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Spoon & Tamago is always on top of the latest sushi design trends, so check out (left) Tama-chan’s unique sushi rolls, while seaweed seller Umino Hiroyuki and the creative agency I&S BBDO have found a way to laser-cut seaweed sheets to create Design Nori. (via Spoon & Tamago)

This week, net neutrality is threatened, authenticating a Rothko, 3D printing homes, how hip-hop failed Black America, Shakespeare’s dictionary, designing sushi, probing “Stealing Banksy,” and more.

 In very disturbing news this week, the US’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has backed off net neutrality, which will impact ALL companies, organizations, and governments who have any presence online:

The F.C.C. had previously warned against those types of deals, saying they could unfairly discriminate against companies that could not or were not willing to pay.

… The sparring will be closely watched by every company that depends, even peripherally, on the Internet — which is to say, just about every company. Businesses that use Internet connections to provide consumer services — obvious ones like Google and Netflix but also home alarm system providers, medical equipment companies and even makers of washers and dryers — will thrive or fail based on how much it costs them to maintain easy online contact with households and businesses.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is ringing alarm bells about the FCC’s new proposal:

This kind of “pay to play” model would be profoundly dangerous for competition. New innovators often cannot afford to pay to reach consumers at the same speeds as well-established web companies. That means ISPs could effectively become gatekeepers to their subscribers.

And the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has weighed in as well:

Gabe Rottman, legislative counsel and policy advisor with the American Civil Liberties Union, had this reaction:

“If true, this reversal would be a giant step in the wrong direction. Net neutrality ensures that new and innovative tech companies are not crowded out of the internet marketplace by the giants of the industry. Until consumers have a meaningful choice when connecting to the internet, monopolistic high-speed broadband providers will have an incentive to charge content providers more to connect to their customers. Net neutrality prevents that overcharge, which gets passed along to consumers and stifles innovation. If the FCC embraces this reported reversal in its stance toward net neutrality, barriers to innovation will rise, the marketplace of ideas on the internet will be constrained, and consumers will ultimately pay the price.”

 While I don’t agree with LA Times art critic Christopher Knight as to why the Byzantine Empire was noteworthy, and I can’t help but enjoy Knight’s review of the Byzantine Art exhibition at the Getty Villa:

  1. The show even includes religiously inspired graffiti of startling violence. A first-century marble head of the pagan goddess Aphrodite — a Roman copy of an elegant Greek original by Praxiteles — was literally beaten up. Her nose was broken off to disfigure her beauty, her eyes gouged out to metaphorically blind her and her mouth scarred to stop her from speaking. A cross was crudely chiseled into her forehead.
  2. Take that, pagans!

 One man is on a mission to prove the painting he bought in 1987 for $319.50 is a real work by American 20th century painter Mark Rothko, but the story is more complicated (of course):

After decades of setbacks and dead ends, the collector recently obtained what three scholars believe is compelling photographic evidence linking the painting to Rothko.

… When they turned the photo over to the court, Mr. Rothko’s attorney stipulated that it be accompanied by a disclaimer, saying in part: “Ms. Kahan and the Rothko family… specifically caution against drawing any undue inference of authenticity” from it.

 Chinese materials firm Yingchuang New Materials has reportedly produced 10 3D-printed buildings in 24 hours, using a custom-built machine that outputs layers of construction waste mixed with cement:

 Everyone is talking about Thomas Piketty’s new book about economic inequality and the New York Times is wondering if we should try to look at art through that lens:

In his book, published in English last month, Mr. Piketty argues that the rich are only going to get richer as a result of free-market capitalism. The reason, according to Mr. Piketty, is simple. Returns on invested capital are greater than rates of economic growth, and this, he says, has become a “fundamental force for divergence” in society.

Although art is one of the few subjects not mentioned in the index of Mr. Piketty’s 685-page opus, it is worth considering how the unprecedented amounts of money the wealthy have recently been spending on trophy artworks might be a natural extension of his argument.

Courtesy of the above-growth returns identified by Mr. Piketty, the rich are further increasing their wealth by buying art. Many millions have been made by a new breed of investor-collectors who buy Bacons, Warhols and Richters high, and sell even higher. Art by desirable investment-grade names makes the rich richer. And more and more wealthy individuals are now prepared to make bids of more than $100 million at auctions, while outside, beyond the shiny bubble of the art world, living standards in the rest of society stagnate or decline.

 Writing for New York Magazine‘s new recent history of hip-hop series, Questlove writes about how hip-hop failed Black America:

Young America now embraces hip-hop as the signal pop-music genre of its time. So why does that victory feel strange: not exactly hollow, but a little haunted?

… I keep coming back to the same answer, which is this: The reason is simple. The reason is plain. Once hip-hop culture is ubiquitous, it is also invisible. Once it’s everywhere, it is nowhere. What once offered resistance to mainstream culture (it was part of the larger tapestry, spooky-action style, but it pulled at the fabric) is now an integral part of the sullen dominant. Not to mention the obvious backlash conspiracy paranoia: Once all of black music is associated with hip-hop, then Those Who Wish to Squelch need only squelch one genre to effectively silence an entire cultural movement.

 Indian-British writer Salman Rushdie has this to say about Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez‘s recent death and continuing legacy:

The great man’s passing may put an end to Latin American writers’ anxiety at his influence, and allow his work to be noncompetitively appreciated. Fuentes, acknowledging García Márquez’s debt to Faulkner, called Macondo his Yoknapatawpha County, and that may be a better point of entry into the oeuvre. These are stories about real people, not fairy tales. Macondo exists; that is its magic.

The trouble with the term “magic realism,” el realismo mágico, is that when people say or hear it they are really hearing or saying only half of it, “magic,” without paying attention to the other half, “realism.” But if magic realism were just magic, it wouldn’t matter. It would be mere whimsy — writing in which, because anything can happen, nothing has effect. It’s because the magic in magic realism has deep roots in the real, because it grows out of the real and illuminates it in beautiful and unexpected ways, that it works.

 Superflat artist Takashi Murakami is making a movie and the trailer suggests it will be a trippy sci-fi kid’s flick:

 Yikes! Reviewers will find more spelling errors in your writing if they think you’re black:

They judged the memo far more harshly when they were told the author was black than when they were told the author was white. On a scale of one to five, reviewers gave the black Thomas Meyer a 3.2 and the white Thomas Meyer a 4.1.

More troublingly, not only was the overall score lower, but reviewers seemed to find more errors when they believed the author was black. Out of seven spelling and grammar errors in the text, they found 2.9 of them on average in white Thomas Meyer’s memo and 5.8 of them on average in black Thomas Meyer’s memo. Out of six technical writing errors, reviewers found an average of 4.1 in the white version and 4.9 in the black version. Out of the five factual errors, they found an average of 3.2 in the white version and 3.9 in the black version.

There was no apparent effect from the race of the reviewer, and the sample of reviewers included a mix of races.

 Is this William Shakespeare’s personal dictionary? Two NYC booksellers says it is, though others aren’t so sure:

For more than half a century, many scholars have believed that Shakespeare consulted a 1580 dictionary published in London called An Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionarie. Assembled by Cambridge Latin instructor John Baret, the Alvearie was one of the most popular dictionaries of its time. It was “quadruple” because it covered four languages: English, Latin, Greek, and French.

… Now, two antiquarians, George Koppelman and Daniel Wechsler, believe they’ve found the copy. It surfaced on eBay, naturally, where the book’s 1580 publication date and a seller’s reference to “contemporary annotations” caught Koppelman’s eye. Suspecting the book was what he now believes it to be, Koppelman paid $4,300 for it in 2008, he told the New Yorker.

 RJ Rushmore and Caroline Caldwell of Vandalog interviewed Tony Baxter, the man behind “Stealing Banksy,” a group selling works by Banksy that were formerly on the street (and against the wishes of the artist). Baxter has this to say about the work:

The amount of time on the street has no effect on the value, the main effect on the value is the amount of time the piece has been relevant or in the press. Nothing could illustrate this more than the recent bristol piece, it was on the street for a mere 2 hours, and yet is currently the most famous piece in the world. This was created by the press and media hype, and when it comes to sale it will sell at a price set by this hype.

And then RJ deconstructs the interview:

Baxter’s answer for as to why auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s refuse to sell Banksy street pieces implies that those auction houses also refuse to sell authenticated Banksy works intended for sale in galleries, which is not true. They sell those works all the time. They only refuse to sell street pieces, even though some Banksy street pieces have sold for more than many authenticated Banksy originals sold at Sotheby’s or Christie’s. Baxter gave a very misleading dodge of our question.

Finally, Baxter refuses to delve much into how The Sincura Group ensures ethical buyers of the work, or what an ethical buyer means to them, so that’s still just left for us to speculate about.

The main sense I get from Baxter is simple: Trust us when we say that we’re doing the right thing, but don’t investigate further.

 Following art omnivore Rebecca Taylor on social media I discovered this interesting fact. It appears architect Philip Johnson traded this Frank Stella painting to artist Donald Judd for this Judd outdoor sculpture that can be found at Johnson’s Glass House estate in New Canaan, CT. As much as I like the art of Judd, I have to say the minimalist got the better deal in this instance:

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.