Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture. We remind you that 19 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.

The past month has seen an outpouring of events in the world of technology and science, but the arts seem to have suffered profoundly. I welcome the opportunity to show you some of the best I am finding online.

If you are as fascinated as I am by A.I. (Artificial Intelligence), while at the same time concerned about its inherent shortcomings, you will want to read this article about Timnit Gebru. a brilliant computer scientist recently fired by Google. Trained at American's top universities, Gebru had worked intensely on the social implications of A.I. and its ability to discriminate against minority groups. She went on to create her own research group dedicated to making A.I. ethically responsible. If a passive citizenry concerns you, this description of young people who are actively trying to change things for the better will bring you hope for our future.

The Los Angeles Art Show has returned with some fascinating works. Included are LA's first gallery dedicated to NFT's, reflections on how we relate to our planet, bold alterations to freeway signs, and images centered on California's drought. There is much food for thought here.

An exhibition that just opened at the Serpentine Gallery in London seems to be attracting large crowds. Called the KAWS show, it offers an interactive virtual reality experience as well as the standard gallery showing of physical objects and game. KAWS himself, Brian Donnelly, began with street art in the 1990's, when he appropriated posters from the streets, added his own images, and returned them to the streets. I suspect that the element of playfulness in his work has added to its appeal: people may simply be tired of bad news, killings, shootings, deaths and fighting, the common fodder of today's headlines poured onto our screens minute by hour every day.

The Atlantic Daily offers another alternative to the January blues with an article called "Six Poems for This January". It begins with "I Could Be a Whale Shark" by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, with words of wonder for exhausted parents, and continues to Emily Dickensen and W.H.Auden. We are reminded that Winter is inevitably followed by Spring, even when we have given up hope. (Thanks to EG for this.)

Paula Rego has been known an a visual storyteller, and this skill is evident at a show called "The Forgotten" on view at the Victoria Miro Gallery in London. Hidden narratives of family life, the ones we suppress in public and hide even from ourselves, fill her work, with subjects like old age and dementia. Included in the show are works based on the artist's childhood in Portugal, where she looks intensely at her father's depression and her own.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is presenting a career retrospective of Nick Cave. Among Cave's various works, an installalation called "Spinner Forest" shows thousands of kinetic spinners hung together in the Museum's two-story atrium. Essentially, the artist seems to celebrate the "other", those who are familiar with feeling shut out due to racism, gender, age, religion, homophobia...whatever allows one group to suppress the presence of those who are different. Another project called Soundsuits was inspired by the police beating of Rodney King in 1991: soundsuits hide the body with a second skin that disguises distinctive features like age, gender, and class. You may recognize Cage as an actor also.

A fashion show of men's clothing put on by Prada celebrates the idea of working with some lively outfits for looking your best when you are hard at work. There is a lively sense of fun in these garments, with ideas that could be applied to women's wardrobes as well.

The Getty Museum has recently purchased pages from the Pink Qur'an, illuminating the rich history of medieval Spain. The province of Valencia in Spain was known for its production of high-quality paper, especially luxurious copies of the Qur'an. The use of dyed paper was not unusual in 12th century Spain, the tint meant to indicate the importance of the divine revelation. Written in Arabic, the Qur'an holds roughly 77,500 words. The pink Qur'an is thought to have been bound in 20 volumes, with 6,236 ayahs (verses) divided into 30 parts. For Muslims at the time, calligraphy held an important place in the arts. The beauty of the script, the illustrations and pink tint add to the value of these celebrated pages.

Artists have begun to explore a new printing technique called Risographs. Risographs are ink prints, although no one seems to be quite sure what characterizes them. A book called "Exploriso: Low-tech Fine Art" by Sven Tillack attempts to define the genre as somewhere between a technical process and an aesthetic. At bottom the process offers inexpensive small print runs. It uses simple stencils, a large color spectrum, and unusual optical effects.

A video made by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London some 7 years ago shows how traditional Korean techniques are used to produce an inlaid-lacquer box. In just 4 minutes you will see a hands-on demonstration of the artist as he prepares to decorates the beautiful box. At the same site you can explore other decorated boxes and an additional video of a Korean Lacquer Vessel being made.

Art in America brings us an overview of the work of John Chamberlain at Gagosian. Called "Icons to Icons", the exhibit features the beat-up old cars that Chamberlain turned into masterful forms, although the gallery specifically ignores the word "car" in its descriptions. Chamberlain took an ignored area and made pieces that are both impractical and elegant. Their presence is commanding - the gallery PR speaks of the "lip-smacking confection of blues and greens". The critic here finds some of the later ones gimmicky: I have always admired Chamberlain's oeuvre.

Dramatic installations by Ryoichi Kurokawa are based on laser-scanned 3D data from ruins, nature and architecture, along with VR, concert pieces and recordings. The work has been presented as a concert, a surround-sound installation, and a submersive experience. However you describe it, the presentation is stunning.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2022