Brain Pickings

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

By:

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

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

The Music Animation Machine

By:

In the 1970s, composer, inventor and software engineer Stephen Malinowski had a hallucination. He envisioned an easier, more visual way of reading music scores. A friend of his suggested he animate the bar-graph scroll and another proposed doing it with a… gasp… computer. In 1985, Malinowski created the first version of the Music Animation Machine and, a quarter century later, it remains a treasure trove of mesmerizing music visualizations. From Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugarplum Fairync to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat Major, the project brings an intuitive, visceral, almost synesthetic understanding to some of the most musically complex masterpieces in history.

Music moves, and can be understood just by listening. But a conventional musical score stands still, and can be understood only after years of training. The Music Animation Machine bridges this gap, with a score that moves — and can be understood just by watching.” ~ Stephen Malinowski

Malinowski has made the MIDI player available as freeware (sadly, Windows-only) so you can download it and create your own visualizations.

You can support the project by buying a DVD of the visualizations, but Malinowski has kindly offered the DVDs free of charge to any public schools, libraries, music schools and educators of music theory, appreciation, or history. Many of the animations are also available on the Music Animation Machine YouTube channel.

As a hidden treat, the site also features a free visual harmonizer for iPad — a wonderful educational tool exploring the relationship between pitches.

via Quipsologies

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

The Cassiopeia Project: Free Science Education Online

By:

What a mysterious retired physicist has to do with the future of learning.

In 2008, The Cassiopeia Project began quietly publishing high-definition videos exploring in an intelligent yet digestible manner nearly every corner of the science spectrum, and releasing them online for free. With more than 100 videos to date available on iTunesU and YouTube, the project offers an invaluable resource on everything from quantum mechanics to evolution to the theory of relativity — another wonderful piece in the ever-expanding puzzle of free educational content online that is changing how we think about learning.

We believe that if you can visualize it, then understanding it is not far behind.”

The project, operating under the slogan “No science teacher left behind,” is funded by an adamantly anonymous retired scientist who, after weighing the benefits of helping academic institutions versus helping teachers, he chose the latter and made it his mission to champion science literacy in the US.

All the content is open-source and educators are encouraged to edit, remix and otherwise customize the footage. While all videos are self-contained, a companion sci-fi / romance novel, CounterClockWise, is used as a contextualizing plot vehicle to pique interest in the project.

The project is named after the Cassiopeia Constellation at the edge of the Milky Way, known for its wayfinding capcaity; once you find Cassiopeia, you can easily locate all other constellations in the Northern hemisphere — a beautiful metaphor for the illuminating mission of the project.

Sadly, the effort appears to be in stagnation since 2009, but we sincerely hope to see it resurface with more fantastic content. Meanwhile, explore the existing video library and appreciate the wonders of grassroots, web-enabled education.

via MeFi

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

Brené Brown on Wholeheartedness

By:

Happiness is something I’ve been intensely interested in, both from a research and from a cultural perspective. And one thing that consistently cooccurs with true happiness is the notion of authenticity — being, as the contrived but universally accurate saying goes, “true to ourselves,” something that inevitably necessitates a degree of vulnerability most of us are conditioned to be uncomfortable with. Brené Brown‘s fantastic talk from TEDxHouston deconstructs vulnerability to reveal what she calls “wholeheartedness”: The capacity to engage in our lives with authenticity, cultivate courage and compassion, and embrace — not in that self-help-book, motivational-seminar way, but really, deeply, profoundly embrace — the imperfections of who we really are.

It’s the perfect way to start your week — enjoy.

In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen — really seen.” ~ Brené Brown

Brown’s new book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, came out last month and is the most eloquent refutation of the “What will people think?” inner dialogue I’ve ever stumbled across.

Donating = Loving

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:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.