"The documentary is inspired by the unpredictable events of recent times – from the rise of Donald Trump to Brexit, the war in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, and random bomb attacks. It seeks to explain both why these chaotic events are happening, and why we and our leaders can't understand them. Curtis's theory is that Westerners - politicians, journalists, experts and members of the public alike - have retreated into a simplified, and often completely fake version of the world. But because it is all-encompassing, we accept it as normal.
HyperNormalisation explores this hollow world by looking back at 40 years of events, and profiling a diverse cast of characters such as: the Assad dynasty, Donald Trump, Henry Kissinger, Patti Smith, the early performance artists in New York, President Putin, intelligent machines, Japanese gangsters and suicide bombers."
(Holly Barrett, 22nd September 2016, Royal Television Society)
"So much of the news this year  has been hopeless, depressing and above all confusing. To which the only response is 'Oh Dear' But what this film is going to suggest is that defeatist response has become a central part of a new system of political control and to understand how this is happening you have to look to Russia and to a man called Vladislav Surkov who is a hero of our time. Surkov is one of President Putin's advisors and has helped him maintain his power for fifteen years, but he has done it in a very new way. He came originally from the avant-garde art world and those who have studied his career say that what Surkov has done is import ideas from conceptual art into the very heart of politics."
"Nour is a woman from Raqqa, the so-called Islamic State's (IS) capital inside Syria. She managed to escape the city and is now a refugee in Europe, where she met up with the BBC. This story is based on her experiences and those of her two sisters, who are still inside the IS-held city. Names and the timings of some events have been changed to avoid compromising the safety of Nour or her family."
(BBC News, 2015)
Video produced by Vladimir Hernandez, Faisal Irshaid and Najlaa Aboumerhi. Animation by Luis Ruibal.
"Physicist Jim Al-Khalili travels through Syria, Iran, Tunisia and Spain to tell the story of the great leap in scientific knowledge that took place in the Islamic world between the 8th and 14th centuries. Its legacy is tangible, with terms like algebra, algorithm and alkali all being Arabic in origin and at the very heart of modern science – there would be no modern mathematics or physics without algebra, no computers without algorithms and no chemistry without alkalis.
He discovers how medieval Islamic scholars helped turn the magical and occult practice of alchemy into modern chemistry and argues that these scholars are among the first people to insist that all scientific theories are backed up by careful experimental observation, bringing a rigour to science that didn’t really exist before."
"This week the minaret of one of Syria's most beautiful mosques was destroyed in the northern city of Aleppo. The Ummayad mosque established in 715 was rebuilt in 1159 after being damaged by a fire and then built again a century later after the Mongol invasion. The oldest surviving part was the minaret and both the State forces and the rebels accuse each other of its destruction. Lying in the Old City, the mosque is a Unesco world heritage site but has become part of the wider devastation of Syria's rich cultural heritage; a Crusader castle and Roman ruins in the ancient city of Palmyra have also been damaged.
However sad this physical destruction of history and art is, it should matter less to us than the recent reports that some 70,000 lives have been lost in this terrible civil war with hundreds of thousands more displaced. This is a war which is gradually ripping the country apart but about which the rest of the world doesn't seem to know what to do. Yet there is a different poignancy to the loss of a country's artistic and cultural past. It is these visual artifacts, building and ruins which speak to us of a country's history, its collective memory, the love and passion of the people who make a piece of land into a nation state. That so many Syrians are now killing each other and destroying ruins and religious sites poses the disturbing question, what exactly is still held sacred in so many part of the Muslim world?
A couple of weeks ago I returned from a short break to Istanbul. The area surrounding the majestic Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque is also a Unesco world heritage site, tourists wander freely, the buildings stand sublime, the contested past of the place breathing its religious spirit into a refashioned, modern and vibrant city. But I wonder whether the preservation of history is only meaningful in countries where there is the preservation of peace, where people can enjoy the ordinariness of life, where there is order and purpose and we have the luxury of self reflection.
Earlier this week the former Met commissioner sir Ian Blair said societies choose what kind of violence they will tolerate. Looking across to so many part of the Islamic world where there is civil war, state violence and individual acts of terror, I wonder how and when Muslim societies will move away from seeing violence as a resolution to human conflict. When God is great is uttered as people and buildings are blown up what kind of God have so many created in their hearts and minds? The destruction of the minaret is not just a physical destruction but a tragic metaphor for a nation's soul."
(Mona Siddiqui, 26 April 2013, BBC Radio 4: Thought for the Day)
Fig.1 At left, the damaged Umayyad mosque in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday 24 April 2013; at right, the view of the mosque with the minaret intact on 6 March 2013. (AP) [http://www.wbur.org/npr/178906558/minaret–of–iconic–syrian–mosque–destroyed–in–fighting].