Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’

15 JUNE, 2010

The Genius of Design: A BBC Design Retrospective

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What plastic chairs have to do with German partisanship and how women use the kitchen.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, the films have been pulled from Vimeo. Semi-fortunately, you can now catch the series, with questionable legality, on Chinese video portal Tudou, in English. We’ve swiftly navigated Mandarin drop-downs and updated the embeds below.

UPDATE 2: The Genius of Design is now available on DVD, sweet!

Last year’s cinematic design obsession was indisputably Objectified, director Gary Hustwit’s fantastic documentary about industrial design and all the ways in which it touches our daily lives. This year, the BBC is bringing us The Genius of Design — a new five-part documentary series exploring the broader history of design, from the Industrial Revolution through the Bauhaus of the 1920′s, the swinging 60′s, the fetishism of the 80′s, to today.

Though a “design documentary,” the series touches a diverse cross-section of disciplines, from art history to architecture to cultural anthropology.

From celebrity-status designers like Wedgwood and William Morris to the anonymous talent responsible for iconic designs like the cast-iron cooking pot, the series offers a remarkably wide-angle view of design not only as a creative discipline but also as a social facilitator. Treats include interviews with legendary designer Dieter Rams and archival footage of early industrial design production processes.

The first two hour-long episodes are available for free on Vimeo — and we guarantee they’ll be some of the best time investment you’ve made this year.

What makes the series particularly compelling is the ease with which it bridges historical context and present-day relevance, breathing a refreshing appreciation for the place and power of design even into those of us most immersed in it already.

The remaining three episodes will be released over the coming few weeks — so keep an eye out for an update.

UPDATE: All parts have been released and, thanks to Chinese video portal Tudou, we’ve embedded them below for your enjoyment.

PART 2: GHOSTS IN THE MACHINE

PART 3: BLUEPRINTS FOR WAR

PART 4: BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY

PART 5: OBJECTS OF DESIRE

via whiteboard journal

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14 JUNE, 2010

The Power of Art: From Rembrandt to Rothko

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Eight ways to move beyond prettiness, or what the BBC has to do with the appreciation of abstraction.

Throughout his prodigious scholarly career, Simon Schama (Columbia University) has steadily returned to one subject — art. Painters and paintings often take center stage in his academic books, his essays for The New Yorker (now collected in a single volume), and, most recently, his work on television. In 2006, Schama presented Power of Art on the BBC and PBS, and it wasn’t your ordinary trip through art history.

This is not a series about things that hang on walls, it is not about decor or prettiness. It is a series about the force, the need, the passion of art …the power of art.

That’s how the production announces itself. And, from here, Schama spends eight episodes, each an hour long, digging into the lives of eight transformative painters, starting with Caravaggio and Rembrandt and ending with Picasso and Rothko. (See the full lineup of artists here.) The series is available on DVD, and there’s also an accompanying book.

Today, we are spotlighting the episode dedicated to abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko:

The remaining segments can be watched here: Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Dan Colman edits Open Culture, which brings you the best free educational media available on the web — free online courses, audio books, movies and more. By day, he directs the Continuing Studies Program at Stanford University, and you can also find him on Twitter.

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