Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

07 DECEMBER, 2010

Thought of You: Visual Poetry Meets Dance in 2D Animated Magic

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What modern dance has to do with pregnancy and the all-consuming creative impulse.

Brace yourself, for this is the most beautiful, spellbinding animation you’ll see this year.

For the past 15 years, animator and designer Ryan Woodward has created visual magic for just about every major Hollywood studio, most recently by storyboarding Spiderman 3 and Where The Wild Things Are. But it was his personal fascination with the motion of the human body in dance and his childhood nostalgia for 2D animation that sparked an absolutely wonderful personal project: Thought of You, a beautiful short film that blends figurative works, 2D animation, visual Fx, and contemporary dance.

Hold your breath and drink in.

The story’s emotional range is quite extraordinary, from the sweet restlessness of new love to the all-absorbing infatuation of passion at its peak to the hollow longing for a lover gone.

The creative process of the film is almost as beautiful as the animation itself, from the 35-weeks-pregnant choreographer who worked on it to the tender dynamic of the love story that underlies the film.

It’s one of those things that it’s tough to answer, when you ask an artist why they decide to be an artist. There’s this inner beast of creativity that, for me personally, it will consume me to the point of being miserable if I don’t let it out and do something with it.” ~ Ryan Woodward

But perhaps most gratifying of all is the wonderful cross-pollination of different arts that the film embodies — living proof of our credo that interdisciplinary curiosity informs and inspires creative work more powerfully than any one silo possibly could.

Enjoying the score? The song used in the film is World Spins Madly On by The Weepies, one of our favorite bands.

via @kirstinbutler

In 2010, we spent more than 4,500 hours bringing you Brain Pickings. If you found any joy and inspiration here this year, please consider supporting us with a modest donation — it lets us know we’re doing something right and helps pay the bills.





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06 DECEMBER, 2010

Helmut Newton’s SUMO: An Epic Retrospective

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German-American fashion photographer Helmut Newton (1920-2004) is easily among the 20th century’s most prolific and provocative visual creators. His signature erotic black-and-white photos graced the pages of just about every major fashion magazine and style bible of our time. In 1999, Newton and his wife Jane enlisted a team of 50 people — writers, editors, photographers, art directors, designers, book binders — to spend three years capturing Newton’s ambitious body of work in an equally ambitious volume. With 480 pages weighing in at 66 lbs, Helmut Newton’s SUMO — published by Taschen, of course — became a prized collector’s item, was included in the MoMA’s permanent collection, and even earned recognition as ” the biggest, most lavish book production of the 20th century.” The limited edition of 10,000 signed and numbered copies sold out so quickly that it multiplied its value to the eyeball-popping price tag of $150,000 and the copy numbered 1 even broke the record for the most expensive book published in the 20th century, selling for $430,000 at an auction in Berlin in 2000.

Ten years later, Taschen released a “budget” version of the book at the vastly more affordable price of $150 (or, if you get it on Amazon, $94.50.) But don’t be fooled — this new volume is far from a poor man’s version of the original. It features 15 lbs of iconic Helmut Newton photographs, some rare images, and a fascinating making-of booklet that offers a behind-the-scenes peek at what’s easily the most ambitious book production process in the history of photography.

The new edition of SUMO even comes with special stand for proud owners to display the book in their homes — now that’s a homage done right.

In 2010, we spent more than 4,500 hours bringing you Brain Pickings. If you found any joy and inspiration here this year, please consider supporting us with a modest donation — it lets us know we’re doing something right and helps pay the bills.





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02 DECEMBER, 2010

Stefan Sagmeister on Sustaining Creativity

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It’s hard not to love celebrated graphic designer and creative provocateur Stefan Sagmeister. In this excellent talk from The 99%, he shares some nuggets of insight on creative habituation, desensitization and how not to take creativity for granted — something that could befall most of us as we do what we do day in and day out, regardless of how much we may enjoy it and how much pride we may take in it.

Both of Sagmeister’s books, Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far and Made You Look, remain absolutely indispensable. Sample the magic below:

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30 NOVEMBER, 2010

One Hello World: Tuning the Human Condition

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Zen in the ocean of humanity, or why connectedness is the panacea of pain.

Ever wondered how the soundtrack to your thoughts would sound like? Call (316) 247-0421, leave a voice-mail, and you might find out. One Hello World is a touching project by a mysterious pianist from Wichita, Kansas, who one day decided to compose music over the anonymous voicemails of strangers. Inspired by his love of film scores and relentless curiosity about the human condition, the project is turning into an audio catalogue of personal experiences, thoughts and feelings, sometimes shared playfully, others with heartbreaking honesty. It’s part PostSecret, part The Apology Line, part We Feel Fine, part something else altogether.

He’s my friend and that’s okay. I guess this is just kind of my way of telling him I think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

The short tracks have the quality of Zen koans one could meditate on. Despite their different tone and theme, they all seem to encapsulate the core of the human condition — the need to experience, feel, understand, communicate, and share the world we live in. Most of the entries become micro-metaphors for the project itself, bespeaking the same hunger for connectedness.

I’ve always thought of life as a kind of canvas, and people as different colored paints; each decorates your canvas in a different way.

You are still my favorite color.

I learned one thing… no matter how bad it is, you always have to tell someone how you feel.

When we get older we stop communicating with those around us and we isolate ourselves. We could do so much if we all looked around one day and smiled, or said ‘Hello.’

One Hello World is the shore upon which all those “voice-messages in a bottle” wash up, tossed into the ocean of information in hopes of reaching their destination — be that a person, an answer, or a certain quality of self.

In 2010, we spent more than 4,500 hours bringing you Brain Pickings — the blog, the newsletter and the Twitter feed — over which we could’ve seen 53 feature-length films, listened to 135 music albums or taken 1,872 trips to the bathroom. If you found any joy and inspiration here this year, please consider supporting us with a modest donation — it lets us know we’re doing something right.





Teddy Zareva is a young filmmaker and photographer currently located in Sofia, Bulgaria. She is prone to excessive dancing and impulsive traveling. Her favorite activities are eating chocolate, hunting for music, and shooting humans.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.