‘Wanderers’ – by Erik Wernquist

 

While all the hype about Interstellar and that-film-where-Matthew-McConaughey-is-soaked-into-black-hole thing is dwindling, Swedish artist Erik Wernquist is now making his own space epic, supported by photographs taken by NASA spacecraft traveling across the solar system, ranging from Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, to their revolving moons. Utilizing the images and his own realist concept, supported by scientific theories, Wernquist devised spaceships, human explorers, colonies, as well as human settlement in asteroids, something by which we could expect to observe by the end of this century.

Too poor it lasts for less than 4 minutes. Still, it’s a wholly breathtaking 4-minute moment you will regret not seeing ‘Wanderers’. If it were to last three hours, it could have been ‘Interstellar 2’, or any title else.

Christopher Nolan, you’ve got a rival I should say!

 

Don’t forget to visit Wernquist’s gallery and take a look at all the pictures taken by NASA spacecraft (together with his lengthy, detailed explanation for each).

La Detente – a short animation

 

In a Baz Luhrmann typical story, the opening always commences with a happy-go-merry atmosphere. Couples in love, people around infatuated enough to give support, and life seems as though things were destined to be -needless to say – ‘happier and merrier’ each day. Then things start to not work out well. And it ends with either tragedy, or devastation.

Okay, Baz Luhrmann is an overstatement, or even an imprecise comparison, but looking at this award-winning short film by Pierre Ducos and Francois Bey, which has been well-prepared for over 4 years, and released on the centenary commemoration of World War I, this is surely going beyond the way of that Australian filmmaker, and of course, with more intensity.

It all starts with ‘imagine’. When the world is on its nadir, and desperation looms elsewhere, particularly amid a battlefield, a soldier, whoever he or she is, will eventually find his or her own inner child again. Imagine, a world where humans don’t need to fight a bloody, merciless war. Imagine, a world where only plastic toys go to war, and humans look at the amusement of this scene. Imagine, a world where plastic toys fight not with sharp objects, but with candies and lollipops. It all comes with ‘imagine’, and when reality penetrates like a shockwave, it’s ready to haunt you for a lifetime.

It’s both entertaining (well, plastic toy animation shooting lollipops and candies, isn’t that funny?), but also scary in the end (spoiler alert: some ‘graphic’ sceneries, intense music, and violence).

The changing face of international students in US

intl students in US 2014

 

The number of international students admitted in the United States in 2014 is now on its record high. 886,000 – a significant 8% increase compared to last year – is already a burgeoning figure, and this trend continues to increase. What does this mean then? The world still puts its confidence in the superpower – not so much in its ability to lead the global geopolitical order anymore, but rather in its ability to deliver quality education and boundless opportunities to succeed (the American dream to some extent still works). Having nearly half a trillion US$ to spend every year in research, why waste this chance?

But what really strikes out is the structure of international students nowadays. As you can see from the picture above, nearly one-third of all these students originate simply from one country: China. Despite China’s rise as a major, global power, many of these people, exhausted by the country’s over-competitive curriculum system, now resort to overseas studies as an alternative for either their children or themselves to grow. US, in fact, turns out to be the most favored destination. And guess what? 50% of all international students in the country are based simply from three Asian countries: China, India, and South Korea (the third being a principal US ally).

Read the summarized report in Science Magazine to know more about this trend.

 

And download the infographic to learn more about the facts.

IIE – Open Doors 2014 -Infographic -InternationalStudents

Africans in Guangzhou – ‘Chocolate City’

africans in guangzhou

 

Migration has been a continuous trait in human journeys across the world, one continent and beyond. Globalization, in fact, makes it even more intensive, and more complicating than ever; as many as 250 million people over the planet – that’s a quarter billion – are now living outside their home countries, and it is rapidly increasing higher than ever.

Global migration changes the demographic faces of countries, cities, and societies; they also transform how people perceive of social and cultural fabric within their neighborhood, forcing them to rethink about ‘durability’. As changes are always constant and imminent, people, like it or not, must be prepared for changes.

Guangzhou, one of China’s largest cities, is one example. Populated by over 10 million people, this city, once nearly homogenously Chinese, has seen a drastic influx of African migrants, all of whom are in search of better life. Between 20,000 and 200,000 Africans, scattered across dozens of countries over the continent, are now calling this metropolis ‘their second home’. They don’t simply set up businesses, earn money, and leave it; they are meant to inhabit it. Some marry local women, and now, a whole new generation of ‘Afro-Chinese’ children are now growing up in Guangzhou. It’s something no one had imagined three decades earlier, when everyone was busy about market reforms.

 

View the whole slides in Al Jazeera to understand better about this brand-new community.

JT Singh gets the Internet ‘shanghaied’

 

A few months ago, JT Singh and Rob Whitworth shook the Internet with their lively city-branding portrayal of Pyongyang, a city otherwise known for its totalitarian, robot-like population as always perceived by media influence.

This time, Internet gets ‘Shanghaied’, as the word implies, from this China’s most populous metropolis. Once a city with empty skyline three decades ago, today, the number of skyscrapers has surpassed 4,000 – according to Whitworth, twice the number of those in New York City, the pioneer of ‘corporate cathedrals’. Even with 4,000, this is already a breathtaking fact. Welcome to the future.

Hmm, they should try Hong Kong next time. It even has 8,000 skyscrapers, no match for the world ranks.

Watch the short till the end to know the answer

 

Just some hints, so you know: it’s set in a some sort of advanced world, inhabited by millions of potato-like nose-less creatures stacked like salmon cans, and the world keeps expanding. Things seem to be fine, with daily, mundane activities going over and over, until one day, a bluish ‘meteor’ strikes their world, and things start going wrong. A ‘potato-like creature’, case zero, holding that bluish stuff which turns out to be slime-like, starts to disintegrate, and the germs it carry begin spreading beyond control to its entire populace. As more and more these blue slimes invade their world, a prospect of apocalypse becomes seemingly inevitable, and everything reaches its critical, boiling point in leaps and bounds.

But I won’t tell you what it actually is all about until you watch the end of this video (which is set in Channel 4).

Either Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay should learn more from this video, I suppose.

 

Enjoy!

Dear metal fans, this is Babymetal

babymetal

 

 

Telling from their appearance, you may be forgiven to assume they are simply ‘another so-so, mainstream J-pop group’. I personally find it hard to identify their genre, precisely, but here’s what I can sum up. It’s still a J-pop girl band, definitely, but this time, with a rather electronic, catchy, and of course, metal touch, a touch that no longer involves screeching, screaming, intense headbanging (to a certain extent there still is), and ear-deafening tones. Boundaries between music genres are becoming increasingly blurred, and these girls are now here to shutter our previous stereotyping about what ‘metal’ actually is about. Welcome to 21st century, headbangers.

Bonus: an NPR article about the Japanese group which consists of three ‘baby-faced’ teenage girls singing metal lyrics in cute, puppy style.

 

One video you can listen below: