something as fundamental as colour, which can be culturally influenced and, even within a single culture, leave the population split between seeing the same picture of a dress as black-and-blue or white-and-gold.

In this instalment from Aeon’s In Sight series, Anil Seth, professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience at the University of Sussex in the UK, puts our imperfect relationship with reality in perspective. In conversation with Nigel Warburton, consultant senior editor at Aeon+Psyche, Seth argues that it’s not just that our perceptions provide flawed accounts of the outside world, but that our brains aren’t in the business of recovering the outside world to begin with. So it’s more accurate to think of our conscious experience as a series of predictions that we’re incessantly and subconsciously fine-tuning – a world we build from the inside out, rather than the outside in.

For more from Anil Seth, read his Aeon essay on the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness.

Interviewer: Nigel Warburton

Producer: Kellen Quinn

Editor: Adam D’Arpino

Associate Producer: Tamur Qutab

Making dentures can be oddly riveting – a fusion of biology, craft and fun

‘Tooth after tooth: a brotherhood of pearly choppers! Upper and lower unite in a cuspidal embrace.’

Looking to pursue a career that combines science, craftsmanship and helping those in need? Then perhaps you might consider prosthodontics – the practical art of designing and fitting dental prosthetics. This playful British short from 1968 combines lab footage, stop-motion animation and a heavy dose of good humour to reveal how dentures are fashioned – a process that, we promise you, is far more fascinating than it sounds. And although the film is from the previous century, denture creation carries on today little changed, still requiring an expert human touch.

Director: Graeme Jackson

Website: Victorian College of the Arts

Can biofeedback help to unlock the mysteries of music’s therapeutic effects?

The US musician and research scientist Grace Leslie works at the frontiers of biotechnology and experimental music. From her Brain Music Lab at the Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, Leslie and her students probe the physiological effects of sounds and rhythms, including how biofeedback could potentially be used to create new sonic therapies. Leslie’s lab work is inseparable from her unique original music, in which she synchronises instrumental performances with her own biorhythms and, in doing so, prompts her audience to synchronise with her. The result, she’s been told, are sounds akin to ‘a warm bathtub’. To hear more of Leslie’s work, watch the Aeon Video original Neurosymphony, which pairs an excerpt from her album Chapel (2018) with high-resolution MRI scans of a human brain.

Video by Science Friday

Director: Jason Drakeford

Producer: Luke Groskin

Digital art can help us see and judge the internet before it consumes everything

The internet has created a vast new canvas for artists seeking to explore the intersection of physical and digital spaces. In this video essay, Evan Puschak (also known as The Nerdwriter) argues that the best of these artists could help us preserve our humanity as we become increasingly reliant on algorithms to make decisions, and develop aesthetic principles that guide our transition to a more digital world.

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The cleaner wrasse (pictured here accompanying the larger black-and-white snapper) can seemingly recognise itself in a mirror. Photo by Ullstein Bild/Getty

Essay/
Biology
The face of the fish

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Michael Woodruff

An Ashokan pillar at Vaishali, India. Photo by Rajeez Kumar/Wikipedia

Essay/
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