Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Hip-hop history, stingray sounds, breath-powered prosthetics and more from around the web

Sounds from Stingrays Recorded for the First Time

A recent study has reversed the commonly held belief that stingrays are silent. For the first time, the creatures’ sounds were captured in a video depicting two mangrove whiprays and a cowtail stingray making clicking noises. Prior to the study, the only evidence that they are vocal came from research published in 1970 that saw a cownose ray making noise, but only after it was forcefully prodded. The new evidence confirms that the rays indeed speak, however it’s still unclear how as they do not have vocal cords. The newly captured videos show that the rays’ spircales (two holes on their heads that move water across their gills) appear to contract in accordance with the clicking sounds, suggesting they may be creating friction to speak. “This just shows how we don’t know everything,” says Lachlan Fetterplace, an ecologist who led the study. “We’re in the year 2022, and you can discover something no one has ever seen just by going out and doing observations.” Learn more about the revelation at National Geographic.

Image by Johnny Gaskell, courtesy of National Geographic

“The Birth of Hip Hop” Online Auction

On 11 August 1973 an 18-year-old DJ Kool Herc (aka Clive Campbell) performed at his sister Cindy Campbell’s back-to-school party in the rec room of their apartment building located at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the South Bronx. That event—where Herc isolated portions of funk tracks, switching between one record and the other (emphasizing the breaks)—is widely accepted as the birth of hip-hop. While Herc is known as the Father of Hip-Hop, both siblings played key roles in pioneering the culture and have now joined with Christie’s for DJ Kool Herc & The Birth of Hip-Hop, an online auction of 160+ lots belonging to the siblings, including records, turntables, speakers, stereo equipment, flyers, posters, Polaroids and apparel from the early years of hip-hop. Whether or not you’re tempted to place a bid (some items have a starting price of $100), this auction is worth exploring for anybody interested in the culture that changed the world.

Image courtesy of DJ Kool Herc/Cindy Campbell/Christie’s

Australia’s 520-Foot-Long Bridge Houses a Flood-Proof Museum

Habitable bridges, or bridges that have buildings within them, used to be commonplace during the Renaissance but have since fell out of popularity. South of Sydney on the east coast of Australia, Kerstin Thompson Architects revived the 520-foot-long bridge that not only houses the Bundanon Art Museum but also provides flood-proof infrastructure, a necessary attribute given the climate crisis. Featuring a corrugated metal roof canopy and open breezeways, the new bridge comprises two buildings: one nestled into a mountain that protects it from bushfires and another that runs throughout the length of the bridge, offering 32 rooms for artist residency programs, a café and a dining area. The breathtaking and breezy design takes into account the area’s complicated climate. A gully below the bridge acts as a funnel to direct rainwater to a trio of creeks and prevent floods, while the building’s high elevation of 52 feet means it won’t disturb the ecosystem. Learn more about the impressive, climate-informed structure at Fast Company.

Image courtesy of Rory Gardiner/Kerstin Thompson Architect

New Breath-Powered Hand Prosthetic Improves Accessibility

Rather than using conventional cables, the new Airbender prosthetic hand is powered by air. The invention, created by researchers at the University of Oxford, utilizes a purpose-built Tesla turbine that, when combined with the wearer’s breathing, accurately controls finger movements. Not only is the device lightweight and low-maintenance, it also requires such a small volume of air that even young children can operate it. Additionally, parts for the Airbender are less expensive than those used in traditional iterations, so it’s a more affordable prosthetic. With an estimated 40+ million people having limb differences worldwide—but lacking proper care—this invention is a crucial advancement that could significantly transform accessibility. Learn more about it at Digital Journal.

Image courtesy of StarWarsRey/Digital Journal

Ghana’s Kantamanto Market at the Center of “Obroni Wawu”

Located in Accra, Ghana, Kantamanto Market is the largest second-hand apparel market in West Africa—and it’s brimming with clothes from North America, the UK, China, Korea and Australia. It’s partly “waste management” for those countries (and has a devastating effect on Ghana, as tons of this clothing is unusable and becomes landfill), but it has also “helped popularize the term ‘Obroni Wawu,’ which directly translates into ‘Dead Man’s Clothes.'” Stylists, creative directors, models and various others have come to rely on the market for access to designs they wouldn’t ordinarily find and are “championing a fashion culture that is unique to the West African nation.” It attests to the way Ghanians are attempting to transform a waste problem into a fashion revolution. Find out more from the stylists who are pioneering the style at Dazed.

Image courtesy of Christian Saint for Dazed

The Rise and Repercussions of Tactical Apparel

From outdoor gear to everyday apparel, tactical clothing has been growing more and more ubiquitous. At the same time, however, gun violence and armed militias have also been surging. The coinciding upticks prompt the question of whether they might be linked. To explore this, Gear Patrol’s Associate Editor (and CH alum) Evan Malachosky traces the style’s rise beginning with its origins when it was intended for warfare to post-9/11 when public patriotic sentiment and military aesthetics soared. Whether the style’s popularity increased organically through a desire in the market or as a result of strategic marketing (or both), tactical clothing can conflate regular citizens with soldiers. “Using words like ‘tactical’ too loosely, especially in conjunction with military-inspired imagery, as a way to promote gear to a mixed bag of consumers, can be a slippery slope,” writes Malachosky. It “walks a tightrope between signaling technical superiority or means-testing products and stoking an audience seeking products that will vicariously elevate them into the ranks of real service members or, even worse, better equip them to carry out acts of violence.” There’s no stopping people buying these products, but the distinction between consumer-grade and professional-level items must be understood—and, beg the question “Are certain words and images simple marketing hooks or more potentially concerning calls to action?” Read more at Gear Patrol.

Image courtesy of Manddy Wyckens/Gear Patrol

SF’s Department of Public Works and Institute for Creative Integration Designed a Better Trash Can

An oftentimes overlooked design, the humble public trash can is a crucial object and San Francisco’s Department of Public Works has been on a search to replace their 3,000 sidewalk receptacles with newer, better ones. The institution’s deputy director of policy and communications, Beth Rubenstein, couldn’t find the perfect trash can so she teamed up with industrial design company Institute for Creative Integration to create three new prototypes. “They balance ease of use, ease of unloading, durability of locks and hinges, and an integrated system for automatically detecting when they’re getting full”—and 15 of them have just begun a 60-day field test. Hopefully they will be better for the public to use and for the Department of Sanitation to handle. “We have to have them fully functional,” Rubenstein says. “But they also have to be a visual asset on the street.” Read more at Fast Company.

Image courtesy of SFDPW

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 DJ Kool Herc/Cindy Campbell/Christie’s