Giant Steps

2 minutes

Tower

19 minutes

Gradations

2 minutes

Last acre

12 minutes

The wolf dividing Norway

29 minutes

Step into synaesthesia’s visual soundscape, built with the music of John Coltrane

The Israeli animator and artist Michal Levy is among the roughly 3 per cent of people who experience synaesthesia – a neurological condition in which people have a recurring sensory overlap, such as ‘tasting’ words or envisioning letters and numbers each with their own inherent colour. Levy possesses one of the most common forms of the condition, chromaesthesia, in which sounds and music provoke visuals. For her short film Giant Steps, Levy set out to convey her audiovisual experience of the John Coltrane composition ‘Giant Steps’ (1959). The resulting short animation is at once an intriguing window into the sensory world of a person with synaesthesia and an audiovisual delight, as Coltrane’s rollicking notes elicit a kinetic, cascading cityscape built from colourful blocks of sound.

To read more about synaesthesia, visit visit Aeon’s sister site, Psyche, a new digital magazine that illuminates the human condition through three prisms: mental health; the perennial question of ‘how to live’; and the artistic and transcendent facets of life.

Director: Michal Levy

Each memory in different strokes: how four siblings recall a tumultuous childhood

From 1964 to 1985, Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship. Hundreds of dissidents either went missing or were killed in secret, and more than 20,000 people were tortured. This animated documentary from the Brazilian director Nádia Mangolini mines the memories the four Gomes da Silva siblings whose father went missing and whose mother was imprisoned in a tower during this period of political tumult. As each sibling in ascending order of age recounts individual memories of their parents, their disappearances and the family’s exile to Cuba and Chile, the film shifts between visual styles, building in detail with each narrative. Combining accomplished animated artistry with powerful storytelling, the resulting film is a poignant exploration of the vast powers and even vaster ambiguities of childhood memories.

Director: Nádia Mangolini

Website: Estúdio Teremim

Delight as the hard-edged world melts into a full-rainbow spectrum of reality

Created by the Japanese director and designer Daihei Shibata for the Japanese educational TV programme Design Ah, the short video Gradations relishes in the blurring and stretching of visual borders. With a Zenned-out soundtrack augmenting the pleasing imagery, the short serves up a series of brief sequences in which commonplace visuals – from city lights to coffee and milk – shift from binary to an increasingly gradated spectrum. Beyond its oddly satisfying effect, the piece suggests hidden worlds of complexity even in the most mundane places. For more design wizardry from Shibata, watch Unendurable Line.

Via The Kid Should See This

Director: Daihei Shibata

A world of shacks and shanties is a place of makeshift beauty on England’s margins

At the beginning of the 20th century, a number of impoverished Britons set out in search of their own Arcadia. They found it, for a time, in poorly developed strips of land that had been neglected or abandoned by others. This cheap or sometimes even free land gave these pioneers a place to build their own humble shacks out of old bits of wood and boat, creating utopias that came to be called ‘Plotlands’. Life in the Plotlands continues still, and is precarious, improvised and marginal – yet full of rugged beauty. The UK filmmakers Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan capture that makeshift, unconventional beauty in this short documentary, set to Peter Warlock’s inimitable composition The Curlew (1920-22) and filmed on the salt marshes of Lowsy Point near Barrow-in-Furness in northwest England.

Directors: Jacob Cartwright, Nick Jordan

Narrator: Judy May

The divisive debate over hunting Norway’s endangered wolves

During the 1960s, wolves nearly vanished from Norway’s landscape due to overhunting; now, there are no more than 70 wolves left in the country. Although the wild predators – known to prey on farmers’ livestock – received protection under law in 1971, the debate between hunters and conservationists over the fate of the remaining endangered population has been heated and divisive ever since. The Wolf Dividing Norway shows how this debate culminates in December 2019, as groups on both sides of the conflict wait to hear whether the government will authorise the annual winter wolf hunt. With unprecedented access to remote communities at the heart of the debate, the Norwegian documentary filmmaker Kyrre Lien humanises the frustration coming from both sides, providing a sensitive look at one of Norway’s most polarising topics.

Director: Kyrre Lien

Step into synaesthesia’s visual soundscape, built with the music of John Coltrane

The Israeli animator and artist Michal Levy is among the roughly 3 per cent of people who experience synaesthesia – a neurological condition in which people have a recurring sensory overlap, such as ‘tasting’ words or envisioning letters and numbers each with their own inherent colour. Levy possesses one of the most common forms of the condition, chromaesthesia, in which sounds and music provoke visuals. For her short film Giant Steps, Levy set out to convey her audiovisual experience of the John Coltrane composition ‘Giant Steps’ (1959). The resulting short animation is at once an intriguing window into the sensory world of a person with synaesthesia and an audiovisual delight, as Coltrane’s rollicking notes elicit a kinetic, cascading cityscape built from colourful blocks of sound.

To read more about synaesthesia, visit visit Aeon’s sister site, Psyche, a new digital magazine that illuminates the human condition through three prisms: mental health; the perennial question of ‘how to live’; and the artistic and transcendent facets of life.

Director: Michal Levy

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Elizabeth I of England (c1588), artist unknown. One of three known as the Armada portraits and on display in Woburn Abbey. Courtesy Wikipedia

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