In the dawn of Time they came from space to become… We have a new collection: UFO books. Lovingly assembled, now long dispersed, here is a small snapshot of the 70s and 80s publishing phenomenon, fuelled by television shows like Arthur C.Clarke’s Mysterious World, and the late Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of… series. Viewed from afar, the 1970s feels like an era of high-weirdness, with saucers at the heart of a crowd-sourced mythology that drew upon pagan esoterica. Only as the decade progressed did they evolve into symbols of the military-industrial complex, conspiracy and collusion, coming full circle to the paranoia and fear that accompanied the very first Cold War-era sightings. The ideas and theories still bleed into the modern era, though, through curious outliers like Erich von Daniken’s failed Mystery Park (‘Instead of a fun family amusement park, the attractions were intended to represent von Daniken’s [theories], not imaginary fantasy and entertainment.’) Daniken’s colourful conjectures are worth a post in themselves – the old BBC documentary The Case of the Ancient Astronauts does a fine job of debunking its wilder claims (with the added bonus of a splendid BBC Radiophonics Workshop (make your own!) theme tune, the rediscovery of which made for a great thread on Paul Cornell’s website)). Unsurprisingly, the internet is still awash with ‘research’ that makes the pulpy claims of these luridly covered paperbacks seem tame in comparison, not helped by the occasional leg up from mainstream pop culture. But has there ever been a better named for a Ufologist than Brinsley Le Poer Trench, 8th Earl of Clancarty?
Other things. UFO sightings and other insights into 1960s Valleys life, the story of 18,000 negatives discovered in a Merthyr Tydfil library / Diane Keaton has a good eye for architecture / Quadrant, a rhythm game (via RPS) / the Artiphon is a musical instrument (via The Coolist).
On the way down to visit the newly installed Radic Pavilion in Somerset, we passed the aftermath of the morning’s revelry at Stonehenge. The solar eclipse had lured a convoy of sun-worshippers, neo-pagans, tourists and members of the Wiltshire constabulary, and their caravan of motley vehicles fringed the standing stone circle with uneven silhouettes / other things. The Great Diary Project brings together extracts from personal diaries over the decades / beautiful interactive architecture illustrations by Oskar Stalberg / Leave Them All Behind, a tribute to Ride Playground, an exhibition and book of photographs by James Mollison. See also his found photo project, The Memory of Pablo Escobar.
Marvelous Mars, a high res gallery compiled by Medium / Visual Dyslexia, a blog of urban fragments / the above image is from the rediscovered 1815 map by William Smith showing the geology of England, Wales and part of Scotland (via BBC News). It’s a shame the Geological Society is so watermark-heavy and resolution averse / Everyone Forever, a tumblr scrapbook from Universal Everything / the one-off Mercedes 300 SEL by Pininfarina / our Wing Mirror Project is now on its twelth gallery / The Cold Rim of the World, ‘The rise and fall of Pyramiden, a Russian mining town located in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard’ / The Sick Bag Song, a new book by Nick Cave / process and work charted at the Mist Gallery’s blog.
First Man on the Moon, a vinyl record / please sign a petition to protect Michael Heizer’s City / the architecture of imitation. The Secret Service Wants to Build a Fake White House for training purposes. Shades of Imber in Wiltshire or Sennybridge in Wales / Ruskin’s daguerreotypes: ‘The pictures were taken in Italy, France and Switzerland around 1850. There are several of Venice, and what are believed to be the the earliest surviving photographs of the Alps.’
The TripAdvisor Effect, a prism through which the world’s hospitality industry can only be distorted, or how an ‘aggregate of rational, emotionally distant information [can be] overwhelmed by a much more narratively powerful, personally relevant source.’ Related, a collection of the site’s biggest controversies (as if to prove the first piece’s point). See also: TripAdvisaargh.
The collage art of Sheila Margaret Mullen / Blueprint on the art of Ladybird, a review of the exhibition Ladybird by Design at the Bexhill Pavilion / Building Supertall, the world’s next top ten towers / beautiful kinetic light installation – Shylights / flickr user X-Ray Delta One is a treasure trove of vintage scans / more old things at Retro Synth Ads / more Mars One Shenanigans / The Glorious Boondoggle, Calatrava at ground zero.
‘Scientifically mapped’, the perfect American road trip / Greenwich, London before the recent building boom / Philadelphia’s Boyd Theatre, a 1928 Art Deco movie palace, currently being reduced to rubble / the Acid Machine. Fun for fiddling / Lost in the Riots, epic instrumental rock / Megaestructuras, a tumblr / Soft Corridor, a record label.
Art things. TALWST builds intricate dioramas in jewellery boxes / in a similar vein, History’s Most Iconic Photos Recreated as Miniature Still Lifes, a project by Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger / Yiwu Commodity City, portraits of plastic commerce by Richard John Seymour (via Institute) / urban scenes painted by Tim Goffe / Unspoken Conversations, portraits of mothers and daughters by Rania Matar.
Toby Ziegler, a tumblr / the gym on the Titanic / learn complex maths with Sine Rider / Submarine Cable Map, ‘the 299 cable systems that are currently active, under construction, or expected to be fully-funded by the end of 2015 / The Geograph Britain and Ireland Project, collecting ‘geographically representative photographs and information for every square kilometre’ of the British Isles / Plug & Play, a game / amateur hour horror or outsider art triumphs at Kindle Cover Disasters.
Other things for Friday: ‘One of the most absorbing and alluring games that has ever captured society. Boredom is a thing of the past in Belgravia since the art of puzzling': a history of the jigsaw, along with zag-zaws, crazy-cuts and die cut / our kind of travel writing, Karl Ove Knausgaard Travels Through North America / the secret bunkers of Switzerland / I Dream of Wires is a 2013 documentary about the modular synthesizer (via EDM Arena) / the traffic robots of Kinshasha / What do you do with an old ocean liner? / The Cool Cars / Geoff Barrow’s soundtrack for Ex Machina / Lucy Sparrow makes things out of felt / quiz yourself with Google Feud.
Join the dots. Tower Block: ‘Documenting and disseminating information about the postwar mass housing drive‘ is a project by Miles Glendinning, also the co-author of the magesterial (and now extremely rare and expensive) survey, Tower Block: Modern Public Housing in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (although happily there is a pdf of the book on the site). See also the 10 best tower blocks in Britain. It’s a bit late for tower blocks. Celebrate architecture’s social function, not just its form; Hatherley argues that the aesthetic limitations of system built housing is being used to justify the kind of demolition and reconstruction that is gutting the existing demographic fabric of inner London communities. At the same time, the brick-clad tasteful, retrained, refined and unobtrustive ‘modernist aesthetic‘ is the default style for the new breed of investment-architecture that is replacing it. Related, How the paintbrush mafia have ruined Shoreditch, an extended whinge from a developer about the wrong kind of gentrification and the shifting definition of the ‘creative classes’.
248 perfect trades. How $1000 could have sent the world’s economy into a spin (via Kottke) / Kim Laughton creates visions of Grand Theft Auto without textures (via RPS) / staying with graphics: Seascape, a browser based realtime wave simulator. Remarkable – just a few weeks ago we linked to Triton’s special ocean modelling software. Things move fast (also via Kottke).
The Exbury Egg is a private retreat/artist’s studio, designed by architects PAD Studio in collaboration with the artist Stephen Turner. Turner spent a year living in the Egg, moored on the Beaulieu River. His thoughts and works were collected in a year-long online journal
A collection of more Wes Anderson Analysis than you could ever possibly need, courtesy of film blog Every Frame a Painting / Piccadilly Circus, an illustration by Renzo Picasso from 1929. There’s a larger archive of Picasso’s work here. The relatively unknown designer sounds like an elaborately constructed character from an Anderson film / staying inter-war, the A.B.C. Murders is a point and click adventure game featuring Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot (via RPS) / more graphics. We remember being thrilled and entertained by PC demos back in the day. The scene is still very much active. This 4k intro showcases the insane complexity that can be crammed in to 4096 bytes (via Superarchitects) / finally, an iconic note for the weekend. The New Thames Bridge shortlist has been unveiled, and the results are the slickly rendered aftermath of a collision between a spaghetti dinner and a paint factory. Part of the problem is that the bridge is elevated high above the water, meaning a profusion of ramps and spirals are needed to descend to pavement level on each side. It also doesn’t help that the edifice will have be up against the dismal backdrop of Vauxhall, Nine Elms and Battersea, dumping ground for insane ideas and sub-par architecture for several decades. Bring back the Crystal Span of 1963.
A proper Barbapapa House (via Wowhaus). The French did this bubble architecture more efficiently and copiously than almost anyone else – Pierre Cardin’s classic ‘Bubble House‘ being a case in point / there is an Irish ferry based on Ulysses / at what point does whimsy become toxic? Ian Martin on London, a barbed and savage look back from a not-improbable future. Most modern architecture? Save it for the renders. Related, walking along the quasi-privatised River Thames. Also related: Cities Don’t Love Us. The psychology, ethics and economics of gentrification, and the benefits of just getting the hell out instead.
Other thing. Some new music: Seas, Starry / Space Yacob and the Giant Yeti / Charivari! / The Time People soundtrack / worth having a poke around the hauntology tag on Bandcamp / Rookie Magazine, on writing and other things / Back to the USSR, old Soviet ephemera / Step on no pets: The Palindrome Game of the Enigma Codebreakers (via MeFi Projects) / Voices of East Anglia, a retro-themed weblog we’ve flagged up before / beautiful animated illustration by Rafael Varona: Impossible Bottles / house-keeping: test for Superfish. Our most recent machine came pre-installed with this nasty piece of Malware. Our advice? Don’t buy Lenovo. More.
A clutch of architectural links. Impington Village College in Campbridgeshire was created by Walter Gropius with Maxwell Fry, following the former’s exit from the Bauhaus and Germany and before he went on to ‘stardom’ in the US. It remains a curious amalgam of architectural influences and innovations. There’s an upcoming lecture day to celebrate the architect’s legacy in the UK, which also includes the private house in Old Church Street, Chelsea, marketed for £45M a couple of years ago / also related, a recent book on the Isokon Flats, The Lawn Road Flats: Spies, Writers and Artists, uncovers the artistic milieu around this pioneering structure / the Industrial Estates of Britain, a guide / “The story of the Haggerston Estate is the story of social housing in Britain“, a post at CityMetric / imagery: Modernism in Metroland, Architecture of Doom and Modernist Estates. Scavenged Luxury is also a fine source of the quotidian / Failed Architecture has a number of interesting essays on the relationship between architecture and society, including ‘Houses as Money: The Georgian Townhouse in London‘, which covers spec building, sub-basements and pastiche.
Joining the dots. Since Marc Newson moved to Apple he has presumably had some input into the upcoming Apple Watch. Yet even more intriguing is the idea that he’s also involved in the rumoured Apple Car. After all, Newson’s Ford 021C of 1999 remains the quintessential example car-as-product-design, still fresh after 16 years.
Other things. The dawn of robot journalism / the bi-annual Nairn post gets an outing: The man who hated the transformation of Britain / vintage rock is a scanned collection of ephemera / the oral history of shoegaze / a brief history of rooftopping and its evolution from urban exploration to high stakes thrill-seeking and political activism.
Moonfire: The epic journey of Apollo 11 is an enhanced pictorial edit of Norman Mailer’s Time reportage on the moon programme. It seems that Mailer didn’t really enjoy the whole experience, feeling that it lacked a certain magic; he certainly didn’t go all out on the machismo and adventurous spirit conjured up by Wolfe in The Right Stuff (first chunk of movie version here). Taschen also produces a lunar rock edition, limited to just twelve copies. ‘Each book is contained in a LEM-inspired case whose surface is an actual 3D topography of the Moon made from a single piece of aluminum (Size: 523 x 596 x 347 mm, Weight: 22 kilograms), and is accompanied by a separately packaged piece of lunar rock.’ The case was designed by Marc Newson and the smallest piece of moon rock started at 75,000 Euro, with the largest gracing Taschen’s priciest book ever, No. 1,969, priced at 480,000 Euro. It’s probably cheaper to go to the Lunar Embassy. See also the story of the newly discovered Armstrong lunar ephemera stash. Also related, a very comprehensive post assembling the story behind Apollo. When will the Mars book come out?