Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

26 AUGUST, 2013

Science, Religion, and the Big Bang: An Animated Clarifier

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From the non-beginning to the singularity, by way of belief-muddling misnomers and beneficial ignorance.

The friction between science and religion stretches back millennia and has been addressed by some of humanity’s greatest minds. Galileo paid a high price for his dissenting opinions. Richard Feynman channeled his views in an ode to the universe, while Albert Einstein articulated his beautifully in a letter to a little girl who wanted to know whether scientists pray. Carl Sagan found reverence of science and Bucky Fuller revised The Lord’s Prayer with science. Richard Dawkins countered mythology with the magic of reality and Isaac Asimov found humanism in the spirituality of science. Ray Bradbury exorcised the tension in his sublime unpublished poems.

Now, the fine folks of MinutePhysics — who have previously explored whether the universe has a purpose, why the color pink doesn’t exist, how science education is stuck in the 19th century, why the past is different from the future, why it’s dark at night, and the true science of parallel universes — trace the origin of this friction all the way back to the Big Bang, whose very name, it turns out, is so terribly misleading that it might be to blame for much of our cultural ambivalence.

Experimental evidence doesn’t actually rule out the possibility that there may indeed be a time before the beginning — a previous age of the universe that ended when space collapsed in on itself … so physics might actually be nudging us back to the view that the universe is eternal and didn’t “begin” after all.

Complement with why there is something rather than nothing, then revisit Sagan’s timeless meditation on science and spirituality.

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20 AUGUST, 2013

This Is Israel: Miroslav Sasek’s Iconic Vintage Children’s Book, as an Animated Short Film

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A bittersweet time machine of vibrant illustration.

Celebrated Czech emigre architect-turned-illustrator and author Miroslav Sasek is best known for his now-iconic This Is… series, which was enormously influential in the history of children’s picturebooks. (His This Is New York was among my 10 favorite books on NYC in my recent collaboration with The New York Public Library.) Created between 1959 and 1970, the books explore some of the world’s most beloved cities in vibrant vintage illustrations, bringing the urban organism to life through charming anecdotal details.

In the 1960s, four 12-minute animated films were produced to accompany some of the books, using the signature “iconographic” method of Weston Woods Studios to create the illusion of animation from still images, including one based on This Is Israel (public library) — a bittersweet and perhaps idyllic piece of cultural memory, at once timeless and dated as we confront a half-century of conflict in the very land Sasek so beautifully depicted:

The entire This Is… series is a treasure — highly recommended.

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11 JUNE, 2013

Design in a Nutshell: One-Minute Animated Primers on Six Major Creative Movements

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From Gothic Revival to Postmodernism, or how Bauhaus ushered in the age of minimalism.

From the fine folks at Open University — who have previously brought us delightful 60-second animated primers on philosophy’s famous thought experiments and the world’s major theories of religion — comes Design in a Nutshell, a lovely six-part series of their signature animated primers on six major design movements.

Gothic Revival gave us many of the ideas that changed architecture, including the magnificent vaulted ceilings of European cathedrals, and without it Lewis Carroll may never have given us Alice in Wonderland:

The Arts and Crafts movement emerged as a rebellion to the negative impact of mass-production and the Industrial Revolution, and its romantic ideals still reverberate today:

Bauhaus, one of the 100 ideas that changed graphic design, revolutionized design education by introducing a cross-disciplinary curriculum and embraced the intersection of innovation and inspiration:

Modernism emerged from a disillusionment with history after the World War and spanned every corner of creative expression, from art (e.g., Agnes Martin) to music (e.g., John Cage) to design (e.g., Charles and Ray Eames), becoming the single most influential creative movement of the 20th century:

After The Great Depression erased consumer demand, American industrial design set to out rebuild the world of tomorrow and reignite people’s appreciation for objects by making things that previously didn’t need to appear attractive now sleek and desirable, effectively bridging form and function and ushering in The Century of the Self:

Postmodernism criticized modernism for having failed at reinvigorating society and set out to transform culture politically, philosophically, and creatively, pushing society to question why things are the way they are:

Pair with the best design books of 2012.

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