45 films from the Science New Wave
Sleep is not oblivion but an active aperture onto the hidden workings of the mind, thus only ever as empty as a stage awaiting creation. Dreaming REM sleep is the space of memory’s reconsolidation and vital sorting out of the overwhelming detail of lived life, but also of inspiration and of those endless strange realignments of the components of waking life we remember in snatches. For all that we understand of the essential nature of dreaming, the images created by the sleeping mind retain some ineffable mystery. And what lies in those other unsleeping unconscious states, those of a coma or true blackout? And what, also, does a fossil dream across the millennia?
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Gregor and Harold, two corals living in the underwater remains of Miami, share their dreams with each other. Made without any computer effects, using real coral specimens.
The radial arm maze test is one of the most widely used tests for assessing anxiety, working memory and hippocampal plasticity. Initially placed at the center of the maze, the entry of the mouse into one of the 8 paths triggers an edit in the human footage. The resulting human montage provide a unique output to evaluate mouse performance and memory retention.
Sleep disturbances from outside and within.
Have you ever woken in the night, unable to move, convinced that you are not alone? This is a film about what is real, what is not and if it even matters.
At the Dream & Nightmare Laboratory at the University of Montreal, Elizaveta Solomonova is searching for expert dreamers: people who can visit dream land and report back accurately what they see, hear, feel, and even smell. For most of us, remembered dreams are filled with sights and maybe sounds. But so much more can happen when we sleep.
Sleep. Do we get enough? The latest developments in circadian biology research are uncovering the detrimental effects that a lack of sleep can have to our well-being. Sleepless is the result of a two year conversation between artist Ellie Land and scientist Professor Peter Oliver about the links now being discovered between sleep and mental health. Its rhythm is inspired by the circadian cycle and displays visual icons rooted in the science of sleep, whilst featuring the voices of a group of mental health service users who share their experience of disrupted sleep/wake patterns.
Part lyrical document, part farce, Animals Under Anaesthesia: Speculations on the Dreamlife of Beasts explores the imaginary unconscious minds of animals. Images of sex, death, and the natural world are made manifest in the murky and disquieting dreams of a dog, cat, pig and rabbit.
The film Inscapes was created to help solve an immediate, practical problem inherent to a branch of neuroimaging research called “resting state” functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Usually for these scans, subjects lay inside the MRI magnet and look at what we call a fixation cross (a static plus sign) for about 6–10 minutes. They are asked to keep still and to try and stay awake. The absence of a task enables us to study brain activity that occurs “at rest” and has greatly expanded our understanding of how the brain is functionally organized into networks. But for children, this supposedly task-free state is actually a very difficult task.
A film that balances the precision of a Swiss watch with the messiness of a restless mind, WIDE AWAKE is filmmaker Alan Berliner’s uniquely personal tour through his life-long obsession with insomnia.
Berliner uses both metaphor and candid first-person observations to illuminate how an obsessive mind that won’t shut down at night leaves him feeling “jet lagged in his own time zone.” Incorporating hundreds of archival film clips, consultations with sleep specialists, an overnight stay at a sleep lab, conversations with family members, home movies and dream visualizations — all woven together by a strikingly dynamic sound design — WIDE AWAKE is a cinematically innovative film that pushes at the borders of documentary storytelling. In many ways WIDE AWAKE is also a film about filmmaking. We see footage documenting the process of making WIDE AWAKE, including shots of Berliner recording narration, talking with his film crew, working at his desk and editing at his computer. There’s even a raucously caffeinated tour of his studio, in which we begin to understand a lot more about Berliner’s obsessions and how they serve him as a filmmaker. As the film progresses, Berliner reveals more and more about his secret life as a “night owl,” and we learn how he has turned the very obsessive energy that keeps him up at night into a source of fuel and inspiration for his creative work.
Ametsa has been in a clinic for some months, the same time she has not been able to sleep.
Monsoons Over The Moon is a mythical tale about a street gang known as The Monsoons who escaped an oppressive system. The story is set in a period of political dictatorship that has enslaved the people. The Monsoons are now resurfacing to help the youth in the ghettos break out of this dictatorship. The story is told from the perspective of those struggling the most within this dictatorial system.
Listen to the hippocampal neurons of rat as it dreams and awakes from its deepest thoughts. As it comes out of its dream state, the rats ‘place cells’ are active in distinct locations (place fields) while a rat runs along a track.
What happens in our brains when we’re daydreaming? This episode is a dream-like ride that explores the science behind why, as we rush into the future, it’s more important than ever to let our minds wander.
Part of series “The Future Starts Here”
About “The Future Starts Here”: Explore what it means to be human as we rush head first into the future through the eyes, creativity, and mind of Tiffany Shlain, acclaimed filmmaker and speaker, founder of The Webby Awards, mother, constant pusher of boundaries and one of Newsweek’s “women shaping the 21st Century.”
A young Mexican biologist living in New York discusses the reasons for her transformation into a Monarch butterfly.
Phosphenes blends 2D digital animation and photo-animation to explore the processes of developing thoughts and the understanding of birth, life, and death in the natural world.
A scientist studying the first human time traveller falls in love with her subject. But if her research succeeds they will become separated by eons of history. She must find a way to connect with him across the ages or lose him forever.
A brand new product has hit the market: golden pills that allow consumers to have safe pre-made dreams. Like everybody else, Alex takes them regularly but due to an inconvenience he is forced to quit. Brought back to reality, he must deal with unexpected consequences.
In poetic images, Plant Dreaming Deep exposes the exhausting transitional phases of loneliness, insecurity and isolation. By means of analogue video synthesis, fine-pored textures and washed out veils of colour were created, which find a suitable complement in the pulsating soundscape of Emilie Payeur. Like misunderstood or unprocessed experiences, the traces of old video recordings flash through this retro-futuristic collage and the main protagonist, the flora structured by human hands, appears simultaneously connected with freedom and suffocation.
This is a story about the mysterious world of anti-utopian future where each human-being’s fallen asleep and replaced himself by robots. Unusual robot is destined to find output — he is seeking answers to his disturbing dreams.
Have you ever felt paralyzed while sleeping like someone is sitting on your chest unable to move, unable to scream. What do you do if this isn’t a nightmare? If this isn’t imaginary? If your fears are real.
What is it like to be a spider? A creature that lives in the same environment as we do and yet has an experience far removed from ours. The film The Mulch Spider’s Dream evokes a non human world through shape, colour and rhythm. The seemingly abstract images are made by using the internal chemistry of plants interacting with photographic emulsion, a type of image that I have called a ‘phytogram’.
The making of phytograms involves simple biodegradable chemistry that is used to soak petals and leaves. These elements are carefully harvested from wild and domesticated plants. By bringing the organic material in contact with film emulsion, chemical traces are formed, reflecting the interior structure of the plants. By using expired filmstock subtle amber, brown and red colours emerged. By rephotographing the film some additional colours have been added.
Most of this process has taken place in my back garden and shed, while being surrounded by dozens of spiders and their prey. While making the film, I have been reflecting on the plants and creatures living close to me. Both methods and thoughts have become part of the film during its consecutive stages of development.
In the first evidences of mankind in the south of Brazil we meet, side by side, the visible and the invisible parts of a story.
REM: the stage of sleep which invokes dreams. The film attempts to depict these hypnagogic visions, which are presented without narration. Fragments of the unconscious overtake and dismantle one another, in the process obliterating the dream from memory.
Three sisters are living in an old Japanese house. Crabs released by a man subvert the meaning of the house and the bodies. This is the latest work of the “Living Creatures Sci- Fi” Series, which has been continuing since 2011.
Hypnagogia is a short animated abstract movie, which depicts visual sensory phenomena of pseudo-hallucinations, so called “hypnagogic”, experienced when crossing the borders of sleep. Film is balancing between poetry and documentary, trying to catch the feel of loosing the control over your consciousness and mind wandering.
Winter persists. Something happened. At the heart of the woods, on the slopes of mountains, in the streets and even inside homes, a strange silence took up residence. Will there remain a soul to witness the recent event?
Marie is a doctor. She smokes and reads a lot. And speaks from time to time with the dead. Today, she learns that it is her turn to die. She only has to live a few weeks. It’s short. She must act quikly, dream, laugh and still live…
This stop-motion 16mm film offers an audiovisual meditation on the material animation of stones. The concept is inspired by Camillo Leonardi’s “Speculum Lapidum”, published in 1533, which describes the magical healing virtues of a variety of stones, categorized by colour. The character-based animated vignettes are inspired by the woodcuts in “De Hortus Sanitatis”, a natural history encyclopedia published in 1485, which details various methods of harnessing the power of gems. It was believed at the time that a given gem’s powers could be absorbed through focused viewing. Proposing an analogy between this belief and attraction to cinema, this film offers audiences an opportunity to absorb the depicted stones’ energies by viewing their images. The title, Somnium Lapidum, or Dream Stones, is a reference to the imaginative content of the “Speculum Lapidum” and the dreamlike experience of cinematic viewership.
A short reflection on the topic of being tired.
An anthropological study of sleep in the digital age.
An interview with David Stodolsky, member of the Cryonics Institute describe the cryonic procedure and the ideas of preserving bodies for thousands of years in the future, he guides us through the Building-Monument built over the previous house of Walter Gropius in Dessau, Germany. Renovated by Bruno Fioretti Marquez Architects in 2008, the construction reproduces the original volume of Gropius’ house. In the film, the house works as a metaphor of what is fossilized. The idea of Modernism remains in this case in a fossil state, and survives in time as a trace of what once was.
A hypnosis-inducing pan-geographic shuttle built on brainwave generating binaural beats, Deep Sleep takes us on a journey through the sound waves of Gaza to travel between different sights of modern ruin. From the ruins of an ancient civilization embedded in a modern civilization in ruins (Athens), to the derelict buildings of anonymous sites (Malta) and a site that is post-civilization (the Gaza Strip). Shot while under self-hypnosis, the performance-film asks us to move from the corporeal self to the cinema space in a collective act of bilocation that transcends the limits of geographical borders, time and space.
The film is built from a tipping point that leads us imperceptibly from day to night, fleeting a moment where what was is gone, where things can take another meaning. Many voiceovers that cross the portable telephone, speaking of ghosts, guide us through the city, while the camera seems in search of a plot of land, a concordance story — image. The topography of the place is built and moves in parallel with another topography, the mental one. Maybe they meet somewhere here in a new psychological space. A personal story carries us through the city of Seoul, for us to follow and choose the field of interpretation.
This short film is about the apparent incoherence of coma. A woman in a bright red dress, figures wearing cold hospital clothes, a forest, a lake, and muted, distant voices unconnected to the image are among the contrasting elements brought together here. What may be logical to one person can seem incongruous to another. Plot elements, latency, the expectation of an event that never happens, are what drive the viewer’s interest and curiosity and make them ask questions. After a serious road accident and a long period of re-education, Laure Dasnois is determined to prove to the medical profession and, above all, to herself, that the cerebellar and hemiplegia she suffers from are not going to stop her being the dancer and performer she always was. Spectators are invited to enter, with the artist and performer, the crepuscular limbo of an incapacitated spirit; they are invited to experience the Platonic and, to say the least, regrettable, incidents experienced by the artist during her period of coma. The question of disability is subjacent here. The point is not to show a handicap as if it were some freakish object in a cabinet of curiosities. The handicap is a(n) (in)capacity but certainly not an abnormality. The handicap must not be a brake but a strength. Hon mê is a dance of survival, a battle for freedom and a successful reclaiming of beauty.
Something has happened and society as we know it does not function anymore. In this video I portray situations of an apocalyptic nature. The video is based on my thoughts of a possible future and on a lucid dream I had this year. What and how will survival function in case we have to live through it. And can I trust the ones I used to trust.
“Mom, at what point did you stop hugging me when taking me to school?”
SUR l’eau REAL is an experimental short film that arose out of this question posed by my adult son.
The piece is connecting this question to a dream experienced about twenty years back and to thoughts risen by “L´eau et les rêves”(1942), a book by the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard.
In the dream I am forced to make acquaintance with different worlds and their elements, water being one of them. The experience is both frightening and unpleasant and through the writings of Bachelard the dream, my own fragmental biography and the question posed to me breeds a new story. Bachelard associates the element of water to femininity, fertility, melancholia and death. According to him dreaming by the water is crucial for the process of creation.
The piece is entirely shot by different waters and of its’ reflections. The music is composed and performed for the piece by Anton Kukkonen and Kaija Maarika Penttala.
With the help of the most consacrated neuroscientists, “Herner Werzog” travels inside the brain of artists and filmmakers from all over the world and documents their dreams. In Lisbon (Portugal), young director Gabriel Abrantes will be the victim.
A ringing sound breaks into a woman’s sleep. The sinister telephone becomes tangled in its own cord and plunges into dreamlike oblivion. As no one answers the call, nothing will ever come of it, and it will remain an enigma, cloaked in anonymity and nothingness.
A sleeping computer dreams of humans forms, transforming their digital data into abstract and playful shapes. Movements, emotions, and musical lines are added layer upon layer until the complexity overloads the system and the dream ends. Reverie.exe combines Microsoft Kinect motion capture and music-driven visuals in an exploration of the connection shared between humans and machines.
During ancient Sumerian and Mesopotamian time it was believed that divinities sent visions to their rulers to commission their city sanctuary. The statue of the king Gudea, ruler of Lagash (a region in modern-day southern Iraq), around 2200–2100 BCE was found throughout the excavation at Tello (ancient Girsu capital of Lagash) in 1881 with an imprint of the future Temple carved on the figure lap.The construction has been requested by his God, Ningirsu through a dream apparition.
The 4 and a half minutes animation “Thunderbird imagines the dialogue between Gudea and his mother Nance, the dream interpreter, to whom he seeks assistance in the translation of the vision that came to him in a dream. “Thunderbird” is as a response to the recent destruction and pillage of the Middle East’s last major archaeological sites. The animation pays hommage to the historical consciousness of the ancient Near East. Mesopotamians concealed, in the foundation of their land, elaborate architectural rituals to preserve and envision their monuments within the past, present and future, onward towards eternity.These rites of construction and preservation could be inscribed as an act of resistance against destruction.
The film began through a long dialogue and numerous exchanges with Sebastian Rey, the lead Archaeologist of the British Museum’s Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Project, an organization whose mission since 2016 is to train Iraqi archaeologists and international specialists in the site of Tello. In 2015, with co-director Fatma Husain, Rey had the honor of reopening excavations at Tello after 82 years of interrupted fieldwork.
“It must be about one week since it happened….” A deserted beach in the morning, empty alleyways in the midday heat, panoramas of a grid of streets where no movement can be perceived from the distance. What looks like the normal downtime in the rhythm of a Southern European coastal city’s day — the siesta — is drawn out to a catastrophic length in the film: Something has happened, and Barcelona’s now empty and the painted beach clock has stopped. A local resident looks for other survivors and new supplies. She films her forays, and the voiceover reads entries from her diary. Both the images’ textures and the footage of this world make it clear that this disaster happened some time in the past: The grainy 8mm footage was taken from vacation films shot around 1980. Filmmaker David Krems purchased them at a flea market and repurposed the material for this miniature of weird everyday life.
This evokes associations with the current boom in horror films made with purportedly found footage (and, incidentally, with an Austrian post-apocalypse scenario that was also made with fake found footage, Michael Palm’s Sea Concrete Human). Of course, in Siesta the footage is real, and the context artificial. The work on the image eventually settles between clever manipulation and applied analysis. All traces of civilization were removed by means of digital post-processing, the editing and narrative unite various popular vacation spots to create the location of Barcelona, and because the protagonist takes a tape recorder along on her expeditions, Hugo Furtado created a layered sound design whose destructive power lies in naturalism. At the same time the transformation from images of a vacation to those depicting survival reflects on the conventions of tourism through a camera’s lens: The foundation for a gaze removed from everyday life, for which every street, every cluster of villas becomes an event, has already been set up in the raw material. The fact that a tourist’s scanning of locations can turn into paranoia so quickly represents the actual weird core of Siesta.
A hypnotic voice-over narrates a text based on personal experience as a night porter. Here, the nightshift becomes a metaphor that tells about the mechanics of perception, describing a particular state of mind caused by working at night in relation to an self-generated filmic illusion in which one pretend that it is daytime. This work consists of a collection of images and resemblances that trick the eye, like the shadows of objects on a wall, CCTV footage or misleading deceptive reflections in windows. The video tackles the relationship between perception and projection, and hints at the suspension of disbelief and at the constant shifting between what is fantasized and what is experienced.
Move depicts the surreal dream life of a young comatose man, and how it attempts to guide him to consciousness. Although he seems to be disconnected from life, his interior self echoes symbols of caring from the outer conscious world. Even after awakening, his unfathomable imagination presents more ambiguity.
With a soundtrack gleaned from composer Delia Derbyshire’s classic “Inventions for Radio” series for the BBC, Magnusson crafts a collage of oil-slide projections and family snapshots illustrating the qualities of dreams, memory and colour.
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