A list of intriguing things
One: The Erawan Museum in Bang Muang Mai—near Bangkok, Thailand—is almost more marvelous than the artwork it houses. It is located inside a 43.6-metre high statue of a three-headed elephant—hand-crafted and made entirely of copper. Each head of the elephant weighs around 100 tons.
The museum itself is divided into three floors—which mirrors Hindu cosmology that divides the universe into Heaven, Earth and Underworld. The top floor resides inside the elephant’s belly while the other two floors are within the pedestal. The interiors also contain another treat: a stunning stained glass ceiling. Lots more photos here. (Khmer Times)
Bonus stained glass beauty: The lead image—above—is of the dazzling 19th century Nasir al-Mulk Mosque—also known as the ‘Pink Mosque’ in Iran. (My Modern Met)
Two: LJ Rader’s Insta handle ‘Art But Make It Sports’ pairs sports photos with great works of art—with surprising and often delightful results. For example, this excellent photo of footballer Jason Kelce cheering on his brother Travis—best known for dating Taylor Swift:
As you can see 17th-century painting ‘The Feast of Bacchus’ by Philips Koninck bears a striking resemblance to NFL shenanigans. We personally love this shot of LeBron James twinned with William Blake’s 1794 painting ‘The Ancient of Days’. New York Times has lots more on Rader.
Three: Think of this as rodent performance art. In 1948, behavioural psychologist BF Skinner put hungry rats inside a box that gave them food each time they pushed a lever. The aim: to show how quickly the rats learnt the mechanism of the box:
Scientists found that reward-seeking rats became lever-pressing pros, pushing the bar down over and over again in exchange for food, drugs or even a gentle electric zap directly to the pleasure centre of the brain.
In 2021, French photographer Augustin Lignier recruited two pet store rats—and performed a very 21st century version of the same ‘Skinner Box’ experiment. The twist: the rats often (but not always) received a delicious bit of sugar each time they pressed a camera button. The more intriguing twist: The resulting selfies were immediately displayed on a screen so the rats could see them.
That addition to the original produced astonishing results. Augustin and Arthur became so addicted to taking selfies—that they hit the button even when they got no sugar. All of which led Lignier to this uncomfortable observation:
“Digital and social media companies use the same concept to keep the attention of the viewer as long as possible,” he said… doling out periodic, unpredictable rewards—a like, a follow, a promising romantic match—that keep us glued to our phones.
Or maybe being able to keep ourselves busy pressing buttons is its own reward. In a 2014 study, scientists concluded that many human volunteers “preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts.” Maybe we would rather sit around and push whatever levers are in front of us — even those that might make us feel bad — than sit with ourselves in quiet contemplation.
Ouch! Though TBH, none of our selfies are quite as adorable as that of Augustin and Arthur. (New York Times)