Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Vitra goes to Africa, the Indienet, a people's history of coffee and more in our look at the web this week


1. The New Yorker Embraces the GIF

No matter how you prefer to pronounce it, there’s big news in the GIF world right now. One of the most respected publications for arts and culture, The New Yorker, has done the unexpected and released a digital GIF cover. It might be simple, but the work by animator Christoph Niemann is also beautiful and done with the same class, care and pointed nature as their celebrated print covers. A weekly web edition cover won’t be the norm, but for a publication that’s shied away from the immediacy of meager internet content, it is a powerful statement.

2. Briefly

To explore the purpose and impact of project creative briefs,
founder of brand and design firm Basset & Partners, Tom Bassett,
created a short film staring some of the
design world’s most formative figures. From Frank Gehry to David
Rockwell and Yves Béhar, the 26-minute “Briefly” dives into whether or
not the specific piece of paper is in fact a source of inspiration, or
just a nonfunctional formality.

3. Ducati’s Retro 2015 Scrambler

Set to hit streets in January 2015, the all-new Ducati Scrambler has been
under wraps and highly anticipated for some time now. Unveiled this
week, it’s a fine departure for the Italian brand best known for their
“Monster” crotch rockets. With a style that harkens back to the ’60s
and ’70s—the golden years of motorcycle design—the single-cylinder bike
is sure to open the brand to a whole new market.

4. Vitra Design Museum’s African Exhibition

Design Indaba’s newly redesigned site makes it easier than ever to keep up with all things creative happening in Africa. Interest in the steadily developing continent is widespread, and even Vitra is getting involved. The renowned German furniture-maker is focused on highlighting the new generation of creative talent in their forthcoming two-year exhibition, “Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design.” With curators like Okwui Enwezor and architect David Adjaye, the exhibit (opening March 2015) promises to offer a multidisciplinary and varied approach to such a diverse topic—and continent.


5. GPS as a Digital Paintbrush

GPS, it turns out, can be more useful than just telling you how to get places. Cuban-American artist Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada used the very precise technology from Topcon Positioning Systems (used by cartographers and the US Army and Navy) to create “earth art“: a gigantic landscape portrait on a plot of land in Washington DC’s National Mall. 15,000 stakes were set up as a template, and soil and sand were arranged carefully to distinguish the facial features.

6. Phone-Free Concerts

Glowing screens at concerts can be annoyingly distracting and disruptive. New SF-based start-up Yondr aims to fix this by
removing phones from the equation. They plan to give specially made cases to
all show attendees, which will lock the device once it’s entered the designated phone-free area. If the user receives a call or text, they can leave the no-phone zone to regain access to their device. If only it blocked obnoxious dancers too.

7. Danny Macaskill: The Ridge

With each video outdoing the last, when bike-handling expert (and proud Scotsman) Danny Macaskill releases a video it’s most certainly worth watching. His latest release “The Ridge“—filmed in the remote reaches of Macaskill’s native Isle of Skye—is an HD feast for the eyes. The technical riding combined with the sweeping, grand beauty of the Highlands makes this video a must-watch—and one that is sure to make anyone with a fear of heights break into a sweat.

8. Andy Warhol and William Morris Unite

Love is Enough“—opening this December at Modern Art Oxford—brings together an unlikely pair: artists William Morris and Andy Warhol. And while they might not seem like the most obvious of exhibition mates, curator Jeremy Deller (himself a Turner Prize-winning artist) makes clear that they are most certainly a natural fit. Both were print fanatics who chartered new ground in mass production, and both fixated on pop culture, branding and even the artist mythos. The exhibition will showcase rare works, making it a valuable (albeit brief) trek from London.


9. The Indienet

As a response to increasing surveillance taking place from corporations and governmental organizations, one team is taking action by proposing to shift ownership and control of technology and data to individuals—how it should be. Indienet will launch soon and there are multiple projects in the works: Indie OS, an operating system; Heartbeat, a distributed social network client; and even an Indie Phone. Arguing that Google and Apple compromise the user experience—no matter how beautiful and well-designed—by controlling the hardware, operating system and essential services, the Indie team aims to create the first independent smartphone where a user finally has complete control.

10. Don Hertzfeldt Does The Simpsons

To open their 26th season, Simpson’s creator Matt Groening invited Oscar-nominated independent animator Don Hertzfeldt to tackle their introductory couch sequence, something anyone familiar with The Simpsons knows changes with new each episode. And Hertzfeldt provided something beyond eerie and unsettling, in the most wonderful way possible. The two-minute intro envisions what The Simpsons would look like in its 800th season. It’s a weird, sci-fi world we hope we’ll all be around to watch in 774 years.

11. A People’s History of Coffee

Though many of us enjoy a cup of Joe every morning, the history of coffee is a nebulous one. Few of us know the rich history of how an Ethiopian goat herder stumbled upon what would become one of the world’s most beloved beverages. In Dark Rye’s “People’s History of Coffee,” the full tale is told tongue-in-cheek through storybook graphics and a timeline that even the most jittery of us can follow. From those caffeine-loving Ethiopian goats in roughly 850 AD to the opening of the first coffee houses all the way to Starbucks’ humble beginnings, the journey of the bean throughout history is a fascinating one and best enjoyed with—you guessed it—a fresh cup.

12. Ghostly GIFs

The dead come alive again, thanks to New York-based designer Kevin Weir’s artistic prowess (and hours and hours on Photoshop). Through his project
The Flux Machine, he transforms old photos found in the Library of Congress into animated GIFs with a dark twist. These “shortest of stories” have careful pauses for a suspenseful effect—which isn’t commonly found among this medium.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.