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Thursday, July 31, 2003
Lots of little links today. What does the future hold? Scoot on over to Illustrated Speculative Timeline of Future Technology and Social Change (a bit of a mouthful - perhaps the future spells the end of snappy marketing acronyms?). There is a huge amount of information here, courtesy of futurologist J.R. Mooneyham (but, ironically, not a whole lot in the way of illustrations). We especially appreciate the auto section, because we're a bit sad like that. Strangely, though, all of the concepts illustrated are from the 1990s - in comparison, today's concept cars seem to be driven by marketing, rather than futurism.

J.R. predicts, depressingly, that come the middle of this century most of us will have plunged into the escapism of virtual reality to get away from the environmental disasters and religious warfare that will apparently be all too common. Great. Related: what's hot or not? The Future Concept Lab, a nebulous futures organisation, charts the most recent cultural 'hits and hot', presumably helping the desk-bound high-flyer to keep their finger on the pulse.

Elsewhere. Share your shed at Readerssheds / abstract imagery culled from around the globe at trashfish.net / more global galleries at buffoonery.org / a collection of sprawling notes on insects, pests, plagues and politics, full of informational nuggets ('Stinging insects account for 40 - 100 deaths annually in the United States')/ hangart bills itself as 'emerging artists for emerging collectors', a fine idea.

Lots and lots of design links at capsyl.com / we'll be trying to get hold of the first long player by EE (a name guaranteed to frustrate search engines - surely one of the first things aspiring bands do these days is make sure their name is as unique as possible via google?) on Asian Man Records. EE counts in its line-up one Sooyoung Park, formerly of Seam and Bitch Magnet, two of the finest bands in the history of creation.

Neural.it, an Italian site 'on new media art, electronic music and hacktivism'. There's also a print quarterly. Subscription exchange, perhaps? / this interactive map of Australian nuclear sites comes with a hefty collection of photos (aside: did you know that at one point the French government was seriously considering using parts of Corsica as a nuclear test site?) / self-explanatory URL: cooljapanesetoys.com / Mondo Fragile, 'modern illustrators from Japan'. Pretty good, as you'd expect, but with a seriously retro, dare-we-say-it, wallpaper*-esque feel.

Music video review. The video for Mogwai’s 'Hunted by a freak' is terribly, terribly sad. The video for Benny Benassi's 'Satisfaction' is quite amusing (if highly post-ironic) / Beoworld, devoted to the retro yet stylish joys of vintage Bang & Olufsen equipment. From here, we learn about B&O’s Beoplayer mp3 software - does anyone have any experience of this?

The Motorway Simulator, linked by this recent me-fi post on roads and road-centric sites (it also tallies well with John Weich's new things review, Mobility). Now you can travel the length of the M1 from the comfort of your desktop! Quite an existential experience and something which would combine well with the early work of Julian Opie (we'd quite forgotten how sassy Opie's website is, epitomised by this page. Not a big archive, though). The Opie piece we were thinking of, Imagine You Are Driving turns up on something called the Microsoft Art Collection, which presumably catalogues the company's artistic holdings). Sort of related: Multi Theft Auto is a multi-player 'mod' for Grand Theft Auto (with a version promised for Vice City).

Many, many links at innovation watch / art for housewives, ironic name for an art-oriented weblog / daft flash: make a drum solo (disclaimer: we haven't actually played with this with the speakers on - we're just imagining what it sound like) / speaking of sound, tmn linked to a phenomenon new to us (but probably well known to the world at large): soundboards. These are very infantile, but can be used to make entertaining prank calls. Our advice: calls 'made' by aggressive Italian-Americans are usually the most amusing (especially when they are answered by other Italian-Americans).

We have vague memories of mentioning Laura Holder's epic splash archive before. Whatever. Regardless, this is a beautiful desk / classic pool shot at Slower. This image is pretty stunning as well. Is there an award this guy can win? He deserves one / 'The key to a successful freelance career is…' / window shopping in the (evil?) empire / 'playing dress up' at the game girl advance zine, all about Otaku / pin-up galleries.

Plasticando.com is an Italian model trains site - the track plans have a certain grace / well-linked, but still fun, the museum of coathangers (via sugar-n-spicy, via tom mcmahon) / the Star Wars alphabet project (via me-fi, obv.) at the hitherto unknown Lego Star Wars Experience.


Wednesday, July 30, 2003
Collision Detection contains interesting musings on the nature of video games in society, what we expect from them, what we don't expect, what non-gamers think, etc., etc. ('Indeed, this basic concept -- that games get better the more they resemble movies -- is the dominant way that mainstream cultural critics think about games.') For example, this post focused on in-game cinematics, concluding that attempts to imitate filmic conventions in cut-scenes were usually laughable. On the other hand, when gamers use the lack of real world constraints in their games, the results are often far more exciting - offering a visual spectacle impossible in cinema (although the CGI-heavy blockbusters are swiftly catching up, creating gravity and physics-defying action sequences. Indeed, Felix Salmon mentioned in his review of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, that the film's pre-credit sequence is of 'such physical impossibility that the eponymous girls are essentially treated as superheroes.' (Also by Felix Salmon, 'Girlie Mags and serious journalism,' which is interesting also for the information that there is someone called Seth Mnookin)

The Collision Detection piece links to this SSX Tricky movie, but there's also the celebrated Warthog Jump, subtitled 'a Halo physics experiment', which uses the X-Box game as a kind of playground for impossible events. Indeed, there's a whole genre of 'film-making' that uses 3D games engines as a kind of virtual studio: Machinima (more info at 3Dfilmmaker.com). A lot of these short movies resemble music videos (see the SSX Tricky one linked above), in their synchronisation of action and sound. But more ambitious projects are in the offing, for example, Anachronox, which weighs in at an impressive 1.1gb download. There was also a well-publicised attempt/project/performance of the sitcom Friends using the Quake engine: Quake/Friends. There's a video here.

Elsewhere. More on reality vs unreality/virtuality here in this musing on the physics of space games. We can well remember the Newtonian physics of the seminal Elite series, especially Frontier, whereby one would happily plough into large planets on a regular basis. (the Frontier: First Encounters manual online, in pdf).

Grant Scott's photo series 'Crash Happy: a night at the bangers' captures the oil, sweat, fear and exhileration of banger racing, that strange motoring sub-culture. 'Overalls, £100. Crash helmet, £300. Racing license, £60. Diesel for truck, £35. Petrol for race, £10. Car £20.' / it doesn't have the natty illustrations that accompanied the polar bears, but you still might want to read the seven myths about Swiss bank accounts / vast model Boeing 747.

Local opinion is, as one might expect, sharply divided over the merits of Frank Gehry's scheme for Hove Harbour. This is Gehry's first major UK project (his first building, the Maggie's Centre in Dundee, is far more restrained). Although the project will no doubt 'launch a 1000 metaphors'', we can't help but feel that this is statement architecture par excellence - buildings that will act as magnets, regardless of their ultimate usage (luxury flats) / Speaking of taste, we liked the me-fi thread on this audacious piece of urban kitsch: the Spirit of the Seas. Although more than a bit Franklin Mint in its artistic aspirations, what's most grotesque about this fishy wonder is its sheer scale: some 200 feet long.

Critical Mess, or if movie posters told the truth. Actually, movie reviews seem almost entirely irrelevant these days. No-one, in UK broad sheets at least, writes terribly convincingly about film at the moment. Criticism is reduced to a torrent of clever-clever comparisons, and the public just goes ahead and sees the film anyway (guilty as charged). Related: the myth of the big opening weekend, or how the more screens you open on, the better.

28mm is quite exceptional these days, as is 99000, with its photo-centric weblog (which gives us the digital photography FAQ, which we'd do well to read) / City of Tomorrow, via Sachs Report.

Finally. The site continues to behave in strange and mysterious ways. Advice (on css positioning especially, and the issues it might have outside of the safe, predictable world of IE/PC - i.e. Mac users) is always welcome.


Tuesday, July 29, 2003
The American Gallery of Psychiatric Art is getting a fair amount of linkage at the moment (we spotted it via Ashley B, who found it via dublog). Back to the drugs. I'm presuming these ads are taken from psychiatry journals - you get the feeling that the target audiences aren't exactly able to speak for themselves. Examples: Dexamyl (like so many early anti-depressants, an amphetamine), some early advocacy of Ritalin (‘brightens mood and improves performance’), and Thorazine ('quickly puts an end to his violent outburst').

Elsewhere. 'A polar bear heaves a block of ice at a walrus. It is an ancient belief in the north that bears occasionally kill walruses in this manner. Most scientists doubt it.' From the obscure but informative Polar Bear Myth Gallery (via the gospel according to Mark). There are only five entries (and strictly speaking only one of these is actually a myth), but we like its precision / Ramage is a good new cultureblog / Foodgoat talks about food, from junk to haute cuisine / dublog also pointed us to Ron Wise's epic Geographical Dictionary of World Paper Money. An epic labour of love, it's worth browsing just for the concision of the maps alone. But if you've ever wanted to know what fifty Swazi emalangeni looked like in 1990, or what two Hutt River Province dollars were like in 1970 (rather natty, actually), this is the place to come.

Giornale Nuovo on Cabinets of Curiosities. Which got us thinking: what are our modern cabinets of curiosities? Perhaps it's the video games console, through which whole worlds are stored and accessed (related: a game that likes real sunlight, via kottke). Practically every home has such a device today (related: twenty years of the Nintendo Famicom. Also, if only these were links to go with this timeline of Rare's impeccable video-games heritage - screenshots, anything), functioning as a gateway to somewhere else. We'll have more on virtual worlds - and virtual things - soon.

Find sounds at findsounds ('scream' is always a good way to start) / a striking urban exploration image at Jinx Magazine (via me-fi, especially nicwolff's comment, which had us digging around for more information on the crash of Pan Am's helicopter shuttle in May 1977. A stray rotor from the disaster killed a young woman waiting for a bus on 43rd (related: celebrity deaths in air crashes)) / Indelible is modest, elegant and unassuming, yet it's just one of an octet of weblogs maintained by Alison Bloom. The others include a page devoted to a wedding, personal experience of Judaism, health, house-keeping, poetry and, finally, arts administration. Phew. Truly a life lived through the medium of the internet.

A neat, slightly retro, links page at yomgaille.com (via kesskisspass) / a fotolog all about books / the photography of Olivia Gay / links and things at two-zero (which is where we find the Erotic Museum, a destination to which we will inevitably return) / a random lists of links at guitarstart / I’m going to miss the Guardian’s 'wrap' email service, which becomes a subscription-only service from tomorrow. It will interesting to see how it fares in its new commercial incarnation.

The conceptual Corporate Fallout Detector - swipe a barcode, and this Geiger-counter like device will squirrel through the myriad levels of company ownership to give you the low-down on the parent company's environmental and ethical record. Now if you can imagine a similar thing on a mobile phone-like device. Or even a mobile phone itself, where the benefits of a built-in barcode scanner are numerous. Instead of taking a calculator to the supermarket, you could just point and scan your own basket and keep a running total, as well as a long-term, instantly accessed record of your purchases. After all, it's not as if the stores aren't doing it for you already... (read 'The card up their sleeve', a recent Guardian piece on the information gathering revolution).

Finally, apologies for the continuing retina-searing problems that Mac users have recently (always?) experienced. We're working on a fix and thanks, especially, to Tom and Michael for help and advice. The upshot of all this ferreting around has been interesting. Call us naive, but we were shocked to see screen captures of this page on Safari and see the fonts all smoothed and neat (something to do with Quartz, we presume). Then we discovered font smoothing in Windows XP, hidden away on the desktop. Now everything is similarly buttery.

But as a result, we can no longer see pixels. It is confusing. (related: the history of the pixel - 'tomorrow, members of the 'mezzo-rez' generation will likely pine nostalgically for artifacts of their 640 x 480, 16-bit color screens.'). In the same way that one acquires a 'regular font’, the shape of which seems to influence the way one reads, types, and most importantly writes, becoming all smoothed out is unnerving. It’s like seeing your words in print far ahead of the event (assuming that one’s words were destined for print in the first place). It takes away one more barrier between random musing and published work. Is that helpful?


Monday, July 28, 2003
Golly. You leave the country for a few all-too-short days of sun, sea and sand, sans any of the accoutrements of your everyday technological life, and the first thing you do on returning is race around the internet, frantically checking this and that to see what’s new, what’s changed, who’s where. The garden, on the other hand, gets only a perfunctory once-over – as soon as it’s been established that nothing (especially important) has died it can take care of itself for a few hours more. Instead, this whistle stop tour of one’s daily stomping grounds is like servicing a beloved car after a winter lay-up, poking around, making sure the levels are satisfactory, that nothing untoward has sprouted, nothing weak has perished or tarnished.

On to the links. The prints of Alex Katz / 360-degree cityscapes in Germany / music reviews and more at Earlash (last three all via tmn, an early port of call) / the new literary lottery: 'Good news for aspiring novelists: Advances for first-time authors have blown sky-high. The catch? If the book doesn’t sell, the fallout can kill your career.' / Armed Service Editions, wartime books via me-fi / hit the road, and the high seas, with the Terrawind, the ultimate all-in-one device.

Glasgow 1938 is a visual resource of the city's Empire Exhibition, a modernist/deco delight that teetered on the brink of a new era and consequently vanished without undue influence. The images could be bigger, but take a tour around the streamlined pavilions (I, II, III) and you get a feel for the age, a bright, airy optimism that was too tainted and distant for the post-war generation to return to and whole-heartedly embrace. The centre-piece was Thomas Tait's steel tower, a 330 foot tall homage to Dudok-esque modernism. It lasted barely a year before demolition. More information, as well as exhibition reminiscences. The exhibition programme. You can see a (small) film-clip here, courtesy of BBCi's Scotland on Film archive.

Staying with cities. Rotterdam, from the banks of the Maas / a photo gallery of Mont St Michel / great photography at Octaplex, including industrial ruins / more Deutsche photographie at photocase.

You dip one toe into the dynamic world of online flash, design and typographic artists and you escape several hours later, your head reeling: excellent time-wasting resources and neat design at Lefthandside.com / m-o-n-a-m-o-u-r.com / links and things at wonksite / tronic studio (including a beautiful little quicktime movie about motorway flyovers) / prmthn.net.


Sunday, July 27, 2003
And we're back.... many thanks to all those who wrote to point out the horrors this site suddenly started presenting when viewed on a Mac. We're working on a fix - let us know of any more outstanding issues. More tomorrow...


Friday, July 18, 2003
Design for Homes compiles the annual results of the Housing Design Awards into an archival site. The HDA produces a neat little booklet of the very residential design in the UK, and so this site is a welcome resource (ironically, this British-centric site was brought to our attention by Coudal, which also gives us deserted farms in Iceland, a highly evocative title).

Closely related: Ideal Homes: Suburbia in Focus. This site, a 'history of the South East suburbs of London in words and pictures' is highly recommended. The huge amount of archival material relating to local history - London, Britain, wherever - is gradually finding its way onto the web, enhacing everyone's understanding and respect for the neighbourhood they live in. Ideal Homes presents a wealth of visual material (with fairly decent sized images as well), as well as histories of London's southerly boroughs (including one that's pertinent to us). There are extended essays on certain areas too: Blackheath, Plumstead and Thamesmead, London's last major attempt at creating a modernist suburb. All the site needs are links to contemporary maps so you can identify the location of the old photos.

However, when it comes to file sizes, nothing can really match the American Memory server at the Library of Congress website. Will a five megabyte archival tiff do? Yes please. We think Miss World should change its name to the First Internation[al] Pageant of Pulchritude & Seventh Annual Bathing Girl Review (in Galveston, Texas, of all places).

Elsewhere. Spray-on stockings (via Sachs Report) / the brilliant city of sound writes about the V&A's Art Deco exhibition (and links to this microsite illustrating prominent art deco buildings in London) / not quite deco: Big Al Capone's Bedroom Suite (via gapers block) / Helmintholog, a weblog / 'mystery spots' (also see mysteryspot.com), where strange angles fool the brain into making wild claims for the abandonment of the laws of physics / nightmarish medical conditions: foetus in foetu (text link only, don't panic).

Get a dose of the Florida Lifestyle at Corey Weiner’s Red Square Photos. All those cruise liners and private jets… / a timeline of the folding chair / the Museum of Communication, Berne. Nice website, but not enough information / Jean Snow is an excellent Japan-based weblog / Athens is a Japanese art and design bookshop, which tantalises with its wares but presents an insurmountable language barrier to their acquisition.

The Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World / Yutaka Sone's Jungle Island is an impressive installation: a carved marble motorway intersection. Read more about roads in John Weich's review of Mobility: A Room with a View.

things is taking a week off, so the site will look a little more static than usual. In the meantime, read pieces from the upcoming issue 17 (see the sidebar on the right), check our three photologs (I, II, III), flick through our first few side projects and send us lots and lots of email to read on our return. And don't forget to watch this huge vacation movie at superlounge.


Thursday, July 17, 2003
Our current favourite thing? Our copy of Collecting Mania arrived two days ago, and we’ve only just had a chance to check it out. Peter Reichard of typosition.de and Christopher Lindlohr of loxodrome.de, who work together on the excellent Spatium Newsletter, set out to discover what creatives collect. 'What are you collecting and what does it mean for your creative work?,' they asked, and 80 people responded, designers, photographers, typographers and illustrators from 32 countries around the world.

The A4-sized book that has resulted is a beauty, a two-colour print job that is comprehensively illustrated by tantalising glimpses of the various collections. It’s also refreshing to find a print publication so saturated with exciting-looking URLs that it makes you hungry to type them in – rather than just be led by the nose through a series of hyperlinks (like I'm going to do now): extra-oomph, Richard May, santotipo.com (with lettering images from around the world), and many more.

There’s also a sense of a profession (designers in general) working extensively in an increasingly transient medium. Cataloguing work – collecting the ‘things’ that make up these designers’ working output – is hard. So pop culture artefacts and disposable products become totems: Francois Chalet and his collection of 'inflatable figures from all around the world', or Peter Himpel: 'I collect post-its (all memos I’ve ever written are lying in my drawers). God knows why I do this.' Most, if not all, of the featured collectors acknowledge their obsession. Daniel Knorn says of his incredible DDR Modell Autos site: 'of course, it’s a little insane to spend 250-300 Euro on some cars….' Happily for us, though, he did, as this is one of the most gorgeous toy-related websites I've ever seen.

I collect bookmarks. I have programmed a special database in which I put screenshots referring to the link. This is great, because websites design very fast or are designed newly. In this way I freeze their state – a kind of museum for websites. After a few years it surely will be interesting to click to screens from days gone.
Markus Remschied, h2d2.de, Frankfurt

Elsewhere. Vigovisiones, 'one of the best kept little secrets in the world of photography,' is a bi-annual exhibition in the Spanish port city of Vigo / daily photography from Copenhagen / no sooner had we finished swooning over Keith Lovegrove’s new book Graphicswallah than we read this sad news story: Bollywood technology kills poster art / even more Nessie: fossilised plesiousaur bones found (note that the BBC sees fit to accompany the link with a picture of the discredited 'Surgeon’s photograph'. Back story here and here).

Hit the open road (we especially liked this picture) / Wood s lot on Walter Benjamin / finally, a photo of the geek Holy Grail.


Wednesday, July 16, 2003
The latest issue of Common Place is devoted to Early Cities of the Americas, a collection of essays charting the origins and early development of the nation's first great cities, from Los Angeles to Baltimore and Lima. 'Cities, like people, are conceived, then born,' begins Jay Gitlin's piece on Saint Louis. The site be an essential reference for years to come.

Some more cryptozoology - this time it's lake monsters in China. The me-fi discussion linked to two interesting pieces on credibility and cryptozoology. Skepdic's contribution is nicely sardonic ('Not all photos of Nessie are fakes. Some are genuine photos of the lake') and points out the fundamental improbability of the ‘monster’s’ existence. Even more persuasive, but somewhat shriller in tone, is the lengthy post at eject! eject! eject!, which muses that although we relish the essential magic of the unknown (our life of dull certainties gives these little bits of strangeness huge cultural importance), it's not necessarily a healthy appetite.

Elsewhere. Lovely living offers advice on the best flippant things to spend your money on (via iconomy) / Mary Roach's Stiff looks like a good read, but we're puzzled by the disparity between the US and UK covers (related: author claims she is a cop-out for resisting a posthumous career in medical science) / weblogs noted: Ashley B, sugar-n-spicy (an excellent visual resource), and the nicely-designed eclecticata.

Art*o*mat welcomes submissions. The company runs art vending machines in around 50 arty US locations (e.g. Winston-Salem, Moca California, and Charleston, South Carolina). Their roster of 300 artists is also impressive / phone trips, outsider sounds recorded on vintage equipment in the 1960s / the history of shoegazing (see also shoegazing history from a bisexual perspective) / Why Mow?, by the appropriately named Michael Pollan, tackles the thorny (or not-so-thorny) question of the artifical lawn, of which there allegedly exists 50,000 square miles in America alone. Are neatly-kept lawns the acme of suburban aspiration?

Obviously there’s something very morbid about Laurene and Constantin Boym’s Buildings of Disaster series, but I’ve always hankered after their model of the Watergate building: as I was being born in the small hours of that fateful day, half way around the world an inept break-in was making political history / 'the proceedings of the Old Bailey London, 1674 go 1834.' Fascinating stuff. It seems our locale was a hotbed of horse rustling back in the eighteenth century (harshly punished rustling at that). You can also see the original page.

We have another new gallery, London things, snippets of architecture on uncommonly sunny days.


Tuesday, July 15, 2003
London edges towards meltdown, with the annual wailing and gnashing of teeth when our thermometers go above 25 degrees. Barely any building built before 1990 can deal with such 'extremes' of temperature - only the chilly interiors of the very latest office block can generate a functional environment. Everyone else, stuck in their ageing building stock longs for the cool days of Autumn or, at the very least, the opportunity for a long lunchbreak along with the rest of the sweaty populace. Calexico played at Somerset House last night - a gig that couldn't have been more perfect.

Other things. We've been dredging the links document for the bits that get pushed to the bottom (I think it was Nicholson Baker who once published the detritus of a day at the keyboard, the characters, half-formed sentences, pasted information and spelling errors that build up like pocket fluff as you plough a mental furrow through a piece of writing. This will be less artful than that.)

Check the beautiful photography at Sprake Studios / oft-linked, still brilliant: the ruins of Detroit / many, many mp3s at brainwashed, a record company with faith in the format (related, an interview with Karlheinz Brandenburg, inventor of the magic technology) / former link via the excellent Anglepoised weblog / more weblogs: rasternation, rash.log, commonplaces, sublimate, gltss, Lala Land / the latter sends us to the Sidewalk Project, a photographic perambulation around the pavements of the world / Wingless jet in land speed bid - sounds suicidal / plan to build an original Frank Lloyd Wright-design gas station in Buffalo. Compare and contrast Wright's drawing with today's architectural 'rendering', and then ask yourself whether quality has improved.

Clouds at harrumph / Sci Cult bills itself as 'bridging science & culture through contemporary art,' which is right up our street. The site is rife with fascinating imagery and texts, such as Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey's chlorophyll as a photographic medium ('using the green pigment of chlorophyll to make extraordinary photographic images in grass') / unusual San Francisco / film, art, music and literature at Scene360.com - such as seeking out the influence of George Melies in the work of the Smashing Pumpkins / London photo galleries / great big maps of medieval London (from Images of Medieval Art and Architecture) / London by night (big).

Wreck your site with Malfunction's website fulifier (which, funnily enough, solves our 4.7 problems) / the Japanese manhole art museum / auctions of Outsider Art / the Pacific Wreck Database and Pacific Ghosts, charting the sorry end of military hardware in the Pacific theatre (thanks to John for all of these).

Some house-keeping. A new gallery, tentatively titled 'A walk along the river.' The route followed Samuel Pepys' journey from Tower Bridge to Deptford, formerly home of the Royal Docks, and now the location of the Laban Dance Centre (our gallery here), a grimy creek and encouraging signs of regeneration. We'll also be trying to make something of the what's new? page.


Monday, July 14, 2003
Studio International's site could do with some more pictures, but there are many articles here to enjoy, including interesting digressions on topics like the MARS Group (more). This is the kind of subject that just screams out for extensive digitisation of the various items in the collection. Related, chronology of the life of Jack Pritchard, founder of Isokon Ltd (which survives today as Isokon Plus. See also the Pritchard papers at the University of East Anglia). Pritchard also commissioned the Lawn Road Flats, cradle of Britain's short-lived modern movement. Come and see the Lawn Road Flats exhorted this strikingly modern ad, and the artists, architects and designers (many of whom were en route to the US from Nazi Germany) would congregate in the Isobar restaurant and eat fashionable foodstuffs.

Leggo my logos, Douglas Rushkoff's lengthy exposition on the gradual branding of human culture. Things we didn't know, for example, include Leo Burnett's creation of the so-called 'Chicago School of Advertising', 'in which lovable characters are used to represent products... characters create[d] a sense of drama, which enages the audience in the pitch.' You can thank Burnett (and his legacy, Leo Burnett Worldwide) for the Green Giant, Marlboro Man and Tony the Tiger, amongst others. There's more on Burnett and the Marlboro Man here. The Philip Morris advertising archive. Advertising Marlboro at the University of Rochester). Even more on Burnett at the American National Business Hall of Fame. Burnett also figures strongly in Advertising Age's Top 10 ad icons of the century.

Our favourite part of the essay is the story of James Vicary, 'the man who claims to have developed subliminal persuasion,' that evil technique apparently exposed by Vance Packard and his ilk (in truth, Packard doesn't mention the word 'subliminal' at all in his seminal work 'The Hidden Persuaders'). Apparently, in 1984, Vicary admitted that his evidence of subliminal persuasion was largely fabricated, all the better to boost his ailing company. Snopes has a good piece on the alleged origins of subliminalism (for want of a better word), and Vicary's dubious experiments. Yet the idea of subliminal advertising seemed so plausible, even without any real data to back it up, that subliminal techniques spread rapidly. Perhaps, spurred on by suspicion of the alleged practice, the public sharpened their awareness of certain brands and advertising in general, increasing sales regardless. Subliminal advertising thus succumbed to a kind of consumer Heisenburg Effect (which, tellingly, has left the laboratory and is now used to describe market research).

Elsewhere. Many, many French Goth sites, all with black backgrounds, tiny text and creepy clipart / a huge collection of camera advertising. Just what is it about photography enthusiasts that makes them more likely to scan and upload large quantities of material? / Car Living, the survival guide to living in a vehicle. Shades of Alan Bennett's The Lady in the Van (and also this item from Radio 4’s Home Truths on car living).

More cars. Saddam's cars / more about classic limousines from the past. Alarmingly, you can stretch just about anything. The site has in-depth section on the history of Lehmann-Peterson, Lincoln limousine builders par excellence, and suppliers to Presidents and Popes. Other significant stretches include X-100, the infamous 'Kennedy Car', rebuilt after the assassination at a cost of half a million dollars and used up until 1977. Since then, presidential cars are routinely destroyed (apparently) to prevent their systems from falling into the wrong hands. This conjures up images of secret devices springing from concealed panels, and terrifying embedded military technologies / the bulbuous architecture of Peter Vetsch / Nicholas Nixon’s The Brown Sisters (via Coudal).

We'll be spending a lot of time at Bunker Tours, virtual tours on the web. Found via a search for the mysterious 'Magic Mountain' at RAF Alconbury, one of the largest Cold War-era bunkers in the UK (more on bunker archaeology in general over at English Heritage). Ironically, it was completed in 1989, so there wasn't much time to 'enjoy' the space. A fine-looking publication, Cold War: building for nuclear confrontation 1946-1989, is also on the way. Visit Cold War Bunker.org as well. More on Alconbury.

We’ve been struggling to re-assert our essential thing-ness, in the face of an almost complete descent nto the virtual realm. Rest assured that isn’t going to happen, but for now you can feast your eyes upon our updated archive pages – with neat little photographs (thanks, MP) of our back issues.


Friday, July 11, 2003
Back, and busy. So not many links today. The 800x600 project is still going strong: vroom / Popcult takes a step back into the perky world of forgotten girlie mags, all part of their ongoing exploration of titillation from times past (see also these other 'art' publications, or 'figure magazines' as they were accurately called).

Nationmaster is handy reference for global statistics / Lincoln's limousines / "While You Were Playing Rubik's Cube" (via travelers diagram) - lots of fascinating projects in there / Maximo Design have updated their site / wile away a few minutes with these tessellation animations: Escher eat your heart out / a handy guide to places that sell leaded petrol / Game Boy camera photography - always fun to see a technology being pushed to its very limit.

An article on city blog maps at Slate, via the excellent map room. They missed this one of France and this one of Japan / visit the London Science Museum's Titanic Exhibition (review coming soon) / thanks to Grow-a-brain for this link to UK Nights - 'night photography in the UK' / a call for fiction at Facade Rebate Program.

The incredible Star Trek, via Sachs Report (haven’t they been trying to shift this place for a while? They should call in the House Doctor). More interior shots - the electricity bill must be huge / word of mouth, a weblog / plenty of fresh photography links at 99000, such as mecca pixel. We also love 28mm's beautiful photo stories / images, etc., at eyeshot / Miami Stories, deco-design, map-based navigation for stories of Florida / Fresh Sheet provides book news / Maud Newton's weblog / Test, a weblog.


Thursday, July 10, 2003
Still away, but have just enjoyed this Wired piece on so-called 'anti-gravity' craft. Visit American Antigravity to sift through the community's latest ventures. We particularly like Hovertech magazine ('advanced levitation systems'), and Personal Flight Systems ('propellor-free flight for next-generation mobility'). Good to see that some people still have their heads buried in the future.


Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Update. We're going to be out of town for a couple of days. Normal service will resume on Friday. Click through the current photolog for some visual stimulation (warning, big page). We've no internet access (probably), so please send us exciting stuff for when we get back...

Cabinet Magazine would like you to buy a strip of land in New Mexico. See their current issue for details (and read more here in this New York Times article).

Photos of things at photodude / loving, lavish scans of old cookery books at Brushstroke.tv / postcards of France, via six different ways (which also points us to the concept of 'digital shoplifting' - see also here. Apparently, you need not buy the magazine to get the look, just whip out your picture phone and 'steal' the pages you need. There are 76.73 million mobiles registered in Japan (2002 population: 126.97 million)) / build your own canard pusher aircraft at Cozy / enter whining, a weblog.

Senses of Cinema, an online film journal / diminished responsibility, a weblog / the story of the Dog Island hoax (see also details at the invaluable Snopes, which should be the first port of call when a normally sensible friend forwards you an email promising you untold riches for giving Bill Gates a helping hand) / solar mirages in Finland, via Coudal / mo Cupco characters have been released.

The Cross Atlantic Report, always evocative photography, especially when you have a sneaking suspicion you know the nature of the events depicted within... congratulations to all - looks fab / Coke. Izzit (at Openbrackets), another example of some poor corporate wonk being artfully maneouvered into making an utter fool of himself / World of Waldman, a great weblog, which points to the entertaining Sunday Express memo.

Ten Verses is 'dedicated to promoting intellectually-engaged criticism of visual art and architecture'. We liked Roger Emmerson's Haunted Houses, which makes the link between Vincent Price, Frank Lloyd Wright and Jacques Derrida. All articles are available in pdf format / Glasgow architecture and Edinburgh architecture: keep up with developments in Scotland's built environment / photos of the flash mobs, the new media happening du jour: I, II, III.

It’s been a good week for Cryptozoologists (but then if you read Cryptozoology.com it's always a good week), what with the Chilean blob and now a Bigfoot in China / the monkey media report, a culture blog culled from the copious links of The Great Team, a weblog that goes from strength to strength. We touched on this some time ago, but since the Spring, this realtor weblog has blossomed in popularity. One can imagine that blogging takes up a significant chunk of their time, stopping them from getting out in the California sunshine and realtoring, or whatever.

Screen printing is back. Watch this video of the poster-making process over at Coudal, or visit the studio website of the printers themselves, The Bird Machine. More screen printers (with links) at Aesthetic Apparatus. See also this great collection of Cramps posters.

An interesting overview about the infamous Blair Hornstine case at The Weekly Standard (much discussed at metafilter, but strangely alien in concept to most people in the UK. Not having valedictorians, or grade point averages, or a culture of hugely frivolous lawsuits for that matter, means that this story was always a bit weird). What grabbed our attention most was the description of the location as a 'one-Starbucks town'. Snappy, but not an original a phrase as we thought.

Now we didn’t know that B&Q stands for 'Block and Quayle' (thanks haddock). Nor, it seems, do most of the employees. Ask them next time you're at the till (providing there aren't 20 people behind you tapping their pieces of 2x4 on the ground in irritation) and revel in their blank incomprehension. Block and Quayle sounds like an alternative comedy duo from the 1960s (for example, Coyle and Sharpe).

HMS Carnage, a steampunk video game that never saw the light of day (more images, culled from the portfolios of the original artists). We can remember actually waiting for this game with great anticipation, checking the projected hardware requirements, reading the previews. More computer game art / Bram's epic lego design page: space, air, water and land. Check this model of Fallingwater (visit the original house).

In flight correction, a weblog / Anna Held Audette, 'painter of ruins of our time' / admirable minimalist design at a working project (with attached weblog) / The Well-Made Book at Reservocation / lots of little engines / Scream Magazine, 'a magazine for art, photography and literature'. See especially John Isaac's photos of the American South-West.

Geed Up, summery music we can highly recommend.


Monday, July 07, 2003
Images of ship-breaking by Rune Larsen. The reproductions aren't quite big enough to get the effect, unfortunately. This particular location, Chittagong in Bangladesh, is a favourite spot of photographers, most notably Sebastiao Salgado's 'Worker' series. See also the incredible work of Edward Burtynsky (his other galleries are also worth clicking through, such as the eerie landscapes left behind by the Three Gorges Dam project in China).

Greenpeace has a good info page about the environmental impact ship-breaking - as one would imagine, this is a dangerous, dirty activity. From this we glean that they’re breaking the Love Boat! (more about this soupy 70s television show).

It’s amazing, but perhaps not surprising, that the explosion of fotologs, photologs, whatever, has seen the creation of images of equal power and intensity to the work of professional photographers. Regardless of the apparent mundanity or familiarity of the subject matter, the combination of the digital camera and website has generated a quantum leap in the perception of abstract images, not just the narrative or event-based photography that the snapshot has been traditionally devoted to. It's as if all those random images that lurked at the end of photo rolls ('I'm just finishing up the roll of film, honey') have been suddenly thrust into the foreground, and everyone is looking, hard, at the role of composition, colour and light in their surroundings. Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but the photographic weblog (I’m thinking of Slower, of course, but many, many other logs too – Kdunk, suejon, halftone, etc. - see more links on our photo page) is perhaps as important a stage in the history of photography (and image making and record keeping in general) as the introduction of the first mass market cameras (the Brownie, the Polaroid, the disc camera, etc.). We now know to look a little harder.

The photography of Finn Manford / Danish tintype photography ('those hideous, cheap-looking pictures...') / Lightningfield gets all Piranesian (Daniel Libeskind chose Piranesi’s Carcineri etchings as his one book to take to his Desert Island last week: The Prisons (Le Carceri): The Complete First and Second States by Giovanni Battista Piranesi / Cost of War, a scary ticker thing / Michael Danner's beautiful photographs of Japan / related, Made in Toyko, with an amazing interactive Toyko model (via kottke) / perhaps it should be combined with this javascript traffic simulator?

Music to match your moods at CDbaby / the Minimalist Web project - sites that keep it sweet and simple / urban exploration photos, amongst others (more on UE at infiltration.org and this Australian site. There are countless others - UE is a very web-based phenomenon).

Elsewhere. The Architectural Review has put all its book reviews from the last five years up on its site, creating a valuable resource of contemporary architectural discourse. A top tip – the magazine’s excellent directory is also well worth book-marking. Chances are, if it’s bold or beautiful and was constructed in the past five years, then the AR has the architect’s number.

The fatal exception error t-shirt (warning: modelled in a tight-chested size) / drawing the world, an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery (via Caterina) / one of our favourite draughtsmen, Keith Vaughan / the video game hardware that no-one knows about (bits of kit that look like they've crawled from a William Gibson novel).

Finally, we have a new search feature. Please use it!


Friday, July 04, 2003
The gallery hunters are out in force at metafilter. Plep doles up a series of intricate links to official archives (e.g. John H.White’s photos of Black Chicago). Misteraitch, otherwise known for his Giornale Nuovo, counters with this post on the imagery of the The Dance of Death. There’ll come a time, in the not too distant future, when everything is on line – all aspects of visual culture, all museum collections, each and every gallery scanned and catalogued. It makes sense. Why, for example, don’t galleries provide total, linkable guides to every new exhibition? Do they think that it'll discourage people from attending the 'real thing'?

A case in point. The Virtual Museum of Canada is chock-full of images, including more on the Group of Seven (of which we learn: ''Canadian art authorities did not believe that our rough landscape was fit subject matter for art. "It's bad enough to live in this country," an old lady once told A.Y. Jackson, "without having pictures of it in your home." This, and the attitude that pine trees were unpaintable, slowly began to change.') and lots and lots of trains. Every country should have a museum like this.

Another example. Church Plans Online is a new database of about 12,500 historic church plans (created by the Lambeth Palace Library and Newcastle University). You have to break out of their frame layout to link to it (e.g. perspectives), but it's a useful resource at a time when so many churches are threatened with senseless alterations and/or neglect and demolition. More conservation matters at Recent Past.org.

Elsewhere. Retro futurism, always poignant: miracles you’ll see in the next 50 years / Zabriskie Point is a new photolog - 'a place for images that have fallen out of my camera recently'. There's some beautiful imagery here - recommended. Zabriskie Point remains one of the most evocative place names. We passed through the area once, many years ago, but it was too damn hot to stop (more pictures). And of course, there's the much discussed Antonioni film of the same name / early Penguin books / Failure Magazine, 'the online publication full of humankind's boldest missteps' / ancient medical imagery, via iconomy / Victorian swimsuits (contrast with the National Geographic's semi-notorious 'Swimsuit Issue'.

Tourgueniev is a chaotic French site (that doesn't seem to mind where its images come from...) / the Skinny Puppy sample source, discover where everyone's favourite Canadian electro band unearthed the myriad snatches of dialogue that seeps from its works. I was once half-watching a film (Communion - a highly effective (for this suggestive mind) take on the alien abduction myth) when a piece of dialogue familiar from floated up and scared me out of my wits.

Looking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago / The Pattinson Daguerreotypes, 'the first photographs ever taken of Niagara Falls' - remarkably abstract. See also Newcastle University Library's Treasure of the Month page / From the sublime to the ridiculous. Compare and contract: the Lawrence Durrell archive with the Shirley Jackson Book Cover Project / a history of the c-word (via caterina).

Garden of Eden on Wheels, 'Selected Collections from Los Angeles Area Mobile Home and Trailer Parks at the Museum of Jurassic Technology (read more about the MJT in things 15). This essay sounds so fascinating, you just want to read more:

In 1933 Mary Elliott Wing, a seamstress living in Roanoke Virginia, conceived of and constructed the first truly modern mobile home. Inspired both by the dimensions of the Biblical ark as well as Scriptural accounts of the Noachian deluge and promises of subsequent apocalyptic eras, Mary Wing devised a mobile dwelling capable of quickly adapting to a world of rapid changing environmental and social conditions.

Betacorpo.net, a weblog / discover the Nazi invasion plans of Devon / FARNE aims to 'Northumbrian folk music to people’s homes across the world'. The only folk music we know anything about is the Lincolnshire Poacher, a tune somehow appropriated by the mysterious numbers stations, but FARNE's find of the day section will be of interest to musically-minded browsers.


Thursday, July 03, 2003
We've commented before on M&S's upcoming new look, but consider what's been left behind. When Vittorio Radice was lured from Selfridges to Marks and Spencer there were sharp intakes of breath amongst those who have become addicted to Radice's brand-heavy restructuring of the famous Oxford Street store. During his tenure at Selfridges, Radice radically overhauled the department store's image. The original building ('The store simulated a neo-classical temple built in white stone. Selfridges accordingly evoked and legitimated itself with the classical virtues of strength, truth, and reason') now plays host to myriad boutiques and departments, using contemporary architects and designers wherever possible.

Selfridges' maxim was that the 'Customer is always right,' a sentiment that contemporary retailing has mostly seen fit to discard in favour of dazzling through innovation and environment. To this end, Selfridges' expansion includes the new Birmingham store, by Future Systems, bound to become an icon of 21st century retail design. And now comes the news that Toyo Ito (see this previous post) is being touted as the architect for the forthcoming Glasgow store. Will this level of quality be kept up by the new owners reputedly lurking in the wings? And will Radice's M&S homewares brand be up to scratch? Watch this space.

Elsewhere. An interesting site on The Group of Seven, a Canadian painting collective working in a vaguely Fauve-ish manner at the turn of the last century. We like Tom Thomson the best (more on Thomson, including a large gallery of his work) / the angrily-named Fuck Corporate Groceries.net, a slow food-esque weblog / many fun things are hosted at ohskylab.com, including icandy.

Limited Language is a good links page (and not just because we’re on it) / a Steve Bell piece on political cartoons in the US / new issue of This is a Magazine - the best content is by illustrator Joel Lardner, who also worked on a UNESCO document called Youth’s Sonic Forces / Cobalt Revolver, a directory of online artists/designers/magazines, etc.

Galleries and special features abound at the Mary Evans Picture Library / yet another pdf publication: Carter Magazine / Scene 360, a Portugese design portal: we liked the creepy paintings of Aaron Jasinski / hyperhistory, links, flowcharts and more / the friends and family recipe network.

The Glamorlux collections, when pin-ups were proper pin-ups (via crunchland) / Pixelsurgeon has been redesigned - it's that time of year, when everything comes up fresh / Consumptive on advertising Kodak, an extended post on this vast gallery. 'But with this archive, from advertisements over a century old, we can glimpse, imagine, just a little bit of something far more revolutionary than ccds, pixels and inkjets: nothing less than the emergence and necessity of personal, vernacular imaging by everyone, all the time, forever and ever.' / the photography of Toby Morris thrills, especially his narrative-rich Singles collection and Stephen the Great, an impossibly sad piece of photojournalism.

The wonderful world of Roobarb on line, courtesy of this metafilter post. There's even a link to the excellent theme tune, which features one of the most devilish guitar sounds ever committed to tape. I remember once reading which pedal was used to get this sound (one of these? - a Shin-ei/Companion Fuzz Box), but the memory has evaporated.


Wednesday, July 02, 2003
The Henry Wellcome exhibition now has an online exhibit, which captures some of the sheer variety of objects on show. See, for example, the 19th century chastity belt (we didn’t know this: 'Chastity belts were thought to have been invented in the Middle Ages to prevent women from engaging in sexual intercourse. However, it has recently been argued that they are nothing more than Victorian myths. Although the documentation connected with this object claims that it may date to the 16th century, it is more likely that it was made in the 19th century.’), a pair of fakir’s sandals, an artificial iron hand (made in Paris in 1564), a case of artifical eyes and this creepy tattoo on human skin. (We’re told by those in the know that the Wellcome Collection has whole rooms full of this kind of thing). The site also links to the Quay Brothers’ film, The Phantom Museum (thanks to that rabbit girl for drawing our attention to the Wellcome site).

Rabbit also links to Maev Kennedy’s story in the Guardian, and there's a piece at the BBC as well. Rabbit clearly has an eye for an exhibition website, as her link to All Aboard! (Models, Memorabilia and Memories of Railroads from AIHA’s Collections) attests. There's also a pointer to the gorgeous and pensive No-East magazine (founded by the wonderfully named Lacey Graves, whose own website, Lay-C.com contains this Chicago skyline panorama). Related, Gapers Block, a Chicago-based web publication. One for the sidebar, we think.

Elsewhere. Weekend, an avian flash animation (via sublimate). Watch it with your speakers off, then switch them on and be transported into a Godard/Ballard-esque landscape (related to this Weekend, perhaps?) / some links for the cynic who nonetheless likes their bullet-proof credulity to be tickled every now and again. The Charles Fort Institute ('the world's leading resource for scholarship and research in the understanding of strange experiences and anomalous phenomena'), the increasingly lad-mag-like Fortean Times, the Skeptical Inquirer and last but not least, Randi.org.

Hmmm, not sure about the legality of this, but you can access all the back issues of fashion glossy Tank in pdf format from here…. (we like the Re-Mined issue, 'a publication on memory'). They've all had their ads stripped out but it's nonetheless an interesting trawl through nearly a decade of what one would call ‘cutting-edge’ style. (the lack of ads reminded us of this Observer piece on the futurist Marian Salzman and her observation that society is divided into 'alphas' ('trendsetting creatives') and 'bees' (the rest of us, drone-like beings who actually spread the trends). The piece notes: 'According to Salzman, InStyle and Condé Nast Traveler are the ultimate 'bee' magazines. Anyone who's truly in the loop doesn't need to read about it (crucially, it's the ads in Vogue that are the trendsetters, not the editorial).')

More links. Linkdump is a Belgium project, a kind of minimalist metafilter where there are no comments, just click-throughs, and the only clue as to what you're linking to is the URL. They linked to us, for which we're grateful, but there are sites on there that look distinctly dubious / a ferris wheel in Paris, courtesy of Kottke / cockpits of the world / photography at Noshe (see the summer 2003 pdf portfolio) / two weblogs: absenter and mirabilis

Enter the world of Star Wars Galaxies with these 360 degree panoramas. We're not tempted, but can imagine how this game will totally consume many people's lives / Boochakanan, a photo journal / frequently linked, but often quite handy, sounds of the world's animals / NASA's gallery of Significant Event Imagery / a history of Canary Wharf / Random Walks, a weblog / we're several months late with this: a scrapbook of the Cultural Revolution.

We’ve beefed up Tony Wood’s 'Prisoners of Paradise' with some of his original photographs: I, II, III.


Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Architectural Feasts & Remnants of Colonial Consumption, by Sarah Treadwell, a long, but fascinating history of the 'hakari', traditional Maori feast stages ('the stages are characterized by extreme dimensions. There are descriptions of hakari stages ninety feet in height and another two miles in length.') For the early colonialists, hakari presented an extraordinary sight, vast structures that bridged the gap between display and architecture, their excesses (the structures were laden with food) played down by anxious missionaries disturbed by these open symbols of profligacy. Inevitably, as Treadwell notes, the dramatic visuals of the hakari have been co-opted by the advertising industry, stripping away the symbolic power of the stages still further. The publication, Pander, looks well worth exploring further, it includes online artworks like Chris Cottrell's Analogue 1, and Andrew Barrie's 'p' and 'u'.

We've just ordering Collecting Mania, a new print magazine spin-off from Spatium in Germany. 'We contacted graphic designers, photographers, illustrators and typedesigners and asked two questions: What are you collecting and what does it mean for your creative work?' Can't wait.

A delightful post-war cross-European bicycle travelogue, especially the wonderful photos: Vitabrill advertising wagon (an early version of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile?), and the Bristol 170 aeroplane too / a DIY Utilitarian Poster Design, just fill in the blanks (via Open Container.

Speaking of Wienermobiles (well represented online - more wiener), there is a timely exhibition on the life and work of Wiener-designer Brook Stevens at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Stevens designed the original Wienermobile in 1958 (and Brook Stevens Design, founded in 1934, is still going strong), and was also responsible for the lovely William Woods Plankinton Motor Home of 1936, a ‘land yacht’ designed for the eponymous millionaire for trips between NY and California. Another of Steven's innovations, the barmy Excalibur, a 'faux classic' favoured by Hollywood types.

Elsewhere. Dicken’s London (via scrubbles) / Walking Melbourne, a database of the city's architecture / Rogue Semiotics, a weblog / Line Magazine, an online publication from the American Institute of Architects San Francisco / over 30% of Japanese pets are overweight. What's the solution? The Dogwalker, of course / the secret world of transfer pricing - seems somewhat unfair to us / a new issue of Tiger magazine is online /

A gallery of young Kristin Scott Thomas in Prince’s Under the Cherry Moon (from a very comprehensive 'KST' fan site and inspired by her recent appearance on Desert Island Discs) / two German pdf design mags: Phonk Magazine and Orange Flow / photography by Rui Camilo / photography by Sacha Dean Biyan / Hektor (pdf), an amazing graffiti-machine / gallery celebrating the work of typographer Ladislav Sutnar - highly recommended.

Nutsy’s, a world in 1: 25 scale from the artist Tom Sachs. 4,000 square feet of model, navigated by remote control cars, that 'links the idealistic modernism of Le Corbusier with the commercialized modernism of McDonald's.' Sounds extraordinary, and the movies give more insight into the installation. Sort of Matthew Barney meets Trumpton, via Scalextric (still one of the most misspelled toys of all time).

As promised, two new galleries: the new(ish) Laban Centre in Deptford, and a selection of random city objects.