Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘photography’

12 JANUARY, 2012

The Hidden Beauty of Pollination

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We’ve already marveled at the macro beauty of pollen, nature’s love-making mechanism. From Louie Schwartzberg’s film Wings of Life — an homage to “the love story that feeds the Earth,” inspired by the worrisome vanishing of the honeybees, nature’s irreplaceable Cupids — comes this stunning montage of high-speed images, revealing the intricate beauty of pollination:

Schwartzberg contextualizes the footage in his talk from TED 2011:

For a related moment of humility, treat yourself to Schwartzberg’s moving and rewarding TEDxSF talk on gratitude — it gets truly extraordinary at around 3:55:

You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day — it’s the one day that is given to you, today. It’s given to you, it’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life, and the very last day, then you would have spent this day very well.”

HT Smithsonian Retina

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05 JANUARY, 2012

Bike Art: Bicycles in Art Around the World

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A two-wheel canvas for creativity, or what pedals have to do with pedestals.

We’ve already seen how the humble bicycle can emancipate women (and keep them patriarchy-bound), rein in incredible design innovation, be a manifesto for the creative life, and serve as a metaphor for computers, courtesy of Steve Jobs. But, it turns out, the bike can also be an incredible canvas for art. Bike Art: Bicycles in Art Around the World presents a voyeuristic tour of the lesser-known intersections of art and bike culture, spanning design, performing arts, steampunk, street art, and more through works created on walls, canvases, paper, pedestals, bikeframes, skin and clothing by a range of international artists.

And, of course, what’s a declaration of obsession if not signed by ink? If science geeks can do it, bike geeks can do it:

For more on the fascinating history and far-reaching impact of bike culture, don’t forget Robert Penn’s excellent It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels.

Images courtesy of Gingko Press; thanks, Sharon

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30 DECEMBER, 2011

Forgotten Bookmarks: The Secret Life of Second-Hand Books

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From Paul Rand to Hitler, or what Jane Austen has to do with shopping lists and Valentines.

If you, like me, love marginalia and the secret histories of second-hand books, you’ll find yourself enamored with Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller’s Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages — the latest addition to the web’s blog-turned-book success stories based on the wonderful site of the same name by used bookstore owner Michael Popek.

It’s happened to all of us: we’re reading a book, something interrupts us, and we grab the closest thing at hand to mark our spot. It could be a train ticket, a letter, an advertisement, a photograph, or a four-leaf clover. Eventually the book finds its way into the world-a library, a flea market, other people’s bookshelves, or to a used bookstore. But what becomes of those forgotten bookmarks? What stories could they tell?”

From actual bookmarks to photographs, ticket stubs, lists, scribbled recipes, children’s drawings, birth certificates, four-leaf-clovers, unsent love letters, and countless other funny, heartbreaking, and odd ephemera, this scrapbook of Popek’s most intriguing finds opens a rare window into the private lives of anonymous strangers through snippets of their life stories.

Captivating, charming, and irresistibly voyeuristic, Forgotten Bookmarks surfaces the intimate relationship we have with books in an entirely new, entirely delightful way.

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