White horses

A roiling digital sea: a beautiful wave simulator / Casa Michael Bay, Hollywood / Filigrane, a tumblr by by photographer Maxime Brouillet / The Garden of Earthly Delights (via MeFi). From the link, two locations hosting vast art scans: Wikipedia Commons, Gigapixel Images / crashes, real and simulated in (via RPS) / art installations by Toni Spyra / collages by Julia Geiser / Brutal & Beautiful: Peter Aldington and Turn End / FOLAR, Friends of the Landscape Library & Archive at Reading University / the world’s largest magazine collection, the Hyman Collection, will one day be digitised / GEFS, a free flight simulator / Virtual Air Shows are a thing.

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Some architecture stuff

Architecture things. Barbican Residents is a more refined version of the Modernist Estates monograph. The motivation for participation is slightly hard to parse (via the excellent Meanwhile mailing list) / related, concrete gets a cursing over at the Daily Mail / also related, Hadid feels ‘misunderstood‘, probably largely down to simplistic media depictions / we’re looking forward to the impending Janette Ray website / still related, Sixties concrete by William George Mitchell.


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Bubbling Under

It’s easy to sneer at the misguided thinking behind the most elaborate way-out one-off concept cars – the recent Qatari Elibriea springs to mind – but the logic of creating a striking but improbable proposal to buoy interest in your wares is an old one. More recently there’s been Faraday Future’s single-seat electric supercar, a proof of concept but not necessarily a practical machine that will ever function as described. We yearn for the far-out visions of the recent past, like the 1970 Pussycar Automodule, a hydraulic-equipped bubble car that actually worked, regardless of how impractical it was / slightly related, a student project by Nikita Bridan exploring an alternative history for Bugatti, imagining the brand building cars right up through the 60s and 70s / sort of related: Lotus explain that their shop is a waste of money / the Art Center Archives, providing glimpses into 80 years of industrial design history / dive into the ClimateTechWiki / Engineers at War, an exhibition at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.


Some intriguing stories told and places visited at rag-picking history, including the basements beneath Senate House, the worlds revealed by ghost streets and the street art of Phlegm (official Phlegm Site) / we like Novelty Mag / the John Bratby Retrospective includes some of his many, many portraits of notable figures of the day, often dashed off in less than an hour. See also the Mercedes he once allegedly tried to kill his mistress in / Languages of the Birds: the occult and art / music things: This Day in Matador History; Venera 4; Fred und Luna; Fornax Void / learn to play the Pianu / greenlight Jalopy, an intriguing game / Hidden Folks, another intriguing looking game / none more hip, Wes Anderson-style paper dioramas by illustrator Mar Cerdà / a short film about furniture makers Vitra.

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What’s the time, Mr Wolf?

216 foreign words for positive emotional states and concepts that we don’t have in English, Tim Lomas’s Positive Lexicography Project. We are fuelled by Saudade and Natsukashii and a love of Volta, Koromebi, Thróisma and Wabi-sabi. Most of these, in fact / The audacious rescue plan that might have saved space shuttle Columbia, a lengthy fantasy – and sadly it is just that – about a hypothetical plan to save the astronauts aboard Columbia by launching another shuttle / the story of Herb Lester, purveyors of bespoke maps, at The Holborn / the problem with intellectual property theft: Core77 on the knock-offs that flood Chinese e-commerce sites / paintings by Seth Armstrong / videos from the Architecture Foundation / we love a magazine archive. ‘Five million pages of AM FM & TV Broadcasting history online’ at American Radio History (via MeFi) / an auction of erotic timepieces and odd taxidermy, and other things.

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A Monday selection

Passive-aggressive architecture: the story of Spite Houses / retro flash fun with Gary Penn / a look back at Anger, Kenneth / the view from Dawson Heights / in a similar sort of vein, Veronidelica, a tumblr / Cold House, a tumblr with a cars and architecture thing going on / the post-apocalyptic visions of Michal Karcz / Search and Browse every edition of Spare Rib / a vast collection of Avant-Garde and Modernist magazine (via Open Culture) / the CIA opens up its UFO Collection / related: UFO literature / Citroen GS by Jean-pierre Lihou, Toyota RV2, 1972, 1970 Pontiac Firebird brochure, just a few things on show at Karz’n’Shit / more Citroenophilia / Paperholm is an animated paper city by Charles Young (via Faith is Torment) / Aircraft Crash Tests Composite Data Film / small electric car through the decades at Coachbuild.com.

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The Far Reaches of Space

Exploring the solar system in Wanderers, a short film by digital artist Erik Wernquist / The Scribbler, a weblog / Photos from the Bank of England’s vaults, taken from the Bank’s Museum. The images of the demolition of the Soane building are particularly poignant / Jerni Collection, ‘a passionate homage to the Golden Age of toy making’ currently on display at the New York Historical Society / a collection of contemporary camper and caravan concepts / see also the Blissmobil / the Vast and Ghostly Landscape of ‘Britain’s Only Desert’, photographs of Dungeness by Robert Walker / worth reading in conjunction with The Tree Farm, a Granta piece on the missing forests of the Highlands and the plantations that replaced them / converted Spanish farmstead by PYO Arquitectos / the life and work of Zvi Hecker at UnCube Magazine / the everyday landscapes of Venice, photographs by Claudia Corrent.

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Deep down trauma hounds

The architect David Chamberlin has an intriguing personal website, including details of his work for the Ralph M Parsons Company, then as now a mighty engineering outfit. Parsons has a huge number of military and foreign clients, building nuclear installations, airports, Minuteman Missile Silos (over 1,000 of them – a good chance to recommend Eric Schlosser’s Command and Control), and the multi-billion dollar infrastructure for Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, as well as hundreds of other projects. Chamberlin’s site digs up some fascinating drawings of hardened facilities for the Imperial Iranian Airforce and Navy.


Other things. Make me Pulse, a portfolio site. We remember when the best of the internet was an endless stream of media-rich sites like this / some things are best not too closely examined: Schrödinger’s Cat in Popular Culture / Bosch VR, explore Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights using animated VR / whose logo shows tentacles enveloping the globe? / gmilburn’s weblog encompasses many interesting things, most especially if you like wrestling and graphs / a piece on the Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, by Gabriel Solomons / off the beaten track: Discovering British camouflaged ecovillages, a photo-essay by Fabrizio Bilello for Novelty Mag / Relational Thought, the heyday of architectural drawing.

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Inside out

Paintings by Vanessa Prager

A couple of fine interiors blogs, Inspiration from Pentreath and Hall (lots of lovely landscape and garden images too) and the fine Bible of British Taste, a sort of UK-centric version of The Selby with fewer tattoos / Clock Without Hands, a weblog / the Manchester Modernists / Schweppicure, a tumblr / we’re slightly concerned about the authenticity of the works offered at Eagle Fine Art / beautiful paintings by Vanessa Prager / the story of the Cavendish Banana, the ur-fruit of global agriculture, as well the threat to bananas today / Fender factory tour, late 1950s, at Forgotten Guitar.

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Getting high, or not

How Zano Raised Millions on Kickstarter and Left Most Backers with Nothing [link now fixed, apologies] / preview the acts at the Lewes Psych Festival: Zofff; Novella; Soft Walls; Wax Machine; The Cult of Dom Keller; Virginia Wing / more music: The Woken Trees; Psychic Ills; Yeti Lane; Baron Mordant; Teardrop Factory / paintings by Kim Cogan / city drawings and sketchbooks by Syukri Shairi / interesting and bad tempered comments spat between Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects and everyone else, ostensibly over his apparent dismissal of Alejandro Aravena’s Pritzker Prize / Thomas E. Dexter Portable Museum of Natural Substances, c.1875 / explore haunted Britain with the Spectral Dimension / the list of British bingo nicknames.

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Cryptozoology, conspiracy and the laws of general ignorance

There have been several formative books on the psychology of deception, both as practiced upon others and the self. Some that stand out include the 1981 publication of Jan Harold Brunvand’s 1981 book The Vanishing Hitchhiker (the first of his nine books on urban myths and legends of the modern era), James Randi’s Flim-Flam! from the following year, through to Michael Shermer’s 1997 classic Why People Believe Weird Things. Throw in the venerable Snopes founded in 1995, and Truth or Fiction, online since 1998, as well as the countless others we’ve overlooked, and it would seem that the literature on uncovering the unreal is far-reaching and pervasive and persuasive. Except that it’s not.

It is abundantly clear that the internet is the best generator and transmitter of fraudulent information every invented, a conclusion also reached by the author of the Washington Post’s column ‘What was fake on the Internet this week’ has decided to stop publishing. As the final column notes, the target market for outlandishly unreal (and frequently politically biased) stories doesn’t necessarily care whether they’re ‘true’ or not. It quotes Walter Quattrociocchi, an expert in online disinformation: ‘Essentially, he explained, institutional distrust is so high right now, and cognitive bias so strong always, that the people who fall for hoax news stories are frequently only interested in consuming information that conforms with their views — even when it’s demonstrably fake.’ In other words, it’s only going to get worse.

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Loops and dials

Is the art of shorthand dying? / did anyone buy this hugely expensive Mad Men JLC watch / Muswell Hillbillies, a tumblr / house with a cave (more) / house from a bunker / more at Grand Designs for sale, part of the Unique Property Bulletin / AFAsia, an architecture zine / Stefan Koppelkamm’sOrtszeit Local Time‘ project looks at Berlin then and now / misfits architecture is ‘not against beauty [but] against useless things’. This blog might not pass muster / 1%, a photo essay on ‘privilege in a time of global inequality’ / haunting Kilroy Loops.

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Things on screen

11 Months, 3000 pictures and a lot of coffee. Restoring an engine / How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car / related: end of the road as car use falls? / Teenage Crushes, selling the supercars of the 80s and 90s / the VFX in the Force Awakens / the future still looks great at X-Ray Delta One / in reality, the future still gets torn down: the buildings we lost in 2015 / when architectural vision doesn’t match reality: the story of Winnipeg’s award-winning and doomed social housing / Welika, have you ever wondered what Manhattan was like before it was a city? / Bad Postcards, a celebratory tumblr / a cavalcade of gifs / coming soon, Punk London In The City 1975-78, a new map from Herb Lester / Rosebud Sleds and Horses’ Heads, an illustrated journey through fifty of film’s most evocative objects. See also Screengems, a dive into resonant objects in film at The Big Picture Magazine.

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Behind the corrugated mask

London’s wheels keep turning, occasionally spinning wildly. We probably wrote about the frankly rather mediocre Vauxhall Bus Station back in the distant past, noting how the clunky canopy, bizarre ‘ski jump’ and Airstream-inspired ticket office felt like typical salves for the capital’s short architectural attention span. Now the whole thing is being threatened with removal. Ironic that structures like the wretched St George Wharf will no doubt see their way through countless cycles of fashion and reappraisal and forever be far too expensive to buy back and rebuild, whereas small-ish ventures seem ripe for regular and endlessly renewal. The scheme wasn’t exactly a shining example of community-centred infrastructure, but it has become a public space of sorts. The bus station is even a minor masterpiece compared to the rest of Vauxhall’s haul of 20th century buildings. Once up on a time this stretch of the river, graced by wasteland and the Nine Elms Cold Store, inspired the occasional architectural vision, just as Battersea did upstream. We particularly like the Crystal Span / another London thing. The Harrow Dominion is an epic piece of cinematic Art Deco that has been hidden away since the early 60s behind a corrugated metal facade. One day, perhaps, the Dominion will emerge once more.

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Various archives and revived memories

Unfinished Father, a 2015 project by Erik Kessels, a very personal project from the publisher of the In Almost Every Picture series of found albums. More at It’s Nice That / Dubdog, always satisfying to stumble across a well-cultivated flickr stream / Record Envelope: the little library of factory sleeves / see also the art-focused Record Art blog / the New York Public Library’s recent image release can also be sifted through using their Visualization Tool / tumblr public library tag / culled from those very archives, Fifth Avenue then and now / invest in bricks and bricks / Pascal Bronner / the Cure in comic book form / Epic Space, a forthcoming book from Ian Martin.

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Road to [fill in blank]

There are two distinct road maps towards a future of autonomous driving; evolution and revolution. Technology tends to infiltrate society using the former method, with the occasional – perhaps even generational – revolutionary upheaval stirring the pot and providing the impetus for the next round of evolution. Autonomous cars are no different, which makes The Drive’s rather strident assertion that the Google car is a hoax rather alarmist. The point made is that Google has never had any intention of becoming a bricks, mortar and robot-equipped car-maker but is using its bubble-shaped pods to bolster, refine and ultimately promote tech that will be adopted by the existing manufacturers. This shouldn’t be a colossal surprise to anyone. The industry is currently awash with nascent partnerships and projected collaborations between tech names and car makers, each and every one of which is serving as a building block towards a structure that no-one yet knows what it looks like. GM’s partnership with Lyft, for example, splices autonomy with ride-sharing, whereas Volvo’s ongoing experiments with autonomous driving are just a couple of cycles behind Tesla’s Autopilot. For every partnership, there is an opportunity but also a potential conflict, as different standards and services and sensor arrays face up to one another, with the consumer – the ex-driver, allegedly – in the middle. In the meantime, designers are falling over each other to predict the coming interior revolution, when cars double up as ‘living rooms on wheels’. Imbuing inanimate objects with autonomous behaviour is hardly new, but two things stand out from the current situation; autonomous driving is seen as both inevitable yet also something that will be packaged up as part of a suite of ‘services’, offered at differing levels of sophistication and be tied to the subscriptions and partnerships that are being stitched together right now. Note how the 1950s family on the left is playing, while the executive on the right is working.

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