Chicago to Receive an E-Sports Arena, and Other News

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SURGE, a forthcoming e-sports arena in Chicago

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Chicago unveils plans for a funhouse-like e-sports arena on the city’s Near South Side. 

In a sign of the perpetually growing popularity of gaming, Chicago has unveiled designs for a $30 million,106,000-square-foot professional e-sports arena called Surge. Designed by local architecture and interiors firm KOO, the two-level structure will feature an IMAX-sized screen embedded in the facade and houses an arena with a global broadcasting center, stadium seating, and a stage where gamers will compete and interact with each other using state-of-the-art VR technology. From the promenade, visitors can witness the competitions on the aforementioned 35-by-85-foot vertical screen, which will be equipped with high-quality sound effects to enhance the viewing experience. If approved by the city council, the project will be slated for completion by 2022. 

Amazon will invest $2 billion into affordable housing where it maintains employment hubs. 

When Amazon announced plans to build a corporate headquarters in Long Island City, New York, detractors noted how the e-commerce giant’s presence would cause nearby housing costs to skyrocket, which helped defeat the project. Two years later, and the company is pledging to invest more than $2 billion into affordable housing where it maintains employment hubs. Over the next five years, Amazon will invest into Nashville, Arlington, and Seattle in the form of low-cost loans and grants to public agencies and minority-led housing organizations. Though other tech companies have recently made similar investments, housing advocates have noted they won’t move the needle much without widespread policy reform.

Germany develops an app that identifies looted cultural artifacts to prevent trafficking.

Germany has developed an app that enables law enforcement to work with international organizations to identify stolen cultural artifacts. A new prototype, KIKU, slated for trials by mid-2021, uses machine learning—a subset of AI—to identify objects in photographs and detect whether it may have been illegally ransacked or legitimately excavated. Using images captured by smartphones, the platform sends images to KIKU’s deep-learning network, which searches for similar artifacts and relevant archaeological information, including origin and date. This forms the initial basis to determine whether or not the object was looted. In a second stage, the app compares the item with databases of stolen cultural artifacts and sounds an alarm if there’s a match.

"Missing" posters of the Benin Bronzes by Emeka Ogboh in Dresden, Germany

Emeka Ogboh mounts 200 “missing” posters that depict the Benin Bronzes in Dresden.

For his latest project, the Nigerian artist Emeka Ogboh has mounted more than 200 posters of missing Benin Bronzes throughout Dresden. Unveiled on December 29, the series comprises “missing” posters pasted across the German city that’s home to five objects from the former royal palace in Benin. As the story goes, British soldiers on a punitive 1897 expedition looted the bronzes, which are now scattered throughout major Western museums. Of those, Germany holds more than any other country. Ogboh’s posters depict five bronzes in the Museum für Völkerkunde’s collection alongside the dimensions, provenance, and the date they went missing. “No one is exempt from the repercussions of colonialism,” Ogboh says, “and as long as issues of agency, ownership, and freedom continue to exist, society must act as a whole to repatriate artifacts that are simply not theirs.”

In Beirut, the museum Villa Audi pays tribute to art damaged by last summer’s port blast.

A new exhibition in Beirut is paying tribute to artwork damaged by the city’s port blast this past summer. Titled “Wounded Art,” the collection of sculptures and paintings are on view inside the mosaic museum Villa Audi, which also bears the scars of the explosion that rocked the seaside neighborhood. Curated music and passages from Lebanese writing and verse are accompanied by dramatic lighting mounted behind the works. “The idea was to build the piece of art again without touching it,” says curator Jean-Louis Mainguy. “To build it again with music, with Lebanese poetry and literature, and of course the light.”

Stack and Stack by Haneul Kim

Today’s attractive distractions:

Miners discover a touching heart-shaped amethyst geode in Uruguay.

According to science, Chesterfields are the least popular type of sofa.

Haneul Kim fashions a speckled plastic stool from discarded surgical masks.

Here’s a closer look at how manufacturers affix bristles to toothbrushes.

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