Link About It: This Week’s Picks

AI-made music, the world's thinnest paper, missing NYC street sounds and more from around the internet

NYPL’s “Missing Sounds of New York” Playlist

The latest in a line of digital offerings provided by the New York Public Library, the strangely emotional Missing Sounds of New York exists as an “auditory love letter to New Yorkers.” Beginning with chatter and clanking turnstiles, “To See An Underground Show” features those familiar screeching brakes and a little subway performance, while other tracks include “Serenity Is a Rowdy City Park” and “Romancing Rush Hour.” The audio landscapes of the playlist comprise all the noises many people miss right now—despite how annoying some might have seemed months ago. From the dulcet tones of a street parade and honking horns, to clinking glasses and cutlery, and even the soft clicking of a cab’s turn signal, these sounds will have any city-dweller feeling simultaneously at home and nostalgic. Listen to the album at the NYPL website.

The Perilous Relationship Between Antarctic Conditions + Scientific Equipment

This January, 18 days into a research initiative across Antarctica’s Outer Recovery Ice Fields, the last of the team’s specialized equipment failed. This mission (held around the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the continent) aimed to recover a hypothesized cache of iron-rich meteorites. The failure was just one more blockade on the path to scientific discovery among the ice. Though its history can be defined by tragic loss of life, present-day Antarctica is being defined by frequent equipment malfunctions (attributed to more than just the weather) and the “MacGyver-esque engineering solutions” sometimes required to proceed—whether that’s for wristwatches or snow cruisers. Read more about the troubling fate of so much research equipment at The New York Times, where the author makes clear that “preparation only gets you so far.”

Connecting Creatives Online With “Pair Up”

Though commonplace, mentorships and networking events pose challenges stemming from timing, location and cost; they may also be downright daunting for many creatives, which is why a new online iteration called Pair Up exists. Founded by design director Myles Palmer, the platform aims to connect creatives online so they can workshop projects, ask for and offer advice, and simply discuss their challenges within the industry. Palmer (who has worked with Frieze Academy, Ivy Park, and many more) says that the project has already garnered plenty of positive feedback and he’s thrilled with the results. “Everyone has something different to offer, a different perspective or viewpoint on problems, and for me the fact that we aren’t prioritizing one person’s opinion or sessions over another is really great,” he tells It’s Nice That, where you can find out more.

Creative Masks From Around the World

Beginning with the lucha libre-inspired masks of Isaías Huerta (a resident of Puebla, Mexico), Atlas Obscura explores creative face masks made all over the world. Huerta—a retired wrestler and current costume-maker—began designing masks for friends and family, eventually extending his output to others. As unique as Huerta’s designs are, his desire to enhance his masks with representations of personality is universal. Now, more than ever, individuals are wearing face masks, and modifying them in creative and playful ways. Head to Atlas Obscura to see more masks, from Indonesia to Palestine, Ecuador and beyond.

Futuristic Bodysuits For Bars and Nightclubs

Albeit far-fetched, a novel garment proposed by creative agency Production Club—designed for the post-pandemic world—protects the wearer from skin-to-skin contact, viruses transmitted through air or fluids, and even abrasions from a blade or a knife. Soft and flexible, the suit—called the Micrashell—incorporates a ventilation system, speakers for programmed club or bar music, “cartridges” that attach to the air supply to allow vaping or drinking, and a proximity-based intercom system that lets the wearer communicate with nearby (and permitted) individuals. The concept can also be programmed to tune in or out various sounds actively. Finally, a clever pocket embedded into the arm offers access to your phone. See more at Core77.

Japan’s Hidaka Washi Produces the World’s Thinnest Paper

From their factory in the Kochi prefecture of Japan, Hidaka Washi produces tengujo, the world’s thinnest paper, which has been produced for more than 1000 years in the region. Hidaka Washi has done so since first opening their doors in 1949. There, workers soak the stems of mulberry trees (kozo) and then pound them into lumps of fibers. With the addition of all-natural neri, and then a drying process, these fibers cling to one another in an almost magical way—resulting in a page only a few fibers thick. Paper conservationists treasure tengujo as it can reinforce damaged archival works. Explore the process and its benefits in-depth at The New York Times.

20 Artists Contribute to Dropbox Paper’s Free “Indoors Zine”

It’s Nice That and Dropbox Paper fielded contributions from 20 illustrators, photographers and designers for a project they dubbed Indoors Zine, a collection “about the great indoors entirely made from home.” From lessons in meditation to illustrations of quarantine outfits, photographic illusions and sticker-inspired spreads, Indoors Zine provides entertainment and distraction—for readers and the artists involved. Our favorite, Clarice Tudor’s “Isolation Party Tips,” breaks downs the DOs and DON’Ts of hosting during quarantine—including a helpful guide to avoiding fighting the person who spilled on you, because it is you. See more and download the free zine at It’s Nice That.

Exponential Improvements in AI-Made Music Prompt Copyright Concerns

San Francisco-based AI research organization OpenAI released its music-generating code Jukebox this week. Complex code synthesizes hours upon hours of music, usually from one artist or one genre, and reproduces tracks that touch on the signature sounds listeners recognize most. The resulting tracks—which replicate the essence of music by Jay-Z, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and others—are obviously AI-made, but worrying. With repetitive learning, AI could easily produce songs so uncannily similar that listeners may mistake them for unreleased old singles or leaked new ones. In fact, the Jay-Z-esque track sounds so similar that the artist’s legal team went on the offensive to have it removed from SoundCloud, claiming “this content unlawfully uses an AI to impersonate our client’s voice.” Read more at OneZero.

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