Kendrick Lamar Embraces Deepfakes, and Other News

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Kendrick Lamar Embraces Deepfakes 

Almost five years have passed since Kendrick Lamar released DAMN., his critically acclaimed album that became the first non-jazz or classical work to earn a Pulitzer Prize for Music. One of the most accomplished rappers of his generation, Lamar often uses music as a conduit to explore—and deconstruct—notions of identity, especially related to Blackness. That’s in full force in the music video for “The Heart Part 5,” the lead single for the Grammy winner’s long-awaited fifth studio album Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers that drops Friday. In the video, Lamar stands against a scarlet background while his face slyly transforms into the faces of O.J. Simpson, Will Smith, Jussie Smollett, Kanye West, Kobe Bryant, and Nipsey Hussle. 

Lamar assumes each identity thanks to the use of deepfake technology, one of today’s most powerful and controversial innovations. Each feels sharp and convincing—likely because Lamar enlisted the expertise of South Park creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone’s Deep Voodoo studio, which has worked on the celebrity-deepfake web series “Sassy Justice.” In the third verse, for example, Lamar morphs into slain rapper Nipsey Hussle and says: “As I bleed through the speakers, feel my presence. To my brother, to my kids, I’m in Heaven.” Deepfakes remain a fraught technology with untold implications, but in Lamar’s hands, they become a potent tool to convey his message—and elevate his artistry to even greater heights. —Ryan Waddoups

The Chamberlain Building in Marfa. Photography by Florian Holzherr, courtesy of the Chinati Foundation

The Central Marfa Historic District is added to the National Register of Historic Places.

“The Central Marfa Historic District, home to eleven buildings reinvigorated by Minimalist artist Donald Judd between 1973 and 1994, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The structures—including Judd’s Architecture Studio, in the former Marfa Bank building; his Art Studio, a repurposed Safeway grocery store; and his Ranch Office, a converted general store—are among the 183 buildings and sites comprising the district, situated along Highland Avenue. Their inclusion on the register alongside buildings including the Presidio County Courthouse, the Blackwell School, and the Paisano Hotel, all of which were already individually listed on the register, marks the first time Judd’s architectural efforts have been federally recognized.” —[H/T Artforum]

Replacing beef consumption with microbial protein can sharply reduce deforestation. 

“Replacing 20 percent of the world’s beef consumption with microbial protein, such as Quorn, could halve the destruction of the planet’s forests over the next three decades, according to the latest analysis. The move would also halve emissions from the global food system, by reducing the razing of trees and the methane emissions from livestock. Previous studies have found meat alternatives have lower environmental footprints but this latest analysis is the first to assess what impact that could have in the world.” —[H/T The Guardian]

Image courtesy of Populous

Populous shares visuals of a climate-neutral event arena slated for Munich, Germany.

“Populous has been chosen as the architect for a new multi-use, climate-neutral event arena in Munich, Germany. The structure aims to create a unique experience; a compact, efficient, and visually stunning venue that will be recognizable and reflective of the character and culture of the Bavarian metropolitan area, serving as a new landmark. The 20,000 capacity venue draws upon Bavarian heritage through a support structure that pays homage to the lozenge shape used in the Bavarian state flag.” —[H/T ArchDaily]

A major blast destroys Havana’s storied Hotel Saratoga and kills at least 30 people.

“At least 30 people are dead and at least 24 remained hospitalized Sunday after Friday’s explosion at the Hotel Saratoga in Havana, the Cuban health ministry said. Rescue workers continued searching the hotel’s ruins Sunday, and officials said they believe more bodies remain inside the structure. Images from the scene showed the blown-out facade of at least three floors of the ornate green-and-white stuccoed building. Plumes of dust and smoke could be seen rising around debris on the ground. The hotel was built at the end of the 19th century. By the 1930s, it was one of the most important hotels in Havana.” —[H/T CNN]

Hashira Lantern by Menu

Design Holding is acquiring a majority stake in Danish brands Menu and By Lassen.

“International group Design Holding is acquiring a majority shareholding in Denmark-based Designers Company, which owns brands including Menu, from investment company Polaris. Polaris announced that it had entered into an agreement to divest its majority shareholding in Designers Company to Design Holding for an undisclosed price. Design Holding will now add Designers Company’s brands, which include furniture companies Menu, By Lassen and Brdr Petersen as well as The Audo hotel, to its portfolio.” —[H/T Dezeen]

Gen Z is falling into debt because of new “buy now, pay later” startups like Afterpay.

“The concept of an installment plan isn’t anything new, but the pandemic saw an explosion of “buy now pay later” brands, glamorized with the BNPL initialism. They’re great when you want to soften the blow of a big old purchase but not so great when they enable bad spending habits, tank your credit, and lack the consumer protections that genuine credit lenders have. On Thursday, SF Gate published an absolutely harrowing article about how these brands have capitalized on Gen Z. The stats are damning: 43 percent of Gen Z users have missed at least one payment, according to a survey by the polling site Piplsay.” —[H/T Input]

A London walkway reimagined by Felipe Pantone. Photography by Matt Alexaner, courtesy of Felipe Pantone

Today’s attractive distractions:

In Berlin, a BDSM dungeon-turned-gallery showcases art made by sex workers.

A painting traded for a grilled cheese sandwich in the 1970s may fetch $35,000.

Felipe Pantone transforms a public walkway into an architectural kaleidoscope.

One lucky metal detectorist unearths a trove of 1,300 rare Late Roman coins.

All Stories