The News Is Broken, and Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Plans to Fix It With His New Site, Wikitribune

“The news is bro­ken and we can fix it.” That’s the idea dri­ving the cre­ation of Wik­itri­bune, a news plat­form being built by Wikipedia founder Jim­my Wales.

Bor­row­ing tools and con­cepts from the influ­en­tial online ency­clo­pe­dia, Wik­itri­bune will be free and sup­port­ed by read­ers, not ads. It will fea­ture pro­fes­sion­al jour­nal­ists and com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, work­ing side by side, to pro­duce fact-checked jour­nal­ism that’s read­i­ly sup­port­ed by evi­dence and sources. And any­one can flag mis­takes or sub­mit revi­sions for review.

Watch Wales out­line the vision for Wik­itri­bune in the Kir­by Fer­gu­son-made video above. Then, con­sid­er mak­ing a finan­cial con­tri­bu­tion to the new news plat­form here. They’re now rais­ing mon­ey to get oper­a­tions start­ed and hire 10 jour­nal­ists.

Fol­low Open Cul­ture on Face­book and Twit­ter and share intel­li­gent media with your friends. Or bet­ter yet, sign up for our dai­ly email and get a dai­ly dose of Open Cul­ture in your inbox. 

How Jonathan Demme Put Humanity Into His Films: From The Silence of the Lambs to Stop Making Sense

“My friend, the direc­tor Jonathan Demme, passed last night,” wrote Talk­ing Heads’ David Byrne on his blog yes­ter­day. “I met Jonathan in the ‘80s when Talk­ing Heads were tour­ing a show that he would even­tu­al­ly film and turn into Stop Mak­ing Sense,” the famous — and in the minds of many, still the very best — con­cert movie. “I loved his films Melvin and Howard and Cit­i­zens Band (AKA Han­dle With Care). From those movies alone, one could sense his love of ordi­nary peo­ple. That love sur­faces and is man­i­fest over and over through­out his career.” Read just a few of the many oth­er trib­utes to Demme made so far, and you’ll encounter the same words over and over again: love, empa­thy, com­pas­sion.

Few film­mak­ers man­age to get those qual­i­ties onscreen as con­sis­tent­ly as Demme did, and even few­er do it at his lev­el of tech­ni­cal mas­tery. The two video essays here exam­ine his cin­e­mat­ic tech­nique, espe­cial­ly as seen in one of his best-known films: 1991’s Silence of the Lambs, the sec­ond in the ongo­ing series fea­tur­ing refined career can­ni­bal Han­ni­bal Lecter. The brief episode of Tony Zhou’s Every Frame a Paint­ing at the top of the post breaks down how Demme han­dles the ques­tion of who “wins” the inter­ac­tion in the first con­ver­sa­tion between Antho­ny Hop­kins’ Lecter and Jodie Fos­ter’s young FBI trainee Clarice Star­ling — two char­ac­ters who enter into this and all their sub­se­quent inter­ac­tions with their own shift­ing moti­va­tions, goals, and sen­si­tiv­i­ties.

In this and oth­er scenes through­out his career, Demme made strong and influ­en­tial use of close-up shots, to the point where Jacob T. Swin­ney could ded­i­cate a super­cut to “The Jonathan Demme Close-Up.” While “most film­mak­ers choose to employ the close-up shot dur­ing scenes of cru­cial dia­logue,” Swin­ney writes, “Demme prefers to line up his char­ac­ters in the cen­ter of the frame and have them look direct­ly into the lens of the cam­era.” And so “when Dr. Han­ni­bal Lecter hiss­es at Agent Clarice Star­ling, we feel equal­ly vic­tim­ized,” or in Philadel­phia “as Andrew Beck­ett suc­cumbs to AIDS, we feel an over­whelm­ing sen­sa­tion of sym­pa­thy. These char­ac­ters seem to be look­ing at us, and we there­fore con­nect on a deep­er lev­el.”

While Demme used his sig­na­ture close-ups and oth­er emo­tion­al­ly charged shots in all his fea­tures, from his ear­ly days work­ing for leg­endary B‑movie pro­duc­er Roger Cor­man on, he brought his human­is­tic style to his var­i­ous doc­u­men­tary and con­cert film projects as well. “Stop Mak­ing Sense was char­ac­ter dri­ven too,” writes Byrne. “Jonathan’s skill was to see the show almost as a the­atri­cal ensem­ble piece, in which the char­ac­ters and their quirks would be intro­duced to the audi­ence, and you’d get to know the band as peo­ple, each with their dis­tinct per­son­al­i­ties. They became your friends, in a sense. I was too focused on the music, the stag­ing and the light­ing to see how impor­tant his focus on char­ac­ter was — it made the movies some­thing dif­fer­ent and spe­cial.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Every Frame a Paint­ing Explains the Film­mak­ing Tech­niques of Mar­tin Scors­ese, Jack­ie Chan, and Even Michael Bay

David Byrne Plays Sev­en Char­ac­ters & Inter­views Him­self in Fun­ny Pro­mo for Stop Mak­ing Sense

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Jonathan Demme Narrates I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!!,” a Short Film About the Counterculture Cartoon Reid Fleming

Ear­li­er today, we sad­ly learned about the pass­ing of Jonathan Demme, direc­tor of The Silence of the Lambs and Stop Mak­ing Sense. We’ll have more to say about his con­tri­bu­tions to cin­e­ma in the morn­ing. But, for now, I want to share a short film, nar­rat­ed by Demme him­self in 2015, called I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!!.  Fea­tur­ing stop motion ani­ma­tion and inter­views, the short revis­its David Boswell’s 1970s coun­ter­cul­ture car­toon, Reid Flem­ing, World’s Tough­est Milk­man. Per­haps the car­toon nev­er end­ed up on your radar. But it cer­tain­ly influ­enced a num­ber of impor­tant cre­ators you’re famil­iar with. And, hap­pi­ly, you can still pick up copies of Reid Flem­ing: World’s Tough­est Milk­man on Ama­zon or over at the offi­cial Reid Flem­ing web site.

Direct­ed by Char­lie Tyrell, I Thought I Told You To Shut Up!! will be added to our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More. You can also down­load it over at Tyrel­l’s vimeo page.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, 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. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Com­ic Biog­ra­phy of Under­ground Pub­lish­er & Polit­i­cal Writer, John Wilcock

In Ani­mat­ed Car­toon, Ali­son Bechdel Sees Her Life Go From Puli­tiz­er Prize Win­ning Com­ic to Broad­way Musi­cal

Car­toon­ist R. Crumb Assess­es 21 Cul­tur­al Fig­ures, from Dylan & Hitch­cock, to Kaf­ka & The Bea­t­les

If You Could Spend Eternity with Your Ashes Pressed Into a Vinyl Record, What Album Would It Be?

In Feb­ru­ary, Ted Mills wrote about a new com­pa­ny–And Vinyly–which will press your ash­es into a playable vinyl record when your time even­tu­al­ly runs out. The basic ser­vice runs $4,000, and it gets you 30 copies of a record con­tain­ing your ash­es. The rub is that you can’t “use copy­right-pro­tect­ed music to fill up the 12 min­utes per side, so no ‘Free Bird’ or ‘We Are the Cham­pi­ons,’ unfor­tu­nate­ly.”

But it does raise the ques­tion, as I put on Twit­ter yes­ter­day… If you could head into eter­ni­ty pressed into a cher­ished album, which would you choose? This isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly a what-record-would-you-take-to-a-desert­ed island sce­nario, tak­en to the nth degree. Mean­ing, it’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly a ques­tion of what record would you lis­ten to end­less­ly, for eter­ni­ty (although you could choose to make it that). Rather, the ques­tion might be: What album do you have a deep, abid­ing per­son­al con­nec­tion with? Which record cap­tures your spir­it? And, when thrown on the turntable, can keep you son­i­cal­ly in this world?

My pick, Abbey Road. “Come Togeth­er” has a bit of anti-estab­lish­ment bite. “Here Comes the Sun” and “Some­thing” tap into some­thing emo­tion­al and nos­tal­gia-induc­ing for me. And, oh, that med­ley on Side 2! Just click play any time.

Your picks? Please add them to the com­ments below.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, 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. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Neil deGrasse Tyson Says This Short Film on Science in America Contains Perhaps the Most Important Words He’s Ever Spoken

Astro­physi­cist Neil deGrasse Tyson has won a rep­u­ta­tion as a genial, yet pedan­tic nerd, a sci­en­tif­ic gad­fly whose point of view may near­ly always be tech­ni­cal­ly cor­rect, but whose mode of deliv­ery some­times miss­es the point, like some­one who explains a joke. His earnest­ness is endear­ing; it’s what makes him so relat­able as a sci­ence edu­ca­tor. He’s whole­heart­ed­ly devot­ed to his sub­ject, like his boy­hood hero Carl Sagan, whose shoes Tyson did his best to fill in a remake of the clas­sic Cos­mos series. Tyson’s coun­try­men and women, how­ev­er, have made his job a lot hard­er than they did in Sagan’s day, when ordi­nary Amer­i­cans were hun­gry for sci­en­tif­ic infor­ma­tion.

The change has been decades in the mak­ing. Like Sagan, Tyson’s voice fills with awe as he con­tem­plates the mys­ter­ies of nature and won­ders of sci­ence, and with alarm as he com­ments on wide­spread Amer­i­can igno­rance and hos­til­i­ty to crit­i­cal inquiry and the sci­en­tif­ic method. These atti­tudes have led us to a cri­sis point. Elect­ed and appoint­ed offi­cials at the high­est lev­els of gov­ern­ment deny the facts of cli­mate change and are active­ly gut­ting all efforts to com­bat it. The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ Com­mit­tee on Sci­ence, Space, and Tech­nol­o­gy mocks cli­mate sci­ence on social media even as NASA announces that the evi­dence is “unequiv­o­cal.”

How did this hap­pen? Are we rapid­ly return­ing, as Sagan warned before his death, to an age of “super­sti­tion and dark­ness”? Tyson has recent­ly addressed these ques­tions with earnest­ness and urgency in a short video called “Sci­ence in Amer­i­ca,” which you can watch above, “con­tain­ing,” he wrote on Face­book, “what may be the most impor­tant words I have ever spo­ken.” He opens with a state­ment that echoes Sagan’s dire pre­dic­tions: “It seems to me that peo­ple have lost the abil­i­ty to judge what is true and what is not.” The prob­lem is not sim­ply an aca­d­e­m­ic one, but a press­ing­ly polit­i­cal one: “When you have peo­ple,” says Tyson, “who don’t know much about sci­ence, stand­ing in denial of it, and ris­ing to pow­er, that is a recipe for the com­plete dis­man­tling of our informed democ­ra­cy.”

One must ask if the issue sole­ly comes down to edu­ca­tion. We are fre­quent­ly remind­ed of how much denial is moti­vat­ed and will­ful when, for exam­ple, a gov­ern­ment offi­cial begins a com­plete­ly unsup­port­ed claim with, “I’m not a sci­en­tist, but….” We know that fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies like Exxon have known the facts about cli­mate change for forty years, and have hid­den or mis­rep­re­sent­ed them. But the prob­lem is even more wide­spread. Evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gy, vac­cines, GMOs… the amount of mis­in­for­ma­tion and “alter­na­tive fact” in the pub­lic sphere has drowned out the voic­es of sci­en­tists. “That’s not the coun­try I remem­ber grow­ing up in,” Tyson laments.

There are plen­ty of good philo­soph­i­cal rea­sons for skep­ti­cism, such as those raised by David Hume or by crit­i­cal the­o­rists and his­to­ri­ans who point out the ways in which sci­en­tif­ic research has been dis­tort­ed and mis­used for some very dark, inhu­mane pur­pos­es. Yet cri­tiques of method­ol­o­gy, phi­los­o­phy, and ethics only strength­en the sci­en­tif­ic enter­prise, which—as Tyson pas­sion­ate­ly explains—thrives on vig­or­ous and informed debate. We can­not afford to con­fuse thought­ful delib­er­a­tion and hon­est reflec­tion with spe­cious rea­son­ing and will­ful igno­rance.

I imag­ine we’ll have a good laugh at cre­ative rede­ploy­ments of some clas­sic Tyson harangues. (“This is sci­ence! It’s not some­thing to toy with!”) And a good laugh some­times feels like all we can do to relieve the ten­sion. The real dan­ger is that many peo­ple will dis­miss his mes­sage as “politi­ciz­ing” sci­ence rather than defend­ing the very basis of its exis­tence. We must agree on the basis of sci­en­tif­ic truth, as dis­cov­er­able through rea­son and evi­dence, Tyson warns, before we can even get to the polit­i­cal ques­tions over cli­mate change, vac­cines, etc. Whether Amer­i­cans can still do that has become an unset­tling­ly open ques­tion.

via Big Think

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Carl Sagan Pre­dicts the Decline of Amer­i­ca: Unable to Know “What’s True,” We Will Slide, “With­out Notic­ing, Back into Super­sti­tion & Dark­ness” (1995)

An Ani­mat­ed Neil deGrasse Tyson Gives an Elo­quent Defense of Sci­ence in 272 Words, the Same Length as The Get­tys­burg Address

Neil deGrasse Tyson Remem­bers His First Meet­ing with Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan Issues a Chill­ing Warn­ing to Amer­i­ca in His Final Inter­view (1996)

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

Download 200+ Free Modern Art Books from the Guggenheim Museum

For at least half a decade now, New York’s Solomon R. Guggen­heim Muse­um has been dig­i­tiz­ing its exhi­bi­tion cat­a­logs and oth­er art books. Now you can find all of the pub­li­ca­tions made avail­able so far — not just to read, but to down­load in PDF and ePub for­mats — at the Inter­net Archive. If you’ve vis­it­ed the Guggen­heim’s non-dig­i­tal loca­tion on Fifth Avenue even once, you know how much effort the insti­tu­tion puts toward the preser­va­tion and pre­sen­ta­tion of mod­ern art, and that comes through as much in its print­ed mate­r­i­al as it does in its shows.

Among the more than 200 Guggen­heim art books avail­able on the Inter­net Archive, you’ll find one on a 1977 ret­ro­spec­tive of Col­or Field painter Ken­neth Noland, one on the ever-vivid icon-mak­ing pop artist Roy Licht­en­stein, and one on the exis­ten­tial slo­gans — “MONEY CREATES TASTE,” “PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT,” “LACK OF CHARISMA CAN BE FATAL” — sly­ly, dig­i­tal­ly insert­ed into the lives of thou­sands by Jen­ny Holz­er. Oth­er titles, like Expres­sion­ism, a Ger­man Intu­ition 1905–1920From van Gogh to Picas­so, from Kandin­sky to Pol­lock, and painter Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky’s own Point and Line to Plane, go deep­er into art his­to­ry.

Where to start amid all these books of mod­ern (and even some of pre-mod­ern) art? You might con­sid­er first hav­ing a look at the books in the Inter­net Archive’s Guggen­heim col­lec­tion about the Guggen­heim itself: the hand­book to its col­lec­tion up through 1980, for instance, or 1991’s Mas­ter­pieces from the Guggen­heim Col­lec­tion: From Picas­so to Pol­lock, or the fol­low­ing year’s Guggen­heim Muse­um A to Z, or Art of this Cen­tu­ry: The Guggen­heim Muse­um and its Col­lec­tion from the year after that. But just as when you pay a vis­it to the Guggen­heim itself, you should­n’t wor­ry too much about what order you see every­thing in; the impor­tant thing is to look with inter­est.

Explore the col­lec­tion of 200+ art books and cat­a­logues here.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, 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. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load 448 Free Art Books from The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art

Down­load Over 300+ Free Art Books From the Get­ty Muse­um

The Guggen­heim Puts Online 1600 Great Works of Mod­ern Art from 575 Artists

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Robert Pirsig Reveals the Personal Journey That Led Him to Write His Counterculture Classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974)

I well remem­ber pulling Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motor­cy­cle Main­te­nance from my par­ents’ shelves at age twelve or thir­teen, work­ing my way through a few pages, and stop­ping in true per­plex­i­ty to ask, “what is this?” The book fit no for­mal scheme or genre I had ever encoun­tered before. I under­stood its lan­guage, but I did not know how to read it. I still don’t, though I’ve had decades to study some of Pirsig’s ref­er­ences and influ­ences, from Pla­to to Kant to Dōgen. Is this mem­oir? Fic­tion? Phi­los­o­phy? A med­i­ta­tion on machin­ery, like Hen­ry Adams’ strange essay “The Dynamo and the Vir­gin”? Yes.

Pirsig’s coun­ter­cul­tur­al clas­sic, pub­lished in 1974 after five years of rejec­tions (121 in total) was “not… a mar­ket­ing man’s dream,” as the edi­tor at his even­tu­al pub­lish­er, William Mor­row, wrote to him at the time. Nev­er­the­less, it sold—“50,000 copies in three months,” writes the L.A. Times, “and more than 5 mil­lion in the decades since. The dense tome has been trans­lat­ed into at least 27 lan­guages…. Its pop­u­lar­i­ty made Pir­sig ‘prob­a­bly the most wide­ly read philoso­pher alive,’ one British jour­nal­ist wrote in 2006.’” Pir­sig, who died this past Mon­day, only wrote one oth­er work, the philo­soph­i­cal nov­el Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. But he will be remem­bered as an impor­tant, if quixot­ic, fig­ure in 20th cen­tu­ry thought.

Zen osten­si­bly recounts a motor­cy­cle jour­ney Pir­sig took with his son, Chris, and two friends. They are shad­owed by anoth­er char­ac­ter, Phae­drus, the author’s neu­rot­ic alter ego. Pir­sig poured all of him­self into the book: his unortho­dox philo­soph­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al jour­ney, his strug­gle with schiz­o­phre­nia, his close and fret­ful rela­tion­ship to his son (who lat­er suc­cumbed to drug addic­tion and was mur­dered at age 22, five years after Zen came out). It is a book “filled with unan­swered and, per­haps, unan­swer­able ques­tions.”

The kind of deep ambi­gu­i­ty and uncer­tain­ty Zen explores is not easy to write about, unsur­pris­ing­ly, and in the NPR inter­view above from 1974, Pir­sig describes his strug­gles as a writer—the dis­trac­tions and intru­sions, the self-doubt and con­fu­sion. Pir­sig seclud­ed him­self for much of the writ­ing of the book, and for much of it worked a day job writ­ing tech­ni­cal man­u­als, which explains quite a lot about its intri­cate lev­els of tech­ni­cal detail.

Pirsig’s descrip­tions of the hard-won self-dis­ci­pline (and exhaus­tion) that the writer’s life requires will ring true for any­one who has tried to write a book. He sums up his moti­va­tion suc­cinct­ly: “this was real­ly a com­pul­sive book. If I didn’t do it, I’d feel worse than if I did do it.” But Pir­sig found he couldn’t make any progress as a writer until he gave up try­ing to be “in quotes, a ‘writer,’” or play the role of one any­way. “It was always a sep­a­ra­tion of my real self from the act of writ­ing,” he says.

His process sounds like the freewrit­ing of Ker­ouac’s road nov­el or the auto­mat­ic writ­ing of the Sur­re­al­ists: “I could almost watch my hand mov­ing on the page; there was almost no voli­tion one way or the oth­er, it was just hap­pen­ing.” What he iden­ti­fies as the “sin­cer­i­ty” of the book’s voice helps steady read­ers who must trust a very unre­li­able nar­ra­tor to guide them through a phi­los­o­phy of what Pir­sig calls “quality”—a meta­phys­i­cal con­di­tion that under­lies reli­gions and philoso­phies East and West. “One can med­i­tate,” he wrote, “on the fact that the old Eng­lish roots for the Bud­dha and Qual­i­ty, God and good, appear to be iden­ti­cal.” Pir­sig sub­ject­ed all human endeav­or to the scruti­ny of “qual­i­ty,” includ­ing so-called “val­ue free” sci­ence, a char­ac­ter­i­za­tion he found dubi­ous.

In the BBC radio inter­view above, you can hear Pir­sig describe his per­son­al and intel­lec­tu­al jour­ney, which took him through a trou­bled child­hood in Min­neso­ta, a tour in the Kore­an War, an aca­d­e­m­ic career, and even­tu­al­ly a cen­tral role in the “whole attempt to reform Amer­i­ca” begun by “beat­niks” and “hip­pies” in San Fran­cis­co. (Both words, he wrote, were “clich­es and stereo­types… invent­ed for the antitech­nol­o­gists, the anti­sys­tem peo­ple.”) Urged by a uni­ver­si­ty col­league to pur­sue the ques­tion “what is qual­i­ty?,” Pir­sig under­took an obses­sive inves­ti­ga­tion. His will­ing­ness and courage to fol­low wher­ev­er it led defined the rest of his life as a writer and thinker.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

What Are Lit­er­a­ture, Phi­los­o­phy & His­to­ry For? Alain de Bot­ton Explains with Mon­ty Python-Style Videos

12 Clas­sic Lit­er­ary Road Trips in One Handy Inter­ac­tive Map

Phi­los­o­phy of Reli­gion: A Free Online Course

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

Watch Teeny Tiny Japanese Meals Get Made in a Miniature Kitchen: The Joy of Cooking Mini Tempura, Sashimi, Curry, Okonomiyaki & More

Every time I go to Japan, I mar­vel at the arti­fi­cial sand­wich­es, omelets, bowls of noo­dles, and par­faits dis­played out­side even the hum­blest shop­ping-arcade cafés, all made to give the cus­tomer a more vivid sense of the dish­es on offer than would any two-dimen­sion­al pho­to­graph. But while those fake foods, made to scale with polyvinyl chlo­ride and oth­er ined­i­ble mate­ri­als, do reflect Japan’s long tra­di­tion of high-qual­i­ty hand-crafts­man­ship, they don’t reflect some of the cul­ture’s oth­er virtues: the advanced Japan­ese skills of minia­tur­iza­tion (remarked upon by even the ear­li­est West­ern vis­i­tors to the once-closed coun­try), not to men­tion the deli­cious­ness of actu­al Japan­ese food.

At a stroke, the Youtube chan­nel Minia­ture Space com­bines all of those into a sin­gle project: its cre­ators repli­cate a vari­ety of clas­sic Japan­ese, West­ern, and Japan­ese-West­ern dish­es like shrimp tem­pu­ra, cur­ry, and okonomiya­ki on video, all at what seems an impos­si­bly small scale. Not only that, but they use only minia­ture kitchen tools, right down to wee knives, spat­u­las, and rolling pins as well as tea can­dle-pow­ered stoves.

Some of these, writes iDig­i­tal­Times’ ND Med­i­na, “come from Re-Ment, a Japan­ese com­pa­ny not­ed for the impres­sive detail of its minia­tures. How­ev­er, many of the tools used have long been out of pro­duc­tion, like any­thing by Kon­a­pun, a brand which made fun minia­ture cook­ing sets for kids to expe­ri­ence the joys of cook­ing.”

Minia­ture cook­ing at this lev­el of rig­or requires not just con­sid­er­able man­u­al dex­ter­i­ty but a cer­tain knack for cre­ative sub­sti­tu­tion: tooth­picks instead of stan­dard skew­ers, quail eggs instead of chick­en eggs, spe­cial shrimp from the aquar­i­um sup­ply store small enough to fit inside one’s thim­ble-sized cook­ing pot. Though aes­thet­i­cal­ly sat­is­fy­ing on many lev­els and tech­ni­cal­ly edi­ble to boot, these mini-meals would­n’t sat­is­fy any nor­mal human appetite. Nev­er­the­less, watch­ing enough Minia­ture Space videos in a row will almost cer­tain­ly get you hun­ger­ing for a reg­u­lar-sized grill of yak­i­tori, bowl of spaghet­ti, or plate of pan­cakes — and leave you with some of the know-how need­ed to make such dish­es, even in a non-minia­ture kitchen.

You can view a playlist of minia­ture Japan­ese cook­ing here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

How Japan­ese Things Are Made in 309 Videos: Bam­boo Tea Whisks, Hina Dolls, Steel Balls & More

Build Your Own Minia­ture Sets from Hayao Miyazaki’s Beloved Films: My Neigh­bor Totoro, Kiki’s Deliv­ery Ser­vice & More

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

« Go BackMore in this category... »
Quantcast
Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.