Interviews – Cultivating Culture http://www.cultivatingculture.com Thinking and writing about culture around the world Tue, 14 Nov 2017 19:13:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 50009989 Alejandro Aravena Wins 2016 Pritzker Prize http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/01/13/alejandro-aravena-wins/ Wed, 13 Jan 2016 18:39:46 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4406 Chile-based architect Alejandro Aravena has won this year’s prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture, intended to honor a living architect who demonstrates talent, vision, and commitment, and who has produced significant contributions to architecture. As part of the award, Aravena will receive a $100,000 grant. Aravena is the 41st recipient of the prize, the first from […]

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An image of the Universidad Católica de Chile in a sunny day.

The mathematics school at at the Universidad Católica de Chile, one of Aravena’s buildings | NPR

Chile-based architect Alejandro Aravena has won this year’s prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture, intended to honor a living architect who demonstrates talent, vision, and commitment, and who has produced significant contributions to architecture. As part of the award, Aravena will receive a $100,000 grant.

Aravena is the 41st recipient of the prize, the first from Chile, and the fourth from Latin America. Of the choice of winner, Tom Pritzker, Chairman and President of The Hyatt Foundation which sponsors the prize, said, “The jury has selected an architect who deepens our understanding of what is truly great design. Alejandro Aravena has pioneered a collaborative practice that produces powerful works of architecture and also addresses key challenges in the 21st century.”

“His built work gives economic opportunity to the less privileged, mitigates the effects of natural disasters, reduces energy consumption, and provides welcoming public space. Innovative and inspiring, he shows how architecture at its best can improve people’s lives,” Pritzker added in a statement.

Aravena’s buildings include the Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago, including many of its additional components and schools. His buildings are energy-efficient and respond to the local climate innovatively. Other buildings are currently under construction in Shanghai and in Austin, Texas, where he is building dorms for St. Edward’s University.

“Looking back, we feel deeply thankful. No achievement is individual. Architecture is a collective discipline,” Aravena said of his win in an email. “So we think, with gratitude, of all the people who contributed to give form to a huge diversity of forces at play. Looking into the future, we anticipate freedom!”

In an essay for The Guardian, Aravena explained that his interests in architecture are strongly relative to the context and environment in which it is built. His buildings rely on local resources for construction, and his most ambitious project thus far, founding a firm called Elemental, is dedicated to finding ways to build socially-conscious housing for low-income communities.

“The battle for a better-built environment is a collective effort that requires everybody’s force and knowledge,” Aravena wrote.

Congratulations, Alejandro!

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David Bowie + Art + Tributes = Yay http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2016/01/12/david-bowie-art-tributes-yay/ Tue, 12 Jan 2016 19:51:41 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4402 By now you’ve heard that the arts community has suffered a devastating loss after David Bowie succumbed to cancer. Though his past was not without controversies, Bowie made a number of significant contributions to the worlds of acting, music, fashion, and fine art. An avid collector, Bowie’s art collection was large, boasting mostly smaller names […]

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David Bowie stands in front of a painting.

David Bowie with Peter Howson’s Croatian and Muslim (1994) | Artnet/Richard Young/Rex Features

By now you’ve heard that the arts community has suffered a devastating loss after David Bowie succumbed to cancer. Though his past was not without controversies, Bowie made a number of significant contributions to the worlds of acting, music, fashion, and fine art. An avid collector, Bowie’s art collection was large, boasting mostly smaller names and works from the 20th century. “Art was, seriously, the only thing I’d ever wanted to known,” Bowie said.

Bowie’s love of art sometimes came up even in the lyrics to his songs: “Unwashed and Slightly Dazed” mentions French painter Georges Braque, while “Joe the Lion” references a performance piece by Chris Burden. And in 1974, the set design of Bowie’s Diamond Dogs tour was inspired by the work of George Grosz.

His collection features work by British artists Graham Sutherland, Leon Kossoff, and Gavin Turk, among others. Particularly fascinated by artists that were willing to take risks in their work. “From a very early age I was always fascinated by those who transgressed the norm, who defied convention, whether in painting or in music or anything,” he told Life in 1992. “Those were my heroes.” Certainly his admiration for the different, transgressive, and the colorful pervaded his long career.

The pieces in his collection are colorful and expressive, reflective of Bowie himself.

In rightful spirit, many artists are now paying tribute to Bowie through art and photography. Yoko Ono posted a photograph of herself with Bowie and John Lennon on Instagram, writing that Bowie was “as close as family…when [our son] Sean was at boarding school in Switzerland, David would pick him up and take him on trips to museums and let Sean hang out at his recording studio in Geneva.”

Instagram user kloneyourself posted his own art on Instagram, and ink and watercolor piece, black with white spirals with Bowie’s signature lightning bolt off-center. User mcachicago posted a photograph of people dressed like the musician at an exhibit, while others posted art, pictures, and thoughts and words.

May his love for art and difference live on.

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Art Historian Steven Nelson on #BlackOnCampus and Art Historians http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/12/02/art-historian-steven-nelson/ Wed, 02 Dec 2015 15:34:05 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4331 Steven Nelson, a full art history professor at UCLA and the director of the African Studies Center, is weighing in on the current #BlackOnCampus hashtag rippling through Twitter and his own experiences being a person of color not only on campus, but as an authority figure and teacher at a university. According to his research, […]

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A blank, black chalkboard, waiting.

Image: Shutterstock

Steven Nelson, a full art history professor at UCLA and the director of the African Studies Center, is weighing in on the current #BlackOnCampus hashtag rippling through Twitter and his own experiences being a person of color not only on campus, but as an authority figure and teacher at a university. According to his research, Nelson is one of only six full professors in art history who are black.

Recently, Nelson tweeted these statistics using the hashtag. In an interview with Hyperallergic, Nelson says that he was spurred to think about his own career and position in the collegiate and historian worlds by the hashtag, which people are using to talk about what it’s like to be black on university campuses and in society at large. “Seeing this conversation unfold made me start to wonder about what it was also like for me to be black and on a college campus,” Nelson said.

The art historian believes he is one of only six or seven black full professors in the U.S. He made two lists of names he knew: one for African-Americans in art history, and one for people of African descent. He counted 13 people in total and only 6 full professors, though Nelson acknowledges that there may be names he missed in his research. All but one of these professors is in art history.

When asked about why he made the lists, Nelson replied, “I began to think about why there are so few and came to realize that the process of being promoted is laden with bias—but structural, rather than personal, bias.” Nelson believes that the reasons for this are multiple: there’s a perception that art history is a white field and a privileged endeavor; many people who enter the field do not go above associate professor; and there are fewer people of color hired in the first place.

“Sometimes it pisses me off that more people of color haven’t achieved [full professor rank], and that more people aren’t concerned,” Nelson says. And more shocking? “I’ve had a total of four black students—two men, two women—in 15 years of teaching here.” Two of these students dropped out, one is likely to, and the other is currently finishing his degree. “Black students may well want to pursue art history, but will be discouraged if they get the sense that their colleagues or professors don’t value that.”

The number of professors and students who are people of color is startlingly low when compared to the numbers of white teachers and students. Lack of diversity has no place in art, in its creation or its appreciation.

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Lady Gaga and Yale-Hosted Teens To Talk About The Importance of Emotions http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/11/06/lady-gaga-and-yale-hosted/ Fri, 06 Nov 2015 17:30:05 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4270 Did you know that Lady Gaga almost walked away from the music industry because she sensed that she had become a “money making machine”? She might act tough, but she’s only human, like the rest of us. Lady Gaga recently stopped by the Yale School of Management at Yale University and joined approximately 200 high […]

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Victorian windows and magnolia blooms at Yale University.

Image: Victorian windows at Yale University | Shutterstock

Did you know that Lady Gaga almost walked away from the music industry because she sensed that she had become a “money making machine”?
She might act tough, but she’s only human, like the rest of us.

Lady Gaga recently stopped by the Yale School of Management at Yale University and joined approximately 200 high school students, top policy makers, and academic officials to discuss ways to identify and channel emotions for positive outcomes.

As part of Yale University, the Yale School of Management is a very prestigious program and is ranked in the top 15 best graduate business schools. Yale SOM’s alumni network includes successful individuals like Tom Ascheim (Former Newsweek CEO and President of ABC Family) and Sally Rocker (Managing Director at J.C. Flowers & Co.).

The event, #EmotionRevolution Summit, is a new initiative that partners with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. The foundation is committed to “supporting the wellness of young people and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world.” The panel of the event also included Yale President Peter Salovey, a pioneer in the study of emotional intelligence.

Results of an online survey involving 22,000 high school students were unveiled at the event by Marc Brackett, director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. As the survey explored how young people currently feel and how they want to feel in school (and possible reasons for these emotions), findings revealed that the words “tired,” “stressed,” and “bored” were among the most common words students used to explain their emotions at school.

“We need to close the gap between what students are currently are feeling and how they want to be feeling,” said Brackett. “We need to give young people and the adults who are teaching and raising them the tools and resources they need to create schools and families where emotions matter! We need an Emotion Revolution.”

Revealing why becoming a “money making machine” made her so unhappy, Lady Gaga began to feel better about herself once she started saying no to things, adding, “Slowly but surely, I remembered who I am.”

Click here to watch Lady Gaga’s full speech.

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Tips for Finding Good, Affordable Art http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/10/14/tips-for-finding-good-art/ Wed, 14 Oct 2015 15:21:24 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4207 Buying art can be a stressful venture: it’s expensive, some of it is very rare, and finding things that cater to your personal taste and style can prove more difficult than you’d think. But finding good art doesn’t have to be so difficult, and you don’t need millions of dollars to surrender at a Christie’s […]

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A rose-colored picture frame, empty, surrounded by a white background.

Image: Shutterstock

Buying art can be a stressful venture: it’s expensive, some of it is very rare, and finding things that cater to your personal taste and style can prove more difficult than you’d think. But finding good art doesn’t have to be so difficult, and you don’t need millions of dollars to surrender at a Christie’s auction. Having a few tips on hand can make a difference.

The important thing to understand before you buy art is what you actually like. It seems easy, but you might be surprised. The more you know about art and your own style, the easier the hunt will be. The best way to discover what interests you is by visiting galleries and museums. Many of them are free, and you can learn a lot there.

It’s best to start small. Certainly you are welcome to splurge, but if you’re new to buying art, it’s better to stay safe. Bob and Cortney Novogratz, art collectors and New York-based designers, encourage new art buyers to consider starting with some photography or a limited-edition print, as they’re easier to come by and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Or, if you’re on a budget and you have children, enlarge their pieces of art and frame them.

Support local artists! Check out local galleries and college shows to find some newcomers, eager artists who want to get their work out into the world. You never know when you’ll find something really amazing, and by someone who could grow up to be a real contender.

Most importantly, do your research. You’re the one who’s going to live with this art in your life, with conversations about its origin, so it’s necessary that you buy something you’re going to love and enjoy. Talk to other collectors, artists, gallery owners. There’s a lot of art in the world and not all of it will appeal to you.

Be sure to save receipts, emails. Invoices, or any other content that’s created during the transaction. Enjoy your new art!

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2015 MacArthur Genius Grant Winners Announced http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/10/02/2015-macarthur-genius-grant/ Fri, 02 Oct 2015 17:07:58 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4176 The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has just released the list of this year’s 24 MacArthur Genius Grant winners, a prestigious award that comes with a hefty cash prize. The award goes to select individuals who show “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The Foundation […]

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The MacArthur Foundation logo.

Image: The MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has just released the list of this year’s 24 MacArthur Genius Grant winners, a prestigious award that comes with a hefty cash prize. The award goes to select individuals who show “extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The Foundation also funds media, culture, and social endeavors.

This year, the list of winners is a good one, reaching from writers and artists to activists and chemists. Winners are notified by phone and allowed to tell only one other person until the news goes public, a rule artist Nicole Eisenman had trouble following: “I split my person into like eight to 10 people. I had to tell them, and they had really wonderful reactions,” Ms. Eisenman said.

The award comes with a $625,000 stipend spread out over 5 years—and the money also comes with a “no strings attached” rule that the Foundation takes quite seriously. “They don’t have to report to us. They can use the funds any way they see fit,” says Cecilia A. Conrad, managing director of the Foundation.

Winners include William Dichtel, a chemist at Cornell University whose work pioneered assembly of molecules into potential electronic, optical, and energy-storage devices. Ben Lerner, a novelist and poet, also won; as did Ta-Nehisi Coates, author and social critic, who said that while he wanted to be “cool” during his call from the Foundation, found the act of actually being cool pretty difficult.

The money is meant to provide some much-needed “breathing-room” for the winners, in whom the Foundation sees great things already happening with the potential for more. The Foundation wants to give the winners the opportunity to continue to do wonderful works without the added pressure of financial stress.

But the best part of the grant isn’t the money, says Ms. Eisenman. For her, the validation from her peers and vote of confidence are the most meaningful part of her win.

Click here for a complete list of winners.

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Art Events to See in NYC This Week http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/09/21/art-events-to-see-in-nyc-2/ Mon, 21 Sep 2015 23:02:12 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4155 Here are a few upcoming event highlights for art to see and engage with in the Big Apple this week! Kevin Beasley’s Untitled Stanzas: Staff/Un/Site: Beasley will install and play a new piece of music, made entirely of sounds collected around the High Line over a three-day period. The sounds come from crickets to birds […]

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The NY Public Library.

Image: The New York Public Library | Shutterstock

Here are a few upcoming event highlights for art to see and engage with in the Big Apple this week!

  1. Kevin Beasley’s Untitled Stanzas: Staff/Un/Site: Beasley will install and play a new piece of music, made entirely of sounds collected around the High Line over a three-day period. The sounds come from crickets to birds to the people who were near the High Line. Recordings are layered over one another for maximum effect. The performances are set for the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th at 6:00 P.M., at the High Line at the Rail Yards on the High Line at West 30th and 12th Ave. Admission is free, and the performance is open to all ages.
  2. Kristine Khouri and Rasha Salt, Past Disquiet: Narratives and Ghosts of the International Art Exhibition for Palestine, 1978. This show illuminates the legacy of a 1978 show, titled The International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine, an exhibit which was meant to show close to 200 works by over 200 artists in 30 countries. Unfortunately, the collection was destroyed during the Israeli army’s siege of Beirut in 1982. The show will be held at Artists’ Space Talks and Books, 55 Walker St., Tuesday the 22nd ad 7 P.M.
  3. All at Once. Sculptor Arlene Shechet will discuss her career with artist Janine Antoni and writer David Levi Strauss. Shechet will also discuss her book, titled All at Once, which details her long and prolific history working in different mediums. Their conversation will be moderated by Ian Berry, Dayton Director of the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. All at Once will be at the New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwartzman Building, Celeste Auditorium, 5th Ave at 42nd from 6-8 P.M, on Wednesday, September 23rd.

Enjoy! Give us your thoughts on these shows!

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Fredric Brandt’s Art Collection Set for Auction http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/09/14/fredric-brandts-art-collection/ Mon, 14 Sep 2015 17:24:11 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4132 The gigantic art collection of Fredric Brandt, celebrity cosmetic surgeon and skincare guru, is going up for auction at Phillips Auction House. The collection, valued around $15 million, boasts over 200 pieces. Though his cosmetic surgery clients included Madonna and business bigwigs, Brandt spent much of his free time purchasing and discussing art with friends. Brandt, […]

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Fredric Brandt at his Chelsea home.

Image: Fredric Brandt at his Chelsea, NY home | Artnet

The gigantic art collection of Fredric Brandt, celebrity cosmetic surgeon and skincare guru, is going up for auction at Phillips Auction House. The collection, valued around $15 million, boasts over 200 pieces. Though his cosmetic surgery clients included Madonna and business bigwigs, Brandt spent much of his free time purchasing and discussing art with friends. Brandt, who died in April of this year, was dedicated to his collection.

A slideshow of the art in Brandt’s home shows many beautiful and unique pieces. A 2004 Richard Prince work made from canceled checks and acrylic canvas, titled “My Wife, My Wife,” speaks a sad message on a sadder medium: “I asked her what she wanted. She said “the waiter.” Art dots every wall of Brandt’s home, whose clean lines make the house look more like an actual art museum than a private residence. A large painting of shoes in high heels, splashing in something rust-colored, mark the way through a set of white French doors.

The works of art around his house are colorful, bright, and captivating. “I like my art to make me feel good,” Brandt said in an interview. “I don’t want a piece of art to make me feel depressed.”  Dr. Brandt was a self-made businessman with a successful practice and a skincare line that was sold in close to 50 countries.

He maintained homes in New York and Miami, but in addition to struggling with depression, Brandt was allegedly devastated by a satiric portrait of him on Netflix’s new show, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The celebrity plastic surgeon was also known for practicing many of his procedures on himself. “I always try things on myself,” he said. “That way I can see if it works or it doesn’t work. And it gives people reassurance.”

Phillips Auction House beat out other competitors interested in Brandt’s collection via a third-party minimum-price guarantee.

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Hans Ulrich Obrist Wins 2015 Folkwang Prize http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/09/08/hans-ulrich-obrist-folkwang/ http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/09/08/hans-ulrich-obrist-folkwang/#comments Tue, 08 Sep 2015 16:50:21 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4109 The Museum Folkwang announced on Thursday that it would award the prestigious International Folkwang Prize to curator, art critic, and historian Hans Ulrich Obrist. Obrist currently serves as co-director of London’s Serpentine Gallery and is highly regarded in the art community. The Folkwang prize  comes with 25,000 euros and is awarded by the museum every […]

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Hans Ulrich Obrist

Image: Hans Ulrich Obrist | The New Yorker

The Museum Folkwang announced on Thursday that it would award the prestigious International Folkwang Prize to curator, art critic, and historian Hans Ulrich Obrist. Obrist currently serves as co-director of London’s Serpentine Gallery and is highly regarded in the art community.

The Folkwang prize  comes with 25,000 euros and is awarded by the museum every year to individuals and institutions that have made significant contributions to the arts to open dialogues between the arts and the general publuc. Established in 2010, previous winners of the prize include Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, and Reinhold Würth, noted patron of the arts.

Says the Museum Folkwang of this year’s choice, “At the heart of Obrist’s curatorial practice is his commitment to work closely with artists and raise the public profile of current art production, just as Osthaus did before him. He is as much a brilliant curator as a quiet and critical observer.” In 2012, Obrist and curator Klaus Biesenbach orchestrated the critically-acclaimed performance-art show, “12 Rooms,” at the Ruhr Triennial.

A piece on Obrist by the New York Times acknowledges his hard work and fervent dedication to the arts. D.T Max’s December 2014 article describes Obrist as “manic,” his speech a “comical torrent…citations bobbing and ideas colliding.” Of the 52 weekends in 2014, Obrist had been away, working, for 50 of them. At the time of Obrist and Max’s interview Obrist had conducted 2,400 interviews with artists, established and emerging, published 40 volumes of these interviews, and curated many, many art shows.

Obrist’s own aesthetic dictates a certain “unfinished” quality in the work and seeks art which speaks to something current, even if it’s old. He expressed doubts about the merits of painting, annoyance at white gallery walls and closing dates. Obrist’s preference is for relational art, or work whose content cannot be separated from the collective reception it receives. Additionally, the Serpentine Museum conducts what they call a “marathon,” in which Obrist describes what he has learned over the year from his travels, exhibits, and experiences. The first marathon, clocking in at 24 hours, so exhausted Obrist that he checked himself into a hospital.

Obrist is a steadfast fixture in the arts community and one of its most singular individuals; the Musem Folkwang could hardly have chosen a more likely candidate for the prize.

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“Ear-on-Arm”: Stelarc and Engineering the Human Body http://www.cultivatingculture.com/2015/08/13/ear-on-arm-stelarc/ Thu, 13 Aug 2015 16:58:46 +0000 http://www.cultivatingculture.com/?p=4040 Australian artist Stelarc is perhaps one of our most interesting. The 69-year-old is known for using himself as a canvas, suspending his own body from hooks in his flesh to swallowing a stomach sculpture to be followed via endoscope. Now, the artist is hard at work on a new project: to connect the ear growing […]

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Stelarc holds up his left arm, showing off the ear growing there.

Image: TheFinchAndPea

Australian artist Stelarc is perhaps one of our most interesting. The 69-year-old is known for using himself as a canvas, suspending his own body from hooks in his flesh to swallowing a stomach sculpture to be followed via endoscope. Now, the artist is hard at work on a new project: to connect the ear growing on his arm to the internet.

The goal of the project is to allow people to hear and track his movements at all times. The ear on his arm was partly put there via surgery and party via cell growth. Stelarc writes that the implantation of the ear has required two surgeries thus far, the first in 2006 to create the space by stretching the skin—which resulted in dangerous necrosis—and the second to install a Medpor implant to shape the ear itself.

A small microphone was implanted during the second surgery and tested successfully, though it later had to be removed due to infection. A final surgery will be scheduled to reintroduce the microphone to Stelarc’s body.

Stelarc’s “Ear on Arm” project won him the Ars Electronica top prize in 2010, and it took him ten years to find surgeons willing to do the not-critical, not-life-saving surgeries, and even then the project caused some discomfort for other people who found it offensive. But Stelarc is dedicated to it now, this project that has been with him—literally—for twenty years, and hopes that it will allow people to hear things from all over in the world around them.

“Increasingly now, people are becoming internet portals of experience … imagine if I could hear with the ears of someone in New York, imagine if I at the same time could see with the eyes of someone in London,” Stelarc says.

Stelarc add that artists can be “early alert warning systems,” that they summon the coming future and its possibilities. When the “Ear on Arm” project reaches the vision Stelarc has for it, people will be able to tune in to his life at any time they please.

Says Stelarc of the “Ear-on-Arm” project: “I guess I’ve always got something up my sleeve, but often my sleeve is rolled down.”

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