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Thursday, September 21, 2006
A selection of city models (via me-fi). Tom Vanderbilt expands upon the Beijing model at Design Observer / Owen Hatherley on London Open House (official website). It's mostly about queuing these days. London Photos on the same event: back in model land again. And don't mention the Dome, says infinite thought.

A fine set of Austrian photos from kottke, who also links to The Problem with Underground Architecture ('...public buildings need plenty of doors, handicapped access, ramps, emergency egress, and exterior assembly areas. None of this can be easily hidden') / some more Slate selections; I was in that 9/11 photo... / The Way It Was: 'Tales from a life in computing' (via A honey of an anklet).

A weblog by Laura Gonzalez / lux lotus, a weblog / 9 months of gestation in 20 seconds / found via the flickr then and now tag, the work of greynotgrey. Much to see, including gilty pleasures, 'gold leaf lettering apartment names from greater Montreal', and Montreal past and present. More here.

Jory Squibb has made a Moonbeam (via Autoblog) / a huge collection of cars made in Argentina / Cock-Now Zine, music and more / ludicrously in-depth guides to getting the best lap times from virtual recreations of the world's racing circuits / from the makers of The Modern House, comes The Georgian House.

Snapshot: The London Nobody Knows, a seminal but largely forgotten film from Norman Cohen. See also Untold London / Learning at the British Library, a treasure trove of information, including mapping history, tales of sweet making and early English maps.

Lidos in the United Kingdom / Paul Downey's weblog / underground architecture by William Lishman / Wordgirl's work in progress: the Brit Chick Lit Diary / Book of Joe, a weblog / next please, a weblog.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The classic Grace Jones Citroen commercial, directed by Jean-Paul Goude and featuring a giant Jones spitting out a CX. The car maker once prided itself on its artistic collaborations, including Robert Doisneau, Henri Cartier-Bresson, William Klein and Marc Riboud. This early DS film is wonderful as well. Citroen's road cars were once nigh-on indistinguishable from its concepts, a hard-won commitment to avant-garde design that they then spent the best part of the 90s trying to destroy. Happily there's a sign that things have changed; the new C-Metisse is a welcome return to form: elegant, unusual and quite unlike anything else.

A bit more Grace Kelly at the unashamedly camp Lady Bunny. Staying with camp, and moving on to the man who used Jones as a muse, the story of Kellie Everts, 'progenitor of female body building,' a sport that Jean-Paul Goude was rather fond of. Over to Everts, 'The day PLAYBOY did [the story] "Humping Iron" was the beginning of female body building as we know it today.' A lot of that paragraph is, as you might expect, nsfw.

How to flood Europe (via ask me-fi) / the story of Scratch Acid, Austin's finest and recently reunited band / Alt Photos / a The Human-powered Submarine, via Collision Detection / how to get a tank out of a lake / de-dust, installing virtual crates in the real world (wonderland). / Varese & Le Corbusier's Poeme electroni. See also Corb's Venice Hospital project, rendered and animated for your viewing pleasure / Traveler's Diagram's Delicious.

On Plagiarism and Similarities: Conscientious asks 'when do similarities between photographs end, and when does plagiarism begin?' Another article linked here: turns out that the visual lure of the new China is creating problems for Western photographers who find the aesthetic too tempting. Peter Bialobrzeski claims he was there first, and that others are doing little more than copying his signature, long exposure style.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hunger for the corporeal, or how simple objects evolve into modern relics. Kathryn Hughes argues that 'by making light work of sending images - copies, in effect - around the world, the internet actually increases the mystique and value of the original object, which can be viewed only in one place at one time.' Hence modern relics are all about association, with contemporary celebrity providing an exponential increase in provenance. Objects, like the zeppelin fragment above, retain stories and association that transcend their ordinariness. Hughes refers to the sale of 700 items from the house of Agatha Christie.

The poisonous truth about our daily bread, an article at the weekend by Andrew Whitley, author of Bread Matters, reveals something called the Chorleywood Bread Process, now apparently used to make 80% of the world's bread. Also explored in depth in Not on the Label, via nothing rhymes with rachel (which also has a great post on Helsinki Street Fashion).

Are the British obsessed with suburbs? A transcript of The Gnome Zone, a BBC R4 programme from late last month. Presenter Richard Weight notes that: 'As Andrew Saint said... the suburbs are a very English form of modernity; he now reminds us that, paradoxically, suburbia is also a way that England connects with global life. There may be few mock-Tudor beams in Beijing but, as a way of living, suburbia is a nexus of international society.'

Design Detector, a website / The Walrus Magazine / Confessions of an idiosyncratic mind, a weblog covering crime fiction and more / Leica have introduced the M8, the world's first digital M-series / Karen Magazine, 'made out of the ordinary'. Related, but possibly diametrically opposed, Garbage of New York City / get your own mannequin at the still closed London Transport Museum.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The stark truth about polymer-saturated environments is that although they look wonderful (cf Plastic Living), the reality rarely lives up to the memories. How much is left over from the Joe Colombo era that isn't frayed and faded, brittle and so much less than the multi-hued photographs of the era. Even more substantial pieces (try Fears and Kahn, for example) function so much better in the mind. Perhaps that's the same for architecture; the ephemerality of the open-plan, glass walled modern house (e.g. post -war Florida), rarely survives into the present with any grace.

Amongst a technicolor cloud of ephemera, Scrubbles' flickr page contains these vintage video game ads (via Coudal, via kottke. We should do some work ourselves). Also linked, this scathing write-up of Burning Man 2006 / Daravida, a weblog. Arabella's flickr sets are pretty impressive too: Women's bathroom grafitti in Helsinki, a cat show, and a honey harvest / a new weblog, Your Five a Day. Abandoned asylums, always welcomed.

1000 things made out of bamboo / Hugh Symonds' latest collection of phone camera images at Hupix / the Royal Festival House refurbishment webcams / Ursi's Blog contains 'fine things for your delight', such as the World's Greatest Driving Road, a stretch of lonely tarmac in the United Arab Emirates. Edmunds has the full story and pictures (which I think originally appeared in Autocar). The road is apparently little more than a driveway to the palace of (the late) Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a man who apparently owned much of London's Berkeley Square (apparently the location of the city's most haunted house) / architectural photography by Ioana Marinescu / British History Online is rich with primary sources: many maps, or the 1980 Survey of London, focusing on the buildings of Mayfair.

Haeckel's Artforms in Nature, at the Hollywood Animation Archive Project Blog / photography by Ted Adams at Heudnsk. Great presentation. Onwards links include Superfluous's 'photographs found in the street' / crack skull bob's site brings together sketchbook portraits and galleries. And toilet seats at Starbucks / One+one=three, a weblog. See the post on abandoned buildings / invisible points, minimal weblogging.

Thursday, September 14, 2006
ArchitectureChicago Plus, Lynn Becker's weblog about the windy city; this post linking to this New Beijing Architecture flickr set is worth perusing, especially the images of the 'Bird's Nest' under construction / SticherBlog picks up weird and plain depressing stories from the wires / Functional Fate are still tracking plastic chairs / a pleasure to be linked from the amazing My Father's Hand.

The night-time photography of Thomas Weinberger (via The Cartoonist) / the art of Formula 1 is currently running at London's Design Museum (new website, thankfully). Actually, it's called Formula One (TM) The Great Design Race, but that sounds far too pretentious). Russell Davies visited and was more struck by how the sport is a process of constant change: 'They're things of detail not vision. More like bundles of contingent solutions than a singular, simple design decision.' / Soulless eyes have ceased to cheer me, a weblog / Mike Figgis's work for Agent Provocateur.

Small town life and visual culture, a post at Design Observer / this, apparently, will be '2006's most exclusive and unique reading experience': The Glass Book of the Dream Eaters, a website replete in glorious Victoriana / which are the most realistic video games? Or is visual realism being usurped by realistic physics? (via Sachs) / billed as 'an undisciplined record of passing fancies', (what is this?) has a real eye. Take this comparison of aesthetic laundry - looking at the similarities between the current Martha Stewart aesthetic and the 30s tenement lifestyle: 'The Martha aesthetic.... takes the everyday and makes it exclusive.' / weblog names are getting longer: You Can't Find a New Land With an Old Map. Or maybe it's called Mindful Walking (although mindful waking also sounds right).

Carl Zeiss has manufactured the world's largest telephoto lens, a 256kg behemoth (via PHOTOheadlines) / Subtopia, 'a field guide to military urbanism' / time to look again at Ideal Homes, an overview of the history of London's south-eastern suburbs / The Quiet Feather, a weblog accompanying a print magazine (sound familiar?) / James and the Blue Cat, tales and insights of scriptwriting / more entertaining writing from the media industry, Adam Buxton's weblog.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Revisited, Pathetic Motorways, delving into those little slips in the British motorway network that don't really deserve the title. Aficionados of tarmac in all its forms can visit Chris's British Road Directory, which has a database, some histories and a selection of bad junctions. Our favourite pages are the hidden stories of the over-channel-motorway, the EuroRoute, with its giant artificial islands (just think, motorway service stations that it is literally impossible to leave), and the Ringways, the urban motorways that went some way towards ripping out the centres from British cities in the post-war era (but not as far as originally envisaged). See also our scans from Traffic in Towns.

Kapitaal, a journey through branded space (via Brand Avenue). There was a similar, but alternative, approach a while back where a whole real-world street was 'de-branded'. Anyone have the link? / a quick tour around the current Venice Biennale / Trades, BibliOdyssey on the Mayhew's 'survey of the wretched vagabonds and street hustlers of Victorian London', amongst other things / Fufurasu, the weblog of Orestes Chouchoulas, musings on design and visual culture.

The manipulated aerial photographs of Natlie Czech (via Moonriver. We also like their Archigram imagery collection, which surpasses Archigram's own rather paltry website for vibrancy and colour) / plenty of gems at the Books with nice covers pool / ever wanted to be involved in counter-surveillance? The Science Of organisation (not the Science Museum, apologies) is seeking entries (pdf) for a forthcoming exhibition, 'SPYMAKER: The Art of Spying'. More information here and also see the Imperial War Museum's online collections for inspiration.

Architectural Ruminations. This post about the living room in the Stuebner Residence reminded us of the Stirling Prize-nominated Brick House by Caruso St John; both share a monumentality that's missing from so much 'modern' domestic architecture, still overly concerned with the quasi-mystical concepts of space and light, transparency and openness.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Old houses, secret rooms and converted missile silos. There must be millions of square feet of silos dotted around the world, encouraging fascination and even speculation; a company calling itself 20th Century Castles has registered, and claims to have sold 27 remnants of the Cold War Era to happy homeowners. Get yourself 15,000 square feet of Atlas-E, complete with 1200 ft airstrip and 'minimal' cooling needs. The Atlas-E bases lasted just five years. Silo World is a good one stop shop for those interested in Missile Silo Exploration.

Speaking of bunkers, the consensus on the WTC site designs from Foster, Rogers and Maki, seems to be that these are average works by above average architects, weighed down by symbolic associations and security concerns: Steve Rose in the Guardian: 'Yet the new tower, braced for disaster and infused with paranoia, will hardly ring out as a victory. Rather, it is an acknowledgment of how dominant security has become as a design factor.' And for Nicolai Ouroussoff in the New York Times, 'the towers illustrate how low our expectations have sunk since the city first resolved to rebuild there in a surge of determination just weeks after 9/11'.

Greenr, a weblog focusing on environmental issues / ride this Japanese railway simulator / photos of urban decay / Urbanity, a Spanish architecture website / Vilac make wonderful wooden toys / play old school adventure games with ScummVM / a collection of stupid comic covers (thanks to gravestmor / Strydhagen, an enormous furniture warehouse (via Strange Harvest) / rock music from 1965 to 1978 at

The Architectures of Control in Design, a weblog about the small but perniciously controlling ways modern devices (machines, websites, etc.) keep the user on a pre-determined path (via plastic bag). For example, ever tried to delete your Amazon account? Related, the recently publicised contention that 'Modern life [is] 'poisoning' childhood', with its panics, strictures and systems.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Enter the VirtuSphere for completely immersive play (via Joystiq). The history of VR is the story of a technology that failed to live up to early, spectacular, promise. 'Clearly, the future of VR is limited only by our imaginations', mused a 1995 history of the technology. Even the Wikipedia entry is unwilling to speculate on a useful immediate future for the technology. Instead, we have the spectacle of ever more immersive virtual worlds and the half-way house of augmented reality (which has been mooted for a long time). The latter has obvious real world applications, and not just for entertainment (arguably the Gorillaz live experience is an example of AR): imagine overlaying information on your immediate surroundings onto your spectacles, for example.

The issue is not that virtual reality doesn't exist - it does, in many key applications (e.g. PAM-CRASH). It's just that it doesn't exist in the way we once expected it to. Even the 'world's most realistic virtual reality room' - 100 millions pixels' worth - falls short of the dream.

Another technological dead end? The Monorail Society struggles to persuade us that 'Monorails are NOT just for theme parks and zoos!' (via haddock). Monorails are one of those technologies that have found a natural home on the internet. See also the Austin Monorail Project, plans for a new monorail in Texas, of all places, and Transport of Delight, old and new collections of transport from around the world / Games Are Art.

Check-Six, 'Aviation History and Adventure First-Hand!' - exploring the many (and quasi-mythological) crash sites of California / Two doors good: alternative ways into the same house / the general critical reaction to the three new towers next to the Freedom Tower is... less than enthusiastic.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The New Yorker delves into the background of Mass Observation - the English are a nosy lot, and MO was one of our finest hours. Check the Mass-Observation Archive, now housed in Basil Spence's University of Sussex Library. You can download publications, including Postwar Hopes and Expectations and reaction to the Beveridge report (by Paul A Thomas, 20mb pdf): 'Q: What changes would you like there to be after the war? A: Well, I don't think it's much good just making things more and more comfortable and easy for everyone, - I mean free this and free that and subsidies for having children and so on. I like a bit of struggle, a bit of something to show for individual effort.' Arguably, the internet is our new mode of Mass Observation, thanks to sites like Grocery Lists, or the many overheard sites: in the office, Law School, in New York, Dublin, London, the UK, or Athens (Georgia), etc, etc). Thanks to Mr Buchanan-Smith of Speck fame for point this out to us.

What Charles did Next, a fascinating profile of the 'lazy, lazy, lazy, lazy' Charles Saatchi, the man who changed the shape of the British art scene. With a new Saatchi Gallery due next Summer, there's also Your Gallery, a vast open collection of contemporary art / Mark Lowrie's photosculptures (see his flickr portfolio are beautiful composite images / a history of Imperial Tobacco, for no real reason (save for the Urban Splash helmed regeneration of the former Wills Factory in Bristol).

The New York Five, once figures of reverence, now usually figures of fun: Meier, Gwathmey, Eisenman, Graves and the late John Hedjuk / Whispers, 'giving voice to the stories that are too often unheard' / using obvious search terms to uncover secrets / a new (at least to us) economics term: Goldilocks Economy - neither too hot or too cold. In other words, just right. The phrase has actually been around for years.

Urban Communication, 'the official weblog of the Urban Communication Foundation', an organisation we'd not heard of before. The weblog rounds up recent stories in architecture and urbanism, unsurprisingly / This is not a weblog / spooky photography by Stefano Scheggi (includes some nudity) / Maximalism, 'exploring the totality of design in art', i.e. a good visual sampling of global design movements / The Hype Machine is an audio blog aggregator. Our mp3 collection is out of control.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

After yesterday's mention of 20 Sites n Years we finally got around to re-working our first stage of a similar idea. Project 7 is a view of a local street, images taken four years ago. The css is currently a bit wonky, and there's still no 2006 set to compare it to but with a bit of luck we'll get around to it in the next fortnight or so.

Foster and Partners' extraordinary new Pyramid of Peace in Kazakhstan is given the Hugh Pearman treatment. What's it all about? President Nursultan Nazarbayev, for a start. Stained glass artist Brian Clarke also isn't too bad out of it. See also this earlier article by Pearman, complete with Eagle Annual-style cutaway.

Olka Kisselva's book Where are you? 'reproduces photos of buildings that are not supposed to be located where they are built'. Read more here / enormous collection of military cutaway drawings / Squander Two, a weblog / very curious collectables at Cybergrot (thanks, Tom).

Old and new photos from the US indie scene, via diskant. Some more photos by Bruce W. Siart / Great Map, a chaotic but rewarding collection of links about mapping and information. There's also a photostream / The Caretaker's Gazette, a publication for wannabe Jack Torrances?

Monday, September 04, 2006

City of Sound has redesigned. Apologies for not noticing. The Fallingwater Half Life mod is great but we can't help worrying that something obscene and frightening with a crab on its head isn't going to pop up around each corner. City of Towers, a look at Future Dubai, one of many speculative projects created by users of SketchUp. Try Google's 3D Warehouse for free SketchUp source files. I was after a model of Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand's LC4 and lo and behold. In terms of architecture, ZNO have a very good stack of models. Check their website.

Sir Hiram Maxim's Captive Flying Machines, the natural, if ignominious, offshoot of his successful but ill-reported attempt at powered flight in 1894. Maxim is best known for inventing the machine gun, but constantly churning out all sorts of innovations, some of which didn't have all that much potential.

January Magazine, a literary magazine / make your own tapes / tmn gets cited in court / on Utopias, and their attainability / 'On superfluous things', a project by Harmen Brethouwer / grimmel, a weblog / Przedmioty, a weblog from Poland / New Amsterdam, a set of NYC photos.

Aston Martin is apparently up for sale, surprising everyone (including us / hi-res satellite images of Chernobyl and Pripyiat in Google Maps. See also this Flickr set of the rusting Pripyiat fun fair / art by Toby Ziegler / how 9/11 changed America: in statistics / the artist Tom Phillips has been doing his 20 Sites n Years project in and around Camberwell and Peckham for over two decades; if only the pictures were bigger.

Posts tagged mid-century / Primitivmodern, an 'Indian Contemporary Tribal and Folk Art Collection'. Quai Branly-like ventures into cultural anthropology / Bonfire of the Brands, via the gadget and bauble-frenzy that is coolhunting / ghost islands / Victorian and Edwardian Photographs / a collection of icons.

Last night we saw a fox dragging the freshly killed corpse of someone's cat across the road. They're getting bolder.

Friday, September 01, 2006

The war diaries of Major Edward Alexander Packe, who served first in the trenches of France, then as a reconaissance pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, the precursor to the RAF.

From his 1916 entries: 'June 20th. Orderly Officer. Instructed Signallers. Wrote to Claudia. Went up to take photos, our manifold blows off. Do photos after tea. Dropped half a dozen of Heath Robinson's 'Hunlikely' books of cartoons of the Germans on their side of the line... June 22th. Three of us shave our moustaches as a 'protest' against overwork and Brock takes it seriously, quotes Kings Regs. and forbids us to leave the aerodrome until we've grown another one.'

Constructing Europe, a broad collection of historical imagery, including this view of Heathrow in 1955 / Ben Laposky's oscilloscope-derived photographs. See also A Critical History of Computer Graphics and Animation. Many thanks to Project Sanguine for the pointers, as well as the link to the photos at Grey Scale Gorilla.

It's all go for Orion, which is actually a rather retro way of getting to the moon / certain books are being confiscated on planes / 'books, culture, stuff at dogmatika / the babykeeper. Terrifying, via engadget / download the lion's share of the famous Sub Pop singles club. Official Sub Pop website.

A photo-essay from inside San Pedro Prison, in La Paz, Bolivia / OTTENS, a huge collection of links and ephemera related to Star Trek, the imaginary worlds of antiquity and the various cults and claims surrounding the Third Reich (such as the underground factory at Nordhausen.