Drizzle makes White Night crowd fizzle, displays still sizzle

Crowd numbers at the final night of White Night were dampened by rain – but those who braved the wet enjoyed an absorbing display of acts.

The weather gods had been kind for the first two nights of the event, but around 2mm of rain on Saturday night caused many to stay home.

Songcloud was one of the installations at White Night

Some acts were slightly delayed due to the inclement weather.

It meant the total crowd for the three nights was unlikely to surpass last year's 700,000, which event organisers hoped to top.

Organisers estimated 375,000 people attended over Thursday and Friday. They had hoped for Saturday's attendance to be significantly higher than previous nights.

Many CBD roads were closed to vehicles and AFL wasn't played in Melbourne on a Saturday for the first time this season, meaning revellers were free to roam the city.

While not the most engaging event of the night, around a hundred onlookers were impressed by the vivid images of Harry and Hermione beamed onto the Old Treasury Building as part of a Harry Potter installation.

In a stage buried deep underneath the spire of the Arts Centre – one of the few indoor locations of the festival – Superdrone featured artists playing drone music.

The show was an homage to music containing only one note, an ancient type of sound associated with music as varied as the didgeridoos of Australia's Indigenous peoples to the techno music of Detroit, USA.

One act involved a small orchestra – including a cello, clarinet, drums and organ – and a synthesiser playing electronic sounds. The group played a 30 minute-plus piece of ambient music that undulated throughout and culminated in a spine-tingling crescendo.

At some of the city's top diners, punters feasted on specially-made toasties, with each restaurant giving the staple its own spin.

At Grossi Florentino, $60 truffle and prosciutto toasties were on the menu, while at Elektra – George Calombaris' latest restaurant – moussaka toasties were in order.

Patrons enjoyed performances at the Spiritual Realm at Carlton Gardens, Physical Realm at Birrarung Marr, and the Sensory Realm at Treasury Gardens.

Kat Andrews, 27, said she enjoyed this year’s event more than previous instalments because the roads were less congested by foot-traffic.

“Having it over three nights spread it out nicely, I think,” she said.

“There were some pretty interesting acts like Superdrone tonight and the Heliosphere which I saw on Friday … all the different sections of the event were really well thought-out."

Source: Read Full Article

Vincent Gallo Buys Trump Tower Condo at Heavy Discount in All Cash Deal

Vincent Gallo, one of Hollywood’s more enigmatic and eccentric if semi-retired ducks, a 2003 Palme de’Or nominee (“The Brown Bunny”) who hasn’t been seen on the silver screen in more than five years, has paid just under $1.5 million — in cash — for a one-bedroom and 1.5-bathroom condominium on a high floor of New York City’s Trump Tower. Gallo, a savvy real estate and architecture aficionado who makes no secret of his support for the building’s president owner, Donald Trump, told the New York Post he “could smell a slowdown in the market” and, without even touring the apartment personally, made a “lowball” offer with “no conditions and no contingencies” for the almost 1,100 sq. ft. unit that had languished on the market for more than three years with asking prices as unrealistically high as $3.4 million. Gallo, who ran away to New York as a teenager, recounted his awe of the building as it was built, a glistening phoenix that rose out of the blight of 1970s New York. He went to say he thinks Trump Tower is “the best building in New York,” which will no doubt please the resident president, and that this “was the best real estate deal” he’s made in a long time.

The front door opens efficiently if inelegantly directly into a 30-foot-long combination living/dining room stripped of almost all architectural detailing with basic parquet floors and two humongous floor-to-ceiling windows that provide up-close views of the surrounding towers and an inarguably spectacular, bird’s eye view down Fifth Avenue toward and beyond the Empire State Building. A short corridor with an itty-bitty coat closet and a convenient, nice-to-have powder room leads to a compact kitchen that does not benefit from a single window. With the same, cloud-walker views as the living room, the master bedroom includes two closets, one of them a walk-in almost as big as the kitchen, and a sizable bathroom with a bidet but without a window. The unit was listed with Leonel Piraino and Rafael Salas of Brown Harris Stevens.

While pets are forbidden, residents of the gold-trimmed black-glass high-rise pay hefty fees — Gallo’s unit traded with monthly common charges of nearly $1,900 plus almost $2,200 in monthly taxes — that provide them with a discreet lobby apart from the glitzy, triple-height atrium where Donald Trump announced his candidacy in 2015. There are full-time doormen, valet and concierge services and, because some rich people can’t be bothered to push a button or two, elevator operators.

Well known for his penchant for architecturally significant homes, the iconoclast filmmaker, musician, artist and dedicated provocateur is no stranger to property gossip columns. He once owned maverick architect John Lautner’s exotic Wolff Residence that’s snuggled dramatically into a steep hillside above the Sunset Strip; In 2005 he paid $2 million for David Geffen’s former duplex condo at the illustrious Sierra Towers complex in West Hollywood that he lucratively flipped the following year for $3 million to Cher, who in turn sold it in 2013 for $5.25 million to billionaire Vitasoy heiress Karen Lo; And, last year Gallo surmised Tucson, Ariz., was a good real estate bet and splashed out $3.25 million for a thrillingly cantilevered, Rick Joy-designed ultra-contemporary masterpiece with cinematic desert and city lights views.

Popular on Variety

Source: Read Full Article

Netflix Is Testing Human-Curated ‘Collections’

Netflix, a company powered by the strategic use of data, relies on artificial intelligence to suggest new content that its streaming customers are likely to be interested in.

Now it’s looking to potentially add a human touch: The company has launched a limited-scale test of “Collections,” a new feature that presents groups of movies and TV shows organized by themes. That’s in addition to Netflix’s personalized, data-driven recommendations and hundreds of algorithmically generated categories.

Currently, test is limited to Netflix’s iOS app and is available to a subset of the company’s customer base. Netflix confirmed the test, first reported by TechCrunch, and said the Collections are selected by members of its creative teams.

“We’re always looking for new ways to connect our fans with titles we think they’ll love, so we’re testing out a new way to curate Netflix titles into collections on the Netflix iOS app,” a company rep said in a statement. The Netflix spokesperson added that, as with all of the company’s tests, “Collections” may or may not become permanent features.

The categories of curated content in Netflix’s test include “Watch in One Night,” “Oddballs & Outcasts,” and “Just for Laughs” and “Critics Love These Shows,” per screenshots posted by TechCrunch and the Verge.

News of Netflix’s curated-recommendations test comes after HBO earlier this month launched a promotional website called “Recommended by Humans,” featuring paid testimonials from purportedly actual fans of its shows, a jab at streaming services like Netflix that use algorithmically driven content suggestions.

That said, Netflix already offers a curated Collections section for its legacy DVD-by-mail service, with categories that include “Oscar Nominees of 2019” and “From Books to Movies.”

Meanwhile, this week Netflix began rolling out a new “Latest” section in its apps that includes listings of newly released titles, and TV shows that will be released during the current and following weeks. The upcoming titles include a trailer, and users can request to be reminded when a title they are interested in becomes available to stream.

Popular on Variety

Source: Read Full Article

Photos Of Tom Holland & Robert Downey Jr. Hanging Out Post-Spider-Man Dispute Are So Bittersweet

Get ready to love this 3,000. On the heels of Sony and Marvel’s Spider-Man dispute, Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr. hung out — proving that Spider-Man will always be part of the MCU family. Holland and Downey Jr. — who last starred opposite each other in Avengers: Endgame as Peter Parker and Tony Stark, respectively — spent some time in the great outdoors and shared a series of selfies taken with the help from a shoe. As in, zoom in closer on the pictures and Downey Jr.’s sunglasses seemingly reflect sneakers propping up the camera. His fictional counterpart is an industrialist, after all. Tony Stark would so approve of this makeshift selfie method.

Holland took to Instagram on Aug. 22 to capture their hangout session. He simply captioned the set of selfies with the Spider-Man line, “We did it Mr Stark!” The four selfies conclude with the two posing with Iron Man and Spider-Man figures. His caption now feels like a deep cut to fans considering the recent Spider-Man news.

In an announcement that sent shockwaves across the Marvel fandom, Deadline reported on Aug. 20 that Spider-Man would no longer be part of the MCU due to a dispute between Sony and Marvel. Both studios were unable to reach an agreement in regards to the future rights of Spider-Man, resulting in a cutting of the ties. It’s unclear how exactly this will effect future films, but, it will almost definitely mean the end to Spider-Man and Iron Man’s closely intertwined story.

As per Deadline, sources maintained that Marvel president Kevin Feige withdrew from future Spider-Man films after Sony declined to meet the terms of a “50/50 co-fi stake” for Marvel’s "continued guiding hand." However, Sony issued the following statement to Bustle on Aug. 20 about the matter: “Much of today’s news about Spider-Man has mischaracterized recent discussions about Kevin Feige’s involvement in the franchise. We are disappointed, but respect Disney’s decision not to have him continue as a lead producer of our next live action Spider-Man film.”

The statement continued, “We hope this might change in the future, but understand that the many new responsibilities that Disney has given him – including all their newly added Marvel properties – do not allow time for him to work on IP they do not own. Kevin is terrific and we are grateful for his help and guidance and appreciate the path he has helped put us on, which we will continue.”

The dispute between Sony and Marvel stunned fans, as the fate of the beloved superhero remains unclear. Still, Deadline reported that Sony has two more Spider-Man films in the works with Holland set to star. But, even though fans will be seeing more of Holland’s Peter Parker on the big screen, audiences are still wondering how his story can move forward after being so heavily integrated into the MCU. Furthermore, Spider-Man’s departure from the MCU would raise a lot of questions given the events put forth in Infinity, Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home, the latter of which served as a major box office hit upon its July 2 theatrical release. As Deadline noted, Far From Home currently serves as Sony’s highest-grossing film.

Peter Parker’s role in the MCU may be unclear at the moment, but at least his friendship with Tony Stark lives on forever — both on and off screen.

Source: Read Full Article

Here’s Why Seth Is Following Justin Around On ’13 Reasons Why’ Season 3

Spoilers ahead for 13 Reasons Why Season 3. All the kids on 13 Reasons Why have been through a lot, but few have had it as bad as Justin Foley. And even though he’s now living with the Jensens and is in a relatively better mental space, his past isn’t entirely behind him. When Seth starts following Justin in 13 Reasons Why Season 3, it threatens to undo any progress he’s made.

Seth (or Meth Seth, as Justin calls him) has been in Justin’s life since Season 1. He was (and maybe still is?) his mom’s drug dealer boyfriend, who verbally and physically abused both Justin and his mom. One time, he strangled Justin right in front of his mom; she told him to stop, but only because she was worried the neighbors would call the cops. In Season 2, Mr. Porter went to Justin’s apartment to look for him, but ended up getting into a fight with Seth on the lawn. When Mr. Porter was released from the police, he learned that Seth was brought in every other week. So suffice to it to say, Seth is a bad dude.

Even with Justin’s mom MIA, Seth is still after Justin in Season 3 because he stole a thousand dollars when he left home at the end of Season 1, and then more when he returned in Season 2. The events of the show have all happened within roughly a year, so it makes sense that Seth is still waiting to collect. At the end of Season 2, he was watching Justin — who had returned to town but was living with Clay — from his car.

When Season 3 picks up, approximately eight months have passed since Justin returned to Crestmont. At some point in those intervening months, Seth started following Justin around town. When Justin got a barista job at Monet’s, Seth harassed him about his unpaid debt, and Justin started dealing drugs for Seth in order to repay him. That led Justin to start dipping into Seth’s supply and using drugs again, getting him deeper into trouble.

Desperate, Justin went to Bryce for help, and the two of them gave Seth enough cash to (hopefully) get him out of Justin’s life for good. When Bryce is found dead, Justin worries Seth is the one who killed him, and that his murder is his own fault by proxy. Having a friend who can hand over thousands of dollars without blinking an eye is handy when you owe money to a criminal who has threatened to kill you… but dangerous if that criminal sees that rich friend as a way to an easy paycheck.

Any time Seth is in Justin’s life, it’s not good news. He’s a greedy, cutthroat criminal with no morals and a lot of time to spare. So while the investigation intro Bryce’s murder largely centers around his former classmates, Seth is also a viable suspect. He’s scarier than all of the Liberty High students combined.

If you or someone you know is seeking help for substance use, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357).

If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.

Source: Read Full Article

Film Review: ‘Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles’

Still beloved and routinely revived 55 years after its Broadway debut — including a Yiddish-language version now playing in New York — “Fiddler on the Roof” is a popular phenomenon that shows no sign of subsiding. Max Lewkowicz’s “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” provides an entertaining if hardly exhaustive overview of how the unlikely success came to be. The story it tells might easily have filled an engrossing documentary twice the length of this competent, not-particularly-inspired one.

Someday, doubtless, we’ll get that deeper dive. Meanwhile, “Miracle” opens on multiple screens Aug. 23 in New York and Los Angeles, expanding to more U.S. cities the following week, and with a high likelihood of finding a readymade audience nearly everywhere it goes.

Dedicated to recently deceased producer Hal Prince, “Miracle” benefits from the fact that so many of the show’s original prime movers were still alive to be interviewed: not director Jerome Robbins or star Zero Mostel, but composer Jerry Bock, lyricist Sheldon Harnick and book author Joseph Stein, among others. (Stein and Bock both passed away in 2010, but are seen reminiscing in footage shot late enough that it blends seamlessly here.) It was Stein who steered Harnick and Bock towards Tevye the Milkman and his five daughters, when originally other, less musical-friendly Sholem Aleichem writings had been considered for adaptation.

Still, “Fiddler” (its title concept, as well as Boris Aronson’s set designs, inspired by Marc Chagall paintings) did not seem a Broadway natural at first. Backers were wary of a tuner about pogrom-persecuted Russian Jews. A Detroit tryout was poorly received, and even after extensive changes on the road resulted in great improvement, New York reviews weren’t stellar. (The Times considered it a “near-miss.”)

But it was an immediate, enormous popular success nonetheless, one that was duplicated when Norman Jewison (a goy, by the way) directed the 1971 film version. Less explicable, perhaps, is the show’s continuing ubiquity in places where one might expect its ethnic and historical specificity to be a real roadblock — Japan, for instance, where we see numerous clips from a recent production.

But as many point out here, tragicomedic “Fiddler” deals with universal themes of parenting, marriage, bigotry, faith, individual struggle and communal identity. While 1905 shtetl life may have an exotic appeal (and even the nostalgic allure of so-called simpler times), there has never been a moment since the 1965 premiere when the forced “ethnic cleansing” exodus Tevye and other denizens of Anatevka suffer hasn’t been replicated somewhere on the global political landscape.

We get insight from recent and past cast members (including the film’s Topol), as well as theater scholars, historians and prominent enthusiasts. There are brief, charming animations in a Chagall mode by Tess Martin. One major delight is hearing a couple songs cut before opening night — though had they stayed, they might easily have become as classic as everything else in a score that’s set up permanent residence in the pop-cultural bloodstream. Serious aficionados are unlikely to find much else that surprises here, as familiar anecdotes of the moody, bullying Robbins’ clashes with Mostel and everyone else are briefly rehashed.

“A Miracle of Miracles” feels less like a thorough screen history than a PBS-ready introduction to the “Fiddler” big picture for casual fans. Nothing wrong with that, although after all this time it’s hard not to expect something a tad deeper. The show has touched so many, in ways that go well beyond the surface entertainment value of later Broadway smashes like “Cats” or “Phantom,” that this doc’s brisk survey of talking points can’t help but seem superficial.

Still, there’s considerable pleasure to be had here, particularly in the interweaving of several decades’ performance clips in various staging styles and languages. They dominate a lively package that is never dull and, if anything, far too short. Seeing TV variety-show bits in which Danny Kaye introduces Topol to American audiences, or the Temptations cover “If I Were a Rich Man,” suggests that there’s a giant treasure trove of “Fiddler” errata out there whose surface this film barely scratches.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, Aug. 22, 2019. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 97 MIN.

Production:(Documentary) A Roadside Attractions release of a Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn Films presentation of a Dog Green Prods. production. Producers: Max Lewkowicz, Valerie Thomas. Executive producers: Ann Oster, Patti Kenner, Rita Lerner. Co-producer: Elena Berger-Melman.

Crew:Director: Max Lewkowicz. Screenplay: Lewkowicz, Valerie Thomas. Camera (color, HD): Scott Shelley. Editor: Joseph Borruso. Music: Guy Mintus, Kelly Hall-Tompkins.

Source: Read Full Article

Miley Cyrus Gets Love From Stars After Bombshell Statement

Members of Miley Cyrus‘ star-studded inner circle are standing in her corner. 

After the 26-year-old singer issued a lengthy statement denying reports that her and Liam Hemsworth‘s marriage ended over her relationship with Kaitlynn Carter, celebrities including MadonnaBella Thorne and Shailene Woodley applauded Miley for speaking up. 

“Thank GOD!!” Madonna, who in the past has performed with Cyrus, commented on the Instagram post. “You are human! A woman has lived. No need to apologize!!” 

Thorne added, “I love this. So much from the heart. Takes a lot to say. I love every version of [you.] Perfection is imperfect and that’s a fact.” 

Shailene, Lily AldridgeVanessa HudgensAmber Valletta and more reacted to Miley’s statement with heart emojis. Older sister Brandi Cyrus also wrote, “Proud of you sissy!”

Hemsworth, who filed for divorce just yesterday, has yet to address Cyrus’ stance on their breakup. 

In the statement, Miley acknowledged her controversial past, but maintained she was never unfaithful throughout her and Liam’s 10-year relationship. 

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Chris Cornell Estate

According to the “Mother’s Daughter” songstress, she made a “healthy decision for myself to leave a previous life behind,” further explaining, “I am the healthiest and happiest I have been in a long time. You can say I am a twerking, pot smoking, foul mouthed hillbilly but I am not a liar. I am proud to say, I am simply in a different place from where I was when I was a younger.”

“There are NO secrets to uncover here,” Miley stated. “I’ve learned from every experience in my life. I’m not perfect, I don’t want to be, it’s boring. I’ve grown up in front of you, but the bottom line is, I HAVE GROWN UP.”

As for Liam, 29, a source previously told E! News he’s more than ready to move forward with his life—even if it doesn’t include Miley. 

“Liam is just done with it,” the insider said. “There is no turning back and he knows he wants to move on. They have not had a lot of communication. There is nothing to say.”

To quote Miley, maybe it really is time they both slide away. 

Source: Read Full Article

Taylor Swift’s New "Lover" Music Video Will Leave Fans Seriously Swooning

Lover is in the air. On Thursday, Aug. 22, just hours before releasing her album of the same name, Taylor Swift’s “Lover” music video dropped on YouTube following a live-stream. Unsurprisingly, the music video that goes along with the lovey-dovey ballad that Swift recently released on Friday, Aug. 16 is quite romantic. The video, which Swift co-directed with Drew Kirsch, brings the track’s lyrics to life in a super fun, color-filled way.

The video begins with a little girl looking at a snow globe on Christmas morning, which contains the most colorful house you ever did see. The camera zooms out and that same house is where the bulk of the video takes place as Swift and her love interest, played by Christian Owen, build a life together. From a fishbowl pool in the bathroom to instruments in the living room (and a giant cat painting on the wall), it’s like a rainbow-themed Barbie dream house. Of course, there are ups and downs throughout the video, but they’re cushioned by plenty of swoon-worthy moments too.

Without giving too much away, things come full circle at the end and you learn exactly who that little girl with the snow globe is supposed to be. Warning: Prepare to shed some happy tears.

Since the lyrics are so romantic, there was a popular fan theory before its release that the music video for “Lover” would actually turn out to be a suprise wedding video for Swift and Joe Alwyn, or some type of engagement announcement. But nope, that was not the case, so as Swift would say herself, "You need to calm down."

Sure, the song’s lyrics sure did hint that something wedding-y may or may not be on the horizon. Take the "Lover" bridge:

And sure, Alwyn and Swift are notoriously private, but it would be quite the 180 for their relationship if they were like, "lol we got hitched" in a music video. Still, that did not stop fans from ruling out the possibility of Swift announcing a marriage/engagement in a music video.

"What’s that over there in the distance?" fans asked as they listened to "Lover" for the zillionth time last Friday. "Could it be the sound of wedding bells nestled in Jack Antonoff’s production?"

"Or engagement bells, perhaps?"

Again, it was a lovely thought, but not grounded in reality. Now that the video has dropped, those theorists have changed their tune and instead shifted to gushing over the perfectly colorful vid.

Now that the "Lover" video is here, there are only a few more hours left until the Lover album arrives at midnight. And there are plenty of Easter eggs scattered throughout the video to keep fans occupied in the meantime. Let even more theorizing begin.

Additional reporting by Jamie Primeau.

Source: Read Full Article

This Handbag Is So Popular, Every Fashion Editor I Know Is Thinking About Buying It

There were Gucci slides in 2017 and the return of Christian Dior saddle bags in 2018. And although the year isn't over yet, I feel confident in saying that this, my friends, is the year of Bottega Veneta. The Italian fashion house is experiencing a major revival since the release of its Fall 2019 collection, a first for newly appointed creative director Daniel Lee, who was previously in charge of ready-to-wear at Céline during Phoebe Philo's reign.

Bottega Veneta has an ever-growing list of 'it' items that are dominating right now. The brand's square-toe heels, with their sharp, exaggerated corners, are so popular, I wouldn't be surprised if influencers continued wearing the pedicure-flaunting sandals even on the coldest of fall days. And the Bottega Veneta The Pouch bag has completely taken over the entire street style scene.

Just about every stylish celeb owns it. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley has been spotted at the gym with her beige and white version of the bag and she's styling it with every single one of her outfits lately. Seriously, click through the images in her outfit-of-the-day post below, and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.

View this post on Instagram

Styles of the week. 🖤

A post shared by Rosie HW (@rosiehw) on


Sofia Vergara pairs the tan color bag with casual jeans and a T-shirt.


Elsa Hosk is also keeping the trendy Bottega Veneta bag on repeat.

View this post on Instagram

Uniform 🖤

A post shared by elsa hosk (@hoskelsa) on

Similarly, every single fashion editor that I know has The Pouch on their wishlist. The reason why it hasn't officially made it's way into my closet is because the price tag is slightly higher than the monthly rent on my one-bedroom apartment. But if I conveniently came across an extra $2,400, best believe I'm adding the sleek bag to my collection, too.

Source: Read Full Article

I Legit Can’t Tell if This Is a Rabbit or a Raven and I’m Freaking Out

We’re still not done fighting over math problems and optimal sleeping temperatures, but today brings yet another tweet that’s specifically designed to stoke fierce debate. In the video below, a hand is seen affectionately petting a rabbit. Or, uh, wait: Is that a raven? No, no. It’s definitely a rabbit.


Rabbits love getting stroked on their nose pic.twitter.com/aYOZGAY6kP

Now that you’ve replayed the clip 37 times, you’re probably just as lost as I am. So I decided to pose the question to a few experts. Because who else knows the bodies of ravens and rabbits better than the people who study them for a living?

“I definitely saw a raven—a white-necked raven,” said John Marzluff, PhD, a professor of forest resources at the University of Washington whose research focuses primarily on corvids, a bird family that contains ravens, crows, and jays. For reference, here’s what a white-necked raven looks like:

Majestic, right? “You can see the neck of the bird as the person pets it and the beak is hard, not soft,” Marzluff said. “The white crescent on the neck is indicative of a raven. I see the feathers erect slightly in response to petting and the posture indicates a bird being preened by its keeper.”

For what it’s worth, Marzluff showed the video to two of his colleagues, who did not officially participate in my survey and thus don’t count, and they both saw a rabbit. “But hey,” Marzluff said, “it’s a raven.”

Next, I sought insight from Kevin McGowan, PhD, project manager of distance learning in bird biology at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He, too, saw a white-necked raven getting scratched on the back of its head. “I’m familiar with the bird,” he said, “so I recognized the white till tips, the lanceolate throat feathers, and the white nape.”

McGowan admitted there was a “superficial resemblance to a rabbit face,” likening the raven’s beak to a rabbit’s ears. “But a second look shows a sharp, hard edge to the ‘ears’ and elongated feathers below them.”

When the rabbit experts started chiming in, I expected them to stick up for their species. Alas, I was wrong.

“I saw a raven,” said Brian Kraatz, PhD, a professor in the department of anatomy at Western University of Health Sciences.

Kraatz, a board member of the World Lagomorph Society—an association for people who research lagomorphs, a family that includes rabbits and hares—and thus as good an authority on rabbits as anyone, says the creature’s upper and lower mandibles gave it away, as they weren’t aligned as he expected a rabbit’s ears would be. “They were front to back,” he said, “whereas rabbit ears would be side to side.”

The same went, sadly, for Dana Krempels, PhD, a senior lecturer in biology at the University of Miami and the founder and president of Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education (HARE), Inc. “I saw a raven, I think because that raven’s bills look nothing like real rabbit ears,” she said.

But then Krempels said something else that got to the crux of the video’s perplexing pull.

“For a second, the caption made me look at the video and think, ‘Holy cow, that is one deformed rabbit!’ And then the brain did the correction and immediately saw the raven. The power of suggestion.”

Indeed, the original tweet came with this caption: “Rabbits love getting stroked on their nose.” And that phrase clearly leads some people to interpret the image as a rabbit, says Kyle Mathewson, PhD, a neuroscientist in the psychology department at the University of Alberta.

If the raven-rabbit video looks familiar, it’s because it’s awfully close to the famous 19th-century optical illusion of a duck that looks like a rabbit, or a rabbit that looks like a duck, or a duck that looks like a rabbit, or….

Last year, Mathewson and his colleagues built a study around this classic image to see how our brains interpret information with textual and visual clues. When the scientists repeated the images next to each other, about half the subjects saw the same animal—either a duck or a rabbit.

But when Mathewson and co. primed the participants with a cue, like “imagine a duck eating a rabbit,” they were more likely to see a duck on the right and a rabbit on the left. “Our preconceptions about the world can influence how we see it,” Mathewson tells me.

“If the video were captioned ‘Ravens love getting head pets,’ way fewer people would see it as a rabbit,” he says.

Such language trickery makes us “see with our brain, not just our eyes,” says Sandra Kuhlman, PhD, a member of Carnegie Mellon’s BrainHub neuroscience initiative and the joint Carnegie Mellon/University of Pittsburgh Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, who was not affiliated with the research.

“The brain must learn to see through experience,” says Kuhlman. “This is known as a critical period. In the case of vision, there is a developmental window of heightened plasticity in which the neural circuits that process visual scenes solidify their connections based on what the individual experiences in their environment.”

Then there’s another maddening wrinkle: motion. The new video is even more annoying than the classic duck-rabbit because it isn’t just a static image, says optical illusion guru Susana Martinez-Conde, PhD, director of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

Martinez-Conde calls the raven-rabbit video an “ambiguity illusion,” which occurs when our visual system is confronted with information that can be resolved in multiple ways.

“Because motion can be an important cue about the depth and shape of an object,” she says, “ambiguous illusions that include motion are far less common than those that feature static images.”

So even if we still can’t figure out exactly what the hell that thing is, at least now we know why the illusion has caught fire.

But for the record, it’s one hundred percent a raven. Probably.

Source: Read Full Article