The RIBA’s Wall competition is a strange mix of the spectacular and the decidedly non-secular. With the intention being “to build a national landmark, which will declare God’s goodness to all people,” the brief calls for the use of ‘a million bricks, or equivalent, each representing a story where someone has prayed to Jesus and He has answered.’ It brings to mind nothing less than the typically subversive travails of K2 Plant Hire, the KLF’s earth-moving subsidiary with grand plans for a ‘People’s Pyramid‘, ‘an estimated 150-foot (46 m)-high structure built from as many house bricks as there were British 20th century births (estimated by the duo as 87 million)’ / why the Revel Casino was doomed from the start, Architizer on the Arquitectonica-designed $2.4bn dollar Atlantic City casino that has now been re-branded as TEN / stark comparison, photographer Ben Murphy’s The Riverbed series shows shanty housing in southern Spain.
Luxury tanks, for defending luxury bunkers presumably / a visual guide to The Architecture of American Houses / Owen Hatherley on The Architecture of Neoliberalism, the tyranny of the render and the banality of the built environment’s intersection with contemporary politics / see also, the geometric architecture of Madrid / the East German ‘Gruftie‘ – when Goth was properly dangerous / Theresa Wayman of Warpaint talks guitar / Austin Irving photographs caves / bikers in South London, from Wired magazine / Don’t Move, Improve, the annual round-up of tasteful (mostly) London extensions / paintings by Alex Lowery, via Socks Studio.
Bolshy Flatblock: The buildings of A Clockwork Orange, Modernism in Metroland on the architectural legend of the film. One for Coudal’s Stuff about Stanley Kubrick section / the architecture of Pablo Escobar Jr / an archive of Yahoo Answers / drone history: the Office of Naval Research Support for Vertical Envelopment. The ‘Radioplane’ was a carrier-launched ‘radio-controlled aircraft, each carrying a single Marine above the radioactive contamination on the ground and into the objective’ / art by Aidan Koch / graphic projects by Will Knight / The Protest Box, assembled by Martin Parr.
‘A hidden vault under the old Astoria nightclub has been unearthed by Crossrail builders and it has revealed an unexpected history of one of Britain’s first condiment suppliers‘ / sort of related, archive images of some amazing early C20 salt mines / List of inventors killed by their own inventions (via K) / fund Paul Ryan: The Magazine. Just what we all need.
Some fifteen years ago, we collaborated on a marvellous project with the Sonic Catering Band, bundling a little 3″ CD, Apotheosis with issue 15 of things (sadly now sold out, although we still have a few CDs). We worked with the SCB’s Peter Strickland, whose career has gone from strength to strength (while still, we note, keeping a hand over the sonic stove). His first full-length film, Berberian Sound Studio, is basically sonic catering writ large, although the resulting dish is very different. Strickland also oversaw a radio remake of The Stone Tape (excerpt), originally written for television by Nigel Kneale. More links at MeFi, which also flagged up a related recent play, the Stroma Sessions, the story of a new music ensemble recording an album on an abandoned island off the north coast of Scotland.
Some things to watch / recreating dead actors. Presumably the Peter Cushing estate didn’t think to license his image so this one was a freebie / the evolution of Formula 1 steering wheels / Pop Up, a short film / The Chaos, a classic poem about the impossibility of English (via MeFi) / music by Cobalt Chapel / the very worst of our Smart Futures / The women who invented the Brazilian wax / an online archive for German design magazine Form.
The remarkable 8-Bit Beatles want to chirrup their chiptune back catalogue at you (via MeFi) / also on the blue, Trains with the faces of men, a compendium of links about Thomas the Tank Engine, the series that unwittingly mines the ‘vein of Scarfolkian eldritch creepiness that has been a mainstay of British children’s entertainment since pagan times’ / Fastcompany’s UI design round-up is actually an insight into the state of machine intelligence, be it genuinely artificial, cleverly simulated (for now) or simply deceptive.
More fun with the future, Japanese insurance company employs AI, at the expense of real people. See also, The seven stages of denial (that a robot will take your job) / a follow-up to yesterday’s post: How the Gurus Behind Disney’s MagicBand are Remaking a $38B Cruise Giant. Carnival automates enjoyment / tmn offers up a review of 2016 in music / intricate drawings by Ben Tolman at Faith is Torment / the KLF, yes or no? The usual intrigue / a gem: The comedy book index, part 1: I, Partridge, part 2. Alan Partridge: Nomad and part 3. Toast on Toast. At the wonderful blog of Paula Clark Bain, Society of Indexers member (see also The Indexer magazine).
There are countless silly things coming out of CES, including the nugget of information that the Faraday Future FF91 is only 9 (not 6) inches narrower than the new London Routemasters (2283mm to 2520mm). One of the more fascinating and sinister developments is the Ocean Medallion, a tracking device developed by Princess Cruises as a way of improving on-board service. ‘The first ship to feature the system is the Regal Princess. 75 miles (121km) of cables, more than 7,000 sensors and 4,000 digital screens were installed in 10 days in Italy.’ It’s essentially a sea-going version of the Disney MagicBand (dissected and appraised in this great Wired piece from October 2015).
This kind of tracking is even more perfectly suited to the closed environment of a cruise ship than it it is to a theme park, but what happens when the cruise is over? Will you be encouraged to keep wearing it in anticipation of your next trip, with biometric data gauging when your system is in need of a holiday. Partner companies on the high street and in the mall could offer subtle enticements to band-wearers to keep powering through (a free rum-spiced latte to evoke the tastes of the Caribbean) until cruise-time comes again. Thanks to the medallion, you can gamify 50 weeks of your life to make your next two-week vacation seem even more special.
Mini Metros (via Kottke) / unrelated, the Mini Metro story / a bunker refurbishment / similar aesthetic at Something Concrete and Modern / more residential concrete, the Haus Ruscher by Olkruf / vintage electronics / The Age of Female Dominance – brought to you by robots. Different take on the ‘coming world of automation’ / Krimson37 produces car videos from a scrapyard. Beats The Grand Tour / more auto culture. Waft is a Belgium outfit that produces Curves Magazine / Momo’s Media Monstrosity Part IV / Secrets of the Psychics, a six-part documentary / many more fascinating things to unravel at Paul Slade’s Planet Slade / is the KLF back for 2017?
No reviews of the year here. Just some links / medieval forensics and more at Sarah Woodbury’s blog / photography by Thorsten Klapsch / The Lives They Lived, personal spaces (tidied and cleaned) photographed shortly after death / staying with the cheery theme, World War Three by Mistake sees Eric Schlosser – author of the excellent Command and Control – sets out some unwelcome unintended consequences for 2017 / sort of related, the Denge Sound Mirrors, doomed to become the Easter Island statues of our declining civilization / of course, what go wrong with the idea of giant flying warehouses spooling out drones above our heads? Sky piracy, unsecured cargo dumps, Whisky Galore style, the darkening of the sun when goods go viral and everyone one-clicks at once / architects and engineers crit the Death Star design. They could have gone further. Related, the data formats of Rogue One / why the Helsinki Guggenheim was doomed (and why the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi has yet to start on site) / more architecture, lost Frank Lloyd Wright buildings rendered in full colour / Robbie Wojciechowski’s weblog / the story of 16 2/3 rpm records at Bloggerrhythms, including the Seeburg 1000 background music system and Chrysler’s Highway Hi-Fi / sort of related, the history of Muzak / cars by Keith Haring / coffee lids collected by Louise Harpman.
FIFA, the video game that has actually changed the culture of the game it is simulating (and not always for the better):
The data Fifa draws upon has become so accurate that teams have started to use the game to scout for potential new signings or to test out the strengths and weaknesses of upcoming opponents. The Arsenal midfielder Alex Iwobi recently told the New York Times that when he was starting out, if a player he had never played against was on the other team, he would “look at his name and then try to remember how good he was on Fifa”. In October 2013, Leyton Orient’s manager introduced a no-Fifa-before-a-match-day policy, after members of his team stayed up late rehearsing the next day’s fixture (which they subsequently lost).
Also, how an American company ended up building the best-known game about a decidedly non-American sport: “I mean this respectfully, but the reason Fifa is so successful is that the game was developed and published a long way from head office.”
RayGun FX Super Fuzz Boy. Bzzz / Thomas Doyle, artist / 0s&1s has an interview with Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens / a satisfying film of a pen plotter test performed by the Edison Pen Company / is the replica furniture business finished? / 20 best acid house tracks / 30 tracks to celebrate 30 years of house / the CIA’s flickr stream is filled with Cold War mapping fun / the art of building, a photography competition / Rye Wax is a south London record shop / history of the pin badge / Top ten art installations of 2016 / which doesn’t include this disco ball cement truck / political cartooning at The Nib / Martin blogs about Moths / The Hi-Bit Era, new look old look video games / The Kid Should See This Gift Guide / Alongtimealone, a tumblr about art / Wheels of Aurelia is a great-looking game / Aylesbury, a short film about a housing estate that ‘perfectly encapsulates the growing housing crisis and problems caused by gentrification’.
The Secret World of Stuff / fast food calorie counting gets an infographic / Time’s 100 photos of the year / David Titlow, a photographer with a blog / Woobots, wooden transformers / Patrick Henry Village, from US Army base to commune? / 8late, a design studio focusing on conservation and reuse / all about the Moscow Design Museum / paintings by Simon Ling.
London Ends, the edges of the city in photographs by Philipp Ebeling / we want to believe, part 396: a lush, vegetation-filled jungle city might actually be a thing. More investigations into the media image of the unbuilt at Failed Architecture / illustration by Elisa Macellari / music by Elly Parsons / Ran When Parked, a blog about interesting automobiles / illustrations by Guy Shield / Designability, a weblog about design / instant creativity, 2016-style: Idea Mic Drop / Stop Using Math as a Weapon / music recommendations, ‘dark, driving, haunting tracks‘ / Silicon Valley has an empathy vacuum / Isocity, an animated landscape / translated into the real world? The Fastbrick Robotics Hadrian X Digital Construction System / paintings by Paul Winstanley / paintings by Helen Lundeberg / 98 Wounds a photozine about London’s music scene.
Now that everyone has a global atlas in their pocket, we’re looking further and further afield to find ways of exploring places that might not otherwise be easily found, either in real life or in the imagination. A selection of recent books: Atlas of Lost Cities; Atlas of Cursed Places; The Phantom Atlas; An Atlas of Countries That Don’t Exist; Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps; Atlas of Improbable Places; the Atlas Obscura; the wonderful Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands and the old but still great From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association.
Some random links / music: The Cherry Wave / Courtney Love, Rem Koolhaas and Martha Stewart: together at last / more music at When the Sun Hits / photographer Deidre O’Callaghan’s new book is ‘The Drum Thing‘, portraits and talks with 100 contemporary rhythm keepers / Google Earth timelapse, striking stuff / photography by Mike Pucher / art assembled and presented by Mr Motley / the Swisscom Screenpad was an early tablet, released in late 2000 / new book: Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon.
Other things and random thoughts. The Pioneering Spirit is a truly big thing, the largest vessel ever built at 403,342 gross tons and 123.75m wide (Wikipedia), designed specifically to lift oil rigs without the need to dissemble them. With a slot between twin hulls, the ship can scoop up rigs and take them to new sites or back to port for decommissioning. It will soon be topped by a larger vessel, ‘Amazing Grace’ / Dezeen asks, ‘what happens to temporary pavilions once their time is up?‘ / art by Alice Bucknell / an island for sale / we love this kind of landscape: the bog / photography by Maria Lax / photography by Gareth Gardner / OK Go drop another video / sometimes it seems that Patrik Schumacher often acts as if there is an outstanding vacancy for an evil, cackling architect, rubbing their hands together at the thought of their will being imposed on a fumbling, ignorant populace, too stupid to know they’re actually crying out to be saved by the perfect machinations of the market. It’s the only way to explain it.
Modern Berlin is the latest map from Blue Crow Media. The spike of interest in architecture-related travel continues unabated with Phaidon’s Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide: West Coast USA. Modern architecture has always had this problem of being reduced to a thing, a pin on a map or a perfect snapshot. Perhaps we need a prosaic revival / instead, we have the curious cultural misappropriation that is ‘hygge‘, a mix of optimism, nostalgia and largely bogus presumptions (via MeFi) / nostalgia: Peckham’s Crown Theatre, long lost / the evolution of Microsoft Flight Simulator.