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  • friends and music

    Some Music Is Inherently Bad—But People Can Be Convinced Otherwise

    Artistic appreciation is a deeply subjective process, perhaps the most essentially personal thing that humans do. But are there some explanations for why we like what we do? Why, for instance, does a particular song get popular? Some of it has to do with the quality of the music—and by quality, I mean that there’s […]

  • domino spiral

    7 Videos That Show the Apex of the Art of Dominoes

    If there is one thing that having the Internet in our lives has shown most clearly, it may be that anything you can think of as a hobby is also an obsession to a not-insignificant number of people. And so it is with dominoes.  A look around online reveals that there are a lot of […]

  • Ghent Altarpiece

    How to Make Art That Withstands the Test of Time

    A degraded frame from an old celluloid (aka nitrate) film, the same material used by Naum Gabo in some of his sculptures   In the 1930s, Russian-born sculptor Naum Gabo started experimenting with a thin, plastic material called celluloid. Previously used as film for photography or to make cheap jewelry, celluloid in Gabo’s hands became […]

  • Eye Benches WCMA Arthur Evans

    6 Pieces of Art That Open Minds—and Get Stuff Done

      The modern artist David Hockney once said that “art has to move you and design does not, unless it’s a good design for a bus.” Such a polemic statement implies that there can be no blurring between pure art and usefulness. But an artwork’s function and the viewer’s interaction with it can be an […]

  • Extinction Marathon

    Art’s Biggest Wheel Turns Toward Science

    Hans-Ulrich ObristTwitter Hans-Ulrich Obrist seems to be everywhere—and it’s not much of an illusion. Widely regarded as the most influential figure in today’s art world, he’s worked with a who’s-who of major artists, from painter Gerhard Richter and sculptor Jeff Koons to performance artist Marina Abramovic and architect Rem Koolhass. From his perch as co-director of […]

  • Man in cocoon Vocal Vibrations Le Laboratoire

    Art + Science = Innovation

    The “chapel” area at the Vocal Vibrations exhibitAmy Kraft Upon entering the Vocal Vibrations installation at Le Laboratoire Cambridge, visitors are directed to a room called the chapel, where a haunting vocal composition plays out of nine speakers positioned around the room. After relaxing on a bench to focus on the music, people are led […]

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    Art Can Show Us What’s Wrong With Our Planet

    An ice book destined to melt into the Great Miami River in Dayton, Ohio (2012).Basia Irland Earth is on the brink of a mass extinction—the first in 66 million years, and it’s caused primarily by human activity. Scientists first detected this epochal event by calculating diversity in our forests and taking the temperature of our atmosphere, and they now outline steps […]

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    The Quest to Understand—and Mimic—Nature’s Trickiest Colors

    The West Indian Ocean coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae)AlessandroZocc via Shutterstock It was an image in a book of a sparkly blue fish—a West Indian Ocean coelacanth—that inspired German painter Franziska Schenk to begin a project that would occupy much of her adult life. “It was mysterious and beautiful,” she says, “and as a child I had […]

  • El Anatsui Denver

    Where Even Concrete Is Expensive, Artists Must Get Creative

    The atmosphere in El Anatsui’s studio is somewhere between a Renaissance artist’s workshop and a recycling plant. The roof is made of thin, uninsulated metal sheets that offer little protection against the hot Nigerian weather. Bags overflowing with bottle tops, bought from local distilleries, are piled all over the floor. Around a dozen young men […]

  • Refusal of Time

    The Ends of Time, in Art and Science

    In Gallery 919, in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is a giant breathing machine. Its creator, William Kentridge, calls it “the elephant,” after Charles Dickens’s description of factory machines that move “monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness.” On the walls surrounding the elephant […]