Your eyes and ears on the worlds of art, culture, technology, philosophy - whatever stimulates our minds and excites our imaginations. We remind you that 19 years of back issues of eMusings can be found on our archives page.

Be sure to see Ai Wei Wei's new spectacular glass sculptures fabricated at an island off the coast of Venice, Italy. The project took 3 years to complete, and includes one of the largest hanging sculptures ever done at the famed Murano Glass factory. Called "La Commedia Umana", it is a glass composite of bones, bats, organs and suveillance cameras. Its dark tones reflect the dark view of humanity and human history that have characterized the artist's work for so long.

Now let's take a look at some recent developments in architecture:

Future of Design discusses the changes that digital technology is making to buildings, like changing from manual drawing boards to digital rendering. See especially the Zaha Hadid structure, and the influence of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) on current design techniques.

Then we move to manas bhatia's A.I. assisted "surreal symbiotic architecture of the future" with buildings that grow and breathe. The Indian architect likes to study patterns in nature. He thinks of habitations less as buildings of concrete and steel and more as networks of micro creatures. Bhatia has fed words into A.I. algorithms, like "giant", "facade", "tree" and "stairs" to see what kind of images these words create. (For a further journey into A.I. and words, see "Two Lip Rings Looked Like Fangs", based on the word "jail".)

"Dupes", above, will give you one idea of how A.I., along with some digital maneuvering, sees me.

Let's continue to another project by the same company with their "air-purifying biophilic skyscrapers". These cities of tomorrow envision large skyscrapers with algae facades. They are meant to reduce carbon emissions and the use of air conditioners. Various heights and shapes of buildings are projected here, with some fascinating results.

Next, an office building in Bangkok features angled metal coatings that direct sunlight away from the interior and from a nearby shrine. The design is also meant to increase wind flow and ventilation. The architects call it a "double-skin facade", with a semi-gloss titanium finish that creates constantly moving patterns of light and shade during the day.

Additionally, a golden inflated house is on view in central Bristol, U.K., exploring how people might live on Mars. The habitation is meant to accommodate 2 astronauts. It would include living areas and a hydroponic growing room. It would also contain stones from Mars called regolith to protect inhabitants from the radiation on Mars.

Finally, Taiwan's Performing Arts Center has opened after years of construction delays and struggles over a budget that reached $223. million dollars. The building's three protruding spaces hold performance areas which can be used separately or combined into a "Super Theater" to include them all.

Recently we have focused on the question of whether current robots are truly sentient. In this vein, an article discusses whether there is plant consciousness. Some of you have read our comments about the plurality of languages available in the world, many of them unknown or not understood by humans. There is no question that plants can communicate with each other: just place some of them several feet apart and watch as they gradually grow toward each other and eventually touch. Because we do not speak the language of plants does not mean that they have no language, rather that homo not-so-sapiens in its hubris tends to feel that a written or oral language is supreme. The author here asks whether plants can made decisions and learn. The discussion raises once again the question of consciousness and its ramifications in other species.

Meet CyberOne, a humanoid robot designed by Xiaomi with A. I. based algorithms that allow it to recognize 45 human emotions and 85 environmental sounds. CyberOne boasts advanced vision skills that enable it to create 3-dimensional virtual copies of the real world. It has a depth vision module and an A.I. interaction algorithm so that it can recognize gestures, expressions, and even people. The company envisions allowing CyberOne to make friends and detect emotions like happiness and sadness.

In a similar vein, Ronit Baranga uses ceramics to introduce human gestures to an inert material. Playful and mischievous, these tea sets with fingers and mouths, not to mention babies and fingernails, expand the idea of living and nonliving in an inviting manner.

Trina Merry combines cityscapes with topless models to transform how we see New York City. Rather than placing the models in front of, or inside of, major architectual monuments, this artist manages to combine them in unusual ways.

We now have a "supramolecular" plastic that is capable of healing itself instantaneously. Researchers at Finland's University of Turku have developed this material, which can be recycled and, with careful monitoring of its water content, turned into an adhesive. The scientists used a technique called LLPS (liquid-liquid phase separation), which allows the new plastic to be stretched and deformed. Future applications envision car paints that can fix its scratches and cell phone cases that repair themselves.

Colored pencils have been used to create expressive portraits by Uli Knorzer. With exquisite detailing and an eye for attitude, this artist has brought depth and sensitivity to his subjects. His technique is superb.

A new law just passed in New York State requires New York museums to reveal the histories of artworks that were stolen from Europeans during the Nazi regime. According to experts, the Germans looted some 600,000 works of art during World War II. Both the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum have started returning pieces from Nazi-era Europe. Others have attempted to prevent stolen works from being exhibited. The subject has engendered conflicts and lawsuits as well, with disputes over who gets to keep certain works.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2022