Sunday 18 February 2024

saut de chat (11. 360)

Via Fancy Notions, we are introduced to the career and filmography of pioneering Soviet Armenia animator Lev Atamanov (ิผีฅึ‚ีธีถ ิฑีฟีกีดีกีถีตีกีถ) and director through his 1969 collaboration with composer Alfred Schnittke, Ballerina on the Boat, with choreography help by members of the Bolshoi. Teaching the sailors to be more graceful, the passenger saves the ship during a storm with her moves.  After founding studios in Yerevan, Atamanov later joined Soyuzmultfilm, adapting many classic fairy tales and creating narratives of subtle satire with gentle humour and positive characters.

Saturday 17 February 2024

♐︎ (11. 357)

Via Boing Boing, we are directed towards a project by Matt Webb that resulted in this handy app that always points to the galactic centre of the Milky Way, the rotational point coincident with the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* surrounded by about ten million older red giant stars in close proximity. When I got my first model of iPhone, I got made fun of for first playing with the compass before anything else, and I’m not ashamed to say, especially for someone with a poor sense of direction, I still find it engaging even with no particular place to go. With little avowed programming skills and no experience in making apps, the details of realising this undertaking in collaboration with AI are really interesting and illustrative of the cooperative effort—it’s not just summoned into existence but was enabled and was a great leveller, but even more internet was the preamble about Webb cultivating a superpower to orientate himself to intuitively know where this dense, far away region was an imagine the waltz of the cosmos relative to this pivot-point and relative to himself—reminiscent of some insular and aboriginal languages using geographical features, landmarks or cardinal directions rather than the egocentric right and left. Webb’s navigational instinct has since sadly waned but can be supplemented by this little creation, grounding  to know even when it’s below one’s feet.

Friday 9 February 2024

argumentum ad baculum (11. 337)

Via ibฤซdem, we appreciated these logic lessons (an educational project going for a decade now) that presents concepts of dialogue, rhetoric and debate as well as biases and fallacies, like the below Ad Hominem attack between Lieutenants Sulu Arex Na Eth, with Mister Spock moderating for the rest of the cast of Star Trek: The Animated Series as interlocutors (redubbed—see above—and using footage from the cartoons). The dozens of episodes include short tutorials on petitio principii (circular reasoning), the Straw Man Fallacy, Confirmation Bias and the Sunk Cost Fallacy, the Halo Effect and the benefit of hindsight, various appeals, Tu Quoque (whataboutism) and many more. See how Vulcan logic can put more in your philosophical quiver against sophistry and misinformation.

Saturday 3 February 2024

transcendental aesthetic (11. 318)

A direct ancestor of the Laserium light show (collaborating with Henry Jacobs for his display at the Morrison Planetarium), we quite enjoyed this short 1961 abstract, experimental animation on 16mm film from Jordan Belson, a prolific artist, often with a nonobjective (his career was kicked off by a sustaining grant from the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, which later became known as the Guggenheim) but spiritual bent, who created an extensive portfolio of works over the course of six decades. Evoking a mediative, introspective experience like many of his works, in 2011, the US Library of Congress inscribed “Allures” in the National Film Registry.

Monday 22 January 2024

bildruta fรถr bildruta (11. 287)

We appreciated the introduction to the portfolio of Swedish artist Iris Wildros through these mediative, contemplative frame-by-frame looming animations, which provide just as much enhancement and focus for the creator as for the observer. Multidisciplinary, Wildros has a preferred medium to reflect on change and return over time, dissecting what’s otherwise overwhelming into a more manageable component that still hangs, appends itself to a system as a whole rather than an isolating Much more on Wildros’ works exploring nature and cycles in a gallery of GIFs at the links above.

Friday 19 January 2024

soyuzmultfilm (11. 279)

Though hesitant and selective about linking to anything on the site formerly known as Twitter—it’s lamentable that such a mainstay has that many still depend on and there’s precious little alternative has eroded so much—this recommendation from Web Curios that exclusively shares short clips of Eastern European vintage animation from the 60s through the 80s (see also) is a delightful and serendipitous exception. Most cartoons include information about the director, animator and studio and the ones from Zagreb Films are certainly worth following up for more.

synchronoptica

one year ago: the Anglican Church on same-sex marriage plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: put these Wikipedia entries in chronological order plus more links to enjoy

three years ago: a contentious logo, a TikTok sensation invited to the US presidential inauguration, the internet was a mistake, Brass in Pocket (1980) plus the Clinton Inauguration (1993)

four years ago: artist Sophie Taeuber Arp, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the Three Stooges take on Nazi Germany plus more on the US Space Force

five years ago: a creative outlet comes to SoHo, women’s suffrage in Germany and Austria plus a giga-pixel picture

Friday 5 January 2024

book revue (11. 244)

As our faithful chronicler informs, on this day in 1946, the Looney Tunes short directed by Bob Clampett was released in theatres as a preview reel before the main feature on this day in 1946. Set in a book store where the characters come to life after midnight, it features a zoot-suited Daffy Duck (voiced of course by Mel Blanc) in one of his zaniest performances.

Sunday 31 December 2023

9x9 (11. 230)

unwound: a cartoon that speaks to the time-dilation of the Winterval—and the year in general 

politics or otherwise: year’s end Can’t Let Goes from NPR’s podcast contributors 

fast-forward: a century of New Year’s men’s party fashions

aitana lopez: the virtual, machine-generated influencers stealing jobs from humans  

cap d’agde: the restoration of the Art Nouveau Chateau Laurens—a palace also known for its connections with Catharism  

like a fridge in reverse: a visualisation of the science of heat-pumps—via Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links

fondue chinoise: a variation on the Swiss holiday tradition inspired by the Asian hot pot 

favourite global tech stories from publications not named rest of the world: like Bloomberg’s Jealousy List, staff compiles articles they wish they’d written—via Waxy  

cartoon cryptozoology: explore a chaotic archive of the earliest animations

Tuesday 19 December 2023

9x9 (11. 196)

mister jingeling: a dozen, beloved department store Christmas characters—see also—via Miss Cellania

bubblenomics: pondering the consequences of when AI goes the way of crypto and NFTs 

indefinite causal order: quantum batteries are powered by paradox—via Damn Interesting  

a winter’s tale: selected readings of Christmas ghost stories—via Things Magazine  

the waitresses: the cynical anti-holiday hit Christmas Wrapping that became a festive classic 

infinite jukebox: a clever AI application that extends songs forever  

high ground: study of the competition for space dominance between the US and China suggests America occupy Lagrange points to counter malign ambitions  

52 snippets: facts gleaned from economics and finance from the past twelve months 

snoopy come home: Gen Z rediscovers and identifies with the Peanuts’ character

Saturday 16 December 2023

8x8 (11. 190)

a portrait of justice: the iconography of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s judicial collars—see previously 

kreuz am bichl: a uniquely divided church in Carinthia  

oh little town of bethlehem: this year’s creche and other required reading—see more

location scouting: historical movies and filming sites mapped  

modern day umarell: Defector contributor unravels a construction mystery with the help amateur experts—see previously  

18¢ piece: making change, the Greedy Algorithm and the Shallit system of optimal coins  

penguin drama: two aquaria in Japan meticulously update a flow chart to document the changing relationships of their residents  

free mickeys: Disney’s flagship character (see previously) to enter the public domain following a US Supreme court ruling that copyrights cannot be extended with trademarks

 synchronoptica

one year ago: Kurt Cobain’s Unplugged session (1993), assorted links to revisit plus OpenAI authors Hallmark holiday specials

two years ago: a triple album from George Harrison plus the mental acumen of rarefied genius

three years ago: awards recognising the best of Quarantine Culture, the great apes, St Adelaide plus a classic spy story from John le Carrรฉ

four years ago: the seasonal designs of Jen Nollaig

five years ago: redundant acronym syndrome, Queen Medb plus the Moon on flags (and flags on the Moon)

Wednesday 13 December 2023

7x7 (11. 186)

itsy-bitsy: a performance on the SpiderHarp, a large scale model originally developed to study vibrations and triangulation on a web  

origin story: how Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer began as a department store promotional giveaway  

owl001: BBC hacked live on the air in 1983—see also—via Damn Interesting’s Curated Links  

marie mathรฉmatique: the adventures of the younger sister of Barbarella, scored by Serge Gainsbourg—see more  

ggwp: the E3 gaming conference has been shuttered permanently  

the great toy robbery: an animated classic from the National Film Board of Canada 

ikea monkey: the happy life of Darwin the macaque after its moment of fame—previously

Tuesday 12 December 2023

10x10 (11. 184)

arrows of time: a timeline tracing the evolution of human understanding through various magisteria—via the new shelton wet/dry  

horary quandrant: oldest dated English time-keeping instrument goes under the hammer—see previously  

guten morgen: the newly launched Nightjet service between Berlin and Paris marks a return of sleeper trains—see previously 

the beef and dairy network: industry delegates and lobbyists triple at COP28 

theory of mind: researchers reveal a deep chasm in how perception varies from individual to individual  

animation v physics: Alan Becker’s follow on video to Animation v Maths—via Waxy  

oed: the joys of exploring the authoritative dictionary—see previously  

rewind: carbon removal technology is also a time-machine—though presently only able to move the needle a little—via Good Internet 

 the year in search: Google presents its annual review  

the great scrollback: the Verge’s features the best archived tweets

Saturday 9 December 2023

screen gems (11. 073)

Via Web Curios (lots more to explore there), we are directed to a curated list from the British Film Institute of recommendations from cinephiles and historians of 101 under appreciated masterworks of the medium. Though not entirely unseen with short pieces from John and Faith Hubley and Winsor McCay, there are a lot of neglected international classics—arranged in chronological order from the late nineteenth century to a few years ago—and is certainly a syllabus to assay for the coming year to round out one’s media diet. The pictured reel is a snippet from Gerdy, the Wicked Witch (zloฤesta vjeลกtica) from 1976 by Yugoslavian director Ljubomir ล imunić, a handcrafted Super 8 montage sampling of TV broadcasts with accompanying score by Vangelis’ progrock band Aphrodite’s Child. 

synchronoptica

one year ago: the Year in Search, Germany’s Word of the Year plus more AI film stills

two years ago: US Surgeon General Dr Joycelyn Elders

three years ago: Terms of Endearment (1983), Trump’s stacked Supreme Court rejects efforts to reverse election outcomes plus the eradication of smallpox (1979)

four years ago: the reunification of Little Berlin plus more modernist gingerbread architecture

five years ago: the Mother of All Demos (1968), a bunker for safekeeping of German historic documents plus on this day in seasonal developments

Sunday 26 November 2023

brothers grimmaverse (11. 141)

Apparently there’s a not so subtle effort on the part of Disney to retroactively canonise their range of intellectual property to make every character a part of the same cinematic, fairy tale paracosm. In the new musical fantasy film Wish (made to celebrate the company’s centenary), the protagonist Princess Asha and her rival King Magnifico (with plenty of other references to Snow White) have a final encounter (spoiler alert, I guess) to stop the corrupt sorcerer ruler in this wish-granting based economy concluding as an origin story with the former becoming the Fairy Godmother to Cinderella and the latter trapped in a mirror dimension for eternity and the servant, council of the wicked and cold-hearted stepmother of Schneewittchen. We wonder what other connections might be forced (to get in on the Pixar Theory where events do seem to occur in a shared univere) down the road and mucking about with the timeline. Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.

synchronoptica

one year ago: Aldi’s aisle of shame, Casablanca (1942), the first Christmas film (1898) plus a century (+ 1) of Charles Schultz

two years ago: an undeciphered message hiding in plain sight, assorted links to revisit, a flag-pole maker plus When Harry Met Santa

three years ago: another MST3K classic, more links to enjoy, a sketch a day plus an Austrian village with an explicit name

four years ago: calling a contested presidential election (2000), Anarchy in the UK (1976), criticism directed towards the partition of the Ottoman Empire, the aesthetics of vapourwave plus IKEA designs homeware for Martians

five years ago: merit-based immigration, a map of Britain’s fictional places, the Scandinavian “snowflake” pattern, clever Christmas decorations plus more links worth the revisit

Thursday 23 November 2023

kid, have you rehabilitated yourself (11. 133)

Courtesy of Open Culture, we are treated to an animated version of Arlo Guthrie’s counter-culture Thanksgiving tradition—the talking blues spoken-word track for his eponymous 1967 album, a lightly embellished account of the artist’s arrest for littering, illegal dumping, a run-in with the law that jeopardised his suitability for the draft for the Vietnam War, the record protesting US involvement in the conflict. Alice Brock, the titular hostess, bailed Guthrie and his co-accomplice out of jail. Despite violent content and outdated, objectionable language bordering on slurs, no radio station observing the tradition of airing it on the holiday, no fine has ever been issued by the American Federal Communications Commission and with subsequent performances, the artist has changed a few lyrics and lines and inserted some topical asides. The arresting authority, William J “Officer Obei” Obanhein, whom became a life-long friend with Guthrie after the song was released, was a model for Norman Rockwell (previously) appearing as a police figure in his depiction of the inauguration of John F Kennedy and schools de-segregation but not, despite popular and fitting misconceptions, The Runaway, which featured another state trooper at Joe’s Diner in a neighbouring village.

Tuesday 14 November 2023

9x9 (11. 120)

temporal excursions: advice for the modern time-travellers thinking about visiting medieval Europe  

once and future: ex-PM David Cameron returns as Sunak’s foreign minister after a cabinet shake-up following the Home Secretary’s incendiary remarks  

ototw: there are over six-thousand ‘on top of the world’ mountains—a peak so high no others in the range can be seen from its summit—we’ve only been to Brocken, I think out of them all  

an aaron spelling production: an appreciation of Arthur Hailey’s Hotel (1983 - 1988) and its parade of guest stars  

the house of tomorrow: Tex Avery’s vision of the smart home seems more user-friendly  

return-to-office: automatic responses from those on a hybrid work-schedule  

carbon-casting: a LEGO-like approach to CO₂ offset and removal at target costs  

brideshead revisited: a new film on the eccentricities of the landed gentry—via Messy Nessy Chic

florantine codex: a sixteenth century ethnography on Mesoamerica and the Aztec culture has been digitalised and made accessible to the public

 synchronoptica

one year ago: The New Musical Express (1952), more Scopitone fun, more on English adjectival order plus assorted links to enjoy

two years ago: the Oort cloud, the Landshut Wedding (1475), more McMansion Hell plus a tale of guided chess

three years ago: the centenary of the BBC, the 2008 G20, paleomixology plus another MST3K classic

four years ago: assorted links to revisit

five years ago: Yale admits women (1968), Nellie Bly’s trip around the world, more on land-use plus social media platforms reimagined on outdated technology

Saturday 11 November 2023

uhz1 (11. 112)

A collaborative discovery between JWST and the Chandra x-ray survey (the latter launched in 1999 and not with the former’s visual infra-red spectrum) has identified the oldest, super-massive black hole, emerging just half a billion years after the Big Bang. Whist we never thought of the occurrence to be a sign of cosmic urban decay, to see the Universe to have the right conditions to seed their formation, most probably from a collapsed cloud of stellar gas rather than the accretion of early giant stars, does make one pause to assess what the natural order and tendency is, with the black hole confirmed as the identity of this background galaxy (ranging from a tenth to one hundred percent of its mass, and ten-fold larger than the one in the centre of the Milky Way), one wonders what the trajectory of the Universe is and how we might comprehend it.

Friday 10 November 2023

9x9 (11. 110)

tragedy of the commons: Tokelau’s country-code top level domain (see also) turned the tiny Pacific island into a virtual den of thievery—via Web Curios  

hanna-barbera educational division: a bizarre 1979 film-strip about getting home safe for latch-key kids featuring some ranger danger 

itinerant filmmaker: travelling from town to town, The Kidnappers Foil was a four-decade vanity project for local talent, produced hundreds of times over  

suspense accents: add the sound of drama to your day—via Things Magazine  

mixtape 2023: Cardhouse’s annual audio/visual revue

bjรถrn of the dead: Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson to play a starring role in an apocalyptic ABBA-tribute band horror movie—via Good Internet  

so red the nose, or, breath in the afternoon: an Oakland, California speakeasy bringing back drinks from 1930s—including Ernest Hemingway’s favoured Champagne cocktail  

merrie melodies: a snippet of the score for the cancelled Coyote v Acme—see more about the shelved project 

legal autopilot: a neural network negotiated and finalised a contract—an NDA—without human intervention

Sunday 29 October 2023

the devil’s ball (11. 084)

With introductory remarks on how artists are rebelling against having their works and style scraped and assimilated often without attribution or respect and are fighting back, Fancy Notions directs us to a spooky Halloween treat, fever dream in the form of the uncut animated short from pioneering stop-motion storyteller Wล‚adysล‚aw Starewicz from 1933. The original was considerably edited for length prior to release and many of the film segments are lost but using AI to help fill in the gaps, the original story of this le Fรฉtiche (the Mascot) series has been restored. The surreal cast of creepy toys and re-animated bones (Starewicz’ earliest experiments used dead insects articulated with wires, which reviewers believed were expertly trained bugs) coming to life and vie for a prize orange. Later filmmakers, like Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mister Fox (Starewicz’ most acclaimed work was Le Roman de Renard) or Tim Burton’s Nightmare before Christmas, pay homage to the artist’s influence.

Tuesday 17 October 2023

6x6 (11. 064)

narnia: the wardrobe portraits of Sarah Ainslie 

there’dn’t’ve: an exploration of contractions—both the probable and the practical  

ghost swing: Louie Zong returns with another spooky symphony—via Waxy  

an mj winkler production: the Independent film studio behind the centenary of Disney  

compound pejoratives: the affixes of insult and their pattern distribution—see also 

 murphy tub: a folding bath from the 1930s—via Messy Nessy Chic