Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘world’

11 JANUARY, 2011

Transit Maps of the World: A Design History of Transit Systems

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We have a severe cartographic obsession, which peaked last week with these carefully curated 7 must-read books on maps, and a soft spot for subway map design. Naturally, Mark Ovenden’s Transit Maps of the World hits the bull’s eye — an ambitious and first of its kind exploration of the design history of the world’s rapid-transit systems, featuring current and historic maps of 200 cities around the world.

Divided into six sections based on the evolution of the maps, the book offers vintage treasures dating as far back as the 19th century alongside the latest proposed subway systems around the globe in a rare blend of design candy and historical context.

Spread images by Robin Benson

Detailed yet digestible, Transit Maps of the World is as much a stunning design treat as it is a fascinating read for scholars of urbanism and cultural difference.

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30 DECEMBER, 2010

7 Billion People in Kinetic Typography

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Earlier today, we spotlighted National Geographic‘s Great Migrations — a fascinating look at how large numbers of animals move as one. But perhaps even more fascinating, often in a troublesome kind of way, is how humanity’s ever-growing legions adapt to inhabiting a planet that seems to shrink. This preview for 7 Billion, a year-long series National Geographic is doing on overpopulation — an issue so enormous and far-reaching few of us truly grasp its gravity, and also one of the “elements” in yesterday’s A Is for Armageddon: An Illustrated Catalogue of Disasters — delivers some jaw-dropping facts in beautifully animated kinetic typography.

In 1975, there were 3 megacities — Tokyo, Mexico City and New York City. Right now, there are 21. By 2050, 70% of us will be living in urban areas.”

Standing shoulder to shoulder, all 7 billion of us would fill the city of Los Angeles.”

For an intelligent take on overpopulation, its implications for our not-at-all distant future and the opportunities that lie in it, we highly recommend David Christensen’s Two Elephants in the Room: Overpopulation and Opportunities We Overlook at Our Peril.

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21 DECEMBER, 2010

My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Modernist Fairy Tales

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There’s hardly a genre older and more familiar yet timeless and relentlessly captivating than the fairy tale, and no one breathes new air into this classic blend of folklore and morality better than author and editor Kate Bernheimer. Her latest gem, My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales is an ambitious anthology of 40 modernist fairy tales inspired by classic folktales from around the world and organized roughly by country of origin. With stories by some of today’s greatest fiction writers, including Neil Gaiman, Michael Cunningham, Aimee Bender and Lydia Millet, the book is a literary treasure chest, like the one in your grandmother’s attic where the whimsical and the macabre come to life on cold winter evenings as logs crackle in the fireplace downstairs.

Once you start looking, it is easy to see the variety — the sheer fractal ferocity — and intelligence of fairy tales. This collection contains stories reflective of current trends; it also contains stories told in more linear, straightforward ways. Some of the selections pay homage to midcentury and later styles; others come poetically through modes associated with the tradition of oral folklore. You will find stories that hew closely to their enchantment, and others that announce hardly any magic — until you encounter a tiny keyhole in the wall of their language. In each instance, you will easily enter these secret gardens.” ~ Kate Bernheimer

Beautifully written and utterly enchanted, the stories draw on everything from Hans Christian Andersen’s and Brothers Grimm’s classics to the popular entertainment of medieval Japan to fairy tales by Goethe and Calvino. Brimming with dark whimsy and gorgeous grotesqueness, the imaginative tome is an absolute treat for readers of all ages — so go ahead and treat yourself.

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22 NOVEMBER, 2010

PICKED: Goodbye Shanghai

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We’ve previously taken a lighter look at the East vs. West culture clash, but today we turn to something a bit more serious. Goodbye Shanghai is a beautifully directed and cinematically breathtaking short film by director Adam Christian Clark who, while still a film school undergrad at USC, became the youngest person in history to direct a US broadcast television series, CBS’s Big Brother.

In 2006, Clark traveled to Shanghai, where he wrote and directed Mainland China’s first reality TV show. The series eventually swept the nation with such near-hysteria that in 2007, China’s communist government banned all future prime-time reality TV. Last year, Clark returned to China to shoot Goodbye Shanghai, which explores the detrimental effects of Western imperialism on contemporary Chinese culture.

The film went on to win a number of short film festival awards around the world.

Though the full film is available in HD for free on Vimeo, the $4.99 price tag makes the DVD more than worth it.

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09 NOVEMBER, 2010

Baraka: A Breathtaking Journey to 24 Countries on 70mm Film

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Baraka is a breathtaking journey through 24 countries across 6 continents, painstakingly shot on Todd AO-70mm film by filmmakers Ron Fricke and Mark Madgison. It has no plot, no actors and no script; instead, it unfolds a spellbinding collection of rich, high-quality images stitched together with compelling cinematography an original score by Michael Stearns.

The films I’m making are nonverbal, there’s no main characters in them. The main characters are locations and the essence that comes out of those images.” ~ Ron Fricke

The word baraka comes from the Sufi language of the Middle East and means, in the broadest possible terms, a blessing.

This is not a documentary or a travelogue, it’s really not. It’s really meant to be a moving emotional experience about life on the planet and each of our place here, and not about where is this or where is that.” ~ Ron Fricke

You can catch a full, though tragically low-quality, stream of the film on Google Video, but we highly recommend the fantstic 2-disc special edition, available on both DVD and Blu-ray, which — we don’t need to tell you — packs the right ratio of obscurity, originality and visual artistry to make a superb holiday gift for the film, photography or travel geek in your life.

via @panopticon76

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