Brain Pickings

PICKED: Iceland Beyond Sigur Rós


We love Sigur Rós. But there’s more to Iceland’s music landscape than Jonsi. That’s precisely what Iceland: Beyond Sigur Rós explores. The half-hour documentary, produced by Icelandic nonprofit film collective Serious Feather, celebrates Iceland’s dynamic and diverse independent music scene.

Filmed with beautiful HD cinematography, the documentary features interviews with cultural pundits and music critics like Grapevine Magazine‘s Haukur Magnússon, pop-classical composer and producer Ólafur Arnalds, and Pétur Úlfur Einarsson and Hafsteinn Michael Guomundsson, co-founders of online music distributor Gogoyoko.

Interspersed between the insightful interviews are vibrant performances by Icelandic indie favorites like Hafdis Huld, Berndsen, Mugison, Ólafur Arnalds, Lára Rúnars, Bloodgroup, For A Minor Reflection, Seabear, Sykur and Severed Crotch.

So go ahead and take a look. Because, let’s face it, as phenomenal as the latest Sigur Rós album may be, it might be time to take it off repeat and expand your taste for Icelandic music.

via Coudal

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Urawaza: The Japanese Art of Lifehacking


We’ve already established that there’s a great deal the Japanese can teach us about everything from the art of storm drain covers to the philosophy of finding beauty in imperfection. But nowhere is this Eastern wisdom more condensed than in the concept of urawaza — roughly speaking, the Japanese term for “lifehacking.” Urawaza: Secret Everyday Tips and Tricks from Japan is a fantastic compendium more than 100 such once-secret tips and tricks for the modern urbanite, packing a formidable toolkit of daily hacks that will make you, as the cover promises, “do everything better” — or at least have more fun doing it.

Tokyo-born, Silicon-Valley-based journalist Lisa Katayama and illustrator Joel Holland deliver a punchy, irreverent, yet surprisingly practical guide to everything from keeping bathroom mirrors fog-free with a cut potato to picking up broken glass with a piece of bread to using a diaper to automate your plant watering while on vacation.

Clever and handy, Urawaza is certain to arm you with a powerful arsenal for city living, as well as a few potent mother-in-law-charmers and dinner party guest-impressers — and, really, who couldn’t use some of those?

Thanks, @kgillem

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Invisible Cities: A Transmedia Mapping Project


What social media activity has to do with the literal lay of the land.

In December, the now-infamous map of Facebook friendships revealed an uncanny cartography of the world depicted purely through social relationships data. Now, a project by Christian Marc Schmidt and Liangjie Xia is taking the concept ambitiously further: Invisible Cities is a transmedia mapping project, displaying geocoded activity from social networks like Twitter and Flickr within the context of an actual urban map — a visceral, literal embodiment of something VURB‘s Ben Cerveny has called “the city as a platform,” the idea that cities are informational media and living computational systems for urban society.

By revealing the social networks present within the urban environment, Invisible Cities describes a new kind of city — a city of the mind.”

Individual nodes appear whenever real-time activity takes place and the underlying terrain represents aggregate activity. As data accumulates, the landscape morphs into peaks and valleys that represent highs and lows of data density and information activity — a data topography visualization not dissimilar in concept to Aaron Koblin’s Amsterdam SMS project, and also built with Processing.

The interplay between the aggregate and the real-time recreates the kind of dynamics present within the physical world, where the city is both a vessel for and a product of human activity. It is ultimately a parallel city of intersections, discovery, and memory, and a medium for experiencing the physical environment anew.”

Invisible Cities is available as a free download for Mac OS X and Windows — read the instructions and go play on your own.

via Creators Project

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