Fun with colour

I thought these two went together well.

colors.lol – Overly descriptive color palettes
Created as a fun way to discover interesting color combinations. Palettes are hand-selected from the Twitter bot @colorschemez. The feed randomly generates color combinations as well as their descriptions, with each color being matched with an adjective from a list of over 20,000 words.

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A painting and photography duo poking fun at fine artIt’s Nice That
The idea behind the project is for the pair to travel to locations any arts aficionado may recognise. Environments painted by Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet or Vincent Van Gogh are all visited, but rather than replicating their celebrated works, Hank chooses to paint the pattern of his shirt instead.

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Hockney to the rescue

It’s lovely to see some more of his stuff.

David Hockney shares exclusive art from Normandy, as ‘a respite from the news’BBC News
“Why are my iPad drawings seen as a respite from the news? Well, they are obviously made by the hand depicting the renewal that is the spring in this part of the world.”

The point being that his images are the product of him looking directly at nature and depicting or representing what he sees by transmitting his sensory reaction through his fingers onto paper via a pencil, rather than mediating the process through a photograph.

His pictures are a record of how he, uniquely, is experiencing reality of his subject and the space in which it exists. The one-eyed mechanical camera flattens out all this individual nuance.

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“The only real things in life are food and love in that order, just like our little dog Ruby. I really believe this and the source of art is love.”

I was blown away when I first saw his ipad paintings up close in Saltaire. These look just as charming.

David Hockney’s iPad artwork goes on displayBBC News
An exhibition of artwork drawn on a tablet computer by artist David Hockney has opened in Saltaire, West Yorkshire. The 33 images depict the arrival of spring in the Yorkshire Wolds in 2011.

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Art world problems #2

I’m currently re-reading this coffee table book about the guy and enjoyed Brain Pickings’ recent tweets about him, so it was sad to read that one of his paintings has just been stolen.

Van Gogh painting stolen from Dutch museum closed by virusABC News
“I’m shocked and unbelievably annoyed that this has happened,” said Singer Laren museum director Jan Rudolph de Lorm. “This beautiful and moving painting by one of our greatest artists stolen – removed from the community,” he added. “It is very bad for the Groninger Museum, it is very bad for the Singer, but it is terrible for us all because art exists to be seen and shared by us, the community, to enjoy to draw inspiration from and to draw comfort from, especially in these difficult times.”

Problems for museums over here, too.

Anish Kapoor fan gets stuck in virtual exhibitionThe Art Newspaper
A man had to be rescued by the London Fire Brigade after getting lost while taking part in a virtual museum tour. As museums worldwide have had to shut their doors to help fight the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19), many institutions have instead put their creative efforts into online engagement with the public, including providing a plethora of virtual tours of their collections and exhibitions. Unfortunately, in some cases, not enough attention has been paid to the visitor experience.

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Spring has sprung, don’t forget

Let’s take a break from all the news about job losses, exam cancellations and social distancing failures to remind ourselves of the date. It’s the first day of Spring!

Spring Equinox 2020: 5 weird traditions to celebrate the first day of Spring todayMirror Online
There is an ancient Chinese belief that you can stand an egg on its end on the first day of spring. The theory goes that, due to the sun’s equidistant position between the poles of the earth at the time of the equinox, special gravitational forces apply.

Or was it yesterday?

Today marks the earliest “first day of Spring” in 124 years for CanadaNarcity
March has always marked the beginning of springtime. For the northern hemisphere, that date has fallen on the 20 and 21 for as long as you can probably remember. That’s because, March 19, the first day of spring 2020, is the earliest it’s been in 124 years.

Either way, it gives me a chance to share this, from David Hockney.

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A message from David Hockney: ‘Do remember they can’t cancel the spring’The Art Newspaper
David Hockney is currently in complete lockdown in Normandy, where he has been since his last exhibition opening. But he is still producing beautiful things, which he wanted to share with us as something positive.

Hieronymus boats

Here’s something you don’t see every day, a floating theatrical and musical festival, dedicated to the work and spirit of Hieronymus Bosch.

A Parade of Earthly Delights: Floating Bosch Parade celebrates painter Hieronymus Bosch in spectacular aquatic eventColossal
A floating parade dedicated to painter Hieronymus Bosch honors the artist’s fascination with the fantastical and absurd in an annual event that embodies his philosophy and aesthetic. The 2019 occurrence of the Bosch Parade included a musical performance played on a partially submerged piano and a scene with two people straddling enormous horns, just two of fourteen vignettes devoted to an evolving story about “power and counterforce, battle and rapprochement, chaos and hope.”

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Stunning photos from the Bosch Parade, the sailing parade in the spirit of Jheronimus BoschDesign You Trust
This floating, poetic parade of art works portrays a universal tale of power and counterforce, battle and rapprochement, chaos and hope. From the chaos after the battle a new order has to emerge. Eventually, old opposites will form the foundation for a new hope in this storyline filled with symbolism and fantasy – as it is in Jheronimus Bosch’s works.

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More AI art

I’ll just leave these here.

This Artwork Does Not Exist
Imagined by a GAN (generative adversarial network) StyleGAN2 (Dec 2019) – Karras et al. and Nvidia. Trained by Michael Friesen on images of Modern Art.

∞ stream of AI generated art
Explore the infinite creativity of this AI artist that was trained on a carefully selected set of cubist art pieces.

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They’re all much-of-a-muchness, as they say around here. I think robot Rembrandt is still some way off.

Trailer From The Loop

Two years after I first saw his work, it’s finally hitting our screens.

‘Tales From the Loop’, a wondrous Amazon Prime series based upon the artwork of Simon StålenhagLaughing Squid
The series takes its title from a pair of books written by Stålenhag about “paintings from a childhood that never was and a future that could have been.” The series focuses on a machine that unlocks such a future for those who enter.

Tales From the Loop enlivens the gravity-defying dystopia of Simon Stålenhag’s illustrationsColossal
Launching April 3, the television series is based on the understanding that “not everything in life makes sense” as it chronicles the lives of those residing in the Loop, a machine built to uncover answers to the world’s mysteries. It features a gravity-defying universe that sees floating objects, snow ascending from a pile on the floor, and pieces of a house ripped upward. Retro robots even foster relationships with the families and children immersed in the explorative environment.

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Next month, then, for Amazon Prime customers. Let’s hope it’ll spill out wider for those of us who aren’t primers. Meanwhile, here’s an interview with the man behind those melancholic images.

Simon Stålenhag: meet the artist behind Amazon Prime’s mysterious new TV showDigital Arts
Tales from the Loop is based on the books and artworks of Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, so to coincide we’ve looked backed to when we interviewed him about how he conceives and paints his sci-fi worlds – and what the hell is really going on.

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The perils of DIY book cover design

Well, at least they’re trying, I guess.

The worst book covers on AmazonDesign You Trust
Who needs a professional designer when you can save money and make a book cover by yourself, right? Wrong.

But are the professionals doing a better job?

Horror books have lost their identityIn Praise of Shadows

Eloquent trees

Using trees to make paper to write on, I get that. But writing with trees? Katie Holten, an artist-in-residency with NYC Parks, has developed a typeface to allow us to do just that. (via Futility Closet)

NYC is planting secret messages in parks using this typeface for treesFast Company
It would be fair to say that Holten is at least a little obsessed with turning trees into typefaces. Back in 2015, she developed her first so-called Tree Alphabet, made up of sketches of 26 different trees that each stood for its own letter. The project led her to publish a book, About Trees, typed in forests rather than paragraphs. “I’m interested in creating something that lets us translate our words into something beyond us,” writes Holten over email. “It forces us to slow down and think about what we’re writing, or reading.”

To see the typeface in action, head over to nyctrees.org and try it for yourself.

New York City Trees
The New York City Tree Alphabet is an alphabetical planting palette, allowing us to rewrite the urban landscape by planting messages around the city with real trees. What messages would you like to see planted?

These messages aside, it seems the trees are busy communicating by themselves.

The fascinating science of how trees communicate, animatedBrain Pickings
But trees are much more than what they are to us, or for us, or in relation to us. They are relational miracles all their own, entangled in complex, symbiotic webs of interbeing, constantly communicating with one another through chemical signals dispatched along the fungal networks that live in their roots — an invisible, astonishing underworld only recently discovered, thanks to the work of Canadian forest ecologist Suzanne Simard.

The secret language of trees – Camille Defrenne and Suzanne SimardYouTube

Balance and power

If you liked Universal Everything’s films on human and digital movement, you’ll enjoy this visualisation of the kinetics of sports.

Behold the invisible swoosh and swirl of athletic movement in digital artAeon
Forms is a collaboration between the London-based visual artists Memo Akten and Davide Quayolas, and it generates dynamic digital art from the bodies of world-class athletes at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Inspired by modernist and early photographic interrogations of bodies in motion, such as Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No 2 (1912), the project, in Akten’s words, plays with ‘abstract forms, visualising unseen relationships – power, balance, grace and conflict – between the body and its surroundings’.

The video above, Forms (process), shows how the source video was transformed into the final film.

FormsMemo Akten
Rather than focusing on observable trajectories, it explores techniques of extrapolation to sculpt abstract forms, visualizing unseen relationships – power, balance, grace and conflict – between the body and its surroundings.

Better Valentine alternatives

If you don’t want to send your sweetheart a Vinegar Valentine’s card, you could always try something a little different, like– a Valentine’s wall?

Say it with Banksy? Valentine’s gift catapults house to street art fameThe Guardian
She said: “We really want to preserve it, but he’s given us a bit of a headache. First thing’s first is to maybe get some Perspex to preserve it so everyone can enjoy it and then try to get some professional advice. It has been a crazy day, with lots of people being able to come and enjoy it and we want people to be able to continue doing that.

“I just kept like squealing and I’ve not stopped smiling all day. It’s just so special. They are calling it the Valentine’s Day Banksy.”

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It’s nice to see that Banksy has since confirmed it’s one of his.

OK, so sending someone some street art might not be very practical. Pen and paper it is, then.

Grab a pen. It’s time to revive the love letter.The Lily
Unlike digital messages, they’re concrete; we can feel their weight in our hands. (“Will we ever glow when we open an email folder?” Simon Garfield writes in a book celebrating letter writing. “Emails are a poke, but letters are a caress, and letters stick around to be newly discovered.”) Months, years, decades in the future, they prove we lived and loved, savored and felt sorrow. They allow us to grasp at immortality.

Enduring love: how greetings cards are surviving the smartphone eraThe Guardian
“The real growth we’re seeing is among people sending a message to cheer someone up,” says Fergusson, explaining that there has been a huge rise in “No occasion” cards. She believes millennials and gen Z are buying these cards because they are more powerful than social media messages. Hare calls her new range “contemporary sentiments” – one card says, “Just be your beautiful self”, while another reads: “Proud of you.” In 2019, the online retailer Moonpig launched a collection with the Samaritans – personalised cards were emblazoned with messages such as: “Matthew, I’m not sure how to help but if you need me, I’m here.” Fergusson says there has been a recent rise in “man-to-man” sending, but GCA research suggests 85% of cards are bought by women.

Alternatively…

Poundland sells 40,000 engagement rings ahead of Valentine’s DayBBC News
The £1 “Bling Rings” and “Man Bands” are meant to be used as “placeholders” for proper rings, it said. But one analyst described such promotions as “increasingly desperate”.

And here’s a modern take on that Vinegar Valentine idea.

Name a cockroach after your ex and watch an animal eat it on Valentine’s DayCNN
For just $5, zoo staff will name a cockroach after your former lover and feed it to an animal at their “Cry Me a Cockroach” event on Valentine’s Day. And if your ex-boo was an especially snakey one, pay $20 more to have them name a rat and feed it to a reptile instead.

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Update 20/02/2020

Sadly/inevitably, that Banksy Valentine’s Day graffiti has been graffiti-ed, which raises a number of interesting questions (including is it even possible to actually damage Banksy’s artwork, given that it itself is criminal damage, in law).

Banksy: what happens when someone vandalises graffiti – and who owns it anyway?The Conversation
Where graffiti has been applied to the wall of a property, that physical piece of “art” belongs to the owners of the property, who may choose to lawfully remove it or to protect it. If the property is rented – as is reportedly the case for the Valentine’s mural – the graffiti becomes part of the fabric of that building and belongs to the property owner, not the tenants. Ownership of the intangible rights to the artwork (the copyright), however, will remain the property of Banksy as the artist.

For your shelf of earthly delights

I don’t know about you, but I’m very tempted.

Collectable Hieronymus Bosch figurinesDangerous Minds
I’m not a big knickknack person. I like to keep my home sparse in the “tiny objects” departament. But I must admit I really do dig these Hieronymus Bosch figurines. They’re kinda cool-looking in their own obviously weird way. I especially like the ones from Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights.

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Those not familiar with this strange Dutch painter from the 1400s should start here.

Hieronymus Bosch review – a heavenly host of delights on the road to hellThe Guardian
The public face of Bosch, walking the streets of this little city, was that of a good townsman and Catholic. His private thoughts emerge in the most unexpected and miraculous of all the treasures assembled – his drawings. … They show us the secret Bosch, a man with a mind full of monsters. One drawing is called The Wood Has Ears, The Field Has Eyes – a saying inscribed as on Goya’s Caprichos. Human ears hang from the trees. Human eyes stare out of the ground. It is like a Magritte. Only much scarier.

And for a spectacular, in-depth look at his most famous painting, check out this interactive, incredibly detailed version from the team behind the documentary Hieronymus Bosch, Touched by the Devil.

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Extraordinary interactive hi-res exhibit of Bosch’s ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’Colossal
Teaching art history online can be tough, despite a wealth of tools and technologies it’s difficult to create an environment that compares to a great teacher who can make artworks engaging to a live audience. However, this new interactive exhibit of Hieronymus Bosch’s famous Garden of Earthly Delights completely nails it. This is the internet we were promised.

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Photography pioneer with a modern eye

Let’s take a step back from that self-congratulatory, sycophantic ceremony, and look at the cinematic imagery of Heinrich Kühn, regarded as one of the forefathers of fine art photography.

The astonishing cinematic autochrome photography of Heinrich KühnFlashbak
As cameras slowly changed during the 1890s, becoming lighter, more manoeuvrable, there grew a desire among photographs to create more artistic images. pictures that rivalled painting for their impressionistic beauty. One pioneer of this trend was Heinrich Kühn, a German-born amateur photographer. […]

From 1890 onwards, Kühn started working on creating his “total art” photographs. His pictures were described as “painterly” and “impressionistic” but to our modern eye look more like movie stills from some great, unreleased film.

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And talking of cinematic, here’s a fresh look at what would have been 1896’s nominee for best picture.

Neural networks upscale film from 1896 to 4K, make it look like it was shot on a modern smartphoneGizmodo
L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat doesn’t have the same effect on modern audiences, but Denis Shiryaev wondered if it could be made more compelling by using neural network powered algorithms (including Topaz Labs’ Gigapixel AI and DAIN) to not only upscale the footage to 4K, but also increase the frame rate to 60 frames per second. You might yell at your parents for using the motion smoothing setting on their fancy new TV, but here the increased frame rate has a dramatic effect on drawing you into the action.

[4k, 60 fps] Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (The Lumière Brothers, 1896)YouTube

What would Louis Lumière have made of that, I wonder. As a reminder, here’s his original. The place looks a little different now. I wonder if they do requests to update other old film.

Art worth the money

Toying around with Sedition is all well and good, but what if you’ve got some serious cash to spend on art?

Dalí and Gala with their ‘heads full of clouds’ go up for sale at BonhamsThe Art Newspaper
An Elysian diptych Salvador Dalí painted of himself and his wife Gala with their “heads full of clouds” is set to lead Bonhams’s Impressionist and Modern Art sale in London on 26 March. Dalí made the oil-on-wood-panel painting Couple aux têtes pleines de nuages (1937) (est £7m-£10m) at the height of his Surrealist period, when the Spanish Civil War drove the artist to produce several pieces considered to be masterworks for their mesmeric portrayals of the unconscious mind and Freudian paradigms.

Alternatively, here’s something a little approachable, relatable, inspirational, hopeful, meaningful.

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Prospect Cottage needs you nowArt Fund
On the windswept shore of Dungeness, visionary British filmmaker, artist and activist Derek Jarman transformed a Victorian fisherman’s hut into a sanctuary of art and imagination. Prospect Cottage and its iconic garden stand testament to his defiant spirit, and have the potential to inspire artists and visitors long into the future. But they are at risk. Help us raise £3.5 million to #SaveProspectCottage, and secure its future as a centre of creative activity – for everyone.

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‘A toolbox for his work’: fundraiser launched to save Derek Jarman’s home – The Guardian
Deller said the cottage gave a great insight in to what Jarman was like as an artist. “The word unique is overused, but this really is a unique environment, it’s a unique building. Within it you can see his thought processes, you can see his work and it is all in such incredible condition … he deserves to have this kept as it was.”

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I remember being quite moved by Blue when it came out in the 90s. I still have the book that went with it, I think, somewhere. I really hope this fundraising project is successful, he was quite a creative force.

Real life Rothko

We’ve seen Rothkos on iPhones before, but how about some from the algae covered marshes of the south of France?

Defying vertigo to capture aerials from an ultralight planeWired
From above, Chesnel discovered, the seaside landscapes of southern France look like abstract paintings, with vibrant bands of color bleeding into each other. They reminded her of canvases by the mid-century American artist Mark Rothko. Some marshes were pink or orange, thanks to the proliferation of an algae called Dunaliella salina. Depending on their levels of salinization and types of algae, other marshes were green, golden yellow, or brown. “I like pushing the boundary between paintings and photographs,” says Chesnel, who trained as a painter and only recently transitioned into photography. […]

Chesnel hopes that viewers of the images will be temporarily lifted out of their everyday concerns and given a fresh outlook on the world. … “From the ground you may see something that doesn’t look glamorous at all, but from above it becomes beautiful,” she says.

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Just as mad as those in China.

A new family of brass instruments

I have the pleasure (?) of living in a household with a number of brass instruments, but I’ve never seen anything like these.

Brass horns mounted in interactive sculptures by Steve Parker emit sound by touchColossal
Artist and musician Steve Parker’s latest interactive projects invite viewers to feel the music⁠—literally. Activated by touch, “Ghost Box” plays randomized audio segments on a loop, including the ticks of Morse Code, the chorus of spirituals, and the blows of the shofar and Iron Age Celtic carnyx. Each time someone makes contact with a part of the wall sculpture, a new noise emits. Inspired by WWII era short wave radio, the mounted piece is constructed from a mix of salvaged brass, tactical maps, paper musical scores, wires, map pins, electronics, audio components, and an instrument case. The name even references the paranormal tool sometimes employed when people try to communicate with those who have died.

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Ghost BoxVimeo

And whilst these may look loud, they’re actually listening devices that remind me of those concrete sound mirrors.

TubascopesSteve Parker
The Tubascope is a sculpture that works likes a telescope for your ears. Modeled after obsolete WWII acoustic locators, the Tubascope is made from reclaimed and repurposed brass instruments that have been augmented with tubing and headphones. When used, the Tubascope helps a person focus their listening on specific, far away sounds that may have been otherwise unnoticed.

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TubascopesVimeo

Now, these mad trombone and trumpet shapes really reminded me of paintings I first came across at university (25 years ago now? goodness me), but I couldn’t for the life of me remember who they were by—murals, I think, in collaboration with school children, somehow. And for all I moan on about Google, it did come to the rescue with such vague search terms as painting, trumpets, children, mural.

Tim Rollins & K.O.S.Institute for Research in Art
The history of Tim Rollins and K.O.S. (Kids of Survival) is a story of art and education triumphing over the hardships of life. It is a story which might have been torn from the pages of great literature. In fact, the group uses pages cut from classical literature as the groundwork for many of their paintings and as the source of imagery for their works.

Yes, that’s the one! He was a teacher in the 80s working with under-privileged kids to create art that would “transport his students from the tough streets of New York to the inner sanctums of major museums as celebrated artists”.

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But alas.

Tim Rollins, artist and activist whose work thrived on collaboration, dies at 62ARTnews
Tim Rollins, whose work bridged the gap between activism and art, bringing together strands of literature and art history, painting, Minimalism, conceptual art, and social justice, has died of natural causes, according to the Maureen Paley gallery, which showed him in London, and Lehmann Maupin, which showed him in New York and Hong Kong. He was 62.

Far too young.

A secret photographer #2

The enigmatic Vivian Maier may be the most street photographer to hide her work from the world, and a while ago I shared an article about Masha Ivashintsova, a Russian equivalent. Here’s another, though Saul Leiter might be a little different; he was still around to see his work finally recognised.

Why Saul Leiter kept his colorful street photography secret for decadesArtsy
Yet except for his inner circle, no one saw Leiter’s personal color work until toward the end of his life. He adopted the nascent medium in the 1940s, when it was relegated to splashy advertisements and amateur shooters, not fine artists. Walker Evans called color photography “vulgar,” and his contemporaries like Robert Frank and Ansel Adams agreed. When William Eggleston, Helen Levitt, and Stephen Shore ushered in the era of color in the 1970s, Leiter, a private man who never sought fame, was barely a footnote. He had made a living shooting fashion during the heyday of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, but by the ’80s, he was deep in debt and nearly forgotten.

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Leiter wasn’t interested in the human condition, like Frank or Diane Arbus; instead he understood the simple poetry of a stranger’s silhouette, or raindrops on a window pane. “I may be old-fashioned, but I believe there is such a thing as a search for beauty—a delight in the nice things in the world. And I don’t think one should have to apologize for it.”

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An unsettling self-portrait

Another reminder of what Van Gogh went through.

Not a fake: Van Gogh self-portrait is his only work painted while suffering psychosis, experts sayThe Art Newspaper
Van Tilborgh believes that the self-portrait was painted in late August 1889, in the asylum just outside Saint-Rémy: “The somewhat unusual type of canvas, the pigments, the sombre palette and the brushwork are all in keeping with his output in the late summer and autumn of that year.”

The painting is now linked to a letter in which Van Gogh wrote that he had made a self-portrait which was “an attempt from when I was ill”. The artist had suffered a severe mental attack at the asylum in mid July 1889, when he tried to swallow paints, but by 22 August he had recovered sufficiently to write to his brother Theo, asking that he be allowed access to his painting materials. Van Tilborgh argues that the artist made the self-portrait a few days later, before he suffered a minor setback and was ill for a short period at the beginning of September.

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It’s an arresting image, though I think the version of it that appears in this article, being somewhat darker, feels much deeper.

Leading you through the street art of London

There’s more to street art than Banksy, of course, especially in London. You’d be forgiven for thinking the place was one giant, open air art gallery, going by the number of locations highlighted in this tour of street art hotspots: Brixton, Camden, Dulwich, Hackney, Shoreditch, Walthamstow… (Via London Life With Liz)

10 best places to see street art in LondonDutch Girl in London
Is street art in London legal?’ people often ask me on my history & street art tours in East London. Technically, street art in London is very much illegal. However, having become one of the world’s leading cities to feature such high-quality urban artworks, some local authorities condone it. You won’t be able to find street art in all London neighbourhoods so to help you, I’ve compiled a guide with the best places to see street art in London.

So many wonderful paintings here. I love the contrast between the traditional murals…

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… the photorealistic portraits…

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… and the punchy, graphic work from Stik.

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Happy New Decade

Happy New Year, and all that. At last, we’re in a decade with a normal name.

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2020 is such a futuristic-sounding year.

It’s 2020 and you’re in the futureWait But Why
It’s also weird that to us, the 2020s sounds like such a rad futuristic decade—and that’s how the 1920s seemed to people 100 years ago today. They were all used to the 19-teens, and suddenly they were like, “whoa cool we’re in the twenties!” Then they got upset thinking about how much farther along in life their 1910 self thought they’d be by 1920.

To give us a sense of the decade we’ve just left behind, here, via Kottke, is a list of all the best ‘best of’ lists, if that makes sense.

Lists: Best of the 2010s decade
This page, compiled by @fimoculous, aggregates all of the lists related to 2010s decade.

As well as what you’d expect to find (34 lists in the Books category, and 120 lists in the Film category), there are a few more interesting ones.

Here’s an extra one to add to the list, before our futuristic hubris catches up with us.

From Glass to Fire Phone, these were the decade’s top tech flopsWired UK
Facebook Portal: In 2018, though, a scandal-infected Facebook was attempting to put out fire after fire – the Cambridge Analytica breach, Russian troll ads, the UN’s report on its role in Myanmar. With Facebook the absolute worst word in privacy and trust, no-one wanted a Facebook camera and microphone in their homes, especially one which the company admitted would track call data in order to serve ads to users.