Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture. We remind you that 16 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.

Let's begin with a spectacular exhibition in Munich by a Ghanian artist. El Anatsui uses recycled materials to create gigantic wall coverings. Even if you didn't know the allusions to slavery, the environment, African history and consumerism, you would be astonished at the majesty of these wall sculptures. You may never look at a bottle cap in the same way again.

Chinese artist Liu Bolin has painted 18 people in yellow and red and incorporated them into the background of a famous canvas called "Red Cliff". The red paint is said to signify war and bloodshed while the yellow represents Chinese tradition and inheritance. His technique involves placing the red and yellow figures in front of the ancient canvas and photographing them. Liu is known for his blending of elements from past and present as a way of evoking ideas about history and the individual's relation to society. At one point he painted himself into a supermarket in North Korea. Another time he attached 24 smartphones to his body in order to raise awareness of the stifling smog in Beijing.

A new U.s. embassy has just been completed in London. Designed by Kieran Timberlake, the building has been described as a "crystalline cube" surrounded by a moat. The surrounding pond incorporates security, while the transparent exterior material is said to symbolize openness and equality.

The beauty and mystery of spirals is revealed in the work of John Edmark at Stanford University. Essentially using math and engineering principles, Edmark delves through logic and repetition to create elegant works of sculpture. Although he claims not to be an artist, his pursuit of answers to life's most profound questions leads us to additional discussions of inspiration vs scientific experimentation in the pursuit of beauty.

An attempt to eliminate gender differences in technology has resulted in Q, the world's first nongendered voice. Q is meant to challenge voices like Alexa and Siri which are based on female models. The project began with 5 voices not immediately perceived as either female or male. These sounds were then modulated to further "neutralize" their effect and then tested on a large sample of European subjects. In their statement, the designers wrote, "Q represents not the voice of one, but the voice of many who are fighting for a future inclusive of everyone."

A fresh voice in jewelry design can be found in the work of Alejandra Villalobos residing in Sedona, Arizona. The elegance and intricacy of her pieces evoke a sense of old-world mastery. The necklace shown here is one that I purchased on a recent visit to the Sedona Art Market, where an 8,000 square foot building houses the works of talented local artists.

Mexican archaelogists had to crawl on their hands and knees for hours before they could find cave rooms holding Mayan artifacts dating back to 1000 AD. Their persistence was rewarded as they ubearthed 200 objects beneath the city of Chichen Itza. Residents had known about the treasures for decades. The scientists underwent 6 hours of purification with a Mayan priest before entering the sacred spaces. The objects unearthed are said to be in excellent condition.

Watch and listen as a Hubble image of a galaxy cluster is transformed into music. A group called System Sounds is working on science-outreach programs that convert sounds from the cosmos into music and interactive apps. Another one of their projects converts elevations from the moon into sounds.

Annette Goodfriend plays with, contorts, interweaves and otherwise mangles human body parts into provocative sculpture. Her studies in genetics are clearly revealed in these seductive works.

Valerie Gilman also deals with the body human but there is a sense of loneliness and decay in her work. Isolation and pain seem to infuse these sculptures - even the more sensuous ones appear to be missing elements and that absence adds a touch of melancholy to the pieces.

This year Sydney, Australia held its 41st Mardi Gras parade and it was as exuberant and colorful as you would expect. The theme was "Fearless", and they clearly meant it.

"This person does not exist" , although it would be hard to agree after looking at the image. The model was created by a GAN (generative adversarial network). The process was first shown in 2014, utilizing 2 neural networks: a generator input, basically a random vector or noise; and a discriminator, which acts to modify and improve. Clicking on the bottom right of the image will generate another nonperson.

A young Chinese photographer brings her distinctive eye to humans and landscapes. Her views of the land are evocative and yearning; her human subjects rather more painful as she has portrayed them. This is a young talent to keep an eye on.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2019