1. Ai Weiwei’s New NYC Project “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors”
Ai Weiwei’s latest NYC art installation is made up of some 300 pieces all over the city and makes a strong point about immigration and refugees. With a fence circling the Unisphere in Queens, a cage in Washington Square Park, and more “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” encourages New Yorkers to take a moment and think about the problematic nature of borders—metaphorical and physical. He says, “We are living at a time where there’s no tolerance, we’re divided and they try to separate us by colors, race, religion, nationality, which I think is completely going backwards—against freedom, humanity, understanding of our time.” Read more at Artsy.
2. Locating Half the Universe’s Missing Matter
We’ve long known that we could not account for all of the matter in the galaxy—with its evidence visible through gravitational force but its presence simply not observable. Now, two different groups have made a substantial discovery: half of it can be attributed to particles called baryons (rather than dark matter), which links galaxies together “through filaments of hot, diffuse gas,” according to New Scientist. The gas is not hot enough for x-ray telescopes to observe, however. So, until a new system was put to use through the Planck satellite, the baryon particles went unobserved. This doesn’t account for everything we can’t see, but it’s certainly a major development.
3. Sweden’s First-Ever Women-Only Festival
At this year’s Bråvalla music festival in Sweden, there were four rapes and 23 sexual assaults—that were reported. After a torrent of assaults at festivals across the country this summer, Swedish comedian Emma Knyckare decided to organize a women-only event and it’s been successfully crowdfunded, raising some 500,000 Swedish krona (around $51k+ USD). Statement Festival will not allow cisgender men to attend, and on their Kickstarter page made their goal clear: “Help us to create a safe space for the people who want to attend a festival without feeling scared for their personal safety.” Read more at the Guardian.
4. Remarkable Portraits of Insects
Photographer Levon Biss’ new book “Microsculpture: Portraits of Insects” (a continuation of his exhibition) shows bugs in a very different light. Rather than appearing as pests, they’re majestic. These detailed images are made by stitching together some 8,000 shots—a process that takes weeks. The time spent, though, is worth it as these portraits are remarkably pretty. See more at Popular Science.
5. NYC’s Old and New Drag Culture
Drag culture in NYC has come a long way since its beginnings; at this year’s RuPaul’s DragCon 35,000 people attended and weekend passes cost $60. Fans waited for hours to see their favorites. As Jesse Dorris writes, queens used to be “court jesters (and sex workers and criminals)” but those days are gone. Bob the Drag Queen said at the event, “Drag queens ain’t supposed to be in places like this… Like, we should be performing in McDonald’s, in Times Square.” Interestingly though, this shift has also meant a significant amount of whitewashing, leading to many in and outside the community to feel differently about the current state of the culture. Read more at the New Yorker.
6. IKEA Designs Furniture for Pets
With treehouse-hideaways, scratching mats, beds and more, IKEA’s first-ever furniture range designed specifically for pets was created in collaboration with a vet, in order to make sure animals’ needs were accounted for. Designed by Inma Bermudéz, the pet-friendly Lurvig collection includes 62 items. Bermudéz says, “The piece that I’m most proud of is a pet cushion: we encourage owners to fill it with their old clothes, blankets or towels… The idea is that pets get a comfortable cushion with comfortable, familiar smells too.” See more at Dezeen.
7. Tamagotchis Return This November
Debuting this November for about $15 each, 20th anniversary Tamagotchis will be offered in six different colorways. This iteration of the famous digital pet—which needs feeding and cleaning among other things—will be 20% smaller than the original though still operated by three buttons beneath a pixelated screen. As Endgadget notes, they’re just as easy to kill from neglect as last time—and you can expect to discipline one when it surely misbehaves. That said, there’s plenty of lo-fi fun to be had if you can keep it alive.
8. Playground for Adults at the Tate Modern
Featuring three-seater swings that encourage visitors to work together and interact, “One Two Three Swing!” at the Tate Modern is essentially a playground for adults. Created by Danish design studio Superflex, the show is colorful and very playful, but also “invites audiences to combat social apathy through collaborative action.” Read more at Mashable.