High, over and underground

London Reconnections is a site about the capital’s transport infrastructure, the challenges and complexities of updating and expanding it. Hugely comprehensive, with a very active comments section. Recent posts include the conclusion of a five-part series of London in 2050, a forensic analysis of the official ‘London Infrastructure Plan 2050‘, culminating in a disection of the Tube of 2050, with a projected 60% increase in passenger numbers / for a view of how things used to be, visit the Survey of London Archives.


Other things. Lawrence Lee Magnuson has an eye for a good painting / 1000 Words is a website about photography / The Hungry Eye is a tumblr about imagery / High and Over is one of the most significant Modernist houses in the UK, now on the market in the most complete and original state it has been since it was first built / The Ghost Army, on art, fakery and war. See also the imaginings of Jasper Maskelyne (previously) and the magic-for-a-different-reason work of Eric Ravilious, currently on show at Dulwich Picture Gallery / tracking gentrification in LA with the Green Fence Project (via Projects) / Port Magazine has a photographic feature on the last days of vinyl, shot by Steve Kenward. Steve has built up quite a portfolio of contemporary craft and independent businesses: Made not Manufactured and Literally.

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Today there was a tragedy, Underneath the bridge

‘Design culture is really nothing more than a highly complex, super-developed system of driven-by-object fetishism‘ / musings on the passing of Loaded. A great counterpoint: the rise of Buzzfeed and a lament for the ‘flush’ world of pre-internet journalism (in the 1980s, Time was ‘So flush that if you stayed past 8, you could take a limousine home… and take it anywhere, including to the Hamptons if you had weekend plans there’).


Other things. Inherited Values, a blog about antiques / Moonjs: An Online Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) Simulator. Probably a bit more entertaining to play Lunar Lander instead / another old school-style distraction, the ICBM Game. Shades of War Games / And Then There Was One: the defiant property owners of China, watching the world changing around them / a modular electric vehicle from NASA / ephemera from You Only Live Twice / The Plagiarist in the Kitchen is the latest volume from Jonathan Meades / Hey9000 is a world of nightmarish imagery and juxtapositions / Rear Window is being shown in the open as part of Dulwich Picture Gallery’s MayFest. Old, but good: see the film’s set recreated as huge panoramic timelapse by Jeff Desom.


As a follow-on from the last few days of galactic intrigue, here’s a link to download and read Ronald Story’s The Space Gods Revealed, an efficient debunking of the theory of the ancient astronaut from 1976. Thanks to No More Negative for the original file.

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Waiting for the Gods

Waiting for the Gods is an ‘experimental docufiction’ created by Natalie Welsh and Alessandro Bertelle, and produced by Fabrica. Following on from our recent post touching on Erich von Däniken’s Jungfrau Park, Welsh and Jeffries’ film takes a tour of the park and gets some words of wisdom from von Däniken himself. See also our UFO book cover gallery.

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‘Try rolling your feet over an empty coke bottle’

How the London Playboy Club bankrolled Hef’s empire. Barbara Penner in the Architectural Review on how developer-led modernism (including some ephemeral input from Walter Gropius, most likely in name only) created one of the group’s most profitable and high profile outposts thanks to its casino and world class entertainers. A piece that’s rich in period history and interviews with those that worked there. Some sample, eye-opening, associated ephemera: Roman Polanski Weds Sharon Tate at the Playboy Club in 1968; an original Playboy Bunny Manual (‘Repeated Costume Offenses, such as: Bunny Ears not worn in center of head, bent incorrectly; Reporting without nameplate, penlight, lighter or cash for cigarettes; Bikini panties showing or not worn; Unkept tail’ and ‘In all cases when a Bunny is smoking while on duty, she is to “take a puff” and set the cigarette in an ashtray. Bunnies are not to stand or sit holding a cigarette’).


Other things. Empty gestures: Starchitecture’s Swan Song, Peter Buchanan on the legacy of the architecture of spectacle. In counterpoint, Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects writes In Defense of Stars and Icons / more unbuilt London. These features always look back to the distant past, when it’s often the recent past that is the most jarring / Echoes, an incredible photography project by Hebe Robinson / Palm Springs by Moonlight, photographs by Tom Blachford / animation and art by Jack Featherstone.

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Vote for us

Election Aesthetics ‘follows UK General Elections from a visual culture, aesthetic and design perspective’. Posts include this musing on Polling Station design / Driving in the 1980s, a gallery of pictures by Chris Dorley-Brown taken in 1987. Reminiscent in tone of (and prefiguring) Martin Parr’s A to B: Tales of Modern Motoring / old but fun: Windows 93 / probably linked before, but we like the cultural nous of The Alternative Shipping Forecast / Objects of Affection, a gallery of still lives by Maurizio Di Iorio / Department of Design, a weblog / Canon’s XC10, the first true ‘convergence camera‘ that combines stills and video in an indistinguishable package / The Space History Sale, an irresistable collection of space memorabilia at Bonhams / Insta Reyog is an almost unnavigable site that sneakily collates huge collections of high-res artwork, for example a 14-part series on Paul Cezanne.

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A hole in the head

The BMW Observer Coupe, a collaboration between BMW UK and The Observer Magazine, chronicled in this classic period film. In 1967, the Daily Telegraph Magazine had collaborated with Jaguar and Bertone to create the incredible Pirana, a rebodied E-Type / the Unknown Hipster is post-satire / unlike the bespoke selfie stick / French book covers. Occasionally risqué / the Artiphon is an unusual musical instrument / Morton Valence have a fine new album / Lullabies for Insomniacs produces fine mixes. There’s also a Soundcloud page / Tomorrow’s Achievements: Parry Music Library 1976-86: ‘These are the soundtracks to movie car chases never known, lost kids TV shows never realized, radio-ads never broadcast – music to make your ears sing for more’ / art and installations by Colin Boothart / From the Earth to the Moon: Vintage NASA Photographs, an auction catalogue / the Twentieth Century Society now has a tumblr, as well as a gazeteer of modern churches / Chronicles of an Affair, via MeFi. Strongly reminiscent of the found photograph projects published by KesselsKramer under the title ‘In Almost Every Picture‘.

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Keeping the streets clean

It’s been too long since we looked at the mighty BLDGBLG: It Came From Below is a look at the literal underbelly of Los Angeles, and the tar sands that occasionally leech and bubble up through sidewalks and pipework / no such problems, yet, in Cities: Skylines, a game in the mould of the classic SimCity. RPS has collated some of the best available mods / a map of American Roads / related, play Pac-man in Google Maps / the story of Mark Landis, art forger. More at Intent to Deceive, which also has a gallery / large scale architectural artworks by Ben Tolman (via Socks Studio) / we don’t know how we feel about this: the reissued ZX Spectrum / One Hundred Typical Marriages and Some Characteristic Pictures of the Married State (via MeFi).

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The truth is out there

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).

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Stratified sampling

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.

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File under ‘don’t know’

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.’

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I’d like to trip you up

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.

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The fleeting moment

‘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.

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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.

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Highs and lows

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’.

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Big city, bright lights

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).

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