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Friday, November 14, 2003
On objects, values and collections. We were delighted to play a tiny role in a Curatorial Experiment at the Design Museum last night. As part of Kingston University's MA in Curating Contemporary Design, guests were invited to bring an object and assign it a value, then categorise into either 'use,' 'beauty' or 'memory'. The immensely personal things that were put forward contrasted strongly with the museum's main show, Somewhere Totally Else, The European Design Show. This was a seductive, yet strangely sterile, show, a combination of the blandly tasteless and self-conciously eclectic. It's not that the items on display weren't highly desirable or attractive - they were. But the objects - freshly manufactured and unsold - held few memories, save those constructed during the often elaborate design processes. Downstairs, despite - or perhaps because of - the familiarity and banality of many submissions, there was a genuine spark. The magic was in the labels, and the stories people told about the thing they felt compelled to bring.

Related, perhaps. Charles Cushman's Journey through the American Landscape, 1938-1969, a life in photos (via me-fi). Browse the subject index: hairstyles, raccoons, automobiles, skyscrapers, accidents, ocean liners and orangutans. Putting this kind of archive together is going to be a lot easier for the historians of the future. But with digitisation comes a loss of physicality - the fading colours, scratched negatives, frayed edges and visible frames that tell you this was once an object you could hold.

Elsewhere. Too Good to be True, the top ten scientific hoaxes. The saddest is the tale of Johann Beringer of Würzburg, who believed he had found the signature of God embedded in stones along with fossils. 'The legend is that Beringer impoverished himself trying to buy back all copies of his book, and the finds became known as lügensteine, or "lying stones".' This hoax was pre-dated by the tale of Athanasius Kircher, a renowned seventeeth century intellectual who was also somewhat eager to please. Beringer is also one of the subjects of a book by Stephen Jay Gould, The Lying Stones of Marrakech. Some more on Beringer's lügensteine.

This historic road safety poster was collected by the diligent archivists of the Framley Museum / real advertising snippets at gorgeous / the photography of Joel Sternfeld. Related: Bye bye Babar, the re-appropriation of one of Sternfeld’s images as the ‘world’s largest roadkill’ / earplug, an electronic music newsletter / urban scenes at paul's FotoPage.

The Early History of Talking Machines, simulacra and other artificial humans. Like Joseph Faber's Euphonia: "A German immigrant named Joseph Faber spent seventeen years perfecting the Euphonia, only to find when he was finished that few people cared." (via Coudal)

Laying Down the Virtual Law, 'Is there such a thing as fraud in a metaverse?' Should real world laws and economics be applied to virtual worlds? The experience of one Julian Dibbell suggests that they should: 'On April 15, 2004, I will truthfully report to the IRS that my primary source of income is the sale of imaginary goods," he states on his site, "and that I earn more from it, on a monthly basis, than I have ever earned as a professional writer.'

When we first heard about Rachel Whiteread’s Room 101 installation in the V&A's Sculpture Court, we thought it might be a re-creation of the long-lostHouse’. Instead, it's a cast of the physical space made infamous by George Orwell as a symbol of tyranny and fear. Ironically, the BBC is not only demolishing the original Room 101, but it has also happily turned fear and tyranny into a chat show / stereogum, irreverent music weblog / the fantastic Indie Rock Live has live shows by Calexico and Spiritualized to download.

Gothic-related: funeral merchandise, the photographs of Simon Marsden (via prolific). See especially haunted houses and strange portraits and disturbing details, such as the Screaming Skull of Bettiscombe Manor: 'Tales of ‘screaming skulls’ have been recorded in Somerset, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Dorset, Derbyshire, Sussex, Lancashire — indeed, in most counties of England.'

Blogdial, the Irdial weblog, which we overlooked last week / this Slower image is very godspeed you! black emperor / images from a soldier serving in Iraq / the Secret Santa is back / Mr Baldwin walks uptown, a companion piece to his Notes from 10th Street, NY, NY, written for things 15 / silly Bill.

We have two new galleries of Spain from the air.

A Curatorial Experiment