Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

10 MAY, 2011

Christoph Niemann: How the World Works

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Creative fuel for the inquisitive mind, or what trucks and lions have in common.

Christoph Niemann is our favorite children’s book illustrator and today is a big day because it’s the day he releases his latest gem: That’s How! — an absolutely lovely invitation to explore the inner workings of the world visually, through the pursuit of what we hold as our highest ideal for navigating life: Reckless, indiscriminate curiosity.

Playful, quirky and delightful, the book is a cover-to-cover treat for parents, kids and eternal children of all ages, tickling our fancy as we imagine a whimsical alternate reality behind our worn mundanity.

That’s How! is Niemann’s follow-up to a string of gems, including I LEGO NY, The Police Cloud and Subway.

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09 MAY, 2011

Sam + Friends: Vintage Muppets Explore Visual Thinking

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What vintage Muppets have to do with synesthesia and visual thinking.

Fifty-six years ago today, Sam + Friends — the early live-action puppet TV show by Muppets creator Jim Henson and his eventual wife Jane — made its official debut. Its characters, all of whom Henson voiced himself, presaged not only modern icons like Kermit and The Muppets, but even some of today’s cultural archetypes. (One of Sam’s friends was named Harry the Hipster.)

This vintage kinescope from the show’s early days offers a rare look at the dawn of a cultural icon and explores visual thinking, particularly in music — something we’ve recently covered and have an ongoing fascination with.

For more on the story of Sam + Friends, see Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street, as well as Chapter 2 of the altogether fantastic Kermit book, Before You Leap: A Frog’s Eye View of Life’s Greatest Lessons.

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06 MAY, 2011

Notations 21: 165 Musicians Visualize Sheet Music in Unusual Ways

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What the color wheel has to do with Beethoven and supporting arts education.

There’s something especially mesmerizing about the cross-pollination of the senses, particularly in visualizing music. That’s exactly what Notations 21 explores. Inspired by John Cage’s iconic 1968 Notations and originally released for its 50th anniversary, the ambitious 320-page volume by Theresa Sauer and Mark Batty Publishers reveals how 165 composers and musicians around the world are experiencing, communicating and reconceiving music visually by reinventing notation.

From acclaimed musicians like Karlheinz Stockhausen, Earle Brown, Halim El-Dabh, Joan La Barbara, and Yuji Takahashi to emerging global talent, this magnificent tome examines how both the technology and the expectations of this unique synesthetic language have changed over the past half-century.

I sincerely hope that this book motivates the reader to further research contemporary music and the artists that compose it, to seek out their recordings, attend performances, and support the arts in education. We live in an incredible time in music history — here is only a small sampling of the evidence.” ~ Theresa Sauer

With its visual eloquence and remarkable diversity of perspectives, Notations 21 isn’t merely an anthology but also an ambitious thesaurus of sensemaking for the art and science of neo-notation.

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