Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘media’

09 FEBRUARY, 2011

The Future of Art: An Immediated Autodocumentary


Last week, we featured Aaron Koblin’s insightful thoughts on the digital renaissance. The interview, produced by futurism exploration outfit Emergence Collective, was actually part of a larger “immediated autodocumentary” — a full-length documentary short and edited in an extraordinarily short amount of time — on the future of art, released this week. The film features interviews with 13 leading digital artists and creative entrepreneurs, interviewed at the 2011 Transmediale Festival in Berlin, and explores everything from remix culture to the role of content curators to collaborative creativity.

That is the role that we [curators] play — making connections between things that might not otherwise be obvious connections.” ~ Heather Kelley

The idea of originality and proprietariness also contributes to the whole Great Man Theory, which is slowly disintegrating — the idea of the genius, the Freud, the Marx, the Leonardo, the Einstein… They’ve come up with an idea that’s completely related to the man that came up with it. Whereas, today, the ideas just get thrown out there and used, and it’s that use that in a way is the art, rather than the person who comes up with the idea.” ~ Ken Wahl

via Swiss Miss

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19 JANUARY, 2011

Knowledge Navigator: An Apple Concept from 1987


What 1980s futurism has to do with the cola wars and presaging Angry Birds.

In 1987, Apple CEO John Sculley published Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple — a tale of innovative ideas, tumultuous transitions and unabashed practical futurism. Besides the fascinating story of the seminal “Pepsi Challenge,” which allowed Pepsi to gain unprecedented market share over competitor Coke, the book features a peculiar concept called Knowledge Navigator — a networked device that can search a massive hypertext database and retrieve just about any information, using a multitouch interface and powerful voice recognition technology. So, essentially, Wikipedia meets iPhone meets Ford Sync long before there was either.

Alongside the book, Sculley released a series of concept videos showcasing Knowledge Navigator, set in roughly the present day and regarded at the time as an outlandish technological pipe dream. (Here’s where we point you to last week’s piece on vintage visions of the future.)

What’s most remarkable about this Knowledge Navigator video demo is that it was produced six years before the graphical interface of the web even existed, a good 15 years before point-to-point videoconferencing like Skype was a mainstream reality, and some 2 decades before touchscreen technology had widespread device implementation.

Odyssey was republished last August by Betascript Publishing. We highly recommend it not only as a living hallmark of our collective cultural curiosity for information technology, but also as a fascinating presage of today’s digital learning landscape.

via Another Architect, tip via @petrazlatevska

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18 JANUARY, 2011

The Power of Nightmares: BBC on the Politics of Fear


What al-Quaeda has to do with ancient Egyptian morality and Ronald Reagan’s liberalism.

BBC’s The Century of the Self, an ambitious documentary on the history of consumerism, is one of our most read and shared pieces. Commenter Jeremy recently brought to our attention another excellent documentary by the same British documentarian and writer, Adam Curtis: The Power of Nightmares — a provocative three-part miniseries subtitled The Rise of the Politics of Fear, exploring the origins of radical Islamists and Neo-Conservatives through archival footage and Curtis’ characteristically insightful narration.

Much of this threat [of international terrorism] is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It’s a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, security services and the international media. This is a series of films about how and why this fantasy was created.” ~ Adam Curtis

The documentary, timely and necessary as we head into another year of “the war of terror” and all the political propaganda that propels it, is available on YouTube in 18 parts, six per episode, which we’ve conveniently compiled into 3 playlists: Part 1: Baby Its Cold Outside, Part 2: The Phantom Victory, and Part 3: The Shadows in the Cave.

If quality is your thing, a digitally restored version with imporoved sound and picture quality is available on Collectors Edition DVD.

Ultimately, The Power of Nightmares is an investment in your informed global citizenship — a compelling, controversial and thought-provoking exploration of some of the most fundamental building blocks of our present media reality and sociopolitical landscape.

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06 JANUARY, 2011

Sound Unbound: DJ Spooky Explores Remix Culture


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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