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Link About It: This Week's Picks

Uncomfortable objects, intellectual erotica, Frankie Knuckles enduring legacy and more in our look at the web this week

by CH Editors in Link About It on 05 April 2014

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1. The Unknown Vivian Maier

In 2007, a 26-year-old amateur historian named John Maloof paid $380 for a box of negatives and undeveloped film at an auction. Therein, he would discover the intimate, beautiful images of photographer Vivian Maier, a Chicago nanny who captured remarkable scenes during the 1950s and '60s. A new BBC documentary, "Finding Vivian Maier" charts Maloof's quest to uncover the now-deceased woman behind the camera. No small feat, as Maier left behind over 150,000 negatives and hundreds of hours of Super 8 footage, as well as many families that she nannied for—very few of whom were even aware of her artistic pursuits.

2. USS Drone

This week marks a new step for naval technology as the US launches the USS Zumwalt, its first drone destroyer. Unlike their airborne cousins, this wave of naval drones is still manned by a crew, albeit one almost half the size of a traditional destroyer. The ship's artificial intelligence predicts the crew's needs based on environmental and maintenance conditions, and is capable of engaging with enemy combatants. Multiple command centers around the ship allow for immediate control using a password login system. While almost certainly the ship of the future, this technology doesn't come cheap at $5 billion.

3. The Uncomfortable Project

A "parasite in the world of materialism and design," Katerina Kamprani's "Uncomfortable Project" is a series of objects showing design gone wrong. The Athens-based architect claims the concept serves no purpose, but her unexpected outlook is as thought-provoking as it is humorous, and successfully provides entertaining fodder for the creative mind. Those in Milan next week for Salone del Mobile can find Kamprani's work on view at the International Meeting AfterDay expo at The Room in Porta Romana on 9 April.

4. Frankie Knuckles, RIP

When news traveled that Frankie Knuckles passed away this week, it stunned the world. The legendary DJ had just performed two days before his death, at London's Ministry of Sound. A Bronx native who later uprooted to Chicago, Knuckles became a regular fixture at the Warehouse club during the late '70s to early '80s—the club's name was the inspiration for the post-disco genre that Knuckles was experimenting in: house music. One of his first productions, "Your Love" by Jamie Principle, is a model example of how Knuckles pushed for slower tempos, more space, minimalism and truly sexy, hypnotic vocals. Hear its evolution over time in songs like Animal Collective's "My Girls" and Florence + The Machine's cover of "You've Got the Love." In the same vein, Knuckles' influence on electronic dance music, through remixes, DJ sessions and his own singles, can be heard in songs today. Check out the hour-long tribute mix from RBMA that includes interviews with the man himself.

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5. How The Zebra Got its Stripes

There have been theories ranging from sun protection to camouflage to choosing a mate, but new research published in Nature Communications has revealed that zebras evolved stripes for an entirely different reason. The team of scientists (led by Tim Caro of UC Davis) found that the reason was actually as a deterrent for blood-sucking flies. Further supporting the study, it was found that equid (aka mammals of the horse family) species with stripes are found in areas that have higher populations of such flies. "We discuss whether zebras are trying to avoid blood loss, or to avoid fatal diseases carried by African biting flies, and we err towards the latter explanation," Caro wrote of the fascinating findings.

6. Online Erotica

Adult Mag debuted as a print magazine in November 2013, filling in a void of intellectual discussion of contemporary sexuality from females (and a handful of men). This week, they finally launched their website, offering work from their print issue as well as new content; it's a refreshing dive into subjects that the mainstream media loves to tiptoe around—going beyond erotic essays and including a candid "real talk" about money by women.

7. The Manmade Landscape

Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky is known around the world for his eco-conscious brand of photography that documents the ways in which human influence have shaped the natural environment. His grand-scale visual work comes to life in his latest film "Watermark," documenting human impact on the aquatic environment and is a grand followup to his recent "Water" photo series. Described as "alternately hypnotic and horrifying," Burtynsky's matter-of-fact depiction of environmental ruin allows the images to speak for themselves allowing the viewer to reach their own conclusions.

8. The Go-Anywhere Portable Russian Motorcycle

Even if the idea of traversing on a motorbike seems daunting, there's an undeniable and respectable zaniness to Alexander Zinin's homemade beast. The all-wheel-drive machine can go just about anywhere on its stout but exceptionally light frame—up a set of stairs, through mud trenches and on the roughest of roads. It's flexible, versatile and, at the end of the day, it's easily disassembled and fits into two duffle bags.

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

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