debbie millman

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Eno to Einstein, Blackboard Drawings

Blackboard drawing by Albert Einstein
Blackboard drawing by Albert Einstein

Blackboard drawing from Camelia Parker
Blackboard drawing by Cornelia Parker

It’s hard to compete with Albert Einstein’s calculations. But if you want to see how Brian Eno and other 21st-century luminaries responded to the challenge, visit the Oxford Museum of the History of Science.

Setting out to create an exhibit around the museum’s most prized possession — a blackboard full of (relatively) simple equations that Einstein chalked up in 1931 — the curators asked scientists, artists, sports stars, actors, journalists, musicians, and politicians to sketch whatever they wished on an actual blackboard. The results are wonderfully varied: Eno drew a global map of the “Arabic singing diaspora.” The British soccer star Bobby Robson charted a complicated play. And pianist Joanna MacGregor sketched a bass line from Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” that illustrates the connection “between Bach’s supersensitivity to the contemporary styles around him . . . and today’s musicians.” This collection serves a similar purpose, connecting past epiphanies to the sudden impulses of the present.

This exhibition marks the centenary of the Special Theory of Relativity and the blackboards were prepared in the early months of 2005. The result is a gorgeous exhibit about science, art, celebrity and nostalgia. So many of my favorite things.

Via the always amazing Very Short List


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Location: new york city, United States

Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. She is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly 15 years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro. Prior to Sterling, she was a Senior Vice President at Interbrand and a Marketing Director at Frankfurt Balkind. Debbie is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet. The show is titled “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” and it is now featured on In addition to “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009, she is the author of "How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer" (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008).

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