Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘music’

22 JULY, 2009

TEDGlobal Highlights: Day 2

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Optical illusions, aquatic apes, and the sweat of genius.

The second day of TEDGlobal offered an endless flurry of brilliance, and we have the photos to prove it.

Stefana Broadbent on how modern technology affects connections and the overlapping relationship between the public and the private spheres. The peak for private email is actually 11AM in all countries.

Designer Aza Raskin on the importance of seamless, user-centric interface, stressing that your train of thought is sacred and you should never disturb it.

The amazingly innovative and talented Imogen Heap.

...and more

One of the incredible, techie instruments Imogen Heap plays.

Imogen Heap playing 5 instruments while singing. Phenomenal.

Biomimicry expert Janine Benyus shows some incredible applications of principles from nature to the design and engineering of technology.

French designer Matthieu Lehanneur on the theme of invisible design, as if an object's function exists implicitly and invisibly around it.

Matthieu Lehanneur showcases his living air filtration system, Andrea.

Interaction designer Beau Lotto demonstrates some incredible -- literally, as in hard to believe -- optical illusions.

Beau Lotto plays with the relationship between colors and lighting conditions to trick perception.

Henry Markram talks about the brain and the beauty of its diversity.

Chris Anderson asks follow-up questions after David Deutsch's tremendously fascinating, so-smart-most-of-it-is-probably-over-our-head talk about the nature of scientific explanation.

Public space designer Candy Chang shows some of her playful, engaging work.

90-year-old scientist Elaine Morgan, the oldest speaker to have spoken at TED, is tremendously charming and animated as she talks about the controversial Aquatic Ape Hypothesis

Breakthrough Swiss act Sophie Hunger.

The devastatingly talented Eric Lewis, whose piano play is the work of pure, raw, mad genius.

Eric Lewis, in the zone.

...and some more.

The sweat of genius, glistening on the floor below Lewis' piano -- the performance was a magnificent force to watch.

For a full blow-by-blow verbal recap, be sure to skim our live Twitter feed — and stay tuned for more coverage tomorrow.

23 JUNE, 2009

New Music Spotlight: Regina Spektor “Far”

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What Seinfeld has to do with the best new album by the best old favorite.

We’ve been enamored with semi-indie darling Regina Spektor for years. (Seeing her live at TED 2009 didn’t hurt, either.) And part of her fascination lies in the ability to reinvent herself beautifully, without losing the core of her brilliance — charmed vocals, superb piano and incredible lyrical sensibility. That’s exactly what’s happening in her new album, Far, out today.

The entire album is an absolute gem, but our favorite track has to be The Calculation — delightfully upbeat and somehow Seinfeld-like in its ability to be about nothing particularly grand while capturing the great human truths.

And in case you sit there wondering how an album could possibly be this ridiculously good, it may have something to do with the fact that Jeff Lynne — named the fourth greatest producer in music history — is behind it. Well, that and Regina Spektor’s indisputable genius.

Another highlight comes from Laughing With, a piece of open-to-interpretation commentary on the hypocrisies of our belief systems.

Snag Far today and ponder existential truth to the best soundtrack there is.

02 JUNE, 2009

Kickstarter: Crowdsourced Culture-Funding

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Legal love from strangers, or what The Kinks have to do with Denver’s homeless.

Here’s a reality check: Creativity is the business of ideas. Which means it’s just that — a business. Anything, from putting up an art show to recording an album to running a more serious blog, requires some level of funding. Which can be tough, if you’re doing it out of your living room — as many artists are.

Luckily, there’s Kickstarter — a new platform for funding ideas and creative endeavors.

The concept is brilliantly simple: Creators — artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, bloggers, explorers — post a project that needs funding and set a donation period. Then people begin pledging money. The “pledge” is actually a commitment that you’ll donate the promised amount, but is collected only if a project reaches or exceeds its funding goal before time expires — even if a project is just $1 short when the time expires, no money is collected.

In return, project creators can offer products and services — from a hot air balloon ride to free CD’s — to their backers, as well as exclusive project updates.

Currently, Kickstarter features an incredible diversity of creative endeavors — from a photography project about the homeless, to one man’s quest to reunite The Kinks, to the world’s first crowdsourced book. Some are quirky, some are just fun, but some ring with a sense of incredible urgency, revealing just how cornered by circumstances the project creator is and how Kickstarter is the only straw of salvation.

Case in point: Polyvinyl’s plea to save 10,000 records from destruction. A little background: Polyvinyl is one of our favorite labels, featuring indie icons like Architecture In Helsinki, Of Montreal, Mates of State, and Asobi Seksu, among others. Their distributor’s warehouse recently got severely downsized and threatened to destroy 10,000 records due to high storage costs. Beyond the absurd wastefulness, Polyvinyl simply wouldn’t part with this incredible heritage. So they asked people to chip in to have the records shipped to their office and clear out some space to store them. In return, backers would get various tiers of CD & DVD goodies from the label’s roster, depending on the donation amount.

Polyvinyl loyalists met the $1,000 goal mere hours after the project was posted. With 42 days still to go, the effort is already 233% funded. The story here is not just one of financial support, but also of incredible, moving brand love and encouragement. As a result, Polyvinyl decided to dream big and shoot for full financial freedom by completely emptying their overstock — a $18,000 endeavor.

Kickstarter is currently invite-only, but if you’re a creator looking to get a project funded, you can apply to join. Meanwhile, you can follow @kickstarter on Twitter for updates, and stalk your way to public alpha.

via TED Blog