Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

06 APRIL, 2011

Computational Origami by MIT’s Erik Demaine

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Brain Pickings is all about the cross-pollination of ideas across disciplinary boundaries. We have a particularly soft spot for the interplay of art and mathematics — from Anatolii Fomenko’s vintage mathematical impressions to Vy Hart’s playful mathematics to Benoît Mandelbrot’s legendary fractals. So we love the work of MIT father-and-son duo Erik and Martin Demaine. In this wonderful presentation from MoMA’s now-legendary 2008 Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition, Erik reveals the extraordinary computational origami he has developed with his father, MIT’s first artist in residence.

Demaine, an endearing tried-and-true MIT-er complete with the ponytail-and-glasses combo and Comic Sans slides, embodies some of our highest ideals: From early childhood entrepreneurship to curiosity across the social strata to collaborative creation to the inspired interweaving of art and science.


Seedmagazine.com Seed Design Series

One of our growing realizations over the years is that mathematics itself is an art form, and I think that’s what attracted both of us to this area in the first place. [I]t has the same kind of creativity, the same kinds of aesthetics, that you get in art: You want a clean problem to solve, and you want an elegant solution to that problem. Both art and mathematics are about having the right ideas [and] executing those ideas in some convincing way, so in that sense they’re indistinguishable.” ~ Erik Demaine

For more of Erik Demaine’s cross-disciplinary creative genius, we highly recommend the tandem of Geometric Folding Algorithms: Linkages, Origami, Polyhedra and Games, Puzzles, and Computation.

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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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