Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

20 JULY, 2011

Life in the Abyss: Behind the Scenes of the Census of Marine Life

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How to name a new species after your exwife, or what bioluminescent fish have to do with world peace.

Last week, we highlighted the discoveries of the Census of Marine Life — a global collaboration between researchers from more than 80 nations, constituting the first concentrated effort to better understand the past, present and future of marine biodiversity. Life in the Abyss is a fascinating short documentary about the ambitious endeavor, inviting you aboard an Arctic Ocean research vessel as scientists scoop up organisms from the ocean floor to see new species being discovered before your very eyes. From bioluminescence to deep-sea life, the short film offers a glimpse of an astounding and otherworldly microcosm — a precious final frontier of humanity’s exploration of Earth.

For more on the remarkable and important project, dive into Paul Snelgrove’s Discoveries of the Census of Marine Life: Making Ocean Life Count.

via @remarkableape

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19 JULY, 2011

Project Earth: A Resource-Based Economy Explained

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What collaborative consumption has to do with life after Earth and the ego of science.

In this excerpt from his Zeitgeist film series, titled Project Earth: A Resource Based Economy Explained, Peter Joseph explores our planet’s resources from a considered systems standpoint, rather than the disjointed campaign talking points typical of much of today’s environmental activism, policy and media coverage — part Whole Earth Discipline, part Worldchanging, part evolved vision for collaborative consumption.

Science is unique in that its methods demand not only that the ideas proposed be tested and replicated, but everything science comes up with is also inherently falsifiable. In other words, unlike religion and politics, science has no ego, and everything it suggests accepts the possibility of being proven wrong eventually. It holds on to nothing and evolves constantly.”

Each of the three feature-length films is available online in its entirety, starting with Part 1, Zeitgeist: The Movie, released in 2007.

Part 2, Zeitgeist: Addendum, came in 2008.

Part 3, Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, was released earlier this year.

The fourth and latest installment in the series, Zeitgeist: Beyond the Pale, will be released in 2012.

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18 JULY, 2011

Ai Weiwei: Without Fear or Favour, a BBC Documentary

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Exploring the role of art as an agent of change, or what 100 million porcelain seeds have to do with Twitter.

Creative visionary, political activist and post-modern Renaissance man Ai Weiwei is China’s most widely known and politically vocal contemporary artist. His now-legendary Sunflower Seeds installation for the Tate Modern in October 2010, which took 2.5 years and 1,600 Chinese artisans to produce 100 million hand-crafted sunflower seeds from the finest Chinese porcelain, offered powerful commentary on consumerism, Chinese industry, human rights and collective labor. In February 2011, a 220-pound pile of the seeds sold for $559,394 at Sotheby’s in London. On 3 April, 2011, Ai Weiwei was detained under harsh conditions for over two months without any official charges being filed, on allegations of “economic crimes.”

On June 22 2011, following a large and sustained outcry by international human rights organizations and prolific Western media coverage, the Chinese government released Ai Weiwei on bail, under a number of conditions. But the controversy surrounding his work and the provocative political questions raised by his arrest remain an important part of the global dialogue on art, activism and freedom of speech.

He uses the publicity he gets in a very knowing way, and he uses exhibitions and projects, like the Bird’s Nest stadium, as a platform to be visible and to be able to turn them against themselves. And that’s extremely interesting, and a very sophisticated way of being an artist.”

This fascinating hour-long documentary titled Ai Weiwei: Without Fear or Favour, released by BBC One’s Imagine program earlier this year and recorded shortly prior to Ai Weiwei’s arrest, helps contextualize his work, its cultural significance and its implicit political tensions. Ironically, the film — which deals with issues of openness, censorship and accessibility — is not viewable outside the U.K. thanks to BBC’s restrictive digital media policies, but it’s available on YouTube in its entirety, at least for the time being, thanks to what seems to be Ai Weiwei’s own Chinese YouTube account. Enjoy.

Ai Weiwei is, to my mind, the most significant Chinese artist we are aware of in the West. He’s articulate, he’s passionate, he goes to the edge, he’s unafraid of criticizing the politics and the situation in his own country, nor indeed is he afraid of criticizing Western capitalism.”

For more on Ai Weiwei, his work and convictions, look no further than the excellent Ai Weiwei’s Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006-2009, culled from the salvaged archive of the artist’s blog, which was taken down by the Chinese authorities in 2009. Courageous, honest and effusively eloquent, Ai Weiwei’s writing offers a rare lens on the mental and physical state of present-day China, the role of contemporary art in politics, and the role of the artist as an agent of change.

via +Mel Exon

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