Link About It: This Week’s Picks

News from CES 2020, the longterm effects of visiting museums, a new Tom Sachs film and more from the internet this week

Toyota’s City of the Future at the Base of Mount Fuji

Announced at CES 2020, Toyota has an ambitious plan for a newly redeveloped 175-acre site at the foot of Japan’s Mount Fuji. Ground will officially break next year on Woven City, a Bjarke Ingels Group-designed prototype town meant for piloting mobility services, in-home and public technologies, and connected innovations. Autonomous vehicles will be the only cars allowed in this pedestrian-centric city. Green space will takes on greater importance. And, walking will be encouraged through intuitive city planning. Buildings will be made from wood to reduce the project’s footprint, and energy will be sourced from solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells. The city, however, will be populated exclusively by Toyota employees. Read more at Forbes.

MIT Scientists’ “4D Materials” Shape-Shift into Human Face

Nicknamed “active origami,” and referred to as a shape-morphing system, an MIT-developed “4D material” begins flat but can blossom into something more complicated when its surrounding conditions change. Specifically, its 3D-printed lattice structure, which mimics mesh, expands through temperature variation and actually turns into the face of scientist Carl Friedrich Gauss. The visual was reverse engineered and Gauss was selected as the sculptural result to honor his 1828 “Therema Egregium,” which helped many scientists believe that the universe is flat. Read more about the future-forward material at Ars Technica.

Museum Visits Linked to Longer Life

According to research by scientists at University College London, people who regularly visit museums and galleries (at least every few months) have a 31% lower risk of dying early, compared with those who don’t. It’s believed that interacting with the arts can help reduce stress and foster “creativity that allows people to adapt to changing circumstances.” Researchers admit that wealth is intrinsically linked to people’s ability to visit these institutions, but perhaps not as much as expected—with factors like free time and type of occupation making little difference. Rather “cognitive differences, social and civic engagement, mental health, mobility and disability and deprivation” play bigger roles. Find out more at CNN.

Farewell to Influential Conceptual Artist John Baldessari

Beloved American contemporary artist John Baldessari died at age 88 this weekend in LA. He began his career as a painter in the ’50s, but by 1970, he had grown so tired of his earlier works that he took them to a San Diego funeral home and had them cremated (before apparently using the ashes to bake cookies). Baldessari’s art knew no bounds and his iconic catalogue spans video, sculpture, mixed media and more; sometimes irreverent, sometimes humorous, they’re always thought-provoking. As Jori Finkel writes for the New York Times, “While so much early conceptual art tended toward the cold and cerebral, Mr Baldessari’s was infused with a droll sense of humor. He employed a sort of Dada irony and sometimes colorful Pop Art splashes—blue was his favorite color—to rescue conceptual art from what he saw as its high-minded self-seriousness.” He has influenced artists through his work and during his tenure as a teacher, some of his former students include Mike Kelley, Meg Cranston and David Salle. His artworks, and his thoughtful and playful attitude (“I just stare at something and say: Why isn’t that art? Why couldn’t that be art?” he once mused), will remain significant around the world. Read more at the New York Times.

Artist Nathaniel Stern’s Depictions of Recent Technology in the Distant Future

It’s known that our iPhones will outlive us all. In fact, most mixed-material technology from the last few decades does not get properly recycled; waste management systems are not even in place to do so. Thus, as Fast Company states, “the scale of our technology waste is astronomical.” Wisconsin-based artist Nathaniel Stern probes this in his most recent exhibition, The World After Us: Imaging techno-aesthetic futures, at the Museum of Wisconsin Art. Stern blends organic materials, plant life and electronics to form sculptures, installations and more. His work underscores our inadequate commitment to recycling and also acts as a reminder that humanity is fragile, but we are creating devices that will continue to decompose for centuries or longer. Read more at Fast Company.

The Perils of Moving the V&A’s Arsenic-Laced Hats

As 250,000 objects, 350,000 books and more from The Victoria and Albert Museum’s archive move from their current Blythe House storage to a new, purpose-built east London facility, dangers abound—including from the textile collection. As the phrase “mad as a hatter” makes reference too, until the 1930s some hat features (like feathers and even whole birds, an Edwardian era trend) were treated with arsenic and others (like fur) were felted with mercury. This posed significant health problems then and has required special mounts and trays now—as all precautions were taken to protect staff. Read more at The Guardian, whose art correspondent Mark Brown was given a behind-the-scenes tour of the V&A storage.

Tom Sachs’ Film “How to Learn How to Surf”

After screening at theaters and museums last year, Tom Sachs’ 30-minute film How to Learn How to Surf premieres online today. The American artist ventured to Bali with his team with the mission to become “OK surfers,” and documented the process. Based around 10 bullet points, the surfing essentials (according to the Sachs team) are explored: from “Be afraid, be sort of afraid,” to “Fail with joy,” and “Persistence.” As expected from the contemporary artist, the resulting film—directed by Van Neistat—is part art piece and part documentary; altogether odd, earnest and endearing. Watch it on Vimeo now.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.