1999 AD

26 minutes

Bayes’s theorem, and making probability intuitive

16 minutes

In the absence

29 minutes

EXCLUSIVE

Symphonie diagonale

7 minutes

The big push

4 minutes

Smart homes, bountiful oceans and casual sexism: the future as envisaged from 1967

‘Yes, life will be richer, easier, healthier as space-age dreams come true.’

In 1967, the Ford Motor Company (then known as Philco-Ford) released the short film 1999 AD, which imagined daily life for a US family in the not-so-distant future. Screened today, the film is a fascinating and humbling glimpse at the ever-fraught business of predicting the future. As the viewer watches the Shore family – mother, father and young son – the film’s forecast of life at the turn of the 21st century stuns both with its prescience and its shortsightedness, all served up with a side of folksy, 1960s-style cheese. While many of the technological flourishes showcased – including instant communication, heaps of screen time and daily fitness tracking – ring true today, the film fails to imagine the broader cultural or environmental shifts to come. Particularly jarring is the relationship between the mother, a homemaker who dutifully prepares meals and takes on the majority of parenting duties, and her husband, a breadwinning astrophysicist who keeps a tight watch on his wife’s spending.

Also notable is the film’s sheen of techno-utopian optimism, in which future oceans aren’t polluted or threatened by rising temperatures, but teeming with a biodiverse array of creatures primed for the human plucking. Much more Leave It to Beaver than Black Mirror, the film exemplifies how, through the lens of capitalism, products and progress never exacerbate but gently whisk away problems, as well as the feedback loop of invention and commercial depiction through which corporations have helped to shape modern history.

Via Open Culture

Director: Lee Madden

What is it to be Bayesian? The (pretty simple) math modelling behind a Big Data buzzword

If you’ve ever tripped up over the term ‘Bayesian’ while reading up on data or tech, fear not. Strip away the jargon and notation, and even the mathematics-averse can make sense of the simple yet revolutionary concept at the core of both machine learning and behavioural economics. As this video from the YouTube channel 3Blue1Brown skilfully explains, at its most basic, Bayes’s theorem is a tool for assessing degrees of probability based on prior conditions. And there are ways to make it altogether more intuitive than the statistical formulas might suggest. Although the theorem dates back to its 18th-century namesake, the English statistician and philosopher Thomas Bayes, it has gained increasing relevance in the Big Data revolution.

Video by 3Blue1Brown

‘They told us to stay put’: the South Korean ferry disaster that sank lives and trust

On 16 April 2014, the ferry MV Sewol sunk off the coast of South Korea, killing 304 people – the vast majority of them high-school students on a field trip. Like many other tragedies, the event made headlines around the world before quickly fading from the international news cycle. In South Korea, however, facts about the incompetence, government failures and lapses in responsibility that led to the Sewol’s sinking emerged slowly over the course of several years, prolonging pain and stoking anger to the present day. The documentary In the Absence by the South Korean director Yi Seung-Jun is a devastating account of the sinking and its aftermath – from the first signs of trouble at sea to the years-long struggle by bereaved families demanding accountability and justice. Combining original material with real-time audio and video of the tragedy, the film offers an extraordinary, chilling account of the consequences of following instructions from inept authorities – and the profound breakdown of public trust that follows such a disaster.

Director: Yi Seung-Jun

Producers: Gary Byung-Seok Kam, Park Bong-Nam

Website: Field of Vision

Dadaism ridiculed the meaninglessness of modern life – with captivating results

Dadaism was an avant-garde artistic movement born amid the wreckage of the First World War in Europe and formed in reaction to the perceived meaninglessness of modern life – in particular, of capitalism and its violence. The Swedish artist Viking Eggeling’s stop-motion animation Symphonie diagonale is considered both a Dadaist masterpiece and an early example of experimental animation. Basing the imagery on drawings he created alongside the influential German artist and fellow Dadaist Hans Richter, Eggeling revised and screened several versions of the short from 1922 up until his death in 1925. Shown as a silent film upon its release, this version of Symphonie diagonale features an original score, exclusive to Aeon. The contemporary Illinois-based composer William Pearson intends his music to react to Eggeling’s original vision in both style and composition, with playful, occasionally mechanical organ sounds, and melodies forming in sequence with the visuals emerging on screen.

Director: Viking Eggeling

Composer: William Pearson

Researcher: Tamur Qutab

The eerie serenity of a summer’s day by water, before one of history’s bloodiest battles

‘We laugh and for one heartbeat forget to be afraid…’

The Battle of the Somme, fought by French and British forces against the German army in northern France in 1916, was one of the bloodiest in history. It lasted 140 days and resulted in more than 1.5 million casualties. The Scottish artist Herbert James Gunn (1893-1964) served as a rifleman, and painted The Eve of the Battle of the Somme in the field, just hours before the attack on ‘the Boche’ began on 1 July 1916. He depicts a scene of eerie serenity: young men relaxing by water on an idyllic day, watched by a menacing line of army tents, a foreshadow of the unfathomable bloodshed that followed. Commissioned by the UK charity The Poetry Society, the short film The Big Push reinterprets Gunn’s painting through impressionistic paint-on-glass animation. It is set to an eponymous poem written and read by the contemporary Scottish poet John Glenday, inspired by Gunn’s painting.

Directors: Laurie Harris, Xin Li

Website: Mosaic Films

Smart homes, bountiful oceans and casual sexism: the future as envisaged from 1967

‘Yes, life will be richer, easier, healthier as space-age dreams come true.’

In 1967, the Ford Motor Company (then known as Philco-Ford) released the short film 1999 AD, which imagined daily life for a US family in the not-so-distant future. Screened today, the film is a fascinating and humbling glimpse at the ever-fraught business of predicting the future. As the viewer watches the Shore family – mother, father and young son – the film’s forecast of life at the turn of the 21st century stuns both with its prescience and its shortsightedness, all served up with a side of folksy, 1960s-style cheese. While many of the technological flourishes showcased – including instant communication, heaps of screen time and daily fitness tracking – ring true today, the film fails to imagine the broader cultural or environmental shifts to come. Particularly jarring is the relationship between the mother, a homemaker who dutifully prepares meals and takes on the majority of parenting duties, and her husband, a breadwinning astrophysicist who keeps a tight watch on his wife’s spending.

Also notable is the film’s sheen of techno-utopian optimism, in which future oceans aren’t polluted or threatened by rising temperatures, but teeming with a biodiverse array of creatures primed for the human plucking. Much more Leave It to Beaver than Black Mirror, the film exemplifies how, through the lens of capitalism, products and progress never exacerbate but gently whisk away problems, as well as the feedback loop of invention and commercial depiction through which corporations have helped to shape modern history.

Via Open Culture

Director: Lee Madden

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