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A panorama of Donetsk airport after the Russian invasion (posted by Dermandar, via @jmcolberg)

This week, artists and drones, archiving the web, Russian art manifestos, the lies of American Sniper, modern life, and more.

 Pulitzer Prize–award winning critic Jen Graves shares her thoughts about “What Only Artists Can Teach Us About Technology, Data, and Surveillance,” and she writes:

Art is supposed to combat loneliness, too. The key question about tech-based art is still the one Roy Ascott asked in 1989: “Is there love in the telematic embrace?” When we say of a work of art, “I didn’t get it,” we don’t mean only that we didn’t understand it but literally that we didn’t receive it. It didn’t cross over to where we are. It left us just as it found us, on our own. All art has to cross this distance, but tech art comes up against the additional bias of our “deep-seated fears of the machine coming to dominate the human will and of a technological formalism erasing human content and values,” Ascott wrote. Our technophobia. It’s a bias I know I have, founded in my insecurity about my life essentially depending on technological structures that I barely understand. Twomey had a feeling deep down that computer art “was bunk” because he didn’t believe in its ability to love.

 Seems like a simple question: Can the web be archived? Jill Lepore unpacks it:

In 2006, David Cameron gave a speech in which he said that Google was democratizing the world, because “making more information available to more people” was providing “the power for anyone to hold to account those who in the past might have had a monopoly of power.” Seven years later, Britain’s Conservative Party scrubbed from its Web site ten years’ worth of Tory speeches, including that one. Last year, BuzzFeed deleted more than four thousand of its staff writers’ early posts, apparently because, as time passed, they looked stupider and stupider. Social media, public records, junk: in the end, everything goes.

 Can you match the art manifesto to the Russian protest? This is funny.

 These US laws are just insane, including:

  • In Connecticut, pickles must bounce to officially be considered pickles.
  • In Florida, a person may not appear in public clothed in liquid latex.
  • In Ohio, it’s illegal to disrobe in front of a man’s portrait.
  • In Washington, it’s illegal to paint polka dots on the American flag.
  • In Kentucky, it’s illegal to paint your lawn red.

 Jeff Sharlet looks at the graveyard shift on Instagram. I love the concept of this story, and the writing is great, but it does follow a long tradition of rather lazy “reporting” around a corporate platform that makes you wonder if it revealing much of anything at all. Regardless, I recommend reading this short essay:

There are the warehouse workers who snap themselves letting a wisp of marijuana smoke slip from between their lips, little Instagram rebellions. There are the soldiers and sailors pulling a night shift for no good reason other than orders, photographing themselves and their comrades on the verge of sleep or already under. Cops in noirish black and white, their pictures framed to show a bit of badge. And nurses. A lot of nurses. Close-up, arm’s length, forced smiles, dead eyes. Scroll through #nightshift, and you’ll see some saints among them and some whose hands you hope will be more alive in an emergency than their ashen faces.

 Jason Eppink has written a brief history of the GIF, which is a good summary, though I will say it is very corporate-heavy in its storytelling, focusing on when things were popularized:

 American Sniper may have broken all types of records at the box office, but there is a growing backlash against the film, which tells a very pro-American, propagandistic side of a much more complicated story. Raw Story has listed seven “big lies” the film propagates to audiences, including:

1. The Film Suggests the Iraq War Was In Response To 9/11: One way to get audiences to unambiguously support Kyle’s actions in the film is to believe he’s there to avenge the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The movie cuts from Kyle watching footage of the attacks to him serving in Iraq, implying there is some link between the two.

RELATED: Matt Taibbi writes that American Sniper is almost too dumb to criticize:

Sniper is a movie whose politics are so ludicrous and idiotic that under normal circumstances it would be beneath criticism. The only thing that forces us to take it seriously is the extraordinary fact that an almost exactly similar worldview consumed the walnut-sized mind of the president who got us into the war in question.

 And this is modern life:

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and 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.

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