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Friday, May 30, 2003

Greyworld, urban interventions of an artistic kind (via archinect) / modular architecture debate / buy the Himmel:bra, courtesy of arch de-constructionist firm Coop Himme(l)blau. A comment on dubious architecture branding? / Avant-garde drawings at Moma, which always does excellent online exhibitions. The focus on Megastructures is particularly welcome. Raimund Abraham’s Continuous Building (1965) is awfully reminscent of THINK’s World Cultural Centre, no?

Iraqi metal vs Christian metal / London walks (I, II, III) at Swish Cottage / related: How to walk of Japan / related: friend of things Sue Barr's recent photographic exhibition at the Architectural Association on the Gaikoku Mura, or 'Foreign country village' phenomenon in Japan (link originally seen on Anglepoised). See pictures (not Sue's) here. More about theme parks in Japan.

Betacorpo, a weblog / many, many, many, many mp3 files / a brief history of Camber Sands, host to next year’s very exciting sounding ATP Festival / images of Iceland / lesser-known Norwegian photographers (via Coudal) / characteristics of beautiful faces (via Caterina).

A pinhole picture of the Aronoff Center addition ('The building is so visually complicated (and expensive) you figure there must be a good explanation for it'), designed by Peter Eisenman (good images here, Spanish text) / Brandstand, who's singing about what / pulp magazine scans (I) and elegant bookplates (I, II), both via the Daily Jive / webcams in Japan / Baghdad blogger revealed.

Thursday, May 29, 2003 has launched, a new online magazine for all creative disciplines. Speaking of which, things attended the 41st British Design & Art Direction awards last night, and wasn't hugely impressed by the results. Perhaps it's just us, but the last twelve months didn't seem to hold any creative milestones - nothing we noticed at the time and a feeling which was reflected in the lack of 'gold pencil' awards. Next year, for example, we're prepared to put big money on the hugely successful Honda Accord spot cleaning up (by Wieden + Kennedy). A few people laid the blame for the lacklustre feeling on the global slump, claiming that we're now sufficiently deep into the trough to see the result of slashed budgets and lack of inspiration up there on our screens and billboards.

Do you ever find yourself composing vaguely interesting posts, then find them metafiltered and have to scrap the lot? Oh well: Luxury to die for, website of the recently banned ads. No space for a meditation on sex, death and consumer culture, then.

Elsewhere. Hat-passing for a worthy cause that has given us much edification and amusement / an idea for a video installation on Brooklyn Bridge and desktop subversibles at Coin-Operated / Stamen is looking good at the moment, especially empty city / Obsessive Consumption, via Coudal. 'Are you in debt? Yes. Pretty far? Yes.'

The horror that is Dixons / huge collection of Douglas Adams downloads / Darth Vader made me cry / Download large chunks of Ann-Margret in lurid juvenile delinquency flick Kitten with a Whip, which just happens to feature a 1964 Chrysler Imperial Crown / all about herbs and spices, via memepool / obsessive analysis of Windows XP / Aaargh: celebrity overkill

World's tallest virtual building / NY Times magazine architecture special / visual essay on Eero Saarinen's General Motors Technical Centre, including the details that made this huge commission (‘an industrial Versailles’), such a success / the art of indexing, via Excitement Machine / a correction: our 'perfect partner' is actually incoming signals, a weblog which accompanies the radio series Where Threads Come Loose - sorry for the confusion

We have a new piece: Charles Barclay's Metallurgy and Metamorphosis, the tale of Richard Wilson's recent installation at the Wapping Project. More about Wilson here, and an image of his 20:50.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Cars, branding and product placement. Miramax is apparently touting a $35m licensing deal (one of the largest ever) for whichever car manufacturer wants to get their brand into the upcoming remake of cult radio/TV series the Green Hornet. The original series featured a heavily customised 1966 Chrysler Imperial as Black Beauty, the car-come-sidekick with a mind of its own - see 'The Incomparable Imperial for 1966,' a scan of the original brochure.

You just know that whatever company digs deep to get its new car on screen, something won't be the same. The recent Matrix Reloaded (linked, discussed, disected, practically everywhere) used Cadillacs almost exclusively. James Bond got the Ford group in a vice-like grip (or was that the other way round?), ensuring that their key brands (the Ford Thunderbird, Jaguar XKR and Aston Martin Vanquish) were prominently featured (to the exclusion of practically everything else). Thunderbird's pink-tinted marionette Lady Penelope had a famous Rolls Royce, the FAB 1, which was allegedly approved by Rolls Royce itself. In the upcoming, groaningly inevitable, live action movie, the RR branding has been dropped in favour of something else, a retro-futuristic concoction that some have likened to the automotive Thunderbird, a nice bit of not-so-subliminal product placement. Vaguely related: how do they reckon on getting a Humvee-based Mars Rover to Mars…?

Drowing in Brown is a Vincent Gallo fansite, an almost oxymoronic state of affairs given the critical pasting doled out to his latest one-man created opus, the now notorious The Affair of the Brown Bunny. With searing reviews all round ('so autistic, so painfully sincere that it goes off the so-bad-it's-good scale into something else entirely'), it seems likely to get some kind of cinematic release. Just what is it about rabbits that encourages such flights of fantasy (I, II, III)? How did the rabbit become a totem of supressed desires? Time to re-link to Danielle Olsen's rabbit-proof fence piece. And where has our favourite rabbit photo gone?

Elsewhere. Dublog is a quite excellent culture-related blog. One of many useful links was this one to AARON, a painting robot I remember vaguely from back issues of National Geographics (the NG has always been a constant: an ageless, familiar publication that lurked in school libraries, grandparents' houses and attics)

Lightcycle links to computer-art and cultural impact, including projects like Processing, with its pop-up gallery of little software toys (we like the beautiful Whip) / Social Design Notes has escaped our attention until now, a thoughtful meditation on design and media responsibility, and how the two camps surge backwards and forwards on matters ethically dubious, e.g. Toppling.

Thanks to Blogmatcher for this sudden spurt of discovery. Without trying to sound like one of those glowing testimonials you get in dating agency literature, the Blogmatcher service has thrown up all sorts of new things to see (and, according to which, Where threads come loose is our perfect partner. Try this link to a very un-Disney and off-brand moment).

Evocative posters from a more innocent era of rock and roll / covers from Ren and Stimpy comics (and video captures) / Dublog also links to the awesome-sounding Listening Post installation, the sinister fusion of instant messaging with sound and visuals / has a fun page of news hoaxes, trolls and downright forgeries amongst its encyclopaedic collection of culture-jamming.

You'll usually learn something at the Guardian's Notes and Queries site (although Private Eye's parody is usually far more inspired) / the Joy of Shards points out that they have a whole page on Barcelona, and questions the Gaudi Industry's sidelining of his mosaic collaborator, Josep Maria Jujol / Isokonplus is an all-new modernist design site for all-retro (almost) modernist furniture.

Slick CD-R covers / a found photo album / Bryan Boyer's IndyJunior transforms your mindless airmiles into an international adventure / Annoy someone: take photos in Starbucks / Caterina on Gursky / a gallery of lenticular postcards (via travelers diagram). Some of these things must have been tricky to scan.

We have two new galleries: the south-west and Barcelona architecture (the latter unforgivably drab, given the subject matter).

Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Some more about Activaire, mentioned last week in connection with the 'Scores for Stores' project. Started by Lara Wiesenthal, a DJ with an architecture degree (not a rare a combination as one might think), Activaire was intended to bring better quality music to the new breed of retail spaces that were springing up in NY. Many stores have in-house DJs (think music and fashion retailers in particular) or nationwide radio networks, and smaller boutiques often host parties and launches that are graced with live music or mixing. But that's expensive to do all the time, and it consumes vital retail space as well. Responding to architect-design boutiques, Wiesenthal aims to 'score the space as if it were a movie', providing clients with 30 hours of mp3s from the 94 artists in their catalogue.

Each space in the 'Scores for Stores' project is carefully shaped through the relevant playlist, whether it be an elevator, or a dentist ('These soothing tracks have the effect of aural novocaine, to compliment the oral novocaine.') But is this little more than upmarket Muzak? Both companies have surprisingly similar mission statements: 'Once "Background Music," now "Audio Architecture," Muzak creates experiences with music,' the South Carolina-based company's website states.

Muzak is explicitly about about control, keeping the emotions in check, or allowing them to reign free - but not too free. Muzak has known this since then 1950s, when 'Music programming went a step further .... with Stimulus Progression, the notion that the intensity of the music directly influenced employee productivity - morning, noon and night.' Muzak's MuzakVoice site is explicit: read all about 'Your On-Hold Customer', and learn how 'a blend of custom messages and music, Muzak® Marketing On Hold® will engage your callers, meet their expectations and accomplish your goals.' The background information on 'brand voicing' is also fascinating: listen to how Muzak can design a 'brand voice' for a sports store in Everywhere, USA, a bank in Salisbury (not this Salisbury) and a bright young city dentist (what is this obsession with dentists?).

Elsewhere. Retrolounge brings you 'the best of bygone eras' (thanks Patrícia) - a wonderful resource of all those galleries you meant to clip and share but never got round to / Sideline Publications, new poetry and prose / The Joy of Shards, a mosaic-centric site looked after by Rod Humby. Having spent the weekend looking at Gaudi, it was nice synchronicity to find the joy of mosaics in our in tray. More – much, much more – on ceramics at Cynthia Korzekwa’s Obliterated: I, II.

A collection of links to found things. As an experiment, we'd like to have more found objects - of any type - here at things. See here for details / Bluishorange is looking great at the moment / countries of the mind / the end of the Las Vegas Guggenheim / historic printing in the United States (via tmn / the evolution of the Alfa Romeo logo - especially this image (via Caterina). More logo evolutions: Collins, Bic, Canon, Fiat, and many, many more at

Can anyone explain why our blogger templates are suddenly months old and don't allow us to change them? Very mysterious.

Monday, May 26, 2003
Apologies for the lack of posts - normal service will resume tomorrow.

Thursday, May 22, 2003
We don't pay nearly enough attention to 990000, and our interest has been especially piqued by their link to Activaire's 'Music and Architecture' project (A collaboration with Metropolis magazine, where you can hear all the tracks. Metropolis really is one of the few print-based design publications that has really got a grip on the web). We're not in a sonic-experiment-friendly listening environment just at the moment, but our imagination has gone into overdrive.

To us, the Guggenheim NY evokes a strangely angular jazz-age composition (the Bilbao outlet makes us think of classical music, for some reason). In comparison, the Blur Building would have a semi-industrial soundtrack, the slow machinations of a band like the (now defunct?) Main, a beatless hissing and groaning that imitates the sound of steam, the feeling of being enveloped by winding pipes and machinery. Zaha Hadid's work brings to mind very fashionable German techno.

We read on the wires of the death yesterday of auto maker Alejandro de Tomaso at 75. de Tomaso was one of those inspiring small-volume manufacturers, catering mainly to the super-rich with hugely exciting cars that appealed mostly to small boys. Car details here (you'll have to click on de Tomaso - we love Cars from Italy, but it has some clever script that doesn't allow direct linking). The firm's best known car was probably the Pantera (more), but we like the quirky four-door Deauville (of which a 'single example of an estate car was built specially for De Tomaso's wife in which to transport her dogs' - being married to an car manufactur has its advantages) and the insanely beautiful Mangusta ('mongoose').

Sublimate gives us two links, one to the art of the Bromoil, a blend of the photographic process and print-making (practitioner's galleries), along with the work of a particular Bromoilist, Jukka Korhonen, who, along with some velvety-looking ruins, also takes portraits of people with their old cars.

Elsewhere. Allsport auto is an excellent resource for car images // Avant-blog, German culture weblog // photography at Fuenf-d // 99000 is a low-tech precursor of Graphics International's new website...

Wednesday, May 21, 2003
The Phantom Museum is a forthcoming publication from Profile Books. Edited by things editor Hildi Hawkins and contributor Danielle Olsen, with contributions from A.S.Byatt, Gaby Wood, Hari Kunzru and Peter Blegvad, you can read more about the book here, as well as the whole of the introduction (vaguely related, Blegvad on our need for numinous objects. More Blegvad).

Rebuilding Beirut. Unrelated - rebuilding Wembley - a flash animation of the forthcoming stadium (via the near-dormant exploding fist). One soccer stadium looks much like another to us, but upcoming designs (e.g. Herzog + de Meuron's 'bird's nest' in Beijing) promise to change all that. Much larger Beijing pictures here. More architecture - links and articles - at Kazys Varnelis's site.

Illustrator Allan Sanders has his online home at Loop-land (via Italian illustration site Slap Press) - we especially like the sketchbooks and scans ('Dear Father Christmas, I do hope you are fit and well to travel this year. I will be pleased if you bring me an action man. Allan Sanders.').

This North Korean travelogue has been getting a lot of linkage lately - there's no mention of the bizarre Ryugyong Hotel, though, an unfinished concrete ziggurat that is rapidly crumbling into nothing. More information: I, II, III.

Experimental aircraft, via Coudal. This site is a heaven for flight simulator tinkerers / Thirty emerging photographers / US vs UK / Gallery of Gorey covers (via tmn) / spoof on rave culture - very steam punk).

Tuesday, May 20, 2003
A minor sidebar redesign today, which accounts for the tardiness. And the fact that there aren't many links here to back it up.

New York public library's online Picture Collection: cockroaches, aquariums, prisons, tunnels. Digital picture libraries make us wonder: is there any point in not providing every image at 300dpi print-quality resolution right from the start? Shouldn't one just assume that the bandwidth will be there eventually? Another urban-centric project: the Altavistas, dredging unexpected streams of data from familiar parts of the city, like Heathrow. The RCA-linked project culminates in Edge Town, a hypothetical look at how data might shape the city of tomorrow.

Weblog round-up: Eintagsfliegen // asparagus_berlin // pallanoia // the abyss // Wiley Wiggins // blather. Automotive round-up: Luigi Colani // Oldsmobile concept cars // parking spots // crash-testing Bugattis // odd cars // the end of the Supercar // Dymaxion Car // Airomobile (many of these came via Sharpeworld).

So... the art collection of Saddam Hussein // design shops in the Czech Republic, e.g. modernista // a new URL for the er, slightly weird Uniform Freak - stewardesses from around the world // satellite sounds // London's new Museum of Fashion and Textiles, funded by Zandra Rhodes and designed by Ricardo Legorreta, with help from local architect Alan Camp.

More new things tomorrow, hopefully.

Monday, May 19, 2003
One of the only really good things the last Conservative government did for Britain was introduce PPG7. This innocent piece of planning legislation essentially endorsed the construction of new country houses, providing they were of 'outstanding' design quality. Of course, one man's house of outstanding quality is another man's carbuncle, but the wording didn't dictate a particular style of building, implying that support from various official bodies (e.g. the RIBA and CABE) would help you out if you wanted to be vaguely innovative. Many architects (and developers) seized the opportunity to build what is desperately needed (desperate in cultural, rather than social terms) - contemporary architecture on a grand scale, without having to resort to retro style and pastiche. Perhaps the most famous 'new country house' is (or will be) Ushida Findlay's Grafton New Hall, a collection of organic spaces awaiting construction in Chesire.

All this could be about to change (the legislation has already vanished from the official website) and the legislation altered (although whether we should be blaming the Archers is another matter). Perhaps not unfairly, it was deemed strange that so much effort should be put into constructing huge palaces for wealthy individuals when Britain's cities are crying out for quality new homes. It's true, as well, that a fair number of traditionalist designs made the most of PPG7, but even these haven't always found favour (the latter link is especially interesting - the ongoing saga of a refused and revised planning application, showing the myriad hoops one has to jump through to get anything done in this country). Architects like Robert Adam and Quinlan Terry make a very nice living out of fulfilling the rural fantasies of a select group of very wealthy people, but their buildings do at least exude a quality of construction and proportion that is sadly lacking from mass-market homes. Ultimately, it's just depressing that, a) legislation is needed to justify high quality modern design, and b), we'll never get a contemporary equivalent of Farnsworth House in this country, let alone individual houses of the quality you see in countries like Switzerland and Austria (which have both got way more dramatic landscapes to 'spoil' than here in the UK).

Elsewhere: the iconic Shell Guides - a Britain that no longer is // Lola, an art magazine from Toronto // some photographic collages at the 800 x 600 Project especially: ice, Minneapolis by night, tulips // Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv (via iconomy). Compare and contrast the site's original 30s photos with the contemporary shots in Nahoum Cohen's new book // freshly painted houses (via scrubbles) // the geometric sculptures of George Hart // art, illustration and more at the Neasden Control Centre, from where you can leap to all sorts of visual wonders: photos, Wevie Stonder, Basefield, North Manc Beds.

Friday, May 16, 2003
No more titles. Typographic harmony is hard to achieve, but we're going to abandon 'bold' text, slowly and surely, over the next few months. It was also a stretch thinking up a snappy subhead each morning without descending completely into style-magazine-ese. On to some things. The lovely thing about this cookery-related thread, and this recipe in particular, was not just that it was mouth-watering and encouraged one to start cooking immediately, but the response it received. People posted saying they were going to try the recipe as soon as possible, and one could imagine ovens and hobs being fired up in the US, in Tokyo, in Europe, all over the world, all following this single list of ingredients, all producing something delicious, yet also somehow totally different. The recipe as a form of global unifier.

Elsewhere. The Society of Architectural Historians // watches from the Seventies // the SUITALOON, wearable architecture (more Archigram)// the Truck Driver's Gear Change, a musical trick that even the tone deaf can spot themselves // auction news: the collection of John Entwhistle // design in the Czech Republic // old Ferraris // new, shinier // desert teardrops // This terrified us as children, and this terrified us as adults. Nothing changes (via this thread).

Thursday, May 15, 2003
Fast and furious

The world of Lilliput Lane (‘click on the door to enter!’) is deconstructed at Strange Harvest's essay 'Just What Is It That Makes Yesterday's Homes So Different, So Appealing?'. The piece originally appeared in Loudpaper magazine.

‘Architects aspire to mass production. Lilliput Lane aspires to be hand crafted. There is nothing architects would like more than to really be a part of the modern world and there is nothing Lilliput Lane would like more than for us not to have to be. Lilliput Lane is mass produced because it's popular, high architecture isn't because it's not.’

Staying with architecture, jetset modern’s articles make good reading, although the tales that are told are frequently depressing, such as the end of the Catalano House. We love Miami’s Bacardi Building as well. NY World’s Fair pavilion.

Some galleries. Images Online is the British Library’s new image gallery (thanks to Portage). Compare and contrast with English Heritage’s Viewfinder. Look! The Holy Grail. One hundred views of the Soldiers and Sailors Arch, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.

Christian Borchert's Family portraits at the German Photographic Library exhibit in the Miami-Dade Cultural Center. There are several other beautiful galleries, including children's books and artist's books from the GDR.

Octane is a new car magazine, seemingly aimed at rich people with fast, old classic cars // Buy Monica Vitti’s old Citroen DS, perhaps the perfect combination of style and glamour // A collection of stills from Madonna's self-censored video // A freeware lampshade, courtesy of FAT // The Bakelite and Plastic museum, thanks to fiendish word.

Wednesday, May 14, 2003
On photography

QTVR, a panorama site from Denmark, has some more Quicktime views. You can now visit virtual Denmark, a virtual version of Aarhus or the latest imagery at, such as these Heinkel bubble cars. The architecture page is also worth a visit. Amazingly, QTVR is the work of one man, the very busy Hans Nyberg.

Staying with imagery. Artnotes links to an article on the enduing mystery of Poussin's The Arcadia Shepherds, or how a symbol-laden painting came to be implicated in one of the longest-running conspiracies of them all, the search for the Holy Grail. The cult book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail sets out several speculative theories about the painting, what it means, and its connection to a parish priest in the south of France, whose sudden acquisition of inexplicable wealth and subsequent profligate spending aroused local suspicions. This is a treasure hunt, pure and simple, set against the evocative yet bloody history of the Cathars, the equally dramatic landscape, and our yearning for there to be something more to any story. Like any subject one visits online for the first time, the surfeit of material is overwhelming. Start at Templar History for ongoing discussion and links, but don't forget to take a sturdy political compass and a strong pinch of salt.

Also via Artnotes, all about Asterix, Goscinny and Uderzo's classic cartoon series. The linked essay gives some background to the books, but is primarily about the problems posed by translations (the author is Anthea Bell, who with Derek Hockridge, created the English versions of the books). In the original French, the Asterix books are rich with puns and wordplay - all names, for example, are usually derived from well-known phrases or sayings: Obelix's dog is named Idéfix - ideé fixe, or fixed idea. In English, this becomes Dogmatix - a masterly way of preserving the character's canine single-mindedness. Bell notes that the books contain some 400 proper names, all of which were changed, not to mention the problem of preserving a semblance of the orginals' cross-cultural references, accents, and national jokes.

Elsewhere (shamelessly plundered). Retrofuture, futures from the past, from fascist to socialist utopia // Richard Wilson's installation 20:50, in its old setting // urban myths in the making - the Washington windscreen mystery (via Coudal) // how to use a classic ribbon microphone (.pdf) // Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields.

An extraordinary gallery of cartoon-like, almost nightmarish 3D imagery // a beautiful light installation // images of an abandoned institution: the Hospital (flash, via tmn) // Stewart Butterfield's elegant exposition on digital media, virtual space, and the value of design // Sonic mash-ups - old news, but we especially like Freakride (.mp3), Adina Howard's classic melding with old school shoe-gazing // the Library of Congress map collections, via the cartographic obsession of the Map Room.

The Thomas Ruff montage maker, courtesy of the German photographer's (or should that be artist? Peter Conrad thinks not) current Tate Liverpool show (via the ever-excellent Conscientious) // FAFI, grafitti-like fine art // We also have three new galleries: an industrial estate, an underground car park and a flight.

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

On technological progress, perhaps. I visited a true automobile production line for the first time my life last week, seeing real robots doing welding and lifting and rotating and spraying and sticking and stamping. And it was just incredible. Like being in a movie, if the analogy didn’t seem trite and simplistic. After all, the only robots I’d ever seen were film ones, or documentary ones, doing incredible things for the benefit of the camera (of course, there’s always the possibility of entertainment being a robot’s fundamental reason for being). There's something extraordinary about an industrial robot at work - mainly because of their truly balletic sense of movement, full of precision and elegance.

Vaguely related. Top thrills at the Top Thrill rollercoaster. Defunct amusement parks (via lightningfield, who often seems to have a tatty Coney Island feel to his images). The coaster database.

There is some beautiful photography over at Daniel Blaufuks, including still lives, the Saarinen TWA Terminal and more. We also like the elegiac images in 'Rejected', people 'refused an entry visa into Portugal during WWII'

Elsewhere. Rapatronic photography // The Solipsistic Gazette, formerly Speckled Paint // Bug photos // 70s/Air style graphic splashes // A palace for pets, complete with 'a pet acupuncture and massage room, two large outdoor doggie play yards and a luxury wing complete with televisions.'

The Daily Jive points you to American steam trains that survive. We show you the ones that didn’t make it (e.g. this A.H.Smith #5).

Monday, May 12, 2003

A lifeline to traditionalists, or the dangers of radical architecture. It seems that a workplace shooter, that scourge of contemporary American society, found himself holed up in a very unconventional building - Frank Gehry's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland. This made the SWAT team's job very difficult indeed:

The standoff took place inside one of the more idiosyncratic buildings in the country. The $61.7 million Weatherhead School of Management was designed by the architect Frank Gehry and opened for this past school year. It is characterized by the jagged, polished metal surface and odd shapes that are prominent in Mr. Gehry's designs.

That made for a "constant cat-and-mouse game," said Chief Edward Lohn of the Cleveland police, with SWAT team members exchanging gunfire with the suspect as he ran to different floors, peeking and firing around corners.

"There are no right angles in the building," Chief Lohn said at a news conference late tonight, shortly after the suspect was taken into custody.

Thanks to kottke for the original link. Greg also links to the building's floorplans, which inspires a Google gallery. An analysis of architecture and crime would be an interesting exercise in pop-psychology. Do unconventional angles, visual confusion and floorplans that defy logic incite violence?

Elsewhere. World's most famous sculpture stolen. Gold, pricey, compact. Michael Jackson probably has it // The world’s most beautiful voyage // several well-known weblogs linked in last week's Guardian // Conscientious is a wonderful photography-based weblog, with a good eye for New European photography. See, for example, the eerie empty interiors of Candida Höfer // Old Irish Posters is probably aimed at theme pubs // Modern buildings in NY, via Gawker (someone, I think it was at Plasticbag, once mused about starting a London equivalent of Gawker. A good idea).

Modblog is a low-tech collection of links to mid-century and design-related things // Computer history, Swiss style // Society Review, a high-faluting title for what appears to be a smarter version of magazines like T3 and Stuff. Less Walmart-bothering imagery, though // Graphomaniac is an online magazine of new writing // PIN's collection of enamel badges, which are rather endearingly all put on a scanner and, well, scanned.

Apologies for the intermittent posting regime. A spot of travel combined with lack of access to clever weblog-on-the-move tools effectively puts newthings at the mercy of needing traditional things like a desk, computer and phone line to keep up to date. And there's some tree-felling at things today - necessary, but nonetheless emotionally difficult.

We have a new article - Peter Davidson's musing on the age old art of spar-box making. Some spar-box links: I, II, III.

Thursday, May 08, 2003
Fries to go

Just healthy, snackable links today. Archidose provides a weekly critique of a new building or project - a valuable service (via Coudal, which had a tricky moment yesterday. Coudal also links to Prospect, a New Urbanist community in action).

In America, a lack of cupholders apparently makes the MINI lose out in the popularity stakes. Here in the UK, cup-holders aren’t seen as quite so important. If at all (although some cars, have as many as 17). Perhaps it's because our cups are so much smaller...

The shape of things to come? Stockwell Park is a community website that actually lets you go house to house and see who lives where, even what they do. Imagine this kind of thing scaled for the whole of London, a hyper-textual phone directory. For now, the site seems to be exploited best by estate agents.

Fine furniture at the oddly named Chinese Jesus // Great illustrations // Private model railways // The end of Taliesin Architects? // Unique clocks (related: a sale of the late Teddy Hall's historic clocks. We especially like his Littlemore Clock, the world's most accurate pendulum clock, which had a 12 ton concrete base to counter inaccuracies created by shifting tree roots) // Imformation as Material, art publishers and more.

Tart Art, a .pdf magazine // Reservocation, a design magazine // Dinosaur books (related: dinosaur short story) // Basko, illustration and children's books // Recycling old industrial buildings // The photography of Karl Blossfeldt // Communication, an interactive piece.

Instant Ballard. We have a new photo gallery: a caravan park.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

We’ve been thinking a lot about new cities, new societies, utopias and more, thanks to a couple of posts that caught our eye. First of all, No Sense of Place urges you to support Christiania, the proto-commune established on the outskirts of Copenhagen and currently being eyed up by all manner of developer types - it seems that the wharves and warehouses that make up the commune are now valuable real estate. We've never visited, but it seems really quite smokey, all very well if that's your idea of a utopia. Friends say that the no hard drugs rule is openly flouted, which is sad but not great a surprise. Still, the all-bicycle transport is commendable.

More anti-modernist yet wholly urban rhetoric can be found at James Howard Kunstler's website (which we found via Lightningfield). We especially like the paintings (more) - they have something of the Stuckist about them. Kunstler is something of an anti-modernist - although to be fair his eyesore of the month section is very even-handed. He has written several books (I, II, III) that take issue with contemporary urbanity, their dead spaces, homogeneity, cooker-cutter modernism, auto-centric design and general disrepect for the human condition. We'd be interested to read more, although the Amazon reviews note that he pays constant homage to the wholly romantic notion that is New Urbanism, which might start to grate a little. As for the conference that David cited - we need that kind of thing in the UK.

Elsewhere. The people at Inventory have pointed us towards Fierce Sociology, their new website. I take photos // Apple II galleries // found things (Although the act of scanning, cropping and posting images online surely makes them different - no longer found, but somehow presented?) // Vintage Consumer Reports // The Barn Journal ('dedicated to the appreciation and preservation of traditional farm architecture') // Canadian Prairies // Half Empty - visual culture.

Playmobil tarot (via muxway) // Anti SUVs // Acclaimed Music // TV idents (via Sharpe) // The sheer banality of golf // Stop Motion Studies. People constantly search this site for pictures of Nigella Lawson. And vacuum cleaners. Constantly.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Clear blue skies

A swift print review, in amongst the frenzy. Carlos is the new magazine distributed to passengers who travel with Virgin Atlantic's Upper Class service (we found it in a newsagent, not our seat-back pocket, we hasten to add). With untreated, raw paper covers, monochrome illustrations and emphasis on type and tactility, Carlos embodies what one might call the new humbleness - a sort of deliberate anti-glossiness. It reminds us of McSweeney's for its effortless appearance, although this is disingenuous, as both are of course just as contrived as the glossiest of fashion quarterlies.

There's a great journal called Inventory - ‘a thoroughly independent sporadical journal of material culture and maverick thought' - that could almost be said to have pioneered the casual brown paper look (buy it here). (An aside - turn to page 44 of the only issue we can lay our hands on (Vol 2., No.2, 1997), (which was edited by Neil Cummings, author, with Marisa Lewandowska of The Value of Things (reviewed, incidentally, in things 14) and we find From Soane to Soane, a walk across London from Sir John Soane’s family mausoleum to his museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields, taking in a critique of Pollock's Toy Museum along the way, evoking surrealists and metaphysicists alike, Ernst, Cornell, de Chirico. Such a large city, so many crossing paths).

Why does brown paper and hand-written or chunky type seem so 'authentic'? The new humbleness's most obvious visual reference is the playbill, produced in a raw hot metal typographic style that found fresh favour in the counter-cultural design of the 1960s (think of Mr Kite) and periodically re-surfaces as an antidote to the purported sterility of computer-centric design. Chicago's great Fireproof Press (gallery) did a similar thing with music packaging, infusing LP covers with a rough and ready look that rubbed off on the music.

The plain brown cover is the traditional sheath of discretion, concealing all manner of socially unacceptable materials - pornography or alcohol, for example. So just how has the brown wrapper come to symbolise upmarket integrity? Carlos is produced by John Brown Citrus Publishing (who also produce a rather nice magazine for the Dorchester hotel). It's a far cry from therapy, the mass-market inflight magazine for mass-market travellers (Virgin's former inflight magazine was called Hot Air, which bit the bullet a year or so ago). Carlos makes explicit reference to both fanzine and high art culture, describing itself as 'innovative yet old-fashioned'. Dazed offshoot Another Magazine took a similar approach with its 'literary' section in the heart of the magazine, deliberately at odds with the high style of the fashion surrounding it. Look for traditional consumer publishing to follow suit.

Elsewhere. We’re big fans of Julian Opie, especially the Imagine You Are series and his landscapes. His is an art that lends itself well to screensavers, and we suppose that's a compliment. Some para-military chic, via cheesedip. Illustration from Cindy Kim, reminds us of Lucinda Rogers. An utterly insane roller coaster. The Motoring Picture Library.

Sunday, May 04, 2003
Near-permanent Bank Holidays

Bugs and Beasties at Spamula (thanks to Caterina). A truly wonderful weblog. Armed only with a scanner, Mr H delves into the myriad wonders of the visual world: physiognomy, art-forms in nature, star charts, Chuck Jones. It’s the delight in the visual and the sheer quality of the writing (and the images) that marks this site out (see all the image scan posts on one page). Like a modern-day version of the medieval illustrated manuscript, the site amazes through sheer visual erudition.

We haven’t visited Consumptive for a while, but it was well worth it as there are some nice cross-overs with things things. First of all, links to these two Joseph Beuys pieces, 7000 oaks (see the plan of the oak installation in NYC) and Beuys/Logos, a ‘hyper-essay’. Click here to read Hannah Andrassay’s ‘Just do It,’ about Beuys’s Multiples series.

Secondly, Consumptive also highlights this excellent gallery of Frank Hurley’s photography on the Ernest Shackleton exhibition. Read Laurel Blossom’s Tchotke Shlock, which looks at the tacky side of selling the story of one of the world's great feats of endurance to the public. From Hurley’s diary, October 26, 1915:

At 6 p.m., the pressure develops an irresistible energy. The ship groans and quivers, windows splinter, whilst the deck timbers gape and twist. Amid these profound and overwhelming forces, we are the absolute embodiment of helpless futility. This frightful strain is observed to bend the entire hull some 10 inches along its length.

From the unknown mysteries of an icy world, to other persistent uncertainties. Bigfoot is apparently back, although for some, it never went away. Enter the strange world of Cryptozoology, generally shunned by mainstream zoology (and science). This is a shame, as the Cryptozoology sites tend to be a fine source of not only contemporary myth and legend, but historic tales of monstrous and impossible creatures. For example, this link to a NYT story on dragons and their international ubiquity, in one form or another. Dragons, it seems, have been occupying the darker corners of the human psyche since Sumerian times, and were subsequently popularised by Pliny until they were cemented in the popular imagination. One can only imagine the impact the first dinosaur bones had on a dragon-fearing populace - the way such beasts were frequently depicted as living in caves, for example, the source of many major fossil finds. Yet again, how did such well-honed tales as that of the Lambton Worm come into being? Some further reading.

Elsewhere. The usual collection of me-fi sourced links - a lovely triumverate, in fact. The Microcar Museum. Scarce Dinky Toys, and the virtual matchbox labels museum. There was also a great link about pens, but that breaks the triptychal symmetry. Viewing this site in Netscape still looks a bit like David Carson did it. Except it's not cool at all.

The phonograph up there on the sidebar is one of Edisons, and comes from the Office Museum. Strangechord is an elegant weblog, with a nice idea buried within it: 'all the places I’ve lived in Fairfield, Iowa'

Thursday, May 01, 2003
Image is everything

We love advertising archives like Adflip, but are naturally too mean to actually subscribe to them. Ad*Access is, as far as we can tell, free, so it gets our vote. Better still, perhaps, are Taschen's decade by decade collections: 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.

Paperboynews will sell you old ads if you need the physical evidence in your hands. We've always been slightly suspicious of this particular line of business - hovering on the fringes of markets and offering rack upon rack of nicely framed 'original' prints - i.e. advertisements sliced from old magazines, cheaply mounted in a cardboard frame and bagged in clear plastic. Easy money. If you just like to watch, Retromedia has stacks of old TV commercials. Staying with galleries. Vintage camera adverts (and more and more).

If you’re in San Jose, play Monopoly in the Park, the world's largest version of the world's most infuriating board game (see here for details on the various global editions). Here's hoping you can still secrete a couple of extra 500's under the board when you think no-one's looking, and that property deals conducted behind the banker's back are still valid.

Elsewhere. Quirky Japan and Hidden London, as a service to global tourists. Web-based art and design projects at Practise (sic - no! our mistake...). Molgam make t-shirts, bacteria optional, we hope. Tranquility is a psychedelic computer game (images: I, II, III).

Some pages (I, II, III) from Het boek van PTT, a promotional book created for the Dutch postal company in 1938. (From the same page, this beautiful Raymond Loewy lithograph). Amphicar, 'the car that swims' - a brief history of these amazing machines, with a wholly deserved cult following (more). The Virtual Talking Machine, 'devoted to vintage music from the early decades of the 20th century, blends the crackly sounds of the big band era with period graphics and style.