Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘remix’

01 DECEMBER, 2010

The Secret of Happiness: A TED Remix


I recently had the pleasure of meeting the wonderful Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project fame, who inspired me to excavate an old pet project of mine featured here a few years ago: An exploratory story of what happiness is, told in TED soundbites and kinetic typography — a true labor of love that took three weeks to compose, audio-edit and animate. Enjoy!

Speakers, in order of appearance:

For a complementary read, see these 7 essential books on the art and science of happiness.

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01 DECEMBER, 2010

Historical Milestones As Famous Pop Songs


What Lady Gaga has to do with the guillotine, or how ABBA took down Henry VIII’s wives.

We’re big proponents of remix culture and today we have something from its most bizarre yet brilliant fringes: Behold historyteachers, a “History for Music Lovers” project adapting famous historical events and figures to famous songs.

From the French Revolution via Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” to The Canterbury Tales via “California Dreamin'” to Pompeii via Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang”, the pairings are done with a bit of a thematic insider’s wink that only adds to the kooky genius of the concept.

Despite the decidedly absurd proposition, the videos actually feature surprisingly excellent vocals, lyrical adaptation and production value, not to mention impressively accurate impressions of the original performers, out-Gagaing Gaga and nailing Debbie Harry’s famous mic-dance-hop to the T.

The brainchild of a Hawaiian history teacher duo, mysteriously titled Mrs. B and Mr. H, the project is a piece of pure remix genius. Catch all 47 videos on the historyteachers YouTube channel and marvel at the wonderful intersection of geekery, creativity and quirk.

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15 NOVEMBER, 2010

Tree of Codes: A Literary Remix


We’re big fans of the art of remix here, typically manifested in digital media. Now, author Jonathan Safran Foer (of Everything Is Illuminated fame) brings it to the analog world with his brilliant Tree of Codes project — a book created by cutting out chunks of text from Foer’s favorite novel, The Street of Crocodiles by Polish author Bruno Schulz, rearranging the text to form an entirely different story. The die-cut narrative hangs in an aura of negative space, adding the necessary touch of designerliness to what’s already a hipster-ready concept.

The result is a beautiful blend of sculpture and storytelling, adding a layer of physicality to the reading experience in a way that completely reshapes your relationship with text and the printed page.

Vanity Fair has an excellent interview with Foer talking about his creative process on this project and contemporary art at large.

I thought: What if you pushed it to the extreme, and created something not old-fashioned or nostalgic but just beautiful? It helps you remember that life can surprise you.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

The making of the book is a true marvel of human ingenuity:

Tree of Codes is part Nina Katchadourian’s Sorted Books, part Brian Dettmer’s carved book sculptures, part something else entirely — and wholly recommended.

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