Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

09 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Portraits of Workspaces

By:

What salt-water taffies have to do with hard hats, mannequins and kindergarten playrooms.

Workspaces have their own unique curiosity to them. Unlike homes, which are tailored around just a few residents, a work environment’s design must blend utility, efficiency, and comfort for all the different people who work within its walls. And it’s these people filling the space that give it another design dimension; we inevitably imbue these environments with our design aesthetic and personalities, as we spend countless waking hours inhabiting them. Perhaps this is what makes workspaces so compelling to document.

We’ve compiled a few exceptional projects found on The Behance Network that document people at work, from those who blend seamlessly into their workspaces to the delightful misfits.

POINT OF SALE

In Point of Sale by Shane Butler, dozens of trade-related accessories end up defining the space for these employees.

MANNEQUIN WORKERS BY DYLAN COLLARD

In Mannequin Workers, Dylan Collard goes inside a mannequin factory, where the human form is everywhere, making those with real flesh and blood both stand out and blend in.

AT WORK PORTRAITS

In is At Work Portraits, Rüdiger Nehmzow explores a flawless and sleek scientific workplace, where the setting seems to overwhelm the people within it.

ANOTHER VIEW

Another View by Mitar Simikic captures people at home and lending their personality to their workspaces, be it a woodpile out back or a kindergarten classroom.

PORTRAITS OF WORKERS

In Portraits of Workers @ Sofidel SPA by Alessandro Puccinelli, workers pose within the steely expanse of their workspace, both proud of and dwarfed by the machinery they operate.

Mell Perling is a community manager at Behance, where she writes about creative work at the Behance team blog and @TheServed on Twitter. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

08 SEPTEMBER, 2011

A Brief Visual History of Robots in a Matrix of Creepiness & Intelligence

By:

What Louis XV has to do with H.G. Wells and the hazards of mechanical animation.

Ed.: The lovely and talented Michelle Legro is an associate editor of the history and ideas magazine Lapham’s Quarterly. In her inaugural piece for Brain Pickings, she offers an exclusive snippet of LQ’s forthcoming Fall issue, which explores the future, comes out on September 15, and is an absolute treat of curiosity and fascination — get your hands on it by subscribing today. It’ll be your finest gift to yourself in a long while, we promise.

Talos, the automaton forged for King Minos to protect his kingdom from pirates and invaders, may have been the first robot in recorded literature — made of metal, its veins flowed with ichor, the divine blood of the gods. The Golem of Prague was brought to life to protect the city’s Jews, but it was rendered lifeless when it threatened innocent lives. These proto-robots provided an assurance that one day in the future, statues would move—whether they would protect us or rise against us, it was hard to tell.

“The Future” issue of Lapham’s Quarterly collects more than eight-thousand centuries of forward-looking thought, thanks to the inclusion of both Aeschylus Cassandra and H.G Wells‘ time traveler. Also from the issue, this matrix of historical robots organized by their relative intelligence and creepiness.

You’ll also find two automatons from eighteenth century Europe: the Digesting Duck, which ate and then defecated its meal, and the Chess-Playing Turk, which once played a game with Napoleon. These mechanical parlor tricks captivated court life and inspired writers with uncanny nightmares of moving statues. (Think of the mechanical beauty Olympia from E.T.A. Hoffmann’s early-nineteenth-century horror story “The Sandman.”)

One robot unfortunately not included on the matrix was Louis XV‘s special likeness of his mistress Madame du Barry by wax sculptor Philippe Curtius, better known as the teacher of young Marie Grosholtz, later Madame Tussaud. The wax figure is the oldest in the collection of Tussaud’s London museum, surviving both the French Revolution and a devastating 1925 fire. Laid out on a divan, du Barry appears in the throes of a ravishing dream, her eyes are closed but her chest heaves up and down thanks to a mechanical engine devised by Curtius.

This simple device imparted a serene animation to the lifelike wax, an impression not lost on Louis’s courtiers, who called the sculpture “The Sleeping Beauty.” While her wax-figure has slept quietly for over three hundred years, du Barry herself came to a less quiet end. After her banishment from the court of her lover’s grandson Louis XVI, she was captured by the Jacobins and dragged kicking and screaming to the guillotine.

For a complete history of robots, automatons, and moving statues there is no better book than Gaby Wood’s Edison’s Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life.

Michelle Legro is an associate editor at Lapham’s Quarterly. You can find her on Twitter.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

08 SEPTEMBER, 2011

This Must Be The Place: Poetic Short Films Explore ‘Home’

By:

What 19th-century farming has to do with solar panels and the creative losses of digital photography.

From filmmakers Ben Wu and David Usui of Lost & Found Films comes This Must Be The Place — an inspired ongoing series of short films exploring the idea of home and what our private sanctuaries mean to us. The latest film in the series, Coffer, takes us to the small kingdom of an upstate New York farmer named John Coffer. Tucked between his quiet rural routines is a profound creative and philosophical lens on contemporary culture, articulated with remarkable humility and authenticity.

I got a bug to do wet plate photography in ’76. In this day and age of digital, it’s so easy to just shoot thousands of pictures a day. Each individual picture becomes rather insignificant. Whereas, with the tintype, it’s very intentional and you’re not gonna make very many in a day. They become valued objects, not just an image. Each image is absolutely unique, like a painting.”

I have created a hybrid situation where there are certain things I continue to do in the old, 19th-century way — somethings may be the way it was done before Christ, as far as I know — but then there are cutting-edge, high-tech things that I have here and do. I have a wind generator, solar panels, a laptop computer. You can blend these old, timeless things with the latest technology to do the things that need to be done in life. I think there’s going to be more people looking back for models from the past, and use it to blend in with new ideas and technology today.”

(This sentiment is reminiscent of Molly Landreth’s tender vintage portraits.)

Coffer follows last year’s excellent Byun — the story of an eccentric Korean artist and collector-of-everything living in Brooklyn, who takes a hands-on approach to the concept of combinatorial creativity:

You can create a lot of stories by putting all these objects together.”

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.