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Monday, June 30, 2003
Salon's take on David Beckham seems to miss the point somewhat. It fails to mention his gay icon status in any detail, a status which makes the footballer a hugely more complex cultural symbol than a mere pretty blonde with a 'Jesus complex.' Also missing, the fact that he's frequently portrayed as somehow subservient to his apparently ambition-hungry wife, or even the most heinous charge - that he's extremely stupid. When Jonathan Key tackled Beckham (if you'll pardon the pun) back in things 9, it was a look at an earlier incarnation of the icon, Beckham in the pre-Posh era, a younger, more innocent symbol of a different age.

Last year's Serpentine pavilion, designed by Toyo Ito, is being erected in the big empty spaces that surround Battersea power station, for some reason. Perhaps it's going to be used as a sales pavilion for the endlessly delayed redevelopment? Pictures when we remember to take them. An excellent gallery of the Ito pavilion construction is available at 0lll.com (they've also tackled this year's pavilion, designed by Oscar Niemeyer, with a series of dazzling Quicktime panoramas).

Images of Prada Tokyo: I, II, III, IV, which seems to have eschewed the tricksy technological approach of the Koolhaas store in New York. Instead, it's 'a six-story, free-standing mirror of the Prada gestalt' (although we think it looks a bit like a great big piece of bubble wrap). This is architecture as retail hegemony, a Trojan horse for a brand that doesn't even have a web prescence. (Even more images at dezain.net. We have a gallery of Herzog + de Meuron's latest London building, the Laban Dance Centre, coming very soon). All this via archinect.


Architecture of such complexity and detail could be built only in Japan, where the tradition of precision construction (not to mention an obsession with shopping) thrives. One noted Japanese architect, who attended the party but asked not to be named, added that such a structure - basically a cage of glass expensive to heat and cool - had more symbolic than practical meaning.


Elsewhere. No flesh, naughty pictures, with all the, er, naughty bits removed (not really safe for work, even so) / the future we were promised... (via Uren.Dagen.Nachten, who also points to vintage side show banners, an apparently authentic collection of the art of the carny, mostly depicting ladies with curious powers: Fifi, Mona and Electra)/ the imaginary world of Dan Goodsell / scanned people.

ACME was the company who provided the Coyote's fiendish traps, so it's a delight to find a link to this huge illustrated catalogue of their fiendish products (via Kottke). No prices, though, which is a shame, as some of these would be very handy, e.g. the ACME Atom Re-Arranger, which 'can change a large construction vehicle into a strange dinosaur-type creature', or the Do-it Yourself Tornado kit / vaguely related, the gallery of obscure patents (both links also found their way onto me-fi, as most things are wont to do).

The Phenakistoscope (1832), by 'Belgian inventor' Joseph Plateau, 1832 / somewhat ambitious peace plan, an imaginary map to end all imaginary maps / more lands that don't exist - imaginary animal islands (also, zoom in on Japan / Robert Smithson's Imaginary Map / how to prune trees.


Friday, June 27, 2003
Not many links today, just a big sigh of relief that this redesign is finally up and running. Apologies for all broken links and missing content (please, email us with details of any anomalies). First of all, you'll see that searching the site and buying back issues are not there just yet - bear with us...

We have some new content: Carly Svamvour's Pot of Clover. Recent stories have also been redesigned (some with added images), as has the archive. The photography galleries have a shiny new look, and there are a couple of (huge) thumbnail pages for the first two photologs: here and here. The 'what's new?' page is somewhat laughable at the moment.

In other news, things 17 is now scheduled for September 2003 - slightly late, but, like the late Douglas Adams, we're fond of the sound that deadlines make as they whoosh past us.

Elsewhere. A few links. Retroglobe's 'boring postcards' site really is far from boring. The archive keeps getting bigger and bigger, and lovers of Scandinavian post-war modernism will find much to delight them. They also host this astounding advert, proving that even 'enlightened' Scandinavian countries had a fair crack at being politically incorrect.

The paintings of Thomas Cole, American landscape artist. We found this in connection with re-jigging Tim Horan's Empire City review from issue 13.


Thursday, June 26, 2003
Food things (we're so late today it's nearly supper time). Recipe Source - handy collection of links / A useful roast dinner FAQ for cooking fools / old cookery books at girlygirlclothing.com / The Neighborhood Forager, 'A Guide for the Wild Food Gourmet' will teach you how to make Elderflower champagne / Cookin' with Google - bung in the ingredients, and see what the miracle search engine suggests (also new at Google - an enhanced toolbar).

Elsewhere. The tale of Henry Wellcome's trip to the Sudan, told in full with lavish illustrations. Particularly pertinent given that Medicineman: The Forgotten museum of Henry Wellcome opens today at the British Museum - an absolute must-see for fans of bizarre and beautiful medical collections. Find out more about the accompanying publication, The Phantom Museum.

Toy taxis / the guitar broker has lots of beautiful guitars to sell you / looks like the pro-cork wine traditionalists will soon have another thing to be up in arms about: the Self Cooling Animated Wine Bottle. Funnily enough, this very concept - that of an animated wine label with a little glossy movie showing the vineyard of origin - was mentioned in passing in Paul Shepheard's excellent Artificial Love ('A story of Machines and Architecture'). A wonderful book.

Some pictures of Highgate Cemetery / Some pictures of Nunhead Cemetery (especially these) / keep up on current robotics trends at Android World / postcard galleries of the Paris floods of 1910.

Fiat is still in trouble. You can almost hear the whole of Europe screaming at them to go back to what they're best at, and build something like the SMART but with added Fiat cheekiness. Like what? Like one of these, perhaps?


Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Some house-keeping. Apologies for the recycled photolog and the general lack of new pieces. There are a couple of articles lined up, but redesigns are taking up most of our time. We've stumbled on some fine links while attempting to bolster up captions and enhance images, though. Visit the website of artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov (read their 'Punishment of Household Objects' in things 10) to see a comprehensive catalogue of their neo-constructivist art. We also discovered that Magnum has Elliot Erwitt's entire Dogdogs archive online, all 488 pictures! Read our review, also from things 10.

Imber is an abandoned village in Wiltshire, taken over by the army in WWII for training purposes, and never given back. The village was always remote, located in the centre of Salisbury Plain, and every year the remaining evicted residents make a lonely pilgrimage to its fourteenth century church (which is now Grade I listed) for a special service. We're intrigued by the sound of this concert, by the Georgian composer Giya Kancheli. It's being held in the village itself during August, and involves a male voice choir and the Matrix Ensemble (who often back Ute Lemper) and sounds utterly wonderful.

This Wired article on the X-prize (a topic I'm sure we've mentioned before) was fascinating. What was most intriguing was the description of the various 'geeks' (read, contemporary CEOs) hoping to be amongst the first civilians in space, and how amassing their vast fortunes has essentially been a means to an end - a way of buying themselves into orbit. These are the true children of the space age, the ones who were playing with plastic rockets when Neil Armstrong crackled onto the world’s TV sets. Amazon's Jeff Bezos goes further: '[his] biographer Robert Spector thinks Bezos's life goal is to "amass enough of a personal fortune to build his own space station."'

Elsewhere. Stamen on Lars Muller's Helvetica (which he features in, apparently. Our review coming soon). Stamen also has some beautiful time-lapse floral photography (which gave us an idea for a not-quite-good-enough google gallery) / more art history lessons at Giornale Nuovo, this time on the work of Richard Dadd / the art of Natalie d'Arbeloff / Mysterium, a weblog with an admirably bookish slant.

The crazy world of Johnny Spencer (via me-fi), which has a Raymond Pettibon-ish edge / sonic pop rayguns (via muxway / in a similar vein, the cosmic liquidator / Parisian street names / State Ends, where highways terminate (both via the freshly re-upholstered Coudal). The latter site could be so much more interesting. The English model for ending roads - usually B-roads that are superseded by a broader, faster swathe of tarmac - is to turn the original winding road into a layby, a leafy dead-end that you can see, but no longer travel down.


Tuesday, June 24, 2003
If BookSleuth can't help, we recommend you try Whichbook, an ongoing experiment in automatic reading recommendation. Adjust the sliders to your personal tastes (and don't let other people adjust the sliders for you).

The Twilight of Packaging, a piece at Pitchfork on the nearly, but not quite, lost art of packaging records in a seductive manner: ‘Record packaging, when it's done right, is about fantasy, not unlike videos…. It's something apart from the actual music that gives you ideas about what you're hearing, an attempt to bring other senses to bear on something that is at bottom about sound only.’

My Architect: A Son’s Journey is Nathaniel Kahn’s documentary about his father, Louis. Some images: I, II, III, IV. Here's hoping this gets some kind of UK TV showing.

Elegant retro lights at Stella Christie / new car-technology discussed in Wired: the perils of too much in-car entertainment, and the mutation of a Trabant (related: artistic thought process) / The Eyes Have It, 'visual communications in the pharmaceutical, biotech and healthcare sectors' / City of Sound, excellent design weblog.

Victorian future visions (via caterina). Or you could try retrospectively applying the gift of foresight to the Victorian era, which is known as 'steam punk' (as opposed, etc., to 'cyber punk'). Steam punk role-playing game aficionados have created a vivid parallel world (see Space 1889, Steam Punk 1920 and Zeppelin Age). A world where the British Empire still prevails, and late nineteenth century Mars expeditions have vastly accelerated technological development. As ever, scratch the surface, and whole new worlds open up. This Steampunk website is subtitled 'Victorian Adventurers in a Past that Wasn't', and links to such sites as Mechanical Marvel of the Nineteenth Century, the 'story' of Boilerplate, a mechanical man developed in 1893... (and somehow rediscovered by graphic artist Paul Guinan).

Contemporary artists books and monographs at Bookstorming / rock band photography by Toby Morris / racoon, a scavenging weblog (with a mix CD exchange program) / online writing workshop at stating the obvious / Dominion, a new Canadian paper, available online / Balkon, a contemporary art magazine from Romania.

Lest we forget, Prince Charles' A Vision of Britain (which resulted in this: Poundbury village, just outside Dorchester. We went to Poundbury for the first time a few months ago and it wasn't that bad, but there was a total absence of handy things like corner shops and the 'signature buildings' were, by and large, mediocre) / more new-as-old architecture: the controversy surrounding the re-building of a church in the former East Germany / crumbling St Petersburg, which describes the communal apartments (where 900,000 live) as 'the curse of the city'.

Fun with flash, which links to Romanian design sites / Isolate (Czech Republic) links to more Eastern European ‘visual resources’ / the world's fastest sedans / Swiss, the world's best-designed airline struggling /

Memo to self: don't attempt a website redesign when you have lots of other things to do as well. New(ish) look some time soon.


Monday, June 23, 2003
We liked this essay by occasional things contributor Jane Stevenson (see 'Talking Taxis', 'Meeting in Pisa', 'Past Masters' and Country Living') on BookSleuth, the service from ABEbooks that relies on half-remembered details and sketchy cover descriptions. The site makes for fascinating reading, confirming Stevenson’s conclusion that we cannot define exactly what makes a book stick in our heads, with children's memories even more vivid and influential than adults': 'particular illustrations that shape the later adult’s basic perceptions of horror or enchantment, sentences or scenarios, which invisibly inform the responses of their adult life.' After all, books are things, objects which we remember visually just like any other, through shapes, fragments, colours and textures. The (voyeuristic thrills) of the recently solved page is a testament to the power of slight recall becoming total: 'I seem to remember pen & ink illustrations of the junkman in a torn sleeveless undershirt.'

Something I didn't know - that the incredible 'active' façade of Jean Nouvel’s seminal 'Institut du Monde Arab has not been working for seven years. As Lightingfield says, 'techno-architectural fraud.' Any other good examples of overly-clever or ambitious design that manifestly failed to fulfil its intended function? London's BT Tower springs to mind, a revolving restaurant that no-one can now get into (great views, sadly. Some more images: I, II). Or the restaurant at the top of Gateshead's car park; never opened, never used.

Elsewhere. The Miffy recipe game / the golden age of the industrial musical (via scrubbles) / Nightphotographer (via solipistic), which seems to entail driving out into the desert and setting up long exposures, with beautiful results / early American railroad maps (via footprints) / Hell's Highway, all about public safety films.

After Friday’s magic Virgins, visit the Fortean Times simulacra page. Our forays into the unexplained attracted the attention of one Sean Alonzo, who is keen for us to highlight his occult fiction, which explores 'symbolism, alternative history, philosophy, secret societies and other areas of the esoteric tradition.'

Interesting, but not essential, chronicle of recent London-based performance art projects. We're hopelessly damaged by relentless exposure to student-grade performance art while at art college, and I fear this has permanently damaged our appreciation of the genre. Nice picture of a Citroen SM, though / provocative works at Bad Press Books.

All change. Sharpeworld goes off on extended vacation, Coudal re-arranges, and haddock changes (as does blogger). Happily, Portage is threatening to come back with all guns blaring, and it's about time we stuck wood s lot on the sidebar.


Friday, June 20, 2003
We just love found religious iconography. This chemical stain is similar in nature to the Caravan Park Christ reported a few years ago. I must say that the Caravan Park Christ is/was a bit more convincing than the Weeping Chemical Virgin Mary. Last year, while sat at the back of a small country church for a wedding, I saw an exact ‘face of Christ’ in the stonework at the left hand side of the aisle – a face that was a dead ringer for the Turin Shroud, etc. etc. As soon as the service ended, I walked up to the image, only to find it was visible solely from my seat, due to the oblique angle of the wall and the arrangement of stains and blobs that made up the 'face'. For a few minutes, it was genuinely unsettling. There's more weirdness, courtesy of the Coast to Coast image gallery, but some of these pictures are sadly rather dull.

Elsewhere. Pop Politics, which is unsurprisingly where politics and popular culture meet / weblogs: Sorehead, cloudiness.com, both worth a look (we're a mine of fascinating miscellany, oh yes) / y2karl is creating a series of informative architectural posts at metafilter, the first in the series being Greek Temple Architecture / monsters at Chesil Beach, lurking under the pebbles, no doubt.

We saw Menlo Park last night at the Hoxton Hall, an extraordinary gig at an extraordinary venue. Reviews of earlier shows. Not to be confused with Menlo Park Recordings, or even the Californian town of Menlo Park / cryptome, a huge database of crypotography musings / girlhacker on William Heath Robinson / A Week of Kindness at Giornale Nuovo. Also, Mr H's post on The Town Where I Live is intriguing for the absence of a specific location. Some swift detective work would probably locate it in an instance, but the addition of mystery enhances the (stock photo) images.

The Wiltshire town of Swindon's magic roundabout (via solipistic). A road builder's nightmare, not to mention the problems it would give novice drivers. First and foremost, this image reminded us of crop circles, which are, broadly speaking, also a Wiltshire-based phenomenon. Crop cicles have long since entered the file marked 'nice try', although some continue to dispute this. Perhaps Swindon's disgruntled town planners sneak out at night to create the designs? For most people, 'magic roundabout' evokes the classic television series (currently being merchandised (or should that be re-merchandised), to death, like most children's television of the era. It's also rumoured to be a ghastly new film).

Finally. A quote from a Building Design piece by Robert Booth on country houses. The architect Anthony Browne's house for Nicholas van Hoogstraten, Hamilton Place is mentioned. Of course, Hoogstraten is now in prison, and the architect's verdict is telling: "'I resigned when I realised he'd killed another client of mine,' Browne recalls, referring to the killing of business associate Mohammed Raja." The article describes Hamilton Place as 'audacious', which is diplomatic to say the least.


Thursday, June 19, 2003
Copernica is a gallery of art commissioned by NASA (whose main website appears to have had a bit of an overhaul). We found this via Art Notes, and it's important to note that these are artistic, not technical impressions. The images in Copernica don't necessarily have a scientific purpose; instead, they document a specific event, a piece of machinery, an activity. Throughout the decades, and certainly before the dawn of the computer graphics age, NASA has been well aware of the power of a picture.

Back in the golden days of the space age, artists were beavering away in studios all over America creating visions of the future (a future that never came? We recommend Where's my space age? for those who still feel vaguely misled). When art met raw futurism, the results were frequently spectacular. Science fiction illustrators were deployed to full effect by the space agency - just look at these images of cylindrical space colonies, images that wouldn't really work as computer renders, they need the human touch. (That last link is a bit of a find. Homo Excelsior bills itself as a 'peer-reviewed Memetic Scientific and Technical Encyclopedia', a guide to future thinking through art, biology, philosophy, geology, etc. etc. We shall be returning.) In comparison, today's concept drawings seem a bit soulless.

The godfather of space art was one Chesley Bonestell, who is well represented online: Bonestell.org, Bonestellgallery.com, Bonestell.com. Works like Mr Smith Goes to Venus (from March 1950. Clearly related to this) melded out of this world imagery with everyday reality, creating a wholly believable tomorrow (check the drawing of Venusian travel brochures, for example). Bonestell-style art was used extensively by NASA to create interest in future projects.

All this musing brought us to this site, Dreams of Space, sub-titled 'space art in children’s books 1950s to 1970s'. A huge and utterly fabulous compendium of the way the interstellar dream was presented to the world's youth (there are Russian and European examples as well as American works on display), the site is divided into five sections: imagination, pre-flight, countdown, lift off and flight and touchdown. The titles are wondrous: 'Show me the world of space travel', 'We read about rockets and how they work', and the texts contain a rich seam of optimism: 'Perhaps when you are grown up, rockets will be as common as airplanes are now. Then you and all your friends will be space travelers. Rockets away!’ Some of our favourite pictures from the site: I, II, not forgetting the poignant 'monkey in the rocket' (does that illustrator have a famous namesake?).

Elsewhere (a things celebrity special). Recliners designed by the cast of Friends. Compare and contrast with the homes of the Friends, as linked by travelers diagram. And all this appeared on the same day as tmn linked this bittersweet piece about David Schwimmer fighting against the heady tide of celebrity association. Back to the houses: Courtney Cox Arquette's pad is a 1979 house by John Lautner (as cited in this article and elsewhere, although you'll struggle to find any actual photos of the house in InStyle) - we guess that it's the Segel Residence. Lautner's best-known building is probably the Chemosphere, perched on an LA hillside and now owned by maverick publisher Benedikt Taschen (who lets you spy on Parisian customers sneaking a glimpse of his saucy backlist).

Listen to venerable architects talk! (via me-fi) / the MOBs, a kind of technology-assisted, ultra-perplexing, non-confrontational mass behaviour experiment / nude as the news, an extensive collection of music reviews (slightly more mainstream than Pitchfork Media), and includes contributions by the polymathic Piero Scaruffi, whose own site, Scaruffi.com, is one of the wonders of the internet / weird / redesigned catwoman.

What makes Tokyo a continually compelling yet utterly baffling urban experience? Part 1 and 2 / the history of the Daiwa House, a Japanese pre-fab / visit the glossy space galleries at Novaspace, just the place for big posters of star maps and the like.


Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Links to many painters and illustrators, most of whom are working in a contemporary neo-classical style / ferro cement homes (via traveler’s diagram. These invoke the spirit of Barbapappa. See also Peter Vetsch’s earthhouses / many, many penny postcards: New Mexico, South Dakota, etc. There are some real beauties here: I, II, III, IV the art of Albert Oehlen / strangeness at Bovine Inversus.

Behind the search terms with Google's Zeitgeist and the Lycos 50 / revisiting Roswell, Popular Mechanics tries (and fails) to lay one of the twentieth century's most enduring myths to rest. There are good accompanying photos that manage to convey the sheer volume of physical printed data in storage:

Government paperwork, however, is immortal. Once a Roswell file was created it became a collection bin for all sorts of UFO-related material. Eventually, the collection moved to a climate-controlled archive in College Park, Md., about a half-hour drive east of Washington, D.C. And there the files would have remained undisturbed were it not for a law that forces the government to periodically review a document's security classification.

Weblogs round-up: flutterby / Q-daily news / metascene / pithlog / personal weblogs dissected in Monday's Independent - i.e. the type of weblog that really is an insight into someone's life, their thoughts, their purchases, their friendships, ambitions and day to day banalities, unencumbered by any need to find cool links or make meaningful connections or create mini pop-cultural essays. Weblogs such as The Amazing Life of Vic, which is hugely readable. Of course, this kind of thing can be done way more succinctly, but sprawling thoughts have greater prurient interest, perhaps.


Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Trying to work through a link backload, and all the while Lightningfield taunts us with intensely alluring holiday images / more photography at the awesome 37 exposures / Exposure, the Aula Meeting of Minds, took place on Sunday. We'll be checking back to see what was said / explore Mars, virtually, with JPL's video gallery. The launch footage (realvideo) is something spectacular to behold / Presstube, still amazing (flash) / more visual fun at bewitched.

Remember those angsty Australian swimming pool attendants? I guess they had a point / Idle Type wants to 'distract your brains out' / robovacs (see 11 June entry) hit Wired / the Illustrated London News archive (with scans and transcripts) reminds us of Nicholson Baker’s American Newspaper Repository, which we hope will continue to add to its gallery. There are also good links: images of the Arctic (‘breaking up of the ice’).

A Hogarth scrapbook (worth visiting in conjunction with the amazing Pepys Diary) / imaginary lands - the Map of Paradise (both via the Cartoonist) / Fair e-tales / naked people / nurse fiction gallery / North Indian classical music / photos at Lomosapien / images from science / slightly irritable discussion about retro photography.

Design Daffodils, or the inside of Eva's retro pad in Japan / Brushstroke.tv - we haven't been here for a while / Braquage is a music-orientated weblog, and sent us off to German pdf magazine Sceyelines. Page 37 seems to have more about the elusive urban space invader mosaics (the latter via scrubbles). We spotted one of these on Rue de l'Arcade (get it?) in Paris a few years back. A mystery solved.

Good Logo versus No Logo / Gulfstream, a weblog / another music weblog, Yip Yop, points us to the simple graphic work of Julie Potvin / the photography of Lincoln Clarkes, especially his depressing 'heroines' series / Kurt Schwitters / the study of cults and religions / Bomb magazine, interviews with artists, writers, musicians, directors and actors.

Whatever happened to Theodore Kaczynski? Ironically, given his stated desire to destroy all technology (before it destroys us) there's a whole lot of Unabomber-emera online, such as Alston Chase's 'Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber', the notorious manifesto, this exhaustive overview and, thanks to the modern wonder that is Google's image search, the many faces of the Unabomber / that gives us an idea.... photofit.


Monday, June 16, 2003
Design 70 goes from strength to strength - if you're after some vintage modern furniture (and frankly, who isn't?) click to it quickly. Their links page is also suitably comprehensive. The mid-century modern crowd are surprisingly amenable to linking each other, creating a real community of bent ply enthusiasts. One would have imagined that their business is fiercely competitive, with rival stores constantly loitering around the lobbies of soon-to-be-stripped out International Style office buildings, hoping to snare a job lot of tatty Eames chairs or a couple of Nelson wall clocks.

The architect John Pawson is set to increase his media profile with his upcoming work for Marks & Spencer, the quintessential British department store which will shortly be moving into homewares. This Independent piece explained the background well (the shopping trolleys will be designed by Future Systems, for example - I bet they still won’t be able to go in a straight line), the catalogue by Wink (we think), but the piece has now slipped into the electronic ether and you'll have to pay to read it. Bizarrely, it ended with a poem, the first four lines of which we've preserved for your reading pleasure:

A shop designed by Pawson
Is bound to cause a shock
The bloke who makes Corbusier
Look practically baroque

Hypnosismedia (via scrubbles) is a collection compiled with loving care. The adverts for hypnotism books and materials are our favourite. Just some of the things that hypnotism could bring you: ‘Bring fame and popularity into your life. Be the hit of the party,’ ‘..you can hypnotize at a glance, make people obey your commands, strengthen your memory, develop a strong personality, overcome bad habits,’ ‘Help shy persons to attain self-confidence,’ ‘to gain popularity…success… Big Money!’.

Scans of Creative Computing magazine from 1976 (via boingboing), e.g. 'Russian Computing, one man’s view': ‘Throughout the display, I saw no signs of any minicomputers or microprocessors. Nor, in my entire trip, did I see a single pocket calculator, not even in GUM, the largest store in Moscow.’

All about the Lustron House, courtesy of excitement machine. The Lustron was an all-steel house, a bit ‘like living in a lunchbox’. Visit Lustron Luxury, and the gallery of Lombard Lustrons. In the UK we had pre-fabs, a frequently visited things topic. We highly recommend Greg Stevenson's Palaces for the People, the best book on the topic.

Elsewhere. The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum / Henry Built furniture - evokes the spirit of the mid-century era / designaddict: many, many links / 100 random images pulled from Altavista's image search (warning: not at all safe for work, usually) / Sputnik, a 'whole life catalog'. This Japanese magazine has organised its interview archive by a collection of verbs - inspire, aware, trip, learn, etc. / little geometric movies at Pallalink / Greg.org, a new sidebar addition / is this what the Studio Libeskind scheme will end up like? / the wing shot is a blogging staple. We’re just as guilty, if not more so: I, II.

Underwear through the ages at Austrian retailer Palmers / the mystery of the Amber Room / mines beneath Detroit, tunnels beneath Portsmouth, UK / more troglodytism: photos of the London underground / more maps / controversial stamps (see them here).

The woodcuts of Felix Vallotton (Giornale Nuovo is like having a beautifully produced art magazine, chock full of interesting visual essays, delivered to you several times a week) / anti-golf article ('...they still take up too much space, too much water and disrupt the balance of wildlife') / follow me here, a weblog / a collection of online city weblogs (via kottke). There's nothing like this in the UK, yet....


Friday, June 13, 2003
Branded for life (at the freshly hitched tmn - many congratulations!). John Warner's essay dips into the brave new world of teen marketing, and the accompanying paradoxes and deceits that accompany this multinational push:

Quart illuminates the phenomenon of unpaid teen consultants who observe their friends’ spending predilections and report back to their masters while simultaneously shilling for the brand. The marketing professionals ‘act like friends and chit-chat with them’ or send them emails. The teens are bolstered because adults are paying attention to and valuing what they have to say. Brands, literally, become a source of affirmation, and in return receive love and devotion.

(quoted by Warner from Alissa Quart's Branded: the buying and selling of teenagers)

Elsewhere. Australia bans mobile phones from swimming pools (presumably to avoid covert swimwear snaps) / A huge collection of 1800's ephemera (via solipistic). Plenty to be going on with here, including letters (‘I have just seen the man you want. He is perfectly steady, reliable and trustworthy’), daily ledgers, stamps, and huge quantities of playbills, baseball stuff that I don’t understand, billheads, letterheads and business cards. Some more letters and envelopes: I, II, III.

Mobility: a Room with a View is the title of this year's International Architectural Biennale in Rotterdam. View the list of related publications, and take a few turns around their press image galleries for some adventurous architecture / Caterina readers give you Helsinki travel tips / beautifully packaged new Sony camera / Laura Holder's splash pages are works of art: I, II, III.

Sylloge has a new URL / gorgeous cushions (but unnecessarily big spam emails) / Regina Weese, a Canadian literary journal / thanks to Places for Writers for the mention / thanks too to the deliberately tautological soup du jour of the day (‘entertaining and useful’ could be our new strapline) / a nice cup of tea, a biscuit blog linked in yesterday's Guardian / unrelated: cup of chica, a weblog which links to Superfuturecity, 'urban cartography for global shopping experts' - sounds like something devised by global shopping supremo Rem Koolhaas...

Our thanks to Jennifer for the following links. FW: Fwd brings together a collection of artists' films (we like Liane Lang's Would for Trees). She also recommends the Gasworks Gallery, and Tonico Lemos Auad's Lyric Underground, a personal vision of busking on the tube (which has recently been semi-legitimised thanks to a sponsorship deal. Hmmm). We especially like Sharp Talk, a project commissioned by the artists' books organisation Book Works (who publish works like Lucy Kimbell's Audit). Sharp Talk involves a series of writers creating texts on artist's projects, such as Dario Azzellini on Christian Nold's Mobile Vulgus, a personal look at new forms of crowd control and mass psychology.

And there's more. The Guerilla Performance Locator tracks down and catalogue acts of performance art that would otherwise vanish into the ether ('doing things the hard way', 2001. Location: Peckham, 51n30, 0w10. Mark McGowan crawled from Peckham to Camberwell with big wads of cotton wool in his ears and a stereo system on his back playing Frank Sinatra singing, 'I Did It My Way'.) Finally, Digit is a collaborative art project that has resulted in a collection of screensavers created by children from the Hospital School at Great Ormond Street and North Westminster Community School.

We have a new gallery: images of Barcelona's highly photogenic MACBA. Have a nice weekend.


Thursday, June 12, 2003
No-one uses the word 'pantechnicon' any more. Originally coined as the name of a bazaar in Motcomb Street, London, the word is a combination of the Greek pan ('all') and tekhnikon ('of the arts'). The building outlasted the store - an early craft shop - and became a furniture repository, and bequeathed its name to the vans that transported furniture around the capital (all information gleaned from Michael Quinion's wonderful World Wide Words site).

Some Pantechnicon pictures: I, II (from Chris Hodge Trucks). Yet more trucks. And even more, at the comprehensive (but Czech-only) site Fire Truck Toys for Men and Boys.

'A furniture pantechnicon was backing into the entrance of the freight elevator, and the carpets and stereo-speakers, dressing tables and bedside lamps would soon be carried up the elevator shaft to form the elements of a prvate world.'

(from High Rise, J.G.Ballard, p17, just before events start to get decidedly difficult. More about the book: I, II)

Elsewhere. Japanese trucks / all about DVDs (via haddock) / all about widescreen (via t-melt) / Slower praises Newark / audio rarities at Basic chip / huge vintage computer picture.

Pop arty girls (via plep) / it's taken us too long to add the mighty languagehat to the sidebar / a beached boat / die puny humans, an image-based (some fun, some gruesome) weblog, with copious links: e.g to this fuel-cell powered security robot / decode your website DNA / photos at shutterthumb / new gallery of long-lost Turners.

A walk home / yet more Piranesi influence? Incredible drawings of Mount Palomar Observatory (via dublog) / Kurt Schwitters and the merzbau (more: I, II) / flash cache of the famous Honda ad, thanks to JT / Jeansnow, a Japan-based weblog (with mobile weblog, or '‘moblog’ as it seems they're now called).

Favourite (?) 419 letter so far, received this morning:

Dear Sir,

I am Uday Hussein the first son of The former Iraqi leader President Saddam Hussein.I was priviledged to a lot of huge transactions during the reign of my father before the outbreak of Iraq war and collapse of my father's regime.Because of the imminent war and threat by the United States to freeze all assets and funds of the Hussein family, which is already on the way, I deposited the sum of US$45 MILLION as bond in a Security Finance Company. Right now I am looking for a reliable, trustworthy and competent businessman who will travel to Europe to lay claims to this funds on my behalf. This Funds was gotten as a result of the sales of petroleum to a French company allocated to me.

… I look forward to receiving updates from my lawyer as regards your cooperation.


Wednesday, June 11, 2003
Found on a menu in the restaurant of the Fundació Jean Miró, Barcelona:

Yo he vista cosas que no creeríais... Atacarnaues en Llamas más allá de Orion… He visto rayos C brillar en la oscuridad cerca de la puerta de Tanhausser… Todos estos momentos se perderán en el tiempo como lágrimas en la illuvia … Es hora tiempo de morir.

The quote was cited 'Roy - Nexus 6 (Blade Runner)', so it didn't take a degree in Spanish (which I certainly don't have) to work out that it was the famous 'shoulder of Orion' speech from the movie ("I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near Tanhauser Gate. All of those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.") Fair enough. But why should this be on a menu in a smart restaurant in a modern art foundation? Most mysterious. (visit 'Last words of fictional characters' to find more carefully considered final utterings)

Elsewhere. Weatherpix is for storm chasers, with galleries full of extraordinary cloud photography (I, II, III). We once met a couple whose job was to provide cable stations with a realtime weather picture. A live feed, which presumably had no copyright issues, was generated from a video camera pointing up in the air and uplinked via a satellite dish in their back garden. Cable stations would then ‘buy in’ the footage, presumably by the minute, when they had a need for an original (and unique) backdrop to put on their blue screen. (This inspires a google gallery, and threw up this images of Apollo 14, punching through the clouds.)

The Trilobite is an automatic vacuum cleaner (via nsop), intended to scurry around your house when you're out and do all the chores (more about the Trilobite). Not by any means a new idea (see Dyson's DC06, which is at least three years old, and the American Roomba), but the vacuum cleaner robot is nonetheless a pivotal part of home automation fantasies. You can get automatic mowers as well. 'Vacuum cleaners' continues to be the most popular search on the things site.

Elsewhere. The x10 pop-up art gallery. There’s a common theme running through these ads – can you see what it is? (via ultimate insult) / Romanian street photography / more on manhole covers / Rescuepics, restore lost images (not tested) / Neumu is two.

A history of the building envelope / crap towns, a debate kicked off by The Idler, and continuing yesterday's carbuncle/debacle talk. The entry for Salisbury is spot on: 'Imagine a city designed in a Daily Mail competition'


Tuesday, June 10, 2003
Plasticbag on plans for Camden Town’s tube station redevelopment. things uses this station a lot, and it’s not exactly high on our list of pleasant places to visit. But going on this one picture, the new station building appears especially uninspiring – a perfect example of glassy 'New Architecture' that has little regard for its surroundings (more at London Destruction, and also Kuboid’s architecture musings. Carbuncles must be high on everyone's agenda, as yesterday also saw a me-fi post about the cantankerous Eyesore of the month site).

The tube represents a weighty challenge for conservationists. Many stations still exist with their 'air rights' intact - a gaping great space above the original single-storey station entrance that was always intended for future development. The problem is that time has moved on, and the need for improved forms of access and constantly overhauled technology means that it's often easier (and cheaper) to redevelop a station competely, rather than just build above it. The proposed redevelopment of South Kensington is a case in point. No-one doubts the need for improvements, but all too often internal fit-outs are just a kit of parts, false walls and ceilings that can be overlaid on the original terracotta tiles, hardening up the gentle curves of the tunnels and homogenising every station.

The tube, which comes under the control of the London mayor on June 15, is probably scared of being seen to waste money at a time of extreme poverty. The justly praised architectural drama of the Jubilee Line (stations like Westminster evoke Piranesi's Carceri: I, II, III, IV) controversially cost billions, so upcoming new lines (like the East London line extension - fingers crossed) are unlikely to see the same investment in 'quality design'. The fear is that the grey brush of 'modernisation' will slowly creep along the line wiping out all the characteristics that define the tube - the Piccadilly Line is particularly at risk from this. Read up about the last 'golden age' of London Transport, the work of Charles Holden under the supervision of Frank Pick. See also the London Underground Railway Society.

Abstract art from Laura Domela. We're usually suspicious of this aesthetic, which has been seriously debased during its torturous journey from the avant-garde to the walls of show homes, but Domela's site allows you to trace her convincing stylistic evolution / more art, the bold, unsettling work of Ellie Howitt / there's a new website for Mies van der Rohe's iconic (and we use the word advisedly) Tugendhat House - spin it round and see images and plans / a wave (flash) / fonts and wallpapers available from IAI-JP / the Fondation Vasarely, an architectural adventure into the work of op-artist Victor Vasarely.

Photography. Chicago Uncommon has several galleries, including this one of the city's high rise heritage. Blue skies help / Art photo magazine is a Romanian publication, with many, many links. Galleries worth visiting include the work of Aurora Dediu and the fairground imagery of Luminita Cochinescu.

Speaking of collapsing new buildings: the instruments of Einstürzende Neubauten / do you want to glue this to that? / or do you want to dress up your cat?


Monday, June 09, 2003
A ghastly-sounding book: Chicken soup for the soul of Nascar. Sample jacket quote: '"Life is a team sport" and, indeed, auto racing is a metaphor for life. Everyone needs the support and love of their own pit crew to keep them on track and in winning form as they go through their own race every day.' Compare and contrast with Social Science at 190mph (via robotwisdom): 'Stock-car racing, at its highest levels, reflects an important, desirable American trait: how to compete by doing a good job at cooperating.' So is Nascar a great big circular love-in, with co-operation flowing freely between teams and drivers? The second link's extensive insight into the physics and sociology of stock car racing - slipstreaming, drafting, nudging, slingshotting, tail-fanning - highlights the drivers' dependence on each other in order to make it around the track, and then throwing all this co-operation out of the window on the final lap. But then 'bump and run' doesn't sound like a very 'chicken soup' concept...

Last weekend saw Zaha Hadid’s Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center open to the public. Hadid's architecture is brutally compelling on paper (and on screen as well), yet perhaps suffers from the weight of expectations in real life. This may just be the yawning gap between architectural renders and architectural photography, with the latter struggling to keep up. On the page, the CAC looks strangely static (why should this be strange? After all, aren't buildings supposed to be static?), in marked contrast to Hadid's extensive presentation work (the latter links to another arts centre, this time in Rome).

Elsewhere. For the benefit of Mr Kite, a poster we were trying to find the other day, via this collection of Beatles links (thanks Aaron) / time-wasting but educational blackjack trainer (via kottke) / Schwarz, a minimalist weblog, gives us two links to architects called Osc(k)ar: Oskar Leo Kaufmann and the construction of Oscar Niemeyer's Serpentine Pavilion in Hyde Park (a wonderful series of panoramas).

Pleasingly blurry pictures from Andrea Saunders / a selection of commercial and portrait photography portfolios over at Bill Charles (our favourites are Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld)/ the photography of Mario Giacomelli (via caterina). Especially this one / a photographic encyclopaedia of objets utiles et inutiles / 'stone maps' at speedy snail / architectural photography by Cristobal Palma, including awesome urban imagery from South America (flash) / a copious illustrated history of photography, including early examples of colour photography: I, II

Hunkabutta takes part in bizarre Japanese brain experiment: ‘He then went on to explain that he and his colleagues have discovered that Japanese people cannot tell the difference between a look of surprise and a look of fear, but that foreign people seem to do it easily. He wants to find out if this is the result of cultural conditioning or if it's caused by brain physiology.’ / whatever happened to the paperless office? / Martha Stewart's upcoming schedule revealed at the smoking gun. 26th June: 'dust all taxidermy'. Seriously. But then again, taxidermy must get awfully dusty.

Good but achingly hip paintings by Charles Miller (see also Jewish boxers) / fifty years of Fiat advertising posters (via me-fi) / Bizarre car fan art (more) / Staff selections from the from the FSA-OWI photography collection / the multi-denominational sim chapel / here be dragons / toast in a jar.


Friday, June 06, 2003
Art, print and more today (weekend reading, if you like). Kick off with some beautiful animation over at Cupco (don't forget to turn your speakers on). We like the Snaposaurus, wallpaper and the twisted 'Welcome to Hell' movies.

We've never been ones to drool over sneakers, but Dave White's 'sneaker pop art' is delicious - Frank Auerbach meets Magic Johnson - making the most unlikely subjects ade into objects of beauty with thick, almost tasteable brushstrokes. Be sure to launch them full screen. The paintings should soon be on show at exposure, London (and were/are? at Frankfurt's Galerie Wild, and the Tokyo Shoebar. See how we casually toss in these places and spaces as if we've been familiar with them for years). You'll apparently be able to get them from Artomatic as well. Sneaker freaks can enjoy Dave's collection of links (related: wall of shoes, via caterina).

Elsewhere. Staying fashionable: online urban publications, the next big thing? Vapors magazine, Trace 212, F Magazine / a vast link collection at Club Sandwich, including magazines and illustration / even more illustration at exact science / future fonts and things over at apostrophic lab, where we found 'The neurosis of font designers,' a welcome insight into the complexity of a single letterform.

Links of a more literary bent. Wild City Times, forums and links for writers / Art, poetry and fiction at Pedestral Magazine.


Thursday, June 05, 2003
Social Design Notes has compiled an extensive list of ‘internet advocacy,’ the myriad ways in which new media can influence the political process, ranging from the creation of new outlets for independent media, campaign sites, cultural production (for example, the propoganda remix project, or SDN's extensive section on parody), and viral marketing (which has, of course, been massively co-opted by 'the other side,' leading to a permanent state of flux as marketeers fight the good fight of commerce against any number of people doing just the opposite).

These new developments cut both ways. Disinfopedia looks behind the doublespeak of contemporary PR and spin. At a time when government ministers seem to be getting their briefings from Jack Bauer, things like a list of industry-funded organisations is a handy thing to have, but it also highlights the way information can be presented in a myriad of ways. Agendas can be made fuzzy: lobbying organisations can assume the mantle of respected citizen's groups (such as the concerned-sounding Independent Women's Forum, actually right-leaning anti-feminist organisation), or anti-religious sites can neatly co-opt the look and feel of real sites (for example, this site (cached), which found it's way onto Crossspot.com, 'Christian Internet Solutions', or the infamous Landover Baptist).

The popbitch mailer reminded me of another kind of social design – albeit one with a semi-mythological status. The dual-function of OMO washing powder boxes: ‘FYI in 70s Britain, council-type women used to put a packet on their bedroom window as a signal to their lover (OMO = Old Man Out)’. Is this true? (old OMO ad, although presumably it doesn't work in Italian: uomo anziano fuori?). The abbreviation crops up in a couple of online dictionaries: The Great Abbreviations Hunt and Biscuits Brown, a Force's Dictionary (both useful resources - the latter stuffed full of crude terms for imminent disaster or the aftermath of colossal human error).

Elsewhere. Vegan resources at animal-ingredients / BP green wash? / maps, more maps / Herald Froy’s marriage test (1957), via as above / Thorsten Veblen links.

Air design, Marseille / weblog from Andrew Brown / so are large cars safer? Department of Transport (pdf) research (UK figures only) seem to suggest they are / the styling coup of ‘73.


Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Just elsewhere. Buy rare books in Japan, where there's a good selection of vintage design and art titles (see also Book Bless You, travelling booksellers / artmagick, the C19 and early C20 online / a useful amazon hack at exploding fist / candy wrapper dresses, via Stung Eye, a music-centric weblog.

Pocko, publishers of pocket-sized art monographs (our favourites so far are Powersmile, a collection of oleaginous political portraits, and the rejection-fest Dear Thank You Yours Sincerely) have launched Pockoville, a new home for project-based art books and illustration, all situated amongst elegant flash-based landscapes / more art and illustration at another girl at play.

The Wooster Collective, a celebration of street art / knock-offs at Plimsoul.com / clicky clicky click goes this website / a new Cure album - fun for some - out today / buy a tank / collect vintage guitars / The Strawberry Smell, French popsters totally immersed in a gloriously retro-themed world. The French are especially good at this. See also Air (official site seems to be down, but would probably be good if it wasn't), M83, Tahiti 80 and Daft Punk / slightly dodgy - mask fetishists / the 1966 Batmobile / vintage auto ads / old go karts / electric fabric.


Tuesday, June 03, 2003
This month marks the 300th anniversary of St Petersburg, an event marked in the world media by President Putin's gathering of world leaders. As a more modest way of marking the occasion, things publishes Tony Wood's Prisoners of Paradise, a meditation on the role of architectural embellishment and memory in this elegant - but also sinister - city. Some more St Petersburg galleries: I, II.

Elsewhere. Excellent links at wellvetted / the story of the helmet / the digital art of Bruce Brown / the huge Schoenberg Archives are fascinating, especially the sketchbooks and self-portraits. More about Schoenberg here.

The moth house, via the excellent solipistic gazette / The Miracle of Dust, a wonderful short story by Dennis Mahoney over at tmn / London's tallest buildings / images of Odessa / images of Japan

Do you like it reading vast chunks of text on the web? Is it possible? At what point do lengthy pieces blur into illegibility, or could you go on all night scrolling through shimmering page after shimmering page? A minor re-design is in the offing, so now's a good time to address all those things about things that irritate: opinions, please.


Monday, June 02, 2003
This is the kind of thing that could easily be posted at Metafilter, but I no longer have the guts. Are economical cars dangerous cars? The Competitive Enterprise Institute thinks so: 'So when I purchase this larger car, society is on average better off. Now there are many complicated questions about equity, but those issues are in a different arena. But in terms of just the total number of lives, when I purchase a larger car, there is a reduction of risk. I’m safer, and so is society overall.' So convinced is the organisation of their findings that they're now suing the US Transportation Department over the Corporate Average Fuel Economy legislation, first set in 1975, and currently unchanged since 1986.

Of course, many people are in favour of improving fuel economy, so are these safety concerns well-founded? Perhaps. Being in a big car is undoubtedly going to help you out when you hit a small car (bang) . But when your big car gets hit by an even bigger car, it all becomes rather academic. Wouldn't you rather be in a car that was designed from the ground up to be as safe as possible (like Volvo's Safety Concept Car), rather than rely on raw physics to save your skin? And surely a large part of auto accident statistics are the unfortunate pedestrians who are killed by drivers, and here one can reasonably expect the correlation between mass and fatalities to be completely reversed. Not knowing a huge amount about this, but does America have an equivalent to the Euro NCAP Pedestrian Impact test?

A couple more car things. We love this extraordinary home-made version of the forthcoming Mercedes Vision SLR / Newstoday links to the UK site for Volkwagen's unjustifiably expensive Phaeton, with an appropriately large-scaled navigational metaphor / inside automotive design studios.

Elsewhere. Categorising bumper fish / Fence magazine, poetry and more / 'Brilliant Pebbles is a space-based, kinetic-energy weapon concept under development in the United States by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. Approximately 4,600 small interceptors would be deployed in orbit, each capable of homing in on and destroying incoming hostile warheads.’ Whatever happened to these? Brilliant Pebbles is a great name for a band...

Ants (via muxway) / Ant Attack / Ant Attack source code / Ant Attack map maker / which takes us to source code of a different type, the digitized notebooks of one Albert Einstein. Beautiful objects in their own right, regardless of whether or not you have the faintest idea what they're on about / resources for steel-frame pioneer Pierre Koenig / archive of mp3s (especially good for Ride fans) / poignant spam header: 'Encounter Loving And Grateful Women' / get pictured with a) Jesus, b) Stevie Nicks.

Old ads at Paper doll / naval safety (via j-walk) / cooking with Google / cabinets of curiosities (in French) / Museum of Unnatural Mystery / dinosaur hunting for the clearly insane (a parody, but entertaining nonetheless) / German industrial archaeology / minerals for sale / more minerals: I, II, the North Pennine mines / Peter Davidson on Spar Boxes

Ad Usum Delphinorum, a French cultureblog / the sonic map of paris (at least the city didn't disappear) / the derelict shopping trolleys of Milton Keynes / weblog selection (all via travelers diagram, shamelessly): Catbirdseat, Maud Newton, Sugar-n-spicy, Susan Mernit, Chrome Waves / Artimage: a bit odd.

Photography things. Johanna's photolog / toy cameras (via harrumph) / Communist cameras / the Lubitel / the Smena / Camera oddities (via consumptive), especially dangerous cameras - whatever happened to these cruel devices? / the nocturnal photography of Todd Hido, reminiscent of Thomas Flechtner's Snow / a seat with a view / Simon Larbalestier's Dreamland series / images of the SS United States / photos of the Great War / nice piece on Lee Miller over at Giornale Nuovo.