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Wednesday, August 06, 2003
We're seduced by Montreal's Maisonneuve Magazine, subtitled 'eclectic curiosity', which bills itself as the 'new New Yorker of the younger generation'. As well as looking good, there are articles on all sorts of pertinent, things-like topics. We especially liked Natalie Alvarez's Are you for real?, which tracks the rise of stealth and viral marketing and the role of the 'brand leaner'. The article mentions Big Fat, a company which claims to specialise in 'Real Life Product Placement,' - 'in other words... we infuse brands into the target's life without disrupting their everyday, normal behaviour.' They also claim to be 'more play dough than Plato,' a not-so-subtle allusion to Alvarez's horrified realisation that Big Fat's methods - infusing their clients into everyday scenarios - might, conceivably, be the rule, rather than the exception.

This is Truman Show stuff, the desire for authenticity in an artificial world, and the consequent creation of faux 'authenticity' to exploit our desire for some kind of physical and psychic truth. Alvarez also references the Histriomastix, William Prynne's vast 1632 tome that embodied the Puritan worldview by decrying the 'debased' world of the theatre, published at a time when women were making their first, tentative, steps on the stage (and dismissed as 'notorious whores'). Is a new Puritanism our only escape from a world without authenticity?

The concept of the performance without boundaries, or the paratheatrical, brings to light the frightening possibility that human beings might be other than what they present themselves to be, that the eye might not be continuous with the soul-jeopardizing trust and challenging any confident appeals to truth. The health of the state and safety of the social order vitally depend on a limitation of the paratheatrical. These Puritans were threatened by the seemingly limitless possibilities that the idea of the actor implies - leading to a dystopian vision of the future quite similar to that of Big Fat's critics.

Elsewhere. We had high hopes for Labels at the Edge of Obscurity - potentially hours of fun for indie rock obscurists - but every single link is broken! At least it gives you something to search for / big black cloud / the aerial photography of Jason Hawkes / a gallery of covers for the CIA World Factbook (actual Factbook link), via dublog. It's a shame that the Factbook didn't start back in the 50s or 60s, back when designers with buzz-cuts and short sleeve shirts knew how to project national strength, virtue and sheer righteousness through graphic design, dammit. As it is, most of these look like knock-offs from various science picture libraries.

Three good things at Sachs Report: the Boombox Museum, chronicling the rise and fall of the ultimate portable hi-fi (we especially want a Casio KX-101 or a CK-200). In fact, we still have one of these - a treasured gift some 21 years ago. (more boomboxes. more magical gadgets). Also related: the LED museum, all you ever wanted to know about light emitting diodes.

Also at Sachs, the world of Vinyl Video, and a gallery of Japanese vending machines. Staying with technology, new and old diaphanous projection screens made of fog / prototype bicycle-driven machines at Pedal Power / chill out at H.R.Giger's new Giger Bar (if you're the type of person that can relax in the belly of a giant alien beast, that is), via Gravity Lens / does an old Belgium movie show the real Van Gogh? Does Salon mention a website that is impossible to find? Not sure to both of those questions.

Light Trap is a photography portfolio site, including the architectural/abstract images of Tom and Matt Buttrick and, best of all, Neil Gardiner's photographic essays on contemporary brightwork, a much-debased artform, and signage. We also like Tanya Clarke's neat homepage.

Explore custom pre-fabricated homes at New York's Resolution: 4 Architecture / buy products adorned with Pulp Art / hot rod art by our namesake at Ole Heap / angry robots by Christian Ristow.

Apologies for today's late posting. Blame the weather for the go-slow. A little bit more about the last two photolog images (1 and 2). The abandoned asbestos (actually the asbestos-like amianthus, or 'earth flax') mine at Navari, Cap Corse, closed in the mid 1960s. The spoil from the mine destroyed the nearby coast (the beach at nearby Nonza, coloured grey by the pollution, is still shut) and devasted the health of many who worked there (culled from the Rough Guide. More info mining history, in French (pdf), and this pdf with images of the environmental impact of mining).