Tangible User Interface

vaucelle

The cumbersome process of capturing and editing becomes fluid in the improvisation of a story, and accessible as a way to create a final movie. It was shown how a graphical interface created for video production informs the design of a tangible environment that provides a spontaneous and collaborative approach to video creation, selection and sequencing. (Architectradure: interaction design and ambient intelligence)

21-87 (1963)

For Canadians, one scene in Star Wars is of particular interest. As the movie’s hero, Luke Skywalker, prepares to rescue Princess Leia from the Death Star, the roguish Han Solo informs him where she is to be found in the bowels of the space station’s prison. “We gotta find out which cell this princess of yours is in. Here it is: 21-87,” the mercenary pilot of the Millennium Falcon barks. (CBC News Indepth: Star Wars: the Canadian Angle)

Few films are as movingly bleak as Arthur Lipsett’s little-known 21-87 (1963). This stunning evocation of dehumanization juxtaposes found footage from several cities. Cuts between images that don’t match – crowds seen from different camera angles or under different light – subtly express alienation. The editing also creates surrealistic illusions – for example, jumping from a man looking upward to an image of a monkey. Shots of anonymous crowds are combined with shots of people playing roles central to the era – models at a fashion show, a man in a space suit, kids shaking like automatons to (one assumes) rock ‘n’ roll. Such identity-alternating roles steal the idea of the soul; everyone in the film seems tragically removed from any possible authenticity. Lipsett uses sound ironically; at midpoint and again at the film’s end a voice seems to declare that everyone is proud to have a number rather than a name, announcing, “Somebody walks up and they say, ‘Your number is 21-87, isn’t it?’ Boy does that person really smile.” The fear of being reduced to a number was more intense in 1963 than today in the age of PINs, and the voice on the sound track equates identity with a number that’s as arbitrary as the rag-and-bone shop footage from which Lipsett assembled his film. Not surprisingly, the Canadian Film Board, for which it was made, hated it and later threw most of the prints in the garbage. Lipsett committed suicide in 1986. (Ubuweb: Arthur Lipsett)

Las Hurdes (1933)

“Do you see this wonderful valley?” director Luis Buñuel asked his crew as they began filming this documentary; “well, this is where Hell begins.” Buñuel had long displayed a love/hate relationship with his native Spain, and his bitterness rarely flowed with greater force than in Las Hurdes. While the Spanish valley of Las Hurdes Bajas is green and beautiful, the mountainous region of Las Hurdes Altas is mired in economic and cultural poverty. As captured on film by Buñuel, Las Hurdes Altas is a land of flinty soil where few if any crops will grow. Bread is a rare luxury that must be brought in from the valley. Many of the residents subsist on pork, and most suffer from dietary deficiencies. The village’s only salable export is a bitter variety of honey, and the Catholic Church has all but abandoned the region; the single teacher at the village’s tiny schoolhouse is the town’s sole contact with the outside world. Intermarriage among the families in the village has left many of the children retarded or handicapped, and the children who are born healthy often succumb to starvation and common illnesses. And Las Hurdes is a place with no art, culture or music; intellectually, the village is as barren as its soil. While it was Buñuel’s sole documentary, Las Hurdes is thematically consistent with his other films; its fascination with insects, unblinking look at human cruelty, subtle but clear disgust with the Catholic Church, and moments of jet-black humor mark it as the work of Spain’s greatest surrealist filmmaker. Las Hurdes was also embraced as an attack on Franco’s regime; a British leftist group screened it in the United Kingdom as “The film that answers Franco.” ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide (movies.nytimes.com: Las Hurdes)

See also: L’âge d’or

James Turner’s Map of Humanity

map_of_humanity

This is the world of our making, carved out of our actions, built upon the collective achievements of the human race.

It is an attempt to map the last six thousand years of human history and thought upon a theoretical geography to discover a sense of what kind of civilization humanity has attained. And like the geography of human nations, it is in constant flux, changing and growing as long as mankind walks the face of the earth.

It took over a year to research, continues to expand as I add new places, took 5 months to build, has thousands of locations based on history and fiction. Mammoth project, at least for me. I’m trying to get the thing published but publishers are not cooperating. The struggle continues! (The Map Room: James Turner Explains What He Does)

San Jose Semaphore

San Jose Semaphore, by artist Ben Rubin, is a permanent public artwork commissioned by Adobe Systems Incorporated in collaboration with the City of San Jose’s Office of Cultural Affair’s Public Art Program.

Located within the top floors of Adobe’s Almaden Tower headquarters in San Jose, California, San Jose Semaphore is a multi-sensory kinetic artwork that illuminates the San Jose skyline with the transmission of a coded message. The content of the San Jose Semaphore’s message is a mystery; cracking the encryption technique and deciphering the message is posed as a challenge for the public. (Ben Rubin – San Jose Semaphore)

Via Rhizome.org.

Finding Subversives With Amazon Wishlists

It used to be you had to get a warrant to monitor a person or a group of people. Today, it is increasingly easy to monitor ideas. And then track them back to people. Most of us don’t have access to the databases, software, or computing power of the NSA, FBI, and other government agencies. But an individual with access to the internet can still develop a fairly sophisticated profile of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens using free and publicly available resources. Here’s an example.

There are many websites and databases that could be used for this project, but few things tell you as much about a person as the books he chooses to read. Isn’t that why the Patriot Act specifically requires libraries to release information on who’s reading what? For this reason, I chose to focus on the information contained in the popular Amazon wishlists.

Amazon wishlists lets anyone bookmark books for later purchase. By default these lists are public and available to anybody who searches by name. If the wishlist creator specifies a shipping address, someone else can even purchase the book on Amazon and have it shipped directly as a gift. The wishlist creator’s city and state are made public on the wishlist, but the street address remains private. Amazon’s popularity has created a vast database of wishlists. No index of all wishlists is available, but it remains possible to view all wishlists by people of a particular first name. A recent search for people named Mark returned 124,887 publicly viewable wishlists. (Data Mining 101: Finding Subversives With Amazon Wishlists)

Lichtspiel Opus I (1921)

Walter Ruttmann (born December 28, 1887 in Frankfurt am Main; died July 15, 1941 in Berlin) was a German film director and along with Hans Richter and Viking Eggeling was an early German practitioner of experimental film.

Ruttmann studied architecture and painting and worked as a graphic designer. His film career began in the early 1920s. His first abstract short films, “Opus I” (1921) and “Opus II” (1923), were experiments with new forms of film expression, and the influence of these early abstract films is especially obvious in the work of Oskar Fischinger in the 1930s. Ruttmann and his colleagues of the avant garde movement enriched the language of film as a medium with new form techniques. (Wikipedia: Walter Ruttmann)

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