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Experience the Stop-by-Stop Sounds of the London Underground

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Thanks to a new sound project, you can have the sonic experience of taking the London Underground without ever leaving your house. As The Guardian reports, The Next Station—a site created by the international sound art project Cities and Memory and the London Sound Survey—is a tour of the city’s iconic transportation system in the form of audio recordings. With The Next Station, you can experience the crowds, the trains, announcers, musicians, and other aural ephemera heard by millions of commuters every day. 

Over the course of three months, the creators recorded audio in and around 55 London Underground stations, from people offering free hugs outside Brixton station to the hum of Bank station's escalators. Artists, sound designers, and musicians—not all of them from London or even the UK—then tinkered with the recordings to create 100 reimagined versions of the original Underground sounds. These remixed soundscapes are available for listening in an interactive map of the Tube, organized by the stations at which they were originally recorded. Though each has a title that explains the main sounds included, like “Bank station, passages, and escalators,” there’s often a bit of a surprise inside, like a subway musician’s killer guitar solo.

In New York City, sound artists have been more interested in adding soundscapes to subway stations than extracting them. LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy has lobbied for years to create an underground sound art project where turnstiles would be equipped with different beeping sounds to create electronic orchestras unique to each station. Alas, the city’s subway administrators have not been receptive. 

Joyful as subway soundscapes are, the sounds of underground transport are rarely pleasant. Subways are often so loud that, over time, they can damage your hearing, and the New York City system has had dangerous noise levels (over 90 decibels) for years. By contrast, San Francisco’s BART has average noise levels of 79 decibels within its train compartments, close to the maximum allowed by California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, but still under the limit. While high noise levels are fine in the short-term, over long periods of time (such as every day on your commute for years), loud noise can permanently damage your hearing. Better to enjoy the sounds of city transit safely from your computer.

[h/t The Guardian]

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The Getty Center, Surrounded By Wildfires, Will Leave Its Art Where It Is
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The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state. While art lovers worried when they heard that Los Angeles's Getty Center would be closing its doors this week, as the fires closed part of the 405 Freeway, there was a bit of good news. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility.

“The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty,” Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s vice president of communications, told the Los Angeles Times. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 “to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region,” but as of now, the art inside is staying put.

Though every museum has its own way of protecting the priceless works inside it, the Los Angeles Times notes that the Getty Center was constructed in such a way as to protect its contents from the very kind of emergency it's currently facing. The air throughout the gallery is filtered by a system that forces it out, rather than a filtration method which would bring air in. This system will keep the smoke and air pollutants from getting into the facility, and by closing the museum this week, the Getty is preventing the harmful air from entering the building through any open doors.

There is also a water tank at the facility that holds 1 million gallons in reserve for just such an occasion, and any brush on the property is routinely cleared away to prevent the likelihood of a fire spreading. The Getty Villa, a separate campus located in the Pacific Palisades off the Pacific Coast Highway, was also closed out of concern for air quality this week.

The museum is currently working with the police and fire departments in the area to determine the need for future closures and the evacuation of any personnel. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood.

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This 77-Year-Old Artist Saves Money on Art Supplies by 'Painting' in Microsoft Excel
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It takes a lot of creativity to turn a blank canvas into an inspired work of art. Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi makes his pictures out of something that’s even more dull than a white page: an empty spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

When he retired, the 77-year-old Horiuchi, whose work was recently spotlighted by Great Big Story, decided he wanted to get into art. At the time, he was hesitant to spend money on painting supplies or even computer software, though, so he began experimenting with one of the programs that was already at his disposal.

Horiuchi's unique “painting” method shows that in the right hands, Excel’s graph-building features can be used to bring colorful landscapes to life. The tranquil ponds, dense forests, and blossoming flowers in his art are made by drawing shapes with the software's line tool, then adding shading with the bucket tool.

Since picking up the hobby in the 2000s, Horiuchi has been awarded multiple prizes for his creative work with Excel. Let that be inspiration for Microsoft loyalists who are still broken up about the death of Paint.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist's process in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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