things magazine / about / what's new? / archive / photos / projects / order / rss / search
photography from the pre-flickr era
projects, scans and collections
Where is things 19/20?
What is things magazine?
The Pelican Project
external links
2 or 3 things I know
adam curtis
agence eureka
aggregat 4/5/6
alice the architect
all about nothing (x)
all things considered (x)
ambit magazine
and another thing
apothecary's drawer
arch daily
architects' journal
architect's newspaper blog
architectural review
architectural ruminations
art fag city
art is everywhere
art newspaper
arts journal
atelier a+d
atlas (t)
atlas obscura
bad british architecture
bifurcated rivets
the big picture
bldg blog
b'blog of 'israeli
boing boing
b******* to architecture
books from finland
bottom drawer (x)
bradley's almanac
cabinet magazine
cabinet of wonders
candyland (x)
cartoonist (the)
city of sound
city comforts
collision detection
continuity in architecture
cosmopolitan scum
creative review blog
curious expeditions
daily jive
dancing bears (x)
daniel eatock
dark roasted blend
david thompson
death by architecture
delicious ghost
deputy dog (x)
derelict london
design bivouac
design observer
diamond geezer
digitally distributed environments
eliot shepard
excitement machine
eye of the goof
fantastic journal
fed by birds
first drafts
five foot way
future feeder
gapers block
giornale nuovo
hat projects
hello beautiful!
hot wheels
htc experiments
hyperreal and supercool
i like
incoming signals
infinite thought
the interior prospect
irregular orbit
jean snow
joe moran's blog
josh rubin
judit bellostes
kanye west
keep left london
largehearted boy
last plane to jakarta
life without buildings
lightningfield (x)
limited language (x)
literary saloon
loca london
london architecture diary
london review of books
low tech magazine
made by machines for people
made in china '69
making light
map room
material world
men's vogue daily
metafilter projects
militant esthetix
millennium people
miss representation
moosifer jones' grouch
mountain 7
mrs deane
music thing (x)
myrtle street
no, 2 self
nothing to see here
noisy decent graphics
noticias arquitectura
obscure store
obsessive consumption
one plus one equals three
open brackets (x)
ouno design
overmorgen (x)
partIV (x)
pcl linkdump
the peel tapes
platforma arquitectura
plasticbag (x)
pointingit (x)
polar intertia
print fetish
quiet feather (x)
re: design news
reference library
rock, paper, shotgun
rogue semiotics
route 79
russell davies
sachs report
samuel pepys' diary
school of life
segal books
sensing architecture
sensory impact
shape and colour
sit down man, you're...
slow web
space and culture
speak up
spitting image
strange attractor
strange harvest
strange maps
subterranea britannica
swiss miss
tecnologia obsoleta
telstar logistics
that's how it happened
the art of where
the deep north
the letter
the model city
the moment blog
the morning news
the nonist
the northern light
the one train
the serif
the silver lining
the white noise revisited
they rule
things to look at
this isn't London
tom phillips
tomorrow's thoughts today
turquoise days (x)
urban cartography
vitamin q
voyou desoeuvre
we make money not art
we will become
where (x)
white noise of everyday life
witold riedel
whole lotta nothing
wood s lot
wrong distance

weblog archives
eXTReMe Tracker
Friday, September 30, 2005
Photographer Lori Nix's creates miniature landscapes that are frequently overshadowed by impending disaster (via Conscientious). Why is it that contemporary dioramas are frequently military themed? Ruins often crop up as well, both strands coming together in the Chapman Brothers' Hell (ironically since consumed by fire). The original meaning of diorama - 'a scene reproduced on cloth transparencies with various lights shining through the cloths to produce changes in effect, intended for viewing at a distance through an aperture' - has largely been superseded. According to Wikipedia, it was the American Museum of Natural History, and ornithologist Frank M.Chapman who popularised the idea of the diorama as a lifelike setting for stuffed creatures, fowl or fish.

The original term was coined by one Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, the combination of painting and light to create a 'naturalistic illusion', often on a grand scale. The very first Diorama opened in Paris in 1822 (all links from the excellent Midley History of Photography). The following year a Diorama opened in London, in Park Square East, just a few hundred yards from where we are now. For a while it was also home to the Diorama Arts Centre. All related images are here.

Other things. The Sea Jet, a future warship concept / mash-ups / niche blogging: luxist wheels / art by Jordan Crane. Art by another Jordan Crane, including this fabulous Guide to Reproduction / need more pixels? Try this / flickr's pool of found photos (via rob) / food vs car, a novel take on the safety ad / a visual history of the Nikon SLR (via kottke) / a good-looking IKEA website / still wonderful: the Golberg variations (another version) / Thomas Mahon's English Cut, the thoughts of a Savile Row tailor, rich with insights into the suit-making business (via plastic bag). This Savile Row Who's Who is a useful primer if you need a suit made.

Thursday, September 29, 2005
Are we entering a technological dark age? As this article speculates, although the impact of digital photography on culture is by no means entirely clear just yet, some are worrying that the explosion of image capturing that characterises the present day (we have, oh, 21,767 files in our 'photos' directory right now) will be the death of the contemporary image. Photographs will simply slip through the fingers of future historians as they struggle with forgotten formats, corrupt data and - most likely - the fact that many people simply didn't 'back up' their family memories.

A photograph was once an object, something static and (relatively) indestructible. In comparison, today's objects are no longer frozen - they shift, imperceptibly or glaringly, as jpg compression slowly strips away elements of detail, until there's nothing left at all but a blur. Can a digital archive stay stable? Probably not: the digital realm works best when it constantly shifts shape and meaning (Wikipedia edits Esquire, for example, a more successful - and controlled - experiment than when the LA Times opened itself up). Once something is in the digital realm it loses its physical solidity, most likely for ever.


A few wildly contrasting links around the subjects of towns, cities, ruins, changes and futures. Above and Beyond, New York rooftop dwellings. Some very impressive - and depressing - images from post-Katrina in Pearlington, Mississipi, where creeping mold is dragging storm-damaged homes back to nature. That surely won't be a problem for the most expensive homes in the world, a goggle-eyed collection of needless extravagance which includes the frankly grotesque Updown Court (you can find this pile on Google Earth if you search for 'Windlesham, England' - the house is actually within spitting distance of the, hopefully rather noisy, M3 motorway). If tasteless uber-luxury doesn't appeal, consider 'Ideal homes and petty snobberies', just what is it that makes today's suburbs so appealing, so inviting? How good drains made suburban living a tempting alternative. And while we're at it, regeneration or gentrification? How more of the latter is doing away with Brixton's character.

Bristol: then and now - animations. A similar exercise at Biggin Hill, and then across the Atlantic to Richmond, Indiana. The mighty Atlas Underwear Factory (now Atlas Senior Apartments) once trained its Ohio salesmen with this inspirational manual, 'Counter Talks and Counter Arguments'. See the women of Atlas at work, making union suits, an item of underwear apparently unique to the US. Just two items from the extensive Ohio Memory site. Did you know that 'Perfect comfort in underwear is the happy combination of snugness and looseness'?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005
The Pit, 'classic horror sounds on wav' (via eye of the goof). 'Is that one sitting behind you now?'. Related, the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe (one of many). Poe was a hoaxer, creating fantastic tales that were not wholly unbelievable. It was a form of story-telling that later evolved into science fiction. Almost related, reading into Romero, on zombies and analogies / we've done this before, I'm sure: If London Were Like Venice, complete with images. Via Weltentummler, which also links this epic panorama of Monte Baldo and Lake Garda at the Pan-o-Rama site. London-as-Venice probably comes somewhere under the definition of nostalgia, albeit romantic nostalgia. This, however, is more cut and dried: The Lost Generation is an essay at Pitchfork by Nitsuh Abebe chronicling the 90s post-rock scene, 'the "lost generation" of airy, moon-obsessed English acts that got the ball rolling on the dreamy, avant 90s'.

Meaning Building, projects and writings, long and short, about the ways in which the meaning of the built environment is constructed: the archaeology of recent architecture, if you like. Projects include a city of images and, a weblog format history of Berlin, its architecture, new and hold, and the city's ongoing role as a memorial site / banned books / How to do anything photographic / teenage furniture design competition results / the JeffuPhonia, a clawfoot bass-tub (via daily jive) / Pop Idle invites you to name that mp3. Linked, Fourier Transform, a record label, with random scribblings and photographs of places and things.

Bad Subjects, 'Political Education for Everyday Life' / BLDGBLOG, an excellent visual weblog with an architectural slant /, an contemporary art magazine / ex-soviet music, Russian pop in mp3s / You Haven't Lived needs to be opened in IE to generate instant post-modern essays / modernist architecture in Berlin / check recent culture-related posts at BritLitBlogs / Villard, an Italian archiblog / I am Gary Benchley. Paul Ford comes clean about living dangerously to produce his first novel.

Monday, September 26, 2005
The latest issue of Smoke, 'a London peculiar' is out now (number 6). We especially enjoyed Steve Lake's tales from the coalface of Foyles bookshop, back in the dark days of the early 80s. Foyle is a London institution, now rather diluted. From the piece: 'The only real reminders of the past were the sepia-tinted photographs dotted around showing such scenes as Christina Foyle walking the shop floor in the 1950s presumably looking for someone to fire and Margaret Thatcher speaking at a Foyles Literary Luncheon. Someone had set about her with a sharp instrument, little realizing they were picking on the more liberal of the two women.' The tradition of literary luncheons continues. All jolly good stuff.

Speaking fossilised retailers: 'Finally, the deed is done. Yesterday, Federated Department Stores announced that all of the stores of Marshall Field's, a Chicago institution for over a century and, with Wanamaker's, one of the two creators of the concept of the department store in America, would be converted to Macy stores in 2006.' Their Chicago store, designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in 1882, was Romanesque yet also ultra-modern. It not only revolutionised retailing, but ushered in a new era of architecture (along with men like Elisha Otis).

Dwelling on the Roof, a new book by Andres Martinez looking at 'the desire to occupy and utilise roof space'. More related titles, Rooftop Architecture, High rise Living and, cough, Penthouse Living. Should we all be living on flat roofs? / The South Coast gears up for Brad vs Hove / Julian Cope on World Domination Enterprises (listen) / behold, the Terrawind / many, many Citroen DS brochures / an Ogle special Aston Martin. Ogle's Tom Karen is something of a transport design legend. Not only was he responsible for a large number of Reliant cars, he also created the Vimp, Bond Bug and the classic Raleigh Chopper.

A few more links from Poland: street art and stencils. The country's photographic scene can be tracked at Fotopeta, an online journal of photographic art. A post-industrial diving centre / you can lose quite a lot of time at the Literary Encyclopedia. For example, the Lollard Knights were a group of heretical followers of Richard II who seem to get a lot less press than the Templars.

Give it to us sexy, shiny, and in public!. Awards are always going to annoy some people / Retro Thing is the 'independent guide to vintage technology' - i.e. toys and gadgets that work at the cutting edge of analogue and digital. One area of product design infused forever infused with a retro-sensibility is robot design. Only a generational and technological revolution will shake it off: check robot news at GoRobotics for details.

Thursday, September 22, 2005
Type I Saw Today is a visual category at the Fawny Blog (via lowercase). See also Text on Things, which gives you some idea of the challenges facing the modern designer, I guess / must remember to catch to catch the upcoming Derain exhibition at the Courtauld / fine photos from Switzerland / Bangkok's Elephant Building / swapatorium is down for Rita-related reasons. Here's hoping it, and everything else, is back soon and all in one piece.

Thanks to Greg of Airbag Industries for highlighting the work of Rural Studio, founded by the late Samuel Mockbee. Greg has worked with the studio before and wanted to highlight its work with victims of Katrina, constructing dwellings and shelters from found materials. An upcoming film looks at the work of the programme, and there's more information here. Meanwhile, there's also good work being done at Architecture for Humanity. Correction. RS isn't directly involved in the Katrina re-building effort; the initiative in question is by a separate department at the Auburn University School of Architecture. And the Rural Studio website is back up. Thanks to Hana for the correction - see the comments.

Kaia Juszczak's small Polish Houses, in summer and winter, part of Atmosfera Domowa, an exhibition on domestic atmospheres (?). We also like Marcin Makowka's interior panoramas / more Polish jazz, this time in mp3 / brown sugar, found amongst the ZZ Top tab / powerful black and white photos at foto-gerhard / Roger Fenton's letters from the Crimea.

Three links from me-fi, starting with 'the life and times of an eighteenth century hoax,' copyrighted colours, and the Placeopedia (via) / armchair archaeology: Internet maps reveal Roman villa / the photography of Peter Guenzel, including this series taken at Santa Pod Raceway / scary pics from the crash-test of a Chinese SUV.

Two new print publications: Wonderland magazine and Sublime Magazine sound ostensibly similar, yet they have very different goals. The former is all about conspicuous consumption, taking its cues from several other, more established, titles, while the latter is billed as 'the first ethical lifestyle magazine'. Guess which one should carry this product: the SIBI Villa doll's house, now available in the UK.

Someone is going to get a serious bargain. Bid now!.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Interactive adverts for the film Sin City have overstepped the mark according to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority. Push a button, and you get a clip from the film. Unfortunately the clips were too violent. Flat screen technology advances rapidly. A company called Digital View now offers what it describes as Videoflyers - little TVs that pump out ads in confined spaces. Our first experience of this was at Tottenham Court Road tube station, where the traditional blizzard of electronics advertising has now been replaced by a run of 66 small screens. Every screen carries the same image, and the resulting effect is rather hallucinatory. Apparently '66% [of Londoners] said they'd like to see more digital poster advertising on the London Underground,' a statistic brought into context by the sudden arrival of a large flat screen TV in the corner of our favourite Italian sandwich bar. It had only been there a week and the guy behind the counter shrugged when I asked if they were paid to install it. No sound, but rolling ads, drawing all eyes to a hitherto-ignored corner of the cramped shop.

I don't wish to sound too curmudgeonly, but my heart sank when I saw the screen. Alarmingly, I didn't even register it at first - just stared blankly at the flashing images (there's no sound, mercifully) for 30 seconds before realising that this had not been there the previous week. Developments like commuter television are a blight: we're drawn to screens like moths to lights. In more restricted environments, 'forced television watching' is seen by some as a subtle form of punishment. So will images be the 21st century's piped music (or should that be Muzak)? Muzak is widely loathed, even after it re-branded itself as 'audio architecture', marking the shift from entertainment product to an environmental one. Critics call this 'scientifically engineered sound', stripped of uncomfortable emotional content that occupies the sub-conscious 'background space' in our day to day lives. It's not hard to imagine this background space being filled with subtle visual as well as audio data. How long, for example, before electronic billboards entirely replace the traditional paper or tri-panel/tri-vision kind? Organisations like Scenic America are fighting ongoing billboardisation, a struggle that's only going to get more harder.


Elsewhere. Some great photos of Le Corbusier's Ronchamp chapel, 1955 (via RIBAworld). See also the photographer's images of Gaudi's Casa Mila, Corb's Villa Savoye and more / Kontakt, a 'Magazine for Arts and Civil Society in Central Europe', looking at emerging architecture and with projects like The Balance of Trade, objects collected by Helmut and Johanna Kandl / TF Archive, 'serving the Transformers community since 1996'.

Letters Never Sent, a weblog / build yourself a garden escape / rare cars, including the 1959 Cadillac Series 62 built for King Farouk. More details at this page of Cadillac Specials / BibliOdyssey offers scans from a dizzying collection of rare and historic books, including pop-ups (linking this excellent exhibition at the University of North Texas), early British bookbinding and the original Alice in Wonderland.

A new book from photographer Michael Wolf brings together his recent urban imagery: Hong Kong: Front Door/Back Door / Honey Milk is a Norwegian record label / learn to play Southern Rock / if the balloon went up, how would we have known? Via an early warning system, that's how. Dismantled in 1992, you can apparently still find remnants of the nationwide sirens. From the indispensable Subterranea Britannica). See also this page devoted to the UK Cold War Nuclear Attack Warning System.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Your life in their hands, Fiona Rattray on the genius of Muji, the Japanese firm that swept into the UK bringing everything brown, grey and green, in 1991 (in Carnaby Street, of all places). While the UK branch is only just diversifying into consumer electronics (the CD player being a particular hit in the things household), in Japan you can specify entire houses, or even go camping with the Muji Outdoor Network.

Why we should junk the green belt, Grand Designs' Kevin McCloud gets wound up about 'crappy little noddy houses' and proposes that planning restrictions be abolished, so that 'people [could] build what they like, where they like.' Any catches? 'The only restriction would be that they would have to use an architect' / when not re-designing the whole country, check the London Architecture Diary to see what's on in the capital.

The pre-war architecture of Warsaw, a city that suffered 85% destruction during WW2. Features interactive maps and before and after imagery. The reconstructed town centre is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Related, the best of Polish jazz / Junior Bonner has links to all kinds of book scans - a little bit like our own projects page but somewhat more committed / going back to the moon, a little movie of coming attractions from around 2015 / the 'ruined edition' of Leisure Centre, out now.

What's inside your bag?, a flickr pool, via Another random pool: wheelie bins / 8mm monster movies / Oak Tree Enterprises sell everything: guitar effects, old clocks, contemporary electronics and early video games / retro car catalogue images / six-wheelers by French coachbuilders Tissier.

Reconsidering Eero [Saarinen] at Metropolis: 'Saarinen died young and very much out of critical favor, but the judgment of history seems to have turned for this long-neglected master.'

Monday, September 19, 2005
Enjoy Star Trek? The System 47 screensaver (a free download for windows and Macs, via the cartoonist) emulates the series' 'Library Computer Access and Retrieval System', or LCARS. Unbeknowst to us, LCARS is a big deal out on the far reaches of the web, with the interface appropriated for all manner of Trek-related information. Here's another site, with enormous quantities of information and trivia. See also LCARS mania, a Japanese site.

A gallery of latte art, another sub-culture. This site has how-to videos, a site called Coffee Geek has a 'frothing guide' and there's the obligatory flickr set. A lot of these look like leaves, although that could be just us. We like the lion. Bring the two obsessive genres together with these mugs.

Vuk Vidor's work is ocassionally rather coarse (if blurry, a little like Adam Connelly's paintings), but we like his series 'art history' / the complete Pricing Game directory - rules of all 80 games from The Price is Right / Surf Guitar 101, an mp3 compilation / illustrated envelopes from WWII / what can virtual worlds teach us about economics in the real world?

The Internet Movie Cars Database, where you can check out the filmic career of the Citroen CX, for example / SUV City: The Film, yet another salvo in America's auto-culture wars / Molki's passions are six-wheeled cars, whether real or fake / more shooting brakes.

The London Design Festival is currently running, with lots of talks and exhibitions across the capital. A fiver says we'll miss everything.

Check Friday's comments for a pithy summation of a child's life in a modernist gem: 'It drove me batshit.' We have two new photo galleries - we're seriously behind with our daily photos and the two sets of St Petersburg pictures were getting a bit dour.

Friday, September 16, 2005
The joys of living with modernism, or how you need thick skin to exist within thin concrete walls. Keep an eye on The Modern House if you want to join these lucky people. Deep pockets required. Related, new Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins has a go at Frank Gehry's proposals for Hove: Give these people an inch and they take a city. The scheme has come a long way since the early proposals.

Spoilt Victorian Child on Blast First's epic Devil's Jukebox, the ultimate box set for indie completists circa 1989 / Craftivism explores contemporary crafts. Round here it's all people making vastly expensive hand-made t-shirts for children, expensive presumably because they need to make some kind of living out the process. This then creates a kind of feedback loop of inflation, whereby other people see the high prices and come to believe that they too can earn money from making children's t-shirts, and before you know the market in high-end children's t-shirts is totally saturated.

Alex at Rotational has some excellent posts up at the moment, including a chat with legendary designer Ken Adam and a thoughtful piece on Studio Libeskind's new Danish Jewish Museum (more images at Arcspace), clearly showing the new insertions into the original building, a twisted path with obvious symbolic overtones.

The Lego Digital Designer, one of many fascinating things linked at Pasta and Vinegar / buy 4,100 issues of the New Yorker / we thought these unidentified men were strangely placed as well / psychics on test / insert credit, a game weblog / Slit Scan photography, the creation of the special effects in 2001 (via ask me-fi) / an interview with dooce, which recommends the 3hive mp3 weblog.

Anyone know where we can find a torrent of 49 up? We'd rather not wait seven years for the next one.

Thursday, September 15, 2005
Alfred le Grazia's concept for a new Utopia, Metropolis 1976, was for a linear city of half a million people. It was boldly anti-auto: 'Private cars should not be permitted in the city. Private cars should be stored on the periphery with maximum 30 minute access from any house.' See also The Ten Stupidest Utopias! (via kottke), at Strange Horizons, the weekly web-based magazine 'of and about speculative fiction'. This list controversially includes 'The Postwar American Suburb', described as 'the definitive "no place," an empty parking lot sitting where our past and future should be.' Somewhere between these two concepts lies the answer, yet no-one's managed to put it into bricks and mortar just yet. Also helpful, Stefan Metaal's Urban Sociology Site has an Urban Field Glossary.

A few years ago, the lazy journalist's research shortcut involved typing their subject's name into Google and then starting their article by marvelling at how many hits (or not) it received (Google's Zeitgeist page neatly summarises this data). Today, we have eBay: a far better way of discerning trends isn't what's being written about, it's what people are selling. This USA Today article looks at 2004 through eBay's eyes, concluding that more older people are using the auction site: 2004's top search term was 'RV' (2002's was 'Gucci', 2003's 'BMW'). The article also notes that pink was a fast-moving colour, the eighth-most searched for term in 2004, and, in a spike that's sure to be repeated in 2005, items related to post-hurricane rebuilding ("lumber, plywood, molding" and "Windows, screens & hardware") both accelerated rapidly after the year's four Florida hurricanes.

Turns out that eBay's API isn't as user-friendly (or as free) as other sites that track social trends. It's a shame, as an 'eBay zeigeist' tool would be fascinating. For a start, the burgeoning trade in so-called 'retro' design items, a catch-all words that appended to a huge variety of auctions as a means of luring a certain type of punter. We appear to have reached a stage when objects can be 'modern' and 'retro' simultaneously.


The razor blade arms race accelerates with Gillette's introduction of the five-bladed razor, via me-fi. It's a seemingly endless quest for the perfect shave, and more blades clearly equals more efficiency. That first thread includes a link back to the golden days of Saturday Night Live: the Triple Trac. The company also stands accused of embedding 'spy chips' (i.e. RFID devices) into its products / were it not on the Reuters site, one would assume this was a spoof (via kottke) / Garnock Books, used book sellers.

At the unusually-named Occult Design weblog ('exploring a marriage of design's problem solving and the occult's shift in context and intelligence', apparently) / How to disappear in America without a trace. A bit like a long, long ask me-fi answer (originally, yet again, via kottke) / currently on, the Frankfurt Auto Show. Taken from the 2003 show: unveilings / Schaukasten, 'a blog dedicated to the aesthetic values of movie art beyond the screen' / Hobart, a literary journal.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Yet another modernist classic bites the dust, as Gordon Bunshaft's Travertine House of 1963 gets the bulldozer treatment, thanks to owner Donald Maharam. According to author Kenneth Caldwell, the demolition is all the more ironic given Maharam's 2004 citation from the Russel Wright Center for 'honoring modernism'. Maharam runs a fabric shop by the same name, famed for re-issuing classic modernist patterns.


Raytracing is a peculiar genre. Without question, there's immense technical skill on display here, yet the resulting compositions are strangely lacking. The Internet Ray Tracing Competition has been running for nine years now, and there's always been something very MBS about the aesthetic, as if the cover of The Little Book of Calm became fused with something more meteorologically ominous. We also detect hints of an post-religious apocalyptic future; still, we believe, the modern incarnation of traditional romantic landscape painting.


The paintings of Peter Doig / Fiat Coupe History / Schleich make superior plastic toy animals / helmintolog, a weblog by Andrew Brown, author of The Darwin Wars / wine label gallery / Deutschland, 1929, via me-fi and others / the Americans have awful awnings, we just have vestigial balconies that hang limply off facades with no terrace space to shield and no way of reaching them.

Monday, September 05, 2005
Thomas de Zengotita's book Mediated starts with a cracking anecdote, a story from the author's days at a high pressure, high emotion New York drama school. One day, the class is limbering up, all leotards, sixties haircuts and minds full of The Method, when a teacher bursts in and breathlessly declares that the president has been shot, then exits rapidly. The students look at one another, confused, until someone realises that this must be a cue for an improv. Various levels of dismay, outrage and despair are then exhibited, drawn from the very depths of their freshly scraped psyches. Yet after a few pained minutes of emotional intensity, someone else comes by and confirms that, yes, the president really has been shot. All at once, the facade crumbles, and the acting students are torn between two states - real emotion, or fake yet somehow more authentic emotion. De Zengotita tells this story to illustrate what he believes is a crucial disparity between contemporary culture and that of perhaps 50 or 60 years ago: we want to emote and associate with everything, and in doing so we have lost any perspective over what is real and what is not.

If only the rest of the book built more effectively on this atmospheric beginning. But it's hamstrung by a very awkward style - short, chatty sentences and over-familiar observations that gradually leech away at the reader's empathy with the premise. It's not that the premise is flawed - but as de Zengotita himself notes, what he's saying is ultimately rather obvious, making the book the cultural version of the experiment that can't be observed as the act of observation will change the parameters and therefore results. De Zengotita is best when he's describing the way America's current president has shaped himself, almost sub-consciously, to fit the ideals and aspirations of his core voters, a self-mediated person who, paradoxically, portrays himself as naive and homey, untainted by the complexities of modern media.

Interestingly, the book has a different subtitle to the US edition, where it's flagged as 'How the Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It', whereas in the UK, it's just 'How the Media Shape Your World', with a changing plural on 'Shape(s)'. Reviewing the book in the Observer, Peter Preston observes that 'no generation before had such a bank of mediated memory to draw on', and that today's nascent generations are simply ticking a plethora of boxes in the way they shape their identities, spreading allegiances and passions thinly, creating a general feeling of apathy rather than burning intensity. Somewhere along the line 'they way you live in it' was deemed an unnecessary tautological addition, implying that it is the shape of the world that matters most, and everything else is conditioned by that perception.


Elsewhere. All is not so rosy at Bo01, the sustainable Swedish eco-village on the old docks at Malmo - also home to Calatrava's Turning Torso (official site here). The town is the location of the giant Kockums shipyard, which recently built the Swedish navy's Stealth Ships, the Visby class Corvette (an idea that hasn't really been widely taken up by any other seapowers: only wealthy individuals who like the aesthetic: see the Wallypower 118). Bo01 was facilitated by failing industry, and the city was once home to a large Saab factory, which is now being magicked into a new city quarter (seen here with the giant Kockums crane to the east).

Attending any kind of trade show, event, launch or whatnot usually results in a bucketful of freebies (or 'swag') - the entertainment and media industries seem especially guilty of doling out all manner of non-monetary incentives (with the Oscars traditionally representing the state of the art). But what kind of riches would one find at a trade show devoted to promotional items? You clearly need no more encouragement to visit the National Incentive Show, with exhibitors like The Coaster Company,, Laser Crystal Ltd and the Snazzybags company all champing at the bit to give you superfluous stuff.

Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise is a weblog with a classical music focus / CaveHack, a freeware retro game / on architectural plagiarism, specifically the Freedom Tower's ongoing issues. See also these posts collected together by the Annotated Times, which tracks blog postings about NY Times articles (which promptly expire like goldfish out of water) / Unfortunate Books and Records / random scans, including this disturbing-looking book, The Shelter Trap / science fiction book cover pool / sleazy reads / yet more flickr browsing, this time London urban archaeology: Rabbit phone point.

That Brutal Joint, an architecture weblog / eMercedesBenz is an unofficial weblog / 'mini' cars / Antique Toy Vehicles, just one section of the vast Adamstown Antiques Gallery / a powerful piece of writing: Shadows everywhere / make virtual creatures with Modulobe (via hippoblog) / the end of the original RAND Corporation HQ. The company itself is still going strong / the Mythologist, the life of Henry X / the musical autobiography of Henry Cowell / Media Mediators, experimentations in interface design / overhead on the Today program in a discussion about China's thus-far responsible approach to climate change: 'they're still trying to heat their houses, whereas we're heating our gardens and the Americans are air-conditioning their gardens.' And it's true!

Apologies for the intermittent postings. We're working away at the next print edition - when we're not travelling - so time is quite tight right now.

Friday, September 02, 2005
Pentothal Postcards is a new book by David Lai, telling the story of an early guerilla marketing campaign - for the anaesthetic Pentothal. Hand-written postcards were mailed from around the world to doctors and nurses, each extolling the virtues of the drug. They're now collector's items, and the book brings together half of the total sent between 1956 and 1968. See also this fine archive of anasthesia publicity.

Divya at Nimbupani points us to a flickr pool of Singapore Typeface history, 'through pictures of Singapore buildings, road signs, toilet signs, and even sewage lid typefaces' / via metafilter, you're going to like it. But not a lot. The Paul Daniels weblog / Hupix showcases some impressive mobile phone photography / a Gallery of Computation: computer generated imagery and animations.

An autoblog round-up - an aide-memoire for us as much as anything else: car connection, Jalopnik, autoblog, le blog auto / a visit to Imber at the World of Stuart. See also the rant about MAME, emulation / fine art photography at Lumas. We especially like the work of Julia Christie, Michael Danner, Margherita Spiluttini (who has her own website), Jorg Fahlenkamp's model houses and Kai-Uwe Schulte-Bunert's glacial imagery of architecture.

Both Life in the Present and Exclamation Mark take a break from presenting links / the Visual Arts Weblog of Minneapolis's Walker Arts Center (via eyeteeth). One of the Center's upcoming exhibitions, put together under the auspices of new Design Director Andrew Blauvelt, will be called Some Assembly Required: Contemporary Prefabricated Houses, which opens in December 2005. The Center is also notable for its Herzog & de Meuron-designed extension.

Preoccupations, a London-based weblog / London Belongs to Me, a weblog (via i like's latest likes / Bronze Age Fox, a Bristol band with a strong sense of style / cute, tiny javascript animation (via offmessage) / post-Katrina Images at the Washington Post /, home of photographer Andreas Gehrke, has been re-designed / the ReBirth Museum, re-visit (and download) a classic software sequencer / improvising sub_Base landscapes, another fascinating Archinect post, this time looking at escape tunnels, smuggling tunnels and squatter camps. Also via the site, is MVRDV's Dutch Pavilion really up for sale?

Jeremy Reid's Backyard Roller Coaster (via j-walk) / Marginal Utility, 'dealing with contemporary consumerism, capitalism, and the life it permits,' via consuming things / airline timetable images / our entries in delicious remind us to change the subtitle of this page on a more regular basis...