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StrangeSights: Argentine artist destroys works to go virtual; a Barbie astronaut; and, mail robots…

Argentine artist Leandro Granato

DAVID ADAMS provides a round-up of some stories on the odder side of life…

Argentine artist Leandro Granato

Argentine artist Leandro Granato prepares explosives to destroy paintings he created with his coloured tears, before turning his work to NFT, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 3rd October. PICTURE: Reuters/Mariana Nedelcu.

• Argentine artist Leandro Granato, known for his ‘eye painting’ technique, has destroyed five of his works to create art that now exists only in the digital world. Using homemade explosive devices, Granato blew up five of his works that he valued at $US70,000 to create non-fungible token (NFT) artworks. “Two out of these five works are already sold, two are booked, and there’s only one left to sell. This means that I have to start working on a second piece and also think of how I am going to destroy them,” said Granato. On a video, Granato can be seen picking up the remains of canvases, which will be delivered to each buyer as proof of its destruction. Years ago, Granato surprised the world by introducing paint through his nostrils and expelling it through his tear ducts. After having sold many of his pieces abroad and seeing the insecurity of the art market, he decided to explore crypto art. Bought and sold with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum, NFTs limit forgery by using blockchain technology. 

Samantha Cristoforetti Barbie in space

The Samantha Cristoforetti Barbie in zero gravity. PICTURE: ESA/Mattel

• A Barbie doll version of Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti jetted off on a zero-gravity flight with the aim of inspiring young girls to consider a career in space and science, technology, maths and engineering (also known as STEM). The doll was created to mark the World Space Week which this year celebrates women in space. Cristoforetti said that “as astronauts one thing that we all really care about is inspiring the next generation, inspiring young boys and girls to take up careers in space exploration or in general in science and technology”. “And this year’s space week is specifically dedicated to inspiring more women to take up a career in space and so I thought that a partnership with Mattel and the project with the Barbie doll would be a suitable addition to all the work that will be done in that space week.” Cristoforetti’s lookalike doll travelled on a zero-gravity flight from a European Space Agency base in Germany. Barbies have previously been created in the likeness of NASA‘s Sally Ride and Roscosmos’ Anna Kikina.

Greece robots

Robots sort parcels at the Hellenic Post’s sorting centre in Kryoneri, Greece, on 4th October. PICTURE: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis.

• There’s a new addition to Greece’s postal service: a fleet of yellow robots sorting through the mail. Fifty-five small, four-wheeled autonomous mobile robots – or AMR’s – powered by artificial intelligence, glide around Hellenic Post’s sorting centre in Athens, speeding up an often arduous process. They scan the postal code, weigh the package and, directed by sensors, empty it into the corresponding mail sacks set up around a platform. The robots are part of the state-owned company’s digital restructuring program, which aims to tackle growing numbers of parcels from online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic. Up to 80 per cent of parcel sorting has been handed over to the robots and Hellenic Post Chief Executive George Constantopoulos said the process was up to three times faster, ensuring next-day delivery.  The robots can handle as many as 168,000 parcels weighing up to 15 kilograms a day and only need to be recharged every four hours for five minutes. “The purpose is not to replace human workers with robots, but rather to augment human workforces and make them more efficient,” Constantopoulos said.




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