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Friday, October 29, 2004
A post all about Spring Heel Jack, the mysterious 'terror' who was the subject of a mass panic in 1830s England. Jack was variously rumoured to be an alien, a pervert who had devised a hidden jumping apparatus and even the devil himself. Interestingly, the eye-witness accounts were all very clear that 'Jack' was wearing some kind of costume, 'a large helmet and a sort of tight-fitting costume that felt like oilskin.' His stomping ground was South London (although the only reference to a former Cut Throat Lane in London puts it in Notting Hill, not Lavender Hill).

From around about the same time comes the tale of the Devil's hoofprints (scroll down), a set of apparently cloven hoofprints that appeared across Devon one snowy February day in 1855 (and which were written about by Charles Fort himself). Devils naturally brings us to the enduring stories of the Jersey Devil and the Chupacabra. These legends have survived intact into the present day, enhanced by reports in mass media and dramatisations (all of the above remind me of the character of Tash in C.S.Lewis's allegorical The Chronicles of Narnia, although the religious implications of the books were lost on me as a child. Wikipedia's mention that Tash's followers were, by implication, Muslims to Aslan's Christians, is also a new one).

Other flaps pre-date Jack, including the The London Monster of the late eighteenth century. The Monster was certainly no figment of the popular imagination - he would stab and slash at women, seriously injuring them - but the panic created was so great that ladies took to wearing copper petticoats to safeguard themselves. In more recent times there has been the strange flying Mothman, who hasn't created panic so much as spawned an entire industry.

Such legends can never now be undone; however much empirical evidence is presented to explain away what were once considered anomalies, there will also be those who dispute that evidence, adding fresh layers of theory and speculation (a bit like Patricia Cornwell's obsession with Jack the Ripper). Old myths are clung to and enhanced. Yesterday's post about Denver Airport's alleged underground city doesn't really help matters - it just adds more static. Bunkers are very real and very interesting (see Iron Mountain, in Pennsylvania, home of the Corbis photo archive, or the extensive archives of Subterranea Britannica), but the idea of still secret bunkers is more fascinating still.

Other things. World changing, a weblog / that's how it happened provides a handy guide to Amazon's Associates system / bootlegging / modding. Why is it that when designers and product designers do this to computers and other tech equipment it retains an element of cool, whereas when kids 'mod' their cars it's a little bit naff (Max Power might have a lot to do with it).

Avni Patel, contributor to things 17-18 / Rithmomachia: photos / mendelicious mendelusions, the weblog of Rich Lafferty / 16th and mission, a flash overview of the city, created by Stamen / Ivar Hagendoorn's website features excellent architecture and cityscape photo galleries.

Some publications. Esopus, a biannual arts magazine / the Contemporary Music Network / a10 is a new European architecture magazine, launching on 10 November. 032c is on its 8th issue and will appear at the end of next month. The index is full of classic subjects for an art and photography-biased publication, e.g. Lewis Baltz / 34 magazine is a snappy lifestyle magazine, based in Istanbul.

Theme park brochures (via i like, which is alive with great links at the moment) / Protect and Survive, 'an archive of UK civil defence material' / Design in Site, all about things and what they're made of / it's time to re-visit the vast George Eastman Archive, for historic photographic equipment, magic lanterns, vintage auto racing and more.

Photographs by Lars Tunbjork: 'Oman' and 'Offices' (part of a trilogy with 'Home' and 'Country') / Scientific Identity, 'Portrait Prints of Men and Women of Science and Technology in the Dibner Library', reminiscent of Gerhard Richter's 'For 48 Portraits' (1971) / Cioran63, an excellent art weblog / like you, a guide to contemporary art culture.


Thursday, October 28, 2004
Today is a bits and pieces day.

A handy architectural dictionary / a dress made of car parts / traveler's diagram is hosting some fine Peel Session tracks / materialist dot surrogate, tales of reindeer and early nights from Finland / staying cold and eerie, some absolutely stunning nightscape photography by Martin Wolf Wagner.

A splendid 50s drum kit / futurist Christmas cards from Syd Mead / Swedish bands of the 60s / I think we've done this before: Stop Motion Studies: on the underground / evocative photos of the 1969 and 1970 Trans Am (the race, not the car), by Pete Lyons / apologies, via la petite claudine / photos by Chloe Potter.

Yearbook photos, a small part of the excellent site at Deluxe and Delinquent / Unusual Churches and Cults / rogue taxidermy (via J-Walk, who also discovers that Google has the lowdown on everyone's favourite colours).

Sheriff's Calls from the Point Reyes Light / The Paperback Revolution, via scrubbles / the British Royal Family, underground cities, land purchases in Colorado and masonic symbolism in Denver Airport (especially in the murals), a collection of entertaining ramblings that betray a naked desire for the existence of some kind of secret society. The article gets weirder and weirder - could it have been an inspiration for Michael Faber's Under the Skin? Those murals appear to be at the centre of a good deal of online paranoia.

Ethnoburbia, the new, anti-homogenous suburb, at maisonneuve (title corrected, original link via Sachs). Suburbs as cultural melting pot or the creation of new suburban underclass? The piece addresses issues - introduction of previously 'alien' architectural elements - that the UK has managed to deal with decades ago (see the magnificent Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in North London). It seems that the long-established yet largely invisible fortifications of American suburbia are finally crumbling.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Farewell John Peel. Many, many tributes: I, II, III. Comments by diskant, City of Sound, Spoilt Victorian Child and Plasticbag. The mp3 blogs have been busy - Indie mp3 hosts Peel's favourite record, the Undertones' Teenage Kicks (as does Music for Robots and DASP), while An Idiot's Guide to Dreaming has The Fall's Psycho Mafia ('Note: if you download this and at first it plays at the wrong speed then this is entirely in the spirit of the venture.')

As a little tribute of our own, we present you with Napalm Death's seminal You suffer, ripped as a glorious high-quality mp3. Go on, it's only 58k.

Rest in peace.


What We Talk About When We Talk About Architecture, a Design Observer post. Transcriptions of interviews are invariably more interesting than actual interviews, especially in this age of universally bland prose styling ('!', he laughed, '!', she smiles, etc. etc.). I also like the barely concealed rancour on display. Architects - and architecture critics - have a tough time of it, a miniscule world in which everyone knows everyone else and the ultimate ambition is to design a signature building or, better still, find a snappy collective name for a group of signature buildings.

Related, notes on How Buildings Learn, Stewart Brand's epic trawl through the architecture of subtle change. Although the ideas discussed in this book are about as timeless and universal as you can get, it seems as if Brand has fallen out of favour. Many of today's buildings don't seem to be learning anything at all, instead they're presented as spectacular fait accomplis, instant prodigies that need no tutoring. But learn they must.

It's a bit unfair of us to pick on Gehry, as some of his early work is an object lesson in how to create ad-hoc, organic architecture, collated from the detritus of other architecture ('I just 'punch' a few holes'). Somewhere along the line - perhaps the introduction of computers? - ad-hocism became codified and quantified, the delight and freedom of construction bound by a new layer of complexity.

Elsewhere. This always used to confuse me as well / robot news at zincpanic (links culled from haddock) / 15 seconds that changed San Francisco - the architectural legacy of the Loma Prieta earthquake / a new issue of Delve Magazine is out now and visits Brooklyn / Halloween papercraft / the periodic table of comic books / trashures, 'abandoned works of art' (via cavemanrobot).


Monday, October 25, 2004
The Anomalist gathers together the world's weirdest news and events, like Bigfoot Conferences, lake monster sightings and mysterious hums. More on hums, which some have dubbed the Taos Hum, 'a low-pitched sound heard in numerous places worldwide.'

So what is the Taos Hum? Spurred on by complaints that the 'Bristol Hum' (which has driven at least one person to suicide) was caused by faulty gas pipeline equipment, British Gas undertook an investigation, canvassing 33 hum sufferers. Of these, 80% were found to have hearing problems, but 20% were genuinely hearing something. Further investigation found that the noise was actually originating from a number of distant sources, including distant machinery, and were 'being amplified by the geometry of particular rooms' in the sufferers' houses.

Related, the concrete sound mirrors on the South Coast, designed to listen in for fleets of approaching enemy bombers in the days before radar. One can only assume that the reversed swastika on the fourth image was incompetence rather than design... More sound mirrors. Also related, sounds from the sea, including the as-yet-unidentified 'bloop'. Very Lovecraftian. It's unsurprising that the modern age hasn't given rise to many more unidentified bleeps and bloops, but perhaps we've become inured to the crackle of unwanted aural static.

Other things. Yet more car brochures, with a special section on the Tatra, a car with a loyal online following: unofficial TATRA pages, the International Streamlined Tatra site and Tatraworld / fireball fantasy, a balletic response to this Coudal competition / re-programming the Big Trak / Silhouettes of Aeroplanes, (via the cartoonist).

Estate agent's brochures are always entertaining, in a wishful-thinking kind of way. Douglas Elliman handles fancy places like the Hamptons, which seem so much more glamorous and entertaining from the other side of the Atlantic, but are probably just as mundane to Americans as places like Hayling Island are to us (OK, perhaps not the best comparison). Need local history? There's always a railway club with the information / the Modernist Residential Buildings of Victoria.

Zinio offers digital versions of popular consumer magazines. Of course, you have to pay, but there are free trial issues for a number of titles. Another nail in the coffin of print? Doubtful / GUI timelines.

DIY constructivist compositionals, including some that clever people prepared earlier / country classics: retro covers / top Ten of Indie Pop / the complete Nathan Barley (warning: language might offend).


Friday, October 22, 2004
The life and death of a model prison (registration required), a Domus article on the notorious Caseros Prison in Argentina. The piece delves into how the existing prison building, originally designed as a short term holding station, was taken over and subverted by the prisoners. The entire architecture was 'corrupted', with holes punched in the facade, allowing prisoners to 'smurf' between different cells and floors.

The 1964 World's Fair in New York, including a piece on the new technology that was showcased. Hugely popular, and well ahead of its time, was the Bell Telephone Picturephone. There's an 8.7mb pdf on that link containing a whole issue of Bell Laboratories' "Record" magazine, dated May/June 1969, and focusing on this brave new vision of the future.

A selection of London views at NYC London. Firstly, some pinhole images of Primrose Hill, then three Foster and Partners buildings, the less well-known More London Place, its neighbour, the better known GLA Building and, finally, the very well known 30 St Mary's Axe.

The Complete Guide to Isometric Pixel Art, by Rhys Davies (via Fishbucket) / the Elgin Marbles have been returned to the Parthenon, courtesy of this digital recreation created by the Institute of Creative Technologies / all about Barb Wire, part of the Devil's Rope Museum, Texas (via grow-a-brain). Also via those blogging realtors, the history of the mansard roof, beloved by fast food joints.

Illustration by Alex Bobonne / photography by Martin Fuchs / The Remington Site, all about Don Gabor's Remington Records, with a treasure trove of old record covers / Retroplanet flips between Howard Hughes, retro kitchen design and cheap guitars / SUMO, the unofficial Sinclair User archive.


Thursday, October 21, 2004
"In an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power." The Power of Nightmares is an essential new documentary series by Adam Curtis. This Guardian piece, The making of the terror myth, explains the background to the films (the first of which was shown last night). See also this Telegraph essay. 'Nightmares' is a follow-on to Curtis's brilliant The Century of the Self (more info), which tracked the origins of the public relations industry.

The first of the three 'Nightmares' films tracked the legacy of Leo Strauss, and his impact on NeoConservatism, and suggested that neocon thinking started to take hold on American foreign policy during Nixon's presidency and has never really let up since. The programme related how the CIA would fabricate 'black propoganda' about the Soviet Union sponsoring a fictional 'global terror network'. This would duly be reported in the media, get picked up by other sections of the US administration and then be presented back to the CIA as 'evidence' of a global terror network. And now one 'Evil Empire' has been replaced by another. (update: metafilter thread)

Speaking of Russia, visit the Soviet Military Awards page. The Order of Maternal Glory, 1st class, was awarded to mothers of nine children. If you had one more, you got the Order of Mother Heroine. Awards came with serious benefits. If you became a Hero of the Soviet Union, you also got "first priority on the housing list, 50 per cent rent reduction, reduced taxation rates (in 1985 this was changed to tax exempt status), up to an additional 15 square meters in living space, free yearly round-trip first class ticket, free personal bus transportation, free yearly visit to sanitarium or rest home, as well as entertainment and medical benefits".

Back to things. Exposure, the Hereford Photography Festival / Hong Kong skyline / Freegorifero, a weblog / Pride and Prejudice in hypertext / Experimental Magazine.

Where once you had the Cloud Club, now you have the dentist / Stuttercut, a weblog / traffic signs of the world / Sukie's stationery will help you track your course through the world / the infamous Blue Screen of Death, also a global presence / GDR Souvenirs / CNskillz, a graffiti page.


Wednesday, October 20, 2004
Small, bitty bits today.

Harvard researchers have apparently worked out that if mobile phones were banned from cars (in the US), then there would be a serious financial penalty: "$43 billion a year in lost economic activity about the same economic value of the lost lives and injuries." The report came from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. The report concludes that 'in economic terms, a ban on the use of cell phones by drivers would be a wash when comparing the benefit of reducing crashes against the cost of eliminating those calls'. So that's OK then.

Fascinating ask metafilter post about a marooned biplane on a New York rooftop. The stuff of urban legend / remember when car advertising was all like this? (like this!) / Bulletproof Vest, a weblog / the 1995 Redwoods video, probably a hoax, but an entertaining (realmedia) few seconds in the lives of some lucky Bigfoot spotters.

Hyperkit go to Japan / projects by Rebecca Tuynman / photographs by Edward Burtynsky / Dilbert at Designboom / Artmargins, 'contemporary central and Eastern European visual culture' / the Unofficial Ghostbusters location tour, via cheesedip / Lightningfield is especially good at the moment / Venice Blog.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004
The bling bling medallion, via engadget and Sensory Impact ('The Culture of Objects', although that should probably be 'The Culture of Objects you can buy'). The site also links the unwieldy-sounding Technovelgy, where SF-derived concepts are tracked as they surface in the real world. For example, the Quik House, a container-based 'instant home' is predicted by the U-Stor-It homes in Neal Stephenson's 1992 novel Snow Crash.

Steve McQueen has been in so many ads since he died. Who on earth is responsible for his image? News comes in (via Autoblog) that he has been digitally resurrected to flog the new Ford Mustang, on the strength of his association with the car in the film Bullitt. A while back, there was a special Bullitt-edition Mustang, back when the car itself was a very sorry excuse for a performance and style icon. Ironically, in the UK McQueen's corpse was also rolled out to sell the Ford Puma, again in a homage to Bullitt. Somehow, someone has also wrangled his manly image for a deodorant ad currently running on the UK tube (also featuring Elvis and James Dean).

A project by Andrea Robbins and Max Becher: Star Wars figures are getting larger (via Kottke). Robbins and Becher's site is fun to poke around. Check out their image of London Bridge in Arizona, part of their Atlas of Transported Places. 'Colonial Remains' is interesting as well.

Pokia, 'retro phones of the future.' Soon to be everywhere / Streetmemes, tracking scribbles and graffiti / a real-life towering inferno in Caracas / David Barsalou's epic Lichtenstein Project, via metafilter.

A Field Guide to American Spacecraft / the inkulator, create your own cartoons / Cinema Treasures, classic music theaters in the US / How to Train Your Dog to Weave.


Monday, October 18, 2004
Gender and car adverts. It would make an interesting research project to trawl through ebay motors and count how many adverts reference women ('the wife', 'her indoors') as a reason for making a car sale. Either seller has too many cars (a common complaint), or 'the wife' doesn't like to drive the car, hence it must be sold, etc. etc. We suspect such research would provide a fascinating insight into gendered thinking about cars, that they are somehow toys which matriachal figures have the power to deny. This cliche (which frequently tips over into misogyny) has probably always existed, originally as an oral tradition, passed on by private sales and motor traders. Now ebay, with its extended scope for written descriptions, has made it a written tradition.

"The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death," an exhibition by photographer Corinne May Botz at the Bellwether Gallery in New York. The photos explore 'a collection of eighteen crime scene models that were built in the 1940's and 50's by a progressive criminologist Frances Glessner Lee (1878-1962)... [and] based on actual homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths... to train detectives to assess visual evidence.' Meticulous and sad. A fascinating article on Lee from 1949, a 'queenly looking woman with the high, white coiffure and the tiny gold-rimmed eyeglasses'. Another article on the dollshouses, Small-Scale Tragedies.

A history of Greenham Common, via metafilter. The US base du jour is the Fylingdales radar installation on the North Yorkshire Moors, currently being updated to be part of that genius Son of Star Wars thing. The Subterannea Britannica has excellent information, with the usual brilliant photos by Nick Catford. It's a big issue up in Yorkshire.

A nice discovery. Pixelyn's Premier Issues Project brings together debut covers from a whole host of fashion magazines, with an emphasis on the achingly hip. Each is accompanied by its editorial statement.

Pear Tree House, South London's nuclear bunker at the base of a block of flats / the Manchester Letherium Ideas Competition / a collection of collections / buy an affordable Ferrari / Variation on the word sleep, a weblog / a beautiful 1953 illustration at ephemera now (via heures creuses) / more small things: a bonsai gallery.

Plymouth Town Hall, just one of several things available at galumphia / the Phaeno, by Zaha Hadid / Papel Continuo, a weblog / custom-designed bricks, via design observer / QT Luong's Terra Galleria, featuring an epic attempt to document all 57 American National Parks.


Friday, October 15, 2004
If London Were Like Venice (Oh! That It Were!), an 1889 view of a Forgotten Future (via Interconnected). We especially like the Stazione de Pancras.
At our feet stretched a shimmering sheet of water, its surface, in our immediate vicinity, black with countless gondolas, the men standing up in them clamouring loudly for custom. My companion beckoned, and a score glided up as though we had pulled as many strings. Entering one, we took our seats in the cool shade of the awning. "Lago di Hyde, Canale del Regente, Lago di Piccadilly, Croce di Charing, and Grand Canal," called my friend, and away we sped.

Dan does Frank Gehry. This is what we meant by the democratisation of architectural criticism a while back - a bunch of digital photos (no fussy architectural photography, thanks), a widely-read weblog and a really good eye. It can only be a good thing.

Also via interconnected, the amazing zooming quilt (flash) / Wembley webcam / this is genius: 'Orang utans eating Wotsits on Ayers Rock', just one of Vitamin Q's 7 trickiest jigsaws / the Predicata Project, shamelessly pilfered from Eye of the Goof / The Last Sound of Summer continues to serve up wonderful mp3s.

Stickies for Windows. Very useful so far. Via Wonderland / the London pillow fight / true facts (traditionally, at least one 'fact' in lists like this one is completely false). Fun stuff, though: 'There are between 5,000 and 7,000 tigers kept as pets in the United States.' 'Kevin Spacey's older brother is a professional Rod Stewart impersonator.' (professional?).


Thursday, October 14, 2004
Hugh Pearman gets to grips with the Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway-designed George Wimpey development in Staiths South Bank, Gateshead. What is it about the name Wimpey? From ghastly restaurants in the UK (actually Wimpy, with the name's origins in Popeye's hamburger-chomping friend, seen here taking his love of ground beef to extremes), to the developer, which is only just transcending its dismal image. Interestingly, in Colombia, the restaurant chain plays up on its British image - Wimpy's mascot is, appropriately enough, a beefeater. Confusingly, there are also Beefeater restaurants. Related: How to become a Beefeater.

Slint have reformed to play the UK's All Tomorrow's Parties festival next February. This is probably a sign of impending apocalypse. First the Pixies, now Slint. Who next? We're just grumpy because we probably won't be able to go... Try Transmission3000 (slow server), where you'll find a live Slint show from 1989.

A grand piano designed by Daniel Libeskind. Luigi Colani once designed a two pianos for the same company, Schimmel Pianos: the Pegasus Grand and Upright. Extraordinary objects (like all Colani's designs). The company has a history of unusual pianos: the Schimmel CC 213 G Transparent, the Otmar Alt-designed CC 213 Art Edition. More art pianos at Maximiliaan's House of Grand Pianos.

An exhibition of bookmarks / some cultural recommendations from the folks at the morning news / no, 2 self has a great moblog / penthouse fever hits New York / Jenefer Harrison supplies some interesting colour theory links / writings by structural engineer Chris Wise.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004
The Horus Archive (via Coudal), a 'collection of more than 200,000 amateur snapshots, collected and selected in Budapest by camera-man and film-maker Sandor Kardos'. Sadly there are just 37 of the 200,000 on the site, but some of these are pretty remarkable. The same site has a fine collection of Hungarian photography from the early modern period, like this: Tennis Ball (Jozsef Pecsi, 1932). The historical stuff (taken from the archives of MTI, the Hungarian news agency) is fascinating as well (traffic on Kossuth Bridge next to the Parliament building, 21 December 1946), as Hungary emerged from Nazi occupation only to be under the yoke of the Soviets. Finally, some treasures of the Hungarian Museum of Photography. The parliament building, the House of the Nation, is something to behold. Inspired by our very own Palace of Westminster, it really is a mighty edifice.

Standing Wave is a new documentary film about Delia Derbyshire, doyenne of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Derbyshire had a hand in the seminal Doctor Who theme, long established as the first true piece of techno music and covered by, among others, the recently defunct Orbital (who are selling their gear here). Her music, composed for a variety of BBC shows, used nascent electronics technology in incredibly original ways. Derbyshire, who died in 2001, has her own website, delia-derbyshire.org, complete with mp3s. There's also new music at the Standing Wave site, 'commissioned from six leading composers in response to Delia's own work.' (original link via Black Belt Jones). Mark Ayres has written a comprehensive FAQ on the Doctor Who Theme, which is well worth a read.

3 Notes and Runnin', musicians protest the recent anti-sampling Supreme Court Ruling in the US (via Sachs Report). The site calls for 30 second tunes that use only the debated sample (two seconds of the intro to George Clinton's Funkadelic's "Get off Your Ass and Jam", as 'misused' by NWA in the song '100 Miles and Runnin'' - the site has extracts from them both). (aside, Eazy-E's grave inscription reads: "We Loved Him A Lot But God Loved Him More").

Join the corrugated iron club. Learn all about Nissen huts / Steve Erenberg is the Radio Guy, with a vast collection of beautifully presented broadcast ephemera, all of which is for sale (via memepool). There's also toys, tools and automobilia / signs of the times: K12 crash testing and blast mitigation testing at Metalith.


Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Apparently the Nicholson Gallery has an exhibition called 'Picturing the Modern World,' featuring photography from America's finest 'shelter porn' magazine, dwell (I say apparently, but then this useless iBook is allergic to flash). A thought: if the standards for architectural photography weren't so high, then perhaps the quality of architecture in general would rise. Is this true? Architecture, more than ever, is obsessed by image (which, admittedly, is itself subject to the whims of fashion). The dissemination of new work is entirely mediated through photography, meaning that aesthetics is invariably preferred over more subtle, less overt imagery. Rather than worry themselves about presentation, architects and journalists could just get on with designing and presenting ideas. Just a thought.

De Wolfe are the 'UK's leading suppliers of SFX. No samples, sadly, but one can only guess what their extreme and impact section sounds like, especially Crash & Burn, 'an outstanding selection of destructive sounds and sequences' that includes 'forest and building fires,' 'Molotov Cocktails,' and 'Rumbles, Blasts, Debris'. A full track-listing is available for those looking to expand their audio imagination. Update, according to Apothecary's Drawer, you can get flash samples of their 'mood music' tracks on the site. But not on this computer.

The Broken Family Band work hard - yet they've managed to find time to plot a graph of recent live shows / asking for things is still being updated. My '3-Terminal Adjustable Regulator' looks increasingly mean compared to the wonders other people are receiving. Plastic tigers! / apologies for the woefully early Christmas imagery today. We just haven't got around to organising new photos... Question: should we be using Flickr?


Monday, October 11, 2004
A fascinating piece on Frank Lloyd Wright's Larkin Administration Building, demolished in 1949 and still mourned today. The Larkin was chock-full of innovation; some say it was the first ever modern office building (displaying, it has to be said, a wealth of innovation and artistry that even the best architects alive today would find impossible to replicate). 'Larkin's new headquarters also featured a top-floor restaurant, a conservatory, a branch library that was part of Buffalo's public system -- and yes -- the first hanging bathroom partitions and wall-hung lavatories in history.'

Sadly, the article concludes that such an act could easily happen today. Not hard to believe. One of the few consolations was that its demolition was a long drawn out process, hindered by the very high quality of the original construction (plenty of concrete). In fact, so laborious was the process that it dragged on for months and went way over budget. Today, the few scraps that remain of the building are treated like holy relics (from the excellent Buffalo as an Architectural Museum page). Another image of this temple of work.

Despite his colossal reputation, FLW's buildings haven't always fared well. Perhaps the most tragic loss was the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, which succumbed to the developer's bulldozers in 1968. Again, the building's solidity vexed its conquerors - it had famously survived the devastating earthquake of 1923 (more here, including images of the reconstructed facade at the Meiji-Mura Museum), known as the Great Kanto Earthquake, and responsible for over 140,000 deaths.

Elsewhere. Jacques Derrida is dead, and so is Christopher Reeve. Deconstruction is one of those concepts that seems very easy to grasp on a surface level, as long as you never delve too deep, hence the liberal application of the word 'deconstruction' to describe a idea or concept which might have multiple interpretations (see, for example, the work of Daniel Libeskind), but which seems to elude universal understanding. But the problem with having just a shaky grasp of a far greater concept is that in applying it, one inevitably debases the original until it is beyond any reasonable usefulness.

And so it has come to pass with 'deconstruction'; it's all very well to accept that everything is a text with multiple simultaneous interpretations, but in doing so it becomes an easy way to dismiss something without having to look at it too seriously (one of the biggest criticisms of the concept). Try the Post-modernism generator for some instant academic fun. Or see this handy guide to using Deconstruction to Astonish Friends & Confound Enemies (in 2 easy steps). Suffice to say, and to totally disregard all the caveats listed above, one feels compelled to mention that Reeve's dual status as symbol of both super-humanism and courageous accident victim set up the kind of opposition that deconstructionism thrived upon, turning the cultural text known as Superman into an ironic statement on human frailty. Or did I just generate that?

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Elsewhere. My.bicycle (thanks for the html tip) / Transmission3000 is chock-full of live shows by all your 'indie rock' favourites / where mayors go to post: City Mayors / a collection of photos from the 2004 Toaster Collectors convention (thanks, Joey) / DJ Spooky's Errata Erratum at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art / Autorama.


Thursday, October 07, 2004
Bits and pieces today.

Thanks to Colin Johnson for this link from yesterday's comments: The Shortwave And the Calling, a profile of Akin Hernandez, the driving force behind Irdial Discs, which we mentioned yesterday (and erroneously - see comments). Check Blogdial, the label's excellent collaborative weblog. Hernandez notes that even though the Conet download is number one at archive.org, his recent pressing sold out in 8 weeks. 'This proves, not that it needed prooving, that you can give away your music for free, and sell it sucessfully; we have buyers that explicitly told us that they bought TCP after downloading it, and this is a Quadruple CD with a Booklet, which costs substatially more than a vanilla CD.' One fears this crystal clear logic is never going to wash with some people. Q&A: will I be sued?

Staying with abstract sounds: the futurist music of Luigi Russollo, creator of the Enharmonic Piano and author of The Art of Noise manifesto, a counter-blast to the original Manifesto of Futurist Musicians (1910) by Balilla Pratella.

Elsewhere. Wired discovers the Smart, about six years after everyone else / The Fall en concert, a bande-dessine. Just one of many things at Homme Moderne. Try Le R*ck est m*rt, a music weblog / la ligne generale, a photolog (accents stripped out as Firebird doesn't seem to like them very much).

Build a tower of pigs / the photography of David Farre / as the Tricorn comes down, enjoy this nice page of pictures of Owen Luder's Gateshead Shopping Center. Probably next for the chop / Errol Morris, filmmaker / Heiko Hebig's weblog / a collection of literary links.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Just what is it with the design industry's current fascination with glamour? A few recent events, products and exhibitions have provided a creative micro-spike that could be variously interpreted as the emergence of new baroque, the bankruptcy of the old order or just more evidence of fashion's fickle trajectory. For a start, there was James Dyson's broadside against London's Design Museum, accused of favouring 'style over substance.' See 'How a flower arrangement caused fear and loathing' (any amount of money says that the 'close observer' quoted in Sudjic's piece is either Conran or Sudjic himself). The 'row' has even spilled over into the US press (Washington Post Article).

There's also the new SF MOMA show Glamour: Fashion, Industrial Design, Architecture (rather simplistic summary here by Ulf Meyer at the SF Gate website), which attempts to reposition ('re-brand', even) the high modernist works of the post-war period as monuments to high glamour and not creative dead-ends , while linking them explicity to contemporary high-end luxury products. Thinking back, you can also lump in Habitat's slightly daft VIP range (Very Important Products) - see our previous post.

So what, if anything, does all this mean? The resurgence of decoration in 'progressive' design circles can't be overlooked. Meyer cites the arrival of a "new digital glamour", which, roughly translated, is the application of very contemporary processes (such as laser cutting) to products that might not necessarily have been conceived if these technologies didn't exist (think of the cascading lamp shades of Tord Boontje, for example). It's natural for an industry to want to chronicle progress as it happens, and 'new digital glamour' is just one way of describing our 're-enlightened' era, an age of confluence between arts and technology, of more pluralism in taste and less stylistic dogma.

On one level, putting on shows or selling projects that overtly emphasise 'glamour' and 'celebrity' can seem like an exercise in self-justification for its proponents, just as MoMA's 1934 Machine Art exhibition was essentially a propoganda exercise to promote abstraction and the 'superiority' of such apparent simplicity (see Michael Bierut's 'To Hell with the Simple Paper Clip' at Design Observer for a critique of the anonymous object as the 'everyday sublime'). It's an example of contemporary culture in action, broad brush trend-watching; how fashions seep into the mainstream, blossom and die.

At the same time, the pluralist tastes espoused by the 'new digital design' is perhaps a frightening new reality for the die-hard critics of ostentation, those who believe that decoration can never be 'right.' Dyson is one of these old-school Modernists (capital 'M'), descendants of those who took Adolf Loos' (deliberately provocative) tenet that 'ornament and crime' were synonymous at face value.

Perhaps it's a last stand. Modernism's Old Guard thought they had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat after Post-Modernism's assault in the 80s and 90s. This assault was thoroughly usurped by the rise of 'designerism', the cult of the hard-edged object and an apparent modernist revival. Think Apple, Audi, Sony, Prada, any number of 'name brands' for whom 'modern design' became an integral part of their corporate ethic. Or so everyone thought. In retrospect, this revival appears more consumer-centric than ideologically led, as evinced by this creeping baroque revival symbolised by the above products and exhibitions. For a generation that learned to equate ornament with a degeneracy of taste, Glamour, VIP, exhibitions of shoes and cabbage posies must seem like the debasement of all they hold dear.

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Elsewhere. Yorkpete goes to Willow Road / Gaudi-esque shopfront flaunts UK planning law / Irdial's The Conet Project (Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations) is now available for download at archive.org. Is this a response to the Wilco-related lawsuit? / Aifol.net - all is full of love - which has a great blog.

Art galleries are ramping up their online presence. Impressive sites to look around: Gorney Bravin + Lee (especially James Welling's Los Angeles series) and the Gandy Gallery, with David Dodge's 'Last Wash' / flux+mutability, 'stray notes on photography / notas dispersas sobre fotografia' / autospies / the internet as wunderkammer. Don't we just know it.


Monday, October 04, 2004
How much more information do you need? Now there's Jalopnik, which goes up against autoblog in the battle of the car weblogs. For gamers, the new Kotaku is a natural competitor for Joystiq. Don't forget the Gizmodo Vs Engadget rivalry. These pages all look the same to me, but the concept of the 'lad blog' (a, wait for it, testosterone trio) is pretty tacky.

Apparently it wasn't the late Frank Zappa who once said that writing about music was like dancing about architecture (although it could have been Elvis Costello). Whatever, there's a lot of dancing about architecture at Grim(m) Desires at the The Wapping Project.

Other things. Royal Art Lodge / The Edmund Fitzgerald, perhaps the best new band in Britain / the end of usability / a chart of spam, like some huge galaxy / Oz Magazine cover gallery, via Paperholic / carved guitars / Lightningfield has a gallery of the exhibition at Saarinen's Terminal Five at JFK Airport.


Sunday, October 03, 2004
Origamic Architecture and Escher, just one of many things linked by the Flat Rock Forests Unitholder Organisation (at least, I think that's the name of the site) / London and the North, a weblog / Grand Magasin, a Parisian photolog.

Snare Electrelane's excellent 'The Valleys' from Joannou / Google scare you? Try searching with Soople instead / the Lost and Found Episodes of Doctor Who, a comprehensive resource / a collection of wooden propellors, via Ritilan.

'Descending into Fog', at File Magazine (A Collection of Unexpected Photography), via Jason Santa Maria's weblog / the National Marble Museum / Christopher D. Gray, architectural musings / New York media map (via incoming signals).

Photos at hegemony / using contemporary architecture to signal future cinematic dystopias / fiction bitch versus the bookslut (both links SFW) / this is everywhere, but I still like it: the Strandbeest, more architectural than animal.

Mission 66, modern architecture in America's National Parks. Related, the story of a Parkway / information about the very cold (British) winters of 1947 and 1963 / 'Welcome Home', the photography of Justine Kurland / rocket sled test footage / nice post on Pan Am, visual futurism and missed opportunities.

I was wrong about Teflon. DuPont refined Teflon as a suitable material for the manufacturing of the atomic bomb (it was used as a protective coating), but it was originally developed (by accident) in 1938 by one Roy Plunkett (some more about Plunkett). Here's a full history.


Friday, October 01, 2004
Sorry, no posts today...