Corridors of power, working in ruins

Things that have been lost or ignored: Forgetify. Work your way through the millions of unplayed Spotify tracks / Kickended. Bask in the schadenfreude of the Kickstarter projects that never got off the ground / Petit Tube, which purports to serve up YouTube videos with precisely zero views (thus removing them from the running) / in a similar Schrödinger-esque paradigm, some views on the role and status of ruin porn (at Atlas Obscura via MeFi): does the act of photographing, staging and rearranging a ruin stop it from being an authentically abandoned space and more of a stage set for our preconceptions of what a ruin should look like? / related: Deserted Space: Photos Document NASA’s Abandoned Launch Pads, photographs by Roland Miller / sort of related, the proposed refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster to cost in excess of £3 billion: ‘if nothing was done, politicians and staff would end up “working in a ruin” / in comparison, Will Self on why the Tate Modern extension symbolises the art world’s complicity in the widening gulf between rich and poor / and finally, the impossible office architecture of The Stanley Parable / the above image is a location shot from Richard III, mostly shot in and around a very different London.

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Walls and wails

Catching up with the mp3 bloggers, tmn’s third return to the music blogging scene, taking in the changes wrought by the advent of streaming, the end of personal discovery and the general changes in the musical landscape in the past decade (‘And even the handful of people who are still out there exploring and engaging off-the-radar music are often transparent in their desire to turn those things into The Things so that they can then be anointed The One Who Found the Thing.’).


Martin Roemer’s series Relics of the Cold War. See also Beyond the Wall: Art and artifacts from the GDR / Berlin Then and Now at The Gasoline Station. See also the Berlin Wall as a giant social experiment:

One [study] found that, because in East Germany women were encouraged to work more than they were in the West, East Germans were significantly more likely to believe that men and women are equal. Another found that, because the East German regime ran official doping programs for athletes, East Berliners were much more accepting than West Berliners of performance-enhancing drugs 20 years after reunification.

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Doom, gloom and UV views

Norway’s new passport design by Olso studio Neue features the Northern Lights printed in UV sensitive ink / Brighton’s Drill Festival has been organised by Wire / Beneath the Crimson Moon (via RPS), a game inspired by Edgar Allen Poe / Abandoned Planes photographed by Dietmar Eckell at Juxtapoz magazine (via This Isn’t Happiness) / prints by William Steiger. More.

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Runways and hideaways

Total mish-mash today. Some moody, scale-deficient views of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko / a list of people who disappeared mysteriously / decide on the future of the Elephant and Castle / behind the scenes building a Pink Floyd Album Cover / open up a model of Kowloon Walled City in Sketchup (via Coudal). Sort of related, 3D models of Hogwarts. Please someone build Gormenghast / has the problem with music been solved?


rag-picking history is one of our new favourite websites, posts about unknown places and things, like the the abandoned MP-203 highway in Spain, a ‘12.5km stretch of highway … started in 2005 and 70 million Euros were ploughed into the project before construction work stopped abruptly in 2008.’ Related, the abandoned airfields of Florida, especially Dade-Collier Training and Transition Airport, the site of the unrealised Everglades Jetport, a vast airport dedicated to as-yet-unbuilt supersonic transport aircraft in the middle of one America’s largest National Parks.

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Deep Impact

Deep Impact: Martian, Lunar and Other Rare Meteorites, a forthcoming sale at Christie’s. Own a litte bit of somewhere else:

The formal name for this meteorite is NWA 5000 and it refers to the single, roughly cubic-shaped lunar meteorite weighing 11.528 kg, found in southern Morocco in 2007. It is a beautiful breccia made up of coarse-grained fragments (with shock-injected veins of silicate melt) and small black glassy fragments composed of impact melt. The rock has a two-toned appearance. Its brecciated nature attests to the impact-mixing of different kinds of materials at the lunar surface. This is the second-largest lunar meteorite in the world’s collections; it is the largest lunar meteorite that consists mainly of igneous rocks from the lunar highlands (the highly cratered, light-colored regions of the Moon).

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They say we did it

Music things. Terminal Cheesecake in rehearsal, at The Wire / revisit the Internet Underground Music Archive (via) / music: The Mostar Diving Club; Whistlejacket; Gum Takes Tooth / from shoegaze to recreated Porsches: the story of Singer Automotive / A Diary of Whispered Truths (via RPS), ‘an idiosyncractic drawing tool/musical instrument [that] incorporates multiple visual effects and drawing tools with a complex chain of synthesizers and audio effects to create something strange and unique.’ / Radio Silence, ‘a magazine of literature and rock & roll’ / another publication, The Long + Short, has some fine articles, including an annotated history of sampling the ‘Amen Break’ and a beautifully illustrated article on the history of early synthesizers


Images of the Iberian peninsula: Country Fictions, photographs by Juan Aballe (blog) / Archive for Rural Contemporary Architecture, dedicated to ‘surveying, collating and celebrating Britain’s rare and often-over looked twentieth century rural architectural sites’. Recommended / Designboom assembles images from an upcoming exhibition of Google Earth’s chronicles of a changing planet / Jordan Mckenzie’s Woolworth Death Masks / Baufunk, the diary of an architecture student / The story of the ‘most complicated’ watch in the world / pulp book art: Killer Covers of the Week / London in data / the beautiful drawings of Luis Gómez Feliu.

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Safe as houses

In the four years since the first Zombie Safe House competition back in 2010, the world has been in the throes of a zombie revival; countless games, TV shows, films and other cultural artefacts have conjured up a world where post-apocalyptic doesn’t just mean social desolation, but social desolation shared with hordes of reanimated corpses, hellbent on preventing a slow descent into pastoral stasis. If you don’t like zombies, tough luck. The safe house competition was a disappointment for those of us who saw architecture as a (literal) last refuge from the deluge of the undead. The competition only survived for two years – bitten, presumably – which either implies that the world’s architecture students tired of labouring unpaid on yet another fanciful and unbuildable typology, or the dread realisation dawned that nowhere is safe (via MeFi). The meme lingers in joke products, as well as musings on the cultural role of zombies and exactly what our obsession with shambling hordes of living dead actually means (answer: fear) / unrelated, the problems of 99 Cent, attribution and mechanical reproduction. How many other ‘fake’ masterpieces are drifting about in Google Image Search?

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Up in the air

Drawing the ISS from memory, an exercise that reveals preconceptions, misconceptions and most of all our imaginative musings about what a space station should look for, shaped by images from ‘science fiction, speculative futurism, and alternate or parallel histories.’ The International Space Station is the ultimate example of ad-hoc, functional design. We’re not sure whether the legions of ‘sci-fi inspired’ designers are awed or infuriated by the ISS’s ramshackle experience (despite it being regularly cited as ‘the most expensive object ever built’) – it’s so far removed from the sleek but improbable galactic aesthetic of, say, 2001. The reality hasn’t moved on very far from the nightmarish warren of wire-filled tunnels shown in Mission to Mir, although we are slightly more familiar with ISS interiors thanks to social media-friendly astronauts. The post at sevensixfive delves into the station’s history, alternate versions and future concepts. The salient point is this: ‘Since the end of the shuttle program, space exploration has no central image to associate itself with. The International Space Station is probably the most complex, most important piece of architecture ever made, but no one knows what it looks like.’ Bonus, explore the ISS and re-live Gravity with NASA’s old Station Spacewalk Game from 2010.

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In the city

Cities and their functions, failings and quirks.Dan Hill on the perils and impracticalities of the predictive city, data mined into homogenity / an ultra compact Parisian apartment / London Reconnections assembles information about the capital’s transport systems, past, present and future / someone should create a monograph of furnished Japanese houses to counter the copious examples of empty Japanese houses? / Lumino City is a game set in a stunning hand-made environment

Other things. Pelican Books has a new website / the internet’s first family: Wikipedia’s weirdest fringes / teach your Sims to swim, finally / Rä di Martino, ‘Authentic News of Invisible Things‘ / the Fantastically Wrong Archive / Paul Ford’s epic and endlessly quotable The Sixth Stage of Grief is Retro-Computing: ‘Windows is the Superbowl Halftime Show of operating systems. Given what everyone got paid, and how many people were involved, you’d think it would be a lot more memorable.’ Operating systems and life, sharing and nostalgia, always nostalgia, the contemporary virus.

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Ooooh. Eeeep.

The Art of Smallfilms from Four Corners Books looks at the of Oliver Postgate (who died in 2008) and Peter Firmin (still producing beautiful prints). There’s a preview of the book at Creative Review or you can visit The Smallfilms Treasury for more archives.


The Statue in the Corner, tmn’s annual take on the Halloween serial / Viva la cassette and My cassettes, two repositories for old school magnetic tape fetishists / the story of the Hofmeister Kink / moshpit simulator / small screens will reign supreme: mobile is eating the world.

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Looking back with everyone else

Old school memories today. Another volume of the great Bedroom Cassette Masters series has just been released / a huge tranche of pixel-perfect original arcade emulations is now live over at The Internet Arcade (via MeFi, from whence this instructional comment on video game firsts can be found / a beautiful mid-century house in Nottingham by David Shelley at MidCentury Magazine (more) / see also the excellent Modern London Houses website, which catalogues the obscure pockets of interesting architecture scattered around the capital and its suburbs / Adidas: the hidden hoard in Argentina. A tranche of boxfresh 70s-era trainers sparks collector interest / Newcastle Motorways / System360 is a tumblr dedicated to room-sized computer imagery / bizarre connections, part 96: The Silver Jews’ David Berman is the son of ‘Dr Evil‘.

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Future Planning Committees

How far ahead are things planned? While it’s shocking to discover that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is primed to fill multiplexes until 2028, it’s not surprising to find that most major companies have long-term planning departments looking into what the markets of 2025 and beyond will look like. Pre-21st century futurology had the big millenial date to focus on – the perfect waypoint for achieving a certain goal (Transport 2000, for example, now the Campaign for Better Transport). 2020 is perhaps the next great ‘vision’ date, although it’s now too close to count as a long-range objective. It’s not hard to find plans for 2025 or even 2035 and 2040. Major infrastructure projects like transportation require long timescales and 2050 is now featuring pretty heavily, certainly in terms of planning for climate change, for example, or the London Infrastructure Plan.

Some cultural events are fixed (nearly) in stone, such as the Tokyo Olympics of 2020, the same year as Dubai’s World Expo, which precedes the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (allegedly). Wikipedia has a timeline of the near future, which tails off into mostly astronomical data by the end (and then segues into the timeline of the far future) and there’s also the much more dystopic (and obviously speculative) Future Timeline website. The above image is from System360, a tumblr.

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Don’t look back

Radio 4’s current book at bedtime, The Restoration of Otto Laird, abridged from the novel by Nigel Packer, is the Goldfinger-esque tale of an architect coming to terms with his past / related, Chisel and Mouse make sculptures and 3D prints of classic facades, old and new. Above, Willow Road in Hampstead.

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Bottomless cups

Floating Feasts, a wonderful piece about gluttony on the high seas, taking in demand, logistics, supply, infection and the technology that underpins life on the modern cruise ship:

There’s also a soft-drink-only package, which comes with an insulated cup. The cup has a radio-frequency identification chip in its base, which activates the ship’s Freestyle dispensing machines, introduced by the Coca-Cola Company a couple of years ago. The machines enable users to serve themselves more than a hundred different soft drinks and soft-drink combinations, and to add flavorings (such as orange, a favorite among passengers from the Baltics) that are otherwise unavailable in Coke products in the United States. In the soda-storage area, Brown showed me a Sprite Zero Freestyle cartridge. “It communicates directly with Coca-Cola headquarters, in Atlanta,” he said. “When it gets low, they will automatically generate a refill order for us to approve.”

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Friday collection

DOS POP, the soundtrack to the games of your youth / CUMULUS is a new documentary about Imogen Heap / Spawn of Gerrymander: A Series, at Design Observer / Up Start is a student art competition / a bit more about the Balfron Tower, the latest chunk of concrete to be promised with physical and cultural rehabilitation / a big chunk of info (and fresh scans) on the Voynich Manuscript, everyone’s favourite visual mystery / be perverse, watch the new Sony 4k TV spot in 144px / Hatherley on the refurbished Imperial War Museum: ‘… narcissistic wallowing in fake poverty and barely coherent history as a way of avoiding any thought of how to drag ourselves out of our current, needless and far less egalitarian version of austerity’.

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