25 films from the Science New Wave
How did we get here? No, not you and me. Not any particular society. Not even humans in particular. The question is: how did life find its way from the simplest primordial micro-organisms to our current diversity of intricate relationships between complex organisms made up complicated cells? And, in a timelapse recreation, from single cell, the fertilized egg, to each vastly differentiated multicellular creature. How do these two pathways of generation relate? These are the elaborate questions that the synthetic biological field of Evo-Devo seeks to answer.
Beetle Bluffs” brings to life the stories that accompany each specimen within a natural history collection. The film is by Anna Lindemann, developed in collaboration with Brian Farrell, Curator of Entomology at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, home to one of the richest and historically most significant insect collections in North America. “Beetle Bluffs” is inspired by a pioneering 1938 paper on beetle mimicry by Philip Darlington, a former curator of the museum. Using artifacts from Darlington’s research and the insect specimens cited in the original paper, “Beetle Bluffs” not only captures the beauty of biodiversity, but also illuminates predator-prey dynamics and dramatizes the evolution of mimicry.
Springtime along the Mid-Atlantic seaboard thousands of horseshoe crabs spawn on beaches under the glow of the full moon; a reoccurring ritual for the last 450 million years. Citizen scientists venture out along the shore to keep tally of their population. The film attempts to document the annual observance on 16mm film exposed in time-lapse with ambient moonlight. LIVING FOSSIL is just a brief glimpse into this prehistoric phenomenon.
A straight ahead animation beyond observation. In this hand drawn animation a line is being extrapolated through a grid. When the line surpasses the boundaries of the grid, the process spreads to and reflects on its surroundings. Beyond each boundary the extrapolation of movement is causing deformation in a systematic but speculative way. This film reflects on the process of extending (scientific) knowledge into unknown area’s. The discrepancy between calculated predictions and actual situations. And the limits of what we can rationally understand.
Jesse Barber of Boise State University headed to Gorongosa National Park with two graduate students to study bat-moth, predator-prey interactions. They design several experiments to determine the strategies that have evolved in these Gorongosa moths to avoid being eaten by bats. The strategies involve the use of ultrasound to either jam bats’ sonars or to signal to bats that they taste bad. Some of the moth species are Batesian mimics in that they don’t truly taste bad but mimic the ultrasound of moths that do.
Patty Brennan is an evolutionary biologist that studies the incredible diversity of genital structures — from snakes, to birds, to sharks.
Microscopy, timelapse, and observation beautifully captures a lab’s full study of squid embryonic development.
Underwater creatures — snapping shrimp, bearded seals, and more — populate the soundscape here, alongside the ghost voice of biologist Lynn Margulis, who rails against authority, societal amnesia, and easy answers. Margulis considers the genesis of complex entities, from maternally-inherited mitochondria to chloroplasts in green algae, and the potential obliteration of our species. Heredity does not always leap over oblivion, as Thomas Hardy imagined, to carry forward “trait and trace, through time to times anon.”
Becoming is a short film about the miraculous genesis of animal life. In great microscopic detail, we see the ‘making of’ an Alpine Newt in its transparent egg from the first cell division to hatching. A single cell is transformed into a complete, complex living organism with a beating heart and running bloodstream.
The first stages of embryonic development are roughly the same for all animals, including humans. In the film, we can observe a universal process which normally is invisible: the very beginning of an animal’s life.
A woman takes inspiration from the social lives of ants in a letter to her own estranged sister, and discovers what it takes to survive as a collective. The short animated film “Ant Sisters” draws from scientific research on the evolution of eusociality to weave a tale about the complex dynamics of human and ant sisterhood.
Symbiotic Earth explores the life and ideas of Lynn Margulis, a brilliant and radical scientist, whose unconventional theories challenged the male-dominated scientific community and are today fundamentally changing how we look at our selves, evolution, and the environment.
In this ecofeminist jungle romance, a young research assistant learns an unexpected lesson from his distant cousins in the trees.
A collaboration between a photographer, a poet, an animator and an electronic music producer. Linnea Rundgren is a unique photographer, who uses an electron microscope to take viewers into hitherto unseen realms of life — past, present and future. Over the past several years she has accumulated an extraordinary collection of images — ancient single celled fossils; human, animal and insect anatomy; crystalline structures; …and nanotechnology. No one who sees her pictures can remain unaffected. This includes Hugo The Poet, who met Linnea in Melbourne, and was struck by the innovative work that she does. The two decided to collaborate on a cross-over piece, using Linnea’s photos to tell a story of life. Linnea put many of her best pictures into a narrative order and Hugo weaved a poem that tells a form of retrospective creation myth, incorporating not only evolution, but also the coming dawn of nanotechnology. What they now required was music and vision. For music, it was an easy choice. One electronic music pioneer from Belgium has created music that can sum up the confluence and flow and creativity of life on Earth from its inception to the nano-tech world that is to come. Sk’p is a truly extraordinary artist, and his style is perhaps best exemplified in his masterpiece Eye Earth Pt. 2. He has kindly given permission for this track to be used in the piece. On the vision side, there came on board Dave Abbott — a Photo/Video, VFX, animation and editing renegade also based in Melbourne — who set to work turning a simple slideshow of still images into an immersive fully animated experience. This all culminated in the work that you are about to see. A soliloquy from the Earth itself, congratulating life for all its inventiveness over the past several billion years, and giving some encouragement — and some caution — for the next stage of nano-technological creativity.
The birth of the universe, and the origin of all creation — Humans invented tools, discovered fire and painted murals in dark caves. Murals were created on a mission to pass down stories and history to posterity. From murals, we could tell that the discovery of fire was a highly important turning point for ancient humans. Now it’s time for us, humans, to reconsider energy. When I have a look back in history and imagine the life style of ancient humans, I always feel grateful for what we have now in our modern civilization.
Creatures transform their own shapes innocently just as in a child’s play. Tearing apart and uniting, this play continues endlessly.
In the abyssal depths of the ocean exists an alien world. Over millions of years of evolution, the creatures which inhabit this dark, hostile environment have developed an ingenious strategy to survive: bioluminescence, the production of light from living organisms. This short film explores how creatures on land and in the sea use bioluminescence to their advantage and will also reveal how scientists in Wales and around the world are harnessing the power of bioluminescence to tackle important issues, from pollution to understanding and curing diseases.
If you want the dough to rise, mix flour with yeast and milk. Then put the dough in warmth, so it rises a bit. Finally knead it well, place in the baking tin and put in the oven. Be careful, or the dough will fall.
The evolutionary life of an organism unfolds in a bizarre landscape.
A journey into an ancient ocean where primitive lifeforms stir in the dark. A slow evolution from the very primitive single line to the more complex designs that swim and writhe to the rolling sounds of the deep.
Ostriches carry on their daily activities burying their heads, believing It’s an Instinctive behavior. However, one day a research by phylogeneticist Dr. Kays proves otherwise.
This short animated film about the evolution of life on Earth would make Darwin himself chuckle. It’s funnier than any learned treatise, and yet it’s all here — from the single-celled amoebae romping about the ocean depths, to the first amphibious creatures crawling onto land, to the forefathers of Homo sapiens.
Propelled by Claude Cloutier’s signature drawing style and absurdist humour, this animated short offers an overview of the evolution of life on Earth from rock to human, with some surprising twists in between.
An animated self-portrait exploring the path of human evolution so far and a glimpse of a possible future. As our evolution turns from biological to technological, are we now the bridge between the born and the made?
This film takes a real-time look at the most impactful organisms in Earth’s history. Cyanobacteria originated pivotal evolutionary developments which transformed our planet. These microscopic bacteria live alone or in colonies, in any environment that has moisture. Over 2 billion years ago, cyanobacteria triggered the Great Oxygenation Event. Every breath we take, we owe to cyanobacteria. It is thanks to them that complex life forms evolved in the first place.
Plant particles are digitally combined to abstract constructions. They thicken till figurative creatures are generated. The viewer is hoaxed to, consumed and regurgitated by these constructed forms. A mystical, threatening journey through the hidden and fantastic world of plants.
“The Jollies” is a biographical artwork about primatologist Alison Jolly (1937–2014), who was known for her pioneering theory on the evolution of social intelligence developed through her study of ring-tailed lemurs. Jolly’s scientific and conservation work drew worldwide attention to the unique ecosystem of Madagascar. In this 12 minute video, the artist presents interviews with Jolly’s network of colleagues, friends, and family. Many voices articulate the significance of her scientific discoveries as well as her career: group living over tool making as a driver for evolution, her description of a female dominant primate society, the role of play in learning, as well as her place in the first generation of women in the field of primatology and her development of community-based conservation. Monkeys, lemurs, and other nonhuman characters animate the conversation, producing reflection about humans as part of the primate order, social network, and ecosystem. Speakers include: Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (langhur), Pat Wright (ring-tailed lemur), Margaretta Jolly (baby ring-tailed lemur with mother), Hanta Rasamimanana (mouse lemur), Alison Richard (sifaka), and Donna Haraway (Australian Shepherd). “The Jollies” is exhibited as a four channel video installation.
Labocine is an Imagine Science Films initiative to extend our film programming to a broader and more diverse audience. We have over 3,000 film titles from 200 countries for all ages brought to you by artists, scientists, filmmakers and educators.
By experimenting with cinematic form and style, we are committed to provoking scientific intrigue and understanding, always ensuring compelling and well-founded narratives. Periodically, we release Spotlights online. On the first Tuesday of every month, enjoy our issue selections which complement newsworthy science by proposing a surgically curated online festival. From documentary to fiction to lab footage, we hope to always challenge the way you understand, interpret and appreciate scientific ideas and perspectives.
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