Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘omnibus’

28 MAY, 2010

Spam as Art

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Flowers from junk, postmodern poetry, and a beautiful way to invite Nigerian scammers into your living room.

Spam. The very use of the word sends most people cringing. (Not to mention its use here pretty much ensures our weekly newsletter won’t reach its recipients this week.) But count on artists to take life’s most cringe-inducing lemons and make beautiful lemonade. Today, we look at three fantastic spam-inspired art projects.

SPAM ONE-LINERS

From London-based illustrator Linzie Hunter comes Spam One-Liners — a gorgeous, colorful set of hand-lettering based on spam email subject lines in Linzie’s inbox.

From your usual slew of local chicks, weightloss aids and humorously poor euphemisms for ED to more the more cryptic, let’s-try-to-trick-you-into-opening-this-by-confusing-you efforts, the series is as wildly wonderful as its inspiration is maddeningly annoying.

Much to our delight, Hunter has published the illustrations in Secret Weapon — a collection of 30 terrific hand-painted, spam-inspired postcards that transform junk mail into a kind of postmodern poetry.

Select prints are also available on 20×200. (Which continues to top our list of places to buy affordable art.)

SPAM FLOWERS

Romanian artist Alex Dragulescu creates “dynamic for the people.” His Spam Plants series consists of incredible generative sculptures based on the text of spam messages.

His work reminds us of binary sculptor Paul Prudence, whom we featured more than two years ago.

See more of Dragulesco’s projects for even more generative fascination.

SPAMGHETTO

Instead of sweeping junk mail under their proverbial carpet, design getup ToDo decided to put it on their literal wall. Spamghetto is a gorgeous typographic wallpaper rendered via generative software and completely customizable so it wraps around any objects and shapes on your wall’s surface.

Spamghetto is like a designer Wordle for your junk folder. We’d actually love to get a version based on real, personal emails — how lovely would it be to have emails from your friends and family covering your walls with typographic goodness?

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25 MAY, 2010

Strange Sounds: 7 Experimental Projects Making Music from Natural Elements

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Solar-powered guitars, salty vocals, and what bonsai has to do with liquid music for the deaf.

Yesterday, we challenged what art creation means in the context of experimental media. Today, we’re turning to music, spotlighting seven unorthodox ways to create and think about “music” and the art of sound.

STEVE MANN

Steve Mann, founder of MIT’s Wearable Computers Group, may be better-known as “the world’s first cyborg”, but he is also a passionate sound experimenter. His latest invention, the hydraulophone, is a mellifluous, highly tactile instrument that, Mann hopes, could offer a new self-expression platform for music creation for the deaf and blind — the skills required for reading Braille, it turns out, are quite similar to those required for playing the hydraulophone.

DIEGO STOCCO

California-based artist Diego Stocco is a master of sound abstraction. A sound designer and composer, he creates unusual sound experiences using anything from everyday objects to contraptions he builds from scratch. From outfitting a tree with a stethoscope, a plastic pipe and a microphone, to blending an old piano with the sounds of sunset, his work has a beautiful nature-grounded quality to it whilst really pushing the technologies and conception of modern sound design.

Follow Diego’s latest experimentation on SoundCloud and keep an eye on his Vimeo channel for even more neo-musical goodness.

CELESTE BOURSIER-MOUGENOT

French artist and composer Céleste Boursier-Mougenot creates sound by drawing on the rhythms of daily life in unexpected ways. In her installation for the Barbican Centre in London, she placed a flock of zebra finches in an aviary equipped with electric guitars and other instruments, creating a technological playground for nature’s lo-fi songsters. As the birds go about their ordinary business, perching on the various pieces of equipment, they inadvertently create curious soundscapes.

MEARA O’REILLY

Sound designer, instrument builder, and singer Meara O’Reilly intersects art and science as she explores the fringes of auditory percetion. In her Chaldini Singing project, inspired by the famous scientist’s 18th- and 19th-century experiments, she creates songs based on sequences of patterns of salt scattered on a metal plate.

VIENNA VEGETABLE ORCHESTRA

The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra, which we first featured a couple of years ago, is all about the music of Carrot Top. No, the other carrot top. Since 1998, the Austrian alt-music getup has been play anything you can buy at your local farmer’s market and has even released a couple of albums.

FELIX’S MACHINES

When we first saw Felix Thorn and his incredible machines at TED last summer, it made us unable to look at a broom and a colander the same way again. Under Felix’s Machines, the 24-year-old Brit performs on a fascinating instrument made of household objects like candle holders and shower caddies. His experimental music plays with synchronized light and sound, aiming to remove the human performer.

CRAIG COLORUSSO

From musician and composer Craig Colorusso comes an unusual take on one of the decade’s most buzz-worthy technologies: solar panels. Sun Boxes is “an environment to enter and exit” — an installation of 20 speakers powered by solar panels, with a different guitar sample in each box adding to the cumulative composition, encouraging participants to walk among them and experience the dimensional soundscape.

The sound the installation produces is absolutely haunting and eerily hypnotic, like the breath of the desert itself.

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30 APRIL, 2010

Urban Hackscapes: Augmented Reality 1.0

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iPhone vs. pencil, or what the Library of Congress has to do with cartoon dinosaurs.

If you think augmented reality is a recent fascination woven from the fabric of the camera phone age, think again — artists, photographers and casual creative pranksters have long been using camera tricks to hack urban landscape by layering additional fascination over the naked eye’s view of the city. Here are three of our favorite photographic hackscapes.

SOUVENIRS

You recall Michael Hughes‘ wonderful Souvenirs collection from pickings past. The British photographer travels the world and “replaces” some of its most iconic landmarks with their cheap touristy souvenir replicas — miniatures, snow globes, plates, postcards — by holding them in front of the camera at just the right angle.

The result is a playful take on tourism which, depending on how philosophically inclined you are, even exudes subtle commentary on the artificiality of souvenir collecting in the context of the actual experience and our often excessive propensity for sentimentality.

Prints from the project are available on Hughes’ website.

LOOKING INTO THE PAST

Because we love the cross-pollination of ideas and the transference of creative inspiration, we love Jason Powell‘s Looking Into The Past project (which you may remember from one of our most popular features of all time, Photographic Time Machine), inspired by Hughes’ Souvenirs.

Powell prints out historical photographs from The Library of Congress digital archive (remember that, too?) and holds them up against the physical locations depicted in them, offering an absolutely fascinating glimpse of how urban landscape, dress and transportation have evolved over the past couple of centuries.

To contribute to this fold in the space-time continuum, submit your own photographic time capsules to the eponymous Flickr pool Powell set up for the project.

PENCIL VS. CAMERA

After object-in-photo and photo-in-photo, it’s only fitting that someone comes up with drawing-in-photo. Artist Benjamin Heine did — his series Pencil vs. Camera adds an element of playful fantasy to the already innovative cross-medium technique.

We imagine being trampled by cartoon Godzilla while staring at a four-eyed cat is among the eeriest yet most amusing of deaths.

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