Dog days

Failed Architecture asks What this MVRDV Rendering Says About Architecture and the Media, a musing on the digital delusions of modern architectural imagery. The architects reply: In Defense of Renders and Trees On Top of Skyscrapers. Both sides have valid points but seem to be talking past each rather. FA’s point is about greenwashing, but MVRDV are more concerned with communication (although we liked their point that the urban forest atop the 2000 Hanover Expo Pavilion is still alive). The digital future is so seductive, though, that few stop to query its representations, preferring to use rendered utopias as a waypoint, rather than the commodity they are. This story about robot dogs in driverless vans … the delivery system of the future is a case in point. Can anyone see this either happening, let alone going well, or do these digital musings about uncanny scampering canine couriers simply ensure that someone brings them to life? / sort of related, using entire virtual cities to plan future development / a few other things. Paintings by Erika Lee Sears / Photos From the 2019 Dakar Rally / what it’s like to be an internet advice columnist / the world’s largest 100 islands (via tmn) / New Ways, Peter Behrens’ only building in the UK and the country’s first ‘modern’ house, is for sale.

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Click track

The Tom Thomson Catalogue Raisonné, worth a browse for those who love their brushstrokes / What things flopped because they arrived at exactly the wrong time? / Distant Worlds 2, a virtual expedition to Beagle Point, 65,000 light years from Earth / a team has built a complete model of the Tokyo Subway system / animating (and soundtracking) the graphic art of the 80s is fun but also sort of cheating; this level of visual and technological wizardry simply wasn’t available back in the 80s. This is the big lie of retro nostalgia; we’re experiencing all this technology through the sophisticated filters of the present. Bands like Peturbator (nsfw occasionally), Kavinsky, Master Boot Record and Carpenter Brut and labels like Retro Promenade play on this purely digital re-tread of the early analogue/digital aesthetic.

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The Lost Car Dealerships of London

The history of the automobile is littered with lost names, as mergers and bankruptcies constantly narrowed the field. Borgward was a German brand, surviving until 1961, making a wide range of elegant and eccentric cars, pioneering technologies like air suspension. Recently revived, aimed squarely at the Chinese market, the new company revealed an impressive electric concept, the Isabella, and some rather dreary production cars. No real reason for the history lesson, save for the fact that the former UK Borgward dealership, Metcalfe and Mundy, Ltd. of 280 Old Brompton Road, appears to have been uncovered by recent building work. A small piece of urban history / Microsoft’s Direct3D team office has a Wall of GPU History / the cubist anatomy guides of artist Charles Carlson / The Book of Pebbles, a new book by Christopher Stocks, published by Random Spectacular. Way back when, the seeds of the book were sown in a piece for things 17 / A Food Tour Through the New York City Crime World (via Herb Lester) / This is a Film About a Band – Part I, a short movie about Morton Valence, chroniclers of down at heel romance.

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Photography, above and below

Scenes from Underground, a gallery collection from The Atlantic’s In Focus feature / Metropole, a monograph about London by Lewis Bush / a collection of recent London aerial photography / maps and visualisations from Scott Reinhard / Fake Britain: A Map Of Fictional Locations In England, Scotland And Wales at Londonist (via MeFi) / see also The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands / The Miracle of the Mundane: ‘Living simply today takes work. It takes work to overcome the noise that has accumulated in our heads, growing louder and more pervasive since we were young.’ / The internet feeds on its own dying dreams, nostalgia for the internet of the past, in all its awkward pixelated adolescence (also via MeFi) / life lessons, more questions and some answers from Nick Cave at The Red Hand Files.

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Gone but not

Small snippets today. A list of people who claimed to be Jesus / you are getting old / ambient music from The Leaf Library / the world’s population depicted in 3D / the decline of in exchange for…, an ongoing project / computers in kids’ bedrooms, nostalgia / vaguely related, the Obscuritory, a repository of memories about long forgotten software (via MeFi).

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Welcome, 2019

Timothy Bird’s The Great North Wood is a masterly graphic work. A available from Avery Publishing / an interactive American gun violence map / building an F1 car in cardboard / a selection of AI-generated cars. Some are quite convincing / retracing the locations of classic reggae covers, an insight into old London / related, London’s East End in Colour by the late David Granick / a peek inside Beth Olem, the cemetery that was swallowed by a GM plant / Bath at Night, paintings by Nick Cudworth / Geoff Dyer on the pleasure of reading unread books, all in the spirit of a new year clear out / all the negative talk accompanying the new version of Watership Down reminded us of OWSLA by Fall of Efrafa, the first (only?) crust punk concept album based on Richard Adams’ book / ‘a Canadian landmark’, a celebrated steel house by Arthur Erickson / Home-coming, Vice writers go back to their roots / a happy new year and big thanks to all our readers.

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Walking cities

The ability to walk to an airport should be the new gold standard of accessible urbanism. The Curbed piece is also worth it for ‘Walkable City Rules author Jeff Speck’s urbanist take on the ubiquitous meme’ / Studio Job sets out confidently to break conventional web design / a fictional part of East London is costing £86.7m, presumably because it’s being a) built in Hertfordshire and b) being built for high definition television, a medium where cardboard and MDF no longer cut it. Check out the existing Walford on Google. Movie sets make for intriguingly jarring virtual tourism. Western Town at Paramount Ranch was recently burnt to the ground in the last round of Californian wildfires. The abandoned movie set has also provoked a frisson amongst urban explorers / a triumverate of interactive sites: Stars, a Chrome experiment that puts a galaxy in your browser; Complexity Explorables are ‘interactive explorations of complex systems in biology, physics, mathematics, social sciences, ecology, epidemiology and [more]’; Sandspiel, hours of pixellated fun / La Casa Telematica, high-tech living, 80s-style / Owner who demolished famed San Francisco house must build replica. A rare example of architectural schadenfreude. See also Demolishing Modernism.

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Stopping motion

Time Lapse of the Sushi Scene in Isle of Dogs / errors on the Tube map at Diamond Geezer. You could do worse than nose around their Flickr sets as well / Germans like the word ‘shitstorm‘ / a fact that’d fit well into ‘52 things I learned in 2018‘ (via Kottke) / Goreyana, a celebration of the work of Edward Gorey / related, Mad Magazine’s recent gut punch, ‘The Ghastlygun Tinies‘.

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Lost in the mists of time

Fancy a modernist hotel in Žvrynas, Vilnius? From the eccentrically translated blurb: ‘The residence was built in 1980 like a hotel for the top level officials. In this villa, presidents Mikhail Gorbachev, Richard Nixon, Lech Walesa, the Queen of Denmark Margrethe II, a spacewoman Valentina Tereshkova, the head of the Russian Orthodox church, Patriarch Alexy II were staying during visits.’ (via Wowhaus) / Custom Records for a 70’s Toy Record Player (via DB-G). See also Fishure-Price (sic), a company that turns these tiny toys into workable decks (via Mixmag) / the architecture of the uncanny: How Victorian Mansions Became the Default Haunted House. See also Are McMansions the New Haunted Houses? Evaluating a Flawed Argument about Why Some Houses Are Scary (both via MeFi, which includes the unique use of ‘Hollywood sound studio’ as an architectural designation. The answer to the first question is probably nothing more than ‘progress’, and how grand houses became run-down, empty and decaying with social and economic changes. Lost Heritage is a directory of the c2,000 houses ‘lost’ since 1800, most to development. Demolition usually came after a period of long, slow decay. Some of these hulks are still standing: What happened to England’s abandoned mansions? A few years ago you could buy the shell of Appledurcombe House on the Isle of Wight for £6m.

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Hollywood detectives

Buster’s Paramount Backlot Plunge, at Silent Locations, a weblog about about Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more). Fascinating detective work, such as this overlaid Google streetview image in Astoria featuring shots from Buster Keaton and W.C. Fields / the Top 50 places to eat in SE London, mapped / 100 Variations, Roula Partheniou / music by 5cps / an Interactive AI Rendered Virtual World / staying with Los Angeles, Woods Bagot’s MORE LA lets you explore the city’s potential for growth through its many, many surface parking lots: if all the lots “in Los Angeles County were developed into residential units … those lots could house between 1.5 to 3 million people.” Some more info / it’s Amsterdam Drone Week / iconic prints, etc., at Sarah Sauvin / Something About Maps, a wonderful blog.

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From other here to there

Robin Friend’s new photography monograph, Bastard Countryside, ’15 years worth of exploration within the British landscape, dwelling on what Victor Hugo called the ‘bastard countryside’: “somewhat ugly but bizarre, made up of two different natures”.’ See also the interview at It’s Nice That / rare photographs of Kate Macintosh’s Dawson’s Heights in South London, 1964-72, at the RIBA. See also a visit to Dawson’s Heights, parkour-style / Japanese alley bookends / the art of Unfriending before Facebook / Pipes III by Robert Götzfried. We also like his series Pools (via Diedrica) / queuing for that moment of Instagram self-discovery / the paintings of Hiroshi Furuyoshi / Brooklyn Stereography, a blog about ‘all things stereographic, from classic scopes & stereoviews to historical context & modern analysis’. Recommended / Syntax & Salt Magazine, new fiction / It doesn’t matter if we all die, the late Mark Fisher on The Cure’s ‘Unholy Trinity’ / beautiful travel notebooks by Jose Naranja.

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Cities and bases

How an eerie abandoned US base near North Korea turned into an art haven: Camp Greaves / illustration by May Lee / music by Teeth of the Sea / If the Universe were shrunk to something akin to the size of Earth, what would the scale for stars, planets, etc. be? / art and gifs by Paul Robertson / cityscape prints, now and then, by Julia Wertz / 15 aircraft with lots of wings / Mowbray’s Muses, paintings from ‘the New York mansion of railroad tycoon Collis Potter Huntington‘, on display at the Yale University Art Gallery (via this, that and also, etc). Here’s a post on Huntingdon’s mansion Fifth Avenue.

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Representation and imagination

Photography by Pawel Starzec / a drone tour of China’s Mount Fanjingshan / Paint My Name In Black And Gold, a forthcoming book about the Sisters of Mercy (the band, not the order) / staying gothic, things lurk in the shadows of Trevor Henderson’s images / the late Henry Wilson’s spectacular house in Chelsea / old school 8-bit April Fools (both via b3ta) / a spot of futurism: the concept cars of Syd Mead / The Tulip, a ‘mini-me Gherkin’ that can only be seen as a desperate cry for attention. Compare and constrast with Shigeru Ban’s proposed Kentucky Owl Park, representing a notable leap forward in photorealistic visualisations. In contrast, the real world is a disappointment.

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Root and branch

A depressing piece about architecture’s burgeoning relationship with instant social media gratification: Snapping point: how the world’s leading architects fell under the Instagram spell. The stuff about Assemble’s studio wall ultimately becoming an iphone case is extraordinary / other things: Lego set 80101-1 is a Chinese exclusive, the Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner / Seattle skyline timelapse / embroidered art by Michelle Kingdom / paintings by Clara Adolphs / Other Aberdeen, an abandoned weblog / a found box of glass plate negatives / The Arborealists, a group of artists who specialise in creating works featuring trees / sort of related, Streetview Portraits (via this isn’t happiness).

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Clone wars

Charge promise to build an all-electric version of the ‘classic Mustang’ / paintings by Amy Dennis / sort of interconnected, How does someone build a rich, connected, creative life? versus Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Revised for Modern Civilization / beautiful architectural drawings by Helena Rong and Jessica Jiang / Fifty Works by Fifty British Women Artists 1900 – 1950 / Spoon & Tomago, Japanese art, design and culture / the world’s longest echo / Video Games in East Germany / see also Russian Sinclair Clones.

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Still desperately trying to be distracted

Rachael Smith illustrates regularly on Empathize This, ‘a place where people can tell their own stories about how prejudice and hardship affect their lives’ / music by The Expert Sleepers / Ott Art, a tumblr about art / Cocoons, photographs by Peter Steinhauer (via the Guardian) / an instagram from Japan, wakuneco, alarmingly realistic cat portraits / Space Exploration, much goodness to be found, like this Soviet Zero-Gravity Chess set from Soyuz 9. Marc Newson will probably buy the lot / pair your viewing with this song: Helena Hauff – c45p, by Keyser Söze / the new age of ‘imaginary facts‘. There are depressing parallels with wrongheaded beliefs like flat eartherism; the dark side of making stuff up for fun and/or profit.

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Sleight of hand

More things to turn your head and ears / some music by Casual Nun / contemporary cubism by Anna Ostoya / the walk above the vineyards, KEEO design / Persuasive Cartography, maps that change our perception of places / a link-filled MeFi post about Towards a Concrete Utopia, the MoMA show about Brutalist Architecture in Yugoslavia from 1948–1980. There’s a lot to unpick in Brutalism’s blend of nostalgia, romanticism, even fragments of Ostalgie / From the Murky Depths, news from London / music: Scheme / the Microlino, a retromod electric car / Huck is a magazine about fashion / a studio tour with Lee Ranaldo / We Can Have Beautiful Public Housing.

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Distraction

Frivolous things: Mikutap / fun to revisit: Medieval Fantasy City Generator / Cassette Tapes are back, but then Bandcamp aficionados know the analogue feeling / totalitarian rides square up: China’s Hongqi L5 versus the Russian Aurus Senat. No word on what the North Koreans are driving / Ace Linguist, a website about language / art by Hiroshi Sato / music by Gnod.

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Space for (hu)man(s) and the case of the ancient astronauts

NASA’s Legacy Gallery from activities at the Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center (now the Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center) / this next one is really not related at all, promise: Pseudoarchaeology and the Racism Behind Ancient Aliens (via MeFi). At least we got this epic piece of music / meanwhile, as the UK government implodes in a slow motion car crash, Sam Jacob points out that “the beautiful buildings commission is just a front for the continuing attack on progressive ideas,” spearheaded by the ‘Alf Garnett of architecture‘, Roger Scruton, who is rolling up his sleeves, straightening out the vellum, sharpening his quill and getting set to jettison modernism (‘M’s big and small) in a headlong rush back to the past. At least with the classical orders you knew your place, right? / fire, of course, cares not if it’s a McMansion or a Case Study knock-off: California’s wildfires are as big as 16 Manhattans. The death toll is still rising / step away from today’s woes by sampling 30 Years of American Anxieties instead.

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It’s all connected, in the least conspiratorial way possible

Grim but essential: Everyday Plastic: ‘The UK throws away over 295 billion pieces of plastic every year’ (via the Guardian) / Darkest London, a weblog about history and the past / Concrete jungle: How Italy’s modern ruins became art. A piece written eight years before the Genoa tragedy / Westminster Council to ban super size new homes / K-Punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher / the unseen colour photography of Vivian Maier.

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