Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

30 OCTOBER, 2009

Retro Revival: Man as Industrial Palace


Vintage German artwork on digital steroids, or why you house a factory.

In 1926, German writer and artist Fritz Kahn came up with his famous Der Mensch als Industriepalast (Man as Industrial Palace) analogy. Kahn’s illustrations compartmentalized the body’s functions in great detail, brilliantly depicting human physiology through analogies with an industrial factory. His work was a visual commentary on industrial modernity and an intersection of two timeless fascinations — with machines and with the human body.

In 2006, German visual communication and animation student Henning Lederer discovered Kahn’s poster and decided to resurrect this complex and unusual way of explaining the body, growing on the original work and translating it into motion graphics. He made himself a cabinet with a mix of analog and digital objects and technologies, and set to creating Industriepalast — an interactive application based on the poster.

Lederer explores human physiology in six cycles — five representing the five main biological systems, and one melding them together into the complex human factory Kahn had envisioned.

For thousands of years, human beings have used metaphors as ways of understanding the body. We talk about our ‘ear drums’, or our ‘mind’s eye’. When we are in love we say our hearts are ‘bursting’ or ‘broken’ [...] These familiar images help to explain the unfamiliar and to comprehend the complexity of our bodies.

This is the wonderfully animated preview for the project:

We find this project a particularly timely reminder of our growing inability to reconcile our incessant lust for technology with a dwindling appreciation of the purely human. In an era where incredible robots in our image draw oohs and ahhs from all sides, it’s easy to forget the complex, intricate and utterly awe-inspiring machinery that is the human body. Let’s not.

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16 SEPTEMBER, 2009

The Art of Pixar Short Films


Birds, toys, or what the history of computing has to do with the creative legacy of our time.

After the wild popularity of The Ancient Book of Sex & Science a couple of weeks ago, we thought we’d explore the wondrous world of Pixar art a bit further.

Today, we bring you The Art of Pixar Short Films from animation art historian Amid Amidi — a fantastic book that takes us behind the scenes of what we consider to be Pixar’s true gems: Their beautifully animated short films, told with utter brilliance and elegance of visual narrative.

These shorts, brimming with contagious energy and subtle humor, set the stage for Pixar’s award-winning features that followed — from the earliest animated short, The Adventures of André & Wally B, which proved computer animation possible, to Tin Toy, which later evolved into the feature-length smash hit Toy Story.

As for the authors, they bring their own magic to the mix. New-York-based animation journalist Amid Amidi has numerous books to his credit, and is it’s almost embarrassing to “introduce” a creative culture legend like John Lasseter, the chief creative officer of Pixar.

The Art of Pixar Short Films illuminates the Emeryville studio’s extraordinary history, artistry and unique creative process through essays and interviews with the animators, directors, producers and artists who created the iconic For The Birds, Luxo Jr., and eleven more short films. With more than 250 full-color pastels pencil sketches, photographs, storyboards and final rendered frames, it offers a glimpse of Pixar’s incredible brand of storytelling, which creates powerful narrative not through traditional dialogue but through character emotion, music, and perfectly timed humor.

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19 AUGUST, 2009

Brazil Goes Green by Doing The Yellow


What Seinfeld has to do with 4,380 liters of drinking water.

Most sustainability messaging revolves around anxiety-inducing statistics about how we’re going to boil in a pool of our own sweat lest we change our ways. Alas, countless psych studies have shown that such fear appeals simply don’t work for behavioral change. The most compelling environmental nudges don’t have to be serious to be taken seriously.

Case in point — Convocação, a new spot for Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica approaching the issue of water conservation from the most unusual of angles, with delightful spunk and humor that make us chuckle and pay attention.

But be careful — unless you want to end up in a certain Seinfeld episode, don’t try this at the gym.

Out of Brazil’s F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, and Creative Directors Fábio Fernandez and Eduardo Lima.