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Furniture poetry

5 minutes

A year of weather

10 minutes

Crisanto Street

12 minutes

Earthrise

30 minutes

The power of expectations

3 minutes

Playing peekaboo with Wittgenstein: what do objects do when we’re not looking?

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

‘What prevents me from supposing that this table either vanishes or alters its shape when no one is observing it, and then when someone looks at it again, changes back? But one feels like saying – who is going to suppose such a thing?’ – Ludwig Wittgenstein in On Certainty (1969)

Inspired by the Austrian philosopher’s posthumously published words above on the limits of human perception to account for the outside world, the UK filmmaker Paul Bush constructed the experimental short Furniture Poetry (1999). The stop-motion animation brings to life a universe where fruits, furniture and tableware shift colour and shape when we’re not looking. The result is a simultaneously jarring and amusing visual poem – a dizzying, madcap meditation on our uncertain reality and the limits of knowledge.

Director: Paul Bush

A waltz with a year’s worth of weather radar is both predictable and mysterious

From the tornadoes of the Great Plains to the hurricanes of the Gulf Coast, the United States has some of the world’s most notoriously destructive and volatile weather. But while somewhat hard to grasp on local, week-to-week scales, the nation’s weather is characterised by noticeable and much more predictable patterns when viewed at a macro level. This engrossing timelapse from the YouTube channel Weather Decoded uses radar to follow the meteorology of the entire continental US for all of 2018. As the video unfolds, perennial patterns, such as clouds losing steam when pushing up against the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and seasonal trends, including a stormy June for Nebraska and Kansas, reveal themselves. While US-centric, the video offers an insightful glimpse into the ways in which weather is both predictable and mysterious.

Via Kottke

Video by Weather Decoded

In Silicon Valley’s shadow, a boy bids farewell to the trailer community that’s been home

In the wake of the Silicon Valley tech boom, a massive housing affordability crisis has left thousands of lower-income residents unable to pay skyrocketing rents. These conditions have led to a steep rise in homelessness and the emergence of makeshift housing in the shadows of some of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the world. In her deftly crafted short documentary Crisanto Street, the US filmmaker Paloma Martinez explores one such streetside mobile-home community through the eyes of Geovany Cesario, a cheerful eight-year-old whom she casts as guide, interviewer, narrator and occasionally camera operator. On the eve of his family’s move from their trailer to a low-income apartment complex, Geovany takes us on a touching and bittersweet farewell tour of his world until now.

Director: Paloma Martinez

How an unplanned picture from Apollo 8 altered humanity’s perspective of Earth

‘What they should have sent was poets…’

Launched in December 1968, Apollo 8 was the first manned flight to reach the Moon, orbit it and return to Earth. The primary goal of the mission was to prepare for an eventual lunar landing, however, the flight is now best remembered for the unparalleled glimpses of Earth it provided and, in particular, the iconic photograph taken from lunar orbit that became known as ‘Earthrise’. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 8, this documentary from the US director Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee features interviews with the crew members Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders, who took the famed picture. While reflecting on the life-changing experience of being the first people to view the Earth from outside of its orbit in the ‘inky black void’ of space, they detail how the unplanned photograph became their mission’s most lasting legacy, and gave them a newfound appreciation of their home planet.

Director: Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee

Producer: Adam Loften

Websites: Earthrise, Go Project Films

Want to make a lab rat smarter? Treat it like a smarter lab rat

It’s perhaps not startling to learn that the expectations of others have a significant impact on us. Over the past century, however, scientists have been surprised to observe just how forcefully expectations can nudge the abilities of people – and rats – in one direction or another. Featuring audio excerpts from NPR’s Invisibilia podcast, this animation draws on the work of the US psychologists Robert Rosenthal and Carol Dweck to briefly delve into how expectations can raise or lower student performance, speed up or slow down soldiers, and make maze-solving lab rats smarter or dumber.

Director and Animator: Francesca Cattaneo

Website: Invisibilia

Playing peekaboo with Wittgenstein: what do objects do when we’re not looking?

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

‘What prevents me from supposing that this table either vanishes or alters its shape when no one is observing it, and then when someone looks at it again, changes back? But one feels like saying – who is going to suppose such a thing?’ – Ludwig Wittgenstein in On Certainty (1969)

Inspired by the Austrian philosopher’s posthumously published words above on the limits of human perception to account for the outside world, the UK filmmaker Paul Bush constructed the experimental short Furniture Poetry (1999). The stop-motion animation brings to life a universe where fruits, furniture and tableware shift colour and shape when we’re not looking. The result is a simultaneously jarring and amusing visual poem – a dizzying, madcap meditation on our uncertain reality and the limits of knowledge.

Director: Paul Bush

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Essay/
History of Ideas
Philosophy must be useful

For Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle, much of philosophy was mere nonsense. Then came Frank Ramsey’s pragmatic alternative

Cheryl Misak

Essay/
Beauty & Aesthetics
Whys of seeing

Experimental psychology is providing concrete answers to some of the great philosophical debates about art and its meaning

Ellen Winner