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Photographic Time Machine

How to tear the space-time continuum with your bare hands and a camera lens.

The transformative power of photography is unquestionable — powerful images can move us emotionally, intellectually and morally. Now, it can also move us across space and time — here are three fascinating photographic projects that do just that.

SIEGE OF LENINGRAD COMPOSITES

Thanks to Google Translate, we understand this project has to do with the 65th anniversary of the Siege of Leningrad — perhaps the biggest military operation fiasco for the Axis powers in WWII. To commemorate the occasion, Russian artist Sergey Larenkov created phenomenal composite images of Leningrad, today’s Saint Petersburg, placing the dramatic events of the Siege in their contemporary context.

The images are a stride-stopping revelation of the scars WWII left, both physical and cultural, reminding us just how much more than architectural restoration it has taken for a healing process to begin.

LOOKING INTO THE PAST

We love seeing one creative project inspire another that plays off of it — a testament to the infectious power of ideas. And that’s why we love Jason Powell’s Looking Into The Past project, inspired by something you may remember from issues past: Michael Hughes’ Souvenirs.

Powell takes historical photographs from The Library of Congress digital archive (another innovative effort we love), prints them out, and holds them up against their respective modern-day location.

From the capital’s architectural icons to the quiet streets of small-town America, the project invites us into a fascinating cultural time machine.

If you find yourself infectiously inspired to tear the space-time continuum, you can contribute your own photographic time capsules to the Flickr group Powell created for the project.

NYC GRID 1961 VS. 2009

A strong city ages so gracefully that despite the colossal changes in the context of its era, the city’s own character remains an unchanged cultural pillar. That’s exactly the kind of vibe you’ll get glimpsing through images of the world’s biggest cosmopolitan icon — New York City — taken in 1961 and 2009.

This time capsule captures our technological and cultural evolution — from cars to fashion to outdoor advertising — yet there’s something oddly comforting in knowing that no matter how all these elements change, the city remains this unchanging force that keeps us centered.

Explore the full collection over at NYC Grid.

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Pure Process: Picking the Creative Brain

What coffee, ironing and crying newborns have to do with the birth of an idea.

UPDATED: The Creative Process Illustrated: How Advertising’s Big Ideas Are Born is now out and we highly recommend it.

What if we knew how great ideas were born? Do great minds really think alike, or is the creative process as unique as our DNA? Can insight into another person’s process help you enrich and polish your own?

Creative academics and researchers Glenn Griffin, PhD and Deborah Morrison, PhD set out to answer these questions and more in an exploratory project-turned-book-deal dubbed Pure Process — an investigation into the minds of the advertising industry’s greatest creative thinkers. In a series of experiments, the researchers analyzed the “process drawings” of these top creative professionals — a visual answer to the question:

 What does your creative process look like?

Illustrated with a Sharpie on what Griffin and Morrison call a “process canvas,” the creatives revealed the routes they take to finding and catching ideas. The results: Just as incredibly diverse, wild and, yes, messy as you’d expect them to be.

So far, the lineup includes all-stars like Alex Bogusky, David Kennedy, Luke Sullivan, Kevin Roddy, Nancy Rice, and David Baldwin, among others. But they’re still looking for submissions — so if you live and work in the larger world of ideas, and you’d like your own creative process dissected and shared with the world, shoot them an email to be considered for inclusion.

It’s important to spend time NOT thinking of ideas. It often comes together when I’m neutral and quiet like in the shower or sound asleep. ~ Danny Gregory, ECD of McGarry Bowen

Pure Process is set for publication next summer by How Books. You can follow Glenn and Deborah on Twitter for updates on the project.

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A Typographic Visualization of Every TED Talk, Ever

9,306 hours of culture’s biggest brain cloud, condensed into a tiny word cloud.

We love TED. We love data visualization. We love fun. So we had some fun with crafting our very own semantic representation of TED talks.

The data comes from this excellent spreadsheet of every TED talk available, compiled by an anonymous author. (We stumbled upon it somewhere down the Twitter rabbit hole months ago.) We used Wordle for the cloud visualization and pulled the words from the official title of each talk — a fairly reliable representation of what the talk is actually about.

Although this model is certainly limited and not at all representative of the full breadth of what TED stands for, an essence begins to emerge — it’s highly concerned with innovation and the future, it’s about tackling global issues, and design is a big part of the solution puzzle.

Share and enjoy.

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Monday Music Muse: Haley Bonar

What Dolly Parton has to do with today’s hippest indie rock scene.

Minnesota-based singer-songwriter Haley Bonar is a fascinating intersection of indie rock, pop-punk and folk. Channeled in a sweetly melodic voice, her lyrical sensibility flows from playfully light to deeply insightful in the stroke of an acoustic chord.

She’s part Aimee Mann, part Neko Case, part your favorite NPR Live session. And unpeggably novel at the same time.

If Haley’s voice sounds familiar, you may have caught her doing back vocals for another indie favorite of ours, Andrew Bird. But her latest solo album, Big Star, is a force all its own. Our top track: Better Half.

Among the singer-songwriter’s musical feats is a stride-stoppingly excellent cover of Dolly Parton’s Jolene.

And bonus points to Haley for her gig on our long-established favorite, Daytrotter, where you can snag the entire session for free.

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