In a gallery in downtown Manhattan, people are huddling around four laptops, taking turns to control the apartments of 14 complete strangers. They watch via live video feeds, and respond whenever the residents ask "Someone" to help them. They switch the lights on and off, boil the kettle, put some music on – whatever they can do to oblige. The project, called Someone, is the latest in a series exploring our ever more complicated relationship with technology. It's by the American artist Lauren McCarthy and is a sort of outsourcing of Lauren, an earlier work in which she acted as a real-life Alexa, remotely watching over a home 24 hours a day, responding to its occupants' questions and needs like a flesh and blood version of Amazon's voice-operated virtual assistant.
For the next seven weeks, anyone who's inclined can go to 205 Hudson Street in New York City and take over someone else's apartment. Smart devices like the kettles, lighting and speakers of four homes connect directly to laptops in the corner of an art gallery. Cameras are trained on bathrooms, kitchens and living areas. Visitors can sit down and become a human Alexa, playing music, eavesdropping on conversations through microphones and communicating with the inhabitants via text-to-speech. Each home -- three in Brooklyn, one in San Francisco -- will be "live" for two hours a day.
Obsession is unhealthy, and it is maybe imperative to the creation of art, which is all that needs be said about that profession. Good artists transform private obsession into something that can be shared: Nicholson Baker on John Updike, John McPhee on geology, Karl Ove Knausgaard on himself, or the French writer Camille Laurens on Edgar Degas, the (sort of) subject of her new book, "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen." Look past the earnest subtitle ("The True Story Behind Degas's Masterpiece"), because this isn't a book about the truth, and it's an open question whether the titular art work--a sculpture of a ballerina, hands clasped behind her back--is a masterpiece at all. "Little Dancer Aged Fourteen" is a strange hybrid of art history and art appreciation, a personal narrative that reads like a novel. I have no interest in the Impressionists (Laurens says that the artist himself disliked the moniker, proposing instead the frankly horrible "Intransigents"), but the author's obsession is, if not contagious, at least fascinating.
Lauren Jauregui burst onto the scene at just 16-years-old when she auditioned for "The X-Factor," singing Alicia Keys' song "If I Ain't Got You." Eventually ending up in the girl group that would become Fifth Harmony, the singer's powerful vocals and vibrant personality have won over the adoration from people around the world. On Wednesday, the "All Night" artist will celebrate her 22nd birthday and another year of success in the music industry. Lauren Jauregui is featured on Ty Dolla $ign's song "In Your Phone." The stars are pictured attending the #REVOLVEfestival Day 2 on April 15, 2018 in La Quinta, California. Photo: Roger Kisby/Getty Images After Fifth Harmony announced their hiatus in March, Jauregui revealed just how excited she was to begin making music on her own and creating her own sound.