Watch the Spectacular Hieronymus Bosch Parade, Which Floats Through the Garden of Earthly Delights Painter’s Hometown Every Year

Whether painting scenes of paradise, damnation, or somewhere in between, Hieronymus Bosch realized elaborately grotesque visions that fascinate us more than 500 years later. But no matter how long we gaze upon his work, especially his large-format altarpiece triptychs, most of us wouldn't want to spend our lives in his world. But a group of dedicated Bosch fans has made it possible to live in it for three days a year, when the annual Bosch Parade floats down the Dommel River. Last year that small waterway hosted "a story in motion, presented on 14 separate tableaux. They shape a universal tale of power and counterforce, battle and rapprochement, chaos and hope. From the chaos after the battle a new order shall emerge."

All images © Bosch Parade, Ben Niehuis

In practical terms, writes Colossal's Grace Ebert, that meant "a musical performance played on a partially submerged piano and a scene with two people straddling enormous horns," as well as a dozen other water-based vignettes that passed through the Dutch town of 's-Hertogenbosch, Bosch's birthplace and later his namesake.

Everything that rolled down the Dommel was designed by a group of artists selected, according to the parade's web site, "on the basis of their complementary characteristics, the various disciplines they represent and their clear match with the Bosch Parade artistic ‘DNA’ in the way they work and perform." As you can see in the 2019 Bosch Parade's program, the artists' creations draw on 15th-century conceptions of life, art, technology, and the human body while also taking place unmistakably in the 21st.

Though Bosch's paintings look alive even in their motionlessness, to appreciate a parade requires seeing it in action. Hence the videos here of the 2015 Bosch Parade: at the top of the post is a short teaser; just above is a longer compilation of some of the event's most Boschian moments, which puts the painter's images side-by-side with the floats they inspired. Viewers will recognize elements of The Garden of Earthly Delights, Bosch's single best-known work, but also of The Haywain Triptych, The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things, and The Temptations of St. Anthony. As art history buffs know, some of those paintings may or may not have been painted by Bosch himself, but by one of his followers or contemporary imitators.

But to the extent that all these images can inspire modern-day painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers, and spectacle-makers, they enrich the Boschian reality — a reality of water and fire, bodies and body parts, men and monsters, contraptions and projections, and even video games and the internet — that comes to life every summer in 's-Hertogenbosch. Or rather, most every summer: the next Bosch Parade is scheduled not for June of this year but June of 2021. But when that time comes around around it will last for four days, from the 17th through the 20th. That information comes from the parade's Twitter account, which in the run-up to the event will presumably also post answers to all the most important questions — such as whether next year will feature any live buttock music.

via Colossal

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A Tribute to NASA’s Katherine Johnson (RIP): Learn About the Extraordinary Mathematician Who Broke Through America’s Race & Gender Barriers

We don't call it a tragedy when a renowned person dies after the century mark, especially if that person is brilliant NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who passed away yesterday at the venerable age of 101. Her death is a great historical loss, but by almost any measure we would consider reaching such a finish line a triumphant end to an already heroic life.

A prodigy and pioneer, Johnson joined the all-black “human computing” section at NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, in 1953. She would go on to calculate the launch windows and return trajectories for Alan Shepard’s first spaceflight, John Glenn’s first trip into orbit, and the Apollo Lunar Module’s first return from the Moon.

All this without the benefit of any machine computing power to speak of and—as Hidden Figures dramatizes through the powerful performance of Taraji P. Henson as Johnson—while facing the dual barriers of racism and sexism her white male bosses and co-workers blithely ignored or deliberately upheld.

Johnson and her fellow “computers,” without whom none of these major milestones would have been possible, had to fight not only for recognition and a seat at the table, but for the basic accommodations we take for granted in every workplace.

Her contributions didn’t end when the space race was over—her work was critical to the Space Shuttle program and she even worked on a mission to Mars. But Johnson herself kept things in perspective, telling People magazine in the interview above from 2016, “I’m 98. My greatest accomplishment is staying alive.” Still, she lived to see herself turned into the hero of that year’s critically lauded film based on the bestselling book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly—decades after she completed her most groundbreaking work.

Shetterly’s book, writes historian of technology Marie Hicks, casts Johnson and her fellow black women mathematicians “as protagonists in the grand drama of American technological history rather than mere details.” By its very nature, a Hollywood film adaptation will leave out important details and take liberties with the facts for dramatic effect and mass appeal. The feature treatment moves audiences, but it also soothes them with feel-good moments that “keep racism at arm’s length from a narrative that, without it, would never have existed.”

The point is not that Johnson and her colleagues decided to make racism and sexism central to their stories; they simply wanted to be recognized for their contributions and be given the same access and opportunities as their white male colleagues. But to succeed, they had to work together instead of competing with each other. Despite its simplifications and glosses over Cold War history and the depth of prejudice in American society, Hidden Figures does something very different from most biopics, as Atlantic editor Lenika Cruz writes, telling "a story of brilliance, but not of ego. It’s a story of struggle and willpower, but not of individual glory… it looks closely at the remarkable person in the context of a community.”

Katherine Johnson lived her life as a tremendous example for young women of color who excel at math and science but feel excluded from the establishment. On her 98th birthday, she “wanted to share a message to the young women of the world,” says the narrator of the 20th Century Studios video above: “Now it’s your turn.” And, she might have added, “you don’t have to do it alone.” Hear Hidden Figures author Shetterly discuss the critical contributions of Katherine and her extraordinary “human computer” colleagues in the interview below, and learn more about Johnson's life and legacy in the featurette at the top and at her NASA biography here.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Free Courses on the Coronavirus: What You Need to Know About the Emerging Pandemic

The coronavirus has spread out of China, into South Korea, Japan and now Italy. We're settling into the reality that we're likely facing a pandemic. It's time to educate ourselves--to take some free courses on COVID-19.

In response to the outbreak, Imperial College London has put together a free course (offered through Coursera) called "Science Matters: Let's Talk About COVID-19." The course will teach you the "science underpinning the novel Coronavirus outbreak," so that you can understand "how the spread of the epidemic is modelled, how transmissibility of infections is estimated, what the challenges are in estimating the case fatality ratio, and also ... the importance of community involvement in responding to the epidemic." You can get started with this course right now.

Alternatively you can sign up for COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus. Created by FutureLearn and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, this course looks at "how COVID-19 emerged, was identified and spreads, the public health measures for the virus worldwide, and what is needed to address COVID-19 and prevent it [from] spreading." Although the course is now open for enrollment, it won't officially start until March 22.

Both courses will be added to our collection, 1,500 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Note: The University of Hong Kong also offer a course on Epidemics.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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Conquer Your Vertigo and Watch this Dazzling Footage of Construction Workers Atop the Chrysler Building in 1929

Paris has the gargoyles of Notre Dame.

New York City has eight art-deco eagles protruding from the Chrysler Building’s 61st floor.

These mighty stainless steel guardians seem impressively solid until you watch construction workers muscling them into place on April 3, 1930 in the Fox Movietone newsreel footage above.

Forget being sturdy enough to serve as a time travel diving board for a very freaked out Will Smith in Men in Black III

It now seems a miracle that no unsuspecting pedestrians have been crushed by an art-deco eagle head crashing unceremoniously down to Lexington Avenue in the middle of rush hour.

Also that no workers died on the job, given how quickly the building went up and the relative lack of safety equipment on display… no word on amputated fingers, but it’s not hard to imagine given that only one of the guys helping out with the eagle appears to be wearing gloves.

In fact, as author Vincent Curcio describes in Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius, the job site boasted a number of innovative safety measures, such as scaffolds with guardrails, tarpaulin-covered plank roofs, wire netting between the toe boards, a hospital on-location, and a bulletin board for safety-related updates. Founder Walter Chrysler was as proud of this workplace conscientiousness as he was of the 4-floors per week speed with which his building was erected:

In an article called “Is Safety on Your Payroll?” He spoke of staring up at workers on the scaffolding with a friend on the street below. “‘My, that’s a risky job,’ my companion remarked. ‘A man just about takes his life in his hands working on a building like this.’”

“‘I suppose it does seem that way,’ I replied, ‘But it’s no so dangerous as you think. If you knew the precautions we have taken to protect those workers, you might change your mind… not a single life has been lost in constructing the steel framework of that building.’” To give an idea of how much of an achievement this was, it should be noted that the rule of thumb at that time was one death for every floor above fifteen in the construction of a building; by this measure the Chrysler Building should have been responsible for sixty-two deaths.

By contrast, the guys Fox Movietone filmed seem happy to play up the vertiginous nature of their work for the camera, edging out onto girders and conversing casually atop pipes, as if seated astride a 1000-foot tall jungle gym:

“Gosh, that’s a long way to the street, boys.”

“How’d ya like to fall down there?”

“Whaddaya think, I’m an angel?

“Well, you’re liable to be an angel any minute."

“You’ll break the altitude record going down-“

“Ha ha, yeah, maybe!”

While our appetite for this vintage bluster is bottomless, it’s worth noting that Movietone usually issued those appearing in primary positions a couple of lines of scripted dialogue.

What would those workers think of OSHA's current safety standards for the construction industry?

Fall protection is still the most commonly cited standard during construction site inspections.

Falls claimed the lives of 338 American construction workers in 2018, the same year a construction worker in Kuala Lumpur used his cell phone to film a coworker in shorts and sneakers erecting scaffolding sans safety equipment, whilst balancing on unsecured pipes some 700 feet in the air.

Watch it below, if you dare.

via Boing Boing

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, February 3 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates New York, The Nation’s Metropolis (1921). Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Wes Anderson’s Shorts Films & Commercials: A Playlist of 8 Short Andersonian Works

You may have noticed certain brands, over the past decade or so, going for a "Wes Anderson aesthetic" in their advertisements. But as all the younger filmmakers Anderson inspires inevitably find out, replicating the director's signature mise-en-scène — the distinctive color palettes, the rigorous geometry, the carefully curated objects — is no easy task. To achieve the cinematically Andersonian, it seems you really need Anderson himself. Fortunately for certain marketing departments, the auteur of RushmoreThe Royal Tenenbaums, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and other pictures (including the upcoming The French Dispatch) has occasionally made himself available for commercial work.

But as anyone who has seen one or two of Anderson's movies might expect, the man appears to have little interest in making straightforward commercials. Even when directing short spots for the likes of American Express or Stella Artois, Anderson brings us into his very own aesthetic and cultural realm: in the former he satirizes a certain idea of his own process on set, and in the latter he creates comedy from his penchant for (and mastery of) early-1960s European design. In other instances he's taken the opportunity to indulge his cinephilia more directly than usual, as in his Jacques Tati-inspired commercial for Japanese cellphone service provider SoftBank. You can see all these and more on our Youtube playlist of eight of Anderson's short films.

Commercial directors often discuss their projects in the same terms they would use to discuss short films. But it seems that every time Anderson makes a commercial, he really does make a short film. Sometimes he makes both: after he directed a 44-second ad for Prada, he went on with the fashion house's sponsorship to direct the seven-minute Castello Cavalcanti. But ever since making the thirteen-minute black-and-white short that would become his debut feature Bottle Rocket, Anderson has also used short films in service of his long ones. Cousin Ben's Troop Screening makes for a fun introduction to Moonrise KingdomHotel Chevalier is practically required viewing before The Darjeeling Limited. Both remind us that, however solid the work a brand can get out of him, Wes Anderson promotes nothing quite as delightfully as he promotes Wes Anderson. Watch the playlist of 8 commercials and short films here.

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David Lynch’s Surreal Commercials

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Military Vet Floored (Literally) by Discovery That Rolex Purchased for $341 Is Now Worth $500,000-$700,000

Now you know what knock me down with a feather means...

Why We Should Read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies: An Animated Video Makes the Case

Like many of you, I was assigned to read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies in junior high. (Raise your hand if you had the one with this cover). Looking back, was there a subconscious reason our teacher gave us this famous tale of a group of shipwrecked children and young teens turning into murderous savages? Were we really that bad?

Perhaps you’ve never read the book and got assigned To Kill a Mockingbird or Kes instead. Is Golding’s book still worth picking up as an adult?

For sure, yes, and this animated explainer from Jill Dash of TED-Ed hopefully will entice you do so. What it provides is what we didn’t get in school: context.

Golding had been a lieutenant in the Royal Navy during the war, and had returned to find a post-war world where nuclear annihilation felt palpable. He was also teaching at a private school for boys. He got to wondering: are we doomed as a species to savagery? Is war inevitable?

Golding was also thinking about the popular Young Adult novels (as we now call them) of his day, because he read them to his own children. A popular trope featured young boys as castaways on a desert island who get up to all sorts of fun adventures, with a dash of British colonialism thrown in for good measure. All were riffs on Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

Lord of the Flies, then, is a brutal satire, reducing angelic British schoolboys to a bloodthirsty mob in very little time, while in the greater world of the novel nuclear war rages. (Having read this during the ‘80s, the nuclear background was never impressed on us students. I think I would have found the novel even more terrifying.)

It took Golding ten years to find an interested publisher, and even then it was a flop on initial release. But its reputation soon grew, helped by Peter Brook’s black-and-white film adaptation, and its pedagogical use as an allegorical tale during the Cold War. It also influenced a generation of writers. Stephen King named his fictional town Castle Rock after the kids’ fort in the novel. It also opened the door for any number of Young Adult authors to deal with dark and troubling themes.

There were also real-world examples to draw from. In the same year, 1954, as Golding’s novel appeared, Muzafer Sherif's The Robbers Cave Experiment was published. This was non-fiction, however, detailing an experiment in which 22 middle-class white boys were set up in two groups at a deserted Oklahoma summer camp. With scientists posing as counselors, they let the groups--the Rattlers and the Eagles--sort out their own hierarchies, then set up competitions.

The psychologists watched the arms race escalate over the following days. Finally, one violent mob brawl became so sustained that the researchers were forced to step in, drag the boys apart and remove them to separate locations.

How long did it take for mere friction to escalate into a juvenile war, in an idyllic setting where everyone had plenty of food? Phase two lasted just six days from the first insult ("Fatty!") to the final all-out brawl. Golding would have loved it.

We can see Golding’s warning everywhere in popular culture, from the back-biting and betrayals in reality shows like Survivor to horror movies like The Purge. We’ve also seen the terrors that children can inflict on each other, Columbine school shooting onward. In Golding’s novel, the children are rescued and revert back to a sobbing, dependent state. In the real world, alas, nobody’s coming to save us.

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at and/or watch his films here.

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