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1929: interviews with elderly people throughout the US

15 minutes

Poetry of perception: ‘We Grow Accustomed to the Dark’

2 minutes

Tusalava

9 minutes

How ISPs violate the laws of mathematics

6 minutes

How hairworms highjack a cricket

5 minutes

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The stories and views of elderly people in 1929 offer a riveting account of US history

‘I hope, ladies and gentlemen, you have seen me and you have also heard me.’

The iconic Fox Movietone News, which ran in the United States from 1927 to 1963, was one of the first newsreels to marry moving pictures and sound. Pieced together from Movietone News footage made available by the Moving Image Research Collections at the University of South Carolina, this short film features interviews with elderly people across the US shot in 1929. The (notably all-white) interviewees include the 94-year-old Rebecca Latimer Felton, the avowed racist and one-time slave-owner who served as the first female US senator when she was appointed for a single day in 1922; several Civil War veterans; and a longtime train conductor on his very last run. The result is by turns a charming, jarring and surprising window into US history and a not-so-distant past when the interviewees were distinctly aware of what they perceived to be the gravity of recounting their stories.

Editor: Guy Jones

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‘Then – fit our Vision to the Dark’: exploring sight with Emily Dickinson

Written by Emily Dickinson during the depths of the US Civil War, the untitled poem known as ‘We Grow Accustomed to the Dark’ conjures hope and perseverance amid waves of chaos and uncertainty. In this animation, the UK filmmaker and illustrator Hannah Jacobs visualises the poem in fleeting scenes that oscillate between vibrant colour and darkness, through which human figures careen. Beginning with an epigraph drawing a parallel between artistic and scientific discovery, the video was created for an online neuroscience course at Harvard University as part of a series that explores the human sensory experience through poetry and animation.

Animator: Hannah Jacobs

Producer: Nadja Oertelt

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Life emerges, evolves and fights for supremacy in this 1929 avant-garde classic

The New Zealand-born artist Leonard Charles Huia Lye (1901-80), better known as Len Lye, is renowned for his work in kinetic sculpture and experimental film, and is widely considered one of the most innovative modernists of the 20th century. Lye’s first film, Tusalava (1929), produced over two years following a move to London, was born of the city’s emerging experimental film scene and Lye’s abiding interest in Maori, Aboriginal and Samoan art. Composed of some 7,000 hand-drawn images, the abstract animation synthesises modern and ancient art as it depicts simple life forms emerging, evolving and coming into conflict. As with the influence of African art on Pablo Picasso, Lye’s use of so-called ‘primitivism’ has been both praised for introducing non-Western perspectives to Western art, and criticised for cultural appropriation. The film was originally paired with a now-lost piano score from the UK-born composer Jack Ellitt. This version features the UK composer Eugene Goossens’s composition Rhythmic Dance (1928), which Lye later suggested as an alternative accompaniment.

Director: Len Lye

Score: Eugene Goossens

Websites: The Len Lye Foundation, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

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If simple logic isn’t working with your internet company, try Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory

This tongue-in-cheek animation from the US YouTuber Henry Reich – the mind behind MinutePhysics – is a creative exercise in how not to lose your cool when faced with the abyss of illogic. Recalling the mundane, mindnumbing tribulations of trying to get a straight answer on billing from his internet service provider (ISP), Reich concludes that the company isn’t just guilty of subpar customer service – their policies also break nearly every fundamental law of modern mathematics. Reich’s clever excoriation of telecommunication companies was created for The Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses (BAHFest), an annual ‘celebration of well-argued and thoroughly researched but completely incorrect scientific theories’.

Video by MinutePhysics

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Mind control and zombification do exist. Just look at these crickets

Warning: this video is not for the squeamish.

Mayflies make a quick and nutritious snack for crickets. But, rather unfortunately for the cricket population of California, some mayflies are home to hairworms (nematomorphs) – parasitic creatures that will stop at nothing to make their way back to water. Once consumed, hairworms feed off crickets from the inside, absorbing all of their lipids, and eventually putting the cricket in a state of developmental and reproductive limbo. Worse still, once these fast-growing parasites reach their adult length of one to two feet, they zombify their hosts, unleashing brain chemicals that make the infected crickets wander aimlessly until they hit water, where the worms make their final escape and start the whole cycle anew. By studying this process, scientists hope to learn more about how brain parasites might affect human behaviour. The ordeal is captured in microscopic detail in this episode of the often creepy, always fascinating science documentary series Deep Look. Read more about the video at KQED Science.

Video by KQED Science

Producer and Writer: Gabriela Quirós

Narrator and Writer: Lauren Sommer

Cinematographer: Josh Cassidy

Aeon for Friends

Find out more

The stories and views of elderly people in 1929 offer a riveting account of US history

‘I hope, ladies and gentlemen, you have seen me and you have also heard me.’

The iconic Fox Movietone News, which ran in the United States from 1927 to 1963, was one of the first newsreels to marry moving pictures and sound. Pieced together from Movietone News footage made available by the Moving Image Research Collections at the University of South Carolina, this short film features interviews with elderly people across the US shot in 1929. The (notably all-white) interviewees include the 94-year-old Rebecca Latimer Felton, the avowed racist and one-time slave-owner who served as the first female US senator when she was appointed for a single day in 1922; several Civil War veterans; and a longtime train conductor on his very last run. The result is by turns a charming, jarring and surprising window into US history and a not-so-distant past when the interviewees were distinctly aware of what they perceived to be the gravity of recounting their stories.

Editor: Guy Jones

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Essay/
History
How the poor became blessed

Greco-Roman gods had no interest in the poor nor was organised charity a religious duty. How was Christianity different?

Pieter van der Horst

Essay/
Human rights and justice
A survivor speaks

Victims of sexual assault are commonly judged by the consistency of their story. But consistency is not a high road to truth

Linda Martín Alcoff