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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

At first glance, Playboy magazine's 'Playboy Town House', originally shown in the May 1962 issue (and lovingly scanned by Meathaus, where some content is nsfw - all the Playboy stuff is ok, though), looks like a period piece, thanks to the rendering style, the typography and yellowed paper. But let the images sink in for a few minutes and they spool forward into the present, a retro-dazzled viewpoint that makes this design for a suave bachelor pad appear startlingly modern. For example, the furniture includes pieces by Erwine and Estelle Laverne, Herman Miller and Eero Saarinen. The architectural lines are sleek, the furnishings boldly coloured, even the illustration is of a type that's found renewed favour.

What's old is new again: modernity is a fickle thing to define. For some, the 60s-era chic of the Playboy pad will remain forever modern, the very definition of urban style (compare and contrast this with a contemporary fit-out, say a certain London estate agent, and the parallels are obvious: this is aspirational stuff). Increasingly, modernity is represented by the ability to absent yourself from the 'real' world, be it through abstracted architecture that mimics the real world (as in Dubai) without any of its perceived drawbacks, or structures that remove themselves from the real world altogether. The Magellan is a cruise liner, 'designed for the discerning traveller', an ocean-going experience for the monied 'adventurer'. Like the similar (and troubled) The World (or even the still-hypothetical Freedom Ship), modernism is defined not in terms of aesthetics, but in the level of detachment. Of course, occupiers of these spaces are able to venture bravely into managed wildernesses, like the on-board tropical paradise, while eating fine foods and making occasional daring forays onto uncharted lands. What price freedom? Poky three-bed cabins start at around $1.875m.


Other things. Gigaswarm, a weblog / a selection of recent Italian architecture / Destination: Desert America Void, a new feature at Archinect, looking at the 'extreme uses of the desert ranging from a location of temporary utopias to nuclear testing sites.' There are no deserts in the UK, but click here for some unconscious military land art / a Response to Tatlin's Monument to the Third International Conceived in the Mood of Ambivalence, at Flux Factory / Quondam dot com, an alphabetical trawl through classical art. See also Quondam, which contains recent images of the lesser known works of Louis I.Kahn.

The Heritage of the Great War, including The Great War in Colour / Pixelnotes, an installation by Sirka Hammer with Duncan Wilson (via plasticbag) / 'decoration trucks', or Dektora, an internet favourite (via Chris Glass). Imagine a whole city flooded with these moving light shows, like a year-round Christmas light show / Jaguar's next saloon is to be called the XF. It will not look anything like the 2003 XF10, by Fuore / Hans van der Meer's photographs of football fields (via Kottke): 'the Landscape of Lower League Football'.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006, the latest search engine from Microsoft, inches us one step closer to a facsimile version of the real world. London isn't there just yet, with only scant 3D data, while North America naturally leads the way, with the imagery of the Seattle skyline looking like something that wouldn't have disgraced Flight Simulator a few years ago. Inevitably, though, this brave new world comes with a price; adverts loom over cityscapes as giant floating billboards, disembodied endorsements to buy or view. It's now a race between rival data providers to create the most accurate imagery, a virtual world that will inevitably mirror our for the sheer diversity of the ways there are to sell us things.

On a more macro level; decisions about design that might ultimately end up being reflected and mirrored in the giant data ventures undertaken by Google and Microsoft. Stories of Houses, a real gem; modern houses and the stories behind their commissioning and construction. Many, many wonders here, from the relatively well-known to the wonderfully obscure. 'This series of articles tries to give answers to questions concerning intimacies and origins of important international houses. They try to fill the gap left by so many History of Architecture books which, when neglecting these extreme personal sources, forget the multidisciplinary character of architecture.'

From the architecture of intimacy and domesticity to the windswept, rusting hulks of progress: Baikonur Cosmodrome, a set of recent images. Includes a forlorn-looking Buran, vast megastructures, and a large amount of Soviet art. Yet amazingly, this is still a working facility / a year or so ago, Waggish offered these Thoughts on Blogs and Genre (I thought we _were_ creating original content) / Kings Cross gets a contemporary evocation of brick architecture (following in the footsteps of Gilbert Scott's St Pancras and the British Library, which, co-incidentally, is running the virtual exhibition 'London: A Life in Google Maps'. Microsoft has a lot of hearts and minds to win over with Live).

Monday, November 27, 2006

If I were France and you were Germany, what an alliance that would be, the day i like sneaked into the UN. The photographer Ben Murphy's recent book, The U.N. Building, treads the same ground, featuring empty, expansive vistas of shabby but highly co-ordinated interior space, a time capsule of stylistic optimism that is deliberately neglected on almost every level.

The mystery of the Laverstock Panda. Not at all related, the story of the Surrey Puma, which was followed by the improbable-sounding Shooters Hill Cheetah. Alien Big Cats (ABCs) are now an integral part of British crytozoology (and the silly season); we have even had a sighting from a close family member. More on topic, Chalk Figures in England. See also Wiltshire White Horses and Julian Cope's amazing resource The Modern Antiquarian (which was written about, many moons ago, here on things).

How to work from home, via Swiss Miss / bestseller in mind? Put your title to the test with the Titlescorer (via me-fi) / the indefatigable Oscar Niemeyer marries his secretary / the Energy Efficient Holiday Light Spectacular / Bouphonia sifts through various new technologies that offer a more hopeful future / what's happening to Coney Island? The Gowanus Lounge investigates / the Necessity for Ruins looks at mostly post-industrial spaces in the US.

The Free Sound Project. We have no speakers right now, so we are free of sound. But the concept is good / Oh my god there are so many weblogs. Strange Maps, including An Inaccurate Map of Charlottesville by Russell U.Richards / how to Store 256GB on an A4 sheet / above stamps taken from this page .

Friday, November 24, 2006

Above, the Interstate 96/Jeffries Freeway and M-39/Southfield Freeway in Detroit, Michigan. A Malfunction Junction / Repressed Architecture, an online exhibition of Post-Soviet decay (e.g. the Melnikov House in Moscow (previously mentioned). Via Nasty, Brutalist and Short, which also references an ongoing thread on the London Tower Block. For contrast, some absurdly expensive London houses for sale at Cityscope / the art of where, architecture weblog / new materials at transmaterial.

Production music from Ren and Stimpy at Secret Fun Blog (via Coudal) / back in the murky 80s, Sinclair readied the Loki, a £200 SuperSpectrum (insider info, via haddock) / the Tokyo VR Project, via Ursi's Blog. Poke around those amazing tunnels / Streetsblog, NY and more / Summerhill School, Suffolk. From Dresden to Austria, to Lyme Regis then Leiston, in Suffolk. It is a free school.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Transformation and Recuperation, 765 on 40 Bond, the latest self-conscious manifestation of contemporary design culture curated and financed by Ian Schrager / Glad we got the iconoclastic bit right, and in the process PartIV takes a little sideswipe at Eikongraphia, which seems to take symbolic literalism as its theme, admittedly without comment. The irony is that the image used in the following post, Vague, originated not a million miles from where this weblog is sometimes compiled.

Who needs a self-lighting fairy?, Lucy Lethbridge reviews Judith Flanders' Consuming Passions: Leisure and pleasure in Victorian Britain. Harper's Bazaar, from November 2, 1867. And there's more / Great Britain Victorian Stamps, images, linked unfortunately to this old earth creationist site / the Framley Museum Map / 196 pin-ups / the mid-century illustrated pool / this makes our teeth hurt, the 1949 candy salesman book (via Hot Links). The Imaginary World is well worth a visit / an interactive Periodic Table of the Elements (via hillbillyplease).

How extensively are professional magazine photos retouched? Lots / Bands I saw from Dec 17 1977 - 1980. Related, DC in the 80s, photos from the hardcore scene. From the same poster, sfrances, view the World Book Encyclopedia 1956 Annual Supplement: Reviewing Important Events and Developments of 1955, these beautiful abstracts, and many more / City of Sound on the poster art of H. A. Rothholz, currently on show in London.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

More miscellany. 19th century Bavarian maps, posted at Bibliodyssey / old, but even more relevant, The Face of Tomorrow, an art photography project that 'addresses the effects of globalization on identity' / also old and largely abandoned, a collection of online art at Sensorium, including the Breathing Earth. Night and Day sounds wonderful ('A ring of WebCam imagery from the different longitudinal zones creating a single revolution around the world') but frustratingly it doesn't seem to work / Printed Matter, 'the world's greatest source for artists' publications' / Garnet Hertz's Concept Lab.

Archistorm magazine. Like A10 and Mark Magazine, these are the publications that are shaping the contemporary debate / Love the Festival Hall, previously mentioned, is gradually publishing an ongoing series of personal memories of the building. It's an official site with a slightly retro aesthetic, presumably aimed at softening the blow of the slightly controversial architectural overhaul the building is currently receiving. Related, postcard images of the RFH at Carthalia, 'Andreas Praefcke's [epic] postcard collection of theatres and concert halls worldwide'. Today's illustration is of the 'Cinema 33 Complex in Bucks County, Pennsylvania' / the Rotunda at Winchester School of Art, sadly no longer a library, as it was in our day.

'What feature length films have Rube Goldberg machines in them?' Pee-Wee's Big Adventure for one. Buy a vintage Goblin Teasmade (sorry, 'Teawaker') to get the same effect. Or make your own Bacon Alarm Clock / unusual records at Vinyl Odditities / the evolution of The Times masthead, via kottke / a gallery of IBM Collectables.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wikipedia's archive of fictional things [since deleted for having 'no hope of ever being complete or useful') contains copious lists and sub-lists, including fictional cities. Of course, it's the dystopias that have more appeal, like J.G.Ballard's Vermilion Sands, the Brit-Cit of 2000AD (which was evoked in Will Alsop's curious M62 Super City project), or the wild fantasies of Italo Calvino's 55 Invisible Cities (which even has a theme hotel) / empty streets, a weblog / the cabinet of wonders weblog / map of mongo from the photos on Tony LoBue's Flash Gordon site.

A novel approach to grading buildings, as orchids or onions / At Broad Nightlight, an epic series of images of sleeping Tokyo, Berlin and Hong Kong (thanks, Neil) / generator, strange stories, innovations and historical visitations in the anglo-russian site / 'the Canfield-Wright Mansion has been saved' / a parking lot designed by New Territories / R&SIE Architects / the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection at NASA / design, etc., at Hi-Id / art, music and more at the excellent neverhappened.

Harri Kallio's 'Dodos', one of the sets available at Fotofinlandia. We also like Ville Lenkkeri's interiors series. See also Jouko Lehtola's images of youth and disaster / reimagined magazine covers by Wojciech Zasadni / photography by Xenia Nikolskaya / the RCA's annual Secret Postcards gallery is now online. Some images are rather cute, some are pleasingly rough, others are just plain cheeky. We'll have this, this and this, thanks.

An excellent me-fi projects presenting the APEX Electronics Salvage Yard Tour, a visual reminder of the detritus of modern life / a short history of neon, and more on Georges Claude, 'the father of Neon', born in Paris but swiftly exported to the US: 'Then in 1923, the first neon sign was installed in the U.S. in the city of Los Angeles. A Packard car dealer, Earle C. Anthony, imported from Paris, two "Packard" signs for which he paid $24,000.' Anthony was also an early broadcaster.

Monday, November 20, 2006
Monday mixture. City of Illusions, Peter Ackroyd on the mapping of London, via The Map Room, which has launched FRN, a weblog about railways around the world. Daily flickr shots include mighty beast (the SPS700), taken by Paul Vernon). See also Transport Blog, although British railways lack the glamour and epic scale of their American counterparts. Related, comparing London Underground with the New York Subway.

The flickr photos of pietroizzo, including beautiful imagery of Turin / Kisho Kurokawa's National Art Center in Tokyo at Arcspace / photographs by Pablo Zuleta Zahr / a question of office etiquette / Artists Strike Back in Petersburg, after the Gazprom Iconic Monolith Controvery / the Instant Experts, 'Brilliant Minds Forecast the Next 50 Years' at the New Scientist. Related, a list of failed predictions, covering everything. Armageddon Online has some current predictions to cheer you up, but here's a list of failed armageddon predictions and some failed psychic predictions. "Nuclear-powered vacuum cleaners will probably be a reality in 10 years," said one Alex Lewyt, president of vacuum cleaner company Lewyt Corp. in 1955.

Two things come together to make Rem Traceur!. This is what architecture students do in their free time / related, the Decline of Architecture Magazines, a Slate article by Witold Rybczynski. When you can make flash movies of Rem Koolhaas jumping around, who needs serious architectural journalism? Especially when you can drip feed stories about buildings that won't be finished for two years / how to find mp3s using google.

Whimsy Inc, a weblog / I blame the patriarchy, a weblog / the primitive nerd, a weblog / the warren street reader, a weblog / not often we get pointed to a great mp3 by a newspaper / the ongoing construction of Chavasse Park in Liverpool at Arklo / Harold Hollingsworth's weblog, art and more / Try Harder Records / how we used to live, Women's Household magazine, scanned by a hole in the head, via bb.

Friday, November 17, 2006

From animal bladders and intenstines onwards, and other connections, a history of balloons. Quoted on the page, 'The first rubber balloons were made by Professor Michael Faraday in 1824 for use in his experiments with hydrogen at the Royal Institution in London' (related, South London's Faraday Memorial, a risky building, on account of intensive redevelopment in the area. It was designed by Rodney Gordon, who also had a hand in this late lamented things favourite). Read on, and you find that one Thomas Hancock introduced the first toy balloons (actually bottles of rubber solution).

The faintly underwhelming genre of inflatable architecture is far removed from the original experiments chronicled on sites like Bouncing Balls ('everything you ever wanted to know about rubber'). Hancock, he of the bottles, teamed up with Mr Mackintosh, the coat-maker, before their firm was subsumed into Dunlop. In just a few days time, the latter's Manchester factory, Fort Dunlop, will open as flats and a hotel, a mighty brick edifice supplemented by a big blue slice of Travelodge, all masterminded by architects ShedKM. Ironic that the two strands should end up so different; the rough solidity of the tyre factory and its honest, pitch-dark output, contrasting with the gossamer lightness of the fabric structure, appearing to hold itself aloft. Victorian factories were palaces of industry, elaborate in their solidity, yet also inspirational to high-tech architects - for the enginering acumen contained within - and the pop architects, for whom the ultimate evolution of that acumen offered astounding possibilities.

Meanwhile, the real palaces shrank into the background. Hamilton Palace, doomed by approaching underground coal mining, and seen here in a virtual reconstruction of "one of Scotland's most famous lost buildings". It was ultimately demolished in the 20s; if not, claims this piece in the Scotsman, it would potentially have been "one of Scotland's leading tourist attractions, rivalling many of its English counterparts". Unfortunately all the images are held on Scran, a database of images which only offers thumbnails to view for free. Some more about demolished country houses in Scotland at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland, which contains many heart-rending images: 'ICI expert wiring up explosives prior to demolition, Murthly Castle.' First demolition blast. The Serpetine has been demolished now, too; ephemeral and now dissolved.

A few other things.Retrowow, furniture and more from the 50s to the 70s / childhood memories of wartime London. Related, Graham Greene's bleak short story, The Destructors / Balloon HQ has a host of information about things to do with balloons, including a Twisting Balloon guide and more. A huge gallery of balloon creations / What Names Reveal about the music style: A study of naming patterns in popular music (pdf).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How many hits?, Oliver Burkeman on the emerging science of predictive software for the music industry, led by Platinum Blue Music Intelligence's Music X-Ray Software. The article also references composer Dave Soldier's experimental pieces 'Most Wanted Song' and 'Most Unwanted Song', both of which can be downloaded here. The piece also cites Alan Pollack's extraordinarily detailed Notes on... series, an in-depth look at every Beatles song ever recorded (and not to be confused with the fantasy book illustrator of the same name). The article quotes Jaron Lanier: "This isn't just a moral point, it's the moral point," he says. "If our purpose is to please ourselves in the most average way possible, without caring what anything means, we might as well just kill ourselves. We've lost the moral authority to want anything."

Contemporary art, etc., collated by Atelier Central /, the 'dance video clip site', with 4GB of classic dance clips / i like on holidaying in the north / a new magazine for 'architectural entertainment', Pin-Up, based in NYC / Clip/Stamp/Fold, an exhibition of small magazines from the 60s and 70s (via Design Observer) / the above image is from this auction, but there's also a fine selection of jukebox brochures. See also the Jukebox Gallery / extensive global visualisations at MEGAblog / another competition draws out a set of iconic and mostly ephemeral designs, Gazprom City, a prominent site in St. Petersburg for Russia's leading energy supplier.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

This is rather odd, but nonetheless exhilarating: an apparently trapped aircraft carrier. It's actually Minsk World, a Chinese theme park - check this page for images of the brochure and the carrier itself. In satellite view, it reminds us of Hans Hollein'sAircraft Carrier City, a typical piece of ironic mid-60s utopianism, recently referenced at the Austrian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (thanks to we make money not art for capturing that image). It also has shades of Spielberg's Close Encounters (YouTube link to Gobi Desert scene, and the re-discovery of the Cotopaxi, thought lost in the Bermuda Triangle along with all these ships

PartIV, 'from architectural antifreeze', an iconoclastic weblog / Burgeoning Ego, a weblog / on Tativille, a community built for a film, then razed to the ground, leaving behind a marvellous evocation of what it might mean to be truly modern (a la Osbert Lancaster) / Bus Plunges no longer big news / a dizzying list of social faux pas, guaranteed to put off the nervy traveller / Microsoft's Zune has arrived. Looks way too complicated / a taste on taste? Unlikely / the Dublin Blog posts images of the ongoing works to create the Dublin Port Tunnel.

Just exactly what were you doing on July 12th 2006, asks the new edition of Leisure Centre (the 'Mass Observation' issue) / old maps on Google maps, a post at kottke / Duchamp's door examined in depth in Return 3D (by artist and designer Mr Ministeck. Thanks Brian for the links) / the Suicide Letter Wizard. Related to this clippy? / Name Your Porsche. Or name someone else's: much potential for guerrilla action / a collection of Medianeras, the remnants of one building left clinging to another (via me-fi).

Monday, November 13, 2006

Two public spaces emerging from offcuts of technological innovation, noted at Pruned: DHL Gardens, the aerial wilderness tended by 'a legion of 24-hour phone order operators, cargo pilots, air marshalls, baggage handlers, and customs officers' and cultivated by the hapless online shopper. Or try the Kuiper Belt Necropolis, the soon-to-be-active cemetery in the sky created by Celestis, a company offering ashes launching, space burials and space funerals. Their latest service is 'Earth-Return', which 'affordably launches a symbolic portion of cremated remains to space, and after experiencing the zero gravity environment, returns the individual flight capsules and modules back to Earth.'

Undercover Surrealism, Picasso, Miro, Masson and the Vision of Georges Batailles (via). Pity we missed this. See also the AHRC Research Centre for Studies of Surrealism and its Legacies / the collage art of Bruce Helander / more on the legacy of Modernism, 'What we value', an article at Metropolis: homes over schools? / Nothingness, the archives of the Situationist International / Edinburgh University and the Monumental Tradition, an essay by Clive Fenton.

Savoy, 'England's truly alternative and autotelic publishing company', with a short history of a publishing house that began in the 1890s with the Aubrey Beardsley-illustrated Savoy Magazine / the furniture of Marte Guixe / WildType BacterioPoetics, see also Palimpsest, the Blog that Dreams/ the Toronto Psychogeography Society Blog / the Atlantic Neptune Charts, via The Map Room / Material World, a new collaborative weblog with an anthropological slant / Notcot, a visual weblog / Funfurde, a furniture weblog / the oh joy weblog, a sort of New Craft round-up, including the work of Su Blackwell, who manipulates books.

Tiwanaku, 'the ideographic system of the Gateway of the Sun', 'A working hypothesis by Cesare Berrini relating to the ideographic representation in bas-relief of the Annual Solar Cycle carved on the Gateway of the Sun of Tiwanaku' / Trompe L’Oeil is Not a Place in Paris at 30gms / art by Erik Olofsen (via sasapong) / Making Mercedes in Ghana, scratch-build re-engineering / avoid flying: The Man in Seat 61 will help you seek out an overland route wherever possible.

Kenotaphion is a collection of Armistice Day silences compiled from the original BBC archives by artist Jonty Semper (Guardian article from 2001). Semper also released the one-minute silence from the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, as a single. Consider the two-minute silence, does it 'keep a delicate balance between public coercion and private reflection'?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A pilgrimage to see Le Corbusier's extensive work at Firminy in France, courtesy of Oh! The Places You'll Go!, the travel journal of one Tay Jun, architecture student. More on Firminy (I, II) where construction of the architect's posthumous Eglise Saint-Pierre is nearing completion. Many videos here and further details at the Wexner Center for the Arts' Wexblog.

An architectural solution in search of a problem. The Timeship (see also this Guardian article), 'a six-acre structure that will be the world's largest facility for life extension research and for the cryopreservation of DNA, biological tissues, human organs and patients... the Fort "Knox" of biological materials'. Check our images of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in this gallery. See also Alcor at Work, which looks like a series of stills from the Andromeda Strain.

Enthusiasm, a 'novelty choking hazard', a weblog / bid on a collection of sketches by the late John De Lorean (via autoblog). See also the Quintessential DeLorean Website (the exact spelling is disputed) / amazing images of the birth of an island off Tonga (via) / photographic images of intimacy, a collective art project (warning, nsfw).

The above is the mangled remains of an Aston Martin wheel, the very same car that does an impressive flip and spin in the trailer for Casino Royale, and presumably in the actual film itself. Dip into the world of Bond First Editions.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Politics of Enthusiasm, Geoff Manaugh talks to Ballardian: '..I think architects should read Ballard. At the very least, his sarcastic reaction to over-earnest housing plans and suburban mega-malls is quite sobering. Along these lines, I’ve often thought that if the evening news included a daily primer about how to live inside modern architecture — what the actual point of modern architecture was; that it had a point, for instance — then more people would be excited by Le Corbusier. Or by Richard Meier. Or even by Norman Foster.'

Sci-fi magazine covers: Astounding - Analog, via the horse's neck / Grinderman, a side project by Mr Nick Cave and some of his Bad Seeds / a photographic documentation of random expired things, the Best Before Project. See also iwishicoulddescribeittoyoubetter.

Live at the Isle of Wight, a short musing on a recent trip (see the occasional photo and associated nostalgia) / related, the International Association of Miniature Parks, who have wisely opted for a Sim-City inspired icons / play Recycle City. Golly it looks complicated / Houston Mod, mid-century and more in Houston / Two Historical Documents from Two World Wars / Charlotte Street, a weblog / Rouge magazine.

Modernism vs Morality touches on the celebrated tale of photographer Edward Steichen's attempt to import a sculpture, Bird in Space, by Constantin Brancusi into the US. Explored in more detail in this post at GranneBlog, Bird in Flight, Brancusi, & US Customs law. 'There was also little question that the Bird had no utility, even though the customs office had released it under the classification "Kitchen Utensil."'

2ubh, 'an elegant escape from reality', which touches on the Guardian's recent Web 2.0 magazine feature, which included all your favourite links. See also the linked piece to Secret entrepreneurs, men (and women) of money and means who very wisely chose to opt out of the media spotlight / thanks for the mention on the John Brown design blog / How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic.

Monday, November 06, 2006
Post-Human London (via Mountain 7). The early modern world believed that ruins could be staved off forever, and that the icons of modernism would never succumb to the ravages of nature. As the article makes clear, nothing can stop relentless decay, least of all modernity. Post-Human London, with its undeniably Ballardian visions of a looming, listing Canary Wharf, originally appeared in the New Scientist, and the magazine recently updated the whole premise to cover the entire planet (again, thoughtfully archived by the people of archinect - it was originally posted by Mr M of BLDGBLG, linking nicely with a recent post on the war city). Finally, via kottke, Peruvian Gothic, the tale of a search deep into darkest Peru in search of the mysterious Don Benigno Aazco, past endless ruins of Incan civilisation, left to rot in the jungle for hundreds of years: 'I imagined rediscovering my own Massachusetts neighborhood centuries after invasion and plague, its driveways filled up with weed maples, its aluminum-sided houses swallowed in green.' It hasn't taken long for 'Ballardian' to become an accepted adverb, and then a cliche, shorthand for the post-technological state, the interface between chaos and control.

Other things. Ranchos, simple, mid-century housing now pushing high six-figure sums / urban exploration flickr pool / Whizzball, a small diversion (via that's how it happened / Walk It claims to find the best ways through central London on foot (via me-fi). Heretical as it may seem, a car-only version of this would probably be more useful. Nonetheless, it's good to know that a brisk walk between offices would burn off 112 calories and take just 21 minutes / KultureDrome, commentary about modernity and futility / visual thinking at Dronecorp / The Aquarium, 'purveyors of the finest and roughest in art and publishing'.

The Office vs The Office, US vs UK (via information junk). See also this Slate story on the comedy series, gradually being exported and/or re-made around the world. The article calls it 'a crash course in national identity', as each variant exploits the foibles and aspects of the modern working environment that mean the most to each culture. Related, a Guardian story on the French version, Le Bureau: 'Vulgar, bigoted, cynical': France warms to Le Bureau.

It's been a while since we visited militant esthetix, and since that time the site has expanded to include archive material on the Situationists and the UK punk fanzines, as well as enormous amounts of material on Walter Benjamin, whose 'Arcades Project' (which me's Esther Leslie wrote about in things 13), describing the way the commodification of the city bewitched its inhabitants, is a forerunner of that modern apparatus of enchantment, the internet.

A Best Truth, an art and illustration weblog / paintings by Anja Ganster / disturbing modern tableaux by painter Terry Rodgers (maybe nsfw) / The New Absurdist, 'a community of experimental writers and malcontents dedicated to the annihilation of the literary/industrial complex' / In Palinode's Palace, a weblog / Strange Maps (via me-fi) / The Onion Weekender / Stackpolis / all about the wonderful Tatra. More / Chris Burden's swinging steamroller.

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.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Makoto Ouchi, a Master in the Art of Automotive Illustration. A different kind of auto art: the latest New Russian Money trend, art cars, but more Athena than Alexander Calder. The article talks of the work of Ilnur Mansurov: check his work at designer's inspiration, a Russian weblog: 1, 2. Related, the increasingly absurd SEMA show is on at the moment (Specialty Equipment Market Association), helping you stick daft things on your car / this Saturday is Blackout London day: turn off your lights from 4.30pm. Sit in the dark and eat biscuits. And hopefully turn this view into something a whole lot less spectacular. Not for the first time: 'In hindsight it seems unlikely that German bombers could train in on a pipe flame or cigarette glow on the streets of London. An epic image of Shanghai in the rain, via blackdown. Hard to imagine that particular city doing a voluntary blackout.

A great story: disgraced stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-Suk did deals with the Russian Mafia to snare bits of frozen Mammoth DNA (via tmn), and other stories of dubious scientific endeavour at Seed Magazine. Is it a coincidence that the Bad Science forums refer to the especially credulous as 'woos' (thanks too to BS for linking the prog-rock extravaganza that accompanies Bang! The Complete History of the Universe. Brian May and Patrick Moore together at last). And finally, the sad tale of Kreed Kafer, long-dead South African jailer.

Why do people put plastic wrap on their furniture? / weblog jumping, a couple of links borrowed from rotational's sidebar: vi-R-us, Kieran Long's bonfirefighting, and onwards to stereo sanctity and venusberg. Other things noted, Posthegemony, marginalia35 and the excellent Sean Talley, with posts like The Whole World + The Work = The Work / Warning Signs, a flickr set / the Beasts of St George / Ninfinger Productions, including a tour of the Trinity Test Site and tiny rocket models / Atlas(t) on the Omnibus / amazing images from 80s-era upper class society bashes by Dafydd Jones. His archives are epic.