Quantum fluctuations

4 minutes

A small antelope horn

2 minutes

EXCLUSIVE

Conor and Kobe

6 minutes

How Big Tech betrayed us

4 minutes

What Gordon Parks saw

7 minutes

‘Moving paintings’ evoke a quantum particle collision at the Large Hadron Collider

Warning: this film features rapidly flashing images that can be distressing to photosensitive viewers.

The London-based artist Markos R Kay works at the intersection of digital art and science, building bridges between the sometimes esoteric work of scientists and the public. For his piece Quantum Fluctuations: Experiments in Flux (2016), Kay set out to visually express a quantum interaction – a phenomenon that’s notoriously unobservable. First, Kay crafted a scientifically informed visual style, incorporating influences ranging from the abstract expressionists to Richard Feynman. Kay then created ‘moving paintings’ from these visuals using computer software intended to mimic the supercomputers that simulate particle collisions at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva. The sequence of events visualised in this excerpt from Quantum Fluctuations is as follows:

  1. Underlying event: representing the background particle interactions that occur in a hadron collider during a particle collision.
  2. Proton beam: hundreds of trillions of protons are accelerated to near the speed of light.
  3. Hard subprocess: the main event during a high-energy particle collision.
  4. Parton showers: radiation in the form of virtual quarks and gluons caused by the energy of the collision.
  5. Hadronisation: these particles become composite hadrons.
  6. Decay: unstable composites break apart and light is emitted.

There’s an idiosyncratic beauty to the resulting imagery and an inherent tension in the work, which melds careful planning with spontaneity, and offers an abstract peek into the unseeable. For the best experience, we recommend watching with your video player at the 4K setting. You can view Quantum Fluctuations in full at Sedition.

Director: Markos R Kay

Sitting by the fire with a nomadic tribe, a physicist ponders the many shapes of wisdom

The Italian theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli is a pioneer in the field of quantum gravity, and often thought of as one of the world’s foremost scientific thinkers. In this brief animation by James Siewert, which features narration from the Swazi-English actor Richard E Grant, Rovelli recalls communing with members of the Hadza tribe of northern Tanzania – one of the last hunter-gatherer societies on Earth. Sitting by the fire, thoughts of the peculiar trajectory of Homo sapiens and the many shapes of human wisdom flicker in his head, as he ponders the gaps, large and small, between his world and theirs.

Video by rubberband.

Animator: James Siewert

Website: Alexander

Grieving Kobe Bryant, Conor wonders: why do untimely celebrity deaths hit so hard?

‘It’s weird, like – I’m tearing up for someone I didn’t even know…’

Kobe Bryant’s death on 26 January 2020 in a helicopter crash, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, was met with public displays of mourning in the hours, weeks and months that followed. One of the most beloved basketball stars from a league with a global fanbase, the tragedy prompted innumerable tributes to the NBA legend, scrawled everywhere from the sidewalks of Los Angeles to the Chinese social media platform Weibo – alongside plenty of discussions and think-pieces about his complicated legacy, on and off the court.

This short documentary from the US filmmaker Derek Knowles is constructed from phone conversations between Knowles, his brother Conor and the siblings’ parents in the wake of Bryant’s death. Conor, the family’s biggest Bryant fan, meets the news with a distinct combination of shock, sadness and confusion over how the death of someone he never truly knew could affect him so powerfully. The result is a poignant and intricate reflection on celebrity, mourning and death, crafted from just a few intimate words between family members.

Director: Derek Knowles

Tech companies shroud their algorithms in secrecy. It’s time to pry open the black box

The so-called father of capitalism, Adam Smith, would frown upon the ‘free markets’ of the 21st century, argues the US economics writer Rana Foroohar. For Smith, a functioning market required transparency, a mutual understanding of exchanges and a shared moral framework. And, as Foroohar puts it in this brief animation for the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), surveillance capitalism – pioneered by Google, and now, to varying degrees, ubiquitous worldwide – comes up short on all three fronts. Featuring excerpts from a presentation given by Foroohar at the RSA House in London in 2019, this brief animation lays out the many ways in which surveillance capitalism continues to encroach unchecked, and one potential plan for course correction.

Video by the RSA

Director and Animator: Thomas Kilburn

Producer: Phoebe Williams

Gordon Parks found a ‘weapon’ against poverty and racism in a secondhand camera

‘I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.’
– Gordon Parks (1912-2006)

Born into poverty and segregation in Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Parks was 25 when he arrived in Seattle, Washington with only a few dollars in his pocket. There, drawn to photography’s power to expose inequality and injustice, he headed to a pawn shop and bought a secondhand camera and some rolls of film. In the years that followed, he would receive countless honours for his work documenting American life – in addition to a multitude of pioneering accomplishments in writing, publishing, painting, composing and film directing.

This video from Evan Puschak (also known as the Nerdwriter) focuses on a 1948 photoessay by Parks published in Life magazine that captured the life of a young, Black gang leader in Harlem. Showcasing and contextualising the images, Puschak explores how Parks’s intimate and confronting style forces many Americans to acknowledge the struggle, poverty and dignity that, for the powerful, often existed out of sight and out of mind.

Video by The Nerdwriter

‘Moving paintings’ evoke a quantum particle collision at the Large Hadron Collider

Warning: this film features rapidly flashing images that can be distressing to photosensitive viewers.

The London-based artist Markos R Kay works at the intersection of digital art and science, building bridges between the sometimes esoteric work of scientists and the public. For his piece Quantum Fluctuations: Experiments in Flux (2016), Kay set out to visually express a quantum interaction – a phenomenon that’s notoriously unobservable. First, Kay crafted a scientifically informed visual style, incorporating influences ranging from the abstract expressionists to Richard Feynman. Kay then created ‘moving paintings’ from these visuals using computer software intended to mimic the supercomputers that simulate particle collisions at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva. The sequence of events visualised in this excerpt from Quantum Fluctuations is as follows:

  1. Underlying event: representing the background particle interactions that occur in a hadron collider during a particle collision.
  2. Proton beam: hundreds of trillions of protons are accelerated to near the speed of light.
  3. Hard subprocess: the main event during a high-energy particle collision.
  4. Parton showers: radiation in the form of virtual quarks and gluons caused by the energy of the collision.
  5. Hadronisation: these particles become composite hadrons.
  6. Decay: unstable composites break apart and light is emitted.

There’s an idiosyncratic beauty to the resulting imagery and an inherent tension in the work, which melds careful planning with spontaneity, and offers an abstract peek into the unseeable. For the best experience, we recommend watching with your video player at the 4K setting. You can view Quantum Fluctuations in full at Sedition.

Director: Markos R Kay

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U Pyinyathee of the All Burma Monks Alliance, a group of exiled monks who fled the protests of the Saffron Revolution of 2007, outside the makeshift monastery he shares in Utica, upstate New York, 27 April 2010. Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

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