Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

04 AUGUST, 2010

One Designer, Two Designer: Vintage Australian Animation


Tea cups, cavemen and why consumer research is doing design a disservice.

We have a soft spot for documentaries about design — from Gary Hustwit’s Objectified to the BBC’s The Genius of Design. And while industrial design may seem like a relatively newfound cultural obsession, the design of “things” has been on the minds of filmmakers for a long time.

Today, we look at an uncovered gem from the archive of the Design Council of Australia — One Designer, Two Designer, a wonderful animated short film circa 1978 comically exploring what makes good and bad design.

Style can be very easily confused with design and is very often substituted for that. A trendy hook to a product may be just that. To serve a popular style today is often to perform a disservice to the customer. The real function of the designer is to understand the function of the thing he is designing.

Despite the humorous tone, the film delves into the important misconceptions about design and designers’ role in society, emphasizing the need for developing a design sensibility to better and more critically evaluate the value of objects beyond what advertising slogans may promise.

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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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