Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘documentary’

10 JULY, 2012

North: How a Small Arctic Town Became a Global Epicenter of Climate Science

By:

A cinematic history of climate change by way of the North Pole.

From British filmmaker, designer, and storyteller Temujin Doran — who has previously delighted us with this cinematic homage to language, some advice to sink in slowly, a meditation on the art of protest, and a thoughtful take on the distortions of democracy — comes North, an exquisite short documentary about how Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Circle, became an epicenter of climate change science after the Svalbard Act was signed in 1920, an international treaty recognizing Norwegian sovereignty over the islands and declaring the whole region a demilitarized zone.

Doran shot most of the footage during a residency in the Arctic Circle in 2010.

In 1969, as the Swiss were marveling at the hazel trees that had been flowering since January, two men stared back at the world from the surface of the moon and took a photograph of the blue-rimmed planet they lived on — a small fragile planet, all they had, wrapped in life, yet enveloped by war — perhaps the most beautiful image ever made.

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 what to expect. Like? Sign up.

05 JULY, 2012

Epilogue: Book-Lovers on the Future of Print

By:

“The central role of the bookseller is curatorial and….the intervening years have increased that role in terms of importance.”

EPILOGUE is a lyrical student documentary about the future of books by Hannah Ryu Chung, featuring a number of interviews with independent bookstore owners, magazine art directors, printers, bookbinders, letterpress artists, and other champions of bibliophilia. The conversation, though beautifully cinematic, bespeaks the classic deficiency of the same old print vs. digital debate — earnest enthusiasm and genuine passion for the printed page, but underpinned by stubborn reductionism of digital possibility and a certain self-importance. There is practically no exploration of how the love of printed books can, and does, live and thrive online — this isn’t a world in which our only choice is how to read, pitting analog vs. digital; it’s a world in which the more urgent and important choice is the one we’ve always faced: what to read and, above all, why to read. Increasingly, these decisions are being made online, whether their end objects manifest in bits or atoms.

Print, since 1886 — which would be Otto Mergenthaler invents the linotype — between here and now, the history of print has been all about change.

[ ... ]

I feel like the central role of the bookseller has not changed: The central role of the bookseller is curatorial and I feel, if anything, the intervening years have increased that role in terms of importance.” ~ Brian Morgan, Walrus Magazine

The film’s Flickr stream is a treasure trove of book candy:

Monkey's Paw Bookshop, Toronto, ON

Eliot's Bookshop, Toronto, ON

KOZO Letterpress Studio Gallery, Akemi Nishidera

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 what to expect. Like? Sign up.

26 JUNE, 2012

Legendary Graphic Designer Milton Glaser on Art, Purpose, and the Capacity for Astonishment

By:

“That’s the great benefit of being in the arts, where the possibility for learning never disappears.”

Today marks the 83rd birthday of Milton Glaser, considered by many — myself included — the greatest graphic designer alive, and frequently celebrated alongside Saul Bass as the most influential graphic designer of all time.

Today also marks 10 weeks since beloved Brooklyn-based designer, author, and filmmaker Hillman Curtis passed away after a fiercely fought battle with cancer. Last week, I joined much of New York’s design community in a celebration of Hillman’s films, among which is his extraordinary artist series profiling prominent creators. So, today, let’s take a bittersweet moment to celebrate a great legacy and a great life with Hillman Curtis’s beautiful and affectionate profile of Milton Glaser:

Glaser adds to this omnibus of history’s finest definitions of art:

Art performs this pacifying function in culture… Its practitioners create commonalities… I always quote a guy named Lewis Hyde, who wrote about primitive cultures, where there’s an exchange of gifts that cannot be kept but have to be passed on. And the passing on of gifts is a device to prevent people from killing one another, because they all become part of a single experience. And his leap of imagination occurs when he says, ‘And this is what artists do in culture — artists provide that gift to the culture, so that people have something in common.’

And I think that for all of us who identify with the role of artists in history have that intuition about things, and want our work to serve that purpose.

Glaser echoes other great minds’ insights on purpose, articulating something many of us relate to on a deep level:

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing someone whose life has been affected in a positive way by something you’ve said. There’s nothing more exciting than to see somebody change from a sort of condition of inertness or inattentiveness into a mind that begins to inquire about meaning.

I think if you don’t do something to project into the future that way, the possibility for total self-absorption and narcissism becomes very much greater.

Finally, he offers some invaluable advice on the progression of the creative life into old age, wrapped in a broader meditation on the universal power of art:

If you can sustain your interest in what you’re doing, you’re an extremely fortunate person. What you see very frequently in people’s professional lives, and perhaps in their emotional life as well, is that they lose interest in the third act. You sort of get tired, and indifferent, and, sometimes, defensive. And you kind of lose your capacity for astonishment — and that’s a great loss, because the world is a very astonishing place.

What I feel fortunate about is that I’m still astonished, that things still amaze me. And I think that that’s the great benefit of being in the arts, where the possibility for learning never disappears, where you basically have to admit you never learn it.

For the definitive collection of Glaser’s most memorable work, treat yourself to the 1973 tome Milton Glaser: Graphic Design.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.