Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘culture’

13 DECEMBER, 2011

Product Design: A PBS Off Book Documentary

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What safe sex has to do with 3-D printing, robotics, and education in the developing world.

From the fine folks at PBS Arts comes another fantastic micro-documentary, part of their Off Book series, which previously explored typography, steampunk, visual culture online, and generative art. On the heels of this morning’s Eames documentary, it takes a look at the world of product design, from its aesthetic and pizzaz to its ethic and values, featuring fuseproject’s Yves Behar, Peter Schmitt of MIT’s Personal Robotics Group, and Dr. Harvey Moscot of Mocost Eyewear. Though limited in both scope and “cast,” the film squeezes an impressive amount in its measly 6 minutes and offers a welcome prompt to think a little more deeply about the myriad products with which we interact daily.

What design does at its best is to accelerate the adoption of new ideas.” ~ Yves Behar

For a more in-depth look at the complex and cross-disciplinary facets of product design, from engineering to art history to cultural anthropology, see BBC’s excellent The Genius of Design and, of course, Gary Hustwit’s Objectified. Then, revisit Dieter Rams’ 10 timeless principles of good design.

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13 DECEMBER, 2011

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Visual Micro-Tales of Our Shared Humanity

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Reclaiming the poetics of short-form in the age of the empty soundbite.

“The universe is not made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories,” as Muriel Rukeyser is often paraphrased. To give this timeless truth modern wings, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, better-known as RegularJOE in the hitRECord universe he created, asked thousands of contributors to submit tiny stories through words and images. The result is The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1 — a whimsical collaboration between artists and writers from around the world, featuring 67 of these micro-tales hand-curated by Gordon-Levitt himself from over 8,500 submissions. It’s part Three Line Novels, part Six-Word Memoir, part something entirely its own and entirely lovely, full of poetics and humanity in a culture of vacant soundbites, exuding a kind of richness and latitude that defies its short form.

Sometimes witty, sometimes poignant, and always profoundly human, the gems in The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1 are a reminder that we’re all just a few words and images apart from one another, and all we need to do is reach out into the universe of our shared humanity.

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13 DECEMBER, 2011

Eames: The Architect and the Painter

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From fiberglass to James Franco, or what Ice Cube has to do with designing the American imagination.

It’s been a grand year for Charles and Ray Eames, from the rediscovery of Charles Eames’ fantastic 1982 Q&A on design to architect-turned-rapper Ice Cube singing the duo’s praises. The Eames, of course, very much warrant cultural paeans — they not only gave a shape and style to the American twentieth century, but they also defined a new cultural role for designers as architects of imagination who invite people to look at the world differently. Today marks the highly anticipated DVD release of Eames: The Architect and the Painter — a fascinating documentary about the legendary husband-and-wife design duo, exploring their personal lives, their creative process, and their enduring influence on the American aesthetic, design sensibility, and outlook on life.

Oh, and it’s narrated by James Franco.

Beautifully filmed and brimming with insight, Eames: The Architect and the Painter is easily the most exciting design documentary since Gary Hustwit’s Helvetica / Objectified / Urbanized trilogy.

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