August 2023: News roundup

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From Barbieland to the Moon and fantastical cyberscapes, this month’s news roundup makes your imagination run wild. Artists travel to space with Lunar Codex, a digitized collection of poetry, books, and art to be installed on the lunar ground, and Ágora, Eduardo Kac’s holographic poem projected onto the ether. Penetrate the mind of a genius with Google’s digital retrospective on Leonardo da Vinci and tour Europe with the 5th edition of the Kyiv Biennial, fostering international solidarity among all artists affected by the Ukrainian war. 

A Digitized Collection of Art, Poetry, and Books Will Be Permanently Installed on the Moon 

A multimedia creative arts archive called the Lunar Codex will be permanently installed on the moon through unmanned rockets. Created by Samuel Peralta, the digitized collection includes contemporary art, poetry, music, film, and more from 30,000 artists worldwide. Divided into four-time capsules, it holds cultural works on digital memory cards. This project, unlike previous space endeavors, features work by women and showcases pieces from diverse artists, including those affected by the events in Kyiv. The Lunar Codex’s capsules will be sent to the moon through NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program after one orbited the moon during NASA’s Orion mission.

Lunar Codex
An Apollo 17 astronaut standing on the lunar surface with the United States flag in the background.

‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’ Are Facing Off at the Movies and in Memes—But It’s the Unexpected Similarities That Tell Us Something About Culture Now

The author sat through a double feature of Oppenheimer and Barbie films. The collision of these two movies resulted in an explosion of memes and internet commentary. Oppenheimer is a historical drama about the creator of the atomic bomb, while Barbie explores existential themes. The memes juxtaposed the serious nature of Oppenheimer with the lightheartedness of Barbie. Both films reflect the current cultural universe’s sense of futility and existential dread. Despite the aesthetic contrast, the films share a sense of helplessness in addressing macro issues, providing a blockbuster escape from reality.

Barbie and Oppenheimer
Left: ‘Oppenheimer ‘movie poster via Universal Studios. Right: Still from Barbie (2023). Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.

Animations, and 3-D Models, and 3,000 Drawings: Inside Google’s Massive Machine-Learning Masterclass on Leonardo da Vinci

Google Arts and Culture has created an online retrospective called Inside a Genius Mind on Leonardo da Vinci, powered by machine learning. The project, curated by Leonardo expert Martin Kemp and in collaboration with 28 institutions worldwide, showcases 3,000 drawings, including 1,300 pages from Leonardo’s codices. Using machine learning, the project organizes the diverse contents thematically, providing an interactive visual journey into the mind of the artist, inventor, and engineer. The online exhibition includes 3D models and animations of Leonardo’s inventions and offers virtual visits to significant locations, appealing to both art history enthusiasts and novices.

Machine-Learning Masterclass on Leonardo da Vinci
Natalie Paneng’s digital art for “Inside a Genius Mind,” a new online Leonardo da Vinci retrospective from Google Arts and Culture.

Artist Eduardo Kac to Send a Hologram Into Space 

Eduardo Kac’s artwork Ágora, created in 1986, will finally be launched into deep space alongside Gene Roddenberry’s remains and DNA from Presidents Washington, JFK, and Eisenhower. Kac’s work is a holographic poem projected in cyber-green through a small glass square. He has always envisioned Ágora in space and found a partner in Celestis, a company specializing in funerary rites, to make it happen. The rockets, called the Enterprise Flight, will travel 300 million kilometers away from Earth and orbit around the sun between Earth and Mars or Earth and Venus. Kac believes art and poetry must venture where humans explore. 

Eduardo Kac, Ágora, 1986–2023. COURTESY CELESTIS

The Kyiv Biennial Will Open ‘Against All Odds’ in Several Cities in Ukraine and Europe This Fall

Despite Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine, the Kyiv Biennial will hold its 5th edition with dispersed exhibitions in six international locations. The program starts in Kyiv and moves to Vienna in October, with further events in Warsaw, Uzhhorod, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Berlin in 2024. The biennial emerged as a response to the 2014 Maidan Revolution and aims to counteract war’s destruction of cultural identity. This year’s edition will focus on the aftermath of the war and Russia’s cultural attack on Ukraine. The exhibitions emphasize international solidarity and support artists affected by the conflict. The event encourages Western artists to engage in a broader understanding of the European war.


The Kyiv Biennial Will Open ‘Against All Odds’ in Several Cities in Ukraine and Europe
A bystander draped in the Ukrainian flag looks at destroyed Russian military equipment at Kyiv’s “Maidan” Independence Square, that has been turned into an open-air military museum on Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24, 2022, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo by DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images.


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