Great white shark in London


This video from London, England is called Shark Week: Finsbury Shark.

From Wildlife Extra:

Great white shark spotted in north London boating lake

Joggers, dog-walkers and early morning commuters in Finsbury Park in North London this week were treated to the unexpected sight of what appeared to be a great white shark fin slicing through the water among a group of rowers on the boating lake.

Luckily for all concerned, the ‘shark’ was a stunt set up to publicise a series of shark-related programmes on the Discovery Channel next week.

The shark’s fin was made by BAFTA award-winning art director and special effects designer Jamie Campbell, renowned for his work on Sea Monsters and the original Walking with Dinosaurs.

Campbell used a hand-carved polystyrene fin mounted onto a 3m tubular frame, with internal ballast and flotation devices to guide the shark. An underwater pulley system, connected between two points on the shoreline by an underwater steel cable, allowed the shark fin to travel at pace across the water.

Cameras were set up around the lake to capture the reactions of the unsuspecting boating enthusiasts. One person in every boat was aware of the prank.

A spokesman for Discovery Channel commented: “When you go for a genteel early morning row around the shallow Finsbury Park Boating Lake, the last thing you would expect to encounter is one of nature’s most renowned predators. All of the boaters saw the funny side and we can assure everyone that it is perfectly safe to go back in the water!”

Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which also features on Animal Planet, begins on Sunday 10 August and features documentaries such as Airjaws Finding Colossus, in which shark experts Chris Fallows and Jeff Kurr visit legendary Seal island in South Africa in search of great whites and Mythbuster Jawsome, which counts down the 25th biggest shark myths of all time.

Against glorification of World War I in London tonight


This video from England is called No Glory – Remembering World War One in Music and Poetry – St James’s Church, London – 25.10.13.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Anti-war events mark WWI centenary

Monday 4th August 2014

ANTI-WAR events will take place across the country today to counter 100th anniversary celebrations of Britain’s entry into WWI.

Britain’s recent record of foreign wars, including Iraq and Afghanistan, its commitment to Nato expansion and support for Israeli aggression make it essential that there is a strong anti-war message on the day, says Stop The War.

The campaign group is organising a No Glory — No More War rally in Parliament Square this evening from 6.30pm aimed at countering Prime Minister David Cameron’s “celebration” and “glorification” of the WWI centenary.

Speakers and performers at the event include actors Samuel West and Kika Markham.

Jeremy Corbyn MP will read Keir Hardie’s anti-war speech of 1914 and writer AL Kennedy will read Carol Ann Duffy’s Last Post in honour of Harry Patch, the last surviving soldier from the WWI trenches, who said until the day he died in 2009 that war was “legalised mass murder.”

Wreaths will be laid at bus stations and garages across London today in memory of the transport workers who died in the 1914-18 war.

Report of the London rally: here.

Soon, app for recognizing wild birds’ songs?


This video is called Some Brazilian birds and sounds.

From Queen Mary University in London, England:

Birdsongs automatically decoded by computer scientists

Scientists from Queen Mary University of London have found a successful way of identifying bird sounds from large audio collections, which could be useful for expert and amateur bird-watchers alike.

Thursday 17 July 2014

 

The analysis used recordings of individual birds and of dawn choruses to identify characteristics of bird sounds. It took advantage of large datasets of sound recordings provided by the British Library Sound Archive, and online sources such as the Dutch archive called Xeno Canto.

Publishing in the journal PeerJ, the authors describe an approach that combines feature-learning – an automatic analysis technique – and a classification algorithm, to create a system that can distinguish between which birds are present in a large dataset.

“Automatic classification of bird sounds is useful when trying to understand how many and what type of birds you might have in one location,” commented lead author Dr Dan Stowell from QMUL’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science and Centre for Digital Music.

Dr Stowell was recently awarded a prestigious five-year fellowship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop computerised processes to detect multiple bird sounds in large sets of audio recordings.

Birdsong has a lot in common with human language, even though it evolved separately. For example, many songbirds go through similar stages of vocal learning as we do, as they grow up, which makes them interesting to study. From them we can understand more about how human language evolved and social organisation in animal groups,” said Dr Stowell.

He added: “The attraction of fully automatic analysis is that we can create a really large evidence base to address these big questions.”

The classification system created by the authors performed well in a public contest using a set of thousands of recordings with over 500 bird species from Brazil. The system was regarded as the best-performing audio only classifier, and placed second overall out of entries from 10 research groups in the competition.

The researchers hope to drill down into more detail for their next project.

Dr Stowell says: “I’m working on techniques that can transcribe all the bird sounds in an audio scene: not just who is talking, but when, in response to whom, and what relationships are reflected in the sound, for example who is dominating the conversation.”

Want to know more? Read the paper.

United States cubist painter Max Weber exhibition


This video from London, England is called Private View – Max Weber: An American Cubist in Paris and London 1905-1915.

By Michal Boncza in London, England:

The wonders of Weber

Saturday 12th July 2014

MICHAL BONCZA welcomes an exhibition of works by an influential cubist painter

Max Weber: An American Cubist In Paris And New York 1905-1915

Ben Uri Gallery, London NW8

5/5

ART, identity and migration inform the Ben Uri gallery’s exhibition choices and this Max Weber show fits the bill to perfection. The fact that Weber’s work has not been exhibited in Britain since 1913 only heightens the interest.

Born in 1881 to a Jewish family in Bialystok — present-day north-east Poland but at the time part of the Russian empire — his peregrinations began at 10, when his family emigrated to New York.

It was there in 1898 that he began to study art but by 1905 Weber was in Paris, attracted by and absorbing the intellectual and artistic ferment of those heady days.

For a time he received tutoring, alongside many young artists, at the non-commercial Academie Henri Matisse from the master himself. But money ran out and after a relatively short three years Weber was back in New York.

His affectionate graphite sketch of his former tutor Matisse, perhaps completed before his return from Paris, is a delight — its minimalist strokes and likeness would certainly have pleased the master.

The experiences garnered in Paris allowed Weber to innovate and experiment in a varied palette of styles resulting in a sometimes disconcerting eclecticism.

Four dissimilar still natures on show, painted between 1910-12, reveal his dramatic progression from expressionism to cubism.

The principles of the latter are employed impressively when, “perched high above New York,” he renders the cityscape with subliminal feelings for its rich textures and crowded cement panorama.

Yet in The Dancers he retains elements of cubism but abandons fragmentation as a purely formal device to instead use it to organise the spirited movement and energy in simultaneous, separate perspectives reminiscent of reflections in a shattered mirror.

His contemporary — and fellow east European Jewish emigre — Marc Chagall’s expressionism comes to mind as the carnal sensuality feels as tangible as the bebop is audible.

Today Weber is considered to have been a major influence in the developing of modernism in the US. His work stemmed from many disparate influences, including Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau and African art, resulting in what’s been defined as “synthetic cubism with futurist devices.”

Once, while talking about his painting Chinese Restaurant (1915), Weber described the process thus: “light seemed to split into fragments in the interior… to express this, kaleidoscopic means had to be chosen.”

This video from London is called Cubist Max Weber’s ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ at Ben Uri Exhibition.

The iconic structure of his neighbourhood, the Brooklyn Bridge, is “hurled together in mighty mass against rolling clouds … this noise and dynamic force create in me a peace the opposite of itself.”

Weber’s words are as evocative as the brush strokes used to record that vision — it’s certainly the most vibrant image on display and possibly one of the best images of the bridge ever conceived.

Runs until October 5. Free. Opening times: (020) 7604-3991.