Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Organizations to support in Turkey and Syria, Japanese frozen art, the future of nuclear fusion and more

Organizations to Support in Syria and Turkey

The collective Closer Than You Think has created an extensive list of organizations working to support those affected by the tragic earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria. The estimated death toll is currently 33,000, with tens of thousands of people injured, homeless and in dire need of help. With cracked and broken roads, freezing temperatures and aftershocks, aid efforts have been difficult. Additionally, “women, girls, and other historically marginalized people are disproportionately impacted by natural disasters and conflicts. When a crisis hits, gender inequalities are amplified. Communities are vulnerable to gender-based violence, lost access to sexual and reproductive health services, and disruptions in their livelihoods and financial security. At the same time, women often take on the brunt of crisis response, acting as frontline healthcare workers, unpaid caregivers, and community mobilizers,” Closer Than You Think explains at Slow Factory. There, they have also compiled the list of organizations in need of support, which will continue to grow.

Image courtesy of Closer Than You Think 

Andrew W Mellon Foundation Pledges $125 Million to Incarceration-Related Art Projects

Imagining Freedom is a new initiative from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation that is granting $125 million to art and humanities organizations that focus on mass incarceration. The foundation has already donated $40 million to these projects, including the book and exhibition Marking Time, which debuted at NYC’s MoMA PS1. Written and curated by Nicole Fleetwood, that project showcased visual art made by people currently or formerly incarcerated, reflecting on how the mediums were crucial to reclaiming a sense of time and self for those behind bars. “I got really curious about the visual culture and art-making worlds of people in prison—and how art-making and creativity could be ways of envisioning freedom, envisioning the future or staying connected with loved ones and building community inside prison,” says Fleetwood. The foundation’s additional funding will help strengthen future efforts like Marking Time that seek to humanize perceptions of people who have been incarcerated, create a network of resources for them and imagine a world of collective liberation. Learn more at NPR.

Image by Matthew Septimus, courtesy of MoMA PS1

The World’s First “Super” Magnet For Testing Nuclear Fusion

UK firm Tokamak Energy reportedly developed a set of magnets, dubbed Demo4, that have a magnetic strength almost a million times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field. These high-temperature, superconducting magnets will be used to explore nuclear fusion, a process that results in near limitless clean energy. These “super” magnets might be a breakthrough in the process, which requires strong magnetic fields that can control and confine extremely hot hydrogen fuel (which later becomes plasma that is hotter than the sun). Learn more at the Independent.

Image courtesy of Tokamak Energy

Male Birth Control Immobilizes Sperm Temporarily

Researchers have devised a form of non-hormonal male birth control that effectively immobilizes sperm. By injecting mice with a compound called TDI-11861, the scientists “turn off” an enzyme within sperm, inhibiting it from moving along the fallopian tube to fertilize an egg. Of the 52 male mice injected with the compounds and paired with mates, no pregnancies occurred. The effect lasted for around two and a half hours and when it wore off, the sperm was unharmed and resumed normal movement. “It’s pretty clear that this is an on-off switch for sperm,” says Lonny Levin, a professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York who also co-authored the study. Right now, Levin and his team are working on an oral version of the contraceptive, and the project remains a positive step forward in developing more accessible, diverse forms of birth control. Read more at Wired.

Image courtesy of Zappys Technology Solutions/Flickr

Azuma Makoto’s “Frozen Flowers 2023” Sculpture

Following his 2021 frozen flower installation, Japanese artist Azuma Makoto unveils his stunning “Frozen Flowers 2023” piece in Hokkaido, Japan. Makoto weaves together various types of colorful flowers, creating a tall structure, and then pours water over it. In winter in Hokkaido, temperatures can drop super-low (-15 Celsius or 5 Fahrenheit), making the water freeze quickly. The result is a colorful treasure that’s literally frozen in time. Makoto hopes the work “encourages the viewer to appreciate and contemplate life in nature.” See more at designboom.

Image courtesy of Azuma Makoto

Loofah-Like Material Purifies Water Quickly, Cheaply and Sustainably

Inspired by loofahs, a new material makes clean water more accessible by purifying it sustainably, quickly and affordably. The new invention is a hydrogel made from poly(N-isopropylacrylamide), a heat-sensitive polymer also known as PNIPAm that switches from absorbing water when it is cooler to expelling water when it is heated. The gel’s shape is similar to that of the household item, featuring an open-pore structure that benefits from quick absorbency. When sunlight hits the gel, it becomes heated and expels the water it has absorbed; as it runs through the material’s polymer matrix, its contaminants become filtered out. Without expensive components or electronics, the material cleverly utilizes the design of loofahs to create an effective way to provide clean water to places that lack infrastructure or are affected by climate change. Learn more about the critical innovation at INVERSE.

Image courtesy of Xiaohui Xu

LACMA Acquires 22 Generative Art NFTs

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) was gifted 22 generative artwork NFTs by a prolific and anonymous NFT collector who goes by the pseudonym Cozomo de’ Medici. The acquisition—which includes works by established artists such as Dmitri Cherniak, Cai Guo-Qiang, Matt DesLauriers and Monica Rizzolli—is one of the first and largest NFT collections at a North American art museum and represents the institution’s interest in honoring technology’s influence on art. “I was introduced to Michael [Govan] and Elizabeth [Wiatt] at the LACMA and they’ve had a long interest in innovative, digital artworks,” de’ Medici tells ARTnews. “I told them about my collection, which tells the story of on-chain art, our evolution thus far. That conversation sparked an idea to make a donation of a significant part of that collection to LACMA that would help seed a robust digital arts collection there.” Read more about the donation at ARTnews.

Image of Matt DesLauriers’ “Meridian #547,” (2021); JPG delivered as an NFT, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; courtesy of the artist

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