Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Mutant enzymes, an unseen film by a French New Wave icon, design-forward campers and more

Mutant Enzyme Breaks Down Plastic in Hours

New research published by French scientists in the journal Nature addresses their discovery and manipulation of a mutant bacterial enzyme that can break down PET plastic into raw materials in a matter of hours. After optimization experiments, Carbios (the organization behind the discovery) broke down one metric ton of waste by 90% in 10 hours. Their scientists then used that material to create new premium plastic bottles. The organization aims for industrial-scale recycling with the enzyme in five years. They’ve partnered with Suntory, Food Europe and Nestle Waters to make this a reality. Read more at designboom.

Unseen Agnès Varda Documentary Available to Stream For Free

Beloved Belgian-born filmmaker and artist Agnès Varda’s previously unseen short film The Little Story of Gwen From French Brittany is streaming on YouTube (for free) thanks to American Cinematheque. Varda—who passed away last year—began shooting the film in 1996 when she met the subject, Gwen Deglise. The two became fast friends and Varda’s film traces Deglise’s move from Paris to LA, and their unique relationship. Now the head programmer for the American Cinematheque, Deglise says of Varda (known as the “grandmother of French New Wave”), “Of her many gifts: her curiosity was limitless, her appetite for life boundless. The endless inventiveness of her art shines through in her films and was inspiring to witness, and a privilege to be close to.” Find out more at Indiewire and watch on YouTube.

Portrait of a Goddess Found in a 3,000-Year-Old Coffin

Inside 3,000-year-old mummy Ta-Kr-Hb’s coffin (which hadn’t been moved or surveyed in a century) archaeologists from Scotland’s Perth Museum and Art Gallery uncovered a stunning series of paintings she was buried with. These two new paintings are located on the lower part of the coffin’s interior and exterior, a place that conservators and archaeologists never investigated before. “We had never had a reason to lift the whole thing so high that we could see the underneath of the trough and had never lifted the mummy out before and didn’t expect to see anything there,” Mark Hall, the collections officer at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, tells Smithsonian Magazine. The best-preserved image is “that of Egyptian goddess Amentet or Imentet, also known as ‘She of the West,’ who is seen wearing a red dress. The figure has ribbons draped around her arms and is depicted in profile, with her head facing to the right.” Read more at Smithsonian Magazine.

An Affordable At-Home Record-Cutting Machine

Designed by Pentagram’s Yuri Suzuki, the Easy Record Maker can capture audio from any source (connected by an aux cord or USB) and cut it onto five-inch 33 or 45 records. Right now, Japanese publisher and toymaker Gakken produces the machines, which retail for approximately $80 USD. The kit comes with 10 blank records and everything needed to create and play your signature recordings. “Vinyl has more value than other media, in my opinion,” Suzuki tells Design Week. He imagines a world where vinyl voice recordings are mailed between friends and independent bands and artists can press their projects in small batches. Read more at Design Week.

Explore ASMR at the “Weird Sensation Feels Good” Exhibition

Inside Sweden’s national architecture and design museum in Stockholm, ArkDes, the first-of-its-kind exhibition Weird Sensation Feels Good investigates autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)—a phenomenon now 13 million videos deep on the internet. ASMR—chilling, pleasurable tingles instigated by common sounds, like rustling, scratching or crinkling—grew beyond a niche subset. The exhibition examines the pre-internet history of ASMR, its development into an advertising and design tool, its explosive popularity today and the gender parity within. Weird Sensation Feels Good runs from 8 April through 1 November—with imagery online, and digital programming (including a virtual vernissage). Read all about it at Surface.

New York Academy of Art’s 2020 Tribeca Ball Online

One of the most cherished annual art community gatherings, New York Academy of Art’s Tribeca Ball acts as an introduction to hundreds of emerging artists, a platform to buy their work, and fundraiser for the entire institution. For 2020, the event moves online, now through the end of April with sales of art (that would have been on display in studios on site) once again directly benefiting the artists—continued corporate sponsor Van Cleef & Arpels gave NYAA a direct donation this year, for the same amount they would have spent presenting the Tribeca Ball. New art will be added to the site each week. NYAA‘s student programming also continues, from MFA classes to critiques from art world icons and even drawing parties, through Zoom.

Free Documentary on Hayao Miyazaki, Co-Founder of Studio Ghibli

A free, four-part documentary on Hayao Miyazaki—co-founder of the beloved and iconic Studio Ghibli—is now streaming, thanks to Japanese broadcaster NHK. 10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki first aired last year and delves into the animator, manga artist, filmmaker and author’s artistic process and personal life—with a focus on his relationship with his son Gorō, who worked on Studio Ghibli films From Up on Poppy Hill and Tales from Earthsea. Fans can watch the series now at NHK. Find out more at Dazed.

Carapate’s Cozy New Design-Forward Campers

New French camper brand Carapate has released its first two editions: the eponymous Carapate and its counterpart, the Carriole. Using natural wood elements throughout the 65-square-foot campers, designers Fabien Denis and Jean-Marie Reymond invoked a sense of openness, and touted a connection with the natural world. Clever compartments provide inhabitants with the option to use the kitchen outside the confines of the camper. The whimsical campers start at $12,500 and can be towed by most cars. Read more at Dwell.

Watchsmith App Grants Further Apple Watch Face Customization

For all the customization allowed to the Apple Watch face—including theme, style and numeral type—developer David Smith’s iOS app Watchsmith unlocks even more. Watchsmith allows users to assemble dynamic feature combinations that can be scheduled to change throughout the day. Users can affix the weather to their Apple Watch face in the morning or activity data toward day’s end. Sources range from astronomy and tide information to time zones, battery status and the simple day and date addition. Read more about all the functionality at 9to5Mac.

Austin Kleon’s Guide to Making a Zine From One Sheet of Paper

Writer and artist Austin Kleon recently shared his simple guide to making a zine from a single sheet of paper, a variation on what he learned from the book Whatcha Mean, What’s A Zine? Resourceful and enchanting, the one-sheet project requires just four steps, which Kleon lays out in a penciled how-to guide and a helpful YouTube video. Click through to his site to learn how to make your own.

The Tangled History of the Letter X

As porn consumption reaches what may be an all-time peak, MEL Magazine writer Chris Bourn wondered “How did X become the edgiest letter?” The 24th letter in our alphabet is the second-least used, but has come to represent all things “adult” and is intrinsically connected to porn. This can be traced back to the introduction of 1968’s audience-advisory ratings, which attributed X to movies with erotic content. Eventually, more Xs were added to denote the extremity of that content. Bourn traces the history and uses of the letter, “once the holiest of all alphabetic symbols.” Read more at MEL.

Health-Tracking “Smart Toilet” Discerns Users by Their Unique “Analprints”

Mountable on standard systems, a new “smart toilet” concept debuted in the scientific journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, in a research paper by Sanjiv Gambhir of Stanford University. The health-tracking system within the device scans biological waste and uploads the data found to the cloud. It builds unique user profiles based on “analprints,” or the distinct shape of everyone’s butthole—which it captures through a camera within the bowl (in addition to a fingerprint scanner on the flush lever). Tracking this information over time can alert healthcare professionals—with actionable data—about changes or the onset of disease. Read more at Gizmodo.

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