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26 MAY 2014

An animated meditation on destructive consumption practices

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20122D animationAdobe FlashAfter Effectsalien beingsanimationapocalypseassembly lineblack humour • central species on the planet • consumptiondepletiondepletion of natural resourcesdestructive practicesdeus ex machina • Edvard Grieg • environmental consequencesexploitation of natural resourcesextinctionfast foodfood productionhave dominion over all other living creatureshuman activities • humanocentrism • In the Hall of the Mountain King • instrumental view of natureintensive agriculture • KFC • Man (2012) • mass extinctionmeat production • most significant species on the planet • natural environmentnatural resourcesnatural world • natural world has value only as it benefits humankind • non-renewable resource • patterns of consumptionpollutionrhythm of the planetrubbishsatirical illustrationSteve Cuttsterrestrial ecosystemunsustainablewanton destructionwastewelcomewildlife reserves

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
09 JANUARY 2013

Samsara: a visual meditation on modern living

"Expanding on the themes they developed in BARAKA (1992) and CHRONOS (1985), SAMSARA explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man's spirituality and the human experience. Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, SAMSARA takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation. Through powerful images, the film illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet.

The filmmakers approach non verbal filmmaking with an understanding that it must live up to the standard of great still photography, revealing the essence of a subject, not just its physical presence. SAMSARA was photographed entirely in 70mm film utilizing both standard frame rates and with a motion control time–lapse camera designed specifically for this project. This camera system allows perspective shifts to reveal extraordinary views of ordinary scenes. The images were then transferred through the highest resolution scanning process available to the new 4K digital projection format that allows for mesmerizing images of unprecedented clarity. SAMSARA will be a showpiece for the new, high–resolution 4K digital projection, the HD format, as well as standard digital and film projection."

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2011 • 4K digital projection • 70mm film • assembly line • Baraka (1992) • cabinet of curiosities • Chronos (1985) • desertdocumentary filmethnographic film • ever turning wheel of life • factoryfactory workerfood productiongrotesquely beautiful imagery • guided meditation • human experience • human robotics • humanityindustrial ageindustrialisationintensive agricultureintensive farminginterconnectedness • life-cycle • Lisa Gerrard • manufactoriesmanufacturing processes • Marcello De Francisci • Mark Magidson • mesmerising images • Michael Stearns • modern centres • modern living • modern technology • motion control time-lapse • natural world • non verbal filmmaking • production linerhythm of the planet • Ron Fricke • rubbish • Samsara (2011) • spirituality • Super Panavision 70 • sweeping landscapes • tableau vivanttimelapse • timelapse photography • traffic congestiontravelogue • visual meditation • visual patternwordless

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
01 JANUARY 2013

Midway Atoll where albatross chicks die from ingesting plastic

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2012 • albatross • animal cruelty • bottle top • Chris Jordancritical habitatdebrisdestructive practices • ecological disaster • ecological responsibility • environmental consequences • environmental tragedy • Honoluluhuman activities • ingesting • marine debris • microbeads • Midway Atoll • Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge • Pacific islandphotographer • photographic narrative • plasticplastic bottles • remote location • remote paradise • responsibilityrubbish • sea birds • short filmtoxic materialsunnecessary sufferingvisual journey • wildlife conservation

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
23 DECEMBER 2012

Landfill Harmonic: creating music from recycled materials

"Landfill Harmonic tells the story of 'Los Reciclados' – 'The Recycled Orchestra' – a youth orchestra in Cateura, Paraguay, whose instruments are made out of the very trash that the town is built on.

WHEN FAVIO CHAVEZ AND LUIS SZARAN came to Cateura to start a music school, they realized that they had more students than instruments. Thanks to the resourcefulness of Cola, a Cateurian garbage picker, an orchestra came together, now featuring violins, cellos, and other instruments artfully put together from trash. Los Reciclados de Cateura, now an independent orchestra, recently performed in Brazil and Colombia under Chavez's direction."

(Nina Mashurova, 12 December 2012, Matador)

Trailer for "Landfill Harmonic". The project is being created by Alejandra Nash (Founder and Executive Producer), Juliana Penaranda–Loftus (Producer), Rodolfo Madero (Executive Producer), Jorge Maldonado (Co–producer), Graham
Townsley (Director) Jennifer Redfearn (Consulting producer), Tim Fabrizio and Neil Barrett (Directors of Photography) and Monica Barrios (Production Consultant).

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2012 • Alejandra Nash • awareness raising • Cateura • Creative Visions Foundation • debrisdetritusDIY ethicdocumentary • Favio Chavez • garbage • Graham Townsley • improvisationinspiring people • Jennifer Redfearn • Jorge Maldonado • Juliana Penaranda-Loftus • junk • landfill • Landfill Harmonic (film) • Landfill Orchestra • Los Reciclados • Luis Szaran • Monica Barrios • music • music programme • music teacher • musical education • musical instrument • Neil Barrett • Nicolas Gomez • nonprofitorchestraParaguaypositive changepovertyrecycled garbagerecycled materials • Rodolfo Madero • rubbishslumsocial entrepreneurshipsocial transformationSouth America • The Recycled Orchestra • Tim Fabrizio • trailertransformation • violin • waste

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
03 JULY 2012

Sense of adventure: what happened to playgrounds that give children space?

Aldo "Van Eyck believed playgrounds should challenge a child's imagination without jarring the adult's aesthetic sensibilities. His abstract, elementary forms – often manufactured out of metal tubes like modernist furniture – were meant to belong in a well–mannered streetscape. During the same period in Britain, however, we were developing a tradition of playground design that was almost diametrically opposed. The first 'junk' playgrounds emerged amid the rubble of the Blitz, and the results were far less polite. Consisting of makeshift structures cobbled together out of roof beams and detritus, they were often designed with the assistance of the children themselves. That essential character survives today in descendants such as Glamis Adventure Playground in Shadwell, east London, a riot of skew–whiff woodwork and clashing colours, and an odd hybrid of post–war austerity and postmodern assemblage.

The junk playground model was created by the Danish architect Carl Theodor Sorensen, who believed playgrounds should reflect the imagination of the child not the architect. In 1943, having observed the creative way children play in construction sites, he developed the prototype junk playground on the Emdrup housing estate in Copenhagen.

The concept was brought to Britain by Lady Allen of Hurtwood, who tested it out on the site of a bombed church in Camberwell and then built dozens of what she called 'adventure playgrounds' – the term 'junk' tended to turn local mothers into nimbys. Not only did Allen feel that ordinary playgrounds were sterile places ('it is little wonder that [children] prefer the dumps of rough wood and piles of bricks and rubbish of the bombed sites'), but she believed in the healing effects of exposing children to the urban scars of warfare. At the same time, having them take part in the post–war reconstruction effort was deemed a good way of shaping model citizens.

Essentially, all playgrounds are designed to do the same thing: to help children develop their abilities, use up excess energy and keep them off the streets. But the ideology of the adventure playground is interesting for several reasons. First, there's the notion of not restricting children to the repetitive motions of the slide or swing, because the sooner you reach the technical limits of the equipment, the sooner you have to stretch those limits – hence all those swings you see coiled around the crossbar. The adventure playground was designed to liberate the wild thing within and, by exposing children to risk, teach them personal responsibility (all forms of play are underpinned by some form of didactism, so it's worth reminding ourselves that this is also simply more fun). Just as crucially, it was intrinsic to the concept that children be involved in designing the playgrounds, dreaming up weird structures and adapting them later by tacking on extra elements. This participatory dimension, managed by volunteer play leaders, is key to the development of their creativity.

It's curious how much the ethos of the adventure playground chimes with the language of a new era of design today: a 'participatory' process, recycled materials, an adaptive product. It doesn't sound like the 1940s. But equally valuable is the zone of exception that the adventure playground represents in the city, one of improvisation and informality that, pace Van Eyck, does not blend in to a polite streetscape.

Today, there are few true adventure playgrounds left, but occasionally another is built that follows all the essential tenets, such as the Kilburn Grange Park playground in north London, designed last year by Erect Architecture and based on the ideas of local kids. Increasingly, though, 'adventure playgrounds' are produced by specialist manufacturers and merely designed to look rustic. You can't adapt them, or at least anyone who tried would be carted off. These are the products of a health and safety culture that watered down adventure playgrounds in the 1980s and 90s. There was a minor revival a few years ago, when the Labour government invested £230m in new play spaces across England, but the coalition government freed that budget up for other uses, so it was short–lived. And now, with the cuts, several adventure playgrounds, including the giant ones in Battersea and Kilburn, face losing the play workers that make such playgrounds what they are.

It's worth remembering just how cheap and yet how luxurious these spaces are. We should let kids loose on this new breed of sanitised playground, to inject a little of the old spirit in them. I hear the builder behind Kilburn Grange Park salvaged the formwork from Zaha Hadid's Olympic diving towers – that could come in handy."

(Justin McGuirk, Tuesday 3 July 2012 15.40 BST, The Guardian)

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1940s19431980s1990sad-hocadventure playgroundAldo van EyckAlfred Trachselausterity • Battersea • bomb site • Camberwell • Carl Theodor Sorensen • challenge imagination • childhood imaginationchildren • clashing colours • coalition governmentcobbled together • construction site • CopenhagencreativityDanishDenmarkdetritus • didactic • didactism • dream up • elementary forms • Emdrup housing estate • Empress Frederick • engagement • Erect Architecture • exposure to risk • formwork • free expressionfun • Glamis Adventure Playground • healing effects • health and safety culturehybridimaginationimprovisation • informality • junkjunk playgroundjunk playgrounds • Justin McGuirk • Kilburn Grange Park • Labour governmentLady Allen of Hurtwoodlearningmakeshift • model citizen • modernismmodernist aestheticmodernist furniture • new era of design • NIMBY • open-endedopen-ended play spacesparticipatoryparticipatory processpersonal responsibilityplay • play leader • play spaces • play worker • playground • playground design • playscapespost-war • post-war reconstruction • postmodern assemblagerecycled materialsrisk-takingRobinson Crusoe • rough wood • rubbishrustic • salvaged • sanitised • scriptible spaces • Shadwell • skew-whiff • sterile placesstreetscape • Theodor Sorenson • urban scars • warfare • weird structures • Zaha Hadid

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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