Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘photography’

14 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Cyclepedia: An Homage to the Beauty of the Bicycle

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A brief visual history of innovation in bicycle design.

It’s no secret I’m a longtime lover of the two-wheel life. Now, a new book brings two of my great passions — bikes and design — together with such poise and passion that it’s hard not to swoon. Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design is part heartfelt homage to the beauty of the bicycle, part museum of notable bike innovations, channeled by Vienna-based designer, bike aficionado and collector Michael Embacher through 100 remarkable bicycles that range from peculiar niche velocipedes to cutting-edge racing models to high-end design masterpieces.

Delicious technical details and historical bits enrich each images, and a foreword by renowned designer and avid cyclist Paul Smith bridges the geekery of veloculture with the bike’s place in pop culture.

Bianchi C-4 Project model

The C-4 frames of this sleek, futuristic bike made their debut in cycling competitions in 1987.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Inconnu (Unknown)

Nicknamed the Inconnu (Unknown) and produced by a designer who remains anonymous, this folding bike takes around one hour to fold and, once folded, the trailer it forms needs to be tolled since it's flatter and broader than the bike itself.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Vialle Velastic

Dating back to 1925, the Vialle Velastic aimed to make cycling as comfortable as possible and was advertised with a promise to make cycling feel like sitting in an armchair.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Bike Friday

Designed for the world tourist, this bike comes in a case for transporting it on aeroplanes that doubles as a trailer while cycling. The designers, Alan and Hanz Scholz, were inspired by the idea of people cycling away from the airport after landing.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Bob Jackson Tricycle

This unusual tricycle was made in the UK in 1995, customized and hand-crafted to the rider's requirements.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Solling Pedersen

More than 100 years old yet still in production today, this unorthodox design comes from Danish blacksmith Mikael Pedersen, who set out to create a frame that could fit a rider of any height. As the rider added his or her weight, the bike gained stability thanks to a flexible saddle suspended on a cord.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Tur Meccanica Bi Bici

A curious compact Italian tandem from 1980.

Image courtesy of Michael Embacher via the BBC

Equal parts illuminating and aesthetically transfixing, Cyclepedia: A Century of Iconic Bicycle Design is bound to tickle your curiosity, quench your design eye, and make your hands itch for the handlebars.

HT @kboelte / Sierra Club; images via BBC

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09 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Portraits of Workspaces

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What salt-water taffies have to do with hard hats, mannequins and kindergarten playrooms.

Workspaces have their own unique curiosity to them. Unlike homes, which are tailored around just a few residents, a work environment’s design must blend utility, efficiency, and comfort for all the different people who work within its walls. And it’s these people filling the space that give it another design dimension; we inevitably imbue these environments with our design aesthetic and personalities, as we spend countless waking hours inhabiting them. Perhaps this is what makes workspaces so compelling to document.

We’ve compiled a few exceptional projects found on The Behance Network that document people at work, from those who blend seamlessly into their workspaces to the delightful misfits.

POINT OF SALE

In Point of Sale by Shane Butler, dozens of trade-related accessories end up defining the space for these employees.

MANNEQUIN WORKERS BY DYLAN COLLARD

In Mannequin Workers, Dylan Collard goes inside a mannequin factory, where the human form is everywhere, making those with real flesh and blood both stand out and blend in.

AT WORK PORTRAITS

In is At Work Portraits, Rüdiger Nehmzow explores a flawless and sleek scientific workplace, where the setting seems to overwhelm the people within it.

ANOTHER VIEW

Another View by Mitar Simikic captures people at home and lending their personality to their workspaces, be it a woodpile out back or a kindergarten classroom.

PORTRAITS OF WORKERS

In Portraits of Workers @ Sofidel SPA by Alessandro Puccinelli, workers pose within the steely expanse of their workspace, both proud of and dwarfed by the machinery they operate.

Mell Perling is a community manager at Behance, where she writes about creative work at the Behance team blog and @TheServed on Twitter. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

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08 SEPTEMBER, 2011

Asylum: Inside the Haunting World of 19th-Century Mental Hospitals

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What straitjackets have to do with Eames chairs and the mutations of policy ideals.

One of the 19th-century’s most notorious socioarchitectural phenomena were the “insane asylums” that housed the era’s mentally ill — enormous and stunning buildings whose architecture stood in stark contrast with the ominous athmosphere of their inner workings. Fascinated by this phenomenon and its ghosts, photographer Christopher Payne set out to document the afterlife of those baleful buildings in Asylum: Inside The Closed World Of State Mental Hospitals — a compendium of images that peel away at a lost world and, in the process, offer a provocative portrait of the history of our (mis)treatment of the mentally ill. A foreword by iconic neuroscientist Oliver Sacks (remember him?) frame the photographs in a sociocultural context of how these institutions evolved and what role they came to play, both in their time and in our reflections on history.

Autopsy theater, St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, DC

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Patient dresses, Clarinda State Hospital, IA

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Mead building lobby, Yankton State Hospital, SD

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Straitjacket, Logansboard State Hospital, IN

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

What’s most peculiar about those asylums is that they, like much of policy dysmorphia that begins with an idealistic vision and ends in a social malady, began with the idea of “moral treatment” wherein the ill would be removed from the city and placed in these Utopian environments, many of which were fully self-sufficient and even generated their own electricity, and put to meaningful work.

Asylums offered a life with its own special protections and limitations, a simplified and narrowed life perhaps, but within this protective structure, the freedom to be as mad as one liked and, for some patients at least, to live through their psychoses and emerge from their depths as saner and stabler people.

In general, though, patients remained in asylums for the long term. There was little preparation for return to life outside, and perhaps after years cloistered in an asylum, residents became ‘institutionalized’ to some extent, and no longer desired, or could no longer face, the outside world.” ~ Oliver Sacks

Beauty salon, Trenton State Hospital, NJ

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Patient suitcases, Bolivar State Hospital, TN

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Buffalo State Hospital, NY

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Unclaimed cremation urns, Oregon State Hospital, OR

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Hiding in Payne’s photographs are peculiar objects that survived almost untouched amidst the general decay of their surroundings — a colorful armchair here, some toothbrushes there, slippers, even some Eames chairs.

Patient toothbrushes, Hudson River State Hospital, NY

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Typical ward, Buffalo State Hospital, NY

Image courtesy of Christopher Payne via NPR

Asylum is part Library of Dust, part Urban Atrophy, part its own room in humanity’s haunted house of collective memory.

via NPR

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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.





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