Friday, April 23, 2010

The Anachronism

The Anachronism (Full Film) from Anachronism Pictures on Vimeo.

The entire, award-winning, steampunk short film The Anachronism by Matthew Gordon Long has been released on vimeo. It has intrepid Victorian, amateur-biologist children, printmaking specimens and discovering a ship-wrecked robotic squid submarine, which are pretty much a list of my favorite things, in a setting I recognized instantly as Canada's west coast, my former home. What little I caught of the Japanese was disconcerting. The story telling is perfect, right down to the things left untold.

From the film's website

On a sun dappled summer day a science expedition propels two children toward an enigmatic encounter at the edge of their known world. Arriving on an isolated beach, they stumble upon the shipwreck of a robotic squid submarine. The secret it holds within changes their lives forever.

The Anachronism is a Steampunk science-fiction short set in the late nineteenth century. Unfolding with the simplicity of a children's storybook, this lush journey through the landscapes of Canada's West Coast draws inspiration from a whimsical juxtaposition of Pacific Rim cultural references to elaborate an elegant meditation on the courage of curiosity and the haunting effect of childhood trauma. In 2009 the film won six Leo Awards including Best Short Drama.

(via bioephemera)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Nature & Un-nature

Photographer Jason DeMarte has combined natural history museum dioramas with polkadots and pills, unapetizing food with objects and animals, fabric patterns with nature. Sometimes the elements are combined in one image or in forms common in art history: diptych and triptychs. The contrasts hint at commentary about commodities and nature and how we take nature and make the unnatural. Follow the link to peruse his large portfolio. {via The Jealous Curator}

Sheepish Intimation
2007, 60 x 23

Suspended Splendor
2008, 34x23

Fresh Frozen
2009, 23 x 34

2008, 50 x 23

Monday, April 5, 2010

Beauty and Mathematics

Mathematician and photographer Nikki Gaziano is a sort of natural historian or archivist of mathematical functions found in the wild. Check out her Found Functions. Mathematicians know that any shape can be expressed as the sum of sinusoids, accourding to Fourier analysis but some functions are just below the surface, requiring no more than the eye to see them. Such simplicity and beauty!

Ah! It's our old friend, the Gaussian distribution in the sky. This function is in a family with the Normal distribution (commonly known as the bell curve) and useful for thinking about standard deviation.

Now, this, to a physicist accustomed to time series analysis is a Bartlett window. See, if you need to break something into a summed series of sinusoids, it is important to break it into equal bits (windows of data) and taper the ends. So, you multiply the bits by something which is low at either end and high in the middle. This is one of those tools in my signal processing toolbox.

This is a hyperbolic paraboloid, or a saddle surface, something like z=x2−y2. It has negative Gaussian curvature, which is a fancy way of saying that if you draw a triangle on a saddle the sum of the angles will be less than 180o (the sum of the angles if the triangle is drawn on a flat sheet of paper). Physicists know that gravitation is geometry and have to think about this sort of mathematical creature when considering general relativity because mass deforms the curvature of spacetime itself.

This function isn't in my mathematical zoo. I don't know its purpose, though I can see how it works. Pretty, isn't it? The fact that I think of functions in terms of "purpose" as opposed to "beauty" distinguishes me as a physicist, rather than a mathematician. But, I really appreciate seeing these Found Functions.

{via today and tomorrow}


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