A New London Art Installation Is Designed to Make You Cry

Tate Photography, Andrew Dunkley
Tate Photography, Andrew Dunkley

Some art is so powerful that it can move you to tears. A new installation at London’s Tate Modern is virtually guaranteed to do so, regardless of how you feel about it. As part of a new work by Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, visitors to the Tate’s Turbine Hall will be exposed to a chemical compound designed to produce tears, according to the BBC.

The installation is part of a larger exhibition on the plight of refugees and migration, one that features an ever-changing name—in a press release, the gallery calls it 10,143,075,926, but the figure is always increasing. The number reflects how many migrants moved from one country to another last year, and how many migrants have died in transit thus far this year.

The tear-inducing aspect of the piece is confined to one room, deemed the “crying room.” Inside, an organic chemical compound is constantly being pumped into the air, creating an invisible cloud that’s guaranteed to bring tears to your eyes. The BBC's coverage likened the feeling to what you experience while cutting onions, and said it has a minty smell. (Strong concentrations of menthol can produce tears, which is why actors use it to help them cry on command.)

White marks on a black floor in an art gallery
Tate Photography, Andrew Dunkley

The artist calls it “forced empathy” and hopes that the physical sensation of tearing up will provoke an emotional response in the viewer, too, combating the apathy that 24/7 news coverage of the current European migration crisis can engender.

In another bid to create a sense of togetherness in the space, the black floor is heat-sensitive, and when enough visitors lie down to warm it up with their body heat, a portrait of a young Syrian refugee appears hidden underneath. In order to see the image, visitors have to work together.

There are other aspects of the exhibition designed to make people uncomfortable. Low frequency sounds—which some experts have connected to the feeling of being haunted—are pumped into the gallery to make visitors feel unsettled. It all adds up to a multi-sensory experience designed to impact you on both an emotional and a physical level.

[h/t BBC]

Kids Can Join Children's Book Author Mo Willems for Daily "Lunch Doodles" on YouTube

Screenshot via YouTube
Screenshot via YouTube

For children interested in taking drawing lessons, there are few better teachers than Mo Willems. The bestselling author and illustrator has been charming young readers for years with his Pigeon picture book series. Now, from the Kennedy Center, where he's currently the artist-in-residence, Willems is hosting daily "Lunch Doodles" videos that viewers can take part in wherever they are. New lessons are posted to the Kennedy Center's YouTube channel each weekday at 1:00 p.m. EST.

With the novel coronavirus outbreak closing schools across the country, many kids are now expected to continue their education from home. For the next several weeks, Willems will be sharing his time and talents with bored kids (and their overworked parents) in the form of "Lunch Doodles" episodes that last anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. In the videos, Willems demonstrates drawing techniques, shares insights into his process, and encourages kids to come up with stories to go along with their creations.

"With millions of learners attempting to grow and educate themselves in new circumstances, I have decided to invite everyone into my studio once a day for the next few weeks," Willems writes for the center's blog. "Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons. We are going to doodle together and explore ways of writing and making."

If kids don't want to doodle during lunch, the videos will remain on YouTube for them to tune in at any time. The Kennedy Center is also publishing downloadable activity pages to go with each episode on its website [PDF]. For more ways to entertain children in quarantine or isolation, check out these livestreams from zoos, cultural institutions, and celebrities.

Dreaming of Your Favorite City? This Website Will Create a Personalized Haiku Poem About It for You

OpenStreetMap Haiku will capture the colorful character of your hometown in a few (possibly silly) phrases.
OpenStreetMap Haiku will capture the colorful character of your hometown in a few (possibly silly) phrases.
vladystock/iStock via Getty Images

You no longer need to spend all your free time struggling to capture the vibe of your favorite city in a few carefully chosen syllables—OpenStreetMap Haiku will do it for you.

The site, developed by Satellite Studio, uses the information from crowdsourced global map OpenStreetMap to create a haiku that describes any location in the world. According to Travel + Leisure, the poems are based on data points like supermarkets, shops, local air quality, weather, time of day, and more.

“Looking at every aspect of the surroundings of a point, we can generate a poem about any place in the world,” the developers wrote in a blog post. “The result is sometimes fun, often weird, most of the time pretty terrible. Also probably horrifying for haiku purists (sorry).”

The results are also often waggishly accurate. For example, here’s a haiku describing Washington, D.C.:

“The same pot of coffee
Fresh coffee from Starbucks
The desk clerk.”

In other words, it seems like the city runs on compulsive coffee refills and paperwork. And if you thought life in Brooklyn, New York, was a combination of alcohol-fueled outings to basement bars and traffic-filled trips into the city, this poem probably confirms your suspicions:

“Getting drunk at The Nest
Today in New York
Green. Red. Green. Red.”

The website’s creators were inspired by Naho Matsuda’s Every Thing Every Time, a 2018 art installation outside Theatre Royal in Newcastle, England, that used data points to generate an ever-changing poem about the city.

Wondering what OpenStreetMap Haiku has to say about your hometown? Explore the map here.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]