Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

01 MARCH, 2010

Beyond Burton: Art Inspired by Alice In Wonderland

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Floating children, the rabbit hole of the social web, and what Dali has to do with manga.

We’re all about the cross-pollination of disciplines and creative domains. So we love seeing one kind of art inspire another inspire another. Take Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, on the lips — and eyeballs — of the world with this week’s much- anticipated release. The film was, of course, inspired by Lewis Carroll’s 1865 children’s classic of the same name (which also sprouted two other excellent films, one in 1933, starring a trippy Cary Grant, and one in 1966 for the BBC), and has in turn inspired a variety of artwork in its own right. Today, we focus on three such examples of art inspired by Alice.

NAOTO HATTORI

Japanese-born, New-York-based artist Naoto Hattori has a very distinct, Salvador-Dali-meets-manga aesthetic. This illustration inspired by Alice In Wonderland is one of the most stunning pieces of digital artwork we’ve seen in months.

Hattori’s work is part of the Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition at Gallery Nucleus, which opened this weekend and features interpretations of the iconic story by artists who worked on Burton’s feature film and beyond.

via Wicked Halo

ELENA KALIS

From Moscow-born, Bahamas-based artist-turned-underwater-photographer Elena Kalis comes Alice In Waterland, a surreal and whimsical underwater series that blends the alternate-reality feel of Carroll’s world with a wink at the wicked innocence of Burton’s representations.

We love Kalis’ incredible play of light and color, amplified by the water’s reflective properties in a way that combines softness with intensity to a stunning effect.

CHRISTINA TSEVIS

You may recall Greek illustrator Christina Tsevis, whom we interviewed a few months ago. Much to our delight, Christina recently got in touch with us to let us know that Glamour Greece discovered her via our interview and asked her to create a series of Alice In Wonderland illustrations for the magazine, some of which were reprinted as t-shirts.

Brimming with Christina’s signature style of 2D/3D haunting innocence, the work is a beautiful journey into texture, color and pure whimsy.

Here’s to the power of the social web, the ultimate ride down the rabbit hole.

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26 FEBRUARY, 2010

Animation Spotlight: I AM

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Deconstructing bears, or what mechanization has to do with access to language.

Today’s short-and-sweet is an abstract, poetic reflection on the dissolution of our relationship with nature amidst the man-made landscape of our urban space, courtesy of animation studio Tronic.

We find the robotic, monotonous voiceover to be a fitting vehicle for conveying the detached mechanization that has gradually replaced the organic cadence of the natural environment.

The title comes from the animals’ declaration of who they are. Each animal says, “I AM the elephant” and “I AM the horse” and it’s through language that they are reinforcing their physicality and their place in the world. And the irony, of course, is that animals don’t have access to our language, they have their own languages, but we privilege ours. And so with this piece, the idea was that by giving them access to language, it was giving them agency, giving them power, giving them the ability to be heard. ~ Vivian Rosenthal, Tronic

Read the full interview with Rosenthal on Vimeo for further insight into some of the thinking behind this beautifully executed statement piece.

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25 FEBRUARY, 2010

Kopernik: Crowdfunding World-Changing Design

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Humanitarian three-ways, or what Polish astronomy has to with the future of civilization.

We fully endorsed Emily Pilloton’s vision that design can empower people and change the world. But there’s often a disonnect between the world-changing products and technologies that get dreamt up, and the actual ability to fund them and get them in the hands of those who need them the most.

No more. At least not if it’s up to Kopernik, a revolutionary new social platform that connects breakthrough technologies with the people and communities whose lives they will better the most, harnessing the power of crowdsourced microfunding.

The name, of course, comes from Copernicus, the Polish Renaissance astronomer who busted the geocentric model of the universe and completely changed the way people perceived the way around them — an aspirational metaphor for Kopernik‘s ambition to revolutionize how people see and understand the biggest challenges the world faces today.

From a rollable water container for women in East Timor, to self-adjustable glasses (remember those?) for refugees without access to eye clinics, to computer training for Sierra Leonean youth, Kopernik lets development groups write short proposals and submit them to the public for crowdfunding. Sort of like a humanitarian Kickstarter, which then does a three-way connect with individual supporters, technology provider companies, and the local organizations who seek those technologies.

Founded by a team of United Nations and World Bank expats, Kopernik is planning to expand beyond crowdfunding proposals and into developing their own products with DIY and open-source instructions that local communities can use to build technologies.

Because the only kind of design revolution that’s going to stick is one where grassroots empowerment lets people take ownership of the very solutions that are changing their lives.

via TBD

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23 FEBRUARY, 2010

The Art of Protest

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Control vs. chaos, democratic deficits, or why modernity breeds toothless anarchy.

We stumbled across The Art of Protest by filmmaker and illustrator Temujin Doran almost randomly, only to discover a cunning and insightful mini-documentary. The film makes a simple yet powerful cultural observation: Today, protests have become their own ideological antithesis. The meticulous planning, orchestration and coordination are robbing protests of their disruptive anarchism, making them appear contained and controllable in a way that completely erodes their capacity to jolt the status quo out of its plateaus.

This becomes a democratic deficit and is a self-fulfilling process. For a public unable to effect real change by acting only as spectators means they will only ever be seen as such by those in power.

A reaction to how little was accomplished by the global antiwar marches against the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the climate discussions that took place at COP15 last December, the film offers a sober and accurate criticism of “consume and spectate activism,” exuding an urgency to revive or evolve the art of protest.

If we are ever to escape the snare of ineffectual resistance, the art of protesting needs to break free from its current condition, which blocks almost all meaningful expression and participation and allows activist organizations to become as giant and as unanswerable as the states they seek to contest.

Food for thought.

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22 FEBRUARY, 2010

Blog-Turned-Book Success Stories: Part One

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Maps of Utopia, posh Brooklynites, and what Whole Foods has to do with high school mixtapes.

The web may have its share of questionable content and lowest-common-denominator taste, but it has also democratized the content industry in a powerful way — with its low barrier of entry, anyone with a smart idea and excellent content can draw an audience and become the go-to authority in a niche or a publishing superstar of eclectic interestingness. And just like every waitress in LA dreams of being discovered by Hollywood, most superstar bloggers dream of getting the coveted and tangible acclaim that is a book deal.

We love nothing more than to see well-written, meticulously curated and brilliantly conceived content get the credit it deserves. And we’ve gathered proof that it is indeed possible. Here are five of our ten favorite blogs-turned-books.

BOX BOTTLE BAG

It’s no secret we’re big package design geeks — because, let’s face it, framing is everything; ideas are only as powerful as their presentation, and what are packages but presentation vehicles for the products that come in them?

For years, The Dieline has been our favorite go-to for packaging goodness. This month, they’re finally releasing the much-anticipated anthology of said goodness — Box Bottle Bag: The World’s Best Package Designs from TheDieline.com.

The book features 224 pages of richly visual, meticulously curated package design gems, including the site’s biggest hits as well as a handful of never-before-seen projects from legendary designers.

CASSETTE FROM MY EX

We’ve featured Cassette From My Ex: Stories and Soundtracks of Lost Loves before, and we even included it in our curated gift guide for books, so we won’t overelaborate.

Suffice it to say this lovely mixtape revivalist project takes the cheesiest parts of nostalgia and turns them into a wonderful celebration of youthful creative romanticism.

STUFF WHITE PEOPLE LIKE

It’s been nearly two years since Christian Lander’s brilliant, relentlessly funny-cause-it’s-true Stuff White People Like first drew critical acclaim from hipster pundits alike. The blog was so brilliant, in fact, that it got a book deal a mere three months after its launch, a pace of success that’s practically unheard of.

Wittily written and often surprisingly insightful beneath its surface humor, Stuff White People Like: A Definitive Guide to the Unique Taste of Millions is as much a cultural portrait of a certain Obama-loving, New-Yorker-reading, Whole-Foods-shopping, Scandinavian-furniture-admiring socioeconomic subset as it is a diagnostic tool for your own chronic white-clicheness.

STRANGE MAPS

We love the geeky art-science world of cartography. So when our favorite maps blog,
Strange Maps, got a book deal, we covered it promptly.

Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities features 138 of the most fascinating, absorbing and remarkable maps from the blog’s 3-year history of culling the world’s forgotten, little-known and niche cartographic treasures. And it too made our book guide last year.

From the world as depicted in Orwell’s 1984, to a color map of Thomas More’s Utopia, to the 16th-century portrayal of California as an island where people live like the Amazons, the book is brim-full of priceless anecdotes from our collective conception of the world over the centuries.

THE SARTORIALIST

In 2005, Scott Schuman set out to photograph stylish people on the street, then began uploading these photos to a no-frills blog.

Little did Schuman, a.k.a. The Sartorialist, know that over the next few years, his blog would gain such enormous cultural traction that it would elevate him to the most influential observer of street style. TIME Magazine even named him one of the Top 100 Design Influencers.

Last year, the blog put its money where its mouth is, releasing the sleek, stylish and all-around gorgeous The Sartorialist: (Bespoke Edition). (Sure, you could settle for the paperback, but that would be like watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade on TV — you still get it, but half its glamor and beauty are lost.)

From Milan to Miami, Beijing to Brooklyn, the book is a global portrait of exquisite taste, an addictive and indulgent intersection of voyeurism and aesthetic appreciation.

UPDATE: Here’s Part 2, with 5 more

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