Link About It: This Week’s Picks

An ancient mystery solved, architectural advancements, photographing natural wonders, and inspiration aplenty in our look around the web

Quentin Blake’s Cheerful Rainbow E-Cards

Legendary artist Sir Quentin Blake has created 10 new artworks, featuring watercolor rainbows and a cast of characters, that can each be sent as e-cards free of charge. The 86-year-old illustrator drew the pictures in order to share a little humor and bolster optimism, saying “It seems like a time when a few straightforward jokes might not come amiss, so that as I know that people have been putting rainbows into their windows to express solidarity, I took the liberty of borrowing them.” Rainbows appear as meals, mustaches and more in the illustrations, all of which are available to send online now. Read more at It’s Nice That.

Studio Gang’s Brooklyn Firehouse + Training Facility

When thinking about architectural advancements in a city, a firehouse might be an unlikely consideration; it’s a utilitarian structure often defined by historic attributes, not innovative ones. That’s part of what makes Studio Gang’s FDNY Rescue Company 2 in Brownsville so compelling. Architect Jeanne Gang designed the beautiful facade (accented with fire-engine-red terra-cotta tiles) and thoughtful, dynamic interiors for the needs of firefighters today: from training to resting and even engaging with the neighborhood. “It’s all about the relationship between the rescue workers and their neighbors,” Gang tells Architectural Digest, where you can read about all of the aesthetic and technical aspects.

Design Your Own Virtual Art Museum in Steam’s Free Occupy White Walls Game

With 2,200 architectural elements and more than 6,000 artworks to choose from, StikiPixels’ free Steam game, Occupy White Walls, lets players build the virtual art gallery (or museum) of their dreams. Users can also explore the 215 million virtual square feet of gallery space that’s been imagined by other players thus far. Options range from the marbled and magnificent to fields of grass. An artificial intelligence assistant curator named Daisy is also available to help. Read more at Smithsonian Magazine.

Imaginative Maps of Life in Lockdown

CityLab asked its currently locked-down readers to map out their lives at home. Editors received 150+ intimate illustrations of apartment floor plans, neighborhood gems, routes for “sanity walks,” and even the sounds that surround us. While the results don’t reveal too much about architectural successes or design theories, they are an endearing and intimate look into the spaces we exist within. Through these maps—perhaps the three rooms we shuffle between or a chart tracking bird noises or the clanging of a suddenly loud neighbor—we learn a little about one another and how we fit into the world around us. Take a look at some of the results at CityLab.

Touring James Turrell’s House of Light

Through their online journal, retailer Nalata Nalata offers reflection on spaces they find inspiring and envy-inducing. One instance is prolific artist James Turrell’s 2,260-square-foot House of Light in Tokamachi, Niigata, Japan. “We’ve traveled to Japan more times than we can count yet there are still so many moments and places that leave us feeling marveled,” Nalata Nalata cofounder Stevenson Aung writes. “One such experience was our stay at House of Light created by James Turrell—a house that is at once an accommodation, a meditation house and a private art installation.” Check out more photos at Nalata Nalata.

Uncovering The Formula For a Mysterious, Medieval Blue Ink

For thousands and thousands of years a purple-blue ink known as folium was used to color all kinds of books, cheese rinds and more, but its formula was lost until a team of researchers recently deciphered the recipe through three ancient texts. It’s long been confirmed that the dye comes from the fruit of chrozophora tinctoria, but this isn’t a complete assessment. By poring over the manuscripts (one from the 12th century, another from the 14th century and a 15th-century manual literally called The Book on How to Make All the Colour Paints for Illuminating Books), scientists found that the fruit needs to be carefully soaked in a mixture of methanol and water, before further steps are taken. Maria João Melo (a scientist and co-author of the study) says “They were able to produce paints that last centuries. We don’t have such paints now. So this is part of our research—to know as much as possible about this material that was completely lost with the advent of the synthetic dyes.” Find out more at Atlas Obscura.

Vibrant Blue Bioluminescence Photographed at Newport Beach

Thanks to a friend’s tip-off, photographer Patrick Coyne ventured to Newport Beach from his Orange County home to capture images of a bioluminescence show dancing atop the waves. The friend recognized a “red tide,” which sometimes washes a specific type of bioluminescent phytoplankton close to shore. When night arrived, Coyne walked toward the water, capturing video and taking photos that have since attracted the attention of local and national media, and plenty of nature-loving Instagram followers. See Coyne’s full video at PetaPixel.

The “hid-den” Multifunctional Home-Office Concept

hid-den, a concept project by Sidegiggle, is “an exploration of the mini-den, a private space for focus and creativity.” The modular system can work in “BookcaseMode,” which features three movable bookshelves, or in “DenMode” which uses the bookcases as three of its walls, and a contrasting shelf- and mirror-clad cutout as its door. Inside, the square footage allows for a small desk or a little reading room. Overall, the concept provides a little escape and solace for those living in smaller spaces. Read more at Sidegiggle.

Pioneer Works Launches Broadcast, an Online “Station for the Presently Stationary”

“There are times in history, defining moments in many of our lives, when we have taken that astronomical perspective… to view the sight of humanity as a whole: vulnerable, brave, afraid, cruel, compassionate,” Janna Levin (author, astrophysicist and Director of Sciences at Pioneer Works) writes. “From that astronomical perspective, humanity—in all its hyper-finely pixelated colors and languages and traditions and beliefs—resolves into a crisp portrait of one species on one Earth.” This statement introduces Broadcast, Pioneer Works’ online platform which aims to provoke thought and curiosity and “cultivates conversations on music, technology, science, and the arts.” Each transmission will be delivered to your inbox, should you subscribe, or the published articles can be accessed at any time on their site. Broadcast begins with a dedication to the late Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, an interview with Nick Flynn, an exhibition of virtual artwork. Find out more at Pioneer Works.

Travis Scott + Kid Cudi’s Record-Breaking Fortnite Virtual Concert

Using the popular cross-platform video game Fornite as an arena, Travis Scott and Kid Cudi premiered a collaborative track, “THE SCOTTS,” and shattered “attendance” records with 12.3 million viewers tuning in. As with similar Fortnite events held previously, themed merchandise, accessories, and upgrades were made available for players prior to the show. But a new component let viewers witness the building excitement more literally: developers coded the show’s stage, surrounding theatrics, and more in real-time in the week prior so players could watch as construction took place. Between the audience numbers and additional upgrades, a new standard has been set for virtual productions. You can now watch the performance on YouTube.

Porsche Launches Classics-Compatible CarPlay Radios

Currently exclusive to Europe, Porsche’s new classics-compatible CarPlay-equipped radios are designed for cars produced from the 1960s onward. They allow those driving older vehicles by the German manufacturer the option to upgrade their sound system while keeping with the brand’s style. Each of the audio systems features streaming services, satellite radio, texting and calling, and navigation. The kits come in a 1-DIN size specifically designed for the 911 and a 2-DIN size for 986 and 996 models. Read more at MacRumors.

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