This year’s Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gift Catalogue is here, so the Christmas panic is over. Thirty-six classic children’s first editions, a steal at $100,000. The Rose-gold private plane also caught our eye, although the Cobalt Valkyrie is mean enough without a special paint job. And the ‘week of living at three English estates for $700,000 seems like a very time-poor and hurried way of living out your Downtown fantasies. Especially when a half-decent Scottish pile will cost about the same amount.
Grim London, a macabre map of the capital / McMansion Hell, the ten circles of housing insanity / A Brief History of the Studio as an Instrument, over at the Ableton website / The Adventures of Tintin: Breaking Free, anarchism from 1988 / How London Architecture has evolved, a documentary / yet another Guardian piece, perhaps a bit more nuanced, on gentrification / what are some ‘gripping, non-fiction books about things‘? / beautiful illustrations by Josie Shenoy / Ursula K.Guin on The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, via MeFi, on the skewed historical, cultural and fictional balance between ‘hunting’ and ‘gathering’ / old, and abandoned, the GUIdebook, or Graphical User Interface Gallery / art and paper at Cartolleria / paper cculptures by Makiko Azakami, via Faith is Torment.
The Road Not Taken: How we found (and lost) the dream of Personal Rapid Transit, by Adi Robertson. In the utopian timeline (which could sitll happen), these PRT systems could be reborn in the form of self-driving autonomous cars. What will be different, however, is the way they are branded and graded according to status and desire, rather than the ‘one-pod-fits-all’ solution originally proposed / other things. London Social and Functional analysis, 1943 at Mapping London / architectural art by Atelier Olschinsky / design by Stefan Wagner / the mirror maze, totally missed this / New Town Utopia, ‘A documentary film about utopian dreams, concrete realities… and some rather angry puppets’ / the city of natural gas, visions of a fracking town of the future by Jason Lamb / Bradford Unconsidered Trifles, a weblog with a penchant for industrial archaeology / the intricate art of Adam Dant / animated weather map / work by Misha Semenov, including research on the Garden City, visualisations, sketches and urban fantasies / The Angry Architect, a weblog / the illustrations of Kempster and Evans / more modern utopian dreams at Architizer.
Stephen Walter’s map of ‘Nova Utopia‘ is a characteristically hyperdense cartographic narrative journey, a ‘a fictionalization of Thomas More’s Utopia, shown now in the present day, 500 years on from when it was first written. The book of 1516 forms its backstory. Certain things that he described remain, like the traces of its 54 elegant towns spread evenly throughout. Its size is roughly the same and it has a prominent bay now named the Mouth of Feo, with its outcrops of rocks and a garrison tower. Many of its towns are now named after the nations exports that are mentioned in the book.’ Loosely based on Abraham Ortelius’ 1596 map of Utopia, it maps out a landscape shaped by a continuous search for meaning. Walter also has beautiful maps of the ‘Rivers of London’ and ‘London Subterranea’, as well as a series on London’s Boroughs / see also The New Illustrated Map of London, available at House of Cally / see also, Utopian town planning, Mormon-style (via MeFi) / also related, ten failed utopian cities / other things. An unofficial guide to building with Lego Technic / Tin Can Forest, a tumblr / it’s been too long since we last looked at Mighty Girl / solar landscape at Sundrop Farms.
Streets, San Francisco photography by Leigh Merrill (via This Isn’t Happiness) / The Secret Lives of Buildings, a photographic series by Marc Yankus (via Lens Scratch) / Why I bought a Titan II missile silo, a film series / Snoopy in Space / Herve Poulain, the world’s fastest (driving) auctioneer / lablog, ‘architectural voyeurism’ / a spotlight on bespoke bookplates at Bloomfield and Rolfe, rubber stamp specialists / the art of Trevor Paglen, including Nonfunctional Satellites:
‘Developed in collaboration with aerospace engineers, the nonfunctional satellites are space-worthy sculptures designed as small, lightweight satellites that expand to become large, highly reflective structures. Placing one of these objects into low-earth orbit would create a visible “sculpture” in the night sky, visible from the earth below after sunset and before dawn as a bright, slowly moving, flickering star. The sculpture would remain in orbit for several weeks before burning up upon reentry through the atmosphere.’
Unknown Tourism, commemorating lost wildlife / the making of Forza 3 / The Bolted Book Facsimile, an ‘exact copy of Fortunato Depero’s 1927 iconic work of avant-garde graphic design and book-making’ / Ghost Photographs, a tumblr / when do dictators visit Geneva? (via tmn) / Manifold Magazine, a late 60s student mathematical fanzine / Dirty Modern Scoundrel, John Grindrod’s concrete blog / Vernacular Furniture, a visual essay at Reading Design.
Beware the Vibrant, on the misleading language of gentrification. Gentrification is one of those concepts that can only really be observed from a distance; like the apocryphal boiled frog you don’t know it’s happening around you until it’s ‘too late’, if that’s the right term. Related. Who Lives Here Now? A chance to the ‘bad kind’ of gentrification in action? Southwark’s plan for the overhaul of the Old Kent Road is underway. Southwark has poor form in this area, as their underhand behaviour at the Elephant and Castle surely demonstrates (see also our previous posts). Will the OKR be any different? One of the bitter ironies is that the much vaunted car-free cities of the near future could in fact be the most gentrified spaces of all.
Spectacular planetary views at Daily Overview / the world animated in 8-bit art / more clever pixel things at Essenmitsosse / houses in the woods / anapestic tetrameters, the poetic structure of Dr Seuss / Filthy Luker makes massive urban inflatables (via Juxtapoz) / yet more car copying / sculptures by Brian Dettmer, via Faith is Torment / some more London things. The Last Tuesday Society, a literary organisation ‘dedicated to subverting life, the universe and everything bored of the life and world it sees around it seeks to create a new world filled with beauty, wonder and the imagination.’ / author Tom Bolton takes photographs. See also his piece on Ten Vanished, And Vanishing London Experiences / not sure what’s going on here: Sense of Promise, a journey through a series of ‘virtual elixirs’. It did made us wonder about the potential for VR to offer ‘unsafe’ and dangerous spaces. Just as you’d never download an unknown .exe file, will we be issuing warnings about the perils of accessing an unmapped and unexplored virtual world.
A forthcoming academic study by Emma Spence on the world of superyacht acquisition and use lays bare the reality that these objects have very little discernible use value in the traditional anthropological sense. They also don’t function as assets, because they depreciate and cost approximately 5-10% of the purchase price to keep running. They’re therefore the embodiment of ‘conspicuous consumption’, their cost and extravagance beyond justification in an economic sense but presumably highly important in the dance of status / related, My First Gulfstream (via MeFi) / music: Peturbator; great Cure show in Paris from 2008 / paintings by Catherine Kehoe / paintings by Natacha Ivanova / Decoding the Infinite Forest, a photographic series by Douglas J.Eng / landscape paintings by Greta Van Campen / Project Mapping, ‘schematic maps of UK and worldwide rail networks’ / see also the Transit Maps tumblr.
How I came to be banned from the world’s most remote island, Tristan da Cunha, by Simon Winchester. ‘We have an unceasing capacity to make ourselves nuisances, basically.’ / sort of related, the amazing Ship Map / also related, the South Atlantic Anomaly / the history of the Cordouan Lighthouse, France’s oldest / ‘The Invention of the Perfect Cup of Coffee: How the creator of the Aerobie became the King of Java at 76′ (via Snarglr, which is an excellent website) / Looking Good: a visual guide to the nun’s habit.
Some fine images of Antti Lovag’s “Palais Bulles“, latterly owned by Pierre Cardin and on the market for a rumoured £300m / if you want a proper architectural masterpiece, Luis Barragán’s Cuadra San Cristobal in Mexico is substantially more affordable / VR as a generator of opinionated digital graffiti. The world is going to look very messy with our goggles on / Forgotten Fiberglass, American one-offs, concept cars and esoteric sports cars from the past / a look at the RIBA Stirling Award shortlist.
Brutal Londo, by Zupagrafika (via Daniel Gray) / Richard Leo Johnson, things that were lost but are now found. Photography from the 70s and 80s. More at Oxford American / abstracted masters painted by Anna Ostoya / Tale Pieces, the blog of the Bewick Society, devoted to the work of English engraver Thomas Bewick / from where we find a link to the work of Chris Daunt.
Everything is Broken / fix it yourself with the Piper Raspberry Pi Computer Kit / Line Wobbler, a ‘one-dimensional dungeon crawler game with a unique wobble controller made out of a door-stopper spring and a several meter long ultrabright LED strip display’. By Robin Baumgarten / more game experiments by Jason Rohrer / a collection of favourite transcendent performances / beautiful interior paintings by Simon Adjiashvili / a fairly transcendent New Mexico Ranch by Tadao Ando. For Tom Ford / London’s gentrification habit / Lost footage of Bath, dating back to 1952 / Dorich House Museum, a restored sculptor’s house in South London / new images of the Thermal Baths in Vals by Fernando Guerra to celebrate their 20th anniversary.
Music: Jude Woodhead; Black Angel Drifter; The Cure, live in Glasgow in 1984; Ruth and Martin’s Album Club, introducing people to works they’ve never (often inexplicably) heard; Coffee and Riffs; The Caretaker’s new album series is a three year project charting the slow decline of the mind; The Beatles Never Existed / other things. Full Plate, Lego vegetation / the IG NOBELS have been announced. Thomas Thwaites triumphs, presumably unwittingly / for Community fans, Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne / archival imagery from Australia’s Cave Clan / more urban exploration / Kevin Wisbith, Death Star over Florida.
On the nation of Yorkshire, a host of links. Related, the East Riding Archives / ‘We’ve reached peak everything’: New photography by Edward Burtynsky / PaperPetShop / Apple in talks to buy McLaren? / related (?), the third transport revolution / not so revolutionary, but intriguing nonetheless, the origin of the Chinese balance scooter / Inside, an atmospheric game / drop nuisance callers into the sales call abyss / the Georgi Markov Story / is NASA messing with star signs? No / Passengers, a new film about space. According to wikipedia, Thomas Newman has scored 78 films. Seven of his immediate relatives are also film composers.