Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Branding Prince George, a Deitch-less MOCA, Mysterabbit and more in our weekly look at the web


1. Grandpa the Pixel Painter

Hal Lasko, who now goes by Grandpa, is a 97-year-old former typographer whose medium of choice is Microsoft Paint. Lasko lost most of his eyesight due to macular degeneration but discovered that the computer program could magnify images large enough for him to paint pixel-by-pixel. The result is a collection of stunningly detailed and extraordinarily elaborate prints. A recently-released short documentary about Lasko takes a look at the inspirational man who discovered a new passion while overcoming an ocular limitation years after retirement.

2. Slang Etymology

You thought “friend” only became commonly used as a verb over the past decade? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “friend” was actually widely used as a verb six centuries earlier. In Mental Floss’ list of 16 Words That Are Much Older Than They Seem, learn the origins of words like “booze,” “hipster,” “legit” and more. Discover that most of these seemingly contemporary words are actually older than your grandparents. Spoiler alert: “frigging” has actually been around since the 1500s and initially referred to masturbation.

3. Visualizing Wi-Fi

Wireless signals are something we use everyday, but never see. To get people to appreciate the floating broadband technology, artist Nickolay Lamm created visual representations of what wi-fi signals would look like if they were visible to the naked eye. Working with astrobiologist and former NASA employee Dr M. Browning Vogel, Lamm’s images show Wi-Fi signals around Washington DC while Vogel explains how the technology actually works. Essentially, Wi-Fi waves travel through space about six inches apart. Encoded with data, different waves are sent over different frequencies—represented by different colors in Lamm’s images. As such an omnipresent technology, understanding it should be a necessity—if only so that the next time you’re streaming cat videos on YouTube you can at least conceptually understand how.

4. Deitch-less MOCA

Three years into his five year contract, Jeffrey Deitch has resigned as the director of LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Deitch, an initially controversial choice, entered the museum with a successful art dealing background, rather than the traditional academic, museum-based past. Deitch’s MOCA work was divisive and pop-culture oriented, drawing to mind the ambitious exhibitions he helmed at his NYC-based Deitch Projects gallery. Official reasons for the split remain unannounced, but there’s no doubt wherever Deitch goes next, his career will continue to merit a following.


5. Cosmos Revisited

Written by the beloved astronomer, astrophysicist and author, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage was the most widely watched show on American public television when it first aired in 1980. Now astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is teaming up with unlikely producer Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame to produce a re-imagined version of the show for Fox. While the show doesn’t air until 2014, the debut trailer (shown this week at Comic-Con) already has us on the edge of our seats. The show will examine different complex scientific topics in a visually stunning and accessible way that Tyson is known for.

6. Bill Clinton: Blurred Lines

Robin Thicke’s NSFW summer single “Blurred Lines” has spurred as many parodies as it has controversial op-eds (the Chicago Tribune calls the music video a “lyrical and visual degradation of women”). One particular cover that caught our attention is a creatively edited version sung by former president Bill Clinton—albeit unintentionally. YouTube regular BarackDubs, who mashes up presidential speeches and pop songs to create the illusion that President Obama is singing, changed things up by featuring a new face (while still including a cameo from President Obama). Perhaps as a shout-out to Monica Lewinsky turning 40 this week, this presidential parody is a hilarious antithesis to Thicke’s original.

7. Clever Branding for the Royal Baby

In the age of the internet, companies are quick to jump onto the wave of zeitgeist moments. Given nine months to prepare for this latest milestone, several companies welcomed the birth of the British Royal Family’s Prince George with clever congratulatory advertisements that feel as current as they do distinctly on-brand. From Oreo’s continued spur-of-the-moment viral success to The Sun’s “Meet Your Future Rulers of the World” tweet sitting Prince George among North West and Blue Ivy imitators, international advertisers demonstrated their prowess while warmly celebrating the world’s newest instant celebrity.

8. Potluck Video

After working at several prominent news outlets, food journalist and videographer Ali Rosen has created a new culinary venture of her own called Potluck Video. The site aims to be both informative, with instructional guides like “how to properly throw Neapolitan pizza dough” as well as entertaining, with conversational interviews and behind-the-scenes moments with some of the world’s top chefs, or even just Guy Fieri.


9. Germany’s Evaporating Nuclear Plants

With Germany set to close all of its nuclear power facilities within the next ten years, the once ubiquitous, ominous sights will soon become relics. Before they disappear, German photographer Michael Danner set out to document the plants from the inside out. Danner’s photos reveal stark, sterile environments that suggest a sort of purgatory between the Cold War and post-modernism. Dated computer systems lined with empty swivel chairs alongside crucifixes and a cabinet of trophies illustrate the strong juxtaposition of the lifeless technology with the humanity of those required to operate it. The sense of void is overwhelming in the photos, symbolic perhaps of the emptiness the absence the power plants will create once they are closed, or of the void they could create if they were to malfunction.

10. Mysterabbit

Designer Ji Lee—of Facebook and previously Google Creative Lab fame—has been working on a project of his own. Lee wants to change the way many of us mindlessly go about our day-to-day business, often without ever stopping to appreciate something momentarily special. Mysterabbit, a miniature meditating rabbit, is designed to disrupt that cycle. Lee made 10,000 tiny bunnies and is placing them in public places for people to pause and appreciate the charming subtlety. The bonus is that anyone can get involved. Sign up to receive ten free Mysterabbits or download the object file and 3D print as many as you like.

11. Tap That Glass

New technology always births unexpected uses. The latest example of innovation shaping culture is a pornographic film shot on Google Glass. Featuring the forever-buzzing XXX star James Deen and 2011 XBIZ Female Performer of the Year Andy San Dimas, the film parodies imaginative sexual usage for all of Glass’ sci-fi functionality. From discovering San Dimas overpaid for her heels to the Wikipedia definition of a vulgar word, Glass supported their every move.

12. 100 Years of Aston Martin

Aston Martin held their centennial celebrations throughout London this past week, giving those on a Goodwood come-down a chance to once again take in a bout of beautiful cars. The event marked the largest gathering of Aston Martins in history—culminating at around £1 billion in cars. Having made only 65,000 cars in all their years, the 500 in attendance made for an impressive showing. They also paid tribute, of course, to the brand’s 50-year association as James Bond’s car of choice.