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Thursday, December 30, 2004
Happy new year to everyone, and apologies for the paucity of posts over the past couple of weeks. In 2005, we're hoping to produce things 19 - suggestions and submissions are very welcome. Apart from that, this weblog will continue its daily(ish) existence, with a few design tweaks along the way.

To the links. Verdopolis is 'the future green city', a conference in New York that will launch an installation called FutureCity and hopefully stimulate a debate about sustainability in cities. The 'Green City' has come a long way from Ebenezer Howard's Garden Cities of Tomorrow, the unwitting blueprint for suburbia (and, ironically, anti-'sustainable').

All about deja vu. See also Are those dreams or are those prayers?, a precis of a recent Oliver Sacks piece on the power of the mind / The Gilded Hack, a weblog / Italian folding bike / neat flash illustration and animation at Fleepie.

The work of Callum Morton, an Australia-based artist who delights in subverting icons of modern architecture with consumerist imagery. More works at the Roslyn Oxley9 gallery / expensive posters, such as those by A.M.Cassandre / manuscript Americana for sale at Written by Hand.

Penkiln Burn is Bill Drummond's website (via i like) / sand sculpture memorial (via this isn't London, which is apparently following Vitamin Q and making the transition to print form sometime this year) / a huge and handy collection of maps.

Who wants a Peter Jackson action figure? Who was the driving force behind this product? Jackson himself. One wonders if there was a George Lucas action figure, complete with neatly trimmed beard. Some more action figures / Spaced Out, the Enoch Light website, all about this 'pioneer of stereo and quadrophonic recordings.' We love it that someone's taken the trouble to animate his album covers. More about Enoch at the Space Age Pop Page (which offers downloads for the inquisitive. They are well worth it)

On a more sombre note, William Drentel writes a very personal reflection on Susan Sontag over at Design Observer.


Wednesday, December 29, 2004
This epic Earth is a Guardian article by Sean Thomas on the origins and destination of 'land art', that all-encompassing strand of past-war American art that looks set for a resurgence in 2005 with three major pieces opening, Michael Heizer's City, Charles Ross's Star Axis (so not to be confused with the One Man Star Wars guy), James Turrell's massive Roden Crater (that site is 'under construction', and has been for years. There's a better overview at this Roden Crater page).

All the above transcend traditional concepts of artistic 'scale'. 'City' seems to be the most cinematic, mimicking the dusty, arid megastructures constructed for a science fiction epic. It's so large that you can dial it up on Microsoft's Terraserver site (detail). It's pretty amazing, and all the more so for being completely 'out of bounds', cut off from public access like a latter-day Area 51. Our favourite 'land art' has to be The Lightning Field by Walter De Maria (not to be confused, but it's a pleasant mistake to make).

Elsewhere. Generative systems and computer-generated architecture by Manfred Wolff-Plottegg, which seems like a slight throwback to an earlier, more utopian era of digital design. Vaguely related, the hypocrisy of sustainable design at The Key Centre for Architectural Sociology, which aims to prick architectural pomposity.

Sightseeing and Easter Egg hunting in GTA San Andreas, a game so huge it even has its own cryptozoological legends. Related, monsters on stamps, via me-fi / Boing Boing links to a new weblog called The Gilded Hack / amphibious vehicles currently under development / word of the day, in Dutch / Prisoner's Inventions (via how it happened, via near near future, a 'weblog of technology, awe and wonder').

Michael P takes photos of cars, like this old Citroen CX / Motography, the art of motor oil by Perry Vasquez / some more of what the web does so well, The Potted Meat Museum. I mean, can you imagine going to actually visit a real potted meat museum? / lighting design by James Clar / automated signature technology.

Susan Sontag has died. things 17-18 includes 'Shooting Images', a piece by Limited Language (Colin Davies and Monika Parrinder) on Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others. You can read it online, and see the pictures as well.

Tsunami disaster: donate online.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Los Angeles: Grand Theft Reality, an epic post over at City of Sound that sums up the past few years in virtual world creation, the cult of GTA and the continuing gulf between cinema and gaming (see also Los Angeles Plays Itself, the documentary view of LA's cinematic heritage). Although computer game visuals have a long way to go before they can even approximate reality (even the 'painterly', enhanced reality of the movies), games are now sophisticated enough to benefit from the application of real world skills like navigation and mental maps: 'the only real way to play GTA is to drive around endlessly, building your own mental map of the city. To me, this is just as in reality.'

The post revels in the deja vu created by GTA's exaggerated approximation of LA, contrasted - with excellent images - the real and the virtual. I've had similar experiences in Team Soho's quite astonishingly crass The Getaway. Dan's final observation is that contemporary architecture is, ironically, perhaps too complex for inclusion in the relatively low-res world of computer graphics (using Gehry's Disney Concert Hall as an example). Are architects, a notoriously cliquey and paranoid bunch, frightened that 'their world' of spatial complexity is being infiltrated and even usurped by 'non-professionals'? But I digress.

So should we expect reality and virtuality to diverge? There was a pertinent piece on this morning's Today programme (you should be able to listen again for a bit) about the imminent perils of virtual worlds (which are causing enough stirs already). It included quotes from a phd student called Rachel Jones who is examining virtual representations of war. Could they, she wondered, gradually supplant journalistic and first-person sources as the way we remember events? Could this result in a 'sanitised' version of world affairs? An industry commentator speculated that 'most people will chose interactive entertainment over passive entertainment,' and elements of the way the current conflict is covered - such as the popularity of weblogs and photoblogs by combatants - suggests that even mild increases in 'interactivity' have the possibility of leading to greater understanding of complex issues. However, the former RAF Navigator John Nichol, shot down over Iraq in the first Gulf War, spoke about how simulation could never, ever, match up to the 'real thing.'

For now, perhaps. The 'real thing' will increasingly be defined by intent. The US Army 'intends', for now, for video games to be useful 'marketing tools' (a bit unfair, given the rest of Spot On: The US Army's There-based simulation, a fascinating interview with simulation expert Dr. Michael Macedonia). But although consumer military simulations can't begin to convey real carnage, other facets of virtual life will certainly get darker. This anonymous question at ask me-fi speculates on the legality of pornographic computer-generated imagery. As one poster commented, it's sadly inevitable that within a few years, people will be 'creating' the most ghastly things without, technically, committing an actual crime.

*


Elsewhere, and back to that concert hall: Boing Boing invites you to 'geek out over the Gehry Organ at LA's Disney Hall,' with its 6,134 pipes. See also the pipe organ fact sheet. Also related: Harry Partch's Instruments, a collection of hand-made music machines recreated in Flash (both these links via, I think, music thing). A selection of organs are available.

Pontiac Firebird shooting break, an ill-conceived fusion of British style and American muscle / Granny's Book Box offers a bizarre selection of collectible magazines, books and records / all about the Ericofon / a fan of Peugeot's cute 204 offers copious archives of old magazine articles.

Clearview is a new font for the US Highways System ((via Typographica). Related, a guide to the evolution of Californian road signs / Frank H.Jump's Fading Ad Gallery / digital tailoring in The Incredibles / the Jet-Man Project (not to be confused with this).

Zen Archery, a weblog / Small Spiral Notebook, a 'venture into something literary', an online publication / Christmas gift ideas, via mighty girl and her mighty goods site / something lost in translation about Jezblog.

Multiples by Artists offers limited edition prints and photos for purchase. Early days yet, but at least the site lets you zoom into artworks. You can also 'become your own curator' and create a unique portfolio.


Friday, December 17, 2004
Rootburn ponders whether digital media is giving us too much of a good thing, or the curse of the DPE - 'digital photo effect'. In short, 'my ability to produce and acquire has far outstripped my ability to consume'. A good point, too, is whether 'the new way people process digital media is changing the way they process physical media as well.' Rajat also links to the Activaire service, a 'full service music source for people with iPods'.

Activaire will 'fill up' your iPod, uploading ten 'hip' albums of their choice as a low-effort way of keeping yourself up to date with all that confusing new music. It rather takes away the joy of discovering something for yourself, but then again, most people are happy to buy consumer magazines for similar reasons. Or visit a weblog. But whereas we're more than happy to be presented with a collection of choices, it's another thing entirely to hand over one's personal editorial control. Activaire reminded us more of concepts like books by the yard, which suck all the fun out of life ('Filling a bookcase couldn't be easier... Measure how many linear feet you need to fill, and then order by the foot from Book Decor.')

Elsewhere. Alfred Beach's Pneumatic Subway and the beginnings of rapid transit in New York, by Joseph Brennan (who also re-designed the NY subway map), via The Map Room, who links the revised Dymaxion Projection Animation)/ the complex basement levels of the new World Trade Center complex / photo a day by Jessie Chan Norris / via the great RIBAworld newsletter comes MancTransit, images of an industrial city.

Japan's Expo 2005 looks set to be a landmark event in the development of robots, with a bunch of genuine robot workers scuttling around the site, day and night / bookplates, via Coudal. See also The Art of the Ex Libris, which has contemporary examples. Related: Czech Book Covers of the 1920s and 1930s / two examples of a Faux-rari (via Jalopnik) / neat new look for Hemingway Design.

Online real estate just got a bit more expensive: Gamer buys $26,500 virtual land. The 'plot' resides within Project Entropia, and nowhere else. The exhortation to 'convert your real life money into Project Entropia Dollars' is pretty scary.


Thursday, December 16, 2004
The Friends of Embassy Court celebrates Brighton's immense modernist apartment building, finally on the road to renewal after many decades of neglect and harsh sea air. The building was designed by Wells Coates, the architect responsible for the Lawn Road Flats in Hampstead, commissioned by the progressive Jack Pritchard in 1934.

Elsewhere. The Untitled Product Distribution Network. We haven't really investigated this. A satire on pyramid selling and online hucksterism?) / Lawrence O'Toole tells you what's new in the world of design / the Sony Walkman, Music to whose ears? (via chachacha) / vintage-style wallpaper / the latest Honda Asimo movies. When the damn thing runs it goes way beyond uncanny and ends up looking as if it's coming to get you / not sure why this artwork so controversial.


Wednesday, December 15, 2004
A Harley Earl fan site, via The Cartoonist, who also links How to build a guitar and the Gallery of NPS Birds-Eye Views, which makes us want to break out Age of Empires again. Check the Johnstown Flood series: I, II and III. Still more on the flood of 1889, which killed 2,200 people, and an educational site. The Pennsylvanian town is now home to the Johnstown Inclined Plane, one of the world's steepest. Related. Informational and technical illustrators: Don Foley, Chuck Carter. We also love this vast picture of Dwight D.Eisenhower's Cattle Farm.

The Crime in Your Coffee seems to be concerned with pulp and cheesecake. It links The Painted Anvil, 'The Best in Classic Pin-Up and Comicbook "Girly" art' (check out the work of Robert McGinnis). You can also apparently download the Voice of Vince, 'old time radio shows with Vincent Price' / seen everywhere, but lovely: Corgi Toys / 'Queen Elizabeth's posset for winde', useful this festive season.

The MU Bowl indoor skate park at Eindhoven's MU Art Foundation. Designed, confusingly enough, by MUA, or Maurer United Architects / Less a Job Than an Adventure, Confessions of a telemarketer / Anoush Abrar's site has examples of his 'visual communication' work. In practice this means excellent photography (some of which is nsfw. Some of which, like animal surgery, is quite gruesome and intriguing graphic design).

New from Wired: Test Magazine (available as a pdf download). Can print (or pdf) take on the gadget weblogs? / the end of civilisation approaches: Modern Bird Houses will sell you a Case Study House for your garden (via a whole lotta nothing) / chilling: 'I was dealing with undeniably living eyes which were looking at me'


Monday, December 13, 2004
Bits and pieces of recycled culture today. Miniorgans: miniature tone-generating machines (via music thing) / Red-Hot Trailer Brochure Model Fan Fiction - it has to be Retrocrush, dipping into the saucy world of mobile soft furnishings (via Paperet, which has a thing for retro cheesecake) / tiny oranges (via Cynical-C), which also links to A Painting a Day, 1930's Japanese Military Propaganda Photos, and Poland at War.

Yet more products and objects: we still want stuff. So very now: ipod my photo. Quick question: which is better? iPod mini or Creative Zen Micro? Santa needs to know / Paris in a bag, no-brand cityscaping from Muji (via nsop) / SimonWaldman.net is a new site from the 50 quid bloke. The new site is about 'newspapers, new media and beyond'.

Word of the day: floccinaucinihilipilification, or 'the estimation of something as worthless' / Bonham's annual Ferrari auction brings out the big collectors. Perhaps this chap will be there / David Photographic has a section dedicated to unique and interesting cameras / it's all about the hats / Alain Robert is the French equivalent of Spiderman, except for real (via ektopia).


This Magazine publishes an essay by the authors of The Rebel Sell (book link). Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter re-visit today's 'counter-cultural classics' (American Beauty, Fight Club, No Logo, et al) to re-position them as 'Anti-consumerist' products that simply serve to exacerbate capitalism, rather than undermine it through confrontion or subversion - regardless of what their fans might think.

The authors identify 'competitive consumption' as the underlying theme that unites these three cultural artefacts (and many more), musing that 'most people who consider themselves "anti-consumerist" are extremely brand-conscious'. They conclude that that it 'is rebellion, not conformity, that generates the competitive structure that drives the wedge between consumption and happiness.' Another concept we hadn't come across before is that of 'positional goods', a term coined by Robert Frank at Cornell University. These are 'goods that one person can have only if many others do not. Examples include not only penthouse apartments, but also wilderness hikes and underground music'.

The Rebel Sell article also lays into Naomi Klein for her apparent snobbishness over the nature of 'authentic' loft living, suggesting that the 'real loft' is a classic example of a positional good, something that by its very definition - purchased by 'early adopters' who shun conventional modes of living and residential zoning - cannot be universally embraced. Sharon Zukin's 1982 book Loft Living was the first to describe the curious elitism of loft culture, first in New York's SoHo, and then spreading elsewhere around the world. Today, 'loft living' is a populist concept (and a very profitable one), so where next for the seeker of true authenticity? And what is authenticity anyway?

There's a useful, if long and heated, me-fi debate, which delves into one of our favourite subjects - 'what is a brand?' Is it a way of packaging different consumptive behaviors together into a (theoretically) mutually-reinforcing complex? A nice summary. But can a political party - or a terrorist organisation - be seen as a brand? Probably yes, and that's part of the problem, in that the word - or term, or concept, whatever you like - has become a catch-all, a contemporary means of perception which filters out most other ways of seeing. If you consider, say, the Tory Party to be a 'brand,' then scandals and policies don't get considered in isolation, but as contributing to the party's 'brand capital'. This capital can either be enhanced or devalued, but by perceptions and not quantifiable information. That this can work for objects too is beyond question: some will buy Sony or BMW regardless of actual quality, but for perceived quality.

Other references: The Baffler Magazine, edited by Thomas Frank (author of The Conquest of Cool and One Market Under God. See also the official site of The Rebel Sell. And Ikeaphobia and its discontents, an article by Adam Greenfield which laments that righteous ire is usually directed not 'at ADM, General Dynamics, Monsanto, but Nike and Ikea and Starbucks'.

Elsewhere. Word of Maw, rips into the Beelog, a rather naked attempt to drum up word of mouth for new products / the end of year lists are starting to come in. The New York Times sums up 2004 in the A-Z of Ideas, the Guardian on the year in music (see also the Insound's Top 100 and the Harvard Crimson's review), while Fortune brings you the 25 Best Products of the Year (a lot of which seem almost deliberately superfluous).

Strangely contradicting (or confirming?) the sentiments of our first paragraphs above, we started to speculate about future products; just what objects are being dreamt up in the world's R+D labs? I'd wager that somewhere, a printer manufacturer is working hard on a machine that 'cleans' paper as it prints, meaning you can load the paper tray with used paper. There was, many years ago, a Japanese 'de-photocopier' which did a similar thing (but naturally I can't find any links to it). Perhaps a home recycling unit is also in the works? A device, that might start out the size of a washing machine, but will swiftly shrink, that you load your recycled magazines and newspapers into and churns then out in reams of fresh (if slightly greyish) 80gsm paper. I'd also wager that a camera or film manufacturer - perhaps the troubled Polaroid - is developing a digital camera with a built-in micro printer. It will be the Land Camera of the 21st century.

Quick links. Censorship as protection from 'liberal libarians and trendy teachers' (via Making Light) / more on slum clearance in London at Brickfields.org.uk / the Georgian Index / The The Murtogh D. Guinness Collection, '700 historic mechanical musical instruments and automata' (via la petite claudine) / Swervedriver live / artadvent.co.uk is a nice idea, but needs doors to open.

Architects as saints or psychos? How the profession has been served by cinema / Online Music Myths at the Guardian (via largehearted boy) / the science of crowd control, from Agincourt to IKEA stampedes (via social fiction) / 'Abroad Again in Britain' is the new series by Jonathan Meades, architectural expert, author and Citroeniste.


Friday, December 10, 2004
Interconnections. 'Move on up', on London, housing and politics, a Guardian article by Andy Beckett examining the origins and impact of gentrification, starting with the middle class adoption of the London Borough of Islington in the 1960s, and using the much-publicised house moves of the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, as a starting point.

The term 'gentrification' was coined by Ruth Glass, a sociologist, in her 1964 book, London: Aspects of Change. Glass noted how Islington's demographics were being altered by an influx of middle classes, leading to a corresponding rise in property prices and the exit of the traditional working class and immigrant populations. The Guardian article cites an original resident of the now upscale Barnsbury describing gentrification as 'sharp practice.... an overt conspiracy.' That huge demographic shifts have taken place is plain to see (for example, the most exclusive streets in Islington).

Gentrification is still rampant today, with corresponding downsides and controversies (see The Middle Classes and the Future of London (pdf), which notes that although certain parts of the capital have become accepted 'middle class enclaves', there is no increased interaction between social groups in these areas - a 'low social obligation'). Although gentrification is hailed by some as a welcome means of securing urban regeneration without the use of public money, there is the often unspoken accusation that it is simply reversing the suburban exodus (so-called 'white flight') of the post-war years, and that communities remain polarised.

The racial issues raised in the Guardian piece (musician Eddy Grant, who owned one of the Islington houses before Blair, is quoted as saying "[for me], the speed with which the black people went out of the area... was very strange.") mean that politicians and commentators tread carefully around the subject. Fascinatingly, Glass's husband, the late David Victor Glass, turns up on Eugenics Watch as a member of the British Eugenics Society. Glass was the first research secretary at the LSE's Population Investigation Committee, so his membership was probably strictly out of professional interest (as were, no doubt, his collecting habits).

Eugenics is understandably hugely controversial, so it was surprising to find that the Eugenics Society morphed into the still-existant Galton Institute (named for Sir Francis Galton, Charles Darwin's first half-cousin, and the inventor of the word 'eugenics.' Another early eugenecist was Alexander Graham Bell, whose experiments with the telephone allegedly grew out of his designs for a new kind of hearing aid (more information at Deaf Culture, and in 'Bell's Golden Vaporware,' by Bruce Sterling).

Bell's extensive work with language and elocution (his name is still born by the Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) led him to become worried about the creation, through inter-breeding, of an entirely deaf strand of the human race, hence his interest in eugenics. Strange how inventions and intentions can morph from originally sinister origins into benign devices: it's largely forgotten, for example, that the eugenics movement was once widely feted and had a hand not only in the origins of birth control but even marriage counselling (initiated by Paul Bowman Popenoe with the foundation of the American Institute for Family Relations in the inter-war years as a means of promoting the continuation of the family).

It's hard to search about any of this stuff without walking straight into a virtual quagmire (this metafilter post is a good example). However, this piece, The impact of eugenic thought on research into human behaviour (from Genetics and Human Behaviour: The Ethical Context) is a good overview of shifting societal (and scientific) attitudes, as is this piece, Perfectly Awful, in the Arriviste Press. The links between post-war urban reconstruction, demographics, and social engineering are murky but probably worth exploring in more depth, with the legacy of Charles Booth extending deep into the twentieth century.

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Elsewhere. File Magazine presents a collection of unexpected photographs / make your own snowflake / nice to be mentioned in these comments about web magazines. Some we picked up from the links: The Black Table (especially their picture archive), The Simon, music at Nude as the News and Cozy Tone, Facsimilation (who 'specialize in not specializing in anything') and The High Hat, which runs quirky pieces like Feeling like a Tool: Demons and the Working Girl on "Buffy".

Sisters Petra and Nicole Kaptiza make beautiful geometric art and illustration / Dream Anatomy, via Boing Boing / orbit1, a photolog (via conscientious) / the Society for HandHeld Hushing offers a handy pdf (via coudal) / off the telly, huge collection of essays and information about the UK TV industry / the 100 oldest dotcom registrations (via kottke).

How We Work, a fascinating survey of the creative process. Also relevant, the upcoming New New Journalism, by Robert Boynton / bricolage, hand-made books from the think collective (via netdiver) / Coneyhurst Paper Collectable, an ebay store / the Pixiediscs weblog / an incredible high-rise restaurant in Bangkok / The Old Car Manual Project, always worth a visit / buy Italdesign's Aztec concept car on Italian ebay, an 80s classic.


Thursday, December 09, 2004
Bits and pieces today.

Art, Craft, and Design in Software Development at Peter Lindberg's Tesugen (perhaps the best-looking weblog ever). The post considers the age-old divisions between art, craft and design, the irrational versus the rational, old versus the new, modern versus traditional. Traditional wisdom has it that mass production relegated craft to an expensive sideshow, a distraction from the real needs to provide affordable products for the masses. Computer code, the subject of the post, is presumably a whole different matter. Lindberg speculates that making code requires a new approach. Whereas (bricks and mortar) architects often 'fail' their users by abandoning craft in favour of a more ambitious (and heroic) 'artistic' approach, coders are also accused of being too rational and design-focused, when a little bit of craft would serve them well.

Personalising the machine is an ongoing human preoccupation. The mechanical object offers us considerable scope for anthropomorphism, in that it provides a function on command. It's a short step from here to believe that a functional response is the beginnings of a conversation, an illusion heightened when the function anticipates exactly what the user wanted to do. This dovetails neatly with the idea of mechanical placebos, diversions that are added to enhance our expectations. We'd like to nominate the 'wait to cross' buttons on pedestrian crossings. Or perhaps the pedestrian crossing cancellation button. Other posters cite the 'check engine' lights in modern cars, which conveys a sense of a higher intelligence running around with a virtual clipboard ticking the boxes before each journey. Also related, The Art of Perfection - 'product design that makes you go Aha!'.

Elsewhere. A huge collection of links / the folk at IDfuel interview Mike Mike, the stereo-named artist behind the Face of Tomorrow site / Stylus Magazine has an mp3 blog / buy an oldtimer, a site which collates classic car auctions from the German ebay site. We need something like this in the UK / filmtagebuch, a German pop culture weblog / Momus's click opera / my paper crane makes cute soft toys and has a journal. Read about Sadako and the thousand paper cranes, or make one yourself.

The Review of Everything I've Ever Encountered, including the unlikely combination of AC/DC and the Novels of Jilly Cooper ('AC/DC is an example of art so bad, so stable, so neverchanging that it is pure gold in the tucked away secret heart of anyone who’s ever bought into it.') / the Religious Movements Homepage Project at the University of Virginia / the Joe Fishtein Collection of Yiddish Poetry. Nice illustrations.

Chaos and good links at elastico, e.g. How News Travels on the Internet / Just Adventure, a huge resource for the adventure game addict / the Censored Cartoons Page / Scalable, by Sheldon Brown.


Wednesday, December 08, 2004
Some rather staggering statistics here about the cash cow that is Winnie the Pooh, worth some $5.3 billion in sales each year (via bowblog). As bowblog notes, E.H.Shephard's classic drawings might have been completely superseded by Disney's distinctive yellow bear, for better or worse, but the upshot of Pooh's vast revenue-generating ability is that never again will his image change. See the History of Pooh at this site, Just-Pooh, which, remarkably enough, is a fansite with no affiliation to Disney.

Berlin demolishes the scraps of the half-built Gestapo museum. The scheme was originally designed by Peter Zumthor, the architect whose Thermal Baths at Vals have become the contemporary equivalent of Le Corbusier's Ronchamp as a place of architectural pilgrimage. Sadly, wrangles over budget have led to the abandonment Zumthor's competition-winning design for the Topography of Terror Foundation, which currently comprises of the basement cellars of the former Gestapo HQ, now an open air public space. It's a complex story, but essentially Zumthor's plans have been shelved on account of a (relatively trifling?) 5m euro budget over-run (they should check out the Scottish Parliament...).

Elsewhere. All about technetiquette / the phrase 'Eames Era' tops a poll of 'most objectionable' terms on CraigsList / extracts from the James Dinwiddie Online Collection Guide, including his Dinwiddie's scientific journal, Queries and Hints / contemporary arts and crafts design beautifully presented at hewn and hammered / useful compilation post about old cameras / Memories of the Space Age. We seem to link stuff like this every fortnight or so. Of course, there's a strong likelihood that we link the same site over and over again.

Archinect's 'Building Books' feature has interviews with two stalwarts of architectural publishing, the MIT Press and Princeton Architectural Press / Shoewawa, a weblog about shoes. See also Manolo's Shoe Blog. And Caroline Cox's new book, Stiletto / Louisville Showcase, bands old and new from that most musically prolific of American towns.

A great portfolio of the programme from the London premiere of 2001 (via Coudal). Related, What Stanley didn't say, the story of Kubrick's last (fake) interview. Also, All I Want For Christmas Is Stanley Kubrick's Lens, at greg / the 10 warning signs of Alzheimer's.


Monday, December 06, 2004
Apologies for the paucity of posts.

Disney's Tomorrowland: then and now (via i like, via basic hip). Could you envisage a contemporary theme park creating a world of tomorrow? On the surface, the theme park is a space dedicated to entertainment, about providing a personal experience. But arguably, the ability to control a large area of space to a degree impossible in the 'real' world makes them intensely political places. Disneyland has its own largely unwritten set of rules (and myths - like the Matterhorn basketball court), explored on this Snopes page (via Jessica) that guests agree to abide by, a code of behaviour that is in addition to the existing laws of the land.

Rampant futurism used to be an integral feature of theme parks, often sponsored by industry giants as a means of promoting their products. The sponsorship remains, but thrill rides based on entertainment commodities are more popular than presentations on the House of the Future. At the other extreme, there is the forthcoming Answers in Genesis Creation Museum, which uses the theme park as a metaphor for a space dedicated to an ideological position (unlike the much-vaunted Stalin World in Lithuania, otherwise known as Grutas Park, is little more than a sculpture garden of Soviet-era monuments).

Today, corporations use the scale and visual language of the theme park as a matter of course. In countries where heavy industry has declined spectacularly, elements of theme park design are used to reinvigorate public interest. The motor industry is especially keen on this; Volkswagen's Autostadt and Audi's Forum are good examples. In cases where the industry has vanished altogether, the theme park remains behind as a memory trace, like Magna (more). Increasingly, designed public space is not social, but political, the physical used to reinforce the mental.

Elsewhere. Hyperkit in Surrey. We almost can't wait until next May for this book: The Modern Movement in Britain / hidden messages and references in the music of Boards of Canada / so, what is electronica, anyway? /Finland looks nice, if cold. It's also where Foe Romeo is based / thoughtful essays at Social Fiction, e.g. Computers, Architecture and the Sun, which speculates that the computer is a direct descendent of the sundial.

Very beautiful views of Italy: their circular life (requires flash) / cartoon skeletons / Capelabranca make delightful cardboard playhouses for kids / sadly, the wonderful Maison Neuve 2004 boxset is only available to people who live in North America / Popgadget, 'personal tech for women' / the 213 things Skippy is no longer allowed to do in the US Army.

More flash fun at Evil Pupil. Like many intensive flash-based sites, I'm not entirely sure I know what's going on. But it's fun, for a while, to watch. There are a host of amazing sites linked in this discussion of 'organic flash' at me-fi. En masse, it's a bit like stumbling into one of those London newsagents that stocks magazines from every country in the world, with shelf after shelf of thick-covered fashion titles, all of which scream for your attention, then struggle to hold it for more than five minutes at a time.

French sites featuring daily images / Fulton Chain has postcards from the attic / posters from Poland / illustration at Scrawl Collective / Opacity, urban ruins.


Friday, December 03, 2004
Why would anyone want to throw away their dust jackets? A few galleries to convince them. Tom Swift, bold illustrations for adventure stories (rotate your head through 90 degrees to view). We like Tom Swift and the Giant Cannon. More Swift (the man was an early TV licensing officer, by the looks of things. That won't mean anything to Americans).

Staying with derring do, the work of hugely prolific author WE Johns, best-known as the author of 98 Biggles books. This epic site, or series of sites, includes book illustrations (such as these from Biggles hits the trail). As well as Biggles, there was Worrals of the W.A.A.F, a feisty female pilot who went afoot, east and on the war-path. The science fiction covers show stylistic progression, from post-war realism through to the more abstract visions of the 60s.

Rebuilding the City: The Percy Johnson-Marshall Collection promises much but doesn't deliver much in the way of interesting material. There's a flash movie and a few scans relating to the post-war construction industry here (e.g. USSR in Construction).

Elsewhere. Rob da Bank, who is now hosting the John Peel Show, broadcast a 49-minute long session by Shellac last night / submit response, a weblog we must add to the sidebar / Turquoise Days has a penchant for bona fide indie rock.

WhoWhatWhen: interactive historical timelines / The Psychedelic '60s: Literary Tradition and Social Change. Rock music and radical groups / photos of the Newbury Bypass Protest, a road no-one really wanted but was eventually built.


Thursday, December 02, 2004
Anyone out there collect things obsessively? We hope so. Do you live in North America? Are you female? If so, might you be interested in having your picture taken for a glossy magazine article? Suitable candidates should drop us a line.