Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘design’

14 JULY, 2009

Retrospective on Futurism: N55


What snail shells and walking houses have to do with 13 years of art-science.

Remember Danish art collective N55 of walking house fame? Turns out they’ve been in the business of revolutionary ideas since 1996, and they have a book to prove it.

The N55 BOOK is a 200-page tome chronicling 7 years of innovative thinking — an accumulation of manuals for various things made by N55, from a clean air machine to a modular boat to a portable fish farm.

Perhaps the most fascinating part is the incredible retrospective the book provides on the relationship with public space and the art-science of sustainability — something that only recently reached critical mass, but has clearly been on the minds of the brightest creative innovators for nearly two decades.

Besides the practical concept-models playing with space and motion, the book also includes a series of exceptionally compelling essays on broader themes like the intersection of art and reality, the ownership of knowledge, and the ritual of living.

There is no meaning in talking about art without imagining persons, their behaviour, things and concrete situations. When one wants to talk about art, one must therefore talk about: persons and their behaviour with other persons and things in concrete situations.

The N55 BOOK is available as a free PDF download. It comes highly recommended as an intellectual and creative indulgence.

10 JULY, 2009

Animation Spotlight: Invent


The frontiers of creativity, the art of printing, and the beauty of not printing.

Today’s short-and-sweet is a stop-motion animation by design students Matt Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth, using nothing but printers and (we shudder to think how many sheets of) printing paper.

Invent was done in response to the D&AD Student Awards brief set by Hewlett Packard. The brief:

Present an idea which promotes HP Workstation’s ability to bring to life anything the creative mind can conceive.

And while the animation is indisputably brilliant, it’s also an indisputable tree-killer. Then again, it’s art, which probably makes it okayish.

But there’s nothing even remotely cool about the everyday waste of printing paper. Which is why we dig the new i.Saw USB-powered chainsaw — a spoof, of course, promoting Papercut, a neat free app that plays a chainsaw sound every time you print.

Genius. And a The Office episode in the making.

03 JULY, 2009

Illustration Spotlight: Plan 9.001


The 1’s and 0’s of home, or what the Olsen twins have to do with John Locke and God.

Every once in a while we stumble across something we don’t quite get, but can tell is brilliant. Case in point: The Plan 9.001 Flickr set from an artist by the cryptic name of 9000.

Full of wondrous, beautifully art directed charts, graphs, diagrams and other fascinations that capture the human condition, the illustrations are part poetry, part art direction, part homage to geek culture — and all genius.

Most of the images are left to exist in their self-contained reality, with no caption or explanation, inviting you to make sense of them ever which way you wish.

And some are brimming with keen cultural commentary, oozing both from the images themselves and from the quotes accompanying — mismatched at first glance, like this odd psalm that we had to Google-translate, but deeply profound in context.

Indeed, there’s a certain preoccupation with the God — a quest for divinity in the godless, lonesome, conflicted world the artist seems to inhabit. Or, you know, it’s just a mockery thereof.

And while we’re not quite sure what to make of it it all, we urge you to explore the Plan 9.001 set and the rest of 9000’s rather diverse but uniformly bizarre body of work — if for no other reason than that it has intrigued us more than anything we’ve come across in a long, long time.

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