“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

Dodo, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, exploring the landscape and remnants of the Mexican town of San Carlos and its role in the film of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 / paintings by Tom Walton / The Coast, photographs by Charlotte Bland / Drugby Union, on the music of Spacemen 3 / I will overcome many, many different things / Patrik Schumacher get defensive / Korea translation is hard / great story: The men and women who brought curry to Birmingham / the 30 most misguided vanity projects.

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Ruined forms

Casa Sperimentale, by Giuseppe Perugini, at Architizer and Dear Magazine, where these photos by Marco Ponzianelli were published. One of the internet’s favourite bits of ‘lost Brutalism’. See also the Visual News essay by Oliver Astrologo / twisted pop, slowed down, sped up and chopped about, courtesy of Pluffnub / Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, Live at the BBC, 1973 / a classic GoldfingerHouse / BrandNew, on corporate design and identity / the origins of tea / ‘It’s never aliens until is‘ / Neville Brody for Coca-Cola / Renny Tatit’s Simplified London.

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The Vestaboard, when you want text messages delivered on old-fashioned train announcement boards / Superseventies is a tumblr devoted to said decade, includes the occasional that might reflect badly in the modern era/ a London charity shop scavenger hunt (via Projects, which also linked to the redesign of Roads and Kingdoms magazine / War Pigs, First Aid Kit / Quora compiles many scans from illustrated books / The Surf Ranch, perfect waves every time, via tmn / the day Captain Harry Gee landed his play on Heron Quays / illustration by Rohan Daniel Eason / Video games for architecture buffs (via MeFi).

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Sony has announced the birth of an all-new AIBO at CES. The reception has been unsurprisingly ecstatic, especially as the original model, introduced back in 1999, was discontinued in 2006 to much disappointment and then, even worse, unsupported from 2015 (the sub-head on that WSJ article reads, pitifully, ‘Masters Run in Circles Seeking Help for Aged Robotic Pets; Failing Joints’. There were reports of Aibo funerals and there is still a functioning AIBO hospital that cannibalises dead dogs for their useful bits. In AIBO’s absence, the robot dog became a bit more toy-like, and the influence on robot design has also leaned a bit closer to Pixar than the retro style of the original AIBO. Luckily Sony’s designers are taking no tips from Boston Dynamics. Perhaps tomorrow’s full range of robot dogs will run a similar gamut to flesh and blood ones, from pocket-sized to intentionally terrifying. Some of our thoughts on robots from 15 years ago / a few other things. Folded metal things from Another Studio / an animated Chris Ware New Yorker cover from 2015.

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21st Century Landscapes (via Kottke) / sort of related, the astounding bid to designate Trump’s border wall concepts as land art. Satire? ‘MAGA is proud to announce the Land Art Exhibition PROTOTYPES… [consisting] of the eight border wall prototypes commissioned by the U.S. government and built as models for testing and evaluation for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico’ / more culture vs commerce. A papercraft Airbus A380, created for an ad campaign, of course, as was this Škoda Cardboard Karoq / Building on the Built, dedicated to exhibitions about transformations in architecture / photographs of Venice by Maximilian Meisse.

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Carriage returned

Random things. Sticking a 1000 watt LED on a drone / Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch, ambient sound generator / sort of related, the 15 Second horror movie challenge / crowdfunding for the Cardiacs’ Tim Smith. More Cardiacs / Social Decay: Illustrations by Andrei Lacatusu / all back to Rennes-Le-Chateau for some top flight conspiracy theory / the most accurate Lunar globe / see also the 1961 NASA moon simulator / Five Ton Crane, an artist collective / the home of Rock Family Trees / art by Richard Galpin / street art and lettering by Survival Techniques / the amazing story of the Paige Compositor (via Coudal), the machine that nearly bankrupted Mark Twain.

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What never came to pass

Unbuilt cities: the outrageous highway schemes left as roads to nowhere. Good timing as the CBRD blog has just relaunched its page on London’s motorway saga: The Ringways are back. Lots of gloomy artist impressions within, e.g. the concrete pylons stalking past Kensal Green Cemetery / Guillermo Santomà’s Fantastic Interior / biro illustrations by Helena Hauss (a little bit nsfw in some jurisdictions, perhaps) / Seattle 3-year year time lapse.

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Modelling, or not

London 2026 is promising us a glossy lump of architectural inelegance, largely unreadable from every direction, with the grim reality likely to be far less pleasing than the CGI. Eight years ago we were lamenting the lack of a 3D model of London (complete with images). How times have changed / the 80s were never as 80s as the 80s are in this decade: coloursteelsexappeal, a tumblr / photography by Nick Frank / DIY Marble Art with Shaving Cream / a fine piece about the insidious and constant policing of women’s appearance: How I Learned to Look Believable.

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Three necks, 15 strings, Feel Good Inc / If birds left tracks in the sky… / how much of Britain is concreted over? / Ghent in Motion / a signwriter’s life, work by Nick Garrett / What a difference… Cars that never made it has run a long series of contrasting car designs from then and now / tmn has the year in music and the year in board games / engadget has the worst gadgets of 2017 / a couple of questions: what is your album of the year and why? / What media/pop culture “easter eggs” are format-specific? / contemporary illustration for sale at Room Fifty / illustrations by Manabu Yamaguchi / photography by Nick Frank.

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Welcome, 2018

Google mapping versus Apple mapping and the use of ‘commercial corridors’ as mental maps for urban navigation: ‘areas of interest‘. Sort of related, Strava Art. See also this then and now series, aerial views of Chicago taken in 1914 with video from today / The guidebook that led me to a lost corner of England / The People’s History of Tattooine / Rachel Laine’s flickr stream is full of retro inspired audio graphics (and many nsfw imagery) / the story of Jaguar’s lost ‘F-type’, the XJ41 and 42 / VCV Rack, ‘an open-source virtual modular synthesizer’ (via MeFi). Related, how to make techno / the Occasional blog of Tobias Revell / the Lazzarini Design Hover Coupe / At Least 1000 Tigers, illustration by Molly Fairhurst. Happy new year.

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Watching the skies with jaded eyes

Kottke made the point a couple of days ago that the USAF’s recent casual announcement about its now-defunct UFO division – and the release of a couple of blurry but presumably far more authentic films than have ever been seen before – was swiftly overtaken by the rampant insanity of the modern news cycle. Are we all just more jaded and cynical? Is the idea of unknown (non-alien) machinery capable of incredible feats simply accepted? A true conspiracy theorist would posit that this soft peddling of hard news is a way of preparing us for a grand announcement about Oumuamua (good work there with the Lovecraftian name generator), but it turns out that it was just a rock. The possibilities were endless.


Other things. Dynamicland, an ‘authoring environment’ / music from Dronningen / The House that Edek built, a tale of war, escape, redemption and architecture / photographs by Ivan Jones. See also his project This is Landform / photographs by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis / at home with Ricardo Bofill, part of Nowness’s In Residence series / Make Anything, a YouTube channel about 3D printing.

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Be kind, rewind

Make interesting books happen. The World Through the Eyes of Alexander von Humboldt, ‘beautiful illustrations from the greatest scientific traveller who ever lived’. A Kickstarter / Cain’s Jawbone – A Novel Problem at Unbound (via Tom Gauld), a reprint of a 1934 puzzle book by Edward Powys Mathers, aka Torquemada / Reyner Banham’s Megastructure is also up for a crowd-funded revival / a great history of the great British sandwich / Save me from suburbia, Boy George on the power of pop in the 1970s / odd poppy sculptures by Eric Nado / pop-culture Easter eggs.

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Off world

Compare and contrast: the globes of Emmy Ingeborg Brun, ‘a Danish Mars enthusiast who made a small number of globes… Her inscriptions suggest that she viewed Mars as a potential model for Christian socialist cosmopolitanism on Earth’ vs Google Mars. A Brun globe is for sale at Crouch Rare Books / Boundary Breaking in 3D games / Lightyear.fm simulates radio waves travelling into the distant empty expanses of space / The Englishman and the Eel, a new book about a (relatively) unknown delicacy / what is an eggcorn? / photos from inside the cabs of long-distance truckers / buy a theme park, of sorts, in Florida. Some other theme parks for sale / the world’s wind turbines.

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Labour intensive

Without wishing to invoke Betteridge’s law of headlines, is Bitcoin a bubble? For an essential primer, John Lanchester’s LRB story on the currency last year is the gold standard. But for an even more alarmist headline, this time without a qualifying question mark: Bitcoin could cost us our clean-energy future. ‘Today, each bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy used to power nine homes in the U.S. for one day.’ Check the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index for more stats. At the time of writing, the carbon footprint per transaction, in kg of C02, is calculated as 122.14kg. This is an issue that people have been writing about for years: Virtual Bitcoin Mining Is a Real-World Environmental Disaster / lighter things. Music by Ulrika Spacek / pedals by Acid Fuzz / recommendations for weird online fiction.

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Around the world

Cyriak’s latest is all about horses / the sound of a gif / a recent Google Doodle celebrating coding for kids / good overview – with simulations – of the challenges facing carbon capture / airport runways, abstracted / the incredible radio.garden, the world of stray tunes, random voices and static (via Mefi) / I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor. The story of The Shed at Dulwich (also via MeFi) / a new book about the commercial art of Heath Robinson. A good gallery of the artist’s work.

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Things we learned

Open for Business, 1966 VW Van brochure / the end of Every Frame a Painting / 52 things I learned in 2017 (also via K) / for her 90th birthday, Elton John’s estranged mother hired an Elton John tribute act to perform / an auction of splendid Citroen ephemera / 5054 is a new (physical) magazine about cars / retro synth illustrations by Ste Holmes / illustrations by Darryl Cunningham / illustrations by Kerry Hyndman / Sky Rogue is a game with a retro feel and theme / Google the planets / the lost villages beneath Ladybower Reservoir / nearly but not quite modern ruins: the crumbling Houses of Parliament.

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Tech talk

What ‘Tech World’ did you grow up in? Interactive nostalgia courtesy of the Washington Post. A world where there are speed trials with mouse robots in Japan. The robot learns the maze first then returns to the start point to run it as fast as possible / developers share their most memorable dirty coding tricks (via me-fi). See also The Poor Man’s 3D Camera / Using deep learning and Google Street View to estimate the demographic makeup of neighborhoods across the United States. We all give signs, both conscious and unconscious / a smorgasbord of terrible movies / dark and unsettling Black Friday Tape Loops / paintings by James Bland / The Monolith, art, urbanism, change and inspiration. Paintings by Gwyneth Leech (via tmn).

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A history lesson

Things has been online for nearly 18 years. Our first website was hosted by demon and still lingers on somewhere, and then we switched to things.org.uk, scraps of which still exist in the Internet Archive. It’s strange how such comparatively recent history now has to be sifted and searched for like an archaeological dig. In around September 2001 we decided to adopt the new-fangled ‘weblog’ format (‘The things editors hope that the weblog format will make updating the site less of a chore’). After seven years of working with Blogger, we switched to WordPress in March 2010. Since then the site has bumbled along with a mix of ancient templates and hand-coded html. Traffic has steadily and relentlessly declined, from a high of 328,965 annual visits in 2011 to around a quarter of that today. Yet being interested in ‘things’ is more popular than ever; the idea of a site that found the hidden gems in the internet riverbed was once relatively rare. Now, everyone wants the glint of something shiny and gets served up a relentless stream of stuff. How much longer can we last?

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Bouncing down

Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman scene comparisons from Man on the Moon. Now watch Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton / the delightful Vistabule teardrop travel trailer / an article about web search, from 1996: Seek and Ye Shall Find (Maybe), found via this comment on Halt and Catch Fire / how to make fake plastic food in Japan / a collection of urban white elephants / the bittersweet act of revisiting favourite children’s books / how many decimals of Pi do we really need? On accuracy and scale / It’s Nice That presents the animated illustrations of Geoffroy de Crécy / rendering the Simpsons’ house in eight different ways / modernist rentals, coming soon / The true story of the fake US embassy in Ghana. It was a fake.

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Deep dive

Paintings by Kirsten Tradowsky / cars are getting bigger (via Cartype) / eight years of construction: Official Louvre Abu Dhabi Time-Lapse 2009 – 2017 / Making a violin in less than two weeks / reviews from the audiophile man / decidedly unpolished archive images from the heyday of British post-war housing / artwork by Nicolas Monterrat, at Colossal / the mid-century modern tumblr / totally unrelated, a joyous twitter thread: ‘Please show me pictures of weird stuff in your parents house‘ / William Walker, a quiet hero. Mountain 7 on the diver who toiled for six years in the water-logged foundations of Winchester Cathedral. Many more pictures and information at the Society of Architectural Historians blog.

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