• Tumblr_m9iklivcrv1ray66io2_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: The opening umbrella-based scene

Miscellaneous

We review the extraordinary opening ceremony for London's Paralympics

Posted by Rob Alderson,

When Jenny Sealey the director of the Paralympic Opening Ceremony was interviewed recently, she said: “This is our chance not to be hidden anymore. And a chance to be naughty." Last night in east London she lived up to her word, and then some.

From Stephen Hawking’s narration to Ian McKellen’s Prospero leading Miranda on a magical journey of self-discovery, from an apple-based Sir Isaac Newton tribute to Ian Drury’s banned Spasticus Autisicus, from books transformed into seagulls to a giant upside down umbrella to the Higgs Bosom particle the array of unforgettable imagery was almost overwhelming.

Where Danny Boyle chose to tell the story of this country through selected breakthroughs, Jenny Sealey focussed on science, knowledge and self-improvement. It could have been toe-curlingly worthy but it’s testament to her creative team that it was instead uplifting and massively impressive.

  • Tumblr_m9ips4ruxl1ray66io6_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: A giant apple and book in tribute to Sir Isaac Newton

Complex scientific ideas and literary allusions were handled with amazing (sometimes childlike) imagination and visual dexterity – message and spectacle worked in concert. It was a lesson in how to handle ideas that have become trite in their retelling with verve and wit and the set pieces from a giant replica of Marc Quinn’s famous sculpture of Alison Lapper to the relighting of Heatherwick’s magnificent cauldron hung together with more visual cohesion than the Olympics ceremony managed.

But large-scale wow-factor relies also on the minute details and on the opening ceremony blog you can see the craftsmanship, care and attention that went into props and costumes.

For my money this bested Boyle’s bonkers brilliance – even Beverley Knight singing I Am What I Am as a finale was unexpectedly perfectly-judged. An epic evening in various respects.

  • Tumblr_m9iklivcrv1ray66io9_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: The opening umbrella-based scene

  • Tumblr_m9iqz824in1ray66io2_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Dancers with the Marc Quinn replica

  • Tumblr_m9iniyhljh1ray66io2_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: A paralympian floats on a zip-wire

  • Tumblr_m9iniyhljh1ray66io5_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Paralympians float on zip-wires

  • Tumblr_m9inn1qxo01ray66io3_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: The world rises

  • Tumblr_m9inn1qxo01ray66io4_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Books become seagulls as Miranda sails away in an upturned umbrella

  • Tumblr_m9inn1qxo01ray66io1_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Dancers form the sea

  • Tumblr_m9iormbkn91ray66io1_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Sir Ian McKellen approaches a telescope

  • Tumblr_m9ips4ruxl1ray66io2_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: The Newton apple dance

  • Tumblr_m9iqroe1o71ray66io4_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Disabled rights activists take centre stage

  • Tumblr_m9iqroe1o71ray66io8_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Dancers form the HIggs particle

  • Tumblr_m9ioxpzhyr1ray66io5_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Sketch

  • Tumblr_m9irmt13l81ray66io1_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Sketch

  • Tumblr_m9irmt13l81ray66io4_1280

    London Paralympics Opening Ceremony: Sketch

Ra

Posted by Rob Alderson

Editor-in-Chief Rob oversees editorial across all three It’s Nice That platforms; online, print and events. He has a background in newspaper journalism and a particular interest in art, advertising and photography. He is the main host of the Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Miscellaneous View Archive

  1. List

    Over recent weeks we’ve made a few ch-ch-changes here at It’s Nice That HQ and seeing as they’ve now all taken effect, we thought it made sense to bring y’all up to speed too. Rob Alderson, James Cartwright and Maisie Skidmore stay in their current roles as Editor-in-Chief, Print Editor and Assistant Editor respectively but elsewhere we’ve mixed things up a bit.

  2. List

    I spent the day yesterday at the Canvas Conference in Birmingham where I was blown away by a series of excellent talks, but in terms of pure wow factor organisers very much saved the best for last. UrtheCast (see what they did?) is a Vancouver-based tech start-up that installed cameras on the International Space Station, sending high res images of the earth back to its dedicated website. Founder and CEO Scott Larson gave a compelling presentation about how the team made it happen, how it works and how the imagery can be used. Through the website you can find out when the ISS will pass over your house and so can arrange something to be captured on its cameras, but what was more fascinating is the way that companies and governments might use the data; by monitoring the amount of vehicles in Chinese factories’ car parks for example, economists can make predictions about the country’s output.

  3. Main

    There is something incredibly pleasing about this odd collection of passenger-less log flumes. Without the crowds of families and awkward first dates there’s something a little bit sad, maybe even philosophical about them. The photos have been collected by Falmouth grad Zef Cherry-Kynaston whose website boasts one of the most brilliant CVs in existence. “A log flume winds its way around a watery course and slowly climbs the lift hill,” Zef says on his site. “Reaching the top, it then hurtles down the slope. A camera flashes moments before the flume plunges into the water below. Splash! The resulting image is a souvenir; a snapshot of joyous exhilaration.”

  4. Main

    People try for decades to become “good” designers, but sometimes your mate’s Dad can pull something out of the bag that trumps your every effort. Frustrated at the time it takes to build and launch paper planes, this man used cutting-edge 3D-printing technology to create a machine that does the hard work for you. Just when you think the design of the plane-wielding machine doesn’t look too exciting, he turns it upside down to reveal the intricate workings inside. How fantastic to see someone put 3D-printing to a unique and very silly use, rather than making something we’ve all seen before.

  5. Main

    Recording people when they are…ahem..not themselves, is not commendable. Footage of someone off their tits is enough to make them lose their jobs but who are we to judge? It’s nearly Friday and someone’s just released a whole blog of GIFs made from footage of people losing it to deep house at Boiler Room. I love how if you were sober you would never, ever dance near the camera at the front of this infamous travelling night – but as soon as some booze (and maybe other substances) is consumed, BAM! There you are stroking a speaker as if it’s a fluffy pillow and gyrating as if your life depended on it. Well done to whoever made this. A big well done.

  6. List

    Before stumbling across Burning Questions I have to admit I wasn’t that familiar with New York-based designer James Victore’s impressive repertoire. His talents and projects span the creative disciplines making him part designer, part activist, part curator, part motivational speaker and (in this case) part agony aunt.

  7. List

    The Google robot is an odd creature. We have Marion Balac to thank for the discovery that, in a bid to maintain the anonymity of the people caught in its shots for Google Street View, the search engine blurs out every single face it comes into contact with. This includes the likes of Las Vegas’ Sphinx monument and giant gold-covered Buddhas, resulting in a bunch of monuments who have been forced into anonymity by the tech giant’s stringent privacy measures.

  8. List

    Here’s one of those projects that turns out to be way more interesting than it originally sounds, and it comes courtesy of San Francisco studio T2D (Tomorrow Today). Metragramme takes 32 of your Instagram pictures and combines them into a single image created via pixel-comparisons across the set. The result is therefore a kind of average Instagram picture, and although on first glance many of them look similar; when you explore each a little further you tease out intriguing details, as well as drawing broader conclusions about form and colour palette. We’ve included a few examples below but this is probably one of those tools you;re going to want to try out for yourself – you can visit the site here.

  9. Main

    Sometimes the sad story of Arthur Russell’s life mixed with the whimsical howling and rousing sounds he creates is altogether too much to even bear – but we still torment ourselves, tuning in even when going through a break up or driving alone in the rain. When surreal, sad music is accompanied by something as funny as, say, The Muppets – something peculiar and unexpected can happen. In this edit by John Michael Boling we see a perfectly (and I mean perfectly) cut mash-up of Arthur Russell’s haunting That’s Us / Wild Combination and scenes from The Muppets Movie. The reason people think art is hard to make is because they don’t understand how such a simple idea or a wild combination can work so incredibly well. Thank you John Michael Boling for reminding us of this fact. Thank you.

  10. House-announcement

    Sound the conch folks, we have some exciting news from It’s Nice That HQ. We’re restructuring and expanding our team and so we have not one but two great opportunities to come and be part of our team.

  11. Main

    A sincere, golden corner of the internet here: The Datamath Calculator Museum. The online museum is a historic, matter-of-fact and outrageously in-depth look at the history of calculators in the modern world. Remember the first time that a “scientific calculator” appeared on your back-to-school list? This trove will take you hurtling back to sitting in double maths using that very machine to write “boobless” (80087355) over and over again until the bell rang.

  12. List_image

    Over the course of seven years It’s Nice That has been providing creative inspiration on a daily basis through our website, our publications and our events programme. But never ones to rest on our laurels, we are always reviewing what we do and how we do it. This is where you (hopefully!) come in. As part of our ongoing development of the It’s Nice That platforms, we’re super-keen to find out a bit more about who you are and find out what you like about the website, what you don’t and what you might like to see in the future. This way we can move It’s Nice That forward with plans that put our readers front and centre.

  13. List

    If ever the high and the low brow were to come together in the project of my dreams, it would look like this series by James Kerr, AKA Scorpion Dagger. The artist and frighteningly capable GIF wizard has struck an absolute goldmine with his website devoted to Renaissance artworks reworked into outrageously funny GIFs. In case you’re not persuaded, this isn’t the equivalent of an Oprah hairflick or Barack Obama looking at a fly; these GIFs have narratives, they have beginnings, middles and ends, they have multiple settings and jokes and punchlines and they are almost too good to be true.