weekend links: singing sand, Met Gala, Childish Gambino

Ahmed Salem Dabah with Morocco sand. Image courtesy of  Guernica .

Ahmed Salem Dabah with Morocco sand. Image courtesy of Guernica.

Sand dunes can sing, and an artist in Amsterdam named Lotte Geeven is making music out of this terrestrial phenomenon. With the help of two French acousticians, Geeven will assemble 12 machines to record and reproduce 12 types of singing sand, assembling it into a sort of song, which will debut in the Hague. Read more about Geeven in this interview, and, while you’re at it, listen to some sand. [Guernica]

Ta-Nehisi Coates compares Kanye West to Donald Trump and Michael Jackson in this stunning essay. Coates mourns the death of West’s revolutionary spirit and his transformation into a mouthpiece for the forces that empower racism. West calls himself a free thinker, but Coates shows that West is after a white freedom, which is a “freedom without consequence, freedom without criticism, freedom to be proud and ignorant; freedom to profit off a people in one moment and abandon them in the next.” Asks Coates, “Who can really stop a black god dying to be white?” [The Atlantic]

This year’s Met Gala turned out to be particularly memorable. Rihanna killed it with her bejeweled pope ensemble (of course she did), and there were plenty of other great Catholic-inspired outfits, but it was Grimes and Elon Musk that stole the show. Welcome Grusk, our newest, strangest, favoritest celebrity couple. [Noisey]

And while the world was busy churning out memes, most of us missed another music/tech crossover that is definitely more sinister: singer John Legend will lend his voice to Google’s voice command function, Google Assistant. Though Legend’s responses as an assistant are limited to mild pleasantries and simple questions (good mornings, weather queries, etc.), it is eerie that companies are now assigning famous and recognizable human voices to their artificial intelligence. [Consequence of Sound]

The world’s first Kimposium, an academic conference dedicated to the Kardashians, took place in 2015, and ever since then, the family has found tenancy both in tabloids and academia. The latest research shows that those who hate the Kardashians, this family of branded femininity, may also hate themselves. Powerful insight or fake news? You decide. [Vice]

“This Is America” is, at its core, a song, and this review of Childish Gambino’s latest work treats it quite fairly as such. Israel Daramola argues that the music video is an inadequate and garish disguise to a wannabe Kendrick Lamar song that panders, ultimately, to a bloodthirsty audience. The article questions Glover’s violence in the viral music video and Glover’s dependence on violence to create empathy. The art world, and the world at large, has seen enough dead black bodies. [Spin]

Did New Wave grow out of Kent State? Though New York and Los Angeles would become hubs for punk and its zanier cousin New Wave, the young artists in Akron responding to the May 4 massacre were arguably the genre’s first innovators. Ohioan artists like Devo, the Waitresses, Tin Huey, the Rubber City Rebels, and the Bizarros were defined by their resistance to prevailing trends, musically and politically. “The Akron scene borrowed from jazz, garage rock, performance art, Dada and the avant-garde to create a novel and influential musical cocktail,” explains Tim Sommer, “And we probably wouldn’t have heard that music had it not been for the calamity at Kent State.” [Valley News]

Just a few weeks ago, The New Yorker published Junot Diaz’s “The Legacy of Childhood Trauma” to great acclaim and sympathetic readers. Last week, allegations of his sexual misconduct and misogyny, which arose at the Sydney Writers' Festival by the author Zinzi Clemmons, turned this work into a piece of cruel irony. It is true that Diaz had been a role model for minority writers; it is also true that he is a good writer. However, as Richard Morgan writes here, it is better, in the long term, to reject malicious idols. [CNN]

—Audrey Deng and Sean Redmond