Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

04 APRIL, 2011

Ball of Light: How Light Painting Saved a Man’s Life

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We love a good creativity-saves-lives story, and it hardly gets any better than Australian photographer Denis Smith‘s: Two years ago, Smith was suffering from depression, cracking under the pressure of a demanding job, struggling with money, and living on the verge of alcoholism. One day, he discovered photography and light painting, and eventually developed his unique, otherworldly “ball of light” style, the product of a remarkably simple — and absolutely brilliant in its simplicity — technique.

It all takes place at night. I can’t tell you exactly how I find them, and I’m still not exactly sure what they mean. But what I do know is that taking these photographs has changed my life.” ~ Denis Smith

In this microdocumentary by photographer Sam Collins, Smith shares his fascinating life story and his unusual creative process:

With normal photography, the shutter opens and closes in a photograph, and you get a snapshot of what’s there in front of the camera. And with light painting, what you do is the shutter stays open for a long period of time, so when it’s a dark environment, it brings more light in, and if you move a light around in front of the camera, it stays embedded in the picture.”

Smith’s art embodies the saving grace that is creative restlessness, and his life experience is a living testament to its duality — the same restlessness that may drive us to addiction and depression can also drive us to invent, to innovate, to create. The challenge, of course, is choosing the creative over the destructive edge, and resting in it.

via PetaPixel via @kirstinbutler

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30 MARCH, 2011

Underwater Sculptures Help Corals Thrive

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What metal sculptures have to do with your DNA and the future of the world’s oceans.

In 2009, underwater sculptor Jason de Caires Taylor — whom we had the pleasure of profiling for Wired UK a long, long time ago — founded MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte), the world’s first underwater museum and an inspired intersection of art and environmental science. These artworks, admired by over 750,000 visitors every year, are designed to become artificial reefs that provide a unique habitat for the ocean’s most fragile and remarkable creatures: Corals, and their many marine companions.

This year, artist and TED fellow Colleen Flanigan was invited to join the project with some of her Biorock designs. As the temperature and acidity of the world’s oceans continue to rise under the effects of global warming, these new sculptures offer corals a vital alkaline environment: Using a low-voltage electrical current, the installations raise the pH of seawater to attract limestone minerals, which adhere to the metal matrix and help corals get the calcium carbonate they need to build their exoskeletons. So Colleen is gathering the necessary arsenal — welding equipment, metal, supplies, power sources, boat rentals, SCUBA tanks — and hiring a professional filmmaker to capture the incredible journey. And she’s funding it on Kickstarter, our favorite platform for microfunding creative projects.

Corals are near the root of the family tree of all living animals. Humans have put these ancestors on the evolutionary tree in peril. We want to give coral back its color through life-supporting underwater Biorock formations.” ~ Colleen Flanigan

The project embodies our highest ideals, a beautiful cross-pollination of art, science and moral imagination, so please join us in supporting it — it’s the best-intentioned $10 (or $100, or $1000) you’ll spend today, we promise.

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29 MARCH, 2011

Noma Bar’s Negative Space Illustrations

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What hippies have to do with Wall Street, Iraq and the Little Red Riding Hood.

We’ve been longtime fans of Israeli illustrator Noma Bar, whose mastery of negative space — the space between and around the subjects of an image, which can frame another subject in and of itself — never ceases to amaze, adding a new layer of thoughtfulness to the classic figure-ground illusion of perception. As he recently redesigned a handful of Don DeLillo classics for Picador Books, we were reminded of our favorite Noma Bar classic: Negative Space — an anthology of Bar’s most compelling work from various high-profile magazines, commenting on some of today’s most pressing sociopolitical issues with the artist’s signature provocative subtlety.

A sneak peek of the book follows, but we highly recommend you indulge in its entirety — it’s a rare tapas bar of brain food and eye candy.

Beware The Wolves: Artwork for an article on older men who pursue younger women

Fat Cat: Artwork for an article on how CEOs invest their personal wealth

The Big Squeeze: Artwork for an article on the oil politics behind the Iraq war

Artwork for a piece on gun crime and violence

When Doves Cry: Mourning the loss of the hippy dream with white doves and a VW van

Thought-provoking and visually stunning, Negative Space is the kind of blend of aesthetics and ethics we’d like to see more of in the world.

Images courtesy of Creative Review

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