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Link About It: This Week's Picks

Philip Seymour Hoffman's inimitable talent, architecture in ice, bionic hands and more in our weekly look at the web

by CH Editors in Link About It on 08 February 2014

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1. Farewell, Philip Seymour Hoffman

The number of thoughtful tributes and articles about the tragic passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman is a veritable testament to the huge loss the public feels—let alone that of his colleagues, friends and family. Tom Junod of Esquire explains the character actor's impact and the reason we all—as complete strangers—felt connected to him. One of Hoffman's many talents was bringing to life characters that were so real and flawed they were at once brilliant, familiar and heartbreaking. As Junod says, "He held up a mirror to those who could barely stand to look at themselves and invited us not only to take a peek but to see someone we recognized."

2. A Tribe Called Guess

This month, the vibrant London-based designer and style muse Fred Butler has transformed the KK Outlet into a "futuristic temple" for her first ever solo show, which is centered around a peaceful utopia. Entitled "Travelling Mac Fred On A Q-Tip For A Tribe Called Guess," the show—curated by Ryan Lanji—features Butler's own conceptual shrines, photography by Walter Hugo & Zoniel, flower arrangements by The Flower Appreciation Society, altars by Install Archive and a sound mix created by DJ Todd Hart for a fully immersive, mystical experience.

3. The Beautiful Game

At the height of the World Cup, with the best soccer players vying for the global title, few can question the sport's aesthetic prowess. But is it art? An exhibit on show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art explores the wide range of artistic perspectives on the game through 32 divergent artists. While some pieces focus on particular moments or players (such as the 16-foot bronze statue of retired French superstar Zinedine Zidane's headbutt heard 'round the world) other artists focus on more macro issues surrounding soccer's role in globalization and the world economy. From hooligan-centric paintings to explorations of extreme nationalism in soccer the exhibit manages to examine a wide breadth of the sport's issues and character through art. What's perhaps most interesting is the show finding a home in the US, one of the few countries not to embrace the game on a large scale.

4. An Empire State of Ice

Last year over 800,000 individuals visited northeast China's Harbin Ice and Snow World. For roughly $50 per person, visitors can tour the 600,000 square meter wonderland, featuring monumental carved ice sculptures illuminated with colored LEDs. This year features an homage to global structures, with a scaled replica of the Empire State Building delivering a solid wow factor. Over 180,000 cubic meters of ice were used in the construction. It's also not too late to visit—the site-specific exhibition will remain open through March 2014.

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5. The Development of Prince's Hair Styles

Spanning all of Prince's signature styles from 1978 to 2013, illustrator Gary Card depicts the evolution of one of the music industry's greats. Only, the focus is his hair. Prince has rocked many types of locks, and it's fascinating to follow the flow from 'fro to curls, waves and bangs and back again. Turns out that as he was changing the music world for the better, he was also doing a lot of experimenting with his own tresses.

6. Muslim Ms. Marvel

Potentially inspired by real life superhero Malala Yousafzai—the Pakistani teen who bravely stood up to the Taliban over her right to education—Marvel Comics has created a new Ms. Marvel and she's a a first-generation Pakistani-American youth. Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso explains though, they aim to create a universally understood narrative and she is, like most girls her age (despite the superpower), "a teenager struggling to find their own path who is suddenly granted great power, and learns the responsibility that comes with it."

7. Urban Running Maps

It's hard to imagine that just a few decades ago, people thought jogging in the the US would be a fad. Now you'd be hard pressed to walk a few blocks without seeing someone on a run—which for data nerds begs a lot of questions: Where are people running? Where are they not? Using data from the fitness app RunKeeper, Nathan Yau has created maps of running patterns in several major cities. While the data is limited to those who use the app (and not all runners), the information could help urban planners better direct traffic flow and even use the data to determine what types of environments are more amenable to exercise.

8. Made in the Land of Wheat and Maize

In an insightful mini documentary intended to reflect the spirit of their storied brand, Minnesota's Red Wing shoes has cast a lens on fellow Midwesterner and beautifully crooning Bon Iver frontman, Justin Vernon, who's been wearing their classic boots for years. From an inside look at the singer's Wisconsin studio (dubbed April Base) to a wide range of personal biographical stories, the down-to-earth video offers a chance to see the artist as a regular guy from a regular town trying to do what makes him most happy.

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9. You Snooze, You Lose

Research has proven that snoozers are, in fact, losers. Evidently the few extra minutes of sleep that many think are easing them awake are actually making getting up even more difficult, as it means plunging back into the first part of the sleep cycle, which is the worst moment to then be woken up again. This doesn't just make getting out of bed trickier, it has an effect on our entire day; hours later cognitive faculties still aren't completely caught up—regardless of whether showers or breakfast are involved. Till Roenneberg (a professor of chronobiology) says it's worse than just being a little groggy or slow, "The practice of going to sleep and waking up at ‘unnatural’ times could be the most prevalent high-risk behavior in modern society."

10. Traffic Drone

In the age of drones, the car with a copter is king. Renault's latest concept car looks like it would be just as comfortable on the highway as cruising up the side of a mountain, but the most interesting part is its little friend in the back. The concept includes a quad-copter that would, in theory, deploy from the car to check out the traffic scene ahead.

11. Experimental Bionic Hand

In a huge leap forward for individuals with prosthetic limbs, European scientists have created a bionic hand with instantaneous sensory feedback. In a recently published study, the group detailed their experiment in which a patient was able to distinguish the shape and feel of objects using the experimental bionic device.

12. Debunking Common Alcohol Myths

Liquor before beer, you're in the clear? Turns out that old adage just isn't true. In a hilarious new Mental Floss video, Hannah Hart of My Drunk Kitchen tackles 29 common misconceptions about drinking. Everything essentially boils down to how much you drink, not the tales you've heard from parents and friends about alcohol's various effects. Go ahead and break the seal, because there isn't one. And don't be afraid to imbibe a certain type of liquor you may typically avoid for fear it will make you a different type of drunk. It really won't.

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13. Ferrari 250 Breaks UK Sales Record

For vintage sports car fans, the 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa is something of a holy grail—especially one in mint condition. Which is why some might not be surprised that one of the famed Italian sports cars fetched an alleged $40 million at an auction in the UK this week, setting a new sales record for the most expensive car sold in the country. Though beautiful in its own right, this particular model holds major esteem among auto design enthusiasts for the role its legacy continues to play in the way cars are designed.

14. The Great Discontent Magazine, Issue 1

Now, two and a half years after Ryan and Tina Essmaker founded The Great Discontent, the couple is excited to turn the digital publication into a print magazine. To fund the first issue, a Kickstarter campaign is currently underway. Set to house 15 interviews with contemporary greats like designers James Victore and Joshua Davis across 240 full-color pages, the magazine will certainly be one not to miss among the creative community.

15. An App for Unruly Radiators

If you have ever lived in an old apartment building (particularly in New York), winters can be brutal for a number of reasons that don't involve the un-shoveled walk to your front door. Thin windows leak precious heat, cool drafts blow in from seemingly impossible places and your ancient hissing radiator overheats your room to sauna-like temperatures. A new product and app from NYC-based Radiator Labs aim to equalize outpouring heat and give you the option of controlling your radiator from afar. Best of all, the technology provides huge opportunity for energy and cost savings.

16. Gurafiku

This week the talented multidisciplinary designer Jessica Walsh alerted the Twitter community to Gurafiku, a Tumblr created by designer Ryan Hageman with the intention of promoting a largely unrecognized history of graphic design in Japan. The site, which Hageman began in 2009, serves as a well-edited archive of the country's visual arts across multiple platforms and spans two centuries worth of works for the purpose of promotion and preservation.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.

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