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Thursday, October 31, 2002
We are obsessed by this photograph (part of the Twin Falls Public Library's excellent collection). It has a dreamy, almost nightmarish quality, accentuated by the blurring borders and the sense of writhing, perpetual furry motion. There will be more rabbits here very soon, if you can bear it.

We love product recalls (and might indeed post a collection here one day). But did this image of IKEA’s doomed Snuttig bear (via tmn) really have to be so big?

Norwegian photography, fjords and all. More photos, this time of fisherman's sheds in Quebec. The twisted art of Eliza Griffiths - capturing underlying suburban psychosis and desires perfectly. Pint-sized art publishers Pocko have a new series of five miniature monographs on the way. For example, Finnish winter fantasies. More elegant cover art, this time from Canada: Quelques Pelunes (via Portage. Or Travelers Diagram. We think).


Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Golly. Photoblogs is proving a hugely dispiriting experience. Arguably, I suppose things can't really claim to be a photoblog. We'll loiter around the bottom section of the table for a few more days and then vote ourselves off...

Great zooms, courtesy of NASA's superb imaging. The 'zoom' in from outer space is a staple of science fiction and animation - Blade Runner's hypothetical photo-viewing technology turned this sensation inwards, using the zoom to explore inner worlds, eventually arriving at the microscopic (see experiment here). Perhaps one day digital cameras and optics will be so highly advanced that resolution will be almost infinite, allowing us to use images to 'see' endlessly, far exceeding the capacity of the human eye.

Informal is the name of engineer Cecil Balmond's new book (more background information here, complete with spreads). We haven't seen it yet, but it should be fascinating, given Balmond's collaborations with Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, and Daniel Libeskind.

All Sport Auto has some good reference galleries if you're in an automotive frame of mind. We also liked this page detailing the exhaustive restoration of a 1959 Buick Electra - still one of the best car names ever. Finally, some fine scans of Modern Library classics, complete with foxed, faded and generally well-worn dust-jackets.


Monday, October 28, 2002
We have seized a great wodge of links from our clippings file. Here they are, in no particular order. Book covers from the golden age of illustration. We especially like these futurist-style BBC Handbooks. The first two are by celebrated poster designer E.McKnight Kauffer - more galleries: I, II, III, IV (the last link is excellent - an extensive online thesis entitled 'Dr Leslie & The Composing Room'). Vaguely related, Hand and Eye is a contemporary, London-based letterpress.

"Apart from the Skylon, which first caught my eye, I have no clear recollection of the exhibits, but I can remember feeling excited and proud to be British. After the dismal post war years, when rationing and shortages still ruled our lives, this was a new beginning. The designs were modern and completely different from the pre-war styles": the Museum of London's Festival of Britain reminiscences. (more Festival thoughts: I, II, III, IV).

Interesting Wired article about global outsourcing and the Americanisation of Indian hi-tech workers (also via Wired, Vintagetech, a leading purveyor of old computers). A history of the Salem Witch Trials. A monster truck. Is your tail dragging?

Finally, in anticipation of a long sojourn at the bottom of the table at Photoblogs, we have finally got round to putting up new galleries: more cryonics, more desert and some dolls.


Friday, October 25, 2002
The Museum of London's on-line exhibition about the Blitz sent us off looking for related material. This History Channel feature suffers from tiny pictures. But full marks go to Devon Council, of all people, for their impressive selection of photographs of Exeter during the last war, with some truly stunning images on display (I, II). Our first thought - that they almost have a filmic quality - is a sad indictment of how our experience of history is mediated by drama, rather than reality. Even more tragic than all this destruction was the post-war reconstruction of so many British cities, whereby all that remained was filleted by ambitious but highly flawed developments.

If you happen to ever be in NY, please attend this party on our behalf. Elsewhere, David muses about photologs: 'Much as MP3 files have broken the psychological link between music and the physical format of tapes and CDs, digital photos are erasing the idea of photos as objects.'

Finally, take a look inside. A huge collection of American car imagery, with everything from muscle cars, interior shots, concept cars, advertising imagery and even wrecks. Perfect.


Thursday, October 24, 2002
Apparently in the US Senate one can revise the remarks you address to the floor. The Congressional Record, the daily transcript of activities, can therefore carry a longer version of what you ‘said’, once these so-called 'extension of remarks’ are added (all gleaned from this story by Derek Willis). In comparison, the British parliament’s written record, Hansard, is a verbatim transcript of all that's said and nothing more. This seems a bit more honest, no?

We have a new photo gallery, downtown (which isn't a strictly accurate description). There's also part one of cryonics to check out. We promise to do something about our overall 'look and feel' soon - time for another overhaul.


Wednesday, October 23, 2002
A website inspired by more developer-led lunacy - the human stories behind a squat in Vancouver. This led us to these resources on squatting in the UK (I, II, III). Although the squatting debate has moved on considerably from the celebrated 'occupations' of the 60s and 70s, there was a high profile story a few years ago about how a local council effectively had to give away a property to squatters on account of having 'lost' all records of their ownership - details here. Unsurprisingly, that council was Lambeth, one of the least competent of all London boroughs. Perhaps as a direct result of the Ellis case, Lambeth subsequently cracked down and other squatters were not so successful (we remember this house well, with its totem pole out front).

In January 2000, some sixty flats at Oval Mansions, a prime site overlooking the famous cricket ground, were cleared of squatters (quote from Lambeth housing secretary: 'The Oval squatters have been knocked for six'. Nice). Oval Mansions was a self-contained community, with a neighbourhood centre, cafe, lively arts events (such as this) and a general commitment to maintaining the building. What's happened since the evictions? Nothing. The handsome Victorian brick building has been crudely sealed against further intrusion, with breeze blocks in the windows. Are the council waiting for the building to slide into a ruin so it can be quietly demolished? A true disgrace.

Enough whining. Elsewhere. Some found things. There's something weird going on here. In 1978, the beard arrived, and didn't leave for twenty-one years.


Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Random links. This history of Chester is chock-full of tales of horror for conservationists. Read how greedy 1960s developers smashed up Roman mosaics so as not to slow down the building of the town's Grosvenor Shopping Centre. This kind of thing probably still goes on all over the place.

If you've ever wondered about the evolution of the humble video box, look no further. Designboom has a gallery from the recent 100% Design show in London. We took about three photos before being told photography wasn't allowed.

Some fantasy aeroplanes.


Monday, October 21, 2002
Unpublished illustrations for an Finnish edition of the Hobbit, courtesy of Moomin-creator Tove Jansson (via memepool). These are beautiful, highly atmospheric pictures (for example) but sad to relate, these are the images that continue to define the book (?) for us...

There's also a flurry of activity over at Sonic Catering, not least the news that a fresh release is ready for immediate consumption (albeit in a limited edition of, er, 10). Yes, we know they say you can download 'dry sounds' from this website. We blush with shame, because we could never get the dry sounds to work. That said, we'd dearly love to get some aural things off the ground at some stage - any suggestions?

Print meets pixel at Starving Eyes. A collection of punk flyers (the scans are a little on the small side).


Friday, October 18, 2002
Briefly. Shopping list, minimal. Pernicious flattery (be in an international reference book! No, really!). Museums in Japan. Three databases, of varying degrees of uselessness. Condiments (spicy), muscle cars (hot) and architecture (elegant).

Some wag searching things has entered "badly formatted web sites". Is this a subtle form of biting critique?


Thursday, October 17, 2002
After browsing through the NASA technical drawing archive, it struck us how this type of imagery has been reappropriated in recent years, first by the graphic art and design of the nascent dance scene and more recently as a fashionable celebration of all things technical, designed and futuristic. See, for example, the T-shirts designed by Chunk, which take cover illustrations from Haynes workshop manuals and turn them into elegantly ironic comments on fashionable automobiles.

That lead us here, an on-line collection the world of instruction (nice: I, II). This inspired a Google image search on cutaways. Especially noted - this cross-section through the house in Upstairs, Downstairs.


Wednesday, October 16, 2002
This is quite a things-y piece, positing that there is a certain disregard for the object in American culture, an obsession with meaning, rather than ‘thing-ness’. Hinged around the premise that Americans have ceased to have a meaningful relationship with their cars - after half a century of unrequited love - and that despite rising car sales, the role of the automobile as ultimate symbol is on the wane. The car is no longer the sole representation of freedom (and in a world of car bombs, foreign oil dependency and van-based snipers, targeting the motorist in and around their natural habitats, is this surprising?).

The article was composed partly as a response to Autobodies, an inaugural exhibition at MoMA QNS. London's Design Museum has done similar shows, exhibiting a series striking yet ultimately familiar car designs, the accepted canon of automotive greatness, perhaps.

Photo of the day.


Tuesday, October 15, 2002
There were too many links yesterday. The rain is beating down relentlessly this morning, building work continues, dust is thick on every surface and the temperature hovers somewhere low. The mood is set for a low-key, damp, autumnal post. First off, some forthcoming winter atmospherics. The Dennis Severs House runs special Christmas openings - 'Silent Nights' - when you can experience this spectacularly original Georgian survivor in London's East End in candlelit ambience. More details here (see also the piece in things 12 - not yet on-line).

Visual imagery. Some interesting mail art, etc., over at Anti-Theory (we especially like the polaroids - this kind of thing is always welcome). A creepy series of scanned slides over at the Experiment - attacked by a killer whale (not graphic or grim).

This thread goes nicely with yesterday’s post on daily photos, and includes these links: I, II.


Monday, October 14, 2002
A few months back we mentioned the excellent television series, 'The Century of the Self'. At the time, the programme seemed to generate very little on-line debate. That's no longer strictly true (see this handy collection of contemporary press reports citing the series, as well as the Media Report's critique (more)). Yet the fundamental premise - that the nascent public relations industry had a huge influence on post-war power structures and their use of popular culture - remains fascinating.

Clearly the jury is still out on whether mass-manipulation of whole populations is happening (or is even possible). However, research increasingly suggests that humans are just pliable puppets, with definable biological and chemical responses to certain stimuli. This recent Salon article examines advances in our understanding of brain chemistry and how this is influencing the advertising industry. Learn how burger ads stimulate your dorsal striatum, and how our relentless desire for novelty is all due to our nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain that lusts after new positive experiences. Madison Avenue might not realise it just yet, but these are the cerebral structures to pinpoint to make your product a success.

Other things. An undeservingly quiet metafilter thread about mystery novels with integral maps. Also via thingsfilter - Lego meets MC Escher: this is what results (better Lego site here). What links this robotic combine harvester to this exhortation to dress respectfully in church? Nothing at all. Absolutely nothing. Some great paintings from Katharine Lubar, especially this one. Obsolete links to all sorts of web-based art and music things, none of which we've really had a chance to examine in any great detail. 120 Years of Electronic Music is an informative sub-section, though: we would dearly love to hear what a Kaleidophon or Partiturophon sounds like.

The real psychedelia - a page full of period colour clashes, crazed swirls and long-forgotten bands. Dodge, another online magazine. Did we mention them? Elsewhere, the daily photo project. Creepy and extremely dedicated. We saw this the other day - a grafitti installation. Elsewhere, NY Beautification takes a higher-minded approach to spray-painting.

Finally, via the ever-impressive Coudal, NASA technical drawings.


Friday, October 11, 2002
Someone is demolishing the door to the room things is working in, and loose plaster is clattering down the walls each time the hammer strikes. We are distracted. Hence a challenge: how to include all these links, randomly swiped from our links document, without the post reading like a page of random rubbish.

Classic covers from Bullet Proof Studios, purveyors of artwork and design to some fine bands. Vintage Bus is must-visit destination for split-screen VW camper aficionados, complete with extensive galleries (we like the Stand by your Van section). More cars - OSI, the best-looking cars you've probably never heard of.

Photography fans can check out Le Book, a directory for all kinds of fashion contacts. It's in flash, unfortunately, but there are good links to on-line portfolios. Staying with fashion, Tiger magazine was one of the on-line magazines we were trying to remember last week. New issue just up.

Token links to some extraordinary ruins: Bannerman's Castle. A good gallery of contemporary Berlin. Adverts from Finland (example).

As Magnetbox points out, the Information Awareness Office is seemingly built for conspiracy theorists and the paranoid, especially given its remit to ‘imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness useful for preemption; national security warning; and national security decision making.’ Phew. Elsewhere, some scary statistics without cites – they might as well be made up.


Thursday, October 10, 2002
Just the other night we were discussing what impact the new wave of camera-phones would have on personal communication. One thought was that in the same way that text and email have created a resurgence in the written form - albeit somewhat debased - humans will always be far better at communicating visually. There's less margin for error.

Ultimately, every mobile phone will contain a camera. To start with, when bandwidth is tight, resolution is low and moving images are all but impossible, we imagined that exaggerated facial expressions would become the norm - gurning, grinning, thumbs up, fingers pulling sides of mouth downwards, etc. - a kind of physical text message abbreviation. Gradually, text message conversations will be replaced by a stream of imagery.

How will this work in practice? David’s link to Seewhatimtalkingabout.com showcases one of the first online experiments with the new medium (he got it from here). A couple of surprises. For a start, the resolution and definition is top-notch, so there's very little room for ambiguity. Also, the four people creating these 'conversations' are art students, so their sense of the visual - colour, composition, etc. - is perhaps heightened (it's like comparing a writer's text messages to a non-writer: in our experience writers are less likely to use snappy abbreviations, instead choosing to input whole words).

Regardless of these caveats, the sample page from the project’s publication is fascinating. It illustrates one such ‘enhanced’ conversation - complete with visual puns, ‘sampling’ from different media such as television screens, and the exaggerated illustrations of moods and locations. It will be an interesting future.


Wednesday, October 09, 2002
Total randomness today. Fruity: I, II (also for photography fans, the beautiful work of Jorg Sasse (via Kultureflash) and a fresh look for Photographica, where the quality levels are soaring).

Colormatch (via exploding fist) will replace your half-hearted attempts at tonal matching with a crisp collection of six matching colours - guaranteeing your site a designer-friendly sheen (see our links page for an example).

This is a very interesting piece (written by Jessamyn, we think) about web-based research for the Google answers service. Answers, whereby Google charged a variable fee to provide responses to questions, relies on a network of 500+ specialist researchers. The questionner sets a price, and if this is acceptable to the relevant researcher, then 85% of people get the answer they want within a day. As the piece points out, the system rewards those who can harness Google's power and sift through enormous amounts of information quickly (Jessamyn is also a librarian, which probably helps). It's fascinating to browse the archive of recently answered questions, seeing what value is attributed to what information. Here you will find everything from a request to identify a poem ($10) to details of Composite Material Mechanical Properties ($8.50). Some questions are more heartfelt than others (only $5!).

The enchanting Pollock’s Toy Museum in Fitzrovia, central London, is organising some October events. You’ve missed the first one but the 'Make Your Own Toy Theatre' project on October 20th sounds fun. Details here.

Put a cupholder in your Saab.


Tuesday, October 08, 2002
Sadly, it appears that the venerable Arts and Letters Daily is closing its doors, citing pressures of work and the bankruptcy of its parent company. The Aldaily wasn't one of our daily reads, despite the name, but it did the essential job of scouring the world's review sections and presenting them en masse: a priceless service. For now, we're going to replace our link with these two: Arts Journal and SciTech Daily.

That pink didn't suit us. Sorry. Continuing our cross-cultural assault (high-brow, low-brown, no-brow - it all means nothing here) with some music 'zines. Try the angry Action Attack Helicopter, the sober Copper Press (not really an on-line publication, likewise the slick Sound Collector) and the web-only Lost at Sea.

Unrelated. Big bugs. Oh yes - we have a new gallery, as promised.


Monday, October 07, 2002
These just in from Coudal - refer back to our musings (mumblings, really) on Enid Blyton a few days ago. Our favourite four: I, II (‘although the nurses may sometimes feel tired, they are always cheerful and smiling'), III, and IV.

More art. Evan Izer's paintings and sculpture remind us of Doug Coupland's recent sculptural direction (fan sites and background info here I, II, III).

We like Identity Theory, a very satisfying compendium of writing about writing, which includes extensive interviews with authors. A history of graphic design - slapdash, random but satisfying enough.


Friday, October 04, 2002
Over 25% of homes in America have a three-car garage, one of many interesting facts gleaned from this Architecture magazine article, 'The Family with the Biggest House wins.' McMansions, as these uber-homes are now called, are proliferating like the eponymous burger joint.

There's a fair bit on the web about domestic gigantism, but no-one's really taken the subject in hand. This site, for example, is little more than limp satire. However, we especially liked Sandy McLendon's anguished piece on Jetset Modern, describing his visit to a friend's spanking new McMansion and the struggle to admire it with tact.

Here in the UK, where there is an estimated 360,000 hectares of previously used - or 'brownfield' - land available for development, we're not quite up in this league. Despite all that empty space, and the seemingly insatiable market, house-builders still yearn for a nice, unsullied field which they can then fill with five-plus bedroom, 'Georgian-style', hand-crafted luxury homes. A small, but by no means comprehensive, selection of some of the worst offenders: I, II, III, IV.

Depressing, isn't it? Ironically, the glazed, blank stare of suburbia has been lightly brushed with a certain hipness in fashion circles. Think, perhaps, of the soft glowing photography of Sophia Coppola's Virgin Suicides, romanticising a certain time and place, or the photo-story in the latest issue of Another Magazine, where homes, drives, muscle cars and quotes from Rod Serling's monologues in The Twilight Zone are juxtaposed in a meaningful, creepy and oh-so-fashionable way (actually, it might have been Pop magazine, but these hefty fashion tomes tend to blur together somewhat).

We much prefer the work of Andrew Cross. His Middle England series certainly isn't all about big houses, and it's very UK-specific, but the pictures capture that indefinable suburban feeling. He also likes trucks and trains.

Related. The National Brownfields Project, together with the National Land Use Database are two initiatives that aim to redress the balance and put new development in the most logical places. Sadly, both sites are pretty impenetrable, and look more like developer's tools rather than something one could just pop into, for example, to find a site. As one might expect, useful tools like Plotfinder want a bit of your cash before you get any info. Even a site like RUDI, the Resource for Urban Design Information, demands an annual subscription. (Also relevant, interesting article by George Monbiot about the difficulty of constructing low-profit, low-cost homes instead of one-off, profit-stuffed, 'manor' houses).


Thursday, October 03, 2002
In amongst the usual lurid proposals, 419s and sundry rubbish, we get the nuttiest spam, stuff that we never see anywhere else. On the surface, an invitation to check out Peaceworld looks innocent enough, but lightly scratch the surface, and you enter a badly-formatted world of paranoia. Imagine what would happen if conspiracy theorists, famed for their love of endlessly scrolling pages of crazed text, suddenly came over all browser-conscious and user-friendly?

This piece continues to generate the most unlikely emails. As well as a few semi-literate requests for obscure albums, we are now apparently subscribed to Reclusion's newsletter. If you like your music 'fast, heavy, brutal and technical', then these guys are for you.

'I could not help speaking out on the possible sale of Hersheys,' begins Guy Spier, who claims to originate from something called the Aquamarine Fund. We have entered the world of high finance, international chocolate retailing and corporate take-overs, a world things isn't entirely familiar with. Perhaps Mr Spier saw this article (so richly, mouth-wateringly illustrated) and assumed we knew more than we were letting on?


Wednesday, October 02, 2002
A couple of .pdf mags, as promised. Beast, 'the Bible of Inspiration'. You can now get downloadable versions of Sonic Youth's seminal Sonic Death zine. There's also This is a Magazine, a flash-based, downloadable 'glossy'. Spreads gently move and change as you read them - a glorious innovation. There are definitely more out there, but damned if we can find them, all of a sudden. Suggestions?

We also found this beautifully illustrated magazine, the Friend, an online publication from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The illustrations bring to mind a couple of things. Firstly, the artwork inside William Booth College, the Salvation Army's monumental site in South London. Recently opened to the public, we passed through a mysterious storeroom on the way to the top of the tower (no windows, just wire mesh across the openings, but fantastic views). Piled high with forgotten props, drums, hymn books, bicycles and banners, it was like a step back in time.

The Friend also reminded us of the artwork that graced Enid Blyton’s Famous Five tales. Deeply unfashionable now (hardly helped by the state of their website), there was something hugely comforting about the world that Blyton conjured up, a something that modern interpretations of the Five inevitably fails to recreate. One of the original artists was one Eileen Soper.

Two design sites. Under Consideration, which links to designers and design stories, all wrapped up in an elegant shell, and Phiffer, a very striking weblog (the latter via Sylloge, back after a long hiatus). Check out Phiffer's handy guitar chord archive.


Tuesday, October 01, 2002
One thing the internet has encouraged is a shift in the emphasis of print design. In the same way that the flat, almost retro-styling of Flash has influenced a new generation of illustrators, so the seemingly chaotic way that web pages can be thrown together has seeped into print. Books like this are collages, collections of swiftly gathered photographs, mixed with computer-generated imagery and multi-lingual text. Perhaps the most overt example of this is the Lomo book, Don't Think Just Shoot, a hard-copy distillation of the cult camera's gorgeous website. Somehow, Don't Think encapsulates the pop design-object feel of the cameras themselves, as well as presenting a huge selection of work - the very nature of which is fragmented and thumbnail-like, thanks to the multi-lens designs. Add to this the company's knowingly trendy branding, and you have a rich mix of media.

This book-as-website approach also manifests itself in pdf magazines, a (relatively) new sub-section of contemporary publishing. Examples like pagedown, Règles:Zéro and more (we'll try and dig some up tomorrow), work within print conventions, yet can pass on the cost of stock and ink to the consumer, should they decide they want a hard copy. This makes them playgrounds for all sorts of visual experimentation.

Of course, switching directions is the natural reaction to a dominant aesthetic. Certain sites and writers seem to have taken against this new media chaos, and have decided - collectively or otherwise - to inject a little traditional class into their products.

Elsewhere: a collection of six beautiful things, all as different from each other as we could muster: I, II, III, IV, V, VI.