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Friday, October 31, 2003
A random mixture today.

Fishbucket, a weblog, which links to 'Did You Ever Have a Dream Like This?', an exhibit of early photomontage 'tall tale' postcards / husk, a weblog, with its sister site craneporn.org - stalking across London's skyline / the Swinging Chicks of the 1960s, with surprisingly comprehensive biographies of the era's starlets, actresses and ingénues (and genuine stars) / Chicago Hauntings at Gapers’ Block / online copy of Caxton's printing of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

The Modern Compendium of Miniature Automata, a rather neat flash animation from the Lycette Brothers, all whirring gears, fake foxed paper and pseudo-Victoriana / stop alien abductions with a homemade thought screen helmet. The kind of site that's been conjured up to sell a book, or something. By the same person, drawings of aliens by children. Except, except… these ‘children’s drawings’ look a bit like those fake children's drawings you see in films. Call us cynical.

Follow me here, a weblog / Alto169, a photolog / airport codes of the world / prolific.org, a weblog / the magnificent melting object, a weblog / After the Wall, Berlin’s Urban Scar in Metropolis, photography by Thomas Meyer / Michele Laurita, photography, slickly presented, zeitgeisty fashion images /

The awesome sound of Noxagt / art projects at lust.nl / Circlemakers, still plugging away although their season is now over for the year / anagram generator: 'MANAGE ZING HITS' suits us, we think / One for Halloween. The Ghost Research Society / Californian wildfire images and links, via Lightningfield. Some are very dramatic, e.g. red sun (compare with the Weather Project) / Tintern Abbey, via incoming signals / the Business Plan Archive is a repository of the digital fallout from the dotcom boom era / glowlab, a weblog / Doubletake Magazine, struggling, but worth a look in.

Have a good weekend.


Thursday, October 30, 2003
House in Progress is a home restoration weblog. They draw our attention to their 'What on Earth?' section, which traces the history of the house and the things it was filled with. The seller had lived there for 60 years, hoarding stuff like crazy: most of this was left behind (a case for the Life Laundry? See the forthcoming things 17-18 for more Life Laundry musings). What on Earth? is a list of things that were left behind, and the story that the items told.

Rummaging around in someone else's attic/basement is fascinating stuff, especially when the things are so interesting. Some items that caught our eye: poster for the Hapag World Cruise, 1931, on the 'triple-screw de-luxe steamer Resolute' (ship biog here, scroll down), an itinerary for a trip to the Far East, 1937, bodybuilder book, a huge collection of perfume bottles, original prints, vintage toys, pins and grooming things, many, many cameras, Chicago ephemera, back issues of Harper's Bazaar, and much, much more. As you might expect, the owners have put a lot of this stuff up for sale. But what a treasure trove: we're deeply, deeply envious.

Elsewhere. Bootleg Objects - reconstructing, subverting and updating Bang & Olufsen’s chic 70s electronics. We like the mp3 server and the DVD player best / mid-century modern furniture at Origin 101 / the MiniGame Compo, proving that there are still plenty of people out there making games for the consoles and computers of yesteryear / Flatleaver, 'an online boutique for offroad music'. See also the Puzzling Music Archive. Even more music: Monotik is an online electronica label with over 1.2 Gb of free downloads. The site also includes Mod Soul Brother, an archive of .mod format music which was all the rage about a decade ago. See the modland FTP site for more - it claims to have some 91489 tunes. Monotik also hosts the excellent FFWD weblog / an excellent site about the avant-garde composer Anton Webern, accidentally shot dead by an American soldier in Salzburg on 15 September 1945.

Online resource for 2001: A Space Odyssey / album covers built of Lego / home-made CD compilations at Drokk / Keith Lynch's timeline of net related terms and concepts / FOLDOC, the free on-line dictionary of computing / Encyclopedia Astronautica: all you ever wanted to know about space (related: flash-based planetarium) / the stapler database, 'the biggest serious website totally about stapler information' / the 'Best and Worst of Statistical Graphics' at the Gallery of Data Visualization.


Wednesday, October 29, 2003
All these houses have now vanished beneath the waves. This 1957-1965 photographic survey of Capel Celyn, Wales, (originally found at the Solipistic Gazette) shows the small village now submerged beneath the Llyn Celyn reservoir, starting in 1965. See also the story of the construction of the Clywedog valley reservoir. Both schemes were dogged by local protest, which manifested itself in violence, courtesy of the MAC (Mudiad Amddiffyn Cymru - the Movement for the Defence of Cymru or Wales Defence Force, one of several such organisations). This was unsurprising, given that Welsh land was being ‘stolen’ to provide water for British cities (mainly Liverpool and Birmingham). More about the Tryweryn Valley, the story of which found its way into 'Ready for Drowing', a song by the Manic Street Preachers. A Quicktime panorama of the Llyn Celyn reservoir as it is today. The reservoir at dusk. Location map.

The source of these images, Gathering the Jewels, is an excellent site, a visual record of Welsh cultural history. See also the Steelworks gallery, with these long-demolished worker's terraces. As you might imagine, it’s especially strong on industrial subjects, but there are many other gems (pardon the pun) to be found: Beaumaris Gaol Misconduct Book, 1847-1874, the Curiosities page is also well worth a visit: albino moles, scold’s bridle and this most unusual of crimes:

On 30 August 1872, at the Justice Room, Corwen, John Day was convicted of cutting up and depositing the body of a camel in an exposed situation near the turnpike road between Corwen and Bala, in the parish of Llandrillo-yn-Edeirnion. He was ordered to pay a fine of five shillings and one pound nineteen shillings costs, and was imprisoned at Dolgellau gaol for fourteen days with hard labour.

Solipistic Gazette also links to Medical Ephemera. Another photographic archive, this time from the US: King County Snapshots / Encyclopaedia Robotica (via gordon.coale).

Mark Irving’s feature on Chernobyl at Domus (free registration required): a huge concrete arch will be constructed, then slid over the existing nuclear power to seal it for the foreseeable future. (Related: Nuclear advert 'misleading') See also Robert Polidori's new book, Zones of Exclusion: Pripyat and Chernobyl. I can't find any of these images online, but you can flick through a postage stamp-sized slideshow of his award-winning photo essay on Brasilia / UFOs in Medieval European Art (via fiendish is the word). More UFOs in ancient artwork.

Thanks to Chris at Anti-mega for pointing us towards these early escalator concepts at the Elevator Museum / two galleries of Burning Man photos. I think the weirdest thing about this whole Burning Man thing for a European is the alien landscape. The activities and people are just like Glastonbury / suitably Halloween-y sculptures from Elizabeth McGrath / comprehensive site about Orson Welles' classic broadcast of War of the Worlds / Beckfordiana, the William Beckford website. Stunningly comprehensive and beautifully illustrated.


Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Many things today, and no musings. Richard Meier's Jubilee Church in Rome opened last weekend / Bowlmor Lanes, a classic 1938 bowling alley in NY as seen by meccapixel. It looks a little phoney to us… / a butterfly alphabet / Vulcan miniature PC. Neat, but we’d want a nicer keyboard. Via Sachs Report / Nick Meek, photographer. Especially his personal work / galleries at melancholy rhino / world photo studios, a Colors project, via me-fi.

There, a new parallel universe, launches today. Read this Wired article and ponder on whether you need yet another layer of artificial reality to overlay on top of your life. Consider too Willa G.Cline's Sims Tips, from things 13 / the elephant, a virtual exhibition (via mysterium) / more alternate realities: screen shots of toilets in video games (via kottke). The first virtual toilet we remember is this one / ‘fake bullet holes and damage stickers make the perfect illusion’: we see a depressing number of cars with these stickers over in the UK (i.e. more than none).

The work of Ana Casas Broda, including her unflinching diet journals (NSFW). See also self-portraits (via ArtNudes, which also links to the creepy work of Margi Geerlinks. Related: photo-manipulation by Nicole Tran Ba Vang, via Conscientious). Even more nudity: Jason Salavon's Every Playboy Centerfold, The Decades (normalized), 2002: ‘The photographs in this suite are the result of mean averaging every Playboy centerfold foldout for the four decades beginning Jan. 1960 through Dec. 1999.’ (via Stamen).

Stairs and spirals, at apothecary’s drawer, including the mystery of London Underground's spiral escalator and this curving escalator from Japan. A little bit more digging reveals the story of escalator pioneer Jesse Reno, inventor of the moving stairway and builder of the failed London Underground system. Having moved his company to London in 1902, Reno used his own money to install the first spiral escalator at Holloway Road station (in 1906, according to the Halfbakery). It was never used by the public, and Reno went back to the US.

Vintage technology, also via me-fi. The vans section is especially appealing. More old trucks. More old electrical stuff (via sugar-n-spicy) / Spencer Tunick and his naked pranksters hit Grand Central / hi-rise builds websites for designers and their friends, e.g. 13amp, Vulnerabilia, Playground.


Monday, October 27, 2003
Torill Mortensen’s Thinking with my fingers, a fascinating weblog that talks about and around issues concerning virtual worlds and text-based gaming. Topics include a musing on computer games and the role of the state: eight million Norwegian kroner have apparently set aside for the development of non-violent or less violent computer games in Norway (my emphasis), probably in an attempt to avoid situations like this. We also recommend Mortensen’s essay ‘The Geography of a Non-place', which delves into the extremely complex and self-constructed world of the text-only Multi-User Dungeon, or MUD. These, the direct descendants of the original adventure games, are populated by a cast of thousands, all playing with altered or enhanced personas, using the anonymity of their computers to explore what are, in effect, artificial societies.

MUDs appear to differ markedly from other persistent online environments – such as Sony’s highly addictive Everquest or Star Wars Galaxies. The latter are MMORPGs, Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. Your imagination is still challenged (I’m guessing here, having never entered one), but without the totally limitless possibilities of a text-only interface. That’s not to say that societies, groupings and special events don't take place in MMORGs: One of the most common player-run events on just about any MMORPG is the player wedding… Many players have started to offer their services as wedding planners.

MUDs, like SWG and EQ (see how easy it is to slip into acronyms?), also allow for an infinite variety of personalisation. You also get MOOs: MUD Object Orientated – ‘the users themselves can create objects, rooms, and code to add to the environment.’ Mortensen talks about the browser as an online 'home', but one which is a 'space of departure rather than a space to dwell'. The essay tackles the geographic precision of Harlequin Romances (more romance book covers), the man adrift at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport, online personality theft, and the ways in which virtual characters can be 'dressed up' as expressions - or extensions - of their user's personality. Is the internet a place or a non-place? Does territorial behaviour - such as personal expression - make it the former?

Elsewhere. More about Amazon.com’s browsable book system, by Gary Wolf at Wired. I’m not sure I agree that Amazon’s ‘online competitors’ are Yahoo, Google, and eBay – surely all four provide very different services (with the possible exception of Yahoo and Google)? / Something we never knew regarding McLuhan's ‘The Medium is the Message’ (via Brushstroke.tv, Groscurth) / Louis Kahn's Salk Institute / A Russian Utopia, drawings and renders from the golden age of Soviet architecture (most of it unbuilt) / what does the Bible actually say about being gay? (via the BBC) / two music sites: do something pretty and Aversion / Gaetan's photolog, via Jean-Luc at mediatic.

BIX, 'communicative display skin' at the new Kunsthaus in Graz (the first true manifestation of the Archigram ideal?) / Expressive architecture from an earlier age: the Watts Towers, huge photos by misterpants. The towers in context: 'It's a little depressing to consider that, in today's communities, the Watts Towers would not only be an embarassment; they would be illegal.' / bbCity, Laputan Logic, weblogs. Beverly Tang, Evenings on the lake, more weblogs / the sound of Concorde (mp3). More aeroplane noises.

Conkers. Neat. Only they misspelled ‘vinegar’ and there’s no mention of the possible legal ramifications of the sport / crane accidents, via muxway / beanies for sale: I am so upset that this clown of a woman figured out my SUPER PLAN TO SCAM MILLIONS FROM THE UNKNOWING BEANIE WORLD! I FIGURED I WOULD RETIRE FROM THIS RUSE! (thanks to tmn). I'd forgotten quite how enthralling Samorost was / left shoe fanatic held in Japan.


Friday, October 24, 2003
'Selling you a new past' (via Kottke), a fascinating article about 'memory morphing' – or how advertising makes you reassess products and services after the event... so maybe you’ll try them again. The car industry has been doing this for years; I once heard it said that car ads are mostly aimed at people who’ve already bought the car – reinforceing their decision and hopefully encourage them to make a repeat purchase. From the article: "…Professor Jerry Zaltman, a psychologist attached to Harvard Business School … claims that advertising - "if properly constructed" - can lead to the creation of false memories." It gets better:

Elizabeth Loftus, a former professor of psychology at the University of Washington... singled out a campaign by Disney - "Remember the magic" - which, she claimed, was used to invoke real or imaginary childhood memories in consumers. She reported an experiment in which people were shown an advert suggesting that children who visited Disneyland had the opportunity to shake hands with Bugs Bunny. Later, many of those who had seen the advert "remembered" meeting Bugs on childhood visits to the theme park, a feat that would have been impossible, given that the cartoon is a Warner Brothers character.

Zaltman has a 1995 patent on his ZMET system, a 'method and apparatus for eliciting customer input to construct advertising/marketing campaigns'. ZMET is an image-based research tool that enables companies to discern exactly how consumer's experience of an object or event made them feel. A kind of fiendishly complex questionnaire. In practice, the system allows a consumer to chose a series of pictures, representing moods and emotions triggered by the product. These images are then brought together in a collage to summarise their feelings, and this composite image is discussed in depth.

There's even more background to the process in this Fast Company article from 1998, 'Metaphor Marketing', which traces the history of marketing from the birth of the focus group in the 30s. It notes that the average American supermarket is stuffed with 30,000 different items. Since 1980, the number of products launched each year has tripled; in 1996 alone, companies introduced some 17,000 new products. So how can companies possibly keep up with who wants what and why? This is where new research methods come in. Zaltman’s ZMET is discussed in the paragraph entitled ‘The Truth about Pantyhose’ (scroll down).

So is this kind of marketing one of our ‘luxuries of progress’ or is it a hardcore science with wider implications? How else would Nestlé learn that ‘the Crunch bar turns out to be a very powerful icon of time’, or that women have a like/hate relationship with pantyhose? (we call them tights)? Zaltman’s work continues at The Mind of the Market Laboratory at Harvard Business School. Related, in that ‘internet of things’ train of thought. You can now search inside books at Amazon (me-fi discussion). This will definitely be something to return to.

Closely related: 'Buying sofas, stealing beauty,' a review of Virginia Postrel’s The Substance of Style. The reviewer notes that:

..esthetic plenitude fuels our economy. Producers compete on the basis of styling, and it’s not just women’s coats and automobiles we’re talking about. It’s paper clips, and pagers, and letter openers, and shoelaces, and bath mats, and bandages, and ballpoint pens. There may well be not a single item of household or personal use that is not now available in some professionally styled — and usually quite attractive — variant.

The book interprets the sheer variety of manufactured goods as a form of popular critique of high modernism - by buying the everyday, we're rejecting the tenets of so-called 'high design'. Everyone becomes an arbiter of their own very personal – and very achievable – taste.

House cleaners looking for work post ads with mixed fonts and with clip art. Ms. Postrel takes umbrage when professional designers look at these productions and cringe. She comes close to saying there is no such thing as bad design, that our pluralistic culture has made the commissar of taste a thing of the past. “I like that” rules.

But does this aesthetic plenitude really help? Or are we revelling in plain old bad design just because we can? There's a largely hidden and unexplored network of manufacturing, shipping, containerisation and distribution out there, creating endless stuff, stuff that is continuously circumnavigating the world, on its way from one market to another in order to sate our consuming desires, be they long-harboured or freshly-created, or even retrospectively reactivated.

Elsewhere. The Cuboro system. Chunks of wood. Holes. Marbles. (via Tweaks the limbs). Very pleasing: I, II, animation. This takes us to Kugelbahn, a huge site devoted to ‘rolling ball sculptures, curious machines, mechanical sculptures, automota and other ‘moving’ art, like this incredible barrel (inside). See also the extraordinary ‘Realm of the Dead'. There are excellent videos, too: I, II. More marble madness (in German), including this epic Cuburo construction. Kinetic art and mechanamorphic sculpture, the work of William Dubin.

The motor industry suffers another product-naming fiasco with the 2005 Buick LaCrosse, which will probably look nothing like this concept version from 2000 (although at least one of the anecdotes related in the story - that the Chevrolet Nova translated into 'No Go' in Spanish - has since been debunked). More American auto wallpapers / Please do not lick this page! More eye candy, via making light / Not eye candy at all. Under Fire: Images from Vietnam (via Douze Lunes). Golly / Attaboy, a weblog / film strips. Have a great weekend.

Update. The last three commercial Concorde flights just went over: I, II, III.


Thursday, October 23, 2003
Is it a duck or a decorated shed? Re-visiting Venturi's Las Vegas-derived classifications / the quest for Rem Koolhaas's iconic Bordeaux House / Tadao Ando’s Fort Worth Art Modern Art Museum / Le Corbusier's Chandigarh, now fifty years old / flash fun / lightning field is king of urban exploration / talk to the Jabberwacky, an online artificial being. Related: Anybody home? / The Great Atlantic Gallery, artists inspired by the Cornish coastline. We like Neil Pinkett.

The whole map from Jet Set Willy. The whole map from Sabre Wulf (both from the excellent ultimate-wurlde.com - these maps are the virtual spaces of our childhood) / All hail the spiders, East London insect life at norlonto.net / worst book covers (via Coudal). Unsurprisingly, romance features highly. Am I alone in getting a bit confused with the best book covers? (more. Related, huge collection of pulp covers, via caterina) / Book of Ages: on turning 30 / epic Scottish panorama (quicktime, huge) / the Solar Challenge. We remember an episode of Knight Rider ('Give me liberty ... or give me death'. And yes, we had to look that up. The script) where a 'solar-powered' vehicle consisted of a muscle car with about four panels on the bonnet and roof, not the skinny-wheeled ultra-lights shown here.

Lists, lists and more lists at Vitamin Q, including ‘severed hand trivia’ (‘at last’!) / photography and design by Mike Slone / Praktika, French web design portal / Archihub(2), an architectural meta site / fonts, sites and more at netdiver.net / Stungeye on the evolution of the Beatles’ recording technology. It's hard to believe that similar results could have been achieved with today's myriad options (we weren't aware that that old standard, CoolEdit, was now part of the Adobe Empire).

A review of 'A Passion for Sharpened Steel', the history of fencing. Sharp stuff: There exists footage of a samurai sword slicing through a machine gun; and Arab swords were tested by placing them motionless in a stream, where they were expected to slice passing leaves in two as the current pushed them against the blade.

Noise. The mighty Nurse with Wound. Related, sonically, Whitehouse. Both come from that curious void in British pop culture, a crack in the cultural fabric that revels in transgression, swathes of angry electronic noise and confrontational live shows. Not really in the same vein, but the work of The Caretaker is also quite spooky, especially Friends Past Re-United, sort of like hearing a concert going on in a distant room of a big, empty house.


Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Random snippets today, thanks in part to delays on the wretched London Underground. A bit more about the Greatstone sound mirrors. These photos show the extreme sculptural weirdness of the objects. See also this article by Tom Dyckhoff on artist Lise Autogena’s ongoing project to recreate the mirrors in collaboration with Tom Barker of B-consultants, developers of the groovy SmartSlab, a kind of structural media wall that'll turn cities into one giant billboard. Perhaps.

Spread Eagles ('they were flying high and laying low'), part of the X-Rated Poster Gallery, which includes the infamous Debbie does Dallas ('Vivid color for Ladies and Gentlemen over 21 years') / Neurastenia, an illustration blog / Fiat 1935-1979, comprehensive site / In December 1965, residents of Kecksburg, Pennsylvania watched a fireball descend into a heavily-forested area 40 miles from Pittsburgh. That night the area was cordoned off by the military, trucks and helicopters came and went, and the town was briefly placed under martial law: Sci-fi channel may sue NASA for UFO documents.

nipponDAZE, 'a collective memory' / Impossible Cities, at Domus magazine / 2advanced.com: this kind of thing is desparately clichéd, but it's still somehow pleasing that someone has taken the time and effort to create it / Earth Architecture, mud brick architecture and more, including the Casa Grande Ruins in Coolidge, Arizona. The big floating roof reminded us of the ironclad gunboat USS Cairo, which lives under similar cover near Vicksburg / subway snaps at rion / Bergin's Graffiti of Brighton, huge galleries that walk you around street graphics, signage and more.


Tuesday, October 21, 2003
In the early days of computer gaming, the most evocative and atmospheric experiences were conveyed entirely through text. Text adventures, with their terse locations, thrived on the role of objects, which were there to be discovered, smashed, used, examined and combined: you find the lamp, but now you need the oil to fill it and the match to light it. Only then will the dark room become illuminated. See this walkthrough for Level 9's famous 'Return to Eden' to see the object-centric focus of a typical game. See also the Classic Adventures Solution Archive, with evocative maps like this: Adventureland. Also, solutions for the famous series of Infocom adventure games.

As this Wikipedia history of the text adventure shows, the very first text adventures debuted in the mid to late 70s (e.g. Will Crowther and Don Woods' seminal Colossal Caves Adventure - which you can play online. More information at SPAG, the Society for the Preservation of Adventure Games). Our virtual avatars seemed to have over-stuffed but infinitely-deep pockets. Today, our computers remain depositories for imaginary objects. Although the box that sits on the desk is essentially mundane and lacking wonder, inside is a cabinet of curiosities, with each and every machine somehow different, their many functions and properties signified through a myriad of obscure objects, things that must be opened, expanded, collapsed, scrolled, stored, filed, deleted and edited. Of course, we still love to explore the physical world of objects, but this seems to be increasingly about those personal, internal environments.

Elsewhere. Graffiti (I spell this word wrong every single time) artist Banksy undertook a sneaky (but well-publicised) re-hanging of the Tate Gallery last week. Although I’d read about the stunt, I hadn't actually seen the work in question. The title of the painting? 'Crimewatch UK Has Ruined The Countryside For All Of Us.' Another one of Banksy’s ‘vandalised oil paintings’ (via a secret smile, who also links to the work of Adam Neate). More art. Recent painted map works by Anna Oliver, including 'Charge of the Light Brigade', 'Iraq' and [Claude Monet’s] 'Waterlilly Pond, 1899'. Nevergirl is an excellent photolog (via yummywakame).

Signage: Wide Right Turn, via Coudal / Related: type in Stockholm, via City of Sound and Typographica. City of Sound also has a post about the freshly re-opened Hayward Gallery, with excellent photography. One correction, though, it wasn’t Denys Lasdun who designed the building. Lasdun was responsible for the National Theatre (it is next to impossible to find a good site about this building. This is all we could do: National Theatre, with more on Lasdun's other work). The South Bank Arts complex next to the Royal Festival Hall and consisting of the Hayward, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room – was designed by the GLC Department of Architecture, led by Geoffrey Horsefall, with Hubert Bennett the principal designer. South Bank site history. More twentieth century architecture, a great piece on the sound mirrors at Greatstone in Kent, wartime relics of the pre-radar age.

The ancient world mapping centre, via The Map Room / No Sense of Place has redesigned / more time lapse photography, this time focusing on plants (via me-fi) / No Surrender, WWII never ended for these quasi-legendary Japanese soldiers (via consumptive) / breasts in Japanese culture (obviously not safe for work) / Hard Hats for Christ / Esher in Lego, via the cartoonist. Also, all about the legendary Mercedes 300SL / weblogs ordered by weblogger's ages at the ageless project: spanning sixty years.

Building the Chrysler Building, the social construction of a skyscraper / brassiere links at art for housewives / more of those great hand-manipulated polaroids of London / like Bowblog, we note with alarm William Gibson's metaphorical description of blogging's relationship to writing: “The image that comes most readily to mind is that of a kettle failing to boil because the lid’s been left off.”


Monday, October 20, 2003
Masters of their universe’ is well worth a read. Francis Spufford’s informative story of Elite, a computer game held in enormously high regard by most British gamers, but relatively unknown everywhere else, captures the atmosphere of the early days of computer gaming / Japanese gadgets and gizmos at dottocomu.com / Idle Words on Halifax, the site of the world's largest explosion in December 1917 (panorama of the scene), when a stricken ammunition ship, the Mont-Blanc drifted close to the piers and wharves before its cargo was detonated. More on the Halifax Explosion: I, II, III. A telegram.

The computer manipulated photography of Jörg Sasse, found amongst his huge portfolio of stunning imagery (via pop-log). We especially like 7988 (2002), 8246 (2000), his architecture series, the Braun series, the precisely observed interior details in Private Räume, the textures in Schaufenster and his still lives / also at pop-log, Francis Alÿs’s land-art piece 'When Faith Moves Mountains’ (2002) / Le Lounge Électronique, a weblog / the deeply weird (and shiny) sculptures of Rona Pondick / obsessive collecting of LP and CD covers at domino / The Log, a weblog.

Ron Haviv’s Blood and Honey is a very moving photo-essay on the Balkans War, tracing events right from the outset of the conflict. The pictures in 'Ruin' are particularly heart-breaking: a Serbian soldier flashes the victory sign, Croatia, 1991, a woman looks out of her window, Sarajevo, 1994, Muslim refugees living in a destroyed village, Croatia, 1994. The BBC has an informative microsite, Milosevic on Trial. Via AshleyB.

The Architecture of Hospitals, via magnetbox, is worth keeping an eye on. Hospitals, in this country at least, tend to be accretions, as various periods of architecture and expertise are layered one on top of another: here a block of airy Victorian wards, there a rigorous piece of post-war functionalism. Each generation gradually comes to understand the failings of its own style, as technology marches on and different aspects of patient care become pushed to the fore. The idea of a unifying design concept is nearly always compromised. Compare this picture of the modern chunk of London St Thomas’s Hospital and its three remaining Victorian wings to get a very good idea of the piecemeal nature of hospital building. This is how St Thomas’s used to look.

Just occasionally, something slips through the net and remains preserved in all its original glory - Aalvar Aalto’s Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Paimio, Finland, is a case in point. Or Sir John Burnet, Tait and Lorne's 1931 Royal Masonic Hospital. More usually, bold, big buildings that are too costly to maintain are simply abandoned (see also, and especially, abandoned asylums, which have historically fallen prey to changing medical and government attitudes towards mental health care).

What happened on 12 April 1994? Read this brief history of spam to find out (via muxway). Discover how the innocent-sounding law firm of Canter & Siegel became the most hated company on the nascent internet, back in the day when conservative estimates put the number of web users at 15 million. Some more on Canter & Siegel: these two are prime contenders for a) a where are they now? spot, and b) a 10 year anniversary look back at the havoc they wreaked.

Olafur Eliasson's The Weather Project at Tate Modern. The reaction to this installation has been overwhelmingly positive. Related: London in Autumn. Another current London installation, Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey's Dilston Grove. Read more in this Guardian piece. More about the Clare College Mission Church.

Elsewhere. Tack-o-rama, via sugar-n-spicy, a great-looking site / print your own (Monopoly) money (via little things, a weblog) / plenty of cultural snippets at Jazzcafe’s blog / a collection of cute flash games / the changing shape of vintage clothing sizes (via the usually not-safe-for-work Core/Dump) / Volkswagen bus ads, via Dead Bus Diaries.

Also via Ashley, Escape from Woomera, more political computer game action / Ramage goes to Portugal / Scottish Ordnance Survey Town Plans, 1847-95, via Plep / Hooray! Portage is back. Now all we need to do is knock loudly on Sharpeworld’s virtual door.


Friday, October 17, 2003
More mapping. As we’ve mentioned before, Harry Beck's classic London underground diagram seems to hold a special place in the heart of webloggers – perhaps it’s the graphic simplicity, the way in which geographical information is re-organised in order to better show connections and links, rather than actual physical locations (perhaps it's how the internet appears in our own mental cartography?). This is the best visual history of the tube map we've yet found. There are tube blogger maps all over the globe, and weblog focusing on transport and transit issues (London, New York, Slate article).

We’re not sure if we’ve linked to Chris Heathcote’s Anti-mega before: we especially admire his attempt to take on TfL’s own mighty mapping department. A year or so ago, the powers that be embarked on a cartographic campaign to address the capital's bus routes. The result, the so-called 'Spider Maps' (e.g. Oval, pdf), take Beck's circuit-diagram aesthetic but - because of their emphasis on single, isolated routes - tend to be more linear and limb-like (hence the arachnoid metaphor). Anti-mega proposes a series of spider maps that integrate every other form of public transport. (Related: design your own).

We missed Sean Dodson’s piece in last week’s Guardian, ‘The internet of things’. Dodson looks at the origins and potential of RFid technology (as used in the Oyster cards discussed yesterday), and the dawn of the proposed Electronic Product Code (EPC) Network, a possible replacement for barcodes. Ultimately, he posits, everything - every object, thing, tchotchke, widget, gadget, device and piece of pocket fluff, could have some kind of online presence. ‘That’s great!’ cry a significant proportion of the populace, ‘if we know where everything was all of the time, then there would be no mislaid house keys, wayward socks, abducted children, pilfered mobile phones, stolen cars, shoplifting, gun violence, etc., etc., etc.’

Everyone else, once they’ve found their glasses (which I’m sure I left on the mantelpiece, or it could have been by the sink, but then they turned out to be in the kitchen), mumbles quietly in dissent, and remembers how satisfying it is when memory engages reality and you can visualise exactly where you left something. Locating technology, they point out, is faddish and a little bit unnecessary. Does anyone remember the brief mid-80s fad for beeping key-chains? Your keys would vanish into the infinite folds of space, time and laundry that is your home and to find them you’d simply whistle: the key-chain would chirrup its location (cue much hilarious abuse of the system by making it beep at inappropriate times). That's technology for you. Have you ever rung up your missing telephone to locate it by its ring? Of course. Things go missing. That’s what they do: it's how you know that they're things. Besides, there's always someone, somewhere, who claims they can find what you want (E-seek, Bookfinder, etc.). Douglas Adams once wrote of a planet populated entirely by lost biros....

But the EPC network isn't designed to save us from a world of odd socks: ultra-precise stock tracking is the ultimate goal, with every item in every store, warehouse and shopping trolley instantly accounted for. British supermarket chain Tesco are amongst those trying out RFid tagging, but has claimed that it will only embed chips into packaging, and not the actual product (making landfill sites a potentially buzzing place for lovers of electronic chit-chat). As anti-RFid campaigners like NoTags point out, such experiments are likely to be only the tip of the iceberg, but it's one of those quandaries where cohesive opposition is harder to vocalise than one might think. For a start, it seems we need a new word for 'total information society' - this internet of things. My German isn't up to it, but something along the lines of an electronic gesamtkunstwerk. Any suggestions?

Elsewhere. 101 websites for writers, via that rabbit girl / the Third Reich in Ruins, a fascinating journey through the remnants of Nazi architecture / technology and design. The new Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, by Renzo Piano (whose new website is a distinct improvement over the old) / Burt Rutan’s incredible Space ShipOne, made by his company Scaled Composites / we saw Spellbound last night - highly recommended.


Thursday, October 16, 2003
How many seconds do I save each day by using my new Oyster card? Not very many, I suspect, but by not fishing an old-style travelcard from its plastic wallet, inserting it in the side of a barrier and snapping it up at the top (all in one fluid, practised movement, admittedly) I somehow feel a little bit better about travelling by tube. Perhaps it's just the glow of using a new technology before anyone else. Even Transportblog doesn't seem to have passed comment on the system yet.

But there are other issues. The card itself is very 'smart', yet there is no visible smart chip. What does the innocent-looking Oyster store? Quite a lot, it turns out. Oyster cards use RFID technology - Radio Frequency Identification (FAQ). As Spy Blog notes, this means that good old London Transport will soon hold a complete record of your movements around London (see 'No Pearl in this Foul Oyster'). Of course, privacy advocates worry (quite rightly) about the ramifications of vast commuter databases gradually building up, unknown to the generators of the data. It's just one more way people have of tracking your movement through the city - credit card purchases, cash withdrawals, mobile phone records, journeys on public transport, CCTV cameras.

The paradox is that this kind of mapping - of paths and directions dictated by our desires and obsessions - has long been an obsession of the avant garde. We turn to Nicolas Nova's icon's blog, with its focus on spaces, real and virtual, and the 'traces' left by movement, be they from journeys through the city or drug-addled spider webs. As previously mentioned, Nova has created Psychogeographical Maps of his movement around Lyon and Lausanne - a contemporary update of Paul-Henri Chaumbert de Lauwe's iconic map plotting the trajectories of a Parisian student.

A meaningful journey through a city's various atmospheres and physical effects was known by the Situationists as a dérive (see Douglas Spencer's article in the forthcoming things 17-18). Technologies such as the Oyster - and GPS systems - create endless psychogeograms: combining all this data would produce perhaps the best illustration yet of how each person experiences the city as an individual. Only this avalanche of new data, one must assume, is not - and perhaps should never be - freely available. The mysterious databases of our information overlords have become the ultimate Situationist project - an all-knowing system from which there is no escape.

Elsewhere. fatal.no is a good architecture and design portal (via coolstop). Related: there were a surprising number of architectural websites back in 1997 / Stella Maris, ‘Catholic raga space music from Walthamstow’, connected somehow to the cloud23 weblog / Benesse Island, a cultural village in Japan, rich with architecture new and old / Drawing Power - get everyone drawing / a huge collection of links at My Secret Garden.

Are our cities shrinking? (via ArtKrush). We're certainly growing. The RIBAworld news letter brings up a set of links on the impact of burgeoning global obesity on architecture and design. In Australia, stadium seats are getting larger (related: the world stadiums database, what not to do if you get one of the best seats in the house, via mystery and misery). Will cars need to be redesigned? Are airline passengers getting heavier? Are children? There is apparently an ambulance for the obese in Denver, and even the funeral industry is upsizing.


Wednesday, October 15, 2003
'The Good Old Days,' communist nostaglia in a round-up of recent books about the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. Especially interesting is the emphasis on private space and 'privacy', valued concepts in what were ostensibly communal societies. It seems that Poland even had a forerunner of Hello! on the newsstands: 'A popular magazine ran a series of articles on celebrities' apartments that focused on the way they had managed to create 'a congenial and individual atmosphere' despite the 'banal architecture' that unimaginative state planning had forced on them.'

Conjunctions, a writing forum / make your own house / how to make things pleasurable / 'The Main Event', all about the Frankfurt Book Fair / nuclear pop culture, via coudal via plep (daisy-chaining links again). Also at Coudal, a link to this stunning timelapse cityscape - well worth a download. More timelapse imagery available at time-lapse.co.uk. Cloudscapes and construction sites are always winners, e.g. Kimmel Center / some astronomy animations for desktop stargazers.

Two little known London churches: the Swiss Church and Notre Dame de France, with its murals by Jean Cocteau, lurks just off Leicester Square. You can even hire the basement (where we spent a hypnotising evening some fourteen year ago).

Notes and scavengings from raccoon / mum-mum, an eating weblog (via sorting and sifting) / get your Wonder Woman costume here. What you do with it is up to you, of course / thrift deluxe – style on a budget (the grater lamp is our favourite) / what is infrastructure? / group hug, a virtual confessional.

Lastgasp, a French weblog (bienvenue, et merci pour le lien!). Un(e) autre blog Francais: Netlex / an industrial art gallery, via penny dreadful / Super Nintendo game endings, via muxway.


Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Aspen, 'the multimedia magazine in a box', must have been the publishing sensation of 1965 (it lasted until 1971). This comprehensive archive (part of the excellent Ubu site - I think we’ve skimmed this before, but not really taken it all in) contains every part of every issue, including audio and film clips. Aspen was unwieldy, self-indulgent and precious, but it also looks utterly gorgeous. Some snippets: Aspen did minimalism some 25 years before John Pawson. Issue 7 included an Ossie Clark sewing pattern, ‘British knickers'. The TV Generation, 'freaking out'. Ed Ruscha's 'Parking Lot'. Magazines were much better in the old days (via Open Container).

Formulary for a New Urbanism, written by Ivan Chtcheglov in 1953, when he was just 19. Chtcheglov was a member of the Situationist International - a topic that will crop up in things 17. This essay is the origin of the phrase ‘The Hacienda must be built,’ which students of British dance culture will recognise: Anthony Wilson managed to sneak into his own mythology some forty years later. Compare with 'The Hacienda Must be Destroyed'. The Hacienda has now been redeveloped as luxury flats. Ironically, the Situationist angle cropped up in the sales brochure: 'Crosby's brochure resembles a twelve inch house music single and quotes from the Situationist Ivan Chtcheglov: "That's all over. You'll never see the hacienda [sic]. It doesn't exist. The hacienda must be built.". Compare to the other New Urbanism movement, the Congress for the New Urbanism.

Elsewhere. Some stylish weblogs: Industrie Toulouse, CCCP (not really updated), 601am, Afrojet / short films about cutting edge pop promo directors at Directors Label / collected short stories, a photography project by Daniel Blaufuks. Some startling juxtapositions. See also 'aeroplanes' / Isaac Asimov portrait gallery, via old-timey. Also, ‘sketchy and sci-fi’ book covers / making contact, a weblog about the academic life.

A pictorial history of Nikon 35mm cameras, via Bifurcated Rivets (also, weird picture archive and new Pathe still archive) / Nikeplatz, discussed elsewhere / Paris Illusion, good photos, tricksy interface / Jennifer Boxer invites you to see what she was wearing, a very dedicated variation on the picture-a-day theme. Her page links to Diego Golberg’s classic photo chronology, and also this family grouping / stylish illustration at red chop stick.

A geologic map of Iceland, via wood s lot. Related, but not in a good way. Creation Safaris have spent 19 years using tourism as a way of passing off bad science: 'Get a life! Get outside and see the wonderful world our Heavenly Father has made. Creation SafarisTM, now in our 19th year, take you to unusual and beautiful places where you can have fun, fellowship and worship God while enjoying the Great Outdoors. And while you’re at it, you will learn important evidence for creation and against evolution.

On selling out, sort of, at Oblivio / writer's block, an installation snapped at lightningfield / random walks, a weblog / the lightbulb museum (via muxway) / weird gardens / a smoke stack.


Monday, October 13, 2003
Monday morning randomness. Pretty pixels at Quickhoney / an article from last year all about Halloween - it's been loitering in our links file for twelve months / the unofficial otter pops page / the Ericofon, a true design classic / Droplift, reverse shoplifting: sneak your music CDs into shops for unsuspecting consumers to stumble on.

Herzog & de Meuron's Laban Centre in Deptford, South London, has won this year's Stirling Prize for architecture. It's a worthy winner, if a little predictable. See our gallery here / Alex Marshall, author of 'How Cities Work' - looks interesting / how revolutions work: the Guillotine Headquarters / a secret smile, a weblog with beautiful photos (e.g. a storm in Alberta). One of the links is to daydream nation, which is angry and a little bit rude and we're not sure if it's earned the right to use that name...

The Annals of Improbable Research detail their highly entertaining findings, including sending weird things by mail, as well as being home to the celebrated Ig Nobel Prizes / all about Ralph H.Bauer, the inventor of the video game (which must have seemed pretty improbable at the time), as well as many more video game history resources, including the story of early work at Sanders Associates and the epitome of wood-look technology, the VideoSport Mk2 / old calculating machines / old calculator gallery at ti59.com.

Textz presents a whole hosts of classic socio-cultural texts for your perusal / French Genre painting, the work of Watteau, Chardin and Fragonard at the National Gallery of Art in Washington / Mappa Mundi Magazine, more future world speculation and past times re-evaluation, via the Freegorifero weblog. See also terranova, which tackles the brave new world of technology.

Why we'll see more ugly cars, via j-walk / hermitary, a website about hermits / follow the latest events in the At Home with Hitler saga (and all about the copyright issue). Bowblog also points us to Bryan Appleyard's coruscating review in the New Statesmen of Professor Susan Greenfield’s book Tomorrow’s People (named, presumably, for the fondly remembered but equally awful 1970s sci-fi show, The Tomorrow People, and also used by Martin Raymond for his Tomorrow People: Future Consumers and How to Read them Today, which is probably a whole lot more interesting).

Cheshire Dave tackles the Teen-targeted Bible magazine in his monthly judging a book by its cover feature. Related: 'extreme' teen bibles / pretty colours / photos of decaying German industry at dubtown. Related, shedworks, naked women photographed in decaying German industry / timelines, a web collection at black belt jones / a gallery of Baghdad’s burgeoning book market.

This project, the optimistically titled Ten years of my life, kicked off last Friday. Respect. Naturally, discussions flagged up other interesting photo sites, including centricle and this farm photolog / nails, at art for housewives (goes with 'Nailed') / the Museum of Vision Science and Optometry in Waterloo, Ontario, via Giornale Nuovo. Related: Sunglasses, 1952, a Consumer Report: 'We test 38 brands -- and find 23 of them Not Acceptable.' (via Penny Dreadful).

An epic piece of wartime propoganda, via boynton: Can a Warden be a Good Wife? / textism has re-designed / jetpack is a good design site / icon provides this intriguing map of their movement around Lausanne since May 1st. In things 17 (coming soon, coming soon), Doug Spencer muses on the Siutationist International, Paris, maps and modernity - there are many cross-overs with this. Related: the secret elephant, a cartographical bestiary (via haddock) part of the British Library's exhibit, the Secret Life of Maps.

New writing at Upside Clone, via Upside Clown (their background makes my eyes wobble) / more new writing at Multistorey / freeway blogging (or just a new way of describing home made signs…?), via hosenpants / Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter / a local history site for Newark / the bondage jukebox, kinks in popular song / industrial designer extraordinaire, Brooks Stevens.


Friday, October 10, 2003
The weblog as wunderkammer, Julian Dibbell's essay on Jorn Barger's robot wisdom. We spent a lot of time yesterday daisy-chaining from weblog to weblog, noting attractive layouts, interesting asides and then diving onwards into another link. Think of oneself as a virtual flaneur. Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Walking', from 1862. There's a lot of virtual flaneuring (not to mention the excellent on-line publication, Flaneur). Does the flaneur still exist? Or are we all flaneurs? My understanding of the term was strictly from an art historical point of view, a moneyed, leisured class who perceived the city, its spaces and activities, strictly in terms of their own desires and powers – everything, and everyone, could be bought, the only activities were pleasurable ones and restrictions like time, money and access had no meaning.

Perhaps the densest most information-filled weblogs fulfil a similar function - they have the time to notice the things other people, who might only use the web for work, cannot. In the same way, most people use the street as a means of getting from A to B, not as a treasure trove of diversions and distractions. So. Some weblogs. icon’s blog / a journal at palefella, who also run a Buffy-centric weblog, things that make you go duh! (it’s about time we had a piece on buffy – is anyone interested in writing one for us, now that it's all over and done with? Something along the lines of Liz Bailey’s look at Xena in things 11)

More links. linkdup is kind of like Well Vetted / invisible shoebox weblog / more curiosity cabinets - this time with a corporeal focus: 'my body – a wunderkammer': 'In the course of writing these reminiscences, I increasingly began to conceive of my body as a great cabinet of curiosities.’ / some weblogs focusing on the social impact of technology, all gleaned from Caterina: creativity machine, relevant history and future now ('this blog discusses emerging technologies, their social implications, and their possible future impacts'). An example. Sometime yesterday morning we found September 12, a beautifully designed 'political game' (a tad simplistic in tone, perhaps), over at newsgaming, which was linked to by jill / txt. Three hours later, it was everywhere else... unsurprisingly, since it had been on me-fi the previous week.

jill / txt also links to this blogmap of the world (which you can also view in Dymaxion projection), a semi real-time global view showing posts pop up. You’ve got to geocode and rss your blog to join in, and I don’t think our posting style really lends itself. We clicked on stray toaster straight away – a nice, clean design, and linked from there to reflectoporn, a bizarre sub-strand of exhibitionist behaviour. Essentially, one sells a shiny object on Ebay, ensuring that the photo(s) are suitably revealing. That site also hosts Londonphotos.org, which offers up this Van Gogh-style take on the Millennium Bridge (the official site for which is admirably simple). Starry Night, anyone? See the original here at this rather good Van Gogh gallery. Ralph Steadman was doing this to polaroids a while back, only called them 'paranoids'. More here.

Astronomical Pseudo-Science: A Skeptic's Resource List, via tmn. Related: an astrology disclaimer (via me-fi, again): 'If you choose to make any life-altering decisions based on the information provided by this site, please be advised you do so at your own risk.' We liked the UFO skeptic’s page as well / I think we’ve linked this before, but it’s still a wondrous thing: the War of the World’s Cover Timeline, via haddock.

Explore the photographic records of the 1905-1907 Breasted Expeditions to Egypt and the Sudan, via penny dreadful. Also via pd, photos from the Chicago Daily News. A gallery of the Sidney Opera House under construction, via ashleyb's 'notes from somewhere bizarre'.

Snapshots, a haiku magazine, part of Rich McCoy’s elegant and fun-filled site. Play with Marilyn Monroe’s ‘red velvet’ photo shoot, see the photography at hydromel and flick through this charming picture book / Subhankar Banerjee's photos of the Arctic Refuge, via wood s lot, who also gives us the paintings of Asger Jorn (a member of the Situationist International) and the Australian landscapes of Fred Williams.

Tele-Exploration, 'delivering the excitement of space exploration to the mass market' / a huge database of downloadable TV themes, mostly British and obscure / also obscure, but handy if you need some fine preserves or a waxed jacket, the Royal Warrant Holders Organisation / daily writing at the soul food café, full of links and hints. Have a great weekend.


Thursday, October 09, 2003
Pure randomness today, while we juggle with proofs, deadlines and dead Windows XP installations. Design books and publications at the Japanese site Hacknet.tv / Digimorph is a biological visualisation library / BBC news continues to have a cryptozoological focus / great paragliding gallery / three weblogs: mysterium, accidental julie, diamond geezer (very London-centric) / 'slowly I turned', memory and the internet / what does $87 billionlook like? Related, the megapenny project.

PPS, the Project for Public Spaces / small space: The Shed, a tiny music and poetry venue ‘on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors’. Bizarrely enough, they also offer you a free knitted Elvis Wig Pattern, as well as information on the famous 2001 Yorkshire pudding boat race - those are apparently real Yorkshire puddings. It also links to the nicely archaic-sounding Ayup, apparently the website for Yorkshire.

Paris before Haussmann / the motorway house, an architectural competition to create a residence that integrated with our road-centric lives. Vaguely related, Will Alsop's Supercities is currently showing on UK TV. Alsop's premise - that the country's major motorway arteries should become the spines of three new linear cities - is compelling in a futuristic kind of way. But where it all falls down is how these ideas are communicated: people remain suspicious of architects, especially architects with big ideas who use wobbly lines and splashy paintings to represent the built environment. More in the Guardian. Also related, a huge visual archive of architectural styles.

The London Underground map re-jigged to include walklines - very useful. Via kottke, who seems to have a bit of passion for the classic tube diagram (see his archived version of the geographically correct version of the classic Beck map). Also, remove the tube lines and you get this, an 'un-named constellations in Harry Beck's cosmos' / crazy, quasi-instructional art, links and more by Derek Erdman / the photography of Veronika Faustmamn, via Experimental Magazine / Not To Scale, a new online architecture journal / Housing Prototypes, 'the web site dedicated to the study of international multi-family housing'.

Oh this is very nice: automated colour-picker, via Bowblog / comic church signs, humour in a usually quite humourless situation. Reminds us of this.


Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Architecture and Interior Design for 20th Century America, the photography of Samuel Gottscho and William Schleisner (see Gottscho’s business card), a gift of a resource for anyone researching a historical novel (hosted by the Library of Congress’s American Memory site). Includes everything from slums to skyscrapers (such as this striking, almost illustration-like, image of the Rockefeller Center).

Some screen grabs from the Ealing classic The Ladykillers compared with present-day Kings Cross (currently undergoing extensive reconstruction). We can't get enough of 'now and then' style galleries that hunt down locations from old films. For example, Harold and Maude, Bullitt, Vertigo (also, a Vertigo synopsis and tour). This me-fi thread came up in our search, pointing towards Rephotography, be it a look at New York Changing or this wonderful return to the work of Eugene Atget .

Airchive, an archive ('webseum') of printed material from the early days of commercial aviation, including these American Airlines route maps / retrogamer magazine / Arman's tank sculpture, all 6,000 tons of it / world’s top ten tallest (7 of which are now in Asia) / critical clichés for music journalists to avoid (via magnetbox).

We like these T-shirt designs from Studies and Caravans. Their photographs are beautiful as well, and so is this pretty but pointless flash thingy / Stephen Bayley on the Flaminio Bertoni exhibition at the Design Museum (free registration required) / cluttered desks, creative minds - designers who work in creative chaos, from Metropolis Magazine / 24 hours in the life of MTV - two years old and somehow an even scarier prospect today / Old-timey’s handy onomatopoeia for New Age music / album cover artwork quiz at Meish (via travelers diagram). More musical quizzery at Minor 9th, to celebrate their 3rd birthday - this time you have to listen, not look.

All I want for Christmas is a pair of robots. Happily, Neiman Marcus can oblige (via boing boing). Also via BB, when you’re 'branded anything but unique,' some evil name-calling via the US census. In the UK, 'unusual' names are inevitably linked to pop and film stars / we've never linked to ticketstubs before - ‘tales of the ephemeral based on the flotsam of life’ (built, as most people probably know, by Matt Haughey). We enjoy other people's reminiscences / ever wondered where that sample came from? Check out sloth.org's huge sample list / TV history, the first 75 years / chemical damage to books. See also UNESCO's programme for safeguarding documentary heritage.

Obscurantist, a weblog / Croydon 'B' Power Station, South London. Better know today as the symbol of the local IKEA. But for how much longer? / abandoned airfields in the UK. Related to this picture / my god you have to admire people who have taken the time and effort to catalogue every single episode, event, clue and solution from Treasure Hunt / image saturation at sublimate, including a link to Ruin-Japan. Related, a walk around a Japanese apartment building / as promised, Battersea gallery two.


Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Technological progress. You can now have a ZX Spectrum on your phone. Amazing. Our retrogame fantasies are almost all fulfilled / collectable records, via the minimal web zen. The site focuses on the sprawling supergroups of the 60s and 70s, the artwork is nonetheless compelling. It was an era when a simple gatefold just wasn't enough (more Hawkwind). All this is lost on the CD buying generation, and might as well never have existed for the mp3-only kids who are coming through, equipped with an iTunes account and an iPod (as opposed to a paper iPod), the people for whom a blank tape is a strange and confusing object, one without any real use value whatsoever. They’ll end up visiting web-based shrines such as visualstereo to learn about the genre.

This 'webcam' has a pleasant, if slightly creepy, ambience. Watch for updates (via bifurcated rivets, via NTK). It reminds me of MR James’s classic short story, 'The Mezzotint': 'And indeed there was - hardly more than a black blot on the extreme edge of the engraving - the head of a man or woman, a good deal muffled up, the back turned to the spectator, and looking towards the house.' Related: all about the mezzotint process.

Environmental group Planet Ark have launched a new consumer opt-out list to save us from the 4 billion pieces of junk mail that arrive in the UK each year. The Mail Preference Service already exists, but I'm not sure how effective it is. However, we signed up for the Fax Preference Service about two years ago and rubbish survey faxes and offers of cheap printer toner cartridges declined by about 95%. All these things were somehow connected to the bizarre organisation that is the True Bible Code, but I forget how. More on Bible codes at wikipedia.

Padeidolia (via me-fi) is the scientific term for seeing forms in other forms. Not very interesting aside, but at a wedding last year I saw the face of Jesus on the wall of the church, an uncanny alignment of blotchy patches of plaster forming – at an extremely oblique angle – the classic bearded Turin Shroud-style visage. Once you’ve seen something like that it totally holds your attention; you can barely turn your eyes away lest the ‘vision’ vanish back into the wall. Of course, as soon as the service had ended I stood up and approached the ‘face’ – only to have it dissolve into nothing once the viewing angle was shifted. Although I’m not of the religious persuasion, it was nonetheless quite an exhilerating discovery, and a stark reminder of how quickly the brain rushes to assemble that which is familiar from an often unlikely source. Unsurprisingly, Padeidoliacs see Jesus everywhere.

Bruce Hale’s images of post-industrial ruins, via Coudal. Related: British industrial ruins, Tim Edensor’s evocative black and white pictures of the UK's many derelict sites, - some of which appear frozen at the moment everyone downed tools and left: I, II, III. Good links, too. The places aren’t mentioned (I don’t think), but this image is the iconic Brynmawr Rubber factory, demolished in a moment of extreme short sightedness two years ago. Even Prince Charles liked it, for goodness sake! More about the Brynmawr factory. The only pleasure gained from the loss is schadenfreude from seeing the vast site stand empty and unwanted, and perhaps resented even more (you can also see the factory knitted in wool, but that's another story). Related: our gallery of Battersea power station, in a state of advanced, but not quite terminal, disrepair, and with a vast regeneration scheme forever waiting in the wings. More pictures tomorrow, hopefully.

Elsewhere. the more you know links to Confluence.org, the art of finding 'confluence points' - latitude and longitude integer degree intersections. Read this BBC story and see this world map of mapped points / Sara Lovering's photolog / the ladies of science fiction (in Italian), via the cartoonist / Gehry Technologies, the business arm of Frank Gehry's global architectural machine / the eyes have it, weblog, also via penny dreadful / London’s paltry collection of (not very) tall buildings.


Monday, October 06, 2003
A swathe of 'no place' photography links from JM Colberg's conscientious (Colberg's own travel photos are great too): check out the work of Johanna Arnold, Derek Sharpton ('parking garage' and 'roads and highways' especially) and Edith Roux’s drab Frenchsuburban landscapes. Conscientious also links to two new (to us) weblogs, penny dreadful and fishbucket, as well as music-centric posts at Swen’s page.

Staying with music, two bands we’ve stumbled on lately (thanks to Naz): Lightning Bolt and Necronomitron (not nearly as metal as they sound) / more music weblogging at uncarved (the Hawkwind of progressive music blogs?) / all about the legendary 'Amen break', the snatch of funky drumming from The Winstons' Amen Brother that has found its way onto thousands of dance records, looped, chopped up, slowed down and sped up. Listen to it here.

Victorian London was a City of Shadows (via apothecary’s drawer). A lavishly prepared website that includes such gems as this complete scan of 'Charing Cross to Cobham', the story of a coach journey, and notes on London fog (related: the story of London's worst 'pea-souper', the great fog of December 1952, in which perhaps 4,000 people died, ushering in the Clean Air Act of 1956) / Michael Jantzen’s 'A Gathering Place' installation / factories, at slower / a Victor Gruen gallery. Gruen was the ‘architect of the American dream' - the inventor of the shopping mall. Take a virtual tour of Gruen's Vienna apartment / neat website from Novaron architects / bachkit, another slick architecture site.

Some bunkers at lightningfield, and a link to the nutty Montauk Project. Is there a 'subterranean facility beneath the purportedly abandoned and derelict Montauk Air Force Station' in Long Island? Probably not, but this allows the author(s) to introduce all sorts of famous contemporary conspiracies, including the crash of TWA Flight 800 (covered before, here on things) and the famed Philadelphia Experiment (which is dryly debunked by the Navy themselves: 'After many years of searching, the staff of the Operational Archives and independent researchers have not located any official documents that support the assertion that an invisibility or teleportation experiment involving a Navy ship occurred at Philadelphia or any other location.')

Metal machine music, a weblog, with some thoughts on 'geo-tagging', and the idea of PML, a 'Psychogeographical Markup Language'. This imaginary protocol - the 'diagrammatic representation of both informational, physical & emotive aspects of urban space' - is presumably the foundation for another kind of mapping, a more intense, emotive cartography. More on PML at socialfiction.org. The density of urban information increases, day by day.

Post-typography - design terrorism / we enjoyed these botanical record breakers (via me-fi), as we're feeling green-fingered at the moment: Crocus is a great place to plot fantasy planting schemes / the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland has a showcase, a collection of diverse heritage galleries, from graveyards, to the wartime architectural work of Edinburgh practice Dick Peddie and McKay. Vaguely related, photos of Wales.

Random. The Honeywell kitchen computer, via Muxway. Some more information on this cul-de-sac in the history of home automation (will the Electrolux Trilobite go the same way? At it least fulfils a useful function and has a suitably ‘robot dinosaur’ kind of name) / airstreamforums.com have picked up on Tom Bentley’s recent article / four eyes: a trick image (via, appropriately enough, eye service) / pervscan, weirdness in the news, via bifurcated rivets / wow.


Friday, October 03, 2003
Local history. The old cinemas of Sheffield, via the view from here. The latter also introduced us, through this gallery of 70s rock superstars, to the huge (I mean, enormous) visual database that is Steve Johnson's labour of love: Cyber-Heritage. There's too much to list here, but it's worth noting that the site places a welcome emphasis on the decade that the internet forgot: the 1970s. For starters, take a trip around such visual wonders as this early twentieth century visit by an early French submarine (more), or spot airliners at Heathrow in the 1970s. Staying 70s, this appears to be a record of a school trip to Paris - you can even see the construction of the Tour Montparnasse. And look at all the Citroens!

Still more from Cyber-Heritage: women in British advertising during WWII. Admittedly, the site is rather Plymouth (England)-centric, but that hardly matters, especially when you have pages on shopping bag art from 'famous' Plymouth stores of the 1970’s. (For reasons unknown, Plymouth escapes an entry on The Idler’s infamous Crap Towns website (which has now, inevitably, become a book). I guess you need a souped up Pontiac Aztek to drive around a crap town). Staying local. Peckham strives for a local paper-style ambience with its street warden diary. It's not quite the Framley Examiner, but very nearly.

The huge online Picasso archive, via me-fi. You can get big pictures, too (not bad for a 12-year old) / a gallery of Barbara Hepworth’s garden in St Ives, Cornwall, via Self Winding. The Tate is currently celebrating the sculptor’s centenary / we should save this for the end of the month, but it's too good to miss: Extreme Pumpkins, via In my diatribe / we've played Grim Fandango, but having read this appreciation over at Gamespy, I now want to track down a copy. You can get the in-game music here / the Wayward Shoe Project at Open Brackets / the London text map, via Transport Blog / if you can penetrate the depths of the Deep North’s twisting prose, there’s an interesting factoid in here about fishing boats. No, really.

The Commune by the Great Wall, a modernist architecture experiment in China / architecture practice Atelier Van Lieshout get kinky / a photographic tour around the V&A’s "Zoomorphic: new animal architecture" exhibition, via Dezain. Visit the official exhibition site / eyeballs for sale, via Caterina. More vintage medical equipment at Antique Mystique. Their lunchbox collection is great too, as is the babyboomer gallery and the piles and piles of books. Slightly creepier is Dr Used, ‘used medical equipment exchange service’ (who buys from here?). Ebay’s medical listings are very browsable too. Even more bizarre bargains at Recycledgoods.com.

A huge collection of Soviet Propoganda, via The Cartoonist / ghostwriter presents an alternative point of view for every BBC news story (slightly more sophisticated than the Daily Telegraph's Beebwatch, while others do this in an even more hysterical fashion. Anyway, the hot BBC stories aren't political at all - they're all about cryptozoology) / a secret smile, thrown askew, of adam, some weblogs we've spotted / you are now entering Greeneland: when literary parody is almost too accurate.

Finally, we have a new comments systems, courtesy of Enetation. Actually, the comments have been there for months, it's just we only got them to work properly yesterday. Drop us a line.


Thursday, October 02, 2003
Let's kick off with the daily dose of imagery (especially today's vertiginous CN Tower picture), via 990000, who also points us towards Another Magazine’s 'Face' feature / speaking of new magazines, Zembla is a new literary venture, published five times a year. There's not a lot on their site (yet), but the print edition is very promising, with contributors including writer Toby Litt and photographer Nadav Kander. There's even a neat little movie (quicktime, huge) to take you into the analogue heart of the magazine printing process.

Caran d'Ache make the world's most satisfying box set of coloured pencils / Plasticbag snaps MacCormac Jamieson Prichard's ongoing reconstruction around the BBC's Broadcasting House. More about the re-building from Jonathan Glancey. Related: the history of Broadcasting House / handy ways to use plain English / collecting Vaseline glass / flashy histrionics at eight + nine / slick vector illustration at juniatwork.

Motoring related: Batmobile gallery / the Free-Way three-wheeler / diagram frenzy: thirteen tunnel alternatives / Highways and Communities is devoted to the 'History and Evolving Design of Highways, and their interrelationship with the adjoining communities'. The site focuses on the freeway history around Washington DC, e.g. Takoma, with this great (unbuilt) proposal for a multi-facility Freeway structure. Also: 'more than just a hunk of concrete', and the North Central Freeway, with its evocative renders of a sparsely populated future: I, II, III.

More autos. This vintage homebuilt motorhome is inspired by the Corvair-based Ultra Van. Related, but hugely less enticing, Dormobiles / very, very tacky: the 'luxury Neighborhood Electric vehicle'. It's clearly the faux-wood trim that gives these vehicles their edge / the incomparable Playboy Bunny guitar.

Megnut researches the world of teenage girl bloggers, is deluged by links / one for the self-fulfilling prophecies department / the art of Chinese paper cuts, via Enigmatic Mermaid / historic photos of Orange County / the compleat diagram of strange persons, 2003, via tmn / creative explosion over at Hung Drawn and Quartered, a bi-annual festival that descends on a particular London borough with a range of exhibitions and events. This time it's Shoreditch.

This Guy Bourdin tribute site was linked via the story of Madonna being sued over her 'appropriation' of Bourdin’s visual aesthetic. See the comparison pictures over at Guybourdin.org. I think this is the official site - whatever, it has a great picture mosaic, as well as 75 wallpaper-sized images, 1 through 75. Related me-fi discussion.

Last, a very big thank you to Coolstop, who made us their pick of the day yesterday.


Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Sachs Report is looking good at the moment (and not just because of our photo is featured prominently...) - we enjoyed the flash galleries at Melon Dezign / a coat/sex toy made from many Tickle Me Elmos (via Travelers Diagram) / Paul Lukas's Inconspicious Consumption moves closer to weblog format (via the daily jive, who also gives us the band-width impaired Turntable Galleria).

An exhibition of art-infused skateboards. More skate art / the Italian Futurist Book (via Coudal) / flyers and posters by mister charlie. Related: classic 'old school' rave flyers, 1994-2002 / lola magazine has ceased publishing / three from plep: Recycled Art & Toy Bazaar from Africa, Asia and the Americas, Paul Smith’s typewriter art, and Junker House: The Architecture of Madness.

Some views of the nearly-open Maglev train running between Shanghai and Pudong / Cape Wind, America’s first offshore wind farm is having a rocky ride / historic photos of freeways in Texas (related: Mobility: a room with a view) / the annual building project at the Yale School of Architecture - a student designed and constructed house / 'Ten Technologies That Deserve to Die', an article by Bruce Sterling.

The blogging brits webring / Rosco Magazine / Egg Magazine, design culture in Taiwan / Japan’s Kano Sisters, ‘the Martha Stewarts of Lifestyle', only with a greater emphasis on personal grooming. Dolls, books, DVDs, whatever, can be found at the ladies' intriguingly-named Pony Canyon website. More: I, II (Japan Today's photo of the day page usually throws up something bizarre). They're kind of like an adult version of Mary-Kate and Ashley (who we learnt about via Polly Vernon's article in last Sunday's Observer).

The Independent started co-publishing a tabloid edition yesterday (we like Piers Morgan's comment: '[The Independent is] like [editor] Simon Kelner - small but intriguing with surprising substance and flair for something so compact.' For our part, we find the layout proportions a bit weird - without the tabloid's trademark screaming, thick black type, the paper feels a bit slender and lightweight (although paradoxically it's completely the opposite).