Brain Pickings

Pick One: Hipsters Take on Culture, By Way of Helvetica

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Start Trek vs. Russia, the 1970’s vs. Christmas, or why death is better than Uggs.

If there ever were a formula for cool, it wouldn’t be far from simplicity + social statement + Helvetica. And Pick One is just that. Part social experiment, part art project, part brilliant head-scratcher, it’s artist Ben Nyberg‘s clever stab at getting your priorities straight — and it’s as playful or as serious as you want it to be.

All you do is go through pairs of cultural items — from Google to guns to God, and everything in between — and pick the one you prefer within each pair, which gives it a score of 1 point.

After a couple of hundred clicks, we lost patience in trying to reach some sort of end — we suspect it’s an infinite loop that randomly pairs each item with every other, then starts all over again — and voyeured over to the Top 10 and the Bottom 10, based on the crowdsourced cumulative score of each item.

It’s a sign of the times when The Internet ends up amidst the most fundamental of human needs. Then again, if it were up to us, it would even rank four positions higher.

And a note to all the budding social psychologists and ethicists out there — you may want to rethink your career path: Morality, which appears in the pick-pairs, didn’t even make a cameo on the Top 10. Neither did art — ironic, in the context of an art project.

Pick One is also a testament to its own hipsterness — there’s no question about the psychographic composition of a crowd that hates Uggs more than hate itself, George W, or death.

HT @BBHLabs

Heart of a City: BioMapping

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Why skin is the new heart and how your neighbors can change the way your feel about your street.

On the trails of yesterday’s fascinating exploration of cities as living organisms, today we look at another piece of high-concept urban portraiture that harnesses the power of art, sociology and technology to a brilliant end.

Since 2004, Christian Nold has been orchestrating Bio Mapping — a crowdsourced community mapping project, which wires people up to Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) devices, detecting their emotional arousal, and sends them on their merry way around the neighborhood. These states are then mapped onto people’s geographic location, creating a visualization of communal emotion.

Participants — over 1,500 of them to date — also annotate the data with personal observations, memories and thoughts they associate with each location, painting a rich emotional portrait of the social space of a community.

Perhaps most fascinating about the project isn’t the mere documentation of collective emotion, but how that awareness would change our perception of our community and environment.

Those who have been with Brain Pickings for some time may find Bio Mapping reminiscent of Swedish artist Erik Krikortz’s Emotional Cities project. But, as researchers, we love the idea of measuring emotional states via biofeedback rather than self-reporting.

After all, there’s often a gaping disconnect between how we publicly broadcast emotion and how we privately experience it.

via Very Short List

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ComplexCity: Visualizing the Hidden Patterns of Urbanity

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Warholian city maps, or what a Parisian lover has to do with urban infrastructure.

Cities are living organisms. And their veins — the interconnected streets and walkways and alleys — are what keep the city’s vitality in flux. Each city has a different “circulatory system,” a different flow of its livelihood, a unique pattern that holds its cultural DNA.

In ComplexCity, Korean artist Lee Jang Sub explores the concealed aesthetic formed by the infrastructure of the city and its evolution across time.

Although the project started in the artist’s hometown of Seoul, he has since dissected the street patterns of other global cultural epicenters.

Something intangible about the shape and color of each pattern seems to capture an incredibly authentic piece of the city’s vibe and uniqueness — the rose bushes of Florence, the black lace on the stocking of a Parisian lover, the aristocratic iciness of winter in Moscow.

ComplexCity: Rome

ComplexCity: Paris

ComplexCity: Moscow

The ComplexCity patterns are available as wall prints and absolutely stunning lighting, made from backlit Korean rice paper — a fitting metaphor for the delicate natural texture of the city.

via Coudal

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Artist Spotlight: Stephan Zirwes Aerial Photography

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Soccer field species, abstracting nature, and why you aren’t nearly as big as you think.

We’re aware we don’t go easy on superlatives here. But German photographer Stephan Zirwes is of the most deserving kind — words like incredible, phenomenal and fantastic are all but an understatement of his unlike-anything-else aerial magic.

One series, fields, explores the diverse “species” of soccer fields.

Leisure takes a look at the landscape of our free time.

Industry puts into perspective the vast scale of our man-made environment through geometric images that are aesthetically stunning, but somehow unsettling at the same time.

In construction, Zirwes takes a birds-eye look at the making of said man-made scale.

Leisure II presents a curious intersection of the above series — the unusual places people choose as oases of relaxation and recreation. If you look very closely at each image, you’ll find someone sprawling on a beach towel amidst the industrial clutter.

But perhaps our favorite series of his is titled snow — it abstracts nature with such simplicity and beauty that each image is more akin to a textured art canvas than a photograph.

There’s something incredibly humbling about seeing ourselves, from 10,000 feet, as the tiny figurines on a miniature set of life — a potent antidote to our grandeur-obsessed culture.

For the full Stephan Zirwes experience, we recommend fullscreen immersion.

via VSL

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