Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

15 DECEMBER, 2008

History, Animated, Quick and Uneuphemistic


The moon hoax, why Nixon lost the debate, and what dinosaurs have to do with Gerald Ford and a chicken.

Despite our general dismissal of history as a boiling pot of mistakes that humanity never learned from, we have to admit it offers a great and telling tale or two. And the History Channel is out to prove it.

The Great and Telling Tales of History is a brilliant series of 1-minute films in which history’s walking encyclopedia, historian Timothy Dickinson, tells us, in a grandfatherly voice and an endearing British accent, little-known and fascinating facts about the history of politics, pop culture and the world at large.

Jimmy Carter and the Killer Rabbit

But what makes the films truly marvelous is that we’re taken through the unexpected twists and turns of history by artist Benjamin Goldman‘s wonderful animation — dark and delightful at the same time, every bit as full of unexpected twists and turns as the stories themselves.

The Brain

The talks aren’t just mere recaps of history, either. They’re full of Tim Dickinson’s own, often unapologetic and unorthodox, theories about the world — like the rather snarky short on drugs, in which he shares this uneuphemistically true sentiment about human nature:

The point is, we are fundamentally dissatisfied with our standard biological condition, and we’ll find one way or another of altering it.

Jimmy Carter and the Killer Rabbit

Some of our favorites: Jimmy Carter vs. the Killer RabbitThe Brain, The Strange Case of Mary Toft, and Charles Darwin.

Charles Darwin

>> via Coudal

10 DECEMBER, 2008

The Real Beauty Industry


Sight, sound, motion, and more beauty than your beholder eyes can handle.

The notion of beauty is among the most subjective, abstract concepts out there. (Despite what the cookie-cutter “beauty industry” may tell us.) Advanced BeautyAdvanced BeautyBut every once in a while, something comes by that is so fundamentally sublime in concept, execution and emotional charge that it’s hard to contest its beauty.

Case in point: Advanced Beauty, an ongoing exploration of digital art influenced by sound. A collaborative project between artists, programmers, musicians, architects and animators, Advanced Beauty offers a wonderland of sight and sound through a series of audio-reactive “video sound sculptures,” creating a moving sensory experience in what’s become known as sisomo — the powerful intersection of sight, sound and motion.

And while the work by all the artists collaborating on the project is truly phenomenal, we particularly dig Fernando Sarmiento from Argentinian animation and character design get-up Pepper Melon (whom you may recall from the critically acclaimed Mama Lucchetti TV spot that made the creative rounds last month) and their fascinating sound sculpture for Advanced Beauty.

Pepper Melon: Advanced Beauty

Another brilliant, could-be-a-bit-over-our-head-but-fantastic-nonetheless effort: Enerugii, a responsive, generative sound sculpture by Karsten Schmidt of London-based design studio PostSpectacular — a hybrid idea merging volumetric modeling with marker shapes that only respond to certain user-defined dynamics to produce a truly hypnotic piece that sweeps you up with sound, tosses you into a sea of shape and color, and leaves you floating in the fluidity of the moment.

Go ahead, explore the artists for yourself. And check out the Advanced Beauty podcast on iTunes, spotlighting some of the most compelling works from the project.

Thanks, Michal

21 NOVEMBER, 2008

I Met The Walrus: Lennon’s Brain Animated


Truth, aged like a good whiskey, from the cellar of a cultural legend.

In 1969, a brave 14-year-old boy named Jerry Levitan armed with a tape-deck snuck into John Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto and charmed the legend into doing an interview about peace, music, the USA, life and the Bee Gees. Thirty-nine years later, Levitan offered the interview to the world.

Only he did it brilliantly.

I Met The Walrus is an animated short, in which Lennon’s original voiceover comes to life through wonderful pen animation by the tremendously talented James Braithwaite.

Listen to Lennon’s detached yet passionate musings on politics, human nature and marijuana. And appreciate the irony of how true some of what he said 39 years ago rings today.

It’s up to the people. You can’t blame it on the government and say, ‘Oh, they’re doing this, they’re doing that, oh, they’re gonna put is us into war.’ We put ’em there. We allow it. And we can change it. If we really wanna change it, we can change it.” ~ John Lennon

And as we throw a hopeful glance of relief towards the President Elect, we can’t help thinking, Amen.

*** UPDATE ***

Levitan’s once-in-a-lifetime Lennon adventure is now available in book form, as the wonderful I Met the Walrus: How One Day with John Lennon Changed My Life Forever — a priceless first-hand recollection of the unusual encounter. It features Jerry’s memorabilia from the day — notes from John and Yoko, the secret code to contact him, drawings, John’s doodles and more — as well as the animated film and the original audio interview. It is, as we certainly don’t need to point out, a cultural treasure and a Lennonphiliac must-have.

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09 OCTOBER, 2008

The Mother of All Music Visualization


What global warming has to do with the formative role of music in 20th-century culture.

Two of our most popular recent stories, the fan-made Goldfrapp music video and the brilliant new album by David Byrne and Brian Eno, meet today in the mother of all music visualization.

After observing how reactive traditional music videos are, with their meticulous film direction, legendary motion graphics designer and ex-DJ Jakob Tröllback began an experimental animation project. He took David Byrne and Brian Eno’s 25-year-old track Moonlight in Glory and completely removed the human producer/director element, letting the music itself be the voice that the animation follows.

The result is a stunning visualization that makes the music, as well as its message, all the more impactful — and we’re particularly mesmerized by it because it tackles the rather timely, pressing issue of environmental apocalypse.

The Rest Is Noise Watch Jacob Tröllback’s full (and by full we mean 4-minute) TED talk about it.

Meanwhile, enrich yourself with New Yorker music critic Alex Ross’ freshly released book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century.

If there ever was a grand revelation of music’s formative role in social psychology and cultural anthropology, that would be the one.

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