Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

17 MARCH, 2011

PICKED: Escape Vehicle No. 6

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As much as it provides a zeitgeist of “how society is now,” modern art also has the capacity to inspire us by combining media, objects, environments and concepts in ways which challenge our understanding or simply make us sit back and go, “Now that’s cool.”

Simon Faithfull was commissioned by Artscatalyst to produce his piece Escape Vehicle no. 6 — a generic office chair attached to a balloon and filmed, live, as it rises 30 kilometers into the edge space before hurtling back to earth. The video itself is haunting: You follow the chair rising through clouds, and watch the sky get darker before the chair floats, almost silent, in an environment with temperatures of -60º, where humans could simply not exist.

Part of the fascination of art like this comes from its ability to scale our perspective — to change how we look at endeavours. We typically associate a journey to space with multimillion budgets, enormous engineering and rousing soundtracks. With Escape Vehicle No. 6, your eyes remain transfixed on this incredibly mundane (or, as Simon calls it, “pathetic”) object undergoing an extraordinary journey — a proxy for own dreams, aspirations and sense of adventure as human beings.

Vikas Shah writes Thought Economics, where he interviews some of the world’s most influential thinkers, from CEO’s to astronauts to artists and more. By day, Vikas is founder and CEO of strategy consultancy Thought Strategy. You can follow him on Twitter.

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17 MARCH, 2011

PICKED: Waste Land

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The world’s largest landfill, Jardim Gramacho, lies in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, where an eclectic group of local “catadores” — self-assigned pickers of recyclable materials — live, work and play. Jarred by the disconnect between these pickers’ bold creative spirit and the desolate conditions of their lives, acclaimed artist Vik Muniz decided to help. So he set out to change their lives through the very material of their livelihoods, creating powerful portraits of the garbage pickers that hover between dignity and desperation, selling them as high art, and giving all the money back to the community.

 

Waste Land is British filmmaker Lucy Walker‘s fantastic documentary about this beautiful social experiment, following Vik from his homebase in Brooklyn to his native Brazil for nearly three years as he collaborates with the pickers on these portraits and eventually helps them form a political association that empowers their existence. The film swept Sundance last year, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Thanks, Carr!), and is out on DVD this week.

The moment when one thing transforms into another is the most beautiful moment. That moment is really magical.” ~ Vik Muniz

It’s not just that Waste Land is a beautiful piece of cinematic storytelling. It’s also the kind of film that will make you look a bit more closely at your own life in a heartfelt, non-pedantic way, and maybe, just maybe, make you want to live a richer, fuller life.

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14 MARCH, 2011

5 Quirky Coloring Books for The Eternal Kid

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What gangsta rap has to do with children’s healthcare and mid-century illustration.

We love coloring books and genre-benders of kinds, so today we’re turning to five favorite coloring books that transcend the genre’s typical numerical age range and instead reach out, with quirk, humor and inspiration, to the eternal kid in all of us.

THE INDIE ROCK COLORING BOOK

British illustrator Andy J. Miller and Montreal-based creative nonprofit Yellow Bird Project capture the true pride point of indie music — quirky, colorful character — in the lovely Indie Rock Coloring Book — a wonderful collection of hand-illustrated activity pages, mazes, connect-the-dots, and coloring pages for indie icons like Bloc Party, The Shins, Iron & Wine, Broken Social Scene, Devendra Banhart, MGMT, The New Pornographers, The National, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

All proceeds from the book, which we originally reviewed in 2009, go towards Yellow Bird’s inspired mission to raise awareness and funds for meaningful charities and help independent artists find their audience.

GANGSTA RAP COLORING BOOK

From illustrator Anthony “Aye Jay” Morano comes Gangsta Rap Coloring Book — a witty line-drawn hall of fame of gansta rap, featuring 48 pages of the genre’s superstars, from Notorious B.I.G. to Compton and just about everyone who’s anyone in between.

It’s also worth noting that Morano self-published the book, an admirable feat as we continue to contemplate the future of publishing models.

The book is part of a trilogy, including Heavy Metal Fun Time Activity Book and Punk Rock Fun Time Activity Book.

BETWEEN THE LINES

Nonprofit RxArt is out to harness the healing power of art in helping sick children feel better by placing work by leading contemporary artists, from Jeff Koons to Will Cotton to Jason Middlebrook, in children’s healthcare facilities. Every year, they publish Between The Lines — a lovely coloring book 100% of proceeds from which go towards funding these inspired hospital projects. The latest edition of the book features over 50 original line drawings by some of today’s most celebrated contemporary artists, including Takashi Murakami, Ed Ruscha and Cynthia Rowley, plus a series of delightfully vibrant stickers designed by Nate Lowman and Mickalene Thomas.

Catch our full review, with background on RxArt’s phenomenal work, here.

THE WUGGLY UMPS AND OTHER DELIGHTS

We love the Tim-Burtonesque work of prolific midcentury illustrator Edward Gorey (1925-2010). There’s something darkly delightful about the mismatch between his grim aesthetic and his proclivity for “children’s” books. We recently gushed over his fantastic alphabet book, but it doesn’t end there: The Wuggly Ump and Other Delights Coloring Book is an eclectic menagerie of 22 beasts and creatures from Gorey’s most beloved books. The title comes from on of Gorey’s best-known monsters, an Ump renowned for its Wuggliness.

THE SNEAKER COLORING BOOK

The Sneaker Coloring Book for grown-ups invites you to reimagine the 100 most popular sneaker designs from 1916 to the present by 18 major brands, including Adidas, Converse, New Balance, Nike, Onitsuka Tiger, Puma, Reebok, and Vans. Each full-page silhouette is removable for framing, and a fascinating introduction traces the history of the “sport shoe” from Charles Goodyear’s 1840s invention of vulcanization to its pivotal role in skate and hip-hop culture.

The Sneaker Coloring Book is the work of Daniel Jarosch and Henrik Klingel of Berlin-based design studio PKNTS.

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