Gem fields

Buried Treasure, a new site dedicated to undercovering hidden gems of indie gaming / angular music by A Formal Horse / GM Supposedly Destroyed (Nearly) Every EV1 Ever Made—So Why Is One in an Atlanta Parking Garage? / related, Who Killed the Electric Car?, edited / Bloated Motors / Alexandre Guirkinger’s photographs of the Maginot Line (via Wired). Feel sure we’ve linked this before / “El Sueño Americano / The American Dream: Photographs by Tom Kiefer” / Nithurst Farm by Adam Richards Architects / gifts for architecture lovers / while we’re on the subject, the Kottke Holiday Gift Guide is always recommended / The History of Havana – The Beta. The Demo. The Perfection. How a hit song evolves.

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Risk-averse delivery

Street View Journey, a selection of paintings by Nao Tatsumi / don’t get trapped in a sneaky hate spiral / lots of gems at this History of Science and Technology sale at Bonham’s / Words for Music, a music blog / live music captured at Sound you can see / unsettling silicone sculptures by Laira Maganuco / unsettling ceramics and more by Evelyn Bracklow / Rowan Moore revisits the Millennium Dome 20 years on… a very British fiasco: ‘It set a pattern for the next decade of urban regeneration in which the power of iconic objects was overrated, in which bold-sounding political statements were then undermined by risk-averse delivery, in which the skills and integrity of architects and artists were crushed by the mechanics of public-private partnerships.’

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Other things. Secret bunkers and mountain hideouts: hunting Italy’s mafia bosses. See also the BBC documentary The Mafia’s Secret Bunkers, which you can watch on YouTube / History Always Favours The Winners, a record label with some great signings / Champagne, shotguns, and surveillance at spyware’s grand bazaar, a depressing trawl around an arms fair / Le Mans 1955, a short animated film (via Jalopnik, which also links to this extendable H Van / web thingys by Matt Round / slo-mo ocean footage. Sparkly / Stranger Than Kindness: The Nick Cave Exhibition / the creative legacy of Teletext / more 8-bit aesthetic at Rose Tinted Spectrum / contemporary stagecraft uses hi-res three dimensional realms projected around the action, rather than green screens (at the sci-fi blog Dark Horizons) / reminiscing about the dangers of our youth / and finally, The Ireland Shakespeare forgeries:

‘Deeree Sirree, Wille youe doee meee theee favvourree too dinnee wythee meee onn Friddaye nextte, attt twoo off theee clockee, too eattee sommee muttonne choppes andd somme poottaattoooeesse.’

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Accelerated ages

Four-wheeled dreams, Rick Poynor on the seduced but unquestioning approach taken by the V&A’s monograph Autofocus: The Car in Photography, published to coincide with the exhibition Cars: Accelerating the Modern World. In general, Cars shares the muddled-up mix of mirror, signal, manoeuvre as the book. It is a strangely old-fashioned piece of design history, one that falls into the trap of being simultaneously seduced and confused by its subject matter. A rich cavalcade of archive material, specially commissioned films and archive material, design ephemera, models, automobilia and actual physical cars are given a hefty amount of space in the V&A’s new Sainsbury Gallery. Critical distance – or even disengagement – is something that design history has struggled with since the discipline’s inception, walking a fine line between dry academic analysis and goggle-eyed wonder at the contents of old archives and dusty collections, long-forgotten historical cul-de-sacs and of course the retro-futurist’s inevitable schadenfreude at past (over)ambitions.

No other object has been so comprehensively fetishised by society, the result of which is an on-going, acrimonious and bitterly bad break-up that looks set to last for decades. As an exhibition, Cars ticks almost all the boxes one would expect and the staging and curation is competent and cultured. But the story of the car is now so ingrained, complex and far-reaching that any overview-style exhibition like this is doomed to be incomplete. Throw in the need for sponsorship – in this case Bosch, the behind-the-scenes tech supplier that works with practically every manufacturer – and holding a critical view isn’t really possible. There is some great content nonetheless, e.g. The evolution of European motorways 1920 – 2020, this history of streamlining (an absolute mainstay of design history) and short films about three (incredibly male-dominated) Car Subcultures. Staged from the midst of a fast-changing age, Cars: Accelerating the Modern World captures some elements in sharp relief, leaving the background as an indistinguishable blur.

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Underwater cities

John Lautner’s 1960s Wolff Residence in Los Angeles (via Wowhaus) / contemporary pattern designs by Dan Funderburgh / the vanishing Voloport / “Walking on the Moon“, broken down / Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale, a new book by Adam Minter (buy) / Second Home in Hollywood, by Selgascano / sort of related, What’s behind a phobia of holes? / There is No Ark,”Photographed in and around Miami, Anastasia Samoylova’s latest book, FloodZone, is an urgent and brooding reflection on the rising sea levels rapidly submerging the city and its environs.” See also Heaven or High Water: Selling Miami’s last 50 years. And even if the condos don’t flood, their prices might collapse in any case.

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Unintended consequences

Open Memory Box offers the ‘biggest digitized collection of home movies from the GDR’, a dreamlike collection of silent 8mm films of a completely vanished world (thanks to TT for the tip) / Are compostable bags really compostable?, an ongoing series at Plenty of Taste / shimmery music by Arrial / Rule #1 Is You’re Not Invited: An Interview with Fran Blanche of Frantone Electronics at She Shreds / music by Surya / music by Kogumaza / other things / In praise of white noise / related, a collection of themed soundscapes or browser-based generators like Noisli, hipstersound (really), rainyscope, PlayNoise, myNoise and a soft murmur. You get the picture / not related, but could be: ‘BOLD opportunity to own a decommissioned underground Titan II missile complex. Plenty of silence there / The Greater Bear, updating Simon Patterson (via b3ta) / unintended consequences: Ghost ships, crop circles, and soft gold: A GPS mystery in Shanghai; This is the software meltdown behind Crossrail’s costly delay.

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Lives in miniature

Life in Miniature is a short film by Ellen Evans about the work of Kath Holden and her mother Margaret Shaw, otherwise known as Delph Miniatures. This, ahem, small business is dedicated to making contemporary, everyday dolls house furniture and fittings, rather than the gilded opulence of traditional Regency or Georgian dolls houses. Their online store is a treasure trove of tiny things, prosaic and ordinary and all the better for that: dental and medical equipment; fitted kitchens; stationery and office equipment; pre-packaged food, etc. The upcoming Kensington Dollshouse Festival is where one goes to find makers, old and new, for your miniature world. A selection that caught our eye: food and more at After Dark Miniatures; model-making and tiny paintings by Aidan Campbell; tiny art supplies and more by Catmando Miniatures; books and libraries by Ellie de Lacy; mostly food at Pride of Plaice; meticulous kits in etched brass at Severn Models.

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Hiding in plain sight

The rise of ‘facadism’ in London, by the author of Spitalfields Life blog and the new book The Creeping Plague of Ghastly Facadism / another blog into a book: Palaces of Pleasure is a new publication from Lee Jackson, of Victorian London, about ‘How the Victorians Invented Mass Entertainment’ / sort of related, Map of UK Occupations, 1851 / The Collection of Eileen and I.M. Pei, accumulated over a 72-year marriage that ended with Pei’s death earlier this year / a collection of 2029 predictions based on the state of the world in 2019 / a great MeFi thread about the mysterious relationship between brain-changing events and creativity: I’ve worn out the stones in front of your doorstep.

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Making tracks

Celebrity special. Railway Modelling with Sir Rod Stewart / the clothes of Mad Men / David Lynch teaches typing / Big Ship Foam Mining, Renovating a ‘Proper Boat‘, a video by Harry Dwyer. See also Dwyer’s engaging and ongoing attempt to circumnavigate the UK in a tiny speedboat and the Aircraft Workshop recycling project / Curbside Classic has some extensive and well-researched automotive histories / The Marquis, a ‘vintage motoring culture and lifestyle daily journal’ / Spottedlaurel has a flickr stream full of pragmatic, long lost automotive fascination / The Hines House, 1968, designed by William Turnbull, Jr., part of The Sea Ranch / shimmery contemporary shoegaze by Lacing / Fireghosting, beautiful animated sound tutorials / compare and contrast, Berlin landmarks, old and new, at Lenstore.

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The Museum of Anything, open for visitors

Christmas is coming, so time to browse The Book of Dreams: the collected catalogues of Argos, from 1974 onwards (the company was founded in 1972). Very slick, so possibly an inside job / ‘Online fashion twice as ‘racy’ as High Street‘ / Orange Grove Tool Sheds and Utility Boxes of Oliva, Spain, via MeFi Projects / In memoriam: Juliaan Lampens (1926-2019), a concrete master / impossible cityscapes by Benjamin Sacks, at Kottke / classic audio equipment at Soundgas / Traveller on the Road, ‘the dankest brand of organic ambient noise’ / marooned by Suez, the Great Bitter Lake Association / a French chateau time capsule (another one via Kottke) / read, mark, learn and inwardly digest McSweeney’s Guidelines for Web Submissions / ‘How a Cash-Strapped Generation Fell for the Fantasy World of The Modern House‘ / it’s still early days, but please visit and follow The Museum of Anything, a things-adjacent website that will also be carrying the torch of new writing about objects.

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Black holes and bomb sites

The Size of Space / The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945 / The Bug and the Beetle, ‘Chevrolet Once Made A Depressing Film That Blamed Their Own Workers For Them Getting Their Asses Kicked By Imports’ (via Jalopnik) / the loneliest race track / Game DNA: Making yourself a home. See also, The role of posters in video game worldbuilding (via Daniel Gray) / photographs of Cornish shipwrecks, 1872-1997, taken by several generations of one family / Places of Residence for Accused Witches. See also the Steilneset Memorial in Norway / awful library books / Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore.

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Spot the difference

Just in time for Halloween: Welcome To The Dark Side: Occult London, a map from Herb Lester. Sort of related, How Scientology doubled its downtown Clearwater, Florida, footprint in three years. $103m helps / What’s the Difference?, a newsletter / 80×25, on the origin of standards (via MeFi) / The London Review of Books is 40 years old today / Bruce Chatwin was the internet before the internet existed, a musing on knowledge and ubiquity (also via MeFi). Perhaps one could add names like Umberto Eco, Marina Warner, Angela Carter and W.G.Sebald to the list of quietly connective polymaths, so at odds with the way things are today.

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The real David Attenborough, a lengthy profile of the 93-year old film-maker and (sometimes) reluctant activist. To follow that up, Kottke always does good science and natural history: Watch Scavengers Devour a Fallen Whale Carcass on the Sea Floor; John James Audubon’s Birds of America / some other things. Far from Being a Temple to Rationality, the Bauhaus Was a “Cauldron of Perversions”. Beatriz Colomina on the esoteric lives, occultism and spirituality of the German design school / “First ever AI, crafted by love”. Yamaha has developed Dear Glenn, a ‘Glenn Gould AI’ using 100s of hours of the pianist’s recordings that made its debut performance at the 2019 Ars Electronica Festival / the DFAB House, exploring new ways of digital manufacturing / there are some fascinating things coming out of this year’s Tokyo Motor Show (courtesy of Cars that never made it, etc.).

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You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike

A fascinating Video Game Map Size Comparison. See also, the Video Game Atlas, as well as this piece at Retromash, the beauty of retro video game maps. This in turn links to an illustrated story on the hand-drawn maps of Mark Howlett at Retro Games Collector. The days of DIY cartography are surely over, especially when faced with hundreds of square kilometres of lavishly rendered game space. Also see the unmappable (?) Manifold Garden (via RPS). Still related,’s collection of MS-DOS Games, playable in browser.


Other things. Animal magic, furniture and sculpture from the Collection Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne / illustrations by Owen Pomery (via Kottke) / car design concepts by Sydney Hardy / sharky art by Chris Austin / models and cinematic miniature photography by Felix Hernandez, via My Modern Net / illustrations by Corban Wilkin / moody modern cityscapes by SkieGraphicStudio / paintings by Magi Puig / Hidden Architecture, a tumblr / music by Earth Ship / When the Sun Hits, a music blog (remember those?) devoted to all things shoegazy and hazy / as the forgotten fruit recede further into history, it’s time for the Pink Lady to move over: there’s a new apple in town.

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Memories of what used to be

Ghost Towers: The view from Iran’s housing crisis. Includes photographs by Hashem Shakeri / Manzhouli, ‘a City Lost in Translation’, China meets Russia in Mongolia / a fine obituary of Charles Jencks / The Modern House features the boat-inspired house of architect and independent developer Roger Zogolovitch, designed by Mole Architects / Shopfronts of London: Artist Eleanor Crow’s view / another London view: Urban Dandy, taking an alternative look at the structures, physical and social, of the city / ‘Not To Be Sexist, But‘: What It’s Like Being A Woman Who Works In Automotive Journalism / Camera Rescue, devoted to saving analogue film / intense pencil drawings by Swedish artist Roj Friberg / Weather Man, a photo series by Evgenia Arbugaeva (via Nubbs Galore) / fantasy art and esoterica at Mutant Skeleton’s Flickr set / Red Lipstick Resurrected, a tumblr / finally, two excellent posts at 99% Invisible: The Kirkbride Plan, Thomas Story Kirkbride and the architecture of madness, and Solve for X: Deciphering Calibration Marks Made for Classified Spy Missions.

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From megastructures to ministructures

The Indoor University; Canadian Welfare And Modern Architecture / Dusky Parakeet, a houseboat by 31/44 Architects at the Never too Small channel / an interactive diagram of car size evolution / architectural photographs by Simone Hutsch / Toyota, a photographic portfolio by Christoffer Rudquist / paintings by Kim Cogan / paintings by Jason Line, including scenic art for film / art collected and curated by Terminus Ante Quem / the story of the Mojave Phone Booth, miles from anywhere / new sounds, slow old music down to 33rpm. Two favourites: ZZ Top’s La Grange; Dolly Parton’s Jolene. A feature that is regularly trotted out: Vice (2017), Reddit (2015), Indie88 (2014), MTV (2013) / a contrarian opinion: Flash Is Responsible for the Internet’s Most Creative Era / Silver Shoals: Five Fish That Made Britain by Charles Rangeley Wilson looks intriguing.

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Collections and clarifications

A farewell to Charles Jencks, dead at 80 / Attempted Bloggery, vintage illustration and cartoons / everyone’s trying to draw a perfect circle / the cutaway drawing and its artists, a thirteen-year old thread at the Autosport Forums that is a treasure trove of vintage engineering drawings / music from Sleep Eaters / all hail people who put interesting things on flickr, still: retro imagery (some nsfw) from bifröst girl; mid-century design from Sandi Vincent; art by Casey Cripe; art by Conrad Bakker; architectural photographs by Jens Kristian Seier (who also points us to more architecture photographs by Iqbal Aalam and Igor Palmin) / Martin Parr on photographing Wales / ambient soundscapes from Conifold / How interchangeable parts revolutionised the way things are made / Which vintage girls’ toys are most collectable? / Untitled Project by Conrad Bakker / Inside the decaying mansions abandoned in UK’s most expensive wasteland / Tokyo Transit in realtime 3D (via Kottke) / not really related, Find cities with a similar climate.

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Outside the envelope

Behind You, a tumblr of original animated, spooky art / sort of related, Dungeon Synth (via MeFi) / Ste Holmes illustration / see also the Synth Evolution Poster / illustrations by Anna Isabella Schmidt / Barbican Winter, Stefi Orazi, at Things You Can Buy / RIP the illustrator Mac Conner (via this isn’t happiness) / Vintage photos offer glimpse of Upper Amazon 150 years ago / Tideline Art, messages in bottles (via Meanwhile) / The Egoist, a tumblr / a site about the Japanese Nostalgic Car / Pagers, faxes & cheques: Things that might seem obsolete, but aren’t.

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Ruins, best get used to them

“A unique property: 31,530 square feet. 2 bedrooms, 2 baths on 14.54 acres, a former Nike Missile Base in Dillsboro, Indiana. All for, wait for it, $850,000. You can visit a Nike Base in the Everglades. Related, Plan A, or how to kill 90 million people in a couple of hours (via MeFi) / sort of related, Red to Green, ‘the evolution of a city’s abandoned acres’. Re-wilding a suburb following the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake, a striking visual essay (also via MeFi) / also related, Swedish navy returns to vast underground HQ amid Russia fears. Muskö naval base has been brought back to life. More photos / some other things. The Brookwell Collection of Smoothing Implements / WePresent has an illustrated interview with Chris Ware / get parts and info on the sport of Sumo robotics / portraits of London artists by Alex Schneideman.

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End of the week

Illustrations, including paper art by Aurely Cerise / old, but probably still pertinent: Uber knows when your phone is about to run out of battery and prices accordingly / more colour-us-surprised tech news: The ‘Smart Kitchen’ Is Very Stupid / Blade Runner 2049, VFX Breakdown, work by Framestore / Jeffrey Milstein takes photographs of cities from above / more aerial photography, this time of Taichung, by Andrés Gallardo Albajar / the Library of Congress’s Flickr set 1930s-40s in Color / Thom Yorke’s Desert Island Discs / listen to David Hasselhoff’s cover of The Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Head On’, if you must / music by Cehryl.

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