Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Prison farming, the drunk history of Dolly Parton, MLK's 50th anniversary and more in our weekly look at the web


1. Mind Control

Laptops, mobile phones, tablets, cameras and more can all be hooked up to the internet, and now researchers at the University of Washington have connected their own brains to the network. The experiment, titled “Direct Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans,” allowed one researcher to control the movement of another researcher’s hand, even though the two were in separate areas on campus. By donning hats that read signals by EEG and stimulated the brain by magnetic stimulation coils, Rajesh Rao was able to send a signal to Andrea Stocco’s brain via the internet, forcing Stocco to press a button with his index finger. As this sort of brain-computer interface technology develops, we may one day be able to control our phones and personal devices without ever having to touch the screen.

2. Skateboarding Cinema

Skateboarding exists perpetually on the fringe while being embraced by mainstream culture from time to time. From the humble early days of the sport in backyard pools of SoCal, to the neon era of the ’80s and up to the pressures of a modern-day professional skating career, filmmakers have always been nearby. This September, Brooklyn Academy of Music is featuring some of the best (and some of the campiest) skate films to date in their “Skateboarding is Not a Crime” series. Many of the feature-length films use skateboarding to shed light on social issues of their time, like Larry Clark’s cult classic “Kids,” while acclaimed skate flicks like Spike Jonze’s star-studded, effects-laden “Yeah Right!” highlight the complexities of mastering the sport. This is a great opportunity to check out skate classics on the big screen as well as discover work from lesser known filmmakers.

3. Untranslatable Words

Have you ever looked across a calm ocean at night and wished that you had a word to describe the beautiful reflection of the moon on the water? Well, in Swedish it’s called “magnata.” Maptia Blog recently studied the relationship between foreign words and their English meanings, and highlighted the beauty in the fact that some words do not result in a simple translation.

4. Hand-Woven Nude Selfies

Guns, syringes, bongs, vomit, sex and cars crashes—all visceral subjects of today’s popular culture. Artist Erin M Riley’s new series of thought-provoking portraiture features all of the above, only each of her works is woven on a loom. The woven imagery often appears in selfie form, with the subject having “captured” the image herself—many times while nude or scantily clad. Riley’s tapestries reflect the way young people are portrayed in contemporary culture, and also how they perceive themselves. There’s a thick sleaze to the subjects within her modern take on an art form that featured in high art circles for centuries. A smart series of questions regarding contemporary norms in fabric form, it’s satirical and harsh but also beautiful.


5. Painted Light

An iPhone can be a designer’s best friend. Need to measure something with a ruler or caliper? There’s an app for that. But by using the light from the apps on his iPhone, Melbourne-based graphic designer Marcus Byrne cleverly captured the light trail that it made in the dark to create a new typeface he calls Phone Streak. From far away the animated, brushed letters look white, but a close-up reveals the familiar colors of the iPhone home-screen—best seen in the punctuation section’s quotation marks. The full set of characters is available to download for free.

6. Now in Surgery: Google Glass

The educational possibility of Google Glass in the medical field is one of its finest features. The highly anticipated device was recently used for the first time by a surgeon to transmit a live operation. Dr. Christopher Kaeding performed an ACL surgery while wearing Glass so that medical students and a fellow surgeon were able to live-stream the surgery. Kaeding says he actually forgot he was wearing the smart glasses after a few minutes and the user interface was completely intuitive. In the future, Glass may provide assistance to the surgeon and could even help doctors in remote areas perform procedures with the help of a specialist via this revolutionary technology.

7. “I Have a Dream,” 50 Years Later

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.’s world-changing speech addressing racial discrimination, attended by around 250,000 people in Washington, DC. This expansive photo collection from the Boston Globe captures some of the most striking images from his speech and the civil rights movement. The remarkable aerial view of the National Mall on that historic day is especially telling of the magnitude of support and political activity, while photos of children being taken to jail for protesting racial segregation in schools reflect the over-zealous police force of Birmingham, Alabama. The photos illustrate both the progress inspired by Dr King’s leadership, as well as the strides we still have to make towards equality.

8. Urban Transportation

Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena is continuing his popular photo series “Car Poolers” with “Urban Transportation.” To do so, he’s turned what’s likely the least exciting part of his subjects’ day into something poetic. All the images were shot over the course of a year from a pedestrian bridge that crosses one of Monterrey, Mexico’s busiest highways. Cartagena wakes up early to take part in the morning commute from above—camera in hand. With all the colors, textures and faces of the people, paired with the personalized cars and the wide array of objects and oddities visible in trunks and truck beds, Cartagena’s photo study is as fascinating as it is beautiful.


9. Sound Off

The New York Times found “Soundings: A Contemporary Score”—the Museum of Modern Art’s new survey of sound art—to be tame and predictable, which is disappointing considering that its the museum’s first major exhibition dedicated to this form of media. Rhizome has a slightly more optimistic review, perceiving “Soundings” more as a curated selection of exceptional artworks that explore the cultural concept of sound, rather than as a comprehensive “representation of the field of sound art.” In the editorial, Rhizome highlights notable works, including a painting from Christine Sun Kim, an artist who was born deaf and communicates her interpretation of “sound” by using American Sign Language, musical notation and English.

10. A Mercedes V12 Hand-Forged from Bone, Wood and Fossils

Artist Eric van Hove’s new sculpture, the V12 Laraki, stands tantamount among labor-intensive automotive art. Having received a Cda-Projects Grant, van Hove headed to Morocco, where he began excruciatingly reconstructing a Mercedes V12 engine from 53 materials, each hand-forged by 35 master craftsmen across Morocco’s many regions. He mastered faithful reproductions of all 465 parts and 660 bolts (which are traditionally cast from copper) by using bone, metals and various types of wood and fossils instead. The upshot is a fascinating and meticulous blend of natural resources that serves as an incredible statement to craft.

11. Drunk History: Dolly Parton

If you’ve ever wondered what inspired Dolly Parton to write her hit song “I Will Always Love You,” later covered by Whitney Houston, you need to watch this retelling of Dolly Parton’s rise to fame, as told by an inebriated Seth Weitburg on Comedy Central’s Drunk History series. Although Weitberg isn’t drunk to the point of throwing up (as a previous narrator had done), his slurred words and sincere adoration for the country idol create a hilarious and heartwarming reenactment of how Parton catapulted into fame and how she kept a lifelong promise to her mentor, Porter Wagoner. Warning: Tearful drunk singing occurs, accompanied by a banjo.

12. BMW R65, Surf-Style

Imagine riding across the Basque coast, salty wind in your hair, trusty surfboard by your side, the feeling of ultimate freedom by land and sea. For this summer’s Wheels and Waves festival in Biarritz, France, Xabi Ithurralde gave the classic lightweight BMW R65 touring motorcycle a surfing overhaul. Using a 1979 R65, Ithurralde replaced several of the often clunky, heavy stock parts with streamlined alternatives, giving the bike a more nimble, maneuverable feel—perfect for scrambling around dirt roads and finding uncrowded breaks. If the rebuild wasn’t enough, Ithurralde threw on a premium surf-rack with leather straps (that match the bike’s seat and grips, of course) as well as a nicely paired hand-shaped woodgrain longboard. Let the daydreaming commence.


13. Ecuador’s Freight Car Cultural Incubator

Commissioned by the Ecuadorian government, architectural firm Al Borde has initiated a new path for rejuvenating the country’s national railway. The collective, established in Quinto in 2007, repurposed a former freight car into a mobile cultural center. Now dubbed Vagón del Saber, the car hosts musical and theatrical events and educational experiences for local communities.This exciting cross-country venture will provide Ecuadorian communities with a unique approach to cultural consumption and knowledge sharing.

14. Organic Farming in Prison

Woodbourne Correctional Facility, a medium-security men’s prison located in Sullivan County, New York, has partnered with Bard College for a new educational approach to eating. Traditionally, the sweet snack Honey Buns has reigned as the prison’s top treat, but thanks to the Bard Prison Initiative, it’s no longer uncommon to hear requests for kale chips. With access to a sizable organic garden and a matching educational program centered around food justice and nutrition, student inmates can learn sustainable gardening and the practical applications of cooking a harvest, as well as the larger sociopolitical landscape of farming. The program is not only popular but also guides many of the prisoners to put their knowledge to use upon their release.

15. Patchwork Present

Like crowdfunding on a family and friends level, Patchwork Present helps groups of people collaborate on gifts for upcoming events. Instead of picking up something last-minute, a few friends can go in together on a single special gift, or a collection of related gifts that really hit the spot. For gifts that fit a specific style instead of the usual hodgepodge, start a Patchwork Present to streamline everyone’s gifting experience, and upload pictures along the way to keep the rest of the gifters up to date. If you know exactly what you want, even better: Purchase it, share a few pictures and everyone can send their money directly to your PayPal account.

16. Funerals for the Living

On the outskirts of Osaka, the elderly are holding their own funerals. With music, flowers and empty caskets, the departed are standing with the rest of mourners in the crowd. This proceeding is called a seizensō, or a living funeral. This trend—made famous in the 1990s by an actress who joyously televised her living funeral complete with faux-cremation and Christmas caroling—has been picking up speed, but for a slightly less triumphant reason. Instead, parents have chosen to undergo seizensō to cut ties with children who can no longer cope with aging family. It’s undoubtedly worth reading the whole story, courtesy of Medium.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, published weekly every Saturday morning. Read all of the articles from this week’s report in our handy Nextly stream.