Can a talking Rousseau save Facebook? Why does this billionaire take himself for Le Corbusier? + Other questions I have about the artistic news of this week


Curiosities is a column where I comment on the artistic news of the week, sometimes on stories too small or strange to be retained, sometimes just by giving my thoughts on the ups and downs.

Below, some questions asked by the events of the last week …

1) Can Meta make SoHo cool again?

Mark Zuckerberg announcing the new company name during a Facebook Connect livestream on October 28, 2021. Photo: Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto via Getty Images.

You’ve probably seen the appalling video posted on October 28, where dead-eyed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces that his company has a new generic name, Meta, detailing the fanciful future he hopes to bring us with the ” Corporate Metaverse. As it shows in the video, this basically equates to a realistic virtual alternate universe (or similar to Second Life).

As an example of the cool things you could do, Zuckerberg promises that you can meet cartoon versions of your friends for a poker night at an imaginary space clubhouse. Of course, weightlessness doesn’t seem like the best condition for playing poker, but whatever. The most important thing is that some of your friends can take the form of wacky cartoon robots. (Click 0:48 in the video below to see it all unfold.)

What I particularly like is the part where Zuck and his friends interrupt their VR space jam for their missing friend Naomi’s Facetime, to see why she hasn’t shown up in their Meta-hang yet. “Sorry, I’m late, but you have to see what we’re checking out,” Naomi told them. “There is an artist who goes around SoHo and hides augmented reality pieces for people! “

She then activates the augmented reality graffiti she found, a mandala of colorful shapes resembling snakes that swell from a 3D wall. She “shares the bond” with her, and she infiltrates the meta-reality of the space station. Zuckerberg and his friends float around the twisting elephantine art orb in simulated weightlessness, cooing in simulated wonder.

“3D street art is cool,” enthuses Zuckerberg.

The snake ball starts to disappear, but Naomi says she is going to “tip the artist” to keep the fun going. Bold new monetization opportunities for everyone!

What I find great here is that the ad chose to name SoHo, a New York neighborhood so touristy and gentrified that it hasn’t symbolized anything like “youth” or “cool” since. manner before Facebook was born (never forget) as a website to rank Harvard sexy girls.

But Facebook’s – um, sorry, Meta – designs on art don’t end there. In a November 4 Tweet, the rebranded company teased would-be fans, “Step into a world of imagination with Meta and explore endless possibilities in 3D.”

This seduction was followed by the rocket and paint palette emojis. This is, of course, the universal internet way of symbolizing that they were plagued with paint fumes when they came up with this idea.

The attached video shows a group of children in a museum. Somewhere in the background is a series of mystical paintings by Hilma af Klint, but these static and boring treasures don’t interest the girl at the center of the clip, who is drawn to the Henri Rousseau film. Fight between a tiger and a buffalo (1909) (from the Cleveland Museum), only to see it come to life.

The tiger (a metaphor for Zuckerberg) looks up to chew on the buffalo’s neck (a metaphor for its existing business of extracting data from its billion users). “It’s the dimension of the imagination,” he mumbles.

We are then drawn into a fantastic Rousseau-inspired jungle rave with flamingos and twerking monkeys, while kids and animals nod to the beat of Path in my brain by SL2.

I love that Zuckerberg is betting the entire future of his struggling empire on the idea “what if art … comes to life?” Even though all this makes me sick. Aesthetically, I was just exasperated by this street art video on Facebook. Train Henri Rousseau in it, and now my feelings about it are much more intense. Now I’m meta-infuriated.

2) Is Bitcoin Going To Eat The Numismatic World?

What is the most valuable rare coin of all time?

Maybe when I ask this question, you think this is the Brasher Doubloon, from 1797, which sold for $ 9.3 million at Heritage Auctions earlier this year?

Or the ultra-rare gold coin depicting a double eagle by Auguste Saint-Gaudens, one of the few minted in 1933, which once belonged to King Farouk of Egypt, which sold for $ 18.9 million at Sotheby’s in June?

If those are your answers, well, congratulations, you are a numismatic scholar. I had to look for this on Wikipedia. But there’s a new room in town.

A sign of how quickly things are getting very, very weird, the answer is actually the ‘Gold Cas’, a privately minted coin that’s only 10 years old, a self-proclaimed ‘physical Bitcoin’.

Let me tell the Casascius story: In 2011, Utah entrepreneur Mike Caldwell was inspired to create a collectible that appealed to both the burgeoning crypto community and the the oldest community of people who amass gold bars under a trap. panel in their soil.

And so was born the Casascius coin, a line of collectable gold coins, each with a holographic seal that, when broken, opens access to an amount of Bitcoin, minted in 0.1, 0.5, 1, 5, 10, 25, 100 and 1000 BTC denominations.

GreatCollections.com, a coin auction site, recently released a press release boasting that one of its customers was in possession of a coveted Gold Case, which is the name of the ultra-rare version. of 1,000 BTC. Purchased for $ 4,905 in 2011, this coin is now worth almost $ 65 million at today’s Bitcoin price. Plus, you could get $ 1,800 for gold!

(The press release is a promotion for the upcoming 25 BTC Casascius auction on GreatCollections on November 14. The value of 25 BTC alone is currently around $ 1.5 million.)

A gold plated BTC Casascius Bitcoin coin.  Image courtesy of GreatCollections.

A Bitcoin Casascius gold plated coin. Image courtesy of GreatCollections.

You may be wondering what happened to the Casascius company. Well, it turns out that minting physical Bitcoins was not suitable for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and in 2013 the Treasury Department sent Caldwell a letter saying he was going to have to register as as money transmitter. A few months earlier, speaking to the New Yorker, he had expressed confidence that his business was safe, mainly because crypto was such a minor shop business:

Since mining returns change pocket for the most part, even if this was technically a violation of how FinCEN sees the law, mining without registering would be tantamount to “laundering” a twenty dollar bill into money. bringing it to the grocery store and asking for two dozen … hardly worth the resources for anyone to care about, no matter how badly they decide it should be illegal.

What a difference a decade makes, right?

3) Is this 97-year-old billionaire Le Corbusier these days?

Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger attends Berkshire's annual meeting of shareholders in Omaha, Nebraska on May 3, 2019 (Photo by Johannes Eisele / AFP via Getty Images)

Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman Charlie Munger attends the Berkshire Annual Shareholders Meeting in Omaha, Nebraska on May 3, 2019. Photo: Johannes Eisele / AFP via Getty Images.

The worlds of architecture and design have been in turmoil for a week after the reveal of the design of the new Munger Hall dormitory at the University of California at Santa Barbara. The 11-story, 4,500-room, $ 1.2 billion ‘Hellish Dormitory’ is the product of billionaire Charlie Munger, a colleague of Warren Buffet in Berkshire Hathaway and architecture enthusiast, who made a large donation of $ 200. million dollars to school provided he gets to conceive it.

The result is something that critics love it. LATCarolina Miranda said it looks like a jail, albeit a jail with its own built-in Costco, so you can get giant cans of beans to eat in your single-occupancy room, 94% of which don’t have a window. . Instead of real windows, Munger decided to provide televisions that mimic windows and let you choose the time of day you want them to simulate, inspired by an idea of ​​the cheap cabins on Disney cruise ships ( moreover, the rooms also resemble the cells where the henchmen sleep in Squid game).

In a breathtaking interview with Architectural file last week, Munger defended himself, saying he was inspired by Le Corbusier’s 1947-1952 Housing Unit in Marseille. Except, he stressed, that his dormitory would be better, because Le Corbusier’s influential residential block “was too narrow to make the spaces interesting. So it didn’t work out, it was worth it. I corrected that. We have taken Corbusier’s mistakes and the mistakes in university accommodation and eliminated them one by one.

There is a lot to be said about Le Corbusier’s “mistakes”, like, say, his flirtations with fascism. But as an architect, his opinion on windows was not one of them, inspired as he was by the common citizen’s need for sun and air circulation, following the pandemics of his time. Said Le Corbusier:

The sun is the master of life … The sun must penetrate into every home for several hours a day, even during the season when sunlight is scarce. Society will no longer tolerate a situation where entire families are cut off from the sun and therefore doomed to declining health… Introducing the sun is the architect’s new and most imperative duty.

Apparently, some architects agree with Corbu. Dennis McFadden, consultant architect on the university’s design review committee, resigned to protest the project, saying it was “unbearable from my perspective as an architect, parent and being. human “.

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