The Growth of London, from the Romans to the 21st Century, Visualized in a Time-Lapse Animated Map

From a port set­tle­ment on the banks of the Thames that the Romans called Lon­dini­um came a thriv­ing city of “rough­ly 100,000 peo­ple” in Shakespeare’s time, “a cross-sec­tion of ear­ly mod­ern Eng­lish cul­ture,” the British Library notes, includ­ing “roy­al­ty, nobil­i­ty, mer­chants, arti­sans, labor­ers, actors, beg­gars, thieves, and spies, as well as refugees from polit­i­cal and reli­gious per­se­cu­tion on the con­ti­nent.” The city thrived eco­nom­i­cal­ly and mer­chants from the known world passed through its ports. “As a result, Lon­don­ers would hear a vari­ety of accents and lan­guages as they strolled about the city — a cho­rus of voic­es from across Europe and from all walks of life.”

The cho­rus of voic­es became a cacoph­o­ny for many Lon­don­ers in the fol­low­ing cen­tu­ry who res­ur­rect­ed a pas­toral ide­al and/or retired to the coun­try­side in the 1600s. The city swelled to a pop­u­la­tion of around half a mil­lion. “It is also a peri­od dur­ing which a high pro­por­tion of London’s inhab­i­tants were migrants,” writes the Pro­ceed­ings of the Old Bai­ley. “It was only by main­tain­ing this con­stant influx that the cap­i­tal could pos­si­bly main­tain its pop­u­la­tion growth,” slow as it was. “London’s pop­u­la­tion in this peri­od was also char­ac­ter­ized by its diver­si­ty,” and by stag­na­tion as plague and fire dev­as­tat­ed the city through­out the cen­tu­ry.

The city’s cos­mopoli­tan com­mu­ni­ties grew as Eng­land became a colo­nial world pow­er. Neo­clas­si­cal art and archi­tec­ture beau­ti­fied the city’s new wealth, and along with wealth came pover­ty, over­crowd­ing, immis­er­a­tion, and crime. “Here mal­ice, rap­ine, acci­dent, con­spire;  and now a rab­ble, now a fire,” wrote Samuel John­son in “Lon­don,” (1738), a poem writ­ten in imi­ta­tion of Juvenal’s satire on Impe­r­i­al Rome. In his “Lon­don” over half a cen­tu­ry lat­er, William Blake saw “marks of weak­ness, marks of woe” on every face he met in the city — begin­ning a protest tra­di­tion that reached its zenith dur­ing the mas­sive pop­u­la­tion growth in Dick­ens’ time, and found new voice in glam, punk, grime, etc.

Peo­ple have come from all over the world to make their home in Lon­don for cen­turies. Each wave of migrants has had to nav­i­gate the city’s class hier­ar­chies — through plagues, fires, the Blitz, strikes, riots, protests, more fires, Brex­it.… Lon­don has burned, “Lon­don is drown­ing,” sang Joe Strum­mer. But Lon­don remains, a megac­i­ty of near­ly 9 mil­lion. In the video above, you can see the city’s growth mapped over a peri­od of 2,000 years, from the Romans to the Sax­ons; from Tudor to Stu­art, ear­ly and late Geor­gian, ear­ly and late Vic­to­ri­an, and into the wartorn 20th cen­tu­ry.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

The Lon­don Time Machine: Inter­ac­tive Map Lets You Com­pare Mod­ern Lon­don, to the Lon­don Short­ly After the Great Fire of 1666

Fly Through 17th-Cen­tu­ry London’s Grit­ty Streets with Prize-Win­ning Ani­ma­tions

The Old­est Known Footage of Lon­don (1890–1920) Fea­tures the City’s Great Land­marks

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

The Mathematics Behind Origami, the Ancient Japanese Art of Paper Folding

The two char­ac­ters at the core of origa­mi (折り紙), one of the best-known Japan­ese words around the world, mean “fold­ing” and “paper.” You might well have guessed that, but giv­en the vari­ety and elab­o­rate­ness of the con­struc­tions pro­duced by origa­mi mas­ters over the past few cen­turies, the sim­plic­i­ty of the prac­tice’s basic nature bears repeat­ing. Those mas­ters must devel­op no slight degree of man­u­al dex­ter­i­ty, it goes with­out say­ing, but also a for­mi­da­ble math­e­mat­i­cal under­stand­ing of their medi­um. In many cas­es that under­stand­ing is intu­itive; in the TED-Ed les­son above, origa­mi artist Evan Zodl makes it explic­it.

Zodl’s les­son explains that “though most origa­mi mod­els are three-dimen­sion­al, their crease pat­terns are usu­al­ly designed to fold flat, with­out intro­duc­ing any new creas­es or cut­ting the paper.”(Incidentally, the Japan­ese word for paper art involv­ing cuts is kiriga­mi, or 切り紙.)

An “abstract, 2D design” thus becomes, in the origa­mi mas­ter’s hands, “a 3D form,” but only in accor­dance with a set of four sim­ple rules Zodl explains. He does so clear­ly and under­stand­ably — and in a way that for many of us may exhume buried geom­e­try-class mem­o­ries — but like actu­al works of origa­mi, they’re bet­ter shown than described: hence the vivid accom­pa­ny­ing ani­ma­tions of Char­lotte Arene.

Origami’s prin­ci­ples and prod­ucts may be fas­ci­nat­ing to con­tem­plate, but “the abil­i­ty to fold a large sur­face into a com­pact shape” has also proven to have seri­ous real-world appli­ca­tions. Zodl points to an origa­mi-based re-imag­i­na­tion of “the tra­di­tion­al stent graft, a tube used to open and sup­port dam­aged blood ves­sels.” This in addi­tion to “airbags, solar arrays, self-fold­ing robots, and even DNA nanos­truc­tures” — as well as a mas­sive “star shade” for space tele­scopes that blocks the glare of near­by stars. If you’d like to get start­ed on your own tac­tile under­stand­ing of all this, do have a look at Zodl’s own Youtube chan­nel, as well as oth­ers like Origa­mi Instruc­tions. Don’t let the elab­o­rate­ly fold­ed flow­ers, boats, or ani­mals you’ve seen intim­i­date you; start with a sim­ple box and work your way up from there. If origa­mi shows us any­thing, after all, it’s that com­plex­i­ty begins with sim­plic­i­ty.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Origa­mi Samu­rai Made from a Sin­gle Sheet of Rice Paper, With­out Any Cut­ting

A Data­base of Paper Air­plane Designs: Hours of Fun for Kids & Adults Alike

MIT Cre­ates Amaz­ing Self-Fold­ing Origa­mi Robots & Leap­ing Chee­tah Robots

Design­er Cre­ates Origa­mi Card­board Tents to Shel­ter the Home­less from the Win­ter Cold

The Art of Let­ter­lock­ing: The Elab­o­rate Fold­ing Tech­niques That Ensured the Pri­va­cy of Hand­writ­ten Let­ters Cen­turies Ago

The Mak­ing of Japan­ese Hand­made Paper: A Short Film Doc­u­ments an 800-Year-Old Tra­di­tion

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, 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.

How Edward Munch Signaled His Bohemian Rebellion with Cigarettes (1895): A Video Essay

When we think of Edvard Munch, we think of The Scream. Though not explic­it­ly a self-por­trait, that icon­ic 1893 can­vas does, to any­one who’s read up on the painter’s life, look like a plau­si­ble expres­sion of his trou­bled inter­nal state. But “Self-Por­trait with Cig­a­rette made two years lat­er, though less jar­ring, is just as con­cerned with Munch’s per­son­al psy­chol­o­gy and the dark under­side of his iden­ti­ty as The Scream is.” So argues Evan Puschak, bet­ter known as the Nerd­writer, in his video essay “Edvard Munch: What A Cig­a­rette Means.” Through the artist’s smoke of choice, it seems, we can approach and under­stand the dif­fer­ent time in which he lived.

“At the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry,” Puschak explains, “the cig­a­rette exist­ed at the cen­ter of a lot of dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al forces.” In fact it had­n’t quite caught on, hav­ing yet to over­come its low­er-class image com­pared to cig­ars and pipes. But as with so much that even­tu­al­ly goes main­stream, the cig­a­rette was first wide­ly adopt­ed by bohemi­ans.

Among them Munch and his con­tem­po­raries “found their alter­na­tive to the suf­fo­cat­ing mid­dle-class val­ue sys­tem. They trad­ed in draw­ing rooms for late-night cafés, din­ner par­ties for night­clubs, and cig­ars for cig­a­rettes.” Puschak pulls up a paint­ing by Munch’s men­tor Chris­t­ian Kro­hg show­ing a 21-year-old Munch “light­ing up with his friends and fel­low painters in his stu­dio.”

Even as he inhab­it­ed it, Munch him­self also cap­tured this float­ing world in his art. In one of his etch­ings, “smoke snakes and fills up the atmos­phere of a café, where bohemi­an intel­lec­tu­als of both gen­ders drink and debate art and ideas.” To the social reform­ers of late 19th-cen­tu­ry Nor­way such scenes were anath­e­ma, and “the cig­a­rette was symp­to­matic of soci­ety’s degen­er­a­tion.” These fig­ures thought lit­tle more of Munch’s art, whether the work in ques­tion was a rel­a­tive­ly nat­u­ral­is­tic image like Self-Por­trait with Cig­a­rette or a vio­lent­ly expres­sion­ist one like The Scream. Regard­ed today as exam­ples of high, refined cul­ture, his paint­ings have in some sense lost their edge; but then so has the cig­a­rette, a one­time lib­er­at­ing sym­bol of social and artis­tic rev­o­lu­tion now reduced to a squalid pub­lic-health haz­ard.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Explore 7,600 Works of Art by Edvard Munch: They’re Now Dig­i­tized and Free Online

The Life & Work of Edvard Munch, Explored by Pat­ti Smith and Char­lotte Gains­bourg

Edvard Munch’s Famous Paint­ing The Scream Ani­mat­ed to the Sound of Pink Floyd’s Pri­mal Music

Edvard Munch’s The Scream Ani­mat­ed to the Psy­che­del­ic Sounds of Pink Floyd: The Win­ter Ver­sion

30,000 Works of Art by Edvard Munch & Oth­er Artists Put Online by Norway’s Nation­al Muse­um of Art

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, 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.

The Aesthetic of Anime: A New Video Essay Explores a Rich Tradition of Japanese Animation

Giant robots, super­pow­ered school­girls, berz­erk­er mar­tial artists: we all know the sort of fig­ures that rep­re­sent ani­me. Though clichéd, the wide­spread nature of these per­cep­tions actu­al­ly shows how far Japan­ese ani­ma­tion has come over the past few decades. Not so long ago, the aver­age West­ern­er did­n’t know the mean­ing of the world ani­me, let alone its ori­gin. Today, thanks not least to the films of Hayao Miyaza­ki’s Stu­dio Ghi­b­li, the aver­age West­ern­er has like­ly already been exposed to one or two mas­ter­works of the form. This view­ing expe­ri­ence pro­vides a sense of why Japan­ese ani­ma­tion, far from sim­ply ani­ma­tion that hap­pens to be Japan­ese, mer­its a term of its own: any of us, no mat­ter how inex­pe­ri­enced, can sense “The Aes­thet­ic of Ani­me.”

Tak­ing that con­cept as the title of their lat­est video essay, Lewis and Luiza Liz Bond of The Cin­e­ma Car­tog­ra­phy show us a range of cin­e­mat­ic pos­si­bil­i­ties that ani­me has opened up since the 1980s. I recall, long ago, stay­ing up late to tune in to the Sci-Fi Chan­nel’s “Sat­ur­day Night Ani­me” block to catch such clas­sics from that decade as Venus Wars and Project A‑Ko.

While Japan­ese ani­ma­tion in all its forms has gone much more main­stream around the world since then, it has­n’t result­ed in a loss of artis­tic, nar­ra­tive, and the­mat­ic inven­tive­ness. On the con­trary, Bond argues: over the past quar­ter-cen­tu­ry, series like Neon Gen­e­sis Evan­ge­lionSer­i­al Exper­i­ments Lain, and Death Note have not only pushed the bound­aries of ani­me, but demon­strat­ed a pow­er to “re-sig­ni­fy sto­ry­telling con­ven­tions that go beyond the ani­me form itself.”

In the effort to reveal the true nature of “the mis­un­der­stood and often dis­re­gard­ed world of ani­me,” this video essay ref­er­ences and visu­al­ly quotes dozens of dif­fer­ent shows. (It stops short of the also-vast realm of fea­ture films, such as Ghost in the Shell or the work of Satoshi Kon.) Its range includes the “exis­ten­tial med­i­ta­tion on lone­li­ness” that is Cow­boy Bebop, sub­ject of anoth­er Bond exe­ge­sis pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture, and “city pop-fueled Superdi­men­sion­al Fortress Macross,” which did so much back in the 80s to define not just giant-robot ani­me but ani­me itself. Trope-heavy, over-the-top, and “unapolo­get­i­cal­ly weird” though it may seem (but usu­al­ly not, as Bond implies, with­out self-aware­ness), ani­me con­tin­ues to real­ize visions not avail­able — nor even con­ceiv­able — to any oth­er art form.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Exis­ten­tial Phi­los­o­phy of Cow­boy Bebop, the Cult Japan­ese Ani­me Series, Explored in a Thought­ful Video Essay

The Ani­ma­tions That Changed Cin­e­ma: The Ground­break­ing Lega­cies of Prince Achmed, Aki­ra, The Iron Giant & More

The Phi­los­o­phy, Sto­ry­telling & Visu­al Cre­ativ­i­ty of Ghost in the Shell, the Acclaimed Ani­me Film, Explained in Video Essays

How Mas­ter Japan­ese Ani­ma­tor Satoshi Kon Pushed the Bound­aries of Mak­ing Ani­me: A Video Essay

The Phi­los­o­phy of Hayao Miyaza­ki: A Video Essay on How the Tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese Reli­gion Shin­to Suf­fus­es Miyazaki’s Films

The Ori­gins of Ani­me: Watch Free Online 64 Ani­ma­tions That Launched the Japan­ese Ani­me Tra­di­tion

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, 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.

Three Leonard Cohen Animations

Leonard Cohen, High Priest Of Pathos…

     Lord Byron of Rock and Roll…

          Gen­tle­man Zen

                Mas­ter Of Misery…Morbidity… Erot­ic Despair…

                    Prince of Pessimism…Pain…

                         Trou­ba­dour For Trou­bled Souls…

The grav­el-voiced singer-song­writer accu­mu­lat­ed hun­dreds of nick­names over a career span­ning more than half a cen­tu­ry. He wasn’t thrilled by some of them, remark­ing to the BBC, “You get tired, over the years, hear­ing that you’re the cham­pi­on of gloom.”

Tak­en all togeth­er, how­ev­er, they make for a decent com­pos­ite por­trait of a pro­lif­ic artist whose sen­su­al­i­ty, mor­dant wit, and obses­sion with love, loss, and redemp­tion nev­er wavered.

He took some hia­tus­es, includ­ing a 5‑year stint as a monk in California’s Mount Baldy monastery, but nev­er retired.

His final stu­dio album, You Want It Dark­er, was released mere weeks before his death.

Jour­nal­ist Rob Sheffield artic­u­lat­ed the Cohen mys­tique in a Rolling Stone eulo­gy:

This man was both the crack in every­thing and the light that gets in. Nobody wrote such mag­nif­i­cent­ly bleak bal­lads for brood­ing alone in the dark, star­ing at a win­dow or wall – “Joan of Arc,” “Chelsea Hotel,” “Tow­er of Song,” “Famous Blue Rain­coat,” “Clos­ing Time.” He was music’s top Jew­ish Cana­di­an ladies’ man before Drake was born, run­ning for the mon­ey and the flesh. Like Bowie and Prince, he tapped into his own realm of spir­i­tu­al and sex­u­al gno­sis, and like them, he went out at the peak of his musi­cal pow­ers. No song­writer ever adapt­ed to old age with more cun­ning or gus­to. 

Cohen also excelled at inter­views, leav­ing behind a wealth of gen­er­ous, free­wheel­ing record­ings, at least three of which have become fod­der for ani­ma­tors.

The ani­ma­tion at the top of the page is drawn from Cohen’s 1966 inter­view with the Cana­di­an Broad­cast­ing Corporation’s Adri­enne Clark­son, short­ly after the release of his exper­i­men­tal nov­el, Beau­ti­ful Losers. (His debut album was still a year and a half away.)

Ear­li­er in the inter­view, Cohen men­tions the “hap­py rev­o­lu­tion” he encoun­tered in Toron­to after an extend­ed peri­od on the Greek island of Hydra:

I was walk­ing on Yorkville Street and it was jammed with beau­ti­ful, beau­ti­ful peo­ple last night. I thought maybe it could spread to the [oth­er] streets and maybe even … where’s the mon­ey dis­trict? Bay Street?… I thought maybe they could take that over soon, too.

How to tap into the source of all this hap­pi­ness?

The future Zen monk Cohen was pret­ty con­vinced it could be locat­ed by sit­ting qui­et­ly, though he doesn’t con­demn those using drugs or alco­hol as an assist, explain­ing that his fel­low Cana­di­an, abstract expres­sion­ist Harold Town, “gets beau­ti­ful under alco­hol. I get stu­pid and gen­er­al­ly throw up.”

8 years lat­er, WBAI’s Kath­leen Kendel came armed with a poem for Cohen to read on air, and also plumbed him as to the ori­gins of “Sis­ters of Mer­cy,” one of his best known songs, and the only one that did­n’t require him to “sweat over every word.” (Pos­si­bly the con­so­la­tion prize for his dashed hopes of erot­ic adven­ture with the song’s pro­tag­o­nists.)

(The ani­ma­tion here is by Patrick Smith for PBS’ Blank on Blank series.)

Ani­ma­tor Joe Don­ald­son riffs on an excerpt from Cohen’s final major inter­view, with The New York­er’s edi­tor-in-chief, David Rem­nick, above.

Rem­nick recalled that his sub­ject, who died a few days lat­er, was “in an ebul­lient mood for a man… who knew exact­ly where he was going, and he was head­ed there in a hur­ry. And at the same time, he was incred­i­bly gra­cious.”

The 82-year-old Cohen spoke enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly if some­what pes­simisti­cal­ly about hav­ing a lot of new mate­r­i­al to get through, “to put (his) house in order,” but also admit­ted, “some­times I just need to lie down.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Leonard Cohen’s Final Inter­view: Record­ed by David Rem­nick of The New York­er

Ladies and Gen­tle­men… Mr. Leonard Cohen: The Poet-Musi­cian Fea­tured in a 1965 Doc­u­men­tary

Leonard Cohen Plays a Spell­bind­ing Set at the 1970 Isle of Wight Fes­ti­val

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

A Finnish Astrophotographer Spent 12 Years Creating a 1.7 Gigapixel Panoramic Photo of the Entire Milky Way

In the final, cli­mac­tic scene of Japan­ese nov­el­ist Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Coun­try, the Milky Way engulfs the pro­tag­o­nist — an aes­thete who keeps him­self detached from the world, a uni­ver­sal per­spec­tive over­tak­ing an insignif­i­cant indi­vid­ual.

We now know the Milky Way itself to be a minus­cule part of the whole, just one of 100 to 200 bil­lion galax­ies. But until Edwin Hub­ble’s obser­va­tions in 1924, it was thought to con­tain all the stars in exis­tence.

The Milky Way-as-uni­verse is a pow­er­ful image, and cer­tain­ly more com­pre­hen­si­ble than the uni­verse as astronomers cur­rent­ly under­stand it. Its vast­ness can’t be com­pressed into a sym­bol­ic form like the via lactea, “Milky Way,” or as the Greeks called it, galak­tikos kýk­los, “milky cir­cle.” Andy Brig­gs sum­ma­rizes just a few of the ancient myths and leg­ends:

To the ancient Arme­ni­ans, it was straw strewn across the sky by the god Vahagn. In east­ern Asia, it was the Sil­very Riv­er of Heav­en. The Finns and Esto­ni­ans saw it as the Path­way of the Birds.… Both the Greeks and the Romans saw the star­ry band as a riv­er of milk. The Greek myth said it was milk from the breast of the god­dess Hera, divine wife of Zeus. The Romans saw the riv­er of light as milk from their god­dess Ops.

A barred spi­ral galaxy spin­ning around a “galac­tic bulge” with an emp­ty cen­ter, a “mon­strous black hole,” notes, “bil­lions of times as mas­sive as the sun”… the Milky Way remains an awe­some sym­bol for a uni­verse too vast for us to hold in our minds.

Wit­ness, for exam­ple, the just-released image fur­ther up, a 1.7 gigapix­el panoram­ic pho­to of the Milky Way, from Tau­rus to Cygnus, 100,000 pix­els wide, pieced togeth­er from 234 pan­els by Finnish astropho­tog­ra­ph­er J‑P Met­savainio, who began the project all the way back in 2009. “I can hear music in this com­po­si­tion,” he writes at his site, “from high sparks and bub­bles at left to deep and mas­sive sounds at right.”

Over 12 years, and around 1250 hours of expo­sure, Michael Zhang writes at Petapix­el, Met­savainio “focused on dif­fer­ent areas and objects in the Milky Way, shoot­ing stitched mosaics of them as indi­vid­ual art­works.” As he began to knit the galac­tic clouds of stars and gasses togeth­er into a Pho­to­shop panora­ma, he dis­cov­ered a “com­plex image set which is part­ly over­lap­ping with lots of unim­aged areas between and around frames.” Over the years, he filled in the gaps, shoot­ing the “miss­ing data.” He describes his equip­ment and process in detail, for those flu­ent in the tech­ni­cal jar­gon. The rest of us can stare in silent won­der at more of Metsavainio’s work on his web­site (where you can also pur­chase prints) and Face­book, and let our­selves be over­tak­en by awe.

via Petapix­el and Kot­tke

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

NASA Releas­es a Mas­sive Online Archive: 140,000 Pho­tos, Videos & Audio Files Free to Search and Down­load

How Sci­en­tists Col­orize Those Beau­ti­ful Space Pho­tos Tak­en By the Hub­ble Space Tele­scope

Earth­rise, Apol­lo 8’s Pho­to of Earth from Space, Turns 50: Down­load the Icon­ic Pho­to­graph from NASA

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

How Edward Hopper’s Paintings Inspired the Creepy Suspense of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window

Cer­tain direc­tors like to impli­cate their audi­ence in their onscreen crimes, draw­ing on decades of expec­ta­tions cre­at­ed by pop­u­lar cin­e­mat­ic tropes and play­ing with the viewer’s innate desires. Film­mak­er Michael Haneke takes a Hitch­cock­ian approach in this regard, in night­mar­ish visions like Benny’s Video, The Piano Play­er, and Caché. “Haneke uses voyeurism to dis­man­tle the space between the film and audi­ence,” writes Pop­mat­ters,” and in doing so, he takes advan­tage of what might be thought of as Hitchcock’s voyeur appa­ra­tus and forces the audi­ence to ques­tion its place with­in the nar­ra­tive.”

Hitchcock’s “voyeur appa­ra­tus” has inspired many anoth­er idio­syn­crat­ic film­mak­er — most notably, per­haps, David Lynch. Like Jim­my Stewart’s Jeff Jef­fries in Hitchcock’s Rear Win­dow, Kyle MacLachlan’s Jef­frey in Lynch’s Blue Vel­vet becomes cor­rupt­ed by illic­it vision.

These are clas­sic iter­a­tions of the Peep­ing Tom, the casu­al voyeur sex­u­al­ly awak­ened by covert obser­va­tions of oth­ers. The road from Hitch­cock to the psy­cho­sex­u­al alien­ation of lat­er art­house cin­e­ma may be a short one, but where did Hitch­cock­’s fram­ing of the voyeuris­tic gaze come from?

One answer, says writer Diane Doniol-Val­croze — daugh­ter of Cahiers Du Ciné­ma co-founder Jacques Doniol-Val­croze — is found in a com­par­i­son of Hitchcock’s visu­al sense with that of Edward Hop­per, the inven­ter of mid­cen­tu­ry mod­ern lone­li­ness and also him­self kind of a clas­sic Peep­ing Tom. In a series of jux­ta­po­si­tions on Twit­ter, Doniol-Val­croze shows how Hitch­cock adopt­ed the fram­ing of paint­ings like Hopper’s Automat (1927), Night Win­dows (1928), Hotel Room (1931), Room in New York (1932) for shots of Rear Win­dow’s “Miss Tor­so” and “Miss Lone­ly­hearts.” She is not the only crit­ic to make the com­par­i­son.

“For Hitch­cock in par­tic­u­lar,” writes Finn Blythe at Hero, “Hopper’s gaze was like a petri dish from which an infi­nite num­ber of pos­si­ble nar­ra­tives could grow. Evi­dence of Hopper’s influ­ence can be found through­out Hitchcock’s oeu­vre, but espe­cial­ly his 1954 clas­sic Rear Win­dow. Just as the pow­er of Hopper’s paint­ings lies in what he choos­es to exclude, so the ten­sion and spec­ta­cle in Hitchcock’s Rear Win­dow relies on what is obscured or unseen.” Hopper’s fig­ures are not only lone­ly and alien­at­ed, they are vul­ner­a­ble, and espe­cial­ly so in pri­vate, unguard­ed moments in their own homes.

Hitch­cock takes Hopper’s gaze, so often framed by win­dows, and makes it about cin­e­ma itself. “As view­ers,” writes Blythe, “we become com­plic­it in the same mor­bid human fan­tasies,” as Stewart’s creepy Jeff, “rub­ber-neck­ing the same lurid acts from the safe van­tage point of our chairs.” As the cin­e­mat­ic image of the voyeur has shown us, how­ev­er — in Hitch­cock, Haneke, Lynch, and its many iter­a­tions of what Lau­ra Mul­vey called the “male gaze” — the act of watch­ing from a dis­tance can become a kind of vio­lence all its own; in Hitch­cock­ian cin­e­ma, the men­ace that often seems to lurk just out of frame in Hopper’s paint­ings can burst into the pic­ture at any moment.

via Diane Doniol-Val­croze

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Alfred Hitch­cock Reveals The Secret Sauce for Cre­at­ing Sus­pense

Edward Hopper’s Icon­ic Paint­ing Nighthawks Explained in a 7‑Minute Video Intro­duc­tion

How Edward Hop­per “Sto­ry­board­ed” His Icon­ic Paint­ing Nighthawks

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

A Celebration of Typewriters in Film & Television: A Supercut

There are a num­ber of ways to come at video essay­ist Ariel Avis­sar’s two-minute super­cut of type­writ­ers in action on film and tele­vi­sion.

Cin­e­ma buffs will itch to con­nect The Typewriter’s clips to titles. Here are some of the ones we were able to iden­ti­fy:


Stranger Than Fic­tion

Cit­i­zen Kane

Find­ing For­rester

The Mag­ic of Belle Isle

The Shin­ing


Mad Men

Bar­ton Fink

All the President’s Men


Ruby Sparks


And then there are the type­writer enthu­si­asts, more con­cerned with make and mod­el than any­thing relat­ing to cin­e­ma:





Clark Nova

Smith Coro­na

IBM Selec­tric

Giv­en the obses­sive nature of both camps, it’s not sur­pris­ing that there would be some crossover.

Here’s a delight­ful­ly nerdy inves­ti­ga­tion of the onscreen type­writ­ers in Naked Lunch, David Cronenberg’s adap­ta­tion of William S. Burrough’s nov­el.

This collector’s top 10 list gives extra con­sid­er­a­tion to scripts that “place type­writ­ers at the heart of the sto­ry.” First and sec­ond place fea­ture type­writ­ers on their posters.

An IBM Selec­tric III in Avissar’s super­cut caused one view­er to rem­i­nisce about the anachro­nis­tic use of Selec­tric IIs in Mad Men’s first sea­son sec­re­tar­i­al pool. Cre­ator Matthew Wein­er admits the choice was delib­er­ate. The first Selec­tric mod­el is peri­od appro­pri­ate, but much more dif­fi­cult to find and chal­leng­ing to main­tain, plus their man­u­al car­riage returns would have cre­at­ed a headache for sound edi­tors.

Avissar’s round up also serves to remind us of a par­tic­u­lar­ly mod­ern problem—the ongo­ing quest to por­tray texts and social media mes­sages effec­tive­ly on big and small screens. This dilem­ma didn’t exist back when type­writ­ers were the pri­ma­ry text-based devices. A close up of what­ev­er page was rolled onto the plat­en got the job done with a min­i­mum of fuss.

Two of the most cel­e­brat­ed type­writer sequences in film his­to­ry did not make the cut, pos­si­bly because nei­ther fea­tures actu­al work­ing type­writ­ers: the NSFW anthro­po­mor­phic type­writer-bug in David Cronenberg’s adap­ta­tion of William S. Burrough’s Naked Lunch and Jer­ry Lewis’ inspired pan­tomime in Who’s Mind­ing the Store, per­formed, like Avissar’s super­cut, to the tune of com­pos­er Leroy Ander­son­’s The Type­writer.

Up for anoth­er chal­lenge? Which top Hol­ly­wood star is “obsessed with type­writ­ers”?

Watch more of Ariel Avissar’s super­cuts, includ­ing a super­moon trib­ute and The Silence of the Lambs’ “clever, care­ful fin­gers” on his Vimeo chan­nel.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Dis­cov­er Friedrich Nietzsche’s Curi­ous Type­writer, the “Malling-Hansen Writ­ing Ball” (Cir­ca 1881)

Dis­cov­er the Inge­nious Type­writer That Prints Musi­cal Nota­tion: The Keaton Music Type­writer Patent­ed in 1936

Ray Brad­bury Wrote the First Draft of Fahren­heit 451 on Coin-Oper­at­ed Type­writ­ers, for a Total of $9.80

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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