The Cult of the Criterion Collection: The Company Dedicated to Gathering & Distributing the Greatest Films from Around the World

There was a time, not so very long ago, when many Amer­i­cans watch­ing movies at home nei­ther knew nor cared who direct­ed those movies. Nor did they feel par­tic­u­lar­ly com­fort­able with dia­logue that some­times came sub­ti­tled, or with the “black bars” that appeared below the frame. The con­sid­er­able evo­lu­tion of these audi­ences’ gen­er­al rela­tion­ship to film since then owes some­thing to the adop­tion of widescreen tele­vi­sions, but also to the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion: the home-video brand that has been tar­get­ing its pres­tige releas­es of acclaimed films square­ly at cinephiles — and even more so, at cinephiles with a col­lect­ing impulse — for four decades now.

“The company’s first release was a LaserDisc edi­tion of Cit­i­zen Kane that includ­ed sup­ple­men­tary mate­ri­als like a video essay and exten­sive lin­er notes on the prove­nance of the neg­a­tive from which the restora­tion was made,” writes the New York Times’ Mag­a­zine’s Joshua Hunt in a recent piece on how Cri­te­ri­on became a (or per­haps the) cin­e­mat­ic tastemak­er.

“Next came King Kong, which fea­tured the first ever audio-com­men­tary track, inspired, as an after­thought, by the sto­ries that the film schol­ar Ronald Haver told while super­vis­ing the tedious process of trans­fer­ring the film from cel­lu­loid.”

With the com­ing of the more suc­cess­ful DVD for­mat in the late nine­teen-nineties, such audio-com­men­tary tracks became a sta­ple fea­ture of video releas­es, Cri­te­ri­on or oth­er­wise. They were a god­send to the cinephiles of my gen­er­a­tion com­ing of age in that era, a kind of infor­mal but inten­sive film school taught by not just expert schol­ars but, often, the auteurs them­selves. “Some of the ear­li­est were record­ed by Mar­tin Scors­ese for the Taxi Dri­ver and Rag­ing Bull LaserDiscs, which helped cement his influ­ence on an entire gen­er­a­tion of young direc­tors” — includ­ing a cer­tain Wes Ander­son, who would go on to record com­men­tary tracks for the Cri­te­ri­on releas­es of his own pic­tures.

At this point, Cri­te­ri­on has “become the arbiter of what makes a great movie, more so than any Hol­ly­wood stu­dio or awards cer­e­mo­ny.” It’s also amassed an unusu­al­ly ded­i­cat­ed cus­tomer base, as explained in the Roy­al Ocean Film Soci­ety video “The Cult of the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion.” “We’re at a point in film cul­ture where brands are increas­ing­ly more pop­u­lar than prod­ucts,” says host Andrew Sal­adi­no, a self-con­fessed Cri­te­ri­on devo­tee. “More and more, it seems as though the films and the peo­ple who made them are sec­ondary to the name and logo of the com­pa­ny behind them,” a phe­nom­e­non that Cri­te­ri­on — itself a kind of media uni­verse — some­how both par­tic­i­pates in and ris­es above.

“While stu­dios and stream­ing ser­vices chase audi­ences by pro­duc­ing end­less sequels and spin­offs,” writes Hunt, “Cri­te­ri­on has built a brand that audi­ences trust to lead them.” I can tes­ti­fy to its hav­ing led me to the work of auteurs from Chris Mark­er to Jacques Tati, Aki­ra Kuro­sawa to Yasu­jiro Ozu, Robert Alt­man to Nico­las Roeg. Today, bud­ding cin­e­ma enthu­si­asts can even ben­e­fit from the advice of famous direc­tors and actors for nav­i­gat­ing its now‑1,650-title-strong cat­a­log through its “Cri­te­ri­on clos­et” video series. Recent­ly, that clos­et has host­ed the likes of Paul Gia­mat­ti, Willem Dafoe, and Wim Wen­ders, who pulls off the shelf a copy of his own Until the End of the World — which Cri­te­ri­on released, of course, in its near­ly five-hour-long direc­tor’s cut. “I always think this is maybe the best thing I’ve done in my life,” he says, “but then again, who am I to judge?”

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Art of Restor­ing Clas­sic Films: Cri­te­ri­on Shows You How It Refreshed Two Hitch­cock Movies

Mar­tin Scors­ese Names His Top 10 Films in the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion

Steve Buscemi’s Top 10 Film Picks (from The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion)

Slavoj Žižek Names His Favorite Films from The Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion

120 Artists Pick Their Top 10 Films in the Cri­te­ri­on Col­lec­tion

A Cel­e­bra­tion of Retro Media: Vinyl, Cas­settes, VHS, and Polaroid Too

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.

Learn to Become a Supply Chain Data Analyst with Unilever’s New Certificate Program

Sup­ply chains—we nev­er thought too much about them. That is, until the pan­dem­ic, when sup­ply chains expe­ri­enced severe dis­rup­tions world­wide, leav­ing us wait­ing for prod­ucts for weeks, if not months. That’s when we start­ed appre­ci­at­ing the impor­tance of sup­ply chains and their resilience.

Com­pa­nies like Unilever rely on sup­ply chains to man­u­fac­ture their goods (e.g., Dove, Lip­ton, and Ben & Jer­ry’s) and then move them around the globe. For Unilever, it’s essen­tial that their sup­ply chains remain effi­cient and strong. Work­ing in part­ner­ship with Cours­era, the com­pa­ny has cre­at­ed a new Sup­ply Chain Data Ana­lyst Pro­fes­sion­al Cer­tifi­cate to help entry-lev­el pro­fes­sion­als learn more about using data to man­age effec­tive sup­ply chains. Designed to be com­plet­ed in rough­ly four months, the cer­tifi­cate con­sists of four cours­es: 1) Sup­ply Chain Man­age­ment and Ana­lyt­ics, 2) Using Data Ana­lyt­ics in Sup­ply Chain, 3) Imple­ment­ing Sup­ply Chain Ana­lyt­ics, and 4) Sup­ply Chain Soft­ware Tools.

As stu­dents move through the pro­gram, they will learn how to “achieve cost sav­ings, reduce lead times, enhance cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, and adapt to chang­ing mar­ket con­di­tions through data-dri­ven insights and ana­lyt­i­cal approach­es.” They will also learn key skills like demand fore­cast­ing and how to mon­i­tor sup­ply chains for secu­ri­ty risks.

Empha­siz­ing real-world expe­ri­ence, stu­dents will “take on the role of an ana­lyst for a fic­ti­tious con­sumer goods com­pa­ny spe­cial­iz­ing in organ­ic farm to table con­sumer prod­ucts. With over 20 unique assign­ments, [stu­dents will] use spread­sheets and visu­al­iza­tion tools to ana­lyze data and make rec­om­men­da­tions.”

You can audit the four cours­es for free, or sign up to earn a share­able cer­tifi­cate for a fee. Stu­dents who select the lat­ter option will be charged $49 per month. Cours­era esti­mates that the cer­tifi­cate will take four months to com­plete, assum­ing you’re ded­i­cat­ing 10 hours per week. That amounts to about $200 in total. You can enroll here.

For those inter­est­ed, Unilever has also recent­ly released a new Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Ana­lyst Cer­tifi­cate, which you can find here.

In addi­tion, until March 31, 2024, Cours­era is offer­ing $100 off of Cours­era Plus, which will let you take 7,000 cours­es (includ­ing the ones above) and not pay for the cer­tifi­cates. If you plan to take a lot of cours­es, and want to earn cer­tifi­cates, it can be a cost effec­tive approach.

Note: Open Cul­ture has a part­ner­ship with Cours­era. If read­ers enroll in cer­tain Cours­era cours­es and pro­grams, it helps sup­port Open Cul­ture.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Gen­er­a­tive AI for Every­one: A Free Course from AI Pio­neer Andrew Ng

Google Unveils a Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing & E‑Commerce Cer­tifi­cate: 7 Cours­es Will Help Pre­pare Stu­dents for an Entry-Lev­el Job in 6 Months

Google & Cours­era Cre­ate a Career Cer­tifi­cate That Pre­pares Stu­dents for Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty Jobs in 6 Months

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Around The World in 1896: See Colorized & Upscaled Footage of Egypt, Venice, Istanbul, New York City, London & More

The YouTube chan­nel Lost in Time has tak­en footage from the leg­endary Lumière broth­ers, orig­i­nal­ly shot in 1896, then upscaled and col­orized it, giv­ing us a chance to see a dis­tant world through a mod­ern lens. Near­ing the end of the 19th cen­tu­ry, the film pio­neers (and their employ­ees) vis­it­ed dif­fer­ent parts of the world and cap­tured footage of life in Barcelona, Jerusalem, Venice, Moscow, Istan­bul, Kyoto and oth­er loca­tions. For view­ers, unac­cus­tomed to see­ing mov­ing films, let alone far-flung parts of the world, it must have been a sight to behold. Below, you can see the dif­fer­ent places fea­tured in the footage, along with time­stamps. To see what the orig­i­nal black & white footage looked like, vis­it this post in our archive.

00:00 Intro
00:12 France
01:50 New York City, Unit­ed States
02:38 Jerusalem
04:25 Gene­va, Switzer­land
04:53 Viet­nam
05:12 Mar­tinique
05:22 Paris, France
07:56 Madrid, Spain
08:07 Barcelona, Spain
08:43 Venice, Italy
09:00 Lon­don, Unit­ed King­dom
09:49 Ger­many
10:17 Dublin, Ire­land
11:00 Moscow, Rus­sia
11:24 Lyon, France
14:56 Giza, Egypt
15:36 Istan­bul, Turkey
15:58 Kyoto, Tokyo
16:20 Mar­seille, France
16:35 La Cio­tat, France

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Around the World in 1896: 40 Min­utes of Real Footage Lets You Vis­it Paris, New York, Venice, Rome, Budapest & More

The Ear­li­est Known Motion Pic­ture, 1888’s Round­hay Gar­den Scene, Restored with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence

Restored Footage of 1896 Snow­ball Fight Makes It Seem Like the Fun Hap­pened Yes­ter­day


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Laurence Fishburne Reads a Former Slave’s Incredible Letter to His Old Master (1865)

Lawrence Fish­burne brings a degree of grav­i­ty to his roles offered by few oth­er liv­ing actors. That has secured his place in pop cul­ture as Mor­pheus from The Matrix, for exam­ple. But he could even mar­shal it ear­ly in his career, as evi­denced by his role as Apoc­a­lypse Now’s “Mr. Clean,” which he took on at just four­teen years old. But it was a much more recent per­for­mance he gave for Let­ters Live, which you can see in the video above, that clear­ly brings out the qual­i­ties that have made him a beloved and endur­ing fig­ure onscreen: not just his moral seri­ous­ness, but this sense of humor as well.

“To my old mas­ter,” Fish­burne begins, get­ting a laugh right away. The let­ter in ques­tion, pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture, was orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten in 1865 by a man named Jour­don Ander­son, who had escaped a life of slav­ery in Ten­nessee with his wife the pre­vi­ous year. Hav­ing since fall­en on hard times, that for­mer mas­ter had writ­ten to Ander­son and asked him to come back to work on the plan­ta­tion. “I have often felt uneasy about you,” Ander­son writes. “I thought the Yan­kees would’ve hung you before this for har­bor­ing Rebs that they found at your house,” among oth­er crimes he recalls.

Hav­ing set him­self and his fam­i­ly up in Ohio, Ander­son could hard­ly have felt tempt­ed to go down South again. “I want to know par­tic­u­lar­ly what the good chance is you pro­pose to give me,” he writes. “I am doing tol­er­a­bly well here. I get $25 a month, with vict­uals and cloth­ing, have a com­fort­able home for Mandy — the folks call her Mrs. Ander­son — and the chil­dren, Mil­lie, Jane, and Grundy, go to school and are learn­ing well.” But “if you will write and say what wages you will give me, I will bet­ter be able to decide whether it will be to my advan­tage to move back again.”

Fish­burne deliv­ers these lines with a thick lay­er of irony, as Ander­son no doubt intend­ed. “Mandy says she would be afraid to go back with­out some proof that you were dis­posed to treat us kind­ly and just­ly, and we have con­clud­ed to test your sin­cer­i­ty by ask­ing you to send us our wages for the time that we served you.” When Fish­burne says that, he prac­ti­cal­ly gets a stand­ing ova­tion, and indeed, the let­ter met with a favor­able recep­tion in its day as well — not from Colonel P. H. Ander­son him­self, but from the read­ers of the news­pa­pers in which it was reprint­ed. In the end, Jour­don Ander­son kept his free­dom, and got fame last­ing more than a cen­tu­ry after his death to go with it.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Hear the Voic­es of Amer­i­cans Born in Slav­ery: The Library of Con­gress Fea­tures 23 Audio Inter­views with For­mer­ly Enslaved Peo­ple (1932–75)

What the Text­books Don’t Tell Us About The Atlantic Slave Trade: An Ani­mat­ed Video Fills In His­tor­i­cal Gaps

The Names of 1.8 Mil­lion Eman­ci­pat­ed Slaves Are Now Search­able in the World’s Largest Genealog­i­cal Data­base, Help­ing African Amer­i­cans Find Lost Ances­tors

A New Data­base Will Doc­u­ment Every Slave House in the U.S.: Dis­cov­er the “Sav­ing Slave Hous­es Project”

The Atlantic Slave Trade Visu­al­ized in Two Min­utes: 10 Mil­lion Lives, 20,000 Voy­ages, Over 315 Years

“Ask a Slave” by Azie Dungey Sets the His­tor­i­cal Record Straight in a New Web Series

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.


A Day in Tokyo: A 1968 Film Captures a City Reborn 23 Years After Its Destruction

Dur­ing World War II, Tokyo sus­tained heavy dam­age, espe­cial­ly with the bomb­ings con­duct­ed by the U.S. mil­i­tary in March 1945. Known as Oper­a­tion Meet­ing­house, US air raids destroyed 16 square miles in cen­tral Tokyo, leav­ing 100,000 civil­ians dead and one mil­lion home­less. Tokyo did­n’t recov­er quick­ly. It took until the 1950s for recon­struc­tion to real­ly gain momen­tum. But gain momen­tum it did. By 1964, Tokyo found itself large­ly rebuilt, mod­ern­ized, and ready to host the Olympics. That brings us to the 1968 film above, A Day in Tokyo, cre­at­ed by the Japan Nation­al Tourism Orga­ni­za­tion (JNTO) to pro­mote tourism in the rebuilt city.

The web­site Japan­ese Nos­tal­gic Car sets the scene:

The year 1968 was a spe­cial time for Japan. It was emerg­ing as a mod­ern coun­try. The Tokyo Olympics had just been held a few years pri­or. Bul­let trains, high-speed express­ways, and col­or tele­vi­sion broad­casts were spread­ing through­out the land. The year before saw the Toy­ota 2000GT and Maz­da Cos­mo Sport, Japan’s con­tem­po­rary sports cars, debut. It must have been incred­i­bly excit­ing.

In the 23-minute film above, you can revis­it this moment of trans­for­ma­tion and renew­al, when Tokyo—as the film’s nar­ra­tor put it—combined the best of new and old. Here, in the “con­stant meta­bol­ic cycle of destruc­tion and cre­ation, Tokyo pro­gress­es at a dizzy­ing pace.” And it’s a sight to behold. Enjoy.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Watch Life on the Streets of Tokyo in Footage Record­ed in 1913: Caught Between the Tra­di­tion­al and the Mod­ern

A Vir­tu­al Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lost Japan­ese Mas­ter­piece, the Impe­r­i­al Hotel in Tokyo

Behold the Unique Beau­ty of Japan’s Artis­tic Man­hole Cov­ers

Free Coloring Books from Libraries & Museums: Download & Color Thousands of Free Images (2024)

Launched by The New York Acad­e­my of Med­i­cine Library in 2016, Col­or Our Col­lec­tions is “an annu­al col­or­ing fes­ti­val on social media dur­ing which libraries, muse­ums, archives and oth­er cul­tur­al insti­tu­tions around the world share free col­or­ing con­tent fea­tur­ing images from their col­lec­tions.” In Feb­ru­ary, the project released its 2024 archive of col­or­ing books, allow­ing you to down­load, print and col­or thou­sands of images from 93 libraries and muse­ums. The col­lec­tion includes sub­mis­sions from The New­ber­ry Library, the Nation­al Library of Med­i­cine, Euro­peana, the Harley-David­son Archives, Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Libraries, the South­east Asia Dig­i­tal Library and more. Hap­py col­or­ing!

Note: When you nav­i­gate to a spe­cif­ic col­or­ing book with­in the col­lec­tion, you may ini­tial­ly encounter a blank sec­tion on the page. Please scroll down to locate the actu­al down­load link for the col­or­ing book.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

The Very First Col­or­ing Book, The Lit­tle Folks’ Paint­ing Book (Cir­ca 1879)

The First Adult Col­or­ing Book: See the Sub­ver­sive Exec­u­tive Col­or­ing Book From 1961

Free Col­or­ing Books from The Pub­lic Domain Review: Down­load & Col­or Works by Hoku­sai, Albrecht Dür­er, Har­ry Clarke, Aubrey Beard­s­ley & More

180,000 Years of Religion Charted on a “Histomap” in 1943

For many, even most of us mod­erns, the cen­tral reli­gious choice is a sim­ple one: adhere to the belief sys­tem in which you grew up, or stop adher­ing to it. But if you sur­vey the vari­ety of reli­gions in the world, the sit­u­a­tion no longer seems quite so bina­ry; if you then add the vari­ety of reli­gions that have exist­ed through­out human his­to­ry, it starts look­ing down­right kalei­do­scop­ic. Or rather, it looks some­thing like the faint­ly psy­che­del­ic but also infor­ma­tion-rich His­tom­ap of Reli­gion above, cre­at­ed in 1943 by chemist John B. Sparks, whom we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture for his orig­i­nal His­tom­ap depict­ing 4,000 Years of World His­to­ry and his sub­se­quent His­tom­ap of Evo­lu­tion.

The Use­fulCharts video below explains Sparks’ His­tom­ap of Reli­gion in detail, but it also cites his His­tom­ap of Evo­lu­tion, an exam­ple of how his world­view fails to align with cur­rent per­cep­tions of these sub­jects. Even the new­er His­tom­ap of Reli­gion is by now more than 80 years old, dur­ing which time schol­ar­ship in reli­gion and relat­ed fields has made cer­tain dis­cov­er­ies and clar­i­fi­ca­tions that nec­es­sar­i­ly go unre­flect­ed in Sparks’ work. But if you bear this in mind while look­ing at the His­tom­ap of Reli­gion, you can still gain a new and use­ful per­spec­tive on how the beliefs that mankind has held high­est have changed and inter­min­gled over the mil­len­nia.

The chart begins in pre­his­to­ry, divid­ing the then-extant faiths into the cat­e­gories “mag­ic and fetishism,” “tabu and totemism,” “ances­tor wor­ship,” “trib­al gods and divine kings,” “pro­pi­ti­a­tion of nature spir­its,” and “fer­til­i­ty cults.” Though Sparks’ infor­ma­tion may on the whole be “based on the­o­ries about the ori­gins of reli­gion which have now been either reject­ed or at least seri­ous­ly revised,” explains Use­fulCharts cre­ator Matt Bak­er, “the gen­er­al ideas expressed by these six types are still some­what valid.” The expan­sion and con­trac­tion of adher­ence to these types of ear­ly reli­gion through time are reflect­ed by changes in the width of the col­ored columns that rep­re­sent them. Fol­low these columns down­ward through his­to­ry, and new, more famil­iar reli­gions emerge: Tao­ism, Judaism, Hin­duism, Bud­dhism, Chris­tian­i­ty both Catholic and Protes­tant.

There­after come oth­er move­ments and fig­ures per­haps not imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­niz­able as reli­gious in nature: “human­ism,” for exam­ple, whose rep­re­sen­ta­tives include Shake­speare and Rousseau. Lat­er, the ideas of Russ­ian intel­lec­tu­als Vis­sar­i­on Belin­sky and Alexan­der Herzen branch off to become, after about a cen­tu­ry, the “cor­rupt phi­los­o­phy” of com­mu­nism, with its “God-less pro­pa­gan­da” sup­port­ing a “police state aimed at world dom­i­na­tion.” Bak­er objects that, if Sparks counts com­mu­nism as a reli­gion, then sure­ly he should count cap­i­tal­ism as a reli­gion as well. This is a fair-enough point, though behold this dense chart of “cults, faiths, and eth­i­cal philoso­phies” long enough, and you’ll start to won­der if every­thing human­i­ty has ever done isn’t, in some sense, ulti­mate­ly reli­gious in nature.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Ani­mat­ed Map Shows How the Five Major Reli­gions Spread Across the World (3000 BC — 2000 AD)

The Tree of Lan­guages Illus­trat­ed in a Big, Beau­ti­ful Info­graph­ic

Joseph Priest­ley Visu­al­izes His­to­ry & Great His­tor­i­cal Fig­ures with Two of the Most Influ­en­tial Info­graph­ics Ever (1769)

4000 Years of His­to­ry Dis­played in a 5‑Foot-Long “His­tom­ap” (Ear­ly Info­graph­ic) From 1931

10 Mil­lion Years of Evo­lu­tion Visu­al­ized in an Ele­gant, 5‑Foot Long Info­graph­ic from 1931

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.

When Frank Lloyd Wright Designed a Plan to Turn Ellis Island Into a Futuristic Jules Verne-Esque City (1959)

The very words “Ellis Island” bring to mind a host of sepia-toned images, shaped by both Amer­i­can his­tor­i­cal fact and nation­al myth. Offi­cers employed there real­ly did inspect the eye­lids of new arrivals with but­ton­hooks, for exam­ple, but they did­n’t actu­al­ly make a pol­i­cy of chang­ing their names, how­ev­er for­eign they sound­ed. You can learn this and much else besides by pay­ing a vis­it to the Nation­al Immi­gra­tion Muse­um on Ellis Island, which opened in 1990, 36 years after the clo­sure of the immi­grant inspec­tion and pro­cess­ing sta­tion itself. But if Frank Lloyd Wright had had his way, you could live on Ellis Island — and what’s more, you’d nev­er need to leave it.

“After Ellis Island was decom­mis­sioned in 1954 as the nation’s gate­way to the world’s hud­dled mass­es, the U.S. Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion (GSA) chose an all-Amer­i­can path: open­ing the site to devel­op­ers,” write Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin at the Gotham Cen­ter for New York City His­to­ry. When NBC radio and tele­vi­sion announc­er Jer­ry Damon and direc­tor Elwood Doudt pitched to Wright the ambi­tious idea of rede­vel­op­ing the dis­used island into a “com­plete­ly self-con­tained city of the future,” the archi­tect replied that the project was “vir­tu­al­ly made to order for me.” Alas, Wright died just before they could all meet and ham­mer out the details, but not before he’d drawn up a pre­lim­i­nary but vivid plan.

Damon and Doudt car­ried on with what the late Wright has named the “Key Project.” “Its Jules Verne-esque design, based on Wright’s sketch­es, was res­olute­ly futur­is­tic,” write Lubell and Goldin. A “cir­cu­lar podi­um” on the island would sup­port “apart­ments for 7,500 res­i­dents, ris­ing like a stack of off­set, alter­nat­ing dish­es. Above these dwelling floors, and sep­a­rat­ed by sun­decks, would be a cres­cent of sev­en cor­ru­gat­ed, can­dle­stick-shaped tow­ers con­tain­ing more apart­ments and a 500-room hotel.” At the cen­ter of it all, Wright placed “a huge globe, seem­ing­ly pock­marked by eons of mete­or col­li­sions, and held aloft by plas­tic canopies pro­tect­ing the plazas below.”

It’s easy to imag­ine the exe­cu­tion of this Space Age urban utopia not quite liv­ing up to Wright’s vision — and, indeed, to imag­ine it hav­ing fall­en by now into just as thor­ough a state of dilap­i­da­tion as did Ellis Island’s orig­i­nal build­ings. But it’s also fas­ci­nat­ing to con­sid­er what could have been Wright’s final com­mis­sion as the acme of the evo­lu­tion of his think­ing about the urban space itself. A quar­ter-cen­tu­ry ear­li­er, he’d been obsessed with the qua­si-rur­al devel­op­ment he called Broad­acre City; just a few years before his death, he came up with the Illi­nois Mile-High Tow­er, a megas­truc­ture that would prac­ti­cal­ly have con­sti­tut­ed a metrop­o­lis in and of itself. The Key Project, as Damon and Doudt pro­mot­ed it, would have offered “casu­al, inspired liv­ing, minus the usu­al big-city clam­or”: the kind of mar­ket­ing lan­guage we hear from devel­op­ers still today, though not backed by the genius of the most renowned archi­tect in Amer­i­can his­to­ry.

via Messy Nessy

Relat­ed con­tent:

Frank Lloyd Wright Designs an Urban Utopia: See His Hand-Drawn Sketch­es of Broad­acre City (1932)

The Unre­al­ized Projects of Frank Lloyd Wright Get Brought to Life with 3D Dig­i­tal Recon­struc­tions

Take a 360° Vir­tu­al Tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Archi­tec­tur­al Mas­ter­pieces, Tal­iesin & Tal­iesin West

Why Frank Lloyd Wright Designed a Gas Sta­tion in Min­neso­ta (1958)

Por­traits of Ellis Island Immi­grants Arriv­ing on America’s Wel­com­ing Shores Cir­ca 1907

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.

OpenVertebrate Presents a Massive Database of 13,000 3D Scans of Vertebrate Specimens

From The Flori­da Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry comes the open­Ver­te­brate project, a new ini­tia­tive to “pro­vide free, dig­i­tal 3D ver­te­brate anato­my mod­els and data to researchers, edu­ca­tors, stu­dents and the pub­lic.” Intro­duc­ing the new project (oth­er­wise known as oVert), the muse­um writes:

Between 2017 and 2023, oVert project mem­bers took CT scans of more than 13,000 spec­i­mens, with rep­re­sen­ta­tive species across the ver­te­brate tree of life. This includes more than half the gen­era of all amphib­ians, rep­tiles, fish­es and mam­mals. CT scan­ners use high-ener­gy X‑rays to peer past an organism’s exte­ri­or and view the dense bone struc­ture beneath. Thus, skele­tons make up the major­i­ty of oVert recon­struc­tions. A small num­ber of spec­i­mens were also stained with a tem­po­rary con­trast-enhanc­ing solu­tion that allowed researchers to visu­al­ize soft tis­sues, such as skin, mus­cle and oth­er organs.

The mod­els give an inti­mate look at inter­nal por­tions of a spec­i­men that could pre­vi­ous­ly only be observed through destruc­tive dis­sec­tion and tis­sue sam­pling.

In the com­ing years, the open­Ver­te­brate team will “CT scan 20,000 flu­id-pre­served spec­i­mens from U.S. muse­um col­lec­tions, pro­duc­ing high-res­o­lu­tion anatom­i­cal data for more than 80 per­cent of ver­te­brate gen­era.” The project will also make dig­i­tal images and 3D mesh files avail­able to down­load and 3D print.

The video below pro­vides a short, visu­al intro­duc­tion to the dig­i­tal col­lec­tion. You can learn more about the project here.

via Boing­Bo­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent

Franz Kaf­ka Says the Insect in The Meta­mor­pho­sis Should Nev­er Be Drawn; and Vladimir Nabokov Draws It Any­way

Watch The Insects’ Christ­mas from 1913: A Stop Motion Film Star­ring a Cast of Dead Bugs

Cap­ti­vat­ing Col­lab­o­ra­tion: Artist Hubert Duprat Uses Insects to Cre­ate Gold­en Sculp­tures


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An Architectural Tour of Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s Audacious Church That’s Been Under Construction for 142 Years

In less than a year and a half, the cen­te­nary of Antoni Gaudí’s death will be here. Faced with this fact, espe­cial­ly ded­i­cat­ed enthu­si­asts of Cata­lan archi­tec­ture may already be plan­ning their fes­tiv­i­ties. But we can be sure where the real pres­sure is felt: the Basíli­ca i Tem­ple Expi­a­tori de la Sagra­da Família, Gaudí’s most famous build­ing, which — as of tomor­row — has been under con­struc­tion for 142 years. When it first broke ground in 1882, Gaudí was­n’t involved at all, but when he took over the project the fol­low­ing year, he re-envi­sioned it in a dis­tinc­tive com­bi­na­tion of the Goth­ic and Art Nou­veau styles. The rest, as they say, is his­to­ry: a trou­bled, unpre­dictable his­to­ry con­tin­u­ing to this day, explained by archi­tec­ture-and-his­to­ry Youtu­ber Manuel Bra­vo in the video above.

Though it isn’t yet com­plete, you can vis­it Sagra­da Família; indeed, it’s long been the most pop­u­lar tourist attrac­tion in Barcelona. The expe­ri­ence of mar­veling at the basil­i­ca’s aston­ish­ing degree of detail and not-quite-of-this-Earth struc­ture is worth the price of admis­sion, which has helped to fund its ongo­ing con­struc­tion. But you’ll appre­ci­ate it on a high­er lev­el if you go with some­one who can explain its many unusu­al fea­tures, both archi­tec­tur­al and reli­gious — some­one with as much knowl­edge ad enthu­si­asm as Bra­vo, whom we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture for his videos on Pom­peii, Venice, the Great Pyra­mids of Giza, and the Duo­mo di Firen­ze.

With Sagra­da Famíli­a’s pyra­mi­dal shape, Bra­vo explains, Gaudí “hoped to sug­gest a con­nec­tion between the human and the divine.” Its three façades are ded­i­cat­ed to the birth, death, and eter­nal life of Jesus Christ, to whom the cen­tral and tallest of its planned eigh­teen tow­ers will be ded­i­cat­ed. The cathe­dral’s exte­ri­or alone con­sti­tutes an “authen­tic Bible of stone,” but it can hard­ly pre­pare you to step into the inte­ri­or, with its “beau­ti­ful play of space, light, and col­or.” As Bra­vo puts it, “the pro­tag­o­nist here is the space itself,” envi­sioned by Gaudí as “a huge for­est” involv­ing no un-nature-like straight lines. All of it show­cas­es “the com­bi­na­tion of aes­thet­ics and effi­cien­cy” that defines the archi­tec­t’s work.

Bravo’s video runs a bit over twen­ty min­utes, but you could spend much, much longer appre­ci­at­ing every aspect of Sagra­da Família, those com­plet­ed in Gaudí’s life­time as well as those com­plet­ed by the many devot­ed arti­sans who have con­tin­ued his work for almost 100 years now. The archi­tect “knew quite well that he would not live to see the tem­ple com­plet­ed,” says Bra­vo, hence his hav­ing “left behind so many mod­els and draw­ings” for his suc­ces­sors to go on. They’re work­ing on a 2026 dead­line, but as Bra­vo notes, giv­en the inter­rup­tions inflict­ed by COVID-19, “that date seems unlike­ly.” But then, has there ever been as unlike­ly a build­ing as Sagra­da Família?

Relat­ed con­tent:

The Incred­i­ble Engi­neer­ing of Anto­nio Gaudí’s Sagra­da Famil­ia, the 137 Year Con­struc­tion Project

The Japan­ese Sculp­tor Who Ded­i­cat­ed His Life to Fin­ish­ing Gaudí’s Mag­num Opus, the Sagra­da Família

Venice Explained: Its Archi­tec­ture, Its Streets, Its Canals, and How Best to Expe­ri­ence Them All

Take a High Def, Guid­ed Tour of Pom­peii

How the World’s Biggest Dome Was Built: The Sto­ry of Fil­ip­po Brunelleschi and the Duo­mo in Flo­rence

What the Great Pyra­mids of Giza Orig­i­nal­ly Looked Like

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.

An Animated Introduction to the Rosetta Stone, and How It Unlocked Our Understanding of Egyptian Hieroglyphs

In 1799, Napoleon’s army encoun­tered a curi­ous arti­fact in Egypt, a black stone that fea­tured writ­ing in three dif­fer­ent lan­guages: Egypt­ian Hiero­glyphs, Demot­ic Egypt­ian, and Ancient Greek. Before long, Eng­lish troops cap­tured the stone and brought it to the British Muse­um in 1802—where it remains today. The ani­mat­ed video above, cre­at­ed by Egyp­tol­o­gist Franziska Naether, explains “how schol­ars decod­ed the ancient mes­sage of the Roset­ta Stone,” a painstak­ing process that took decades to com­plete. By the 1850s, philol­o­gists had unlocked the mean­ing of Egypt­ian hiero­glyphs and, with them, the secrets of ancient Egypt­ian civ­i­liza­tion.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

What the Roset­ta Stone Actu­al­ly Says

How to Read Ancient Egypt­ian Hiero­glyphs: A British Muse­um Cura­tor Explains

The British Muse­um Cre­ates 3D Mod­els of the Roset­ta Stone & 200+ Oth­er His­toric Arti­facts: Down­load or View in Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty

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