My daughter was raised during the siege of Aleppo. I had to make a film for her

For Sama, a new documentary from award winning Syrian journalist Waad al-Kateab has won global acclaim The camera focuses on Samas face. She is the sweetest baby and looks, at first glance, as though her life might be ordinary. Her eyes are a transitory newborn colour, greyish green, waiting to turn brown. Her gold earrings look over-large in her tiny ears. Sama means sky in Arabic a sky, as her mother imagines it, where no bombs fall, with ordinary clouds and sunshine. So far, this is footage that could be the work of any doting parent, but Samas mother is journalist Waad al-Kateab and this is her documentary For Sama, filmed during the Syrian war. In the film al-Kateab sings …

‘Troubles tourism’: should Derry be celebrating its political murals?

Fifty years since the Battle of the Bogside, some fear the new status of Derrys murals as a tourist attraction will stop the community overcoming the past One of the first things you see as you enter Bogside is a 20ft mural of a 12-year-old boy, wearing a gas mask and clutching a petrol bomb. Painted on the side of a social housing property, its a stark reminder of the violence that tore Derry apart during NI Tourism report puts political murals as the eighth most visited attraction in the entire country. The neighbouring Museum of Free Derry, which tells the story of Bloody Sunday, attracted 35,000 visitors in 2018. According to the tourist board, all coach tours to the …

A world of walls: the brutish power of man-made barriers

Trumps border wall isnt unique. From Calais to Hungary, walls are always with us The latest atrocity in El Paso, when an avowed white supremacist drove for 10 hours to a supermarket used by Latino families in order to murder and maim, was explicitly motivated by Trumps baleful, anti-immigrant rhetoric. He was also a big fan of Trumps wall, which Trump himself has rhapsodically described as an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall. Yet despite its Ozymandian ambition, the beautiful wall has stuttered and stumbled, still more frenzied rallying cry than bricks and mortar reality. Geography and logistics quietly conspire against it Americas border with Mexico is nearly 2,000 miles long, for a start. Incendiary talk of spiralling …

Depth of Field: The Otherworldliness of the Democratic Presidential Debates

Reality TV is meant to trick the eyes. The high drama of housewives bickering about who said what over a bottle of wine. Cast members secretly scheming to avoid elimination off the island. Contestants blatantly lying to rig the game in their favor. What unfolds before us, to quote Susan Murray and Laura Ouelette in 2008's Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture, "is an unstable text that encourages viewers to test out their own notions of the real, the ordinary, and the intimate against the representation before them." This week, inside Detroit's Fox Theatre, Democratic presidential hopefuls participated in the second round of debates. Last night found two of the top candidates—Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Joe Biden, along with …

Using AI and Film to Track Tear Gas Use Against Civilians

Filmmaker Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour centers on the pale, calm face of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden holed up in a plain Hong Kong hotel room. Her latest star is even more impassive—an aluminum tear gas grenade—but it's seen amid surreal pulsating color. The 10-minute short, Triple Chaser, is named for that tear gas canister, a branded product of Florida’s Safariland Group that human rights groups say has been used by US border agents against migrants in Tijuana and by Israeli forces in Palestine. The film, a collaboration with the nonprofit Forensic Architecture, documents how that organization is devel­oping machine-learning software that could help uncover where Triple Chaser canisters are being launched or thrown. It also accuses prominent …

Theme parks, pubs and ‘human zoos’: how the Victorians invented leisure

Entrepreneurs came up with increasingly elaborate ways to part Londoners from their money, inventing many staples of the modern leisure industry Whether it was visiting a human zoo, taking a bull on a hot-air balloon ride, or singing risqu songs about rhubarb, Victorian Londoners loved to have fun. As entrepreneurs and impresarios came up with increasingly elaborate ways to make money from the capitals huge potential audience, Victorians effectively invented the modern leisure industry including theme parks, pubs and professional football. As a new book by historian Lee Jackson explains, the hunt for profit took place against the backdrop of typical Victorian concerns surrounding morality, class and empire. So where did Victorians go for fun? And what still exists today? …

Which is the world’s most vertical city?

You might think of Hong Kong, given its famous skyscraper skyline, but by different measures of verticality other cities come out on top Looking out from sky100, Hong Kongs highest observation deck on the 100th floor of the citys tallest building, the 494-metre-high International Commerce Centre, you get a 360-degree view of one of the worlds most famous skylines an urban jungle framed by mountains and the gleaming Victoria harbour, with endless clusters of high-rise buildings packed so closely together they resemble a game of Tetris. Its little wonder a city of such visible density has more skyscrapers than anywhere else in the world. According to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), Hong Kong has 355 buildings …

Devendra Banharts cultural highlights

The musician on his favourite neighbourhood gallery, Cate Le Bons incredible new album and a heroic meditation podcast 1. AppWeCroak This app looks quite cute with its frog icon, but five times a day it puts a banner on your phone saying: Dont forget, youre going to die. When I first saw it, I thought it was going to be dark and intense and a source of anxiety, but what it actually serves to do is disengage me from identifying with my ego and the source of tremendous stress that is this entire existence. It helps me realise that the things that Im concerned about are pretty much insignificant. And if you click on the app, you get a quote …

David Chipperfield’s Berlin temple: ‘Like ascending to the realm of the gods’

Twenty years in the making, this dazzling synthesis of the classical and modern takes Museum Island to new heights Friedrich Wilhelm IV described his vision for James Simon Gallery stands as a 134m (120m) Parthenon-on-Spree, forming a handsome new entrance to one of the worlds most important repositories of cultural treasures. We were quite nervous, says Chipperfield, standing in the lofty new ticketing lobby, where stripes of sunlight flood in between the row of slender white columns outside. The challenge was how to create something that was of its context and also of our time, in this incredibly sensitive location. He had good reason to be anxious. His first design, unveiled in 2006, was slammed by German critics as grossly …

Punk hellraiser Lydia Lunch: ‘I’m chronically misunderstood but I get off on it’

The runaway, singer and counter-culture icon is hitting 60 and is as incendiary as ever, touring and raging against polluters and politicians in a rip-roaring book Lydia Lunch turned 60 this year, but age has done little to dim this counterculture icons lust for life. Decades after her start as the nihilist 16-year-old frontwoman of 1970s no-wave band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, the New York-born apocalyptician is a revered veteran of the US underground: a writer, spoken-word performer, musician, actor and artist. Lunchs style is raw and incendiary, all sex and death and taboo-busting feminist rage. And in 2019, the sexagenarian is as unapologetic and active as ever still writing, touring, collaborating and performing. Lunch is in Colchester when …

Nico in Manchester: ‘She loved the architecture and the heroin’

She had been a top model, then sang with the Velvet Underground, and in 1981 Nico moved to Manchester. Her friends there share their touching, alarming memories of a true bohemian An imperious blond German ex-model with a voice once described as like a body falling through a window, Nico was already extraordinary by the time she leant her vocals to songs including Femme Fatale and All Tomorrows Parties on the Velvet Undergrounds classic first album, produced by Andy Warhol. Soon after that, she embarked on a solo career, and made records, such as The Marble Index, that were even darker, with despairing lyrics and a wheezing harmonium accompanying Nicos Teutonic tones. By this time, she was no longer blond …

Replay: Welp, We Might Be Getting a Final Fantasy XIV TV Show

Welcome to Replay, where you can catch up on a week's worth of videogame news in just a couple of minutes. This week, Sony is looking to make a Final Fantasy XIV show, and also, uh, there's Budweiser-related news? It's a weird one; strap in. Sony's Making Use of Their TV Division to Make a … Final Fantasy XIV Show? As we reported recently, Sony has opened up a wide-ranging TV division to develop, produce, and distribute television adaptations of their videogame properties and, presumably, the properties of their partners. Their first choice, though, is an odd one. As PC Gamer reports, Sony's working on a live-action television show about the massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Final Fantasy XIV. The …

Take me to the Boom Boom Room! Inside the risqu hotel for 24-hour party people

Americas raciest hotel chain has turned a boring British office block into an Austin Powers-style crash pad complete with retro reception, leftie library and rooftop baths. Groovy baby! When the clerks of Camdens highways department were issuing parking fines from their gloomy office in the 1970s, little can they have imagined that jet-setting hipsters would one day be supping cocktails in the public library below them before taking an al fresco dip up on the roof. Maligned for years as the concrete egg box of Euston Road, the Shawn Hausman, the Los Angeles-based designer behind the Standards flamboyant interiors, who started out creating film sets for live models in a vitrine behind the reception desk, part of an art installation …

Fans Are Better Than Tech at Organizing Information Online

Kudos to the fans. One of the nominees for the Hugo Awards this year is Archive of Our Own, a fanfiction archive containing nearly 5 million fanworks—about the size of the English Wikipedia, and several years younger. It's not just the fanfic, fanart, fanvids, and other fanworks, impressive as they are, that make Archive of Our Own worthy of one of the biggest honors in science fiction and fantasy. It's also the architecture of the site itself. At a time when we're trying to figure out how to make the internet livable for humans, without exploiting other humans in the process, AO3 (AO3, to its friends) offers something the rest of tech could learn from. Here's a problem that AO3 …

The skyscraper infinity pool sorry, but where’s the diving board?

It is meant to be a boundary-busting punch for the sky. But this design for a rooftop London pool is just another high-rise ego gimmick In 1924, swimming pool designerno apparent means of escape, as if the digital people are in some kind of sublime prison cell for the super rich. We are assured there is in fact a way in and out, courtesy of a rotating spiral staircase which rises from the pool floor, and that this is an entirely buildable proposition that includes an inbuilt anemometer to vary the water level and access to the pool. Underwater swimming … how the pool could look Photograph: Compass Pools The designer, Alex Kemsley, said, the building started life as a …

Unbuilt Tokyo: ‘depthscrapers’ and a million-person pyramid

Had the creators of the underground skyscraper had their way, the Japanese capital might have looked very different indeed Protected by cylindrical walls of reinforced concrete, the steel and glass depthscrapers extend hundreds of metres underground. Only a single floor of each inverted 35-storey skyscraper is visible at ground level. Giant mirrors mounted directly above the central wells reflect sunlight to the apartments below. Prismatic glass ensures even light throughout the day, while fresh, conditioned air is pumped down from the surface. The whole structure, in case of an earthquake, will vibrate together, resisting any crushing strain, declared a 1931 edition of Everyday Science and Mechanics that called the design the product of the best engineering brains of Japan. The …