Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘Neil Armstrong’

05 AUGUST, 2015

Neil Armstrong’s Heartbeat and the Sound of Venus in a Beautiful Cover of Lennon’s “Oh My Love”

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A cosmic serenade to the human heart’s capacity for uncontainable emotion.

Music, Carl Sagan asserted as he sent the Golden Record into space, is “a creditable attempt to convey human emotions” — a sentiment at the heart of an uncommonly enchanting project by Berlin-based artist and space-lover Louise Gold. In the orchestration for her beautiful cover of John Lennon’s “Oh My Love,” she used a NASA recording of Neil Armstrong’s heartbeat during his trailblazing moon walk and the sound of Venus’s orbit, as captured by the Voyager spacecraft. Gold originally intended to transform the archival audio into a purely instrumental track — something that would capture what Armstrong must have felt upon stepping onto this unvisited world, a kind of serene elation she imagined to be “a bit like being in love with someone and finding out that this person loves you back.” But as she was working on the track, the universe winked — “Oh My Love” came on the radio. Although she had heard the song many times before, in that instant of creative receptivity, it came alive in a new way — as Lennon sang “everything is clear in my heart,” Gold instantly recognized the very feeling she was hoping to channel through Armstrong’s heartbeat.

There is something astoundingly poetic in the result, far beyond the sheer mesmerism of the music: Armstrong’s famous 1969 lunar proclamation — “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” — bears the inexorable gendered language of an era that folded women into the universal “he,” and yet here is a woman reimagining the Lennon classic, reaching across time and space, by way of Venus, to add her voice to humanity’s musical legacy that the Voyager carried into the cosmos.

Complement with a breathtaking chamber orchestra arrangement for the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf, then revisit the story of Carl Sagan and the Golden Record.

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04 JANUARY, 2013

The Lives They Lived: Artists Remember Cultural Heroes We Lost

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“Because she declared, ‘We’ve come a long way,’ and she led our way to get here.”

Last month, I had the pleasure — as much as writing about a dead personal hero can be called a “pleasure” — of contributing to The New York Times’ annual The Lives They Lived series, commemorating cultural icons whom we lost in the past year. (It’s of little surprise I chose Ray Bradbury.) Among the other entries were a number of visual remembrances — including Christoph Niemann’s soul-stirring Sendak tribute — of such luminaries as Nora Ephron, Neil Armstrong, and Sally Ride. Gathered here are some favorites.

Debbie Millman honors Sally Ride in a handmade visual essay of felt typography soft-sculpted onto felt fabric.

Conceptual artist Rachel Perry Welty recreates Meg Ryan’s soliloquy from Nora Ephron's 'When Harry Met Sally' in a collage using letters cut from Ephron’s obituary in The New York Times.

Berlin-based illustrator and graphic designer Katrin Rodegast celebrates the jazz composer Dave Brubeck by layering black and white paper.

Artist Winnie Truong recalls some of his most famous looks from the manual 'Cutting Hair the Vidal Sassoon Way,' the blueprint to the coiffure aesthetic that defined the 1950s and 1960s.

A rendering of Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 suit by artist Tom Sachs, based on the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.

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18 SEPTEMBER, 2012

NASA Remembers Neil Armstrong in a Moving Short Film

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A loving tribute to the first man on the moon.

Neil Armstrong — pioneering astronaut, fierce test pilot, lover of libraries — passed away in July of 2012 at the age of 82. In this moving tribute, NASA staffers, engineers, and astronauts remember and celebrate the first human on the moon.

He just wanted to know that other kids could be inspired — not just only by his accomplishments, but by the accomplishments of a country. The impossible is possible — all you gotta do is go on and do it. . . . He just wanted to inspire young people to dream.” ~ Gene Cernan, Apollo Astronaut

Swiss Miss

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