Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘film’

13 JULY, 2009

Digital Choreography: Synchronous Objects

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Twenty desks, one python, and what the human body has to do with lines of code.

Motion is a thing of beauty. Think about dance choreography — the human body in motion. Or the best stop-motion animation — pixels in motion. Naturally, the convergence of the two — choreography and digital motion — would be a magnificent thing.

Enter Synchronous Objects — a collaboration between German choreographer William Forsythe and Ohio State University Dance & Technology director Norah Zuniga Shaw.

The film plays off of the famed Forsythe piece One Flat Thing, Reproduced, using digital technology in a way that lets motion inform choreography. The project embodies the cross-pollination of ideas from different fields — dance, software, technology, sound design, motion graphics.

With this project, we seek to construct a new way of looking at dance, one that considers both discipline specific and cross-disciplinary ways of seeing.

Although this version of the film was done in Adobe Flash, upcoming work is experimenting with Field — a rich new open-source authoring environment built on Java and Jython (Python on the Java VM), designed for use in digital movement and visual expression. Field was conceived in — where else — the MIT Media Lab and has been used for anything from choreographic sequences to HD motion graphics installations.

Synchronous Objects and the technologies that inform it present a brave new frontier for motion arts, a future where human and algorithm come together to orchestrate beauty.

We highly recommend watching Synchronous Objects with headphones on — the sound effects alone are a piece of magic, adding a whole new layer to the already superb visual experience.

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07 JULY, 2009

Cinematic Enlightenment: The Auteurs Project

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The long tail of film culture, or why content curation really is the future of everything.

Some time ago, we did a run-down of the top 3 sites for hardcore film buffs. And we wish The Auteurs — Europe’s visionary cinematic enlightenment project — had been around.

It’s a fascinating film library spanning everything from the timeless classics to the hidden gems of the world’s most prominent independent festivals — foreign language, art-house, documentary, animation, experimental, short films, and everything in between.

With its inspired long-tail view of cinema, The Auteurs revolves around the idea that popular doesn’t always mean good.

And it’s not your grandma’s YouTube, either — The Auteurs harnesses bleeding-edge technology that lets you stream feature-length films in high definition, something the team spends a lot of energy on and thus takes great pride in.

Four things that were on our minds when we first dreamt the Auteurs: Number one: why can’t you just watch In the Mood for Love in an airport lounge? Number two: why is it so hard to get hold of Antonioni’s complete filmography? Number three: Wouldn’t it be great to instantly send Tati’s Playtime to a friend if you think they need it (there’s nothing like film therapy)? Number Four: why do films on the Internet look just awful? And that was that.

It requires no software installation (take that, Netflix), works on both Mac and PC (take that, Blockbuster), is available anywhere in the world (take that, Hulu), and it’s beyond affordable — most films cost just $5 to watch, with some being completely free.

It’s also highly social, brimming with a vibrant community of fellow film buffs hungry to discuss anything from the best dream sequence to the most overrated director.

Our favorite part is the Auteurs Cinemateque — an editorially curated rotating online film festival, further proof for our content-curation-is-the-future-of-culture theory.

So go ahead, take the tour and dive into this brave new world of film culture. If anything, just imagine all the dinner party talking points it’ll give you.

24 JUNE, 2009

Street Art: From All Sides & Five Continents

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The urban anthropology of creativity, or why copyright law is a sad case study in swimming against the cultural current.

In 2008, Beautiful Losers — a documentary about contemporary street art culture from director Aaron Rose — made serious waves at SXSW. This year, the film is finally making its full-blown national screening tour — and we think it’s a must-see.

Based on the eponymous and equally excellent book, the film explores the creative process and cultural influences of iconic artists like Barry McGee, Jo Jackson, Mike Mills, Brain Pickings darling Shepard Fairey, and many more.

The greatest cultural accomplishments in history have never been the result of the brainstorms of marketing men, corporate focus groups, or any homogenized methods; they have always happened organically. More often than not, these manifestations have been the result of a few like-minded people coming together to create something new and original for no other purpose than a common love of doing it.

We think Beautiful Losers is important for two reasons: For one, it’s a genuine piece of cultural anthropology that captures some of the rawest, most powerful creative genius of our time.

But, more importantly, it’s a brilliant testament to the importance of the cross-pollination of ideas — you begin to see the influences of various subcultures, from skateboarding to street fashion to graffiti to indie music, on these artists’ original creative output. And this matters, because it’s real-life proof for the power of remix culture — something essential to the ability to harness our collective creativity, yet unfortunately hindered by current copyright law.

For an even deeper perspective on the global, cross-cultural influences in street art, check out Street World: Urban Culture and Art from Five Continents — another excellent book, exploring the emergence of a new global creative culture driven by the advent of the Internet as a cross-pollination platform for wildly diverse subcultures and modes of self expression.

Thanks, Amy!

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