Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘design’

03 DECEMBER, 2012

Anaïs Nin on Love, Hand-Lettered by Debbie Millman

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“Anxiety is love’s greatest killer… It makes others feel as you might when a drowning man holds on to you.”

Revered as one of the most dedicated diarists in literary history, Anaïs Nin has given us a wealth of poetic and poignant meditations on life and the human condition. This first installment in an ongoing collaboration with creative polymath Debbie Millman — whose own poetic and poignant meditations you might recall from recent Literary Jukebox editions — captures one of Nin’s most timeless insights on love, culled from her many volumes of diaries and her love letters with Henry Miller. Drawn in Debbie’s singular style of artful lettering, the artwork is available on Society6, with proceeds benefiting A Room of Her Own, a foundation supporting women writers and artists. Enjoy:

UPDATE: Happy news! Part 2 of the series is now available.

Previous Brain Pickings artist series have included Susan Sontag on art and on love by Wendy MacNaughton, Anaïs Nin on life by Lisa Congdon, and Salvador Dalí’s “My Struggle” by Molly Crabapple.

See more of Debbie’s beautiful visual essays and poems online and in print, and follow her on Twitter.

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30 NOVEMBER, 2012

Anatomical Flap-Up Illustrations from 1901 Adapted as Animated GIFs

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Peeling away the layers of the body, over and over.

A couple of years ago, a dear friend gave me one of the most wonderful presents I’ve ever received — three pages from a rare antique anatomical textbook published in 1901, featuring gorgeous flap-up illustrations by E. J. Stanley. Each fold-out consists of three layers, peeling which reveals a different dimension of the body — from skin to muscle and bone to organ and tissue. After the success of that Victorian pop-up book, I decided to adapt the illustrations as animated GIFs, sequencing the three layers for each page.

Delightful, no?

Complement with The Human Body: What It Is And How It Works, a vibrantly illustrated vintage anatomy gem from 1959, illuminating “the highest performance machine in the world.”

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29 NOVEMBER, 2012

A Visual History of Nobel Prizes and Notable Laureates, 1901-2012

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Mapping the greatest cultural and scientific advances in modern history with inspiration from John Cage’s music.

After her wonderful visual timeline of the future based on famous fiction last week, I asked Italian information visualization designer Giorgia Lupi and her team at Accurat to create an exclusive English version of another fantastic visualization designed for La Lettura, the Sunday literary supplement of Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera — this time exploring the history of Nobel Prizes and laureates since the dawn of the awards in 1901.

Visualized for each laureate are prize category, year the prize was awarded, and age of the recipient at the time, as well as principal academic affiliations and hometown. Each dot represents a Nobel laureate, and each recipient is positioned according to the year the prize was awarded (x axis) and his or her age at the time of the award (y axis).

(Click image for hi-res version)

Also highlighted are several record-holding laureates — like Marie Curie, for instance, who endures not only as the first woman to win a Nobel Prize but also as the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, and in two different sciences at that, chemistry and physics.

What makes the visualization especially interesting is that Lupi, herself a pianist, was inspired by the work of legendary composer John Cage and the fantastic Notations 21 project. She tells me:

I love the way Cage composes the overall visual architecture of his pieces. Of course, they are functional (sheets to be played) but they are also very graceful in terms of visual beauty.

Indeed, she points out that there are a number of parallels between data visualization and Cage’s work, including non-linear storytelling, layering and hierarchies of information, a clear overall structure for each piece, a focus on overall architecture rather than individual elements, words within diagrams, and a convergence of emotive and functional beauty.

See more of Giorgia’s terrific work on her site, then complement it with some visualization lessons from the world’s top information designers and data artists.

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