Ansel Adams: photography with intention

6 minutes

Guaxuma

14 minutes

Collage before Cubism

4 minutes

Home (Dom)

27 minutes

The drill

3 minutes

What can Ansel Adams’s enduring photography teach us in the age of Instagram?

With an oeuvre that’s both innovative and enduring, the US photographer Ansel Adams is almost universally regarded as a master of his craft and a pioneer in photographic art. Because his black-and-white landscapes have become so ubiquitous – commonly found on postcards, computer backgrounds and doctor’s office walls – it’s easy to take the beauty of his images for granted. But as Evan Puschak (also known as The Nerdwriter) shows in this video essay, there’s perhaps never been a better time to re-examine the careful, deliberate approach Adams took to his work.

Video by The Nerdwriter

‘Maybe it’s a memory that I’ve made up’ – when grief washes over childhood memories

The Brazilian filmmaker Nara Normande grew up on the breezy, sandswept beaches of Guaxuma in northeast Brazil, in something of a hippie commune, co-established by her parents and their friends. As she recalls in her animated short Guaxuma, she enjoyed an idyllic childhood, with an extraordinary freedom to play and explore alongside her best friend Tayra. But as adolescence and adulthood brought its inevitable complexities, Nara began a new life beyond the beach, while Guaxuma and Tayra lived on in fading Polaroids and hazy memories. With its evocative stop-motion animation, including remarkable creations in sand, Normande’s poignant autobiographical short won dozens of honours on the film-festival circuit, including Best Animated Short at the 2019 South by Southwest Film Festival and Best International Short at the 2019 Palm Springs Film Festival.

Director: Nara Normande

Producers: Livia de Melo, Damien Megherbi, Justin Pechberty

Cut, paste and remix your way through this century-spanning history of collage

The term collage – the artistic technique of gluing different elements together – has its origins in the early modernist movement, especially in Cubist works by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. But before such combining of disparate source materials became a mode of the artistic avant garde, collage had eclectic manifestations through history and across cultures – as a method of decorating, a tool for enriching scientific texts, and a means for women to engage with areas of enquiry typically reserved for men. Created to accompany the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art’s exhibition Cut and Paste: 400 Years of Collage in 2019, this video traces the rich roots of the technique, from the invention of paper in China in 105 CE, to its rebirth as an elevated style of modern art in the 20th century.

When home is two sisters, a houseful of vulnerable men, and a lot of tough love

After she was widowed at age 32, Grażyna Sochacka founded the Panakeja Foundation – a social-assistance centre for homeless men on Sobieszewo Island in Gdańsk, Poland. Alongside her sister Wioletta Sienkiewicz, Sochacka has dedicated her life to caring for men living on the fringes of society, and often in need of intensive care due to alcoholism and other health problems. The Polish filmmaker Filip Jacobson’s observational short Home (Dom) traces the unending daily pressures the sisters face running the centre. These include changing bed sheets, providing medical assistance, keeping up with bills, and the ever-important business of doling out cigarettes. Imbued with a deep humanity and inflections of humour, the film explores the human need for a balance between structure, freedom and respect – as well as, from time to time, heavy doses of tough love.

Director: Filip Jacobson

Producers: Leszek Kopeć, Jerzy Rados

Website: Gdynia Film School

‘I want to take the bullet and save my friends’ – the grim reality of safety drills in US schools

A generation ago, children in classrooms in the United States prepared for natural disasters such as fires and tornadoes. Today, active-shooter drills force them to confront the grim possibility that someone – perhaps a fellow student – might open fire in their school. In this StoryCorps animation, one such drill prompts a mother and her 10-year-old son in Texas to discuss a question no child should ever have to consider – whether he would sacrifice himself to try to save his schoolmates. An affecting and troubling short, The Drill gives an aching human voice to the psychological toll of school shootings and the culture of fear they’ve created for schoolchildren and their parents in the US.

Director: Richard O’Connor

Producer: Shelley Gorelik

Website: StoryCorps

What can Ansel Adams’s enduring photography teach us in the age of Instagram?

With an oeuvre that’s both innovative and enduring, the US photographer Ansel Adams is almost universally regarded as a master of his craft and a pioneer in photographic art. Because his black-and-white landscapes have become so ubiquitous – commonly found on postcards, computer backgrounds and doctor’s office walls – it’s easy to take the beauty of his images for granted. But as Evan Puschak (also known as The Nerdwriter) shows in this video essay, there’s perhaps never been a better time to re-examine the careful, deliberate approach Adams took to his work.

Video by The Nerdwriter

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