Glorious web delights for you in December:

The Peninsula Museum of Art has produced a series of four You Tube videos of conversations between Whitaker and DeWitt Cheng, Curator of the "No Rules" exhibit of Whitaker's work. The pieces, with new ones added, are now on exhibit at Stanford University in Palo Alto as part of Stanford Art Spaces. They will be on view at the CIS (Center for Integrated Systems)/Paul Allen Building through November 19.

Think silk. Think thread wrapped in precious metals. Then look at the woven tapestries collected by King Louis XIV of France in the 17th and early 18th centuries. The Met Museum presents a spectacular show of them. Remember also the current work of Olga de Almoral, a magnificent contemporary counterpoint to the Met's exhibit.

Perhaps like myself you are used to thinking of Goya in terms of faces, bodies, agonies. But a new exhibition of 70 of his works takes a fresh approach by looking at the hands that he portrayed. Spread over 7 rooms, the show sees a "heightened awareness of the volubility of gesture", an "obsession with the quiet parlance of palms and the natter of knuckles".

A Los Angeles company called Humai wants to bring you back to life after death using artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. At an additional site, you will find an interview with founder Josh Bocanegra as he discusses his concepts more fully.

The National Portrait Gallery brings us Alberto Giacometti in all his splendor, including both paintings and sculpture. Especially intriguing are his portraits of Caroline, who was actually a young woman named Yvonne Poiraudeau. "Caroline", as Giacometti referred to her, frequented the haunts of prostitutes and gangsters in Paris during the latter years of the artist's life. Giacometti even tried to get her out of prison, where she faced a charge of theft. The Gallery sees her as a contemporary form of Nefertiti, an eternal symbol of the mystery of humanity.

The United States of Latin America is showing thirty artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, featuring works that are socially challenging and intellectually provocative. The Museum is a relatively new institution, located in a former automobile showroom with graffiti still showing on its exterior. Issues like wealth inequality, urban violence, and imperiled ecology are explored in this vibrant exhibition.

The 2015 Guardian first book Award has been given to poet Andrew McMillan's "Physical", which the paper calls a "series of hymns to the male body". An incisive look at what it means to be a man in the 21st century, McMillan's frank discussion of being gay in today's world leaves few holds barred. It is certainly a courageous publication, and an equally courageous choice by the Guardian.

Hidden among the rare objects in the library of the Institute de France is a box labeled "Object Un" (Object One), with a card on it reading "Box containing the remains of papyrus from Herculaneum". Found in 1752, the papyrus scrolls from Herculaneum had been underneath a large villa buried roughly 90 feet deep by the volcano. At least 800 scrolls were unearthed, some on shelves, some in packing boxes. Scholars estimate that perhaps 99% of ancient Greek and Latin literature has been lost, so it was hoped that some of these masterpieces were included on the scrolls. Sadly the attempts to decipher the scrolls have badly damaged them. The story of how the Institute acquired 6 scrolls and tried to read them, sometimes with disastrous results, makes for fascinating reading.

The lure of driverless cars is one of the defining ideas of the adolescent 21st century. This article from the NY Times magazine discusses the history, current applications, and future expectations for the technology. Notwithstanding some limitations, the driverless car is on the horizon for Tesla for 2018; they are expected to account for 75% of the cars on the road by 2040.

Two women are behind the project to transform an ugly stretch of road into a lush-looking landscape. Using billboards as their canvases, the two looked at 2,460 miles of bleak driving and covered the territory with ten billboards, each by a different artist. They called it "Manifest Destiny Billboard Project", paying tribute to the westward expansion of the USA even as it engendered violence and loss. Zoe Crosher and Shamim Momin drove the length of Interstate 10, taking over 500 pictures of existing billboards on their way. They eventually won the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award for their work.

The Cantor Art Center at Stanford University is being lauded for its tiny but excellent exhibit of the sketchbooks of Bay area artist Richard Diebenkorn. The show is said to reveal the inner ramblings of the artist's mind, illuminating the day to day thoughts that inspired him. Early work, reflecting his homage to Edward Hopper, give way to more realized pieces that place the figure in relation to its surroundings. The results seem to suggest that Diebenkorn's major canvases were drawn from glimpses of everyday life, rather than carefully constructed scenes.

Did you know that there is an artist-run nation hidden in the deserts of Utah and called Zaqistan? Now ten years old, the republic consists of two acres northwest of Salt Lake City. It boasts 300 citizens, has asked for sovereignty status, and raises interesting issues of what statehood means. Its founder, artist Zaq Landsberg, describes it in these words: "a de facto sovereign nation, a national identity, a bunch of numbers written on a piece of paper, some arbitrary lines in a desert, and a decrepit sculpture garden."

An international consortium of architects wants to recreate the Colossus of Rhodes, which towered 98 feet above the city for 54 years. The original bronze sculpture was destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC, although it remains one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Now a group including engineers and economists as well as artists wants to build an even larger colossus as a museum housing archaeological findings. The group hopes to use crowd-sourcing to raise the necessary funds, offering donors a chance to have their names engraved on one of the interior supports of the monument.

Gilbert and George, the audacious British artists known for their successful use of shock to make their point, have produced new vinyl banner works grouped under the title Ten Commandments. With a lavish use of bold sexual language, the two have put together more than 3,500 "fuckosophies", characterized as words that can be understood by anybody. Included are all English counties that have the word "sex" in their name.

The City of Boston has opened up a new public art space called the Lawn on D ArtLAB. An installation by Australian artist Amanda Parer featuring five huge inflatable rabbits was attended by 10,000 people over a four-day period, accompanied by a beer garden and live music.

The life of poet Stephen Spender is revealed by his son in a book called "A House in St. John's Wood: In Search of My Parents". Matthew describes his father as a "tall, clumsy, well-meaning puppy who couldn't enter a room without tripping over the carpet". He projects his father's passion for personal and political freedom, as well as his mother's more difficult personality. It sounds like a story well told.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2015