Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

19 AUGUST, 2011

Mod Odyssey: How The Beatles Revolutionized Animation in 1968

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From Homer to John Lennon, or what the “psychedelic 60s” can teach us about creativity in animation.

Animated music videos are about as common today as photos of cats on the internet and, tragically often, not that much more original. But there was a time when they were a pinnacle of creative innovation, breaking entirely new ground. Earlier this year, we looked at the work of 5 early animation pioneers who changed the course of animated storytelling, and today we turn to the intersection of film and music with Mod Odyssey, a fascinating featurette on the making of The Beatles’ groundbreaking 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine. More than a decade before Pixar, the film was not only a technical feat of animation execution but also a seminal work in bringing more attention to animation as a serious art form, both for audiences and for creators.

For the first time in screen history, extremely real and enormously famous people were going to be animated into a feature film.”

‘Yellow Submarine’ breaks new ground in the art of animation. Just as Swift and Carroll changed the history of literature, as Chagall and Picasso brought new life to art, The Beatles are revitalizing the art of animation. It’s a truly mod world, where medium and message meld — the new art of the psychedelic 60s.”

For more on animating Lennon, don’t forget the excellent and timeless I Met The Walrus, recorded the year after Yellow Submarine and animated 39 years later.

via Dangerous Minds

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19 AUGUST, 2011

How the Science of Attention is Changing Work and Education

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What a woman in a gorilla suit has to do with the future of work and education in the digital age.

Much has been said about how the Internet is changing our brains and what this new culture of learning means for the future of education. While much of the dialogue has been doused in techno-dystopian alarmism, from Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, narrated by Orson Welles in the 1970s, to Nicholas Carr’s reductionist claims about attention in today’ digital age. But the truth about attention, as it relates to the intersection of technology and education, seems to be a lot more layered and complex — and, if Cathy Davidson, founder of Duke University’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, is right, a lot less worrisome. That’s precisely what Davidson illustrates in her new book, Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn — a fascinating meditation on how “attention blindness,” the peculiar phenomenon illustrated by Harvard’s famous invisible gorilla experiment, has produced one of our culture’s greatest disconnects, the inability to reconcile the remarkable changes induced by the digital age with the conventions of yesteryear’s schools and workplaces.

As long as we focus on the object we know, we will miss the new one we need to see. The process of unlearning in order to relearn demands a new concept of knowledge not as thing but as a process, not as a noun but as a verb.” ~ Cathy Davidson

In another famous experiment, Davidson, then provost at Duke, gave the entire 2003 freshman class iPods as part of their academic curriculum. Though the pilot project was at first widely derided, it quickly silenced the critics as students found intelligent and innovative ways to employ their iPods in the classroom and the lab in everything from collaborating on group project to podcasting a conference on Shakespeare around the world.

Davidson uses the insights from these experiments as a lens through which to examine the nature and evolution of attention, noting that the educational system is driven by very rigid expectations of what “attention” is and how it reflects “intelligence,” a system in which students who fail to meet these expectations and pay attention differently are pigeonholed somehow deficient of aberrant, square pegs in round holes. Yet neuroscience is increasingly indicating that our minds pay attention in a myriad different ways, often non-linear and simultaneous, which means that the academy and the workplace will have to evolve in parallel and transcend the 20th-century linear assembly-line model for eduction and work. (The assembly and the factory are in fact a familiar metaphor from Sir Ken Robinson’s insightful thoughts on changing educational paradigms.)

Refreshingly constructive and glimmering with much-needed optimism about the future of education in the digital age, Now You See It makes a fine new addition to these 7 essential books on education and offers a well-argued antidote to the media’s incessant clamor about the deadly erosion of our attention.

Thanks, Jake

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18 AUGUST, 2011

Mashup Masterpiece: Cookie Monster Sings Tom Waits

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A lip-synced case for the art of remix, or what Sesame Street has to do with the need to evolve copyright law.

Remix culture is a frequent fixation around here and a central premise of my beliefs about combinatorial creativity. But while intellectual, academic, and legal debates about the role of remix in creative culture certainly have their place, the best way to appreciate the art of remix is through a brilliant manifestation. Case in point: Cookie Monster sings Tom Waits’ “God’s Away on Business” in the best mashup I’ve seen in ages.

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