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Sunday, November 05, 2006


A London squat becomes an art institution, as the Louise T. Blouin Institute opens in West London. Hugh Pearman has the story of the Free and Independent Republic of Frestonia, a micronation formed out of abandoned buildings and land on Freston Road, a small slice of the city that was just about to be carved up by the Westway and the new West Cross Route. The Borgos Dance-refurbished building has a permanent installation by James Turrell and it is all serene and calm, a far cry from the riotous early days of Frestonia, which was the frontline in the nascent punk scene, a meeting place for the 70s-era hippies and the angrier generation that followed (all captured in this (pdf) chapter, Subterania, of Tom Vague's excellent 'Getting It Straight In Notting Hill Gate' a pop history of Notting Hill). Luminaries including the Mutoid Waste Company, and countless musical and artistic spin-offs, all of whom embraced squat culture in an area that has since become relentlessly upmarket. Blouin herself, a redoubtable figure by all accounts, would not have been amused by the area's original scene.

Not really related, but we'll give it a go. The disjunction between the real world and vacation communities like those under construction in Dubai (see earlier posts) and now Serrenia, is growing ever wider. Serrenia's accommodation starts at 'Palaces,' and works down through 'Luxurious Villas,' 'Large Villas,' and 'Private Villas,' all the better to ensure that everyone gets the lifestyle upgrade they feel entitled to. You even get a view 'of the horizon,' luckily. Masterplanned by Foster and Partners, who have really embraced the luxury development in recent months, the whole complex is planned in what one might call Post-Niemeyer Neo-Tropicalism, all impractical swooped facades, teardrop shaped pools and oodles of comfort cooling. Where is Serrenia? On the Red Sea coast, which is at least reassuringly far away from us. But imagine it abandoned and squatted, all that cutting edge architecture reclaimed by nature. In the future, Micronations will no longer be places like Christiana or Sealand, but isolated fortresses of wealth and privilege, safe-guarding their citizens from reality.

The Osborne Bull (at Microsiervos), a feature of the Spanish Landscape. Once an advert, but now just a roadside object / the Totem-Mobile, a Citroen display from this year's Paris motor show / the London Lighthouse High Dynamic Range Panorama / design and reference at Smashing Magazine / Archlog / Carlos Segura is the creator of the excellent Cartype website. He also runs Segura Inc, a visual communications bureau.

'What To Do With an Ugly LA Freeway? Cover it, of course - the growing trend for greening over highways. See also CZWG's Green Bridge at Mile End Park / Philip Sherburne's weblog, via deltadada, which also links to these retro sets by Ward-O-Matic: children's books and games, This is Cape Canaveral, and some random ephemera / a large collection of photographs from the UK counter-culture at Alan Lodge's One Eye on the Road, including the notorious Battle of the Beanfield.

Book iconography, a post at Moon River on artists who work with books. We like the pictures of Rosamond Purcell / from a list of 10 non-google map innovations (via tmn), the YES Nation - just what exactly is starting to play on American radio, right now. Also, the eBay auction mapper (again, US-only) and the flickr map / a history of homelessness in London.

Design resources at Paper Clipping, found via Princeton Architectural Press's weblog. Links include the Visual Thesaurus / illustration and hand-made goods at Poppy. Many years ago we remember coming across a little company called Sukie, who were cranking out travel journals, notebooks and more, all manufactured in India for that authentic, retro look. Now the range has expanded hugely, as has the competition.

a daily dose of imagery / a flickr set of the old Coventry Cathedral, by roblog. See also the church interiors pool / Foxtons Cock Mobiles (Collect them all) / more Minis, this time Beatles Minis / Stan Peskett, a local artist around here, and responsible for the William Blake mural down the road, celebrating the artist and poet's vision on Peckham Rye / Saturday Night Live transcripts.

The new season of Lost seems to have slipped gently from its moorings in the US. Here in the UK, it's been abducted by a digital channel, which should be even more of a boost for bittorrent / music. Shellac Shanty, 'a place to share recordings from a long-ago time and a slower pace', via Bifurcated Rivets, to whom we are grateful for their recent link. Uberdrivel, an mp3 blog ('audio files for audiophiles'). Another mp3 blog, Earfarm, which has a regular feature, 8+, for songs over eight minutes long. And some more, Moebius Rex, rbally, Sounds of Champaign / Slow Thrills, a music weblog.

Kottke creates a bibliography for Will Wright, creator of The Sims, and the forthcoming Spore. The latter, much-hyped, bucks the trend by being a single-player game (albeit with some online interaction) / Flying into a silent sky future, the work of the Silent Aircraft initiative.