O nature, nature, life will not perish! . . . [I]t will start out naked and tiny; it will take root in the wilderness, and to it all we did and built will mean nothing—our towns and factories, our art, our ideas will all mean nothing, and yet life will not perish! Only we have perished. Our houses and machines will be in ruins, our systems will collapse, and the names of our great will fall away like autumn leaves.
A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more than he.
—Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” st. 6
Last Thursday night found myself mesmerized by a documentary on TVO about grass. Like, absolutely glued to the set with my mouth hanging open. Now, I’m sure you need a moment to back up off the edge of your seat, so take all the time you need.
This was the final episode of a three-part series from the BBC called How to Grow a Planet, hosted by geologist Iain Stewart. This episode, entitled “The Challenger,” follows Stewart from the ancient cloud forests of Kenya to a South African national park, from the mid-western United States to Senegal, and, finally, Göbekli Tepe in Southern Turkey.
I strongly encourage you to check out this series, so I won’t get into all the details here. Suffice to say that “The Challenger” follows our hero as it battles trees for dominion over the vegetable kingdom on terrestrial Earth. It’s like Game of Thrones for the horticultural set. Things start to hit close to home near the end of the episode, when grass is held up as the prime mover of hominid evolutionary and cultural development. Continue reading What is the Grass? Watching How to Grow a Planet→
Director James Cunningham and a team of student animators from the Media Design School in Auckland, New Zealand, imagine a future of robot labour that is certainly less typical than the usual “armed uprising” fare. Perhaps “Shelved” is a more realistic prognostication of how robotic workers might behave, especially if their “intelligence” is being designed by the slacker generation.
The trailer for an upcoming short film called Fugu & Tako, by the people at Robot, a Visual Effects Group based in Australia. They clearly have a unique style, which they also brought to Jean-Pierre Juenet’s most recent film, MicMacs.
The mockumentary style and the grotesque transformation remind me a little of District 9, though with a more light-hearted tone, of course. I really like the little details in the sushi bar, like the fresher-than-fresh nigiri that are squirming off the rice mound.
This week I finally watched Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984). What a fantastic film! Of course, I am a huge Miyazaki fan, and consider just about every one of his works to be masterful achievements. Even his more “family-oriented” productions have an artistry, complexity, and a social and political commitment that are largely beyond compare in North American entertainment. Nausicaä is, in many ways, a prototypical example of Miyazaki’s oeuvre, with its courageous young female protagoinst, its thematic focus on ecological crises, the central role of images of flight, its apocalyptic tone. Continue reading Nausicaä and the Noise of the Earth→