Best of CH 2013: Link About It

From Nelson Mandela to Google Glass, David Bowie to Yayoi Kusama—a look at this year's top headlines

As 2013 comes to a close, we take a moment to reflect upon the hundreds of headlines that came across our desks throughout the year, which we reported on in our weekly feature, Link About It. Below are 20 articles that not only made the news, but serve as a manifestation of the current climate and in some instances, what we have to look forward to in 2014 and beyond.


1. Mandela, Captured by the Camera

On 5 December 2013, the world mourned the death of Nelson Mandela. Passing away at the age of 95, Mandela is best known for his leadership role in the movement to end apartheid in South Africa. To look back on his influential life, The Times highlights his role as an activist, political prisoner and presidential candidate, as well as the final years of his life through a set of heavy hearted but striking images.

2. Roger Ebert

Legendary film critic Roger Ebert, who influenced the success of the Hollywood film industry for several decades, died 4 April 2013 at the age of 70. Ebert worked for the Chicago Sun-Times for 40 years, and battled publicly with cancer for more than a decade toward the end of his life. In their obituary, The New York Times quotes President Obama, who commented on his death by saying, “For a generation of Americans—especially Chicagoans—Roger was the movies.”

3. In Memoriam: Graphic Artist Storm Thorgerson

Undoubtedly the man who made album covers a veritable artistic force, Storm Thorgerson sadly passed away 18 April 2013 at just 69 years old after a battle with cancer. Sweet, introspective and energetic, Thorgerson left an indelible impression on the entire world through his “contrary” album covers, for which he created over 300 works for bands like Ween, Biffy Clyro, Led Zepplin, Phish and most famously, Pink Floyd. In our interview he told us, “The thing that I do, it’s a performance in some strange place that nobody can get to. So if I didn’t take a picture of it, you would never see it and the band would never see it. And if the band never saw it they may wonder where their cover is, you see. So I have to take the picture.” And we’re so very glad he did.

4. “I Have a Dream,” 50 Years Later

The week of 28 August 2013 marked the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.’s world-changing speech addressing racial discrimination, attended by around 250,000 people in Washington, DC. The Boston Globe’s expansive photo collection captures some of the most striking images from both his speech and the civil rights movement. The remarkable aerial view of the National Mall on that historic day is especially telling of the magnitude of support and political activity, while photos of children being taken to jail for protesting racial segregation in schools reflect the over-zealous police force of Birmingham, Alabama. The photos illustrate both the progress inspired by Dr King’s leadership, as well as the strides we still have to make toward total equality.


5. #ifihadglass

In late February we had the chance to demo Glass, Google’s augmented reality eyewear device, and found The Verge was just as excited about it as we are. The subsequent rollout phase invited people from all walks of life to apply for early purchase by using Google+ or Twitter to tell the world what you would do if you had Glass, starting with the hashtag #ifihadglass.

6. The $325,000 Burger

Researchers in the Netherlands worked tirelessly to create an entire hamburger’s worth of beef muscle tissue from laboratory incubators, which was revealed last May. An expensive process, the point of their efforts is to give legitimacy to the research, which is supported by animal rights and environmental groups who see vitro meat as a more sustainable and humane alternative to traditional husbandry.

7. “David Bowie Is” Opens at the V&A

London’s V&A Museum played host to a massive retrospective paying tribute to the legendary star and style icon, David Bowie. The show culled items from Bowie’s personal archive to include never-before-seen displays spanning costumes, memorabilia, album art, set designs and more. Breaking records for advance ticket sales with 50,000 sold, the exhibition ran throughout the summer before heading to Toronto, and soon São Paulo’s Museum of Image and Sound in January 2014.

8. Olafur Eliasson Wins MIT Award

Generally reserved for up-and-coming artists, this year MIT’s annual Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts
was granted to veteran artist Olafur Eliasson. Known for his 2003 Tate Turbine Hall Installation and 2008 New York City Waterfalls, the Danish-Icelandic artist excels in
large-scale public works. Phaidon dug deeper into how Eliasson will
use his creativity to collaborate with the renowned academic institution during
his brief residency during March 2014.


9. 2014 Pantone Color of the Year

Color consultant and adjunct professor at Parsons The New School for Design, Jasmine Takanikos was quick to share the Pantone color of the year announcement for 2014: Radiant Orchid. The bold shade reaches across the color wheel from the 2013 Pantone 17-5641 Emerald, flashing fuchsia, purple and pink undertones to create Pantone 18-3224. With the news out, expect an influx of purple in SS14 wardrobes.

10. Follow the Light

When an artist’s medium is simply light, their work will inspire a certain amount of curiosity, but James Turrell‘s work over the last several decades has gained an almost spiritual following. With his atmospheric installations known as “skyspaces,” he creates an environment where light perception and sensual engagement are at center stage. In 2013 it was difficult to escape his brilliance—he showed at NYC’s Guggenheim as well as in LA, Las Vegas and Houston. And if you own a Turrell, you might be on your way to a special preview of his prolific “Roden Crater,” his life’s work in the Arizona desert that plays upon the movement of the stars.

11. Self Obliteration

The 84-year-old artist Yayoi Kusama has voluntarily lived and painted in a psychiatric clinic since the ’70s. With her mesmerizing concepts popping up everywhere from museums and galleries to Louis Vuitton this year, Nowness made a video that showcases her work, which she calls “Self Obliteration.” Her process is a revelation of her inner-psychic reality, saying that painting is what keeps her going. The obsessive cast on her mind, audible in her voice and the way she talks in circles, is likewise visible in her polka-dotted paintings which will hopefully continue to be as widespread in 2014.

12. The Hyperloop System

If Tesla CEO Elon Musk has his way, the Hyperloop system will become a reality and make transcontinental trips across the US astoundingly short. Developed with Colorado-based ET3, Musks’ elevated Hyperloop system works with magnetic levitation—similar to those of bullet trains—which would see passengers travel in a nearly frictionless enclosed tube. Possibly the biggest kicker is the projected cost per ride: A trip from LA to New York would be just $100.


13. Deitch-less MOCA

Three years into his five year contract, Jeffrey Deitch resigned as the director of LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Deitch, an initially controversial choice, entered the museum with a successful art dealing background, rather than the traditional academic, museum-based past. Deitch’s MOCA work was divisive and pop-culture oriented, drawing to mind the ambitious exhibitions he helmed at his NYC-based Deitch Projects gallery. Official reasons for the split remain unannounced, but there’s no doubt wherever Deitch goes next, his career will continue to merit a following.

14. NASA’s 3D Food Printer

As expressed on Twitter, Ji Lee was as psyched as we were that NASA is funding a 3D food printer—and that their first mission is to produce pizza. Selfish reasons aside, if mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor’s open-source prototype comes to fruition, it could go well beyond feeding astronauts on long-distance journeys and be the first genuine way to put an end to worldwide hunger.

15. GQ’s Man of the Year: Noel Gallagher

Known as much for his ability to say almost anything as he is for a batch of successful tunes, Oasis lead guitarist Noel Gallagher has been selected as GQ’s man of the year. In an interview that accompanied the announcement, Gallagher once again admitted how he really feels with quips, gems and plenty of expletives on the current state of culture. From Coldplay’s rider request for seeds, to radio station focus groups, there’s plenty of hilariously accurate insight streaming from that Gallagher brain.

16. The Banksy Art Stand

When Banksy makes a move, the world runs wildly after him. That’s what made his Central Park prank the best of all he did during his month-long “residency” in NYC this year. The artist quietly set up an art stall where he sold original works for $60, unbeknownst to passersby that they were real Banksy works. A few people ultimately took pieces home, the first of which haggled for a 50% discount. The stall closed with a total earning of $420, in stark comparison to the $1.8 million that a 2008 canvas of his once sold for. Banksy tore up NYC with plenty of fanfare, but we can’t imagine anyone will reap the benefits like those lucky Central Park buyers.


17. Textbook Dropping Drones

While the world gasped over the recent announcement of Amazon’s future drone delivery service, Australian startup Flirtley has shown that they’ve already succeeded in developing new flying robots, all for the sake of mail-order delivery in Sydney. The drones dropped books in conjunction with textbook rental service Zookal to become the world’s first unmanned aerial delivery technology. The robots are hexacopters; with six battery-powered rotors and a clutch that releases the goods upon delivery. Flirtley’s flyers cut down the price of same-day delivery service to a fraction of what it currently costs, and even became an inspiration for UPS.

18. A Record-Setting $782,368,375 Auction

With their Post-War and Contemporary Art auction, Christie’s set a staggeringly high new sales record. Over $780 million were fetched across two nights of bidding in NYC during mid-November. The prestigious auction house also broke two other records; the $142.4 million sale of Francis Bacon’s triptych of Lucian Freud became the most valuable work of art ever sold at auction (knocking off Edward Munch’s “The Scream”) and Jeff Koons’ “Balloon Dog” went for $58.4 million, achieving the highest grossing sales for a piece of art ever sold by a living artist at an auction.

19. Grand Canyon Cloud Porn

Due to the unexpected interaction of both cold and warm air masses at the Grand Canyon at the beginning of December 2013, a “once-in-a-decade” phenomenon called total cloud inversion occurred. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim to Desert View Point, the clouds created a sea-like body between rock faces and mountains, making for a wealth of heavily shared other-worldly images.

20. Selfie: Word of the Year

The beloved term (believed to be of Australian origin) “selfie” saw a 17,000% usage increase since 2012, and thus established itself as the Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year. The buzzword stomped on its competitor “twerk” despite Miley Cyrus and mainstream media’s best efforts. After meticulous web research, the winner is chosen based on its rise in usage, even if it isn’t destined to remain popular for long. Having spawned several spinoffs already, including “drelfie”—the drunk selfie—we’ll have wait and see if the 2013 Word of the Year stands the test of time.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.