Ever decreasing circles

Steve Wetherill writes about old computers and other things / Something Concrete and Modern is exactly that / Day Job Studio is home to artists including Grace Helmer, Daniel Clarke, Victoria Willmott, Charlene Man, Aaron Ziggy, Charlotte Mei, Joshua Checkley, Rhodes Peter and Katie Rose Johnston. There’s also a tumblr, of course / the story of the world’s tiniest game of chess / Tremors Magazine, architecture and culture – great stuff / the Pocket Operator series, from Teenage Engineering / the ultimate collection of farm implements, as noticed by the Identical Eye / related, rural interiors photographed by Martin Rosswog / Night Tune, ambient late night driving simulator / instant geometric bliss with the Inspirograph (see above).

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Wowed and fluttering

Buoyed by the electro remake of the Twin Peaks soundtrack album, we present a small selection of of retro synth specialists: Full Eclipse / Rat Rios / The Deathless / Galaxy Knife / Robert Parker / Peturbator / / Who Ha / Amplitude Problem / The Astronaut Arcade / 20Six Hundred / see also a trio of MeFi posts: You cannot outrun the past because it is awesome; Retrofuturist 80s Synthwave; the Beyond Synth podcast / some more music things. Badalamenti on creating the music / Albums That Never Were (via MeFi) / SviSound creates handmade guitar pedals, like this Germanium fuzz unit / Pinchplant brings together music tech news from various sources (from where the above video of Konkreet Performer was taken), while Bloc has a brief history of modular synthesis.

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Roll of the dice

Another bunch of very different things / the illustration of John Vernon Lord, example above / a walk around England’s Lost Theme Parks / The Old Kent Road, as re-made in the 60s and looking shiny, new and optimistic / Bitter Lake, the new film from Adam Curtis looks at Afghanistan’s pivotal role in the modern era. Long, lingering extracts from news rushes, extraordinary archive film and a soundtrack that evokes imminent dread / hotel-as-crystal concept, only in China / The Black Vault contains a hefty chunk of post-war US UFO disinformation (via BBC News) / La Double J is a Milanese take on the lifestyle vintage clothing emporium, as per the long-running US-based Posh Vintage.

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In tribute

A collection of London clocks / Twin Peaks re-made in retro electro. Reminiscent of Lazerhawk / cryptozoological soup spoon: a ladle shaped like Nessie / Robert Overweg / pictures from an Old Book, an illustration weblog.

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Contoured profile domed

Peel, Pucker, Pinch, or Puncture? Coffee Lids, Explored is a piece on the patented coffee lid collection assembled by architects Specht Harpman, a companion to an article in Cabinet a few years ago. These little disks of plastic are massively diverse, highly designed, often ingenious and sometimes perplexing and form part of the recent Smithsonian exhibition, FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000. See also the Museum of Take Out Coffee Cups. There’s also a short video:

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Open decay

A random selection of things / a grid of games at asahi-net / Figments, if the late FAT had designed a computer game / twizzling tiny knobs, Korg Volca Beats and Bass gets Mangled by Elektron Octatrack / the concrete coastline, the Mediterranean then and now / what is the best pen in the world? / custom 3D printed vessels incorporating profiles, a contemporary update of Renato Bertelli’s ‘Continuous Profile’, (Head of Mussolini).

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Platforms in the air

Friday randomness / The Fall and Rise of Adam, the restoration of Tullio’s sculpture, ‘destroyed’ by a collapsed plinth in 2002 / London 2026 A.D. – this is all in the air, a view from 1926 / two sites we like rediscovering: Lost Albion and Moonbase Central, both totally full of scans and cultural ephemera / the David Heys Collection, memories of the last days of steam: ‘The train now standing at platform four is the five o’ four for Forfar, calling at Fife. The first four coaches are for Forfar…the far five for Fife. The first four reach Forfar at four fifty-four and the far five at Fife at five forty-five!’ / in stark contrast, Taken : Bongos, a site charting ‘Gentrification hell and general twatishness via the Hackney Freecycle‘ / aviation scrapyard photographs / a beautiful collection of vintage ski posters.

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Broken down, built up, re-laid and re-booted

A giant railway track laying machine. See also this much longer video on the Plasser & Theurer SVM1000 Infranord in action in Sweden. The Austrian company has a page of videos of its insanely specialised machines at work / paintings and more by Juliet Jardin / a short film about the (bolt-shedding) Leadenhall Building / deconstructing Frank Lloyd Wright, the process of taking apart the Bachman Wilson House and moving it to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art / the odd history of the first erotic computer game / related, will Sam Fox Strip Poker be available on the SInclair ZX Spectrum Vega (via BBC News) / briefcase train layouts.

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Conspicuous Consuming

The Learned Pig, an online magazine which pointed us towards A Field Guide to East London Wildlife, available through the Hoxton Mini Press / a collection of erotic bookplates / ambient electronica by IVO / ‘28,000 artists compete for a relationship with 2,000 UK galleries.’ Free Spaces, a project by Art Map London, will try and put artists and spaces together to maximise the opportunities for showing their work / The Art of Making People Go Away, on the collection of ‘do not disturb signs’ assembled by Edoardo Flores / The Acquisitive Self, Minus the Self, on wealth, discretion and the dark art of the show-off selfie.

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All at sea

Contemporary fan art, sculpture and more at Streets of Beige / art by Jakub Rozalski / Aircraft Crash Tests Composite Data Film / above, South China Sea, a single take at 4K by photographer Toby Smith / This Charming Charlie, Morrisey meets Schultz (via the Fox is Black) / drawings and prints by Leonie Lachlan, see also her Sao Paulo Sketchbook

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London’s brilliant when it’s raining

Wainwright is one of the better UK architecture journalists when it comes to lifting the lid on the legislation and underhand deals that are pushing through the current crop of massive developments. This piece from last Autumn, The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities, is a depressing litany of casual transgressions against good old fashioned urban grain in the pursuit of raw profit. Time and time again, concessions are given to grease the wheels of development and then, when the dust has settled and the tower cranes dismantled, the end result feels like a bit of a con (Is Rafael Vinoly’s Walkie Talkie Building the Ugliest in London?).


Perhaps it’s always been this way, and the only real difference today is scale. Although there’s no such thing as a totally inclusive city, the perils of a developer-led city effectively create state-sanctioned gentrification – Southwark Notes is a site with a focus on the knock-back and downsides to relentless development in just one area of the capital. Some kind of ‘readjustment’ is inevitable, but the question to ask is how will the new breed of London development accommodate an alternative economic landscape? The beauty of the Georgian or Victorian terrace was that it could be chopped up into smaller units as conditions demanded. The great post-war estates offer another kind of advantage in that they offer fixed, immutable accommodation of the kind that’s largely impervious to rampant economic change. But the new breed of development precludes either flexibility or the benefits of simplicity; you can’t very well sub-divide a riverside penthouse, nor does it offer a home for anyone other than a very highly targeted demographic. Even Redrow’s much-maligned ‘urban psycho‘ is aspirational on the part of the developers – most new-build units are sold as investments, easier to leave empty than to let, and estate agent lingo is as emotive and transparently false as any dubious sales scam.


What would change London for the better? An economic climate that sees working families able to rent and buy in developments that are explicitly not intended for them would go some way to rebalancing a chronically unbalanced city. We’re nowhere near this coming to pass; most of these spaces are still rising from the ground and will continue to do for a decade at least. Once the glossy hoardings are down and the rendered lifestyles all but forgotten, we foresee a glut of new urban ghost towns, shuttered and lonely, awaiting a climate that’ll shift their economic status so as to benefit society as a whole.

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Castles and pools

Any amusement park can be made eerie and other-wordly when it’s photographed out of season, by Stefano Cerio’s series ‘Chinese Fun‘ seems to go further than most, eschewing the ruin porn aesthetic in favour of sites that are either teetering on the edge of oblivion or never really got started. There’s still water in these pools, for example, and it’s not yet stagnant. The series is published in a new monograph from Hatje Cantz / other things: figurative art from Riccardo Mannelli (nsfw) and Rinus van de Velde / make your own animal masks / London Brutalism, by Thomas Danthony. Print for sale at the Black Dragon Press / a collection of matchbox art /

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A Day over the UK, a visualisation produced by the National Air Traffic Services / Magicians of Miniature (via MeFi) looks at aviation from another angle, the design and construction of intensely detailed miniatures from the early days of cinematic special effects. Page upon page of intriguing images.

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Pattern language

A Practical Introduction to Muqarnas, Eric Broug on the complex 3D geometry of this quinessential feature of traditional Islamic architecture.

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“E pulvere lux et vis”

From a review of Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth, a new book by Lee Jackson: ‘So appalled was Lady Harberton at the filth that she itemised the ejecta recovered from the train of a woman’s dress after a short stroll along Piccadilly: “2 cigar ends; 9 cigarette ditto; a portion of pork pie; 4 toothpicks; 2 hairpins; 1 stem of a clay pipe; 3 fragments of orange peel; 1 slice of cat’s meat; half a sole of a boot; 1 plug of tobacco (chewed); straw, mud, scraps of paper, and miscellaneous street refuse, ad.lib.”’ (the quote at the top of the page means ‘From dust, light and power’).


Other things. A big chunky hi-res time lapse of Earth to inspire you in the new year / that didn’t take long: The Notch Mansion rendered in Minecraft / a collection of the most pointless ‘lifehacks’, from the Stupid Hackathon / from a while back, The Greatest Camo Story Ever Told, Greg on the (sadly) largely imaginary exploits of Jasper Maskelyne and The Magic Gang in WWII / the fabulous Pillbox Study Group, charting the UK’s wartime defensive network / The Implicit Order, found audio repurposed, represented and sliced up / psychedelic indie rock from Pakistan, Janoobi Khargosh / tumblrs: 111-medea-111 / ghosts in the TV / Sumner’s Journey / archivoltage / modernist estates / the Evolution of the Sunbeam T-20, one of the most iconic toasters of all time. Happy new year.

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