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alexander nevsky sequence diagram

For his 1938 film Alexander Nevsky, Sergei Eisenstein worked so closely with composer Sergei Prokofiev that individual shots in the climactic “battle on the ice” were timed to correspond to the length of musical phrases.

Their collaboration during editing to marry music and imagery set the modern standard for filmmakers; Valery Gergiev, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, called Prokofiev’s score “the best ever composed for the cinema.”

Cthulhu Fhtagn

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasoneppink/16910419
Image: Flickr

In 2005, as the Art League of Houston planned to demolish two houses it owned, it invited sculptors Dan Havel and Dean Ruck to transform them first. So they peeled off the buildings’ skins and arranged them into a vortex to another dimension.

Six years later they extended the same treatment to other dilapidated houses in Houston:

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Image: Flickr
https://www.flickr.com/photos/eschipul/6208463556
Image: Flickr

Stolpersteine

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

The streets of Europe are studded with thousands of brass plates, each marking the last residence of an individual before their extermination or persecution by the Nazis. German artist Gunter Demnig began the project in 1992, installing the first plate before Cologne’s city hall to mark the 50th anniversary of Heinrich Himmler’s “Auschwitz decree” ordering the deportation of Sinti and Roma to extermination camps. In the ensuing 15 years he laid more than 13,000 stolpersteine in more than 280 cities, and last October the 70,000th stolperstein was installed in Frankfurt, Germany, for Willy Zimmerer, who was “euthanized” in 1944 at age 43.

Each plate is engraved with the victim’s name and dates of birth, deportation, and death, as well as the words Hier wohnte … (“Here lived …”) to emphasize the immediacy of the memorial, “tripping up” passersby (stolperstein means “stumbling stone”). “I wanted to bring back the names of the Jews who lived, loved, had children and a normal life, who lived in these houses,” Demnig has said. “It’s my life. We can’t allow this part of history to pass into oblivion.”

(Thanks, Hanno.)

Landscapes

Alexandra Kehayoglou makes carpets that evoke the topography of her native Argentina: grasslands, waterways, and glaciers. Her family opened a conventional carpet company there in 1956, and she discovered she could use scraps from their work to create “tactile canvases.” Each piece is composed by hand from discarded or surplus wool on a vertical frame, using a tufting gun and carpet scissors.

Her work often draws attention to natural areas altered by human activity in Argentina, such as the Raggio Creek north of Buenos Aires, destroyed for a shopping mall, or the Santa Cruz River, the last free-flowing wild river in the country, proposed site of two major hydroelectricity dams.

“It’s hard for people to understand that a rug can be art,” she told the New York Times. “But maybe that’s changing.”

More on her website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

All Together Now

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Front_page_of_Conlon_Nancarrow%27s_Study_for_Player_Piano_No._41.jpg

Because he wrote for player pianos, Conlon Nancarrow could demand more exacting performances than other composers. His Study No. 41 is in three parts for two pianos. The first canon has a time signature of \frac{1}{\sqrt{\pi}} / \sqrt{2/3} for the first piano; the second is in \frac{1}{3 \sqrt{\pi}} /  \sqrt[3]{13/16} for the second piano; and the third is in \frac{\frac{1}{3 \sqrt{\pi}} /  \sqrt[3]{13/16}}{\frac{1}{\sqrt{\pi}} / \sqrt{2/3}} for both pianos. In the third part, the two performances must be played in proportions marked in a diagram in the score (above). It sounds like this:

Double Vision

French street artist JR has twice transformed I.M. Pei’s iconic pyramid at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

In 2016 he made it disappear by overlaying one face with an image of the background facade.

And just this month (below) he applied 2,000 stickers to the surrounding pavement to create an anamorphic illusion in which the pyramid seems to rise from a crater.

The paper stickers were quickly destroyed by wandering tourists, but that was expected, he said. “The images, like life, are ephemeral. Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. The process is all about participation of volunteers, visitors, and souvenir catchers.”

Wind Art

Anthony Howe creates wind-driven sculptures that somehow evoke both marine biology and alien machines.

“I attempt, with an economy of means, to construct objects whose visual references range from lo-tech sci-fi paraphernalia to microbiological or astronomical models,” he says. “Utilizing primarily stainless steel armatures that are driven either by hammered curvilinear shapes or flat fiberglass covered discs, I hope the pieces assume a spare, linear elegance when conditions are still, mutating to raucous animation when the wind picks up.”

More at his YouTube channel.

Spine Tinglers

In a 2009 study of responses to music, neuroscientist Valorie Salimpoor and her colleagues asked participants to bring in 3 to 5 pieces of “intensely pleasurable instrumental music to which they experience chills.” Then they measured their physiological response as they listened. They found that the “chills” effect is real — when the subjects reported that their pleasure at the music was highest, so was their sympathetic nervous system activity, a measure of emotional arousal.

One byproduct of the study is a list of more than 200 chills-inducing moments in music of various genres, with precise timestamps of the crucial points:

Composer/Artist Title Chills
Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 17 in D Minor (“The Tempest”) 5:33
Mahler Symphony No. 1 – Movement 4 5:42, 9:57, 15:15
Charles Mingus Fables of Faubus 0:20, 7:10
Stan Getz Round Midnight 1:26
Pink Floyd Shine on You Crazy Diamond 5:00
Phish You Enjoy Myself 10:50
Cannonball Adderley One for Daddy-O 0:40
Los Angeles Guitar Quartet Congan 2:09
Crowfoot Larks in May 0:10, 2:00
Howard Shore The Breaking of the Fellowship (film score) 0:10, 0:55
Dave Matthews Band #34 1:40
The Dissociatives Paris Circa 2007 Slash 08 1:30
Brad Mehldau Knives Out 4:45, 7:25
Explosions in the Sky First Breath After Coma 2:25, 3:30, 8:10

These won’t work for everyone — music tastes are notoriously idiosyncratic — but it’s interesting to see what people find moving. The full list is here (Table_S1). (Note too that the timestamps relate to a particular recording, so consider them approximate in e.g. classical music.)

(Valorie N. Salimpoor, et al., “The Rewarding Aspects of Music Listening Are Related to Degree of Emotional Arousal,” PloS One 4:10 [2009], e7487.)