Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

21 APRIL, 2011

something: An Open-Story Plot Device for Life


An antidote to friend buttons, or what Shakira, Seth Godin and JJ Abrams have in common.

We’ve got something, something we share with Sir Richard Branson, Dave Eggers, Shakira, and Seth Godin, among others. And now, you too can have something — for free.

something is a plot device in a story you choose to ascribe it to, part MacGuffin Library, part Significant Objects, part creative vehicle all its own — a fascinating side project by our friends at m ss ng p eces, whom you might recall from the lovely Behind the Scenes of a TED Talk, the Michael Wolff mirco-documentary on the three muscles of creativity and last month’s excellent James Murphy interview on the future of taste and music discovery.

Today, we sit down with founder Scott Thrift to talk about something.


What, exactly, is something?

ST: something is a profoundly simple work of art that connects people, inspires new ideas and generates curiosity.


How did the something story start?

ST: After film school my writing was taking me deeper into the meaning of the moving image. The impact a single frame could have on someone began to hold more interest for me than a feature film. While applying pressure to what a one second film might feel like; I began to wonder what media, books, or art ‘do’ in the first place. What do we ‘have’ with us after the experience? I wanted to be able to grasp that intangible mystery. I wanted to ‘have’ what I wanted an original film to ‘do’ to people, without making the film.


Where is something going?

ST: For the past nine years I have given it as a gift to people who have meant something to me. It’s an effective way of giving thanks for everything beyond words. I would estimate that there are close to 500 pieces throughout the world.

One of my favorite things about something is that it cannot be downloaded. I’ve always wanted to send something to people in the mail to celebrate the physicality of connection.”

I kind of miss that in a world of friend buttons, so I’m going to give that a go and see what happens.


What has been the most surprising response to something that you’ve seen?

ST: Something connects people to the present moment. In the newness of that moment I’ve seen people bite it, laugh uncontrollably, shake it next to their ear, try desperately to open it, smell it, go on a pun fit or become frightened, confused, jubilant, jealous, I’ve seen it make people cry, become furious, throw it or take a picture with it but most commonly, share it with everyone around them. The most enjoyable responses for me are the surprising insights and deeply interesting conversations it inspires concerning meaning, perception, value and the thingness of things.

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20 APRIL, 2011

The 3D Type Book: A Typographic Treasure


What wire fences have to do with noodle soup and the male reproductive system.

After months of anticipation, The 3D Type Book by London-based design studio FL@33 is finally here. Dubbed “the most comprehensive showcase of three-dimensional letterforms ever written,” the book is nothing short of stellar: With more than 1,300 images by over 160 emerging artists and iconic designers alike, it spans an incredible spectrum of eras, styles and mediums. From icons like Milton Glaser and Alvin Lustig to contemporary Brain Pickings favorites like Stefan Sagmeister, Marian Bantjes, Ji Lee, Stefan G. Bucher and Marion Bataille, it’s a treasure trove of typographic treasures.

From toothpaste typography to sperm alphabet to typonoodles, the book’s typographic specimens both make us see with new eyes the seemingly mundane building blocks of language and reconsider ordinary objects, materials and media as extraordinary conduits of self-expression.

For a fine companion to The 3D Type Book, don’t forget David Sacks’ excellent Alphabets.

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20 APRIL, 2011

Eastern Eggs: Bot-Etched Art Eggs for Japan


Contemporary artists, modern bots and, erm, Jesus come together for Japan.

This month, while much of the world is celebrating Easter, Japan is rising from the rubble to its own slow and painful rebirth. Earlier this week, we featured an inspired Twitter-sourced anthology of art and essays by and for Japan’s earthquake survivors, benefiting the Japanese Red Cross. Now, an ambitious new effort from the UK brings the same spirit to Easter. Eastern Eggs offers a series of limited-edition wooden eggs adorned with artwork by a handful of brilliant contemporary artists. The designs are tattooed onto the eggs by the one and only Egg Bot and, once you pick our design, you can even watch it being made via webcam. There’s a suggested donation of £10, though of course you’re welcome to contribute more, and all proceeds go to the British Red Cross tsunami relief efforts.

Easter eggs are a symbol for rebirth and the start of a new life. Over the coming months and years, Japan has to rebuild — not just a country but homes, families and lives.”

The project is the brainchild of the fine folks from TBWA London. If you are, or know, an artist who would like to get involved, they’d love to hear from you. Otherwise, be a good egg and grab yourself one.

Thanks, Sermad

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19 APRIL, 2011

Bompas & Parr, Jelly Architects


Last year, we looked at artists creating incredible edible landscapes out of food, condiments and spices. But hardly does the unusual medium become a greater feat of architecture than when its raw material is the least architectural of substances: jelly. Just ask British food consultancy Bompas & Parr, better known as Jellymongers.

In this short documentary, Sam Bompas and Harry Parr talk about the whimsical “food experiences” they’re known for, and how they rendered everything from St. Paul’s Cathedral to Buckingham Palace in gelatinous form using their signature blend of science, cutting-edge technology and architecture — just the kind of cross-pollinating of disciplines we believe is fundamental to creativity.

The whole reason we events is to give people their own stories. They’re very active participants. If you go into a restaurant, you don’t want to be talked at by a waiter the entire time. Actually, the really important thing is the conversations you have with your diners around us and around the food.”

The film comes from the fine folks at Berlin-based visual culture mongers Gestalten, who also brought us the excellent Shepard Fairey interview on copyright, Big Brother and social change, among other fantastic micro-documentaries about creative culture mavericks and pioneers.

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