“An ordinary national flag on Earth would not survive the severe lunar environment.”
CNSA scientist Cheng Chang, on the ultra durable Chinese flag that was flown on the Moon during the Chang’e 5 robotic mission today. Capable of maintaining its ‘true colours’ across +/-150℃ temperature range, it joins 6 U.S. flags that were raised during the Apollo missions.

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“Using steganography, I have hidden the whole essay inside the JPEG. Yes, you’re looking at a conceptual artwork that is currently explaining itself to you.”
Matthew Plummer-Fernandez, demonstrating how artists are broadening what NFTs could be on the burgeoning artist-led marketplace Hic Et Nunc. “NFTs may liberate artists not only technically, but conceptually,” he writes. ”As the certificate becomes widely accepted as the transferable commodity, the associated artwork is free to be an idea, an essay, or a gift.”

Artists Ben Rubin and Brian House’s “Terminal Moraine” opens at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Taking a meta-historical approach, its lone eponymous work models the local impact of the Laurentide ice sheet. Approximately 18,000 years ago, the 600 metre wall of ice flowed down the Hudson Valley and shaped the landscape—Rubin and House simulate the glacial retreat and forest growth that followed. In their sonification “cells expand and branch while crystalline structures gradually break apart,” helping listeners contemplate the deep time of history.

“This is a time not only to ask how to resurface differently, but to ask what foundations to urgently sink—to recognise that it’s not enough to abandon, but that we have a role to abolish normal devices.”
– Luke Moody, new director of AND (Abandon Normal Devices) Festival, on the upcoming 2021 edition

A collaboration between sound designer Yuri Suzuki and musical artist and composer Miyu Hosoi, Crowd Cloud is unveiled at Haneda Airport, Japan. The site-specific installation distils the vowels of the Japanese language, sung by Hosoi, creating a unique composition that emanates from a choir of dozens of standing horns that converse with each other like people. Crowd Cloud is part of the Paola Antonelli-curated “Culture Gate” exhibition that sees artists offer fresh interpretations of Japan’s diverse culture in airports across the country.

“Myths unfold in real-time alongside critical ‘reveals,’ unveilings, and clarifications. Cultural gaps between the humanities and the sciences expand even as artists and interdisciplinary practitioners work to collapse them.”
Nora N. Khan, on the confusion arising around computation. With her at the helm, the HOLO Annual will “engage with the new responsibilities that critics, theorists, programmers, technologists, and artists have to make sense of the mess.”

With “Take Me to Another World,” the first-ever Charlotte Johannesson retrospective opens at Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid. Named after a computer graphic the Swedish artist created in the 1980s, the survey traces 60 years of Johannesson’s image-making between craft and technology. A textile artist who turned to computer programming (in 1978, the autodidact swapped her loom for an Apple II Plus), Johannesson’s political tapestries are inwoven with 1960s counterculture, punk, and feminism.

“I see artists erasing their own URLs from Twitter bios and replacing them with links to cryptoart platform pages, and turning their Twitter feeds into very noisy adverts for platforms, talking about bids, drops, sales.”
Ben Grosser, on why he created Tokenize This, an NFT-critical artwork that—of course—can not be tokenized: the website containing a uniquely generated digital object can only be viewed once. “It’s resistant to being commodified,” states Grosser. “It says, ‘I don’t want to participate.’”

A reimagination of Hieronymus Bosch’s iconic triptych for the digital age, Carla GannisThe Garden of Emoji Delights opens at Stockholm’s Fotografiska. In her 2014 collage, the American artist explores how Bosch’s visual world from 500 years ago matches our emoji dictionary, circa now. “There is humour, darkness, and absurdity,” state the curators. “Earthly, cosmological, and technological conditions are combined,” revealing ideologies and social constructs that have remained unchanged for centuries.

“Stan VanDerBeek coined the phrase ‘expanded cinema.’ But it was Gene Youngblood who put it on the cover of a book, filled it with rocket fuel, and sent it buzzing through the late-1960s art world like a heat-seeking missile.”
Caroline A. Jones, in a 2020 Artform piece on the fiftieth-anniversary edition of Youngblood’s Expanded Cinema (1970), now cited in the media theorist’s obituary

“Poetics of reality (encoded)” opens at max goelitz gallery, Munich, putting works by Austrian artist Brigitte Kowanz and UK-based collective Troika in juxtaposition. “Both question different forms of representation via a subversive examination of abstraction and new pictorial formulas,” notes curator Madeleine Freund. What unites them is a shared interest in human perception and the mediation of information. “Through language, codes, and algorithms they critically examine contemporary issues, from climate policy to digitization.”

“This is an ongoing pattern we have seen where we see threat actors continuing to try to use these techniques to manipulate public debates on our platforms, and off our platform.”
– Facebook Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher, commenting on the stamping out of a 128 Facebook and 146 Instagram account Albanian troll farm manipulating public opinion in/about Iran. A recent security report reveals the multi-year campaign “was tightly organized and linked to an exiled militant opposition group.”
Kate Crawford
Atlas of AI
The leading scholar and researcher calculates the hidden costs of artificial intelligence, from natural resources and labour to privacy, equality, and freedom
Gene Youngblood
American media arts theorist and critic Gene Youngblood dies in Santa Fe at the age of 78. A pioneering voice in the media democracy movement, Youngblood reshaped the fields of art and communications with his prescient 1970 book Expanded Cinema, the first to offer serious recognition of video and software-based works as cinematic art forms.
“You feel like an alchemist. And you are. You type esoteric words—near gibberish—into a line-by-line text interface, and with a rush not unlike pulling Excalibur from the stone you’ve just scaffolded a simple application that can instantly be accessed worldwide.”
– Writer and technologist Craig Mod, on the “healing powers” of programming JavaScript