Three examples of culture sampling. The distinctly Benz-like vehicles of Bamin Automobile, at CarNewsChina (via Jalopnik) / a nice shout out to The Way of the Exploding Fist in the Black Mirror Trailer (1m21s) / more pop culture self-referentiality: Stranger Things Lego.
The Library of Things – ‘why buy when you could borrow?’ This Guardian piece asks whether ‘borrowing everything from drills to disco balls cut waste and save money?’ It is certainly a tempting idea. Based in Oxford (a London branch opens soon), the library’s stock is still rather prosaic and practical, but perhaps the more esoteric the better. Sort of related, Dimensions.Guide, a database of measured drawings (via Kottke70’s Sci Fi & Superhero Utility Belts at The Dork Review, via David Weiner’s It Came From…, a blog about retro pop nostalgia / not pop, music by Millipede / Lisa Drewe: The woman walking on the edge of hidden islands. Drewe runs the site Islandeering.
Please help me find the very best strange trippy short films and videos / the East End in Colour, 1980-1990. See also the Development and Construction of London Flickr group / Arrows Classic is a Japanese company that refurbishes old Mercedes (via Uncrate) / related, proposed BMW 2002 restomod / paintings by Gareth Cadwallader / Photo Requests from Solitary, ‘a participatory project that invites men and women held in long-term solitary confinement in U.S. prisons to request a photograph of anything at all, real or imagined, and then finds a volunteer to make the image’. Not related, but the flipside of hope perhaps, The Last Meals Project (via MeFi) / Yuji Watanabe’s Dr. Minezaki House, the ‘Dragon Fort’, from 1968, at SOS Brutalism: ‘the building resembles a curled up dragon with private and office rooms for a medical doctor’.
The Emotional Charge of What We Throw Away / the (many) legends of Crybaby Bridge / McMansion Hell: I wasted a whole day making this chart for architects and so now you have to see it too / Kicks Condor. Every now and again we find a site (or it finds us) that seems like a kindred spirit in approach and sensibility / Burls Art makes guitars and things / music by Lacing / Congregation, a photography project by Sophie Green / Raw Materials, an ongoing research project exploring the industrial heritage of the River Lea through found objects / drawings of houses by Stefan Zsaitsits / short fx clips by FX Mania.
Art by Xooang Choi / America’s fading shopfronts, photographs by John Lehr / The World’s Worst Records / the 360° Alphabet by Jinhwa Oh / Hamburg Deconstruction, Carsten Witte / Ignant has a folio of Alain Capeillères’s Swimming Pool in the Côte d’Azur, photographed by Romain Laprade. Laprade’s site is full of beautiful shots: La Grande Motte; Walden 7 by Bofill; Niemeyer’s Headquarters of the French Communist Party / photography by Janie Kidston / illustrations by Visothkakvei / memories of Disintegration by Roger O’Donnell / Mudhoney play the Fulham Greyhound, March 1989.
Historical Times presents a collection of culturally important ruins / Mars in the Gobi Desert / how climate change deniers make themselves seem legitimate / Island living. See also The Gatekeepers, a photography project by Alex Ingram / Asia, through the filter of Soviet concrete. The book, Soviet Asia, is by photographers Roberto Conte and Stefano Perego / see also Modernist Escapes / Tracking Britain’s ‘wild cats’, an urban legend that never dies / starting young, influencer culture and child labour laws, two things that never seem to meet / Up in the air: drones of the future will look like birds and bugs / Free Range, a graduate show of art and photography / Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die, Punk Graphics, 1976–1986 / Stunning landscape illustrations by Ryo Takemasa.
A 2015 project on gothic structure devoted a substantial amount of time to scanning Notre Dame, creating a precise 3D model. The project was the initiative of the late Andrew Tallon, who very tragically died just last November. His work and memory will be essential in the years to come / other things. Illustration by Jon Juarez / Browsing the Stacks: A Photo Appreciation of Libraries at The Atlantic / The Sound of the Seen: Morgan Aschom’s “What the Living Carry”, an essay at Lens Culture / Bauhaus Tribute Posters by Xavier Esclusa Trias / Abandon Earth?, ‘A trio of recently unveiled projects sees architects designing for futures removed from terra firma, looking wayward to Mars, the Moon, and the surface of our vast oceans’.
A question seeking recommendations of examples of Post-post-collapse fiction, from where we get to Stand Still, Stay Silent, a webcomic about a Scandinavian future. We can’t vouch for the accuracy of the language tree, but it’s a beautiful image. At times the modern internet resembles a post-collapse society, with the little tributaries of originality and individuality swept away by the monolithic platforms and their relentless amplification of nothing. And there are just so many abandoned sites out there, even ignoring the husks of ideas and ideals that make up the empty tenements of Geocities or MySpace, but personal blogs that were lovingly tended and curated, yet still ultimately fell into disrepair.
Digital entropy is very real – our own ‘blogroll’ is home to many an abandoned project – but coming across a dead blog is like stumbling on the Marie Celeste. A tiny sampling: Sea Songs; Third Class on a One-Class Train; nuits sans nuit et quelques jours sans jour; This Recording; (what is this?); broken biro; i flips me lid; Continuo. It’s pointless to speculate where everyone went. Some sites, like Bad British Architecture, fell victim to their creators’ more lucrative side projects (despite the near endless of material), while others just ebbed away as time and interest waned. People are increasingly aware of the potentially damaging role of past social media, but the abandoned blog is a much more nuanced memory from the past. A couple of other things. Not 2 Grand, a website about buying cheap cars / GCHQ and the codes of Frank Sidebottom / alternate timeline McDonalds, c1973 (via Coudal).
A short guide to Broadcast, retrofuturist pop & hauntological pop. See also this earlier collection of music loosely grouped as Folk Horror. There are endearing fictional diversions in the genre, such as Hereford Wakes, ‘a five-part ITV children’s drama originally transmitted over the summer of 1972 and produced by Harlech Television based in Wales.’ Shades of Scarfolk Council, blended with the harsh edge aesthetic of 70s and 80s public information films. Retrofuturism is awash with re-imagined pasts – it’s the whole synthwave aesthetic. This collection of Synth Soundtracks For Films That Don’t Exist includes Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury’s Drokk, an alternative album of themes for the Judge Dredd film of their imagination. It led of course to scores for Ex Machina and Annihilation, amongst others. Barrow’s Invada Records has an impressive catalogue of contemporary film music, from A Field in England to Mandy and Stranger Things. The duo are also doing the music to the new Amazon drama Hanna. Finally, some true natural ambience: Field Recordings from Teufelsberg Listening Station, Berlin, Germany.
Unrailed, a new game about an endless railway (via RPS) / crafty stuff and Hole and Corner / Barcelona from above / Cambridge from the rooftops / London as a leaky sieve of laundered property money / speaking of which, where does F1 sponsor Rich Energy gets its money from?
Our horrid future, part 235. For the tech elite, luxury means getting away from what they created. Meanwhile, SF continues to descend into a social hellscape for anyone who isn’t wallowing in venture capital / surprisingly, there is still so much derelict London to explore / cityscapes (and occasional nudes) painted by Seth Armstrong / Amy Bennett creates detailed models of imaginary suburbs and landscapes, which she then paints / The never-arriving aerial train, Airminded on a never-realised dream of early aviation.
This and that. A post about tracking digital ephemera / 30 Years of God Game History, a look at the evolution of Populous, Dungeon Keeper, Black & White, etc. / a leading animator admits to having Aphantasia: ‘Ex-Pixar chief Ed Catmull says ‘my mind’s eye is blind” / Horror on the Hudson. NY’s Hudson Yards development comes in for another critical kicking. It’s especially interesting how Heatherwick has become a lighting rod for ill-will / Abandoned World Explorer tackles the empty houses on Hampstead’s ‘Billionaires’ Row‘, The Bishop’s Avenue. There are periodically hand-wringing pieces about this long stretch of street and the many, many abandoned houses that lie along it. The Wikipedia article doesn’t exactly offer up a set of sympathetic neighbours, but still, the street makes for fun flying around in Google Earth if you don’t have the stomach to dodge the security guards.
From this question, Umberto Eco on photocopies: ‘Photocopies are indispensable instruments. They allow you to keep with you a text you have already read in the library, and to take home a text you have not read yet. But a set of photocopies can become an alibi. A student makes hundreds of pages of photocopies and takes them home, and the manual labour he exercises in doing so gives him the impression that he possesses the work … There are many things I do not know because I photocopied a text and then relaxed as if I had read it.’ Eco might have been talking about any form of mechanical reproduction (shades of Benjamin), in that the act of acquisition and collecting seems to rapidly usurp the experience of actually using or enjoying something. This collectomania is one of the defining elements of modern consumption. Discuss / other things. Music by Art School Girlfriend / paper cuts and doodles by Melanie Titmuss / paintings by Jon Pilkington / the story of the Headington shark.
Masquerade: How a real-life treasure hunt obsessed a nation. See also the following Me-Fi posts: I, II, III and IV. See also Hareraiser: Prelude, an accompanying Spectrum game / LOC Serendipity, ‘Curated and Randomly Generated Selections from the Library of Congress’ (via MeFi) / paintings by Martha Armstrong / Steve Albini shows us his junk / ‘This is a story about how an opportunist stole a band and an already stolen beat from a man he didn’t believe in.’ Burundi Beat: The Ants + Annabella + Appropriation / ‘It is a religion’: how the world went mad for Moomins / Other Places, a video series about video game world design (via RPS): their new playlist is Ambient, which starts with the soundscape to Alien: Isolation. Also via RPS, learn typing with the ancient Greeks / The Current: New Wheels for the Post-Petrol Age, a book / Kickstart ‘the most beautiful construction kit in the world‘ / music by Hurray for the Riff Raff
/ music by Trimdon Grange Explosion, psych folk on Borley Rectory records.
Codex 99 has some fine in-depth design history reporting spliced with personal recollections, e.g The XB-70: My Dad and the Cold War, the story of ‘perhaps the most audacious plane ever commissioned by the Air Force’. Also the Box of Vacations, European travels in the 50s and 60s / 1991 Toyota Crown Hearse for sale / Monorail Music is a record label / Anti Gravity Bunny posts intriguing mixes / how to turn a $200 pair of headphones into a $350 pair of headphones, with a screwdriver / music by Astronoid / play music on IKEA’s forthcoming FREKVENS party system, developed in collaboration with Teenage Engineering / breaking down a track: Killer, by Adamski and Seal / riding the ‘white line’ in Sedona.
The rotten side of self-publishing. The cheap schadenfreude of plagiarism accusations / Buster Keaton, Master Architect / animal photo art reference search / Armortek make scale metal models of historic tanks, with exceptional attention to detail / American public transit systems mapped, then and now / related, Landscape Stories, photographic stories of urbanism / the story of Gandolfi Cameras, a Peckham-based family business that only recently closed down / the sculptural beauty of Japanese highway interchanges / related, can you draw a perfect circle? / The Lost History of One of the World’s Strangest Science Experiments: Biosphere 2. “In short, the Biosphere 2 experiment failed to generate sufficient breathable air, drinkable water and adequate food for just eight humans, despite an expenditure of $200 million.”
More flying saucers: the National Museum in Qatar, by Ateliers Jean Nouvel / an installation in Paris by Japanese collective Mé, via Fubiz / stress testing: bending the Galaxy Fold / related, Testing, Testing, a great edition of the BBC’s Q.E.D documentary series. Proto YouTube / Chris Clegg’s Canal Time Map at City Metric / sort of related, a map of the Internet from May 1973.
In pictures: Kenyan artist Khadambi Asalache’s London house, available to visit through the National Trust. See also Stephen Wright’s House of Dreams in South London and, for a more deliberately contrived approach, Grayson Perry and FAT’s A House for Essex / other things. Micro-Chop has ‘Song Deconstructions’, ‘dissecting beat making, DJing, rapping, and sampling’ / a bit of a cliche these days, perhaps: Tokyo as a Giant Video Game, photography by Davide Sasso / American Dream or American Nightmare, an architecture project by Maria Yue Ma / Much Unseen Is Also Here, photographer Joshua Dudley Greer cruises the interstates for Places Journal / it’s the next logical thing: Belief in aliens could be America’s next religion, via MeFi. Time to break out the UFO paperback gallery again / music by Lusts / five ways to cut down on phone use.
Rediscovering Hampshire’s Wartime History at Urban Ghost Media / paintings by Suhas Bhujbal / paintings by Nancy Gruskin / music by The Ornament Birds / music by Coby Sey / Ettore Sottsass’s The Planet as Festival, the height of 70s technotopianism / a masterclass on how to end a song, by AC/DC / 41256 was a podcast experiment by Russell Davies / the Aston Martin Bulldog, 1979 / following on from the last post’s Alexa-driven therapist, The Difference, Caterina Fake’s new Should This Exist? podcast tackles a AI-powered chatbot to provide CBT around the clock. Hi, I’m Woebot.
Down things today. A sobering look at The Last Days of Walter Benjamin’s Life / Mike Monteiro’s upcoming book Ruined by Design looks like it’ll be an essential read / a list of services and devices that have been (intentionally) Killed by Google / How a bookshop wolf handles awkward customers, all about Anne Barnetson’s Customer Service Wolf / oh this will end well: The Difference, ‘Connect with a Therapist via Alexa Voice Services’.
Wickham’s Department Store, on Mile End Road, was once known as the ‘Harrods of the East’, part of a city-wide network of grand shops, often family owned, that offered their customers practically everything under one roof. Wickham’s unusual punctured facade was due to the resolute Spiegelhalter’s Jewelry Shop, which refused to sell up. The building has recently been renovated and Spiegelhalter’s building remains prominent. This ‘Holdout‘ is relatively uncommon in London, but is more recently seen in the ‘Nail Houses’ of China / other things. Matt’s Repository of Information, a design tumblr / the The Sheela Na Gig Project. See also at the BBC / The Sometimes Catastrophic, but Mostly Just Embarrassing Consequences of Screen Sharing at Work / Meet Vermeer, ‘Vermeer’s complete works united: 36 paintings from 18 museums across 7 different countries’ / Dirty Lies, a long read about Dieselgate / organ69 is a retro-themed Japanese keyboard shop / a new album Blood Red Shoes has sneaked out / Tortoise play their TNT album in full for its 21st anniversary / WePresent is a curated portfolio site from the WeTransfer people / A Huge Collection of Apollo 11 Press Kits / a comprehensive MeFi post about the Poverty Maps of Charles Booth.
Getting inside the head of the man who was Frank Sidebottom / related, Chris Sievey’s The Biz, a Spectrum game from 1984. While we’re at it, the Thompson Twins Adventure from the same year and the (critically acclaimed) Frankie goes to Hollywood game, from the following year. The latter is also available to play online, courtesy of the Qaop online Spectrum emulator / Curious Architectural Phenomena, a MeFi post about the intriguing behind the scenes work of Austrian photographer Gregor Sailer / not really related, Terrible Things Happening in Cold Places (via Projects) / a close reading of the Vessel photography ‘rights’ document is yet one more thing that won’t help brand Heatherwick / Nicholas Dixon’s series ‘The Brown Sisters‘ reached the forty-third portrait last year / Outstanding, a tumblr about art.
Pavilion fix. Help get Pricegore’s Colour Palace off the ground, a collaboration with the artist Yinka Ilori / The man who takes tech apart – so we can learn how to fix it, a piece on the photographer Todd McLellan / Spatula, a tumblr about architecture and design / the Robocar from the Roborace series, photographed by Benedict Redgrove / an album by Ice Baths at Blank Editions. More Ice Baths / Grid comparison: the best smartphone cameras of all time, compiled by Steve Litchfield.