Saturday, 23 July 2011

The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope

The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope (Czech: Kyvadlo, jáma a naděje) is a 1983 Czechoslovak animated short film directed by Jan Svankmajer, adapted from Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Pit and the Pendulum'

Slip Rings

These lines can carry signals or many amps of power, depending on the details of implementation.

The ability to interact with motors, lighting and sensors on rotating structures opens up a lot of possibilities.

Although excellent slip rings are available commercially, (left) they may not fit well into your design. And, as with any exotic component, be ready for shocking prices and long delays.

Slip ring assembly for naval missile launcher (above)

The 2 key elements of a slip ring assembly are a ring and a "brush" (actually, 2 or more brushes are typically employed per ring). The ring rotates with respect to the brush which rides on the ring with a slight amount of downward force. Both the ring and the brush must, of course, be electrical conductors. And, the ring and brush must not destroy each other as they live a long life of sliding contact.

DIY Slip ring project using ball bearings, by Stephen Schultz

"A slip ring (in electrical engineering terms) is a method of making an electrical connection through a rotating assembly." (source:

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Ai WeiWei - Never Sorry

AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY is the first feature-length film about the internationally renowned Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei. In recent years, Ai has garnered international attention as much for his ambitious artwork as his political provocations. AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY examines this complex intersection of artistic practice and social activism as seen through the life and art of China’s preeminent contemporary artist.

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry TEASER from Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry on Vimeo.

From 2008 to 2010, Beijing-based journalist and filmmaker Alison Klayman gained unprecedented access to Ai Weiwei. Klayman documented Ai’s artistic process in preparation for major museum exhibitions, his intimate exchanges with family members and his increasingly public clashes with the Chinese government. Klayman’s detailed portrait of the artist provides a nuanced exploration of contemporary China and one of its most compelling public figures.ei

The Great White Silence

An eerie filmed record of Captain Scott’s tragic journey to the South Pole, The Great White Silence (Herbert Ponting, 1924) was rightly acclaimed as a highlight of last year’s London Film Festival. The print had been restored to great effect: allowing us to see the vivid tints of the original film, and the Archive Gala screening featured a performance of Simon Fisher Turner’s intriguing minimalist score, which incorporated the Elysian Quartet, “found sounds”, and a haunting vocal from Alexander L’Estrange.

His part-improvised score includes some pre-recorded elements and Simon Fisher Turner has gone to great lengths to include relevant ‘found sounds’. The first was a gift from a friend, Chris Watson, who made a recording of the ambient silence in Scott’s cabin in the Antarctic. Fisher Turner has also recorded the striking of the Terra Nova ship’s bell at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge. He has even managed to track down the expedition’s original gramophone to play some of the records which were played by members of the expedition.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Burma VJ

Anders Østergaard's documentary, from the True Stories strand, captures the bravery of the young Burmese video journalists who, though risking torture and life in jail, live the essence of journalism as they insist on keeping up the flow of news from their closed country.

Armed with small handycams, the Burma VJs stop at nothing to make their reportages; their material is smuggled out of the country and broadcast back into Burma via satellite and offered as free usage for international media.

The whole world has witnessed single event clips made by the VJs, but for the very first time, their individual images have been put together with Østergaard's sparingly-used reconstruction to tell a riveting story which offers a unique insight into high-risk journalism and dissidence in a police state, while at the same time providing a thorough documentation of the historical and dramatic days of September 2007, when the Buddhist monks started marching.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Score For A Hole In The Ground

If you go down to King's Wood in Challock, be sure of a big surprise. A 7-metre tall steel horn, to be precise, in the style of an old-fashioned gramophone. The structure blends in with the surrounding beech trees, so follow your ears to find it.

The ancient, 1500 acre woodland has been chosen as the ideal site for the award winning musical sculpture.

Conceptual artist Jem Finer's latest installation is Score For A Hole in the Ground, which Jem describes as a "hybrid water instrument". A large dew pond supplies running water to an underground pit, which houses steel discs and blades of different shapes, sizes and thicknesses. As the water from the pond, or rainwater, fall onto the steel instruments, sounds are formed. The horn acts as an amplifier, but visitors can also put bamboo poles to the surface of the pit and listen that way.

The piece was the first ever winner of the PRS Foundation New Music Award but is taking the art world by storm.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Lavinia greenlaw, Audio Obscura

Lavinia greenlaw is a prize-winning poet and novelist who also writes radio drama and libretti. Recent books include a memoir, The Importance of Music to Girls, and her fourth poetry collection,The Casual Perfect, which will be published by Faber in September 2011.

Located in Manchester’s Piccadilly Station, a place where everyday dramas are constantly acted out, Audio Obscura is an aural version of the camera obscura: a framed and heightened reflection of the passing world.

Audio Obscura - trailer from Artangel on Vimeo.

In Audio Obscura, you will enter into the crowd to take part in an exploration of the overheard. What did she mean? Did he really say that? Does she realise what she is saying? You might wish you hadn’t listened or you might want to know more. You will look for stories and you might even find them.