Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘music’

30 SEPTEMBER, 2009

Responsive Shapes: Minivegas Digital Sculptures


What Daft Punk have to do with sculpture and the evolution of storytelling.

If you didn’t catch us raving about it on Twitter earlier this week, here’s your chance to catch up on this brilliant piece of work by directing collective Minivegas — a virtual gallery, featuring a visualizer rendering digital sculptures in real time in response to sound and gestures.

The gallery walls are adorned with album artwork of the mp3’s loaded into the visualizer (including the appropriately chosen Daft Punk classic, Technologic), with the music itself driving the shape-shifting mutations of the sculptures. The shapes can also be manipulated with hand-motion using a webcam.

Refreshingly innovative, this work illustrates an exciting intersection of multiple senses and multiple media — a beautiful epitome of the evolution of modern storytelling.

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21 SEPTEMBER, 2009

Art Meets Science: They Might Be Giants’ Creative Education


What paleontology has to do with stop-motion animation and kindergartners.

They Might Be Giants are among the most iconic and revolutionary alt-rock bands of our time. They’ve founded one of the first artist-owned online music stores, stunned critics with an unorthodox children’s project, performed at TED, and consistently challenged the conventions of the music industry. Oh, and they’ve won a few Grammys along the way.

This month, TMBG have released the latest installment in their critically acclaimed Here Comes children’s series. The Here Comes Science 2-disc CD/DVD album is a bundle of creativity and entertainment, tied with a ribbon of education. Although aimed at the K-5 set, the playful lyrics and brilliantly animated videos are an absolute treat for musicologists and design junkies alike — we can attest.

From the charming illustration in this Amazon-exclusive video, to the wonderful paper-cutout stop-motion animation in Electric Car, to the infographic ode to the periodic table in Meet The Elements, the album is a testament to the transformational power of a fresh approach to a stale subject.

What makes us particularly enamored with this project is that it addresses of the sore need for creativity in education, the lack of which is often a dealbreaker in kids’ engagement in the learning process. As Sir Ken Robinson so bluntly yet fairly pointed out in his TED talk, today’s schools may well be killing creativity.

Check out Here Comes Science for 19 unexpected takes on paleontology, evolution, astronomy, photosynthesis, anatomy and other delightfully geeky curiosities that you probably slept through in school.

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14 SEPTEMBER, 2009

Film Spotlight: GLASS


What roller coasters have to do with German opera and Martin Scorsese.

Philip Glass is easily our greatest living composer. His operas — like Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and The Voyage — have gotten a multitude of standing ovations throughout the world’s leading houses. Sometimes controversial, often revolutionary, and always extraordinary, he has collaborated with cultural legends like Woody Allen and David Bowie and scored critic darlings like Notes on a Scandal, The Hours, The Truman Show and Martin Scorsese’s Kundun, influencing the musical and intellectual currents of our time.

In 2005, filmmaker Scott Hicks (Shine) began shooting a documentary in honor of Glass’ 70th birthday in 2007. So, over the next 18 months, he followed the iconic composer across 3 continents, with unprecedented access to every corner of his life.

The result, GLASS: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts, is a fascinating film revealing the most intimate and complex layers of the man’s remarkable character. From his annual ride on the Coney Island Cyclone roller coaster to the grand premiere of his new opera in Germany, the film treks the intricate intersection between the personal and the professional, an inextricable parallel of passions so fundamental to genius.

The film is structured in 12 chapters, each exploring a different facet of Glass’ life and work. It offers a portal into his history and past, the elements that shaped his work, all filtered through the present-day experience.

What makes GLASS so powerful is precisely this intimacy of perspective that captures who Glass is in everyday life — it’s as close as we can get to understanding genius, the mosaic of character and personal passions and quirks and eccentricities that shapes the creative output of an exceptional artist.

See the brilliant film on DVD or, for the budget-impeded, on YouTube video of questionable quality. [UPDATE: The video is no longer available and now links to something completely different. Boo.]

HT @baseworld

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