Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

15 JULY, 2010

Dreaming of Lucid Living: Enchanted Entertainment


Touching pixels, or how digital animation and analog performance converge into magic.

As we continue covering TEDGlobal 2010 for GOOD, another short-and-sweet today — Dreaming of Lucid Living, an enchanted performance-animation by California-based multimedia artist Miwa Matreyek.

Matreyek performed an excerpt from this piece at the opening of Session 6, Different by Design, of TED — which you can follow via our live Twitter stream this week.

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09 JULY, 2010

The War Prayer: Mark Twain on War and Morality, Animated


“None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth.”

On March 22, 1905, a famous author received a rejection letter from one of the most powerful publishers of the era, calling his latest piece “not quite suited to a woman’s magazine.” The publisher was Harper’s Bazaar, the author Samuel Langhorne Clemens — better known as Mark Twain — and the piece The War Prayer, a short story written in the heat of the Philippine-American war of 1899-1902 offering a poignant reflection on the double-edged moral sword implicit to war.

Because Twain had an exclusive contract with Harper & Brothers, the rejection letter was a death sentence for the piece, prohibiting him from publishing it elsewhere. In fact, eight days after he received the letter, Twain wrote to his friend Dan Beard:

I don’t think the prayer will be published in my time. None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth.

And right he was. It wasn’t until 1923, some thirteen years after the iconic satirist’s death, that The War Prayer finally saw light of day as Twain’s literary agent collected it in the anthology Europe and Elsewhere. But what makes the short story timeless and particularly appropriate today is the relevance of its central argument — that while “the weapons of slaughter” are ever-changing, the immorality of war is universal — in the face of the ongoing wars in Middle East and elsewhere.

More than a century later, here comes a moving animated adaptation of The War Prayer produced and directed by Markos Kounalakis, with wonderful illustration by Greek artist Akis Dimitrakopoulos.

Grab a copy of The War Prayer for some of the most wrily intelligent critique of humanity’s greatest transgression as Mark Twain pokes at it with tenfold the eloquence and wit of today’s political satirists.

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06 JULY, 2010

Blu is Back: The Story of Evolution, Told in Graffiti


Lo-fi Darwinism, or why art and algorithm don’t hold hands on Buenos Aires sidewalks.

Nearly two years ago, Italian street artist Blu made waves with MUTO — arguably the most creative graffiti-driven animation of all time. Today, Blu is back with BIG BAG BIG BOOM, the latest gem in his treasure chest of stop-motion urban storytelling — an abstract exploration of the beginning and evolution of life.

What makes this so remarkable is that all of the animation effects were achieved in-camera, “animated” simply by filming the progression of painting on buildings, sidewalks and objects, with no post-production composting whatsoever. This analog, organic, lo-fi visual storytelling offers a complete paradigm shift, challenging us to think differently about a medium that is, at least today, inherently digital and software-assisted.

At least for today — Art: 1, Algorithm: 0.

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