Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

06 JANUARY, 2011

Sound Unbound: DJ Spooky Explores Remix Culture

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We’re big proponents of remix culture as the great enabler and cross-pollinator of creativity. Musician, producer, filmmaker and author Paul D. Miller, better-known as DJ Spooky, is one of remix culture’s most vocal and avid beacons, a rare champion of both its creative practice and its sociopolitical theory. In Sound Unbound, he curates a provocative and intelligent collection of essays drawing on the last 500 years of collaborative creation across music, art and literature and tracing everything from the history of stop-motion photography to Muslim influences on early hip-hop.

From an introduction by BoingBoing co-founder and open culture advocate Cory Doctorow to Brian Eno‘s exploration of the history of bells in Europe as a regulator of time to an investigation of the evolution of copyright law by Google’s senior legal counsel, the book features a wide and fascinating spectrum of texts by 36 of today’s most compelling, controversial and creative thinkers on remix culture.

Accompanying the book is a 45-track collage of a CD featuring fantastic, unexpected remixes blending rare historical recordings with modern music to deliver gems like “The Western Land” (William S. Burroughs and Iggy Pop with Techno Animal), “Erratum Musical (Score for Three Voices)/Voyage for Three” (Marcel Duchamp/George Lewis and Aki Takase) and “Eolian Episode/Gnossiene” (James Joyce/Erik Satie).

You can sample audio clips from it here, here and here, and catch an exclusive interview with DJ Spooky about the project.

As an artist, I’m a gatherer of personalities. I like pulling together radically different people and seeing what everybody has to say, and just kind of let it be a social sculpture.” ~ DJ Spooky

Sound Unbound is as much a research project into humanity’s propensity for non-linear thinking and co-creation as it is bold affirmation for the democratization of media and what we call combinatorial creativity.

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05 JANUARY, 2011

Zentangle: Pattern-Drawing as Meditation

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If greater creativity and more mental balance are among your new year’s resolutions, look no further than Zentangle — a type of meditation achieved through pattern-making, created by artist duo Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. Each pattern is built one line at a time, organically combining simple patterns into complex zentangles in unplanned, unexpected ways that grow, change and unfold on the page as you enter an immersive state of flow. Totally Tangled offers a fantastic introduction to the relaxing and beautiful practice through step-by-step instructions and over 100 original tangles.

We’re particularly taken with Zentagle because its basic principle — building on simple shapes and combining different patterns into complex creativity — is such a beautiful visual metaphor for our core philosophy of combinatorial creativity.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a professional artist, Totally Tangled can transform your casual, fidgety backpage doodling into a powerful meditative creative outlet. That, or at the very least rekindle your relationship with ink and paper in the midst of our digital flurry.

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Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

05 JANUARY, 2011

Tim Flach’s Extraordinary Dog Portraits

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From photographer Tim Flach and Creative Review editor Lewis Blackwell comes Dogs — a series of incredibly artful, soulful portraits of man’s best friend.

With a potent blend of playfulness and profound respect, Flach captures the remarkable diversity of dogs, both of appearance and of character, and our complex, 150-century-old relationship with them in a poetic and spellbinding visual narrative.

They can entertain us, protect us, teach us how to love, do what they are told, and tell us what is going to happen next. They can even extend our lives. We think we train them to do the work, but they have in turn found a way for us to provide for them. This great form that has forged so many different kinds of dog is the inspiration for this book. The result is an unprecedented insight and visualization of what dogs are and can be.”

From shelter dogs to show-winners to dogs who sniff out explosives, the book spans an incredible range of personalities, portrayed in beautiful images generously stretched across full-bleed double-page spreads and lined with insightful commentary on everything from dog racism (did you know that there are more black dogs in shelters than any other fur color?) to historical background on how different breeds came to be and curious facts about them.

Dogs is as much a visually ambitious feat of photography as it is a rich and tender chronicle of our intense connection with these much-loved creatures — a beautiful intersection of humanity and, well, caninity.

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04 JANUARY, 2011

Wreck This Box: Keri Smith’s Activity Books for Grown-Ups

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Author, illustrator and guerrilla artist Keri Smith is a master of the interactive journal. Wreck This Box is a recently released box set of her three masterpieces: Wreck This Journal, a lovely illustrated journal inviting you to conjure your best mistake-making skills and indulge your destructivist demons as part of the creative process, This Is Not a Book, which rethinks the purpose and function of a book and invites you along for the journey, and Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes, a potent antidote for your lifelong conditioning for overthinking and fear of being wrong.

Images by Kimberly Ripley

So vibrant is the cult of Keri Smith’s creations that there’s an entire How to Wreck a Journal Flickr pool, 2121 members strong. The box set, too, comes with instructions for how to wreck it and ample encouragement to “make a mess with the box.”

Wreck This Box is as much a delightful activity for parents to do with their kids as they foster an environment of playful acceptance of imperfection as it is much-needed play therapy for grown-ups as we try to shed our lifelong layers of painful perfectionism and, in the process, unleash our inherent, uninhibited creativity. It’s a quirky, hands-on companion to Brené Brown’s intelligent and research-driven The Gifts of Imperfection.

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.