Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘remix’

16 MARCH, 2011

The Art of Immersion: Dissecting the Future of Storytelling


Groping our way into next-gen entertainment, or how the original Star Wars trilogy birthed Lost.

Audiences expect more from their entertainment in 2011. Twenty years into our collective online experience, every genre of traditional popular art — books, film, television — is undergoing profound changes in form and function. A new book from Wired contributor Frank Rose called The Art of Immersion: How the Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories assembles case studies that both analyze the past and predict the future of fun.

We stand now at the intersection of lure and blur. The future beckons, but we’re only partway through inventing it. We can see the outlines of a new art form, but its grammar is as tenuous and elusive as the grammar of cinema a century ago.

Through interviews with the co-creators of Lost, über-director James Cameron, Sims creator Will Wright and others, Rose describes the new narratives enabled by the interactive possibilities of the Internet. Call it transmedia, gameification, cross-platform convergence, or any other cringe-worthy neologism coined by marketers, we do participate in our pastimes more than ever before. And Rose’s book also contains the critical heft, historical scope, and recent research into brain science that take it beyond these trendy tropes.

[E]very new medium that’s been invented, from print to film to television to cyberspace, has increased the transporting power of narrative. And every new medium has aroused fear and even hostility as a result.

For an authoritative tour of the frontiers of amusement, read the just published The Art of Immersion. Perhaps the 3-D game version is forthcoming?

Kirstin Butler is writing an adaptation of Gogol for the Google era called Dead SULs, but when not working spends far, far too much time on Twitter. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA.

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15 MARCH, 2011

Open-Sourcing Graphic Design: 3 Projects


What ugly ampersands have to do with wayfinding and vintage pictograms.

We’re big proponents of open source as an enabler of both creative expression and innovation. And while the ethos has come of age in the technology sphere, with posterchildren like Firefox and WordPress, some of its most interesting recent incarnations have been on the creative front. Today, we spotlight three wonderful projects that bring the vision of open-source movement to the world of design.


Last week, we looked at the legacy of Isotype — the vintage pictogram-based visual language of the 1930s that sparked the golden age of infographics and infiltrated everything from bathroom signs to traffic signage. Siruca Pictogram Project by designers Stefan Dziallas and Fabrizio Schiavi is an open-source pictogram font, free to download and use, even commercially.


Open Source Ampersands essentially a single-character font — a font file that only contains glyphs for a single character — using the ampersand. Each of the ampersand characters is real text, not an image, and can be selected, copied, pasted and applied CSS to. The ampersands scale as you zoom the page and work in every browser, “even ancient versions of Internet Explorer.” The project serves as a statement against licensing limitations on the web and aims to celebrate open standards and open source.

And though the folks at shit ampersand may be less than thrilled with many of the designs, it’s still an admirable project.


Visual literacy is an essential necessity of modern life. But some of the most widely recognized symbols of visual language are wrapped in a surprising amount of historical and contextual obscurity. This is where The Noun Project comes in — a wonderful effort to collect, catalog and contextualize the world’s visual language.

The site offers an ever-growing range of diverse symbols available for free under a CreativeCommons license. Though many of the popular symbols — from No Parking to Trash to the familiar directional arrows — were designed by the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 1974 with the explicit intention of being in the public domain, finding free, high-quality versions of them online is still a pain. Each symbol on The Noun Project, by contrast, is downloadable as a vector file, the most flexible open-standard format available.

The project, brainchild of LA-based designer and architect Edward Boatman, was funded via Kickstarter and exceeded its $1,500 target nearly tenfold, illustrating the palpable cultural need it’s addressing.

In the long run, the project aims to aggregate and organize symbols into useful categories like transportation, web apps, wayfinding, communication and more, as well as initiate design contests around the creation of new symbols for fields, objects and themes of increasing cultural demand, from gluten-free food to Internet connectivity to food trucks.

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10 MARCH, 2011

What Pi Sounds Like


We love the intersection of math and creativity. And we have a soft spot for unusual ways to create music. (Previously, we’ve seen that anything from produce to the HIV virus to your apartment can make music.) Earlier this week, we explored extraordinary mind of autistic savant Daniel Tammet, whose synesthesia allows him to experience numbers in color, sound and texture. But what if one could use ordinary tools to translate one source of cognitive input into an entirely different sensory experience?

That’s exactly what Michael John Blake did in his musical interpretation of the number Pi, translating each of the first 31 decimals into a note and performing the piece on varioius instruments to a tempo of 157 beats per minute. Priceless.

via Coudal

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07 MARCH, 2011

10 Years of Bicycle Film Festival in 3 Minutes


We love bike culture and independent film, so we’re big fans of the Bicycle Film Festival, which has been celebrating the bicycle through music, art and film since 2001, pushing the frontlines of the urban bike movement. In less than 3 minutes, this lovely 10th-anniversary compilation captures the spirit of the festival with an inspired remix of footage from the hundreds of films that graced the festival’s roster over the past decade.

To join the movement, submit your cinematic homage to the bike by April 1.

Thanks, Heather

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