Your eyes and ears on the worlds of art, culture, technology, philosophy - whatever stimulates the mind and excites the imagination. We remind you that 20 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.

Let's begin this month by focusing on 2 fascinating and rapidly evolving fields. First, a relatively unknown development in architecture called Parametric Architecture. This initial link shows you some stunning examples of what is happening and will lead you to other sites you can explore. Parametric Design refers to a method in which algorithmic processes are used to create shapes. Parametric Architecture was founded by Hamid Hassanzadeh, an Iranian architect who started the platform in 2016. You may be familiar with it from the work of Zaha Hadid. More examples of it can be seen at this Autodesk site. Another practitioner, Michael Hansmeter calls it Computational Architecture. Here you can see his Arabesque Wall, in which a repetitive algorithm folds one surface over and over again, revealing millions of microscopic elements with intricacies that would be difficult to describe or create otherwise. The architect tells us that 20 billion voxels and 200 million individual surfaces were created to make this wall, resulting in 50 GB of data. Take a look also at his Digital Grotesque I and II. In the introduction, Hansmeter mentions research and surprise, elements that have kept me personally delving ever deeper into the magic of digital imaging for 45 years.

Next, let's return to A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) which we have been discussing with you for severl months in an attempt to alert you to the explosive revelations occuring almost daily in this rapidly expanding field. One outgrowth of this phenomenon mentioned briefly last month is an algorithm that turns words into images and is called Generative AI, dubbed the death of academia. Known as ChatGPT, it was revealed recently by a San Francisco company called OpenAI which also released a program called DALL-E. Another site asks "Is ChatGPT a virus that has been released into the wild"? OpenAI was founded in 2015 by Elon Musk, Sam Altman and others. The implications of entering a series of words and requesting an expanded essay/chapter/book from an algorithm are huge and still not clearly understood. One economist/venture capitalist/MIT fellow called it a "voracious beast" and commented, "Shame on OpenAI for launching this pocket nuclear bomb without restrictions into an unprepared society". He feels that a premature release of this program evidences no awareness of the potential consequences. How, for example, could you tell a college essay from an algorithm? You might also look at JasperAI, which claims to have more than 3000 five-star reviews already. JasperAI says it knows how to write "blog articles, social media posts, wesite copy" and more. Yet another iteration from OpenAI has just come to light, claiming to turn text or images into potential 3D printed models. It is available on GitHub, although one reviewer says the resulting pieces are distinctly low-res and fail to show shapes or textures. Finally, if you are curious about the technology that gave rise to A.I's image-generating capabilities, this article on the history of diffusion may help..

On our 3D print news page, we have been showing you efforts being made to replace thermoplastic materials, many of which are toxic, with natural materials. One new approach is to use scraps from construction sites - things like soil, seeds, bark and foliage - and mix them with a water-based resin. The originator of this process, Yuma Kano, calls the new material ForestBank . Kano claims that there are no "organic solvents" or "volatile organic compounds" being used. You end up with a terrazzo-like product whose colors and shapes vary according to the time of year the basic materials were collected.

Picture if you can material that was frozen for 2 million years and then successfully used to sequence gene fragments. That seemingly impossible scenario actually took place recently at the University of Copenhagen, where researchers were able to recover genetic material from a million-year-old mammoth tooth. The fragment gave an idea of what Greenland was like when it was covered with flowers, plants, and trees in a climate that foretells what might happen to Earth due to global warming. Studying old DNA beagan in 1984 when researchers found readable genes in a dried-out now extinct zebra called a quagga. The passage of time degrades such material, but freezing temperatures can bind it to clay and quartz, slowing the degradation.

DNA fragments combined and collaged might be a good way to describe the work of Tau Lewis. Six of her huge faces, composed of strips of leather and fabric hung on the wall, are being shown at 52 Walker gallery in New York City. Lewis loves what happens as she works with the leather, as she states "It's just full of secrets. It starts to reveal itself to you." Viewers, however, have commented about her pieces, "the longer you stare, the less they seem to reveal about themselves". Revelatory or not, these mastodon-like heads are deeply compelling. You can see more of them at her site.

Our viewers will remember "Bride" and "Gloom", two life-sized figures currently residing at our working studio in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California. Bride and Gloom are a hand-crafted mixed-race couple, she covered with Hershey's kisses and wearing a Nazi military hat that reads "Bride", he covered with shiny coins and wearing a hat made for Wimbledon. This couple has 2 childen: a young boy called Gobwob (Guilty of Breathing While Black) and his sister Ordinary (who plays in the now-abandoned fields at Fort Ord military compound near her house, picking up trinkets which turned out to be bullets. Actually spent bullets, to represent the billions of dollars we have spent trying to kill each other off.) I mention this because a son of a high-tech founder in San Francisco recently overdosed on fentanyl that he picked up playing in the grass in a playground near his home.

Veronica Ryan, with her silent, thought-provoking sculptures, has just been awarded the coveted Turner Prize, the biggest art prize in the U.K. Ryan mentions the long period when "people wouldn't show my work and wouldn't even reply when I sent them images." She calls it "being made invisible". Her sculptures are reflective of typically female-type activities, like knitting, repairing, stitching and yet they seem to give out dark messages known only to themselves.

Designer Alexander McQueen seems to hold a special place in the hearts of fashion lovers. Now the National Gallery of Victoria is presenting an exhibition titled "Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse". McQueen loved to learn just as he loved to experiment. A highly trained tailor, McQueen loved film, photography, art, and music as well as technology and natural history. He was devoted to research and produced fashion shows that immediately hit viewers in the gut. This exhibit was first shown at the Los Angeles Museum of Art, with 56 additional objects added when it came to the U.K. One of his seamstresses described working with him: "He knew the craft inside out. He knew how to pattern cut, he knew how to sew, how to drape, and if you weren’t getting it, he would jump on to the machine and show you what was possible."

You may have heard of the K-pop girl group Eternity. Like any other band they dance, sing, and interact with the audience. But did you realize that all 11 women in the group are virtual? Avatars made with A.I., these performers avoid the stress and physical limitations that human bands are prone to. Within the past 10 years, Korean pop bands have become a multibillion dollar industry. They usually feature "slinky" dance routines, high-tech performances and catchy tunes. They were created by the Deep Learning tech company Pulse9, which began operating in March, 2021. Eternity's first song was called "I'm Real".

Tin and Ed, Australian artists and technologists, are preparing an exhibition for the Getty Museum in 2023 called "William Blake: Visionary". Using Augmented Reality, the designers plan to immerse visitors in a fantasy environment replete with Blake's otherwordly creatures and passions. Using Nomad3d and ZBrush, the artists created digital sculptures of Blake's creatures. They then animated them, using motion capture technology and a choreographer with the game engine Unity and ARKit. This promises to be a fascinating exhibit.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2023