Public failure. And no time for stories.

This singer on stage, Patti Smith, mouthed the lyrics to Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," but her voice had left her body. Smith also went stiff. Her hands locked in place above her stomach, grasping onto one another. The guitar quieted down and slowed its rhythm, and Patti looked to the crowd: "I'm sorry," with a smile of discomfort. She tried to restart her voice but found choked sounds. "I'm sorry," again to the crowd. And then, looking to the conductor: "I'm sorry. Can we start that section..." The guitar had become a trickle of notes, and now its strings stopped vibrating entirely. Every sound left the room. Patti looked again toward the audience: "I apologize. I'm sorry. I'm so nervous." The crowd at the Nobel Prize Ceremony in Stockholm started to clap. 

Playing with light and vision

The arts have always held a mirror to our lives, and now, artists are managing just that with the process that drives our lives: the inner workings of cognition. I'm thinking of two exhibits that play with the connection between light and vision. The first, by James Turrell, involves giving viewers visual experiences that demand they see themselves seeing. Typically, we look at something in the distance without noticing the process that allows us to view that something, but Turrell sets up careful experiences with light that leave no other option but to attend to one's own process of perception.

Causal reasoning with Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh wants honey, there's no stopping him, and he'll play naive about the threat of bees so long as that justifies more honey for him. In this clip, Pooh claims that one can never know how bees will respond when you steal their honey.

When the bees launch a full-blown attack on Pooh, the possibility of bee aggression becomes a reality, and Pooh finds himself in a battle: "Christopher Robin," he announces, "I have come to a very important decision: These are the wrong sorts of beeeeeees!" Pooh's go-to phrase, "Oh bother," encapsulates his inability to preemptively route around trouble. When Pooh's balloon runs out of air—an outcome he also fails to see in advance—he even says, "I think I'll come down now," only recognizing the disaster once the disaster's in progress. The beauty is that even after the encounter, Pooh quite cheerfully concludes, "You never can tell with bees," returning to his original impression about the unknown.

Pooh's own naivete must strike children and adults alike as reckless, free, and optimistic, and it puts us in a position of greater knowledge as we watch his escapades.

Viewpoint in Finding Nemo

A student in my Media and Mind course, hunting for examples of viewpoint flexibility in film, found the opening sequence to Pixar's Finding Nemo. When we watched the clip together in class, it knocked our socks off. The sheer number of viewpoint switches in the 21 seconds of film and the brilliance with which the director and artists planned these viewpoints gave us all a lesson on the power of storytelling in film.

First, we encounter Coral, the mother on the right, and Marlin, the father on the left, in a state or surprise. We don't know what about, because the perspective limits us. We see only an emotion.

Multiperspective Hitchcock

All the witness and participant perspective shots from Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" displayed as if anchored from a single overview perspective. Incredible work and perfectly hammers home the point that we build 3D models even without a consistent vantage point.