Just as I was about to start this post, I watched the second episode of James Burke’s history-science TV documentary Connections (1978) and felt like I was back at high school, only suddenly everything was interesting and, more importantly, actually made sense. Through the series Burke demonstrates how accidental discoveries, scientific inventions and historical events are interconnected and how, seemingly random actions of individuals (usually vested by personal motive and interest) are, in reality, interdependent, important pieces in the human and technological evolution. He does it with clear language, witty narration, personal sense of humour and parts of historical re-enactment; the result is one of BBC’s best moments in its long history of brilliant documentaries – a must-see.
Check this out: the second episode starts in ancient Lydia with the discovery of the touchstone which resulted to the standardization of metal trade; discusses how the astronomical notes of Ptolemy, safeguarded in the great library of Alexandria, became instrumental centuries later as mercantile marine progressed and the lateen sails and sternpost rudders were introduced; how the realization that the compass needle did not point to the north star but the north pole triggered studies on magnetism which led to the discovery of electricity when von Guericke span a sulphur ball on a stick and realized that it made cracking noises and glowed in the dark; which raised interest in atmospheric electricity leading to the development of the radar and application of nuclear weaponry with its full fatal potential… which explains the episode’s sinister title ”Death in the Morning”.
This incredible feat of technology and connectivity reminded me of all the collective effort and technological expertise that goes into organizing recurring events and festivals, such as the Nuit Blanche/White Night when, in the course of a single evening the city of Brussels becomes a trail of installations, performances and all night parties.
Saturday 05th October, was an exceptionally warm night this year; absolutely everyone was out and all of the 28 spots on the agenda were totally packed. The crowds were massive, the queues long and most of the activities, destined for more intimate audiences, suffocated somewhat under this surprisingly high turnaround. But spirits were high, beer flowed in abundance and people were ready to party; the warm air carried laughter, cheerful echoes and silhouettes through the night.
A wheel of light by Exhumeia, Brussels – Gabriel Beckinger [FR]
A diaphanous projection in front of the Notre Dame de la Chapelle church. Inside, a polyphonic installation 4 screens & 4 voices: tenor, countertenor, soprano and baritone chanting XVIth century songs.
Awakening of Mary – Titia Ex [NL] and Polyphonic Installation#1 Bernard Gigounon & Currende ensemble [BE]
A radiant installation under the rails of the Bruxelles-Chapelle railway station. Luminon, Association Dolus & Dolus [FR]
Hijacking Nuit Blanche: these drummers were not part of the programme; they drummed their way through the streets, collecting money to finance a film… I didn’t catch its title; if anyone reading this knows something, please share… those guys were awesome!
Saving fragments of the history of our capital from falling into the gaping hole of oblivion: Raiders of the Lost Archive – Rebecca Shelley & YenDva3 [BE/RS]
Photos by Konstantinos Implikian