Brain Pickings

Stencil 101 for Kids & the Eternal Kid

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Last week, we spotlighted 5 coloring books for the eternal kid, exploring grown-up subjects like indie music, sneaker culture and gansta rap through a medium indended for children. Today, we’re turning the tables and looking at something that does the opposite. Ed Roth’s Stencil 101: Make Your Mark with 25 Reusable Stencils and Step-by-Step Instructions takes the grown-up medium of graffiti stencils and brings it to kids — or, depending on your disposition, your inner kid — with a collection of wonderful portfolio-format stencils to customize anything from your wall to your pillowcase.

Bearing the charm of analog art in an overly digital world, Roth’s stencils blend playful pastime with the kind of ultra-personalized, custom-designed touch we’ve come to expect of just about everything.

To complement Stencil 101, take a peek at the how-to videos on Roth’s site, as well as his extensive gallery of application ideas.

Thanks, Sharon

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3 Iconic Film Directors Interpret Classic Operas

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What arias have to do with Cousin It, cinematic pathos and eccentric Germans.

To celebrate six years of collaboration between Sky Arts and the English National Opera, Sky Arts commissioned an unlikely trio to produce Sky Arts Opera Shorts — three opera short films by three of today’s most celebrated film directors: Dougal Wilson, Sam Taylor-Wood and Werner Herzog. The films are set to a popular aria of ENO’s 2008/2009 season, capturing each director’s distinct visual style. And, as big proponents of the cross-pollination of the arts and the creative intersections of past and present, we’re loving them.

DOUGAL WILSON

Rossini’s The Barber of Seville may be among the world’s best-known, most widely loved operas, but when Dougal Wilson (we’re longtime fans) reenvisions it in his characteristically mischievous fashion, it’s a different kind of treat entirely. Hovering between classic silent film, hipster music video — that is, after all, Wilson’s specialty — and Adams Family reunion, the film is equal parts quirky and delightful.

I’m used to working with artists such as Goldfrapp and Will Young, so working with ENO presented me with a really fresh challenge. Directing an opera short allowed me to apply modern artistic disciplines to a traditional source to hopefully create a really engaging piece of work.” ~ Dougal Wilson

SAM TAYLOR-WOOD

British filmmaker and conceptual aritst Sam Taylor-Wood never ceases to amaze. Last year, we were head-over-heels with Nowhere Boy, her poetic chronicle of John Lennon’s little-known early life. Here, she brings that same cinematic pathos to a simple yet powerful interpretation of Pagliacci’s Vesti la Giubba (On with the Greasepaint).

I’m really happy to be involved in such a great project. I think by capturing one of opera’s most moving moments in a film short, we have put a modern spin on the aria.” ~ Sam Taylor-Wood

WERNER HERZOG

Our long-running love for Werner Herzog continues unabated as the eccentric German director brings his signature this-is-looking-very-bizarre-and-I’m-not-quite-getting-it-but-can’t-stop-looking touch to O Soave Fanciulla (Oh you vision of beauty) from Puccini’s iconic La Bohème.

I’ve no doubt that the film shorts will generate interest from a whole new generation of music lovers — the results are fantastic. Filming in High Definition in Africa allowed us to juxtapose the traditions of opera with a real innovative setting, the uniqueness of which is hopefully reflected in the final film.” ~ Werner Herzog

via Coudal

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Jad Abumrad on Sound, Science & Mystery

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We’re big fans of WNYC’s Radiolab and its producer, Jad Abumrad. In this excellent talk from PopTech — one of our favorite cross-disciplinary conferences — Abumrad shares some fascinating examples of how sound has been used to facilitate scientific discovery and how audio can serve as the trial-and-error mechanism fundamental to scientific inquiry. From what a monkey brain sounds like when playing rock-paper-sciessors to how crayfish “hear” their way to survival, Abumrad takes us on a delightfully geeky journey into biology guiding behavior.

You will find scientists who will tell you — and they deeply believe it — that we’re quantifiable. We are knowable. That if I can take a high enough resolution picture of all of you — not just your outsides, but your genes, your DNA, all the way down to your atoms — I can know everything about you and everything that you will be. There are people who believe this. And what this tells me is, no. No! All the way down, to the bottom of our thoughts, there’s just more mystery.” ~ Jad Abumrad

For more on the intersection of sound, science and being human, don’t miss our selection of 7 must-read books about music, emotion and the brain from earlier this morning.

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