Icarus

4 minutes

ORIGINAL

The forgotten (female) quantum pioneer, Grete Hermann

4 minutes

My dead dad’s porno tapes

14 minutes

Commodity city

10 minutes

Can apes really ‘talk’ to humans?

8 minutes

The deadly attraction of working in secret to document early nuclear weapons tests

Akira ‘George’ Yoshitake (1929-2013) was a Japanese-American who was interned in the United States during the Second World War. He was also the last survivor of the secret civilian camera crew who filmed the US nuclear weapons tests in Nevada and the Pacific in the 1950s. The experimental short video Icarus pairs audio from an interview with Yoshitake with an abstract animation that becomes larger and seemingly moves closer as he describes experiencing the immense heat and power of the blasts. For the Barcelona-based director César Pesquera: ‘Icarus is a film about the fascination of looking, the greedy impulse of capturing images, the essence of filmmaking itself… The film also tells us about the risk of going too far, getting too close…’ While Yoshitake was aware that proximity to the nuclear explosions might have adverse health effects, he didn’t think of the work as deadly, as it would prove to be so for many of his colleagues.

Director: César Pesquera

Producer: Story:

Animator: Physalia Studio

The deadly attraction of working in secret to document early nuclear weapons tests

Akira ‘George’ Yoshitake (1929-2013) was a Japanese-American who was interned in the United States during the Second World War. He was also the last survivor of the secret civilian camera crew who filmed the US nuclear weapons tests in Nevada and the Pacific in the 1950s. The experimental short video Icarus pairs audio from an interview with Yoshitake with an abstract animation that becomes larger and seemingly moves closer as he describes experiencing the immense heat and power of the blasts. For the Barcelona-based director César Pesquera: ‘Icarus is a film about the fascination of looking, the greedy impulse of capturing images, the essence of filmmaking itself… The film also tells us about the risk of going too far, getting too close…’ While Yoshitake was aware that proximity to the nuclear explosions might have adverse health effects, he didn’t think of the work as deadly, as it would prove to be so for many of his colleagues.

Director: César Pesquera

Producer: Story:

Animator: Physalia Studio

Splitting the truth: the philosopher that physics forgot

In the early 20th century, Newtonian physics was upended by experiments that revealed a bizarre subatomic universe riddled with peculiarities and inconsistencies. Why do photons and electrons behave as both particles and waves? Why should the act of observation affect the behaviour of physical systems? More than just a puzzle for scientists to sort out, this quantum strangeness had unsettling implications for our understanding of reality, including the very concept of truth.

The German mathematician and philosopher Grete Hermann offered some intriguing and original answers to these puzzles. In a quantum universe, she argued, the notion of absolute truth must be abandoned in favour of a fragmented view – one in which the way we measure the world affects the slice of it that we can see. She referred to this idea as the ‘splitting of truth’, and believed it extended far beyond the laboratory walls and into everyday life. With a striking visual style inspired by the modern art of Hermann’s era, this Aeon Original video explores one of Hermann’s profound but undervalued contributions to quantum theory – as well as her own split life as an anti-Nazi activist, social justice reformer and educator.

Animation by Kaleida Studio

Directed and Animated by Julie Gratz and Ivo Stoop 

Designed by Julie Gratz    

Produced by Kellen Quinn 

Writers: Sally Davies and Elise Crull

Sound designers: Eli Cohn, Ben Chesneau, Maya Peart

Narrator: Jan Cramer

What you can tell about a person from the junk they leave behind

The Canadian filmmaker Charlie Tyrell delves into his late father’s belongings in an effort to better understand the man’s inscrutable inner life, including his somewhat cold and distant demeanour towards his three children. Finding no answers in those titular, poorly hidden VHS tapes, Tyrell tugs at the roots of his family tree, uncovering an intergenerational cycle of abuse that makes him reconsider his complicated relationship with his father. Crafted with humour and heart, Tyrell’s inventive and deeply personal collage of animations, archival footage and audio recordings was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018, among others.

Director: Charlie Tyrell

Producer: Julie Baldassi

Writers: Josef Beeby, Charlie Tyrell

Five miles of fake flowers, cat cushions and muzak: enter the world’s largest market

The Yiwu International Trade City in China is the world’s largest wholesale market for consumer goods, stretching some five miles and featuring roughly 75,000 vendors. The Chinese-American filmmaker Jessica Kingdon’s observational documentary Commodity City employs static shots of everyday scenes from the market – mostly without dialogue – to convey the seemingly endless stretches of vendor booths that specialise in everything from cat pillows to Santa figurines. Through these vignettes, Kingdon captures the incongruous interplay of boredom and commerce, vastness and claustrophobia that characterises this otherworldly space, offering a hypnotic anthropologic exploration of consumer culture and capitalism.

Director: Jessica Kingdon

Producers: Daniel Cooper, Kira Simon-Kennedy

People have been trying to talk with apes for nearly a century. How far have we got?

Since the early 20th century, a number of curious (and sometimes ethically dubious) psychological studies have tried to figure out if we can communicate with great apes using language. In the 1970s, the answer was reported to be an unequivocal ‘yes’ after Koko, a female western lowland gorilla, learned to sign at her handler, a graduate student at Stanford University, using a modified version of American Sign Language. But more recent critiques of the Koko studies (and others) dispute the idea that great apes have had truly meaningful two-way language communication with humans. This video from NPR’s Skunk Bear offers a brief survey of the history of ape-human communication research, suggesting that ‘Can we talk with them?’ might be the wrong question to ask.

Video by Skunk Bear

Producers: Ryan Kellman, Adam Cole

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