Scientists are cleaning art with bacteria

December 30, 2021 by  
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After centuries of trying different techniques and using various chemicals to clean art, scientists found an eco-friendly solution that already exists in the natural world. Bacteria were thought of as art’s greatest enemy. They are evil, microscopic monsters intent on doing damage to the delicate canvases created by the hands of great art masters throughout history. But maybe not. Scientists have learned how to use helpful bacteria to clean and restore great art from the past. Recently, the technique has been used on carvings etched by Michelangelo. Related: What causes zombie plants? The Italian National Agency for New Technologies (ENEA) started experimenting with microorganisms. They performed a “biocleaning” on tombs in Florence, Italy created by the hands of Michelangelo to remove centuries of gunk and grime from the stone . The restored statues are just one more piece of evidence that this type of art restoration is potentially far more effective than anything ever used in the past. It all started back in the 1990s when Giancarlo Ranalli, a microbiology expert, worked in Pisa with the Technical Commission for Restoration to examine how microorganisms damage art. He worked with a team of restorers attempting to undo the damage done to the Camposanto Monumentale, a historic cemetery full of original plaster paintings and carvings. The cemetery was heavily bombed during WWII and restoration of the site proved to be extremely difficult due to animal glues used on the artifacts in the past. Normal methods of restoration just were not working. The chemicals traditionally used in such projects had little to no effect. Finally, someone on the project asked Ranalli a question: “Dr. Ranalli, can’t you do anything with your bugs?” And so, Ranalli gave it a shot. He covered the frescoes that needed to be restored with organic matter. He then experimented with various “ bugs ” until he landed on one that did the exact thing he wanted it to do: consume all the organic material, leaving the stone beneath it untouched. The “bugs” accomplished what decades of restoration attempts had failed at. There is an entire world of bacteria out there to explore. Ranalli successfully used Pseudomonas stutzeri, strain A29, to clean away animal glue. To determine which bacteria can get a restoration job done, a microscopic Hunger Games is carried out in true dramatic fashion. All the potential bacteria candidates are placed together in an environment where they compete for a single source of food . The food source is the target contaminant they will ultimately be tasked with removing. Whichever bacteria win this fight for the food source and learn how to use it to fuel and fed themselves will become cleaning microorganisms once they are thoroughly vetted and tested to ensure that they will not spread beyond the specific art in question, won’t infect humans and won’t cause damage to materials that should be preserved. The method works. A team of restorers in Spain was charged with removing centuries of animal glue, left over from previous restorations, from the glorious Santos Juanes Church. They decided to try Ranalli’s miracle bug, the animal glue-devouring Pseudomonas , to remove the black film of age from the interior of the church . Centuries of dirt were eaten away by the bacteria to reveal glorious details that were covered up before. So when faced by the tombs of the Medici Chanel in Florence, restorers turned to Giancarlo Ranalli for help. You know, the “bug” guy. The tombs were tricky indeed. Full of actual human remains, the tombs also have gorgeous marble statues carved by Michelangelo. Traditional methods would not work. Ranalli’s bacteria did. Silvia Borghini is the conservator at the National Roman Museum. She said that bacteria has really gotten a bad rap over the years because it’s associated with infection . However, it offers up a lot of benefits as well. “Only a very small number of bacteria are pathogens,” Borghini told CNN. “More than 95% of bacteria are not harmful to humans .” She recently used bacteria-laden gel on the statues in the garden at the National Roman Museum, meticulously applying the material to the marble with a toothbrush . She says the bacteria is “easy to apply and afterwards, the artifacts stay clean.” “It doesn’t harm the environment, it’s not toxic for us [humans] or the flora in the garden. It’s perfect,” Borghini said of the bacteria. It’s a marriage of science and art that could truly change the way great works are restored and preserved in the future. This unique biotechnology could solve many problems that chemical solutions have not been able to effectively address. And best of all, it’s organic . The bacteria do their thing and then they’re removed, leaving nothing behind but restored art. It is truly a fascinating example of what is possible when the power of the natural world is harnessed. Via Popular Science and CNN Lead image via Pexels

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An Oregon artist brings a community together with flowers

December 14, 2021 by  
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Voluptuous floral arrangements covered several walls of the Chehalem Cultural Center in Newberg, Oregon for most of 2021. But these weren’t your ordinary florists’ bouquets. Artist Amanda Bayha mobilized the citizens of her adopted town to forego their yard debris bins. Instead, they brought nature’s drying bounty to the cultural center for perhaps the city’s most interactive art project ever. Amanda Bayha lived in the Portland area for most of her life until 2013, when she and her husband decided they wanted to raise their children somewhere smaller. They chose Newberg, a population of 23,000 and about 25 miles southwest of Portland. The open fields and rural landscapes felt like living in a postcard, but the conservative politics were a shock for the transplanted Portland family. Related: This eco artist uses her gift to highlight climate change Bringing people together with flowers Bayha calls herself an “artist for life,” and has worked in many different mediums. She started focusing on flowers just before COVID hit. It was a rough time for her, dealing with some family issues that deeply affected her mental health. She sought solace in her backyard and began to look there for art materials. “I feel like the art that I’ve been creating kind of tells the story that Mother Nature is showing me, through hummingbird nests on my porch and chipmunks eating off little picnic tables in my backyard,” Bayha said. “I mean, it’s literally a Snow White situation over here at my house.” Through trial and error, Bayha figured out how to harvest and dry flowers. The more she harvested, the more she saw art materials everywhere. She started asking neighbors and friends if she could harvest their flowers. They told their friends and soon she was making appointments with strangers. It is through harvesting that she gets to know people on a different level than meeting them any other way. Bayha found that a shared love of plants and nature transcended politics . She realized she had more in common with her neighbors than she’d initially thought. “When I think about all the flowers that are in those sculptures at the cultural center, it is across the gamut,” Bayha said. “I mean, the leftest of the left have given me flowers, and the rightest of the right have given me flowers. And the conversations have been the same when I go harvest with them. And they’re both just as generous and just as excited to participate. It’s amazing.” The cultural center project When Bayha got the Chehalem Cultural Center director to agree to host her project, some of the town’s artists and gallery owners were flummoxed that she managed to get in just by asking. But the director recognized a project that would engage all types of community members. She started building a flower sculpture in the back lobby on Earth Day 2021. And then she put a call out to the public. “I’ve got racks in the entry asking anyone to drop anything off that they can,” Bayha said. “And I’ve gotten the cutest pictures of little kids dropping really big dried flowers on my racks. And then I get to take them to the back and put them in the sculpture and take a picture of where they went and then post that.” Soon the cultural center let her pieces migrate to other rooms, and allowed her space to work upstairs. An art professor from nearby George Fox University volunteered to help her hang her sculptures. Many locals stopped by to drop off flowers or to take a look at the gorgeous, ever-evolving floral arrangements blooming across the walls. Flower taxidermy Bayha sometimes calls her process “ flower taxidermy .” To get the best appearance from her flowers, she may hang them one way to dry, then another, to keep air flowing through the petals. Sometimes she blows on them. Some flowers are easier than others to successfully dry, depending on petal structure and thickness. For instance, those with wispy petals shrivel up instead of dry nicely. “I almost take the things that are hard to dry as a challenge,” Bayha said. “What kind of little form could I create for it to hold its shape or hold it open?” She watches how plants naturally decompose to improve her taxidermy process, then practices techniques on the drying racks in her garage. She has stuffed calla lilies with cotton balls to preserve space inside as they shrivel. The spiritual side of flower art Bayha’s work has evolved into Soul Seeds, which encompasses her artwork , craft workshops and the rituals she leads with flowers. While nothing in life is permanent, dried flowers are an especially ephemeral kind of art. “They last as long as they’re meant to,” Bayha said. For longest-lasting results, she recommends people hang her work inside, away from direct sunlight. Sometimes she restrings her sculptures , tightening them up with twine and adding some new flowers or herbs. Or people can use the floral sculptures as spiritual tools to watch the cycle continue. A dried flower wreath is a living seed packet full of black-eyed susans, zinnias, sunflowers and other flowers, just waiting to sprout. “There’s nothing wrong with letting something lose its color and bleach out, especially if you’re looking at it to watch it move, right?” Bayha said. “Once you feel it’s done in your house, what a cool, cathartic thing to say I’m going to go plant this and see what comes up. Or let the earth take it back and receive from you whatever it’s meant to receive and continue the divine conversation with it.” + Amanda Bayha Soul Seeds Images via Amanda Bayha

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An Oregon artist brings a community together with flowers

‘Uncanny’ Art Repurposes Recyclables

December 6, 2021 by  
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For some innovative upcyclers, aluminum is a favorite material. It is definitely an abundant material… The post ‘Uncanny’ Art Repurposes Recyclables appeared first on Earth911.

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‘Uncanny’ Art Repurposes Recyclables

Smart flower LOTUS moves in response to light

November 19, 2021 by  
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The recipe for this art display includes a dash of intrigue, a measure of intelligence and a full serving of “WOW” factor. LOTUS is a nature-inspired smart material that mirrors how flowers act when greeted by the sun .  The story of LOTUS begins in 2010 with curiosity and a deep dive into smart materials . The design team at Studio Roosegaarde was looking for a material that not only looked like something that came from nature, but actually responds to stimuli in real time.  Related: Los Angeles art show features historic Barnsdall olive wood With that, the LOTUS family of smart flowers was born. In the past decade, the assorted art installations have changed in scope and shape, yet all are LOTUS flowers that open in response to light. LOTUS OCULUS is the most recent release. “LOTUS OCULUS pays homage to the grandeur of the Pantheon and continues this legacy by creating an organic architecture of movement and shadows,” the artists comment. “This dynamic dialogue is what Daan Roosegaarde calls ‘Techno-Poetry.’” It’s easy to see why. When you view the art in motion, it seems to breathe in the atmosphere around it. Upon closer inspection, it becomes obvious the larger form is actually composed of many smaller panels of the material, each of which curls into a flower shape when stimulated.   Taking a step back, the entire exhibit comes to life as the parts fold and unfold in response to the changing environment . The result is an interplay of light and movement throughout the space. LOTUS OCULUS was commissioned by Bulgari and was placed in the Modern Art Gallery in Milan. The unique and interactive design was awarded the A’Design Gold Award and Media Architecture Award Denmark. The material takes a different shape as LOTUS Maffei, which is part of the permanent art collection of Palazzo Maffei Museum in Verona, Italy . That’s no small cast credit in the company of notable works by Lucio Fontana, Pablo Picasso and Gerrit Rietveld.  In a focal point for the 17th-century Sainte Marie Madeleine Church in Lille, France, the material was shaped for what is known as the LOTUS DOME . ?This striking exhibition draws the visitor in, enticing them to move around the dome, bringing the LOTUS petals to life in the process.  Roosegaarde describes this tangible connection between light and material as “a metamorphosis of nature and technology . In search of a new harmony between people and the environment, LOTUS is a work of art and a pilot for a more organic architecture.” + Studio Roosegaarde Images via Daan Roosegaarde

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Smart flower LOTUS moves in response to light

Climate change is destroying Indigenous rock art

November 17, 2021 by  
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Indigenous  rock  art has survived tens of thousands of years. But global warming might be the death of it. As extreme weather events like fires, cyclones, floods and erosion intensify, rock art fades and disappears. A report at a recent symposium declared the damage is now irreversible. The symposium was held Tuesday at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia , spurred by a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to the report, the global temperature is likely to rise above the 1.5 degrees Celsius target of the Paris Agreement. Expect more extreme, rock art-damaging weather. Related: 12 sustainable, Indigenous-owned brands to support Rock  art  sites are found around the world and consist of paintings, engravings, drawings, stencils, prints and carvings. They’re found inside caves and on boulders, on cliff walls and rocky overhangs. The imagery has lasting aesthetic and spiritual power and can provide insight into the lives of Indigenous groups around the world. Australia and Africa each have at least 100,000 rock art sites, some stretching back 28,000 years. India, China, Siberia, Mexico and France are just a few more of the places where rock art endures. Dr. Jillian Huntley, an archaeological scientist at Griffith University, studies Australasian rock art. Her focus stretches from Australia up into  Indonesia , with an emphasis on Sulawesi. Huntley has noticed that changing weather is making salt crystals expand and contract, causing rocks to collapse. Some of the world’s oldest paintings are threatened.  “Those temperature increases are felt at a rate three times the rest of the world,” Huntley said, as reported by The Guardian. “A 2.4C warming would be a 6C warming in the tropics, which would be absolutely catastrophic.” And there’s no time to wait. “Not net zero by 2050,” she said. “Net zero as soon as possible.” Natural disasters, weather and climate fluctuations are nothing new. But this time, human technology is rocketing the planet — including its  Indigenous  rock art — toward disaster. “Today, we’re in sort of a critical situation or critical juncture,” said Daryl Wesley, an archeologist at Flinders who has studied destruction wrought on rock art by one of Australia’s worst tropical cyclones. Via The Guardian , Getty Museum Lead image via Pixabay

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Climate change is destroying Indigenous rock art

This eco artist uses her gift to highlight climate change

November 3, 2021 by  
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Most people see crushed beer cans, water bottles, old coffee cups and broken shoes as trash. Not Mariah Reading. She looks at these discarded items and gets inspired to make beautiful art . Reading is an ecological artist using her gift to show the world through a different lens. She visits national parks, beaches and forests to find discarded items that become the inspiration for her art. Reading’s goal is to showcase the reality of climate change and the beauty of nature when it is left intact and undisturbed by humans. Related: Artist 3D-prints biodegradable agar floral lamps “I collect most of the trash I use as my canvas, although sometimes I have friendly neighbors who find some cool trash and gift it to me! When I complete a painted work, I photograph the item aligned within the environment it’s based off. I share and display my work with my Instagram audience, and sell both the physical paintings as well as the photographic prints of the work in both galleries and my online shop,” Reading said. Her favorite female artists include Maya Lin, Marina Abramovic, Judy Twedt, Natasha Cunningham, Lisa Ericson and Emma Longcope. But which artists helped shape Reading’s style the most? “Growing up, I was overwhelmingly inspired by M.C. Escher and Rene Magritte because their work was so transfixing and felt like the opposite of my own impressionistic paintings at the time. I find it interesting how my work has now gravitated toward optical illusions, in vain of these formative artists,” Reading told Inhabitat. As for using her artwork to shine a light on the effects of climate change , Reading said, “I think most people in my generation are hyper-conscious of climate change – eco-anxiety is hard to avoid. Being a landscape painter, I have the privilege of living in dynamic and breathtaking environments, many of which express dramatic evidence of climate change right before my eyes.” Discussing the goals of her work, Reading said, “As an eco-artist, I aim to paint the ever-changing landscapes and fleeting moments as a historical marker and as a way to protect them. I don’t think I could navigate life without trying to make the world a more beautiful place.” + Mariah Reading Photography by Mariah Reading

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Climate change is already affecting 85% of world population

November 3, 2021 by  
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A recent  study  Nature Climate Change has concluded that climate change is already affecting people across the world. The study found that at least 85% of the world’s population has already been affected by climate change in some way.  The unprecedented changes that await the world are not yet well understood due to limited research . One known fact is that the effects of climate change will affect poor countries more than wealthier ones. This is despite wealthier nations having fueled the majority of pollution worldwide. Related: 110 countries pledge to end deforestation by 2030 Discussing this topic, the Nature Climate Change study states, “Our results reveal a substantial ‘attribution gap’ as robust levels of evidence for potentially attributable impacts are twice as prevalent in high-income than in low-income countries.” Friederike Otto, a senior lecturer at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College, says that we are at a time where almost everyone is exposed to the effects of climate change. “It is likely that nearly everyone in the world now experiences changes in extreme weather as a result of human greenhouse gas emissions ,” Otto said. The disparities in data across the world make it difficult to accurately predict the future. For instance, most studies concerning the effects of climate change have been conducted in North America and Europe, leaving little to no information about Africa and South America. These disparities leave huge gaps that make it impossible for the most threatened countries to prepare for climate change’s effects. Researchers have found that climate change will force behavior changes in several ways. For instance, scientists predict the need for species to move from their traditional habitats in search of habitable ones. Additionally, reforestation measures will likely become more relevant. Mangrove forests can store four times more carbon than other tropical forests, but they are threatened by rising ocean levels. With severe weather patterns already being experienced worldwide, the recent pledge to end deforestation from countries at COP26 is more necessary than ever. + Nature Climate Change Via The Revelator Lead image via Pixabay

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Climate change is already affecting 85% of world population

Artist 3D-prints biodegradable agar floral lamps

October 15, 2021 by  
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, although most people would agree there is beauty in nature. Artist and textile designer Yi Hsuan Sung has taken that common view of natural beauty and used it to create a varied line of products for the home. In addition to reflecting nature in her designs, her mission is to honor it through the use of sustainable and natural materials . Sung believes that the desire to bring elements of nature inside the home often comes with a host of unwanted and unnecessary petrochemicals.  Related: Netherlands’ massive vault of sustainability and art To create a cleaner home environment, she began experimenting with agar, which is an extract from red algae. She then combined it with glycerin and water to make a material for 3D printing that is natural, biodegradable and renewable. Once she was able to solidify the process, she began, and continues, experimenting with different products made from the same medium. Her wall art and faux flowers have a variety of finishes, including shimmery, metallic and foamy. The bioplastic also takes a variety of shapes, from wavy to curvy, and can be formed into sheets, filaments or cast units.  In the example of her floral pendant lamps made with agar, she makes the shade base by knitting agar yarn and decorating them with agar flowers cast from 3D-printed molds she designed. Her Agar Garden designs are an artistic endeavor into working with bio materials, while developing useful and pleasing interior design products. She’s also developed lamps and other products from silk and wool fabric samples, sequin scraps and lurex selvage yarns and mats made from a combination of agar, onion skins, spoiled milk and recycled saris. With an emphasis on protecting the environment in her material choices, Sung pays special attention to coloring through the use of fiber waste (wool), food waste and mica powder.  “As a textile maker who consciously integrates science and technology into art and design and a material creative who dedicates to healthy and sustainable solutions, I earnestly explore the relationship between digital, bio and recycling fabrication,” Sung said. “Through my work, I want to transform textile making into a system that is harm-free, slow and mindful.” + Yi Hsuan Sung   Images via Yi Hsuan Sung 

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Artist 3D-prints biodegradable agar floral lamps

Netherlands’ massive vault of sustainability and art

October 11, 2021 by  
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Located in Amersfoort, Netherlands, the CollectionCentre Netherlands (CC NL) designed by cepezed architects is a masterpiece of modern architectural design . From the impressive exterior design, to the functionality of the collection center, the CC NL is a true reflection of the future. The building was officially launched on September 13, 2021 by the Minister of Education, Culture and Science Ingrid Van Engleshoven. With a storage space of about 30, 000 square meters, the building is home to over 500, 000 pieces of art and historical objects , including artifacts, evidence, paintings, jewelry, clothing and furniture. The CC NL holds pieces from the Rijksmuseum, Netherlands Open Air Museum, Paleis Het Loo and the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands. Related: Sculptural roof tops eco-minded Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts expansion CC NL is designed in three sections: the ”head,” ”neck” and ”trunk.” The “neck” is the busiest of the three sections of the building, functioning as workshops where all the objects are processed, shaped and preserved before being transferred to storage rooms. It is also home to the freezer room, oxygen-free area, photo studio and X-ray room. The “head,” on the other hand, contains the entrance and walkways. Lastly, the ”trunk” forms the most co-pact part of the collection center. The CC NL has four stories with large pans for the storage of key objects. The storage in this section features maximum protection and also has small fire compartments. It has rooms with highly classified information stored under special rooms in special facilities. The aim of the building is to achieve durable, sustainable and beautiful preservation of history. To achieve this, the designers constructed the building with special rooms where museum species can be taken to get rid of harmful pests through freezing. With open access, the building’s resources can be used by research institutions. The CC NL is ranked the 15th most sustainable in Holland. The roof and facades used in the construction of the building give it a highly insulating outlook. The ground is less insulated since it was intended to act as a buffer. Its direct contact with the earth buffers the environment within, cutting down the need for air conditioning. On average, internal temperatures are maintained at about 12 and 15 degrees Celsius. This ensures the safety of the CC NL and reduces the risks of fires.Other aspects of the building that make it stand out in terms of sustainability include water recycling and renewable energy . With over 3,600 square meters of solar panels on the roof, the center can manage most of its energy needs without requiring external support in sunny months. It is also fitted with an ATES and gray water flushing toilet. The center also uses a rural rainwater collection system , that acts as an infiltration facility for the local vegetation. The widespread ecological landscape with detailed integration of flora and fauna makes the design one of the most sustainable section centers in the world. For those who work at the CC NL, the breathtaking beauty , comfort and usability are key factors. The working space here is among the best in Europe and will remain so for years. + cepezed architects Photography by Lucas van der Wee

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Life-sized elephant sculptures are roaming London

September 29, 2021 by  
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This past summer, a herd of 100 Asian elephants made their way across The Mall in front of London’s Buckingham Palace. They weren’t live animals , however, but life-sized elephant sculptures that were handmade by Indigenous community members from the jungles of Tamil Nadu in South India. The environmental art exhibition is called CoExistence. It was headed by Elephant Family and The Real Elephant Collective, a British Charity and non profit socio-environmental enterprise aimed at raising awareness for the Indian elephant. Meant as a response to the increasing overlap between humans and animals, the campaign’s goal is to trigger a movement of global empathy for members of the animal kingdom who, like the majestic elephant, have found themselves sharing natural habitats with overwhelming human populations. Related: “Extinction – The Facts” explores the global extinction crisis and its consequences The sculptures were made using an invasive weed called lantana, whose removal coincides with benefits to wildlife in protected areas, and supplemented with fragrance created by Xerjoff perfumes. The scent emitted from the lantana elephants is designed after the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India where the elephants began their migration. Flying alongside the elephant are sculpted flocks of bird species that have been declared extinct or endangered in the UK, such as the nightingale, curlew, dalmatian pelican and turtle dove. The project helps demonstrate this unique time in history where the worldwide reduction in human activity from COVID-19 has had an overall positive effect on certain pockets of wildlife species around the planet. “Today marks the first significant step on the herd’s 13,000 mile migration around the world . Over the past 18 months, many countries have gone into lockdown,” said Ruth Ganesh, Creative at The Real Elephant Collective and Elephant Family Trustee. “Brought about by tragic circumstances, this ‘great pause’ – coined the ‘anthropause’ – is providing crucial guidance on how to best share space with animals in our crowded planet . The elephants are here to tell their story about the inspiring ways we can coexist with all the other living beings that make our world magical – from tigers and orangutans, to nightingales and elephants.” + CoExistence Via My Modern Met Images via Grant Walker

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Life-sized elephant sculptures are roaming London

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