Il Deserto Rosso (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)

Antonioni and cinematographer Carlo Di Palma paint a dispiriting portrait of industrial toxicity, with the surrounding landscape not just dominated by the petrochemical plant, but literally poisoned by it, with everything (including the trees and grass) reduced to the same sooty ash-gray. By setting the story against the backdrop of industrialization and pollution, Antonioni encourages us to see a connection between interior and exterior, with the contaminated industrial wasteland. It is as damning a portrayal of environmental ruin as anything ever committed to film, yet Antonioni curiously denied that Red Desert had a socio-political agenda, insisting instead that he was simply documenting in his own artistically heightened way the rise of industrialization (he even said in one interview with Cahiers du cinema that he wanted to depict the “beauty” of the factories).(via)


Ninebyfour is an archetypical tubelight fixture, crafted from an atypical material; wood. This is possible through the use of energy efficient Philips LED light tubes. These LED light tubes eliminate the bulk of electronics necessary for traditional neon tube light. And the light does not warm up during use, allowing for the use of wood and cork. And-and; the led tube will probably out-live those born before 1980.

Ninebyfour is made from Stadshout; salvaged wood from Amsterdam trees. On the cork the geographical coordinates of the unfortunate tree are stamped, find the trees’ city origins by simply entering these coordinates in google.

  • Industrialization, Urbanization, and The Role of Water
  • Christopher Collins
  • WaterBytes

WaterByte #12 - Industrialization, Urbanization, and The Role of Water

Length: 5 minutes, 47 seconds

Script: Click here to download a PDF of the script and references

The destruction of wildlife habitats, the loss of water for evaporation and hence a reduction in rainfall, and other unforseen environmental fall-outs have proved devastating. Urbanization, altered flows and draining wetlands all contribute to the growing problems. 

Photo: Urbanization in Asia, from United Nations Photo on flickr.

Check out more related material Chris has on his delicious social bookmarking account, and by searching for the “wearepsuwater" tag.

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(#302) Knocking People Up With Long Poles

The sound of an alarm clock in the morning is one of the worst parts of waking up for work, and one of the worst inventions ever conceived. As someone who is a total ogre in the mornings, waking up to the shriek of an alarm clock or even one of those iPhone alarms is always an unwelcome experience.

I learned today though that before the advent of the alarm clock, people used to get woken up by a knocker-up or knocker-upper, a person who would literally bang on your window in the morning to make sure you got up on time.

This was particularly popular during the industrial revolution, when the modern work week was forming. People would earn a few pence a week to go house to house other banging on a persons window, or using a long pole to tape on windows on higher floors, not leaving until they were certain that the person inside was up. They were asked to do this by the way, otherwise this is a pretty sinister public service.

If you were a morning person, this would actually have been a pretty amazing albeit low paying job. I can only imagine how many people had shoes and things thrown at them out of the windows of people like me who just need that five more minutes. How do you hit snooze on a knocker-upper?