The Bland of Confusion

Histories and mysteries of the age. Towards a Cultural History of Plexiglass, in all our lives these days. For many, it never went away: ‘But in particular “fringe” businesses in contested neighborhoods, plexi refracts different politics and subjectivities; it marks patrons as suspect. Here, plexi isn’t backed by the power of the state, yet those who install it still do so primarily as a defense against real or perceived threat. ‘ / The mystery of the Gatwick drone, which resulted in the airport being ‘closed for 33 hours. More than 1,000 flights had been cancelled, and more than 140,000 passengers affected,’ although, as the article explores, ‘many [many] doubts on its very existence’.

The Weird Closet at Medium, ‘Where the Spooky and Weird Love to Hangout’ / Home by RM, an art space (via Wallpaper) / Michael Kane’s photostream, includes many issues of the great Smash Hits / sort of related, the song that became Take on Me / Amateurism delivers ‘global community radio’ / Cosmic Fuzz FM / lo-fi music projects at Blitz City DIY / C20 condemns the demolition of Tadao Ando’s wall in Manchester / ‘Pose, Puzzle, and Shifting Perception‘, the work of Alma Haser / Drawings with (Delhi) Pollution by Witold Riedel. See also 888 beginnings and Views of My Tea / as the high street atrophies, online shopping veers between the gauzy veil of scam-infested, Instagram-driven Dropshipping and the tastefully pastel-hued land of the ‘Blands’, new companies that are deftly marketed as disruptors that have a personal connection to you, the consumer. Welcome to Your Bland New World: ‘Why do disruptive startups slavishly follow an identikit formula of business model, look and feel, and tone of voice? Because it works, sort of.’

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Art, architecture and tech

Art and architecture today. 43 Illustrated Homes Celebrate the Work of Paul R. Williams in California / Mountain View house by CAN Architects / ‘What’s Up With That Pig Couch? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the Internet’s Latest Obsession—and the Artist Behind It’ / Morgan O’Hara’sLive Transmissions‘ are drawings set to music / more art, of the pop variety: Billie Eilish x YouTube / another installation of sorts, the internet has made contact with the monolith / Your Computer Isn’t Yours, on Apple and privacy / related, is Apple to turning us all into Cyborgs? / sleeping classic cars in the French countryside / Zero Deux, an art magazine / Photomundane Two, a tumblr / Part of Everything, another tumblr.

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La Gloire de la France

with the Atlas des Régions Naturelles, Eric Tabuchi and Nelly Monnier have created a beguiling portrait of modern France, in all its idiosyncracies. A warning, buy the publication and you only get a map. The imagery is on the project’s website, where you can sort the archive into categories (vestige, industrie, maison). There are also many unique side projects on Tabuchi’s website (vertical pools, small town Chinese restaurants, fire station towers, unexpected typography. Monnier’s paintings also delve into repeat typologies, e.g. Variétés françaises. Via this Guardian piece by Dale Berning Sawa, ‘Sacre bleu! France as you’ve never seen her before / a scattering of other things. Buy Vintage IKEA / Exploring Dubai’s Empty $13 Billion Man-Made Islands / a beginner’s guide to very heavy music.

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Small snippets

This X Does Not Exist, aggregating machine learning’s contribution to stuff that ever so slightly just isn’t real. We like the automobiles / the Record Deal Simulator at Pitchfork (via tmn) / Gwen Sion creates experimental soundscapes / more music by sykem / 50 gifts for architecture lovers / how to boot a PC from vinyl (first, cut the vinyl).

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Off world

Brunel Manor was originally owned and designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel / compare and contrast with an especially cursed house / the hidden world of air crew rest areas / the HC-TT, a ‘human controlled tape transport’. Demo Video. A device from LandscapeBlade Runner soundtrack as a feature length soundscape (at Kottke). The Esper Edition bootleg has great chunks of the film in it as well / the BBC Motion Graphics Archive. A lot of pioneering video tech on show here / art and culture at BOMB magazine / some interesting digressions about tuning in this long piece on Gordon Lightfoot / the rise and rise of fake people created by AI / This Cosmic Dance, imagery about space and culture.

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Byte dance

A short history of Flash & the forgotten Flash Website movement (via MeFi) / a review, nay, teardown of the new Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War / ‘Why Is The Obscure B-Side “Harness Your Hopes” Pavement’s Top Song On Spotify? It’s Complicated. / Lego in the real world / recreate images as geometric primitives / The Black Gold Press, linocuts by Ieuan Edwards / ‘Are we nearly there yet? How Margaret Calvert steered Britain into the fast lane’ / the toys of Paul and Marjorie Abbatt / some fine images of tulgey woods by Neil Burnell / Timelapse Videos Show How Much Our Houseplants Move in a Day, at Moss and Fog (via tmn) / Still Here Still Life, some beautiful work on this Instagram / Ghost Witness, images of modern China by photographer Mårten Lange.

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The good, the bad and the ‘ugly’

What does 4.3 million gigabytes look like? And how does mass data storage actually work? Presumably this sort of growth can’t scale for ever? / Little Alchemy 2, mix materials. See also Sandspiel / a couple of emulators: Visual Transistor-level Simulation of the 6502 CPU and the Moonjs: An Online Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) Simulator (via Hackaday) / Brutal House tweets interesting things / this ludicrous Hirst hotel room passed us by / Designboom posts a sublime house in a forest by Govaert & Vanhoutte Architects / NES Castlevania on an LED Matrix Cube, a conversation point to be sure. As are the various ‘Machine Lights’ by Frank Buchwald / Animation Backgrounds, an old blog / strange, atmospheric and quicky vidoes at the OrbinOz channel / Rowan Moore on The rise and rise of ugly buildings: ‘Ilona Rose House [by MATT Architecture] is by no means the worst. (For that you might have to go to the south side of the Thames, to a Hieronymus Bosch-type garden of monsters known as the Vauxhall, Nine Elms, Battersea Opportunity Area.)’ It’s worth remembering that structures like the Midland Grand Hotel were empty and abandoned and unloved for many years, considered the epitome of gaudy Victorian taste and architectural bad manners. Twitter responds to Moore’s call for shockers. Building Design’sCarbuncle Cup is no more, mostly because it got a bit too personal and subjective, but also because it was kicking a profession when it was down.

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Short and sweet

Have rogue orcas really been attacking boats in the Atlantic?. Maybe it’s time to just get a gigayacht. Seems like as good a place as anywhere to link to The 50th Anniversary of the Iconic Exploding Whale, also mentioned at MeFi / make your own Space Ship. Explore the Size of Space. And figure out how to create An Atlas of the Cosmos / an Japanese car collection

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Which time tunnel did you come through?

MeFi on a roll: Doctor Who Theme Music, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (e.g. Retro Spectrum Gaming) and London’s Viewing Corridors / NASA presents Sinister Sounds of the Solar System / the interviews of Leta Powell Drake, accidental Partridge / a profile of Wendy Carlos / the forgotten Porsche Forschungsprojekt-Langzeit-Auto from 1973 / move in to the bunker, baby. AECOM wants us all to think about Underground Cities / visualisation and design by Inferstudio, e.g. the worlds of Pausefest / An updated daily front page of The New York Times as artwork on your wall. Could be stressful.

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The long arm of the past

Blitzed cities still deprived 75 years after war. It shouldn’t be surprising that bombing a city has long-lasting effects but this study correlates WWII damage with high levels of contemporary child poverty rates. London was not included in the study. From 2015, Blitzed, rebuilt and built again: what became of London’s bomb sites?: “Once you start looking around, it’s astonishing how often the bomb site of 1940 is the building site of 2015. Developers and planners are still working round decisions made when London was rebuilt following the aerial bombardment that began on 7 September 1940. More than 20,000 bombs fell on the city, destroying or damaging beyond repair 116,000 buildings.” A digression that led us to Nickel in the Machine’s post on the The Ring at Blackfriars / Well There’s Your Problem, a podcast about engineering disasters / seaside graphics at Eye magazine – Sea, sky, paint and pattern / a short film about uncomfortable moments, at Kottke / interesting to see who gets this commission in the real world: the DJ Trump Presidential Library. The concept is entertainingly alien to British sensibilities – imagine the half-baked mediocrity you’d get out of a building for a short-term, widely disliked Prime Minister. We wonder what will come up against Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects’ Obama Presidential Center.

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No, over there!

More determined distractions. Buy anonymous artwork from a A Letter in Mind / atrocity exhibition, probably out of date already / if you’re lucky you’ll find a Tubman 20 / photographs by Thomas Jorion / retro sounds from High Score / a brief history of the drum machine / Ew, David! / Work Smarter, a new series at Wired / Drawing Matter, a site about architecture / the Swarovski House, an early project by David Adjaye / Vermod make modular structures in Vermont / visual experiments and installations by Chong Yan Chuah, some of which is potentially nsfw / art books and fanzines at Stolen Books / Flashbak, well curated aggregator of retro things / Low Poly Animals (via RPS) / a horror musical instrument / recommended books about the modern logistics industry / linocuts by Michelle Hughes.

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Look over there!

Mostly distractions today, starting with art and more collated by Csáki László, who also took these images of ‘Tincity‘, observing the ‘life of the inhabitants of an anachronistic microcommunity in a central district of Miskolc, a mid-sized city in Hungary’ / we like checking in on the Aeromobil every now and again / industrial photography by Joe McNally / the Ekranoplan is on the move: “”Lun” will be the star of Derbent’s planned Patriot Park, a military museum and theme park that will display different sorts of Soviet and Russian military equipment.” / two games, one about destruction and one about creation. Teardown, smash your way through buildings any which way you can (official Teardown site). TokTik ColorPick is a browser game where you guess the paint colour (both via Rock Paper Shotgun) / sometimes we have the Handyman Blues / the wilful eccentricity of Toyah and Fripp’s Sunday Lunch Films / crossover-capable LEGO train / Social Bubble is a twitter-browsing device that lifts up a few stones. Alarming / architectural and landscape visions by Mykhailo Ponomarenko / ‘Finally! Video Of A Real Flying Car That’s Actually Flying.

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Drive-by looting

Is it too late to save LACMA? We know LA loves sprawl, but this seems ridiculous: “FACT: The museum has consistently maintained that visitors lose interest when confronted by a staircase. Bald lie: Visit the Louvre, the National Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum, the Chicago Art Institute. See PORTFOLIO section for inviting, incentivizing staircases in multi-story museums.” A high-profile campaign is challenging the constantly changing Peter Zumthor re-design for LA’s art museum, even though demolition has already started. Not only is LACMA described as ‘the Incredible Shrinking Museum,’ the design seems to go full-on Reyner Banham-era Brutalist Megastructure, playing to tropes about Los Angeles that were once lauded but are now largely villified. It also feels like a curiously contrarian departure from Zumthor’s reliably tasteful asceticism / some other things. A hefty chunk of info and links about data privacy and information harvesting, courtesy of MeFi / Obscurest Vinyl, records re-imagined. Potentially nsfw, definitely puerile / how we made Where is my mind? / coming soon, Latency, an online performance by The Radiophonic Workshop (via musicradar). See also the upcoming Delia Derbyshire docu-drama referenced in this post / Leah Blogs, simple and straightforward / visual essays at The Pudding / art and animation by Thomas Hooper / paintings by Dahye Choi / photographs by Anne Sophie Guillet / illustrations by Jo Brown / photographs by Lewis Bush, including the Metropole and Latent Labour series. Also Bush’s writing on photography / the audio series Ghost Hotel / release the BATs.

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Astral projections and space age sounds

Never Meet Your Idols, a podcast about music / GENKS, an IDLES youtube series on pedal fetishism / this interview with Wesley Snipes introduced us to the world of Dr Fred Bell’s Quantum Series Professional Receptors (”the most functional jewelry in the world’) / maybe these necklaces can help you snare one of the 20 most expensive penthouses in New York / Psyche is an online publication from Aeon / The Digital Antiquarian / breaking down Just Like Heaven / 10 Million Stars, via Kottke / Origami Simulator, via Laura Olin / The Enduring Popularity of 4-Track Cassette Recording / examples of public failures / Email is a failed state. Time for a coup, at Culture Study: ‘If the original pitch for “electronic mail” was: What if you could get that expense report memo…DELIVERED TO YOUR BED AT 6AM EACH MORNING?! I doubt there would’ve been too many takers.’

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The Colour out of Space

John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”, animated by artist Michal Levy who has synesthesia. At Aeon, via tmn, who also point us to Ghost Stories of Tripadvisor, ‘a dreadful directory of hotel hauntings’ / retro news: the Super Mario Game & Watch; Teenage Engineering’s Street Fighter pocket operator / put the blocks in the square / MIDI Disco / music by Revolution Peak / music by rook & nomie / the Lost Media Wiki. Helps us stumble on YouTube channels like the late David Cobham’s, a director of many teatime serials for children and adults on UK TV / a personal archive of Five Years [of] Live (Music), slowly being updated / Five Years Today, an online journal / excellent collections assembled at Public Domain Review, also on Instagram / Instant Lettering, a LetraSet archive (via MeFi).

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On the spectral plane

How we made Ghostwatch. The show itself is all up there on YouTube, in bits and chunks, but searching for this kind of thing sends the site’s hyperbolist and tabloid-minded algorithm into absolute overdrive, so venture in at your own peril / why you shouldn’t use silicone baking sheets / LoremBarnak, ‘a Québécois swear generator’ / McMansion Hell reaches the delights of 1977 / a cabin in Finland. Perhaps in 40 years time there’ll be snarky blogs about Noughties Cabin Culture / for now, this is polar opposite of McMansion Hell; a Modern House Film / the physical toll of professional gaming: They dreamed of esports glory. Then their bodies broke down / not quite related, Playing With The Dead, a radio show about memorialising through gaming, including a segment on That Dragon, Cancer. Games offer an alternative to the simple, static album of past actions and interactions, and digressions suggest a future where avatars hoover up a lifetime of gaming behaviour and personality traits and serve you up bots that act, to all intents and purposes, exactly the same way as a loved one might have done within the confines of a game world. The virtual memorial gardens of the future are going to be crowded. Perhaps there will be dedicated environments – SIMS: Memories, anyone? – in which to stick your late relatives. Update: ‘My sister lives on in a video game‘.

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Mine craft

The Pennsylvania Mine Map Atlas / sort of related, Muir Way’s vintage relief series of maps (via This Isn’t Happiness) / music, Dear Humans, by Elephant Gym / Boat House By WE Architecture / The Glove, live on “Riverside”, October 24th 1983, just of many, many music performance and interview videos old and new posted by Scottish TeeVee / The Book of Pebbles, the artist and writer at home. Christopher Stocks has a fine instagram account as well / the art of attribution, explained nicely on the Antiques Roadshow / when do words make a first appearance? Merriam Webster’s Time Traveler (via Kottke) / a collection of bitcrushers (not in the dictionary…) / for sale, Harfield Gardens / button badges by Busy Beaver (via Coudal) / Bonhams’History of Science and Technology, including Air and Space‘ auction.

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Keep on running

The Edit – Adjaye Associates. Photographer Ed Reeve on his 25 year collaboration with the 2021 RIBA Gold Medal winner, Sir David Adjaye / Japanese artist Kitao Masayoshi (1764-1824), thanks to WeirdLandTV for the pointer / time to give up glitter, a simple, very visible microplastic to do away with / talking of plastic, Inside Information: Sneakerheads (via tmn) / see also the new documentary, One Man and His Shoes / taking stock with (American) teens – a different language / Find Your Fender, naked marketing exercise / advice from a professional organiser: ‘Most people keep way too many things (often buried in closets and cabinets or piled up under the things they’ve more recently used), and letting go of things they don’t use or value reveals a lot of storage and usable space for moving on to better arranging things to make them useful and accessible.’

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All over the place, part 72

Designs of the year, at London’s Design Museum / a Hawkwind reappraisal, of sorts. Extensive information available at the Prog Archives / sort of related, join a global flock of ‘Electric Sheep‘ / Angels and Errors: How the Harrow & Wealdstone disaster helped shape modern Britain’, at the excellent London Reconnections. The series on Slavery and the [UK] railways is also illuminating / 12 Sunsets: Exploring Ed Ruscha’s Archive of Sunset Boulevard street views (via Kottke) / Good Movies As Old Books, still going strong / The slow dying of the Great Barrier Reef, a long, long piece of music by Bismuth / paintings by Robert Dukes / Manifold Garden, an architectural exploration game / we just passed an anniversary (5? 7? Can’t remember which) of the things magazine clips tumblr, which is where we put things found on tumblr that we want to keep, as opposed to the found things, online and off, that we like / RIP, James Randi. One of the greats.

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Glass cases, stones

The world’s greatest unsung museums / webcam fun (not that kind): do I look weird? adds a time delay so you can see what you look like in the immediate past; How normal am I?, ‘Experience how “artificial intelligence” judges your face’. As alarming as it sounds; Body Synth, use motion to make music. A palate cleanser after the last two / a collection of UK pop culture magazines, including Smash Hits, Record Mirror, Melody Maker, No. 1 and more / more 80s nostalgia, celebrating 40 years of the Austin Metro (via BBC News) / Adobe Photoshop can now identify ‘shopped images / inside the NY Public Library’s secret apartments (via tmn) / this gets a bit clickbaity, but here are some other ‘secret’ apartments / related, the Hidden House, by Coffey Architects.

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