Download for Free 2.6 Million Images from Books Published Over Last 500 Years on Flickr

flickr archive globe

Thanks to Kalev Lee­taru, a Yahoo! Fel­low in Res­i­dence at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty, you can now head over to a new col­lec­tion at Flickr and search through an archive of 2.6 mil­lion pub­lic domain images, all extract­ed from books, mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers pub­lished over a 500 year peri­od. Even­tu­al­ly this archive will grow to 14.6 mil­lion images.

This new Flickr archive accom­plish­es some­thing quite impor­tant. While oth­er projects (e.g., Google Books) have dig­i­tized books and focused on text — on print­ed words — this project con­cen­trates on images. Lee­taru told the BBC, “For all these years all the libraries have been dig­i­tiz­ing their books, but they have been putting them up as PDFs or text search­able works.”  “They have been focus­ing on the books as a col­lec­tion of words. This inverts that.”

flicker reo speedwagon

The Flickr project draws on 600 mil­lion pages that were orig­i­nal­ly scanned by the Inter­net Archive. And it uses spe­cial soft­ware to extract images from those pages, plus the text that sur­rounds the images. I arrived at the image above when I searched for “auto­mo­bile.” The page asso­ci­at­ed with the image tells me that the image comes from an old edi­tion of the icon­ic Amer­i­can news­pa­per, The Sat­ur­day Evening Post. A relat­ed link puts the image in con­text, allow­ing me to see that we’re deal­ing with a 1920 ad for an REO Speed­wag­on. Now you know the ori­gin of the band’s name!

venice flickr

I should prob­a­bly add a note about how to search through the archive, because it’s not entire­ly obvi­ous. From the home page of the archive, you can do a key­word search. As you’re fill­ing in the key­word, Flickr will autopop­u­late the box with the words “Inter­net Archive Book Images’ Pho­to­stream.” Make sure you click on those autopop­u­lat­ed words, or else your search results will include images from oth­er parts of Flickr.

Or here’s an eas­i­er approach: sim­ply go to this inte­ri­or page and con­duct a search. It should yield results from the book image archive, and noth­ing more.

In case you’re won­der­ing, all images can be down­loaded for free. They’re all pub­lic domain.

More infor­ma­tion about the new Flickr project can be found at the Inter­net Archive.

In the relat­eds below, you can find oth­er great image archives that recent­ly went online.

flicker gall

via the BBC and Peter Kauf­man

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Fol­ger Shake­speare Library Puts 80,000 Images of Lit­er­ary Art Online, and They’re All Free to Use

The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art Puts 400,000 High-Res Images Online & Makes Them Free to Use

New York Pub­lic Library Puts 20,000 Hi-Res Maps Online & Makes Them Free to Down­load and Use

The British Library Puts 1,000,000 Images into the Pub­lic Domain, Mak­ing Them Free to Reuse & Remix

The Rijksmu­se­um Puts 125,000 Dutch Mas­ter­pieces Online, and Lets You Remix Its Art

Where to Find Free Art Images & Books from Great Muse­ums, and Free Books from Uni­ver­si­ty Press­es

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Fans Reconstruct Authentic Version of Star Wars, As It Was Shown in Theaters in 1977

I watched Star Wars for the first time in 1977 at the ten­der age of four. And like a lot of peo­ple in my gen­er­a­tion and younger, that first time was a major, for­ma­tive expe­ri­ence in my life. I got all the toys. I fan­ta­sized about being Han Solo. And dur­ing the sum­mer of ’83, I blew my allowance by watch­ing Return of the Jedi every day for a week in the the­ater. George Lucas’ epic space opera is the rea­son why I spent a life­time watch­ing, mak­ing and writ­ing about movies. And if you asked any movie crit­ic, fan or film­mak­er who grew up in the ‘80s, they will prob­a­bly tell you a sim­i­lar sto­ry.

Over the years though, Lucas suc­cumbed to the dark side of the Force. His pre­quel tril­o­gy, start­ing with tru­ly god awful The Phan­tom Men­ace (1999), is as visu­al­ly over­stuffed as it is cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly inert. (Some­where, there’s a dis­ser­ta­tion to be writ­ten about how wide­spread feel­ings of betray­al from the pre­quels psy­chi­cal­ly pre­pared Amer­i­ca for the anx­i­ety and dis­ap­point­ments of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion.)

Worse, fans who want to con­sole them­selves by watch­ing Star Wars as they remem­ber see­ing it back in the ‘80s are out of luck. Lucas has been qui­et­ly butcher­ing the orig­i­nal movies by adding CGI, sound effects and even whole char­ac­ters – like (gag) Jar Jar Binks — to suc­ces­sive spe­cial edi­tion updates. The prob­lem is these updat­ed ver­sions feel bifur­cat­ed. It’s as if two dif­fer­ent movies with two dif­fer­ent aes­thet­ics were clum­si­ly stitched togeth­er. Lucas’ spare, mus­cu­lar com­po­si­tions in the orig­i­nal movie sit uneasi­ly next to its car­toony, over-wrought addi­tions. Yet this Franken­stein ver­sion is the one that Lucas insists you watch. The orig­i­nal cut is just plain not for sale. Lucas even refused to give the Nation­al Film Reg­istry the 1977 cut of Star Wars for future preser­va­tion. “It’s like this is the movie I want­ed it to be,” said Lucas in an inter­view in 2004, “and I’m sor­ry if you saw half a com­plet­ed film and fell in love with it, but I want it to be the way I want it to be.”

Thank­ful­ly, hard­core Star Wars fans are telling Lucas, respect­ful­ly, to go cram it. As Rose Eveleth in The Atlantic reports, a ded­i­cat­ed online com­mu­ni­ty has set out to cre­ate a “despe­cial­ized” edi­tion of Star Wars that strips away all of Lucas’s dig­i­tal non­sense and restores the movie to its orig­i­nal 1977 state. The de fac­to leader of this move­ment is Petr Harmy, a 25-year-old guy from the Czech Repub­lic who with the help of a legion of tech­ni­cal­ly savvy film nerds has pieced togeth­er footage from exist­ing prints and old­er DVD releas­es to cre­ate the Despe­cial­ized Edi­tion v. 2.5. (Direc­tions on where you can locate it are here.) Above Harmy talks in detail about how he accom­plished this feat. And below you can see some side-by-side com­par­isons. More can be found on Petr Harmy’s page. Final­ly, in the com­ments sec­tion below, Harmy also points us toward pages with Despe­cial­ized stills for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.




Via The Atlantic

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

How Star Wars Bor­rowed From Aki­ra Kurosawa’s Great Samu­rai Films

Frei­heit, George Lucas’ Short Stu­dent Film About a Fatal Run from Com­mu­nism (1966)

Watch the Very First Trail­ers for Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back & Return of the Jedi (1976–83)

Joseph Camp­bell and Bill Moy­ers Break Down Star Wars as an Epic, Uni­ver­sal Myth

Hun­dreds of Fans Col­lec­tive­ly Remade Star Wars; Now They Remake The Empire Strikes Back

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrowAnd check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing one new draw­ing of a vice pres­i­dent with an octo­pus on his head dai­ly. 

A 96-Song Playlist of Music in Haruki Murakami’s Novels: Miles Davis, Glenn Gould, the Beach Boys & More


Last month we fea­tured the par­tic­u­lars of nov­el­ist Haru­ki Murakami’s pas­sion for jazz, includ­ing a big Youtube playlist of songs select­ed from Por­trait in Jazz, his book of essays on the music. But we also allud­ed to Murakami’s admis­sion of run­ning to a sound­track pro­vid­ed by The Lovin’ Spoon­ful, which sug­gests lis­ten­ing habits not enslaved to purism. His books — one of the very best known of which takes its name straight from a Bea­t­les song (“Nor­we­gian Wood”) — tend to come pre-loaded with ref­er­ences to sev­er­al vari­eties of music, almost always West­ern and usu­al­ly Amer­i­can.  “The Fierce Imag­i­na­tion of Haru­ki Muraka­mi,” Sam Ander­son­’s pro­file of the writer on the occa­sion of the release of his pre­vi­ous nov­el 1Q84, name-checks not just Stan Getz but Janáček’s Sin­foni­et­ta, The Rolling Stones’ Sym­pa­thy for the Dev­il, Eric Clap­ton’s Rep­tile, Bruce Spring­steen’s ver­sion of “Old Dan Tuck­er,” and The Many Sides of Gene Pit­neyThe title of Murakami’s new Col­or­less Tsuku­ru Taza­ki and His Years of Pil­grim­age, writes The Week’s Scott Mes­low, ref­er­ences Franz Liszt’s ‘Years of Pil­grim­age’ suite, “which plays a cen­tral role in the nov­el­’s nar­ra­tive. The point­ed ref­er­ence isn’t exact­ly a major detour from Muraka­mi.”

Giv­en the writer’s increas­ing reliance on music and the notion of “songs that lit­er­al­ly have the pow­er to change the world,” to say noth­ing of his “abil­i­ty to sin­gle-hand­ed­ly dri­ve musi­cal trends,” it can prove an illu­mi­nat­ing exer­cise to assem­ble Muraka­mi playlists. Select­ing 96 tracks, Mes­low has cre­at­ed his own playlist (above) that empha­sizes the breadth of genre in the music incor­po­rat­ed into Murakami’s fic­tion: from Ray Charles to Bren­da Lee, Duke Elling­ton to Bob­by Darin, Glenn Gould to the Beach Boys. Each song appears in one of Murakami’s nov­els, and Mes­low even includes cita­tions for each track: “I had some cof­fee while lis­ten­ing to May­nard Fer­guson’s ‘Star Wars.’ ” “Her milk was on the house if she would play the Bea­t­les’ ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ said the girl.” Imag­ine The Great­est Hits of Bob­by Darin minus ‘Mack the Knife.’ That’s what my life would be like with­out you.” “The room begins to dark­en. In the deep­en­ing dark­ness, ‘I Can’t Go For That’ con­tin­ues to play.” It all coheres in some­thing to lis­ten to while explor­ing Murakami’s world: in your imag­i­na­tion, in real life, or in his trade­mark realms between. 

To lis­ten to the playlist above, you will first need to down­load Spo­ti­fy. Please note that once you mouse over the playlist, you can scroll through all 96 songs. Look for the ver­ti­cal scroll­bar along the right side of the playlist.

Pho­to above is attrib­uted to “wakari­m­a­sita of Flickr”

via The Week

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Read 5 Sto­ries By Haru­ki Muraka­mi Free Online (For a Lim­it­ed Time)

A Pho­to­graph­ic Tour of Haru­ki Murakami’s Tokyo, Where Dream, Mem­o­ry, and Real­i­ty Meet

Haru­ki Murakami’s Pas­sion for Jazz: Dis­cov­er the Novelist’s Jazz Playlist, Jazz Essay & Jazz Bar

In Search of Haru­ki Muraka­mi, Japan’s Great Post­mod­ernist Nov­el­ist

Haru­ki Muraka­mi Trans­lates The Great Gats­by, the Nov­el That Influ­enced Him Most

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Traffic & Other Bands Play Huge London Festival “Christmas on Earth Continued” (1967)

A tru­ly spec­tac­u­lar event, 1967’s “Christ­mas on Earth Continued”—a super-con­cert described in one pro­mo poster as an “All Night Christ­mas Dream Party”—gets sad­ly remem­bered as the last major show Syd Bar­ret played with Pink Floyd—ending the set dazed and motion­less onstage, his arms hang­ing limp at his sides. Barrett’s break­down wasn’t the only thing that kept this mas­sive hap­pen­ing, “the last gasp of the British under­ground scene,” from tak­ing off as it should have.

As the blog Mar­malade Skies recalls, the con­cert, held in the “vast Lon­don Olympia,” had “hope­less­ly inad­e­quate” pub­lic­i­ty.” This, and a “par­tic­u­lar­ly severe win­ter freeze” meant sparse atten­dance and “finan­cial dis­as­ter for the orga­niz­ers.” In addi­tion, a planned film of the event failed to mate­ri­al­ize, “owing to poor pic­ture qual­i­ty of the footage.”


Despite all this, it seems, you real­ly had to have been there. The line­up alone will make lovers of 60s psych-rock sali­vate: Jimi Hen­drix Expe­ri­ence, Eric Bur­don, Pink Floyd, The Move, Soft Machine, Tomor­row… The Who didn’t make it, but the unbilled Traf­fic did. We’re lucky to have some of the footage from that win­ter night. Check out Traf­fic below (with a very young Steve Win­wood), play­ing “Dear Mr. Fan­ta­sy.”

Lib­er­al Eng­land blog­ger Jonathan Calder calls the Traf­fic clip “price­less” and quotes Mar­malade Skies’ vivid descrip­tion of the nights fes­tiv­i­ties:

Soft Machine, with Kevin Ayers resplen­dent in pre-punk black string vest, cli­maxed with the ulti­mate Dada ver­sion of ‘We did it again’ as Robert Wyatt leapt into a full bath of water, that just hap­pened to be on-stage with them! At least, we assumed it was water. 

Tomor­row pow­ered through their unique mix of heav­i­ly Bea­t­les influ­enced psy­che­delia. Dur­ing ‘Straw­ber­ry Fields For­ev­er’ Twink (drums) and Junior (bass) per­formed a mimed fight whilst being sub­ject­ed to the most pow­er­ful strobe light effects I’ve ever wit­nessed. Steve Howe was a rev­e­la­tion, mov­ing from raga to clas­si­cal to Bar­rett — style anar­chy with an almost arro­gant ease. 

Traf­fic, still with Dave Mason, even per­formed ‘Hole in my shoe’. Steve Win­wood was into his white cheese­cloth peri­od, and their music was so unlike any­thing else around that they occu­pied a total­ly orig­i­nal space. The song, ‘Here we go round the Mul­ber­ry Bush’ was very typ­i­cal of their trip­py, watery sound at that time. 

Hen­drix — voom! All light shows were killed for his per­for­mance. Noel Red­ding was con­stant­ly nig­gling Jimi, play­ing bass behind his head as Jimi per­formed his tricks with his gui­tar. It was the first time I saw Hen­drix with his Gib­son Fly­ing Arrow, and the ten­sion on-stage pro­duced some elec­tri­fy­ing music.

At the top of the post see Hen­drix in back­stage footage, effort­less­ly coax­ing some beau­ti­ful 12-bar blues from that Gib­son fly­ing V. The film clips of him onstage—blowing an obvi­ous­ly very turned-on audience’s col­lec­tive mind—will con­vince you this was the only place on earth to be on Decem­ber 22, 1967.

And that fate­ful Floyd per­for­mance? We don’t seem to have any film, but we do have the audio, and you can hear it below, slight­ly sped up, it seems. The band were debut­ing their new 3D light­show, which—as much as Barrett’s sad loss of his faculties—left quite an impres­sion on the crowd. One anony­mous com­menter on Calder’s blog, who claims to have seen been in atten­dance at the ten­der age of 18, writes, “I was so impressed with the Soft Machine and Pink Floyd light­shows that I bought an old movie pro­jec­tor from a thrift shop and me and my flat­mate spent hours putting col­or slides into the pro­jec­tor grate and watched them melt psy­che­del­i­cal­ly on the wall.” No doubt impres­sion­able young­sters all over the UK indulged in sim­i­lar kinds of good clean fun, with Piper at the Gates of Dawn on the hi-fi. If like me, you were born too late to expe­ri­ence the zenith of the psy­che­del­ic 60s, then flip off the lights, let your trip­pi­est screen saver take over, and lis­ten to Pink Floyd decon­struct them­selves below.

via Lib­er­al Eng­land

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Jimi Hen­drix at Wood­stock: The Com­plete Per­for­mance in Video & Audio (1969)

Jimi Hen­drix Plays the Bea­t­les: “Sgt. Pepper’s,” “Day Trip­per,” and “Tomor­row Nev­er Knows”

Pink Floyd Plays With Their Brand New Singer & Gui­tarist David Gilmour on French TV (1968)

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

The Right and Wrong Way to Eat Sushi: A Primer’s food chan­nel, Munchies, spent time with Naomichi Yasu­da and learned the dos and don’ts of eat­ing sushi. And they kind­ly sum­ma­rized some prac­tices that are per­mit­ted and ver­boten.

  1. It’s okay to use your fin­gers to eat cut sushi rolls.
  2. Don’t com­bine gin­ger and sushi, or gin­ger and soy sauce. Gin­ger is a palate cleanser in between bites.
  3. When dip­ping sushi into soy sauce, dip fish-side down.
  4. Nev­er shake soy sauce off of sushi. That’s like shak­ing your wanker in pub­lic.

The video above just begins to scratch the sur­face. If you head over to The­Sushi­FAQ, you can find a long list of rules and sug­ges­tions that will round out your sushi-eat­ing eti­quette. Here are some addi­tion­al tips to keep in mind: Nev­er put wasabi direct­ly in the shoyu dish. And know that Sashi­mi is only to be eat­en with your chop­sticks, not with your hands. Got it? There will be a quiz tomor­row.

via Kot­tke/Munchies

Relat­ed Con­tent:

How to Make Instant Ramen Com­pli­ments of Japan­ese Ani­ma­tion Direc­tor Hayao Miyza­ki

The Best Japan­ese Com­mer­cial Ever? James Brown Sells Miso Soup

What Goes Into Ramen Noo­dles, and What Hap­pens When Ramen Noo­dles Go Into You

Cook­pad, the Largest Recipe Site in Japan, Launch­es New Site in Eng­lish

Learn Japan­ese Free

MIT Teach­es You How to Speak Ital­ian & Cook Ital­ian Cui­sine All at Once (Free Online Course)

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Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Gets Adapted Into an Avant-Garde Comic Opera

Lud­wig Wittgen­stein, enfant ter­ri­ble or idiot savant? A stu­dent of the great Bertrand Rus­sell and pro­tégé of renowned math­e­mati­cian and logi­cian Got­t­lob Frege, the angry young upstart’s Trac­ta­tus Logi­co-Philo­soph­i­cus put both elder thinkers on notice: The days of their com­fort­able assump­tions were num­bered, in a series of aus­tere, cryp­tic apho­risms and sym­bol­ic propo­si­tions that make very lit­tle sense to those of us who lack the prodi­gious intel­lects of Rus­sell and Frege. While Wittgen­stein is often dis­missed, writes Paul Hor­wich at New York Times’ phi­los­o­phy blog “The Stone,” as “self indul­gent­ly obscure,” per­haps the real rea­son many aca­d­e­m­ic philoso­phers reject his work is that it ren­ders them super­flu­ous. Phi­los­o­phy, Wittgen­stein oblique­ly claimed in his half-mys­ti­cal, hyper-log­i­cal trea­tise, “can’t give us the kind of knowl­edge gen­er­al­ly regard­ed as its rai­son d’être.”

Giv­en the Trac­ta­tus’s fire­bomb­ing of an entire area of human endeav­or, it’s no sur­prise it hasn’t fared well in many tra­di­tion­al depart­ments, but that hasn’t stopped Wittgenstein’s work from find­ing pur­chase else­where, influ­enc­ing mod­ern artists like Jasper Johns, the Coen Broth­ers, and, not least sure­ly, Finnish avant garde com­pos­er and musi­cian M.A. Num­mi­nen.

This odd char­ac­ter, who caused a stir in the 60s by set­ting sex guides to music, took it upon him­self to do the same for many of the Trac­ta­tus’s propo­si­tions, and the results are, well…. Lis­ten for your­self. At the top of the post, we have video of Num­mi­nen per­form­ing the fifth and final move­ment of his Trac­ta­tus suite—the famous final propo­si­tion of that strange lit­tle book: “Where­of one can­not speak, there­of one must be silent” (“Woven man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen”). Num­mi­nen sings this in Ger­man, in his high-pitched, creak­ing voice. The rest of the suite he sings in Eng­lish. Just above, hear the first move­ment, “The World Is…,” and below, hear move­ments 2–4, “In Order To Tell…,” “A Thought Is…,” and “The Gen­er­al Form Of A Truth Func­tion.” He even sings the sym­bols, in breath­less tran­scrip­tion. You can stream and down­load the full suite at Ubuweb and fol­low along at the Trac­ta­tus hyper­text here.



Should Numminen’s tin­pan alley-like com­po­si­tions strike you as a par­tic­u­lar­ly ridicu­lous set­ting for Wittgenstein’s genius, fear not; the Motet below (“Excero­ta Trac­tati Logi­co-Philo­sophi­ci”), by com­pos­er Elis­a­beth Lutyens, treats the eccen­tric German’s work with a great deal more rev­er­ence.

via Leit­er Reports

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Wittgen­stein: Watch Derek Jarman’s Trib­ute to the Philoso­pher, Fea­tur­ing Til­da Swin­ton (1993)

Bertrand Rus­sell on His Stu­dent Lud­wig Wittgen­stein: Man of Genius or Mere­ly an Eccen­tric?

Philoso­pher Por­traits: Famous Philoso­phers Paint­ed in the Style of Influ­en­tial Artists

Pho­tog­ra­phy of Lud­wig Wittgen­stein Dis­played by Archives at Cam­bridge

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

John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” Played With Bagpipes: The Artistry of Rufus Harley

I sub­mit to you the propo­si­tion that a suf­fi­cient­ly mas­ter­ful com­po­si­tion can sur­vive in not just any key, but any con­text, any time, any sen­si­bil­i­ty, or any instru­men­ta­tion. To allow you to eval­u­ate this propo­si­tion, I sub­mit to you John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” The sax­o­phon­ist’s half-hour suite, an artis­tic free­dom-embrac­ing hymn to the high­er pow­er Coltrane saw as hav­ing imbued him with not just life but a for­mi­da­ble skill on his instru­ment, came as an epony­mous album from Impulse! Records in 1965. (Lis­ten here.) Hav­ing won innu­mer­able acco­lades in the near-half-cen­tu­ry since, it now seems to have a per­ma­nent place on every­one’s list of the great­est jazz record­ings of all time. About such a pil­lar of a work, only one ques­tion can remain: how would it sound on the bag­pipes?

Here to sati­ate your curios­i­ty comes Rufus Harley, the first jazz musi­cian ever to take up the Scot­tish great High­land bag­pipe as his main, er, horn. At the top of the post, you can hear him play a bit of “A Love Supreme” live on that sig­na­ture instru­ment. He would also work oth­er well-known pieces into his act, such as “Amaz­ing Grace,” a song most com­mon­ly played in funer­als. And indeed, it took a funer­al to turn Harley on to the bag­pipe’s untapped poten­tial.

“Moved by the pipes of the Black Watch Scot­tish March­ing Band who were play­ing for the funer­al of slain Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy in Novem­ber, 1963,” says his bio at Hip Wax, he lined up “a $120 set of pipes from a pawn shop and help from musi­cian-teacher Den­nis San­dole,” and “the world’s only jazz bag­pip­ist was on his way” — to places like the CBS game show I’ve Got a Secret, three years lat­er, an appear­ance you can watch just above. You can learn more about Harley’s remark­able life and sur­pris­ing­ly funky career on Jazz City TV’s The Orig­i­nal Rufus Harley Sto­ry below.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

John Coltrane’s Hand­writ­ten Out­line for His Mas­ter­piece A Love Supreme

John Coltrane Per­forms A Love Supreme and Oth­er Clas­sics in Antibes (July 1965)

Watch John Coltrane and His Great Quin­tet Play ‘My Favorite Things’ (1961)

The World Accord­ing to John Coltrane: His Life & Music Revealed in Heart­felt 1990 Doc­u­men­tary

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Watch the Films of the Lumière Brothers & the Birth of Cinema (1895)

When Auguste and Louis Lumière unveiled their inven­tion, the Ciné­matographe, at the Salon Indi­en du Grand Café in Paris on Decem­ber 28, 1895, the art form of film was born. Pri­or to that, oth­er inven­tors looked for ways to pho­to­graph­i­cal­ly cap­ture motion in a com­mer­cial­ly suc­cess­ful way but failed. Thomas Edi­son, for instance, hawked a device called the Kine­to­scope that looked a bit like a View-Mas­ter strapped to a pul­pit. It was big, bulky and, most impor­tant­ly, offered an expe­ri­ence to a sin­gle view­er at a time. The Ciné­matographe, on the oth­er hand, pro­ject­ed images on a wall, cre­at­ing, for the first time ever, a movie audi­ence.

Cinématographe_Lumière (1)

The Lumière broth­ers screened 10 short films that night, each run­ning about 50 sec­onds long. They are, as you might expect, about as prim­i­tive as you can get. Basic ele­ments of cin­e­ma like edit­ing or cam­era move­ment were decades away from evolv­ing into the cin­e­mat­ic gram­mar that we take for grant­ed today. You can see some of those ear­ly films above.

The Lumière brother’s first film was called Work­ers Leav­ing The Lumière Fac­to­ry in Lyon (La Sor­tie des usines Lumière à Lyon) and that’s entire­ly what the short shows: a sin­gle sta­t­ic shot of dozens of men and women, all of whom seem to be wear­ing hats, leav­ing a fac­to­ry for the day. It is a doc­u­men­tary in its most ele­men­tal form.

Above is The Water­er Watered (L’Ar­roseur arrosé), cinema’s first com­e­dy. It shows a gar­den­er water­ing some plants before a naughty kid steps on the hose, cut­ting off its flow. When the gar­den­er looks down the noz­zle, the kid takes his foot off the hose and Bam! — the world’s first exam­ple of some­one get­ting punked on cam­era.

And below you can see the Lumière’s most famous ear­ly short, screened in ear­ly 1896. It shows a train arriv­ing at a sta­tion. The cam­era was placed right at the edge of the plat­form so the train sweeps past the frame on a strong, dynam­ic diag­o­nal. Leg­end has it that audi­ences thought that the train was com­ing straight at them and pan­icked. That’s prob­a­bly not true but it did, for the first time, demon­strate the visu­al dra­ma that can be cre­at­ed by a well-placed cam­era.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

40 Great Film­mak­ers Go Old School, Shoot Short Films with 100 Year Old Cam­era

What David Lynch Can Do With a 100-Year-Old Cam­era and 52 Sec­onds of Film

A Trip to the Moon (and Five Oth­er Free Films) by Georges Méliès, the Father of Spe­cial Effects

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrowAnd check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing one new draw­ing of a vice pres­i­dent with an octo­pus on his head dai­ly. 

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