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‣ Write for Art Journal, Martin Bailey found a painting looted in Ethiopiaknown as Kwer’ata Re’esu, in a Portuguese bank safe:

Painted on an oak panel (33 cm x 25 cm), the holy icon survives in its original interior frame, in the Flemish style of the early 16th century, with a larger, more modern exterior frame. Turning the frame over, I discovered that the reverse side was covered in red silk damask with a stylized pomegranate design. Last month, Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) textile curator Silvija Banić identified the silk in my photograph as Italian, dating from around 1600 and possibly woven in Florence. How the silk arrived in Ethiopia remains unknown.

‣ For Wiredjournalist Vauhini Vara shares her experiences using ChatGPT and other AI tools, including writing a personal essay about her sister’s death:

My essay focused on the impossibility of reconciling the version of myself that had coexisted alongside my sister with the one left after her death. In this last line, GPT-3 concretized the fact of this impossibility, by referring to the hand – my hand – that existed then and now. I had often heard the argument that AI could never write like a human, precisely because it was a disembodied machine. And yet here was as nuanced and profound a reference to the incarnation as I had ever read. Artificial intelligence had managed to move me with a sentence about the most important experience of my life.

The AI ​​could then write a sentence. If I wanted to understand the relationship between AI and literature, I felt I had to start by recognizing it. I could use AI to do some of a writer’s most essential work: finding the right words. What more could I do with this? And then, whatever I could do, there was this other question.

Should I?

‣ Anmol Irfan spoke with several programmers about the digital, political and artistic dimensions of their efforts to recreate Urdu script as an online font for Time:

Kamran started his master’s degree in typography after trying to create an Urdu website for Karachi Urban Lab, an organization focused on research, teaching and advocacy around data-driven development and urbanization in Karachi. She found the lack of available typographical resources to be a stumbling block. Its aim is to contribute to the work that developers and language experts around the world are doing to digitize Urdu with its cultural history in mind. She says the importance of Nastaliq cannot be understood until its links to the construction of Muslim-Pakistani identity are also understood. “Urdu and Nastaliq are ideologically linked to each other,” says Kamran. Due to sensitivities around Urdu, she believes that any changes in its presentation must be accepted by society before progress can be made.

‣ In Ghana, the media is known to be homophobic, but a man in the street gave this reporter an unexpected answer:

‣ Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman comes across as the idiot he is. No ethics, no morals, just greed and self-gratification. Of course, Fox News gave him a platform:

It turns out that China’s vaccine diplomacy also involved collecting DNA samples and most people don’t realize it. In the Washington PostJoby Warrick and Cate Brown write about this shocking revelation:

In late 2021, with the pandemic still raging, Serbian officials announced that they were working with a Chinese company to convert the laboratory into a permanent facility with the intention of harvesting and preserving entire genomes, or genetic blueprints. , Serbian citizens.

Serbian scientists were delighted, and the country’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic congratulated China for providing the Balkan country with “the most advanced institute of precision medicine and genetics in the region.” Yet today, China’s Fire-Eye labs – dozens of which have been given or sold to foreign countries during the pandemic – are attracting the attention of Western intelligence agencies, amid growing concern about the intentions of China. Some analysts see China’s largesse as part of a global attempt to exploit new sources of high-value human DNA data in countries around the world.

‣ Did you know that marijuana was briefly decriminalized in Mexico in the mid-20th century? Write for DialAlexander Aviña explains:

According to the Ministry of Health, street traffickers and big narcos were losing thousands of pesos per day. Doctors, drug addicts and even some Mexico City newspapers celebrated the positive impact of the dispensary. Despite the “terrifying spectacle” – in the words of one journalist – of hundreds of addicts queuing outside the dispensary, some middle-class residents who lived nearby agreed with this approach. Even some of Salazar Viniegra’s former medical rivals supported the project. Favorable editorials appeared in the Mexico City press, and journalists interviewed people who frequented the dispensary. They said cheap and safe morphine at least gave them the chance to be able to work regularly again and provide for their families. Based on these initial results, according to Smith, Cárdenas’ government planned to open more dispensaries in Mexico City and Guadalajara in May 1940.

However, by the summer of 1940, the government had abruptly changed course. The Health Ministry closed the dispensary and Cárdenas’ government repealed the drug laws. Salazar Viniegra was removed as drug czar. The official public explanation was that the start of World War II had caused a serious shortage in the world’s supply of medical morphine. Mexico could no longer afford to import it from its main source, the United States.

The real explanation was more complicated. It involved the shady actions of an influential American official, Harry Anslinger, the J. Edgar Hoover of the American drug war. As head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics for more than three decades, Anslinger decisively shaped the punitive regime of the War on Drugs that took shape in the United States in the 1930s. A staunch supporter of drug prohibition, he played a key role in passing the 1937 federal law banning marijuana in the United States, and he vehemently disagreed with the progressive Mexican experiment led by Salazar Viniegra.

‣ Someone crashed a fashion show during New York Fashion Week and it’s quite funny:

‣ We’re Watching You, Trader Joe’s:

‣ This Iranian wedding video from the year 2000 is cinematography to his favorite:

‣ Forget MoMA: Save $30 and Watch This instead!

Required reading is published every Thursday afternoon and includes a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays that are worth reviewing.


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