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Volume 473

In this week’s coolsh*t: videos that don’t exist and trainers that probably shouldn’t. We’re also bringing you some sweet science, a solution to inflation, and a sightseeing tour that mercifully doesn’t require an open-top bus. And keep reading to the end to discover how you can achieve enlightenment… through fire.

Sight for Sora Eyes.

I feel like these tech companies are just messing with us now. As soon as we get used to living in a previously-unimaginable world of their creation, they go and drop some more shit on us. My nan’s just got to grips with Skype, how exactly am I meant to explain to her that we can now create generative video from verbal cues? She’s never even worn a pair of jeans, for Christ’s sake.

At the back end of last week, OpenAI introduced a new AI model called Sora which can create realistic 60-second videos from text prompts, serving up scenes with multiple characters, specific types of motion, and extensive background details. And it’s pretty much as bonkers as it sounds. Who needs an imagination, anyway?

Oscar Wilde, as an aesthete, had a lovely vision for a future in which we developed technology to do all the work so we could sit around writing poetry and creating art all day. How have we ended up in a situation where the machines are making all the art while we do all the work?

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London Calling.

When someone mentions London landmarks, your mind probably naturally goes to the really obvious ones that nobody who lives in the city would ever dare step foot anywhere near. Imagine asking a colleague their weekend plans and they say, “Probably just have a quiet one, might go ride the London Eye”. Absolutely criminal behaviour – report that person to HR forthwith. Even if they haven’t done anything yet, they will.

Gramicci’s SS24 campaign takes a different approach to city life, moving away from the cold, corporate, greying somnopolis that London can often appear, and instead celebrating the vibrancy of some of the city’s so-called “alternative landmarks”.

I’m not sure you can claim Top Golf as a landmark with a straight face, but Gramicci have done just that – and we’re not about to argue with them. They might also be offering a slightly romanticised interpretation of Shadwell Basin, which is approximately 30% urine during the summer. Still, beats M&M’s World and Madame Tussauds.

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Bouncing Back.

Sustainability. It’s not just a buzzword that sucks all the fun out the room when uttered at a dinner party by someone wearing a cardigan. Donna’s husband “doesn’t really follow football” but by God does he love the environment. Because if a tree falls and nobody was there to hear you voice your disapproval, did it really make a sound?

It’s actually quite impressive how we’ve managed to make the environment such a divisive issue. If there’s anything we should be able to see eye-to-eye on, the intention to not destroy the planet we all live on should probably be fairly near the top of the list. But, as Dostoyevsky notes, if we were placed in a utopian society in which all our needs were met, we would invent destruction and chaos out of sheer boredom. We are mere chimps condemned with the desire but not the means to understand the universe, and it turns out we basically just want a punch-up. (That chimp bit wasn’t Dostoyevsky, in case you couldn’t tell).

There are plenty of resources we need to preserve – fuel, water, Mick Jagger’s libido, etc. – but I didn’t realise air was in short supply. And yet Wilson have just released an airless basketball, which relies on a 3D-printed polymer lattice structure instead of inflation to replicate a ball’s bounce, flight and feel. Impressive. Now all that’s left is for them to figure out exactly why they bothered.

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Gimme Some Sugar.

As impressive as our capacity to argue with strangers on the internet about the environment is, it is nothing compared to the culture war currently raging over nutrition.

The second you dip your toe in, your ankle is seized by a leviathan of misinformation plunging you deep down below into a chthonian world of Orwellian doublethink in which different groups of ostensibly equally-qualified experts espouse diametrically-opposed, mutually-exclusive points of views on what is and isn’t good for you, until eventually you’re left convinced that every food is trying to kill you. Well, now you can have all your anxieties confirmed in real-time by your phone.

The Lingo bio-wearable system from Abbot integrates glucose-sensing technology with a personalized coaching app, allowing users to make proactive adjustments aimed at enhancing habits around sleep quality, energy levels, mood, focus, and appetite. We shall be optimised in every facet of our existence… even if it kills us. Life must have been simpler when a balanced diet consisted of a stiff glass of milk and a couple cigarettes.

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Get to the Point.

When did we all agree that cool trainers have to be kind of ugly? I blame Kanye. Yeezy’s lasting cultural impact is that every other pair of new sneakers appears to channel a sort of orthopaedic futurism in their design. Granted, he’s arguably done some worse stuff since then, but that doesn’t make this nothing.

The danger of perpetually pushing for boundary-breaking aesthetics in an inherently competitive industry is that the goalposts keep moving. What was deemed a bit ‘out-there’ yesterday becomes by today obvious and by tomorrow passé. Not only is comparison the thief of joy, it is also the thief of normal shoes. And due to this slippery slope, before we can recover our equilibrium we are sent tumbling base over apex until we arrive at the point where Puma are now releasing trainers covered in spikes.

These are the new Puma Mostros. Aren’t they… something? But this is where things get confusing. The David Lynch x Orson Welles-inspired film noir-style ad launching the shoes starring, narrated and directed by A$AP Rocky is superb. And now I don’t know what to think. Bollocks, have I just been advertised to? You bastards. Do you have them in a size 8? I’ll take the lot.

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Burn, Baby, Burn.

Burning Man feels like a joke that got out of hand. What was basically an opportunity for people to get off their faces and dance in the desert appears to have accidentally developed into a (albeit ephemeral) flourishing, mutually-supportive, utopian anarchistic society celebrating freedom and self-expression. How the bloody hell did that happen? It’s what Boomtown could have been if it wasn’t for all the DnB and teenagers in K-holes.

Each year the festival gets bigger, better and weirder, and for 2024 the lead artist Caroline Ghosn will be unveiling a 70-foot-tall temple inspired by the traditional weaving techniques of the Lebanese Khaizaran chair. Yep, excellent choice – I think I probably would have gone for the exact same thing, actually. Either that or an ancient Sumerian chaise longue, but this’ll work too.

It’s just a shame all cults can’t be this fun. Why does it always have to end in orgies and mass poisonings?

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