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Thursday, August 30, 2007
The Rupert Murdoch Penthouse, revealed at Cryptome (which I think was featured extensively in a glossy magazine or two, so is hardly totally off-limits) / Noddy's Not Dead, on techniques, subterfuge and misinformation in news bulletins / Picture Australia, an online archive via Alec Soth's dense and intriguing weblog.

Thanks to Monoscope for the recent link (and Coudal too). We're not really part of that whole putting-amazing-and-quirky-scans on the internet thing (mainly because other people do it so much better, e.g. Monoscope on Roy Doty's Sempe-like illustrations), but it's a shame not to upload something every now and again.

My name is Stephen. I'm a design addict. An all too common affliction in this day and age, especially pertinent in the week the new batch of iPods were announced / track dollar bills with Where's George? / a Wireframe London, via Kosmograd / Electric Roulette, music news / Porn Bush, a break in style for artist Jonathan Yeo.

Hypnotic, insane Perfect Pacman videos (via) / The Elegant Variation, a literary weblog. See also the Syntax of Things / 'I want Francis Bacon on my XBox': 'Computer games could be so much classier if they drew on more fine art for their graphics.' / where are the 1 to 1 scale maps? / Atelier A+D, architecture and design links.

Is it really true that in the USA 'The government agents have decreed, in their egocentric wisdom, that no human can live in anything less than 900 square feet.'? From Everything I Want to Do is Illegal, an essay by Joel Salatin. The Parker Morris Committee recommended minimum dwelling sizes of 775 square feet, but that was for 'a semi-detached or end-of-terrace house for 4 people' / in other news, 'As an energy-saver, the clothesline makes a comeback', as American states seek to overturn community association bans on drying clothes out in the open air where people can see them (via Bouphonia)

Kodak Digital Camera Prototype from 1975. Note the compact cassette storage unit and 100x100 pixel resolution / what's in the stomach of a fledgling Laysan albatross? Click on this pdf from the OceansLive Marine Science Portal to find out / cordless / How To Hide An Airplane Factory, at Think or Thwim / Katrina: One Year Later, a collection of graphics from (thanks to the Chicago Reader).

Flickr versus vernacular photography, a debate at conscientious. What exactly is vernacular photography, and can it be at flickr? / links about slowness at Blanketfort / design observer on the automotive criticism of Deborah Allen, an unwitting springboard for an iconic piece of Pop Art (via Hal Foster's On the First Pop Age at the New Left Review. We'd never heard of Allen before, but the description of her writing, which 'shows that she understood and engaged with the interrelated processes of manufacture, retail and distribution', makes us realise we need a similar voice today.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

World Without Us, another foray into speculative extinction, a popular online subject. Just how would the world fare in the absence of the human race? The New Scientist published just such a piece last year, 'Imagine Earth Without People', which speculated that our presence wouldn't take long to vanish. Related, how many people would be needed to sustain humanity? Something that proponents of space colonies no doubt had to contend with (related, Space Settlements: A Design Study. Put a Stanford Torus in Google Earth).

All about The Mechanical Turk / Arquitectura HOY, a weblog / the Goldfinger Project by Arni Haraldsson, at Space Studios / The Sir Basil Spence Archive Project, 'celebration of a modern architect, 1907-1976' / the 7" single is back / 'Reminiscenses of a Book Inscription Collector', at ephemera.

Everyone Forever, visual sampling, including a Voxel chair by EZCT Architecture and Design Research, and flights, a link to a this amazing image by superlocal / a history of lingerie / the Biography Project / an alternative space, Sheriff's Safety Town, in Shreveport, Louisiana, a proposed 'child-sized town with miniature streets, buildings, crosswalks and working traffic lights offers the perfect setting for bicycle, pedestrian and vehicular safety instruction'.

Download old issues of Arts and Architecture (related, archived issues of Design and Form) / a convenient truth, a weblog / Walking the Streets of Forest Hill, SE23, a weblog / off message, a weblog / small drawings, and paintings / Fine Books and Collections, the weblog / Old Town, very retro clothes.

An online transcription, and reading, of Under Milk Wood (via haddock). Related, audio books from the public domain via LibriVox, Literal Systems and The Spoken Alexandria Project. There's even the occasional Lovecraft story (via The Best Media in Life is Free) / from free media to free housing, Squatter, the 'advisory service to squatters', with a downloadable history of squatting.

Emily Cockayne's Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England sounds interesting. Reviews: Independent, Guardian, PhiloBiblos / Anselm Kieffer's Monumenta 2007 / a collection of foreign editions of On The Road / Louis Kahn's Dhaka Parliament, a photo essay and book by Raymond Meier / Russian dolls for the digital age by Art Lebedev (someone who has truly embraced the power of the internet to spread ideas and conceptual products, embracing the idea of vapourware as publicity).

The correlation between bonus money and house prices laid bare: 'Last autumn agents at Savills predicted that £5 billion of the £8 billion of bonus money would be ploughed into London property.' / re-live the yearning and excitement of days gone by with catalog scans from the past (via me-fi). Alternatively, create a fictional 1950s childhood for your own offspring with tasteful toys by Hase Weiss / making guitars look pre-distressed.

The art of Tom Sachs, he of Prada Deathcamp infamy. Good links /, imagery from around the world / a Size for size replica of the Forbidden City / the best of Craigslist / Rosemarie Fiore's ceramic Death Scenes, via strange harvest / the Tama Electric car, due for a revival, we feel / cars and clips at Belsoseg, a Hungarian weblog / more cars in Hungary, Totalcar, old and new / Notcot, things and more / ARCH'IT files, architecture in Italy.

Monday, August 27, 2007
Building Towers, Cheating Workers, 'Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates'. The dark side of the UAE explored in a new(ish report. The region is topped by the Burj (official site, but this one, Burj Dubai Skyscraper, has ongoing construction photos and news). Related, Koolhaas speaks, and ponders nostalgia, paradox and his own role in rapid change. The article makes passing reference to his early career as a scriptwriter: check the IMDB. The cross-pollination of data sources; 'writer, actor, producer, self' is just as iconic title as S, M, L, XL. Koolhaas is, of course, heavily involved in the Eternally New Dubai. Culture, it seems, is an infinite commodity: 'We calculated that between 1995 and 2005, Oma was asked to propose designs for 34 soccer fields of new museums.'


JC Report's take on Second Life follows the party line; cyberspace is the new reality, get in quick, massive growth, etc., etc. 'Expect to see the growth of a new, more opinionated real-life consumer who is accustomed to the empowerment of being in a virtual world in which he or she makes all the choices.' Wired, on the other hand, has ditched its role as technological cheerleader in favour of sound a note of caution: How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life.


Michael Cook, of Vanishing Point: 'We also don't give enough time or consideration to how this infrastructure fits into the broader urban fabric, within the history of a city, and where that city's going, and whose lives have been affected by it and whatever may happen to it in the future.' Cook is interviewed at length at BLDG BLOG. Cook worries that the mainstream media fails to cover urban and subterranean exploration in any depth (if you'll pardon the pun); the subject is more or less confined to the internet. The series of tubes metaphor we toyed with a few days ago has certainly confused some in the past, but we still think there are interesting analogies between real-world arcana and the mental perception of the internet's form.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Ever wondered why the view from Case Study House 22 is so amazing? (and so utterly familiar?) Check the view from the ground / nottene, a weblog / three websites from Tim Edensor: Building Stone in the City of Manchester, British Industrial Ruins parts one and two / Fovicks, the 'Friends Of Vast Industrial Concrete Kafkaesque Structures' / Writing Design Criticism / a selection of Pininfarina classics.

Some more renderings of the proposed Transbay Terminal in San Francisco. The Rogers Stirk Harbour scheme has a whiff of neo-constructivism. Official Transbay website / socks-studio, a weblog / Kaput, 'Things that are no longer with us', via tspauld's collections / Comet Miniatures in Lavender Hill, London, a flickr set from The Cartoonist.

A collection of architecture posters / Owen Hatherley on the legacy of Richard Seidler, once the commercial colossus of London's skyline (a role he abrogated in death to Foster and Partners) / dovegreyreader, a book-weblog / 'So what is it that makes branding, advertising and public relations such attractive careers to even the reasonably intelligent?' Tom Coates muses on Monocle's obsession with 'place-branding at the country level', and how the 'industries of control and coercion' are beating the old-fashioned idea of actually making something tangible and real.

A New Science of Play, Clive Thompson on Halo 3 and a new world of subtly-tweaked architecture as a means of shaping the user experience (via haddock). See also the rather excellent PC games blog, Rock Paper Shotgun / hybrid cultures, a weblog / retroselect, a spectacular collection of 'retro ceramics and glass from the 1950s to the 1980s'. Includes a 'backstamp index' / behind the scenes at Grace Jones' most iconic photo shoot, courtesy of Jean-Paul Goude (some images nsfw). For some reason our comments are utterly non-functional these days. We'll change them, some day. You can email, though.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Enabling nostalgia, the USB tape deck. Aside from asking why one can't just plug a DIN lead into a regular tape deck, we suspect it will be a hit, yet another way of extracting the lingering analogue bits of our lives. More on the nearly lost world of cassettes at flickr: creative cassette covers, or imitating the spidery writing of album graphics, making covers, Vive la cassette, my cassettes. While we're on the subject of musical nostalgia, re-live saturday morning frustration with these extracts from the ITV Chart Show Indie Charts from 1989-1994 on Youtube (via).

More reappearances by times long past. Now that the Bears are back, some nuclear nostalgia, courtesy of Syndprod: Duck and Cover / Virtual game is a 'disease model'. Probably way too simplistic / i like's love is Like a Motorway / a short set of images of the soon-to-reopen St Pancras Station.

Shop-A-Matic, does window shopping work on the web? Or is this simply a magazine embracing the shoplog format? / flickr's Zagato pool / DaddyTypes, dealing with fatherhood through gadget consumption / Lego space city, via No Sense of Place / the 365 Project is well worth checking out.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why is there such a focus on the unexplained and the arcane on the internet? This post on Abandoned Tunnels & Vast Underground Spaces is a Dark Roasted Blend special mix, compiling some of the most memorable subterranean photo sets from around the world. Urban exploration, above and below ground, holds an eternal fascination, as the built environment succumbs to renewal and change. We'd speculate that the internet itself is perceived as a hybrid of the tunnel and archive, an underground repository that is all around us but simultaneously invisible. In his interview with the novelist Patrick McGrath, The possibility of secret passageways, Mr Manaugh speculates on what forms of architecture tap directly into our emotions and fears. This post was followed by one on the underground Turkish city of Derinkyu, a vast network of largely unmapped passageways and chambers beneath the modern city. This above and below status is what makes the internet simultaneously new and also reassuringly old, an alluring throwback to the mental image of the tunnels and systems that sustain us, revealing long lost knowledge to all, yet somehow preserving it as something that is available only to the lucky few.

As if to confirm the above, all about the London Hydraulic Power Company, who piped pressurised water around the capital so that their subscribers could tap into it and power their devices. More at Wikipedia. The The Wapping Project building once housed one of their steam-powered hydraulic pumps. A fine map of the extent of the network over at Interconnected (read the rest of the presentation), and explore the surviving tunnels with the Subterranea Britannica / The Future: Present and Past, Near-Mint Heroes collates a few futurology links from round about / Rolu dsgn, recycled architecture and more / the assemblage art of Lesley Hilling.

Photographs by Christopher Morris / 'acolytes of Veblen,' apparently the 'Japanese buy half of all luxury goods' / design snips, 'collecting snippets of good design' / two straight lines, craft and more / between song banter, the masters / Comic and Story Paper Family Trees, via haddock / oh, and BLDG BLOG has had a redesign. How does he find the time?

Photography and Time, a journal by photographer Nicholas Whitman / all about the Happy Flowers / elegant visualisations of pertinent data at SOM's proposed Transbay Tower, courtesy of Stamen / quaint modernism for infants at Sparkability / Architektur Video, snippets of environments real and virtual / Dime Geography, a visual weblog / an abstract view, beautiful paper sculptures (via Tantas Cosas) / Digital Past, collections from Illinois cultural institutions, e.g., 'Card Sent to Ellsworth From a Member of the Albany Burgess Corps, c.1850s'.

Thursday, August 16, 2007
Two things via Strange Attractor: a Taxidermia, over 50 examples of stuffing in contemporary art practice, accompanying the Taxidermia Wurzeltodensis post at Suzanne's site, and The Dulwich Horror, in which the overheated London property market meets the Great Cthulhu, courtesy of artist Dean Kenning / an afternoon at the Stamp Show, courtesy of Draplin Design / slice of vice, serving up relentless portions of tasteful modernism / d/visible, an online visual culture magazine / similar themes at Your Daily Awesome.

Extenuating Circumstances, Dan Hon's weblog / Mural Mania, a Hungarian architecture weblog / bustler collates architectural competitions from around the world / seems to have gone the same way as its subjects / the MagCulture weblog, which links PrimPerfect, a Second Life design, which seems to embody the oak'n'brass neo-Middle Earth aesthetic. Orcish Modern, perhaps.

'Other than browsing a bookstore's shelves, there’s probably nothing better for this bookophile than browsing publisher’s catalogs — if only the books themselves took up as little space,' notes Steven Heller in Confessions of a Book Catalog Reader over at Design Observer. Just lately we've taken to asking for pdfs of books and keeping those in lieu of the finished object; it certainly helps with storage problems.

'The prisoners' hidden life, or, Insane asylums unveiled : as demonstrated by the report of the Investigating committee of the legislature of Illinois, together with Mrs. Packard's coadjutors' testimony', over at the University of Illinois Library's Digitized Book of the Week. Imagine if modern book titles were that long and self-explanatory.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A neat flash-based map of Ile-de-France property prices. Price rises of over 100% in the past five years aren't uncommon, it seems / Going the extra mile to make mass transit more personal, by William J. Mitchell. Can MIT's Robot Car concept really save our cities? The Smart Cities site, and more on the City Car / Echochrome, Chuckie Egg meets M.C.Escher (via plasticbag).

Old but still good, a Pelican set / wonderful photos from Squirmelia / a tour around the Lomakov Museum of Antique Cars / abandoned asylum, The Kirkbride Buildings / Arkitera, an architecture weblog from Turkey (linked before, but interesting pictures of FOA's new shopping centre outside Istanbul / a set of speculative vehicles at CWW Car Design.

The Aquarium ('purveyors of the finest and roughest in art and publishing') are promoting 'the idiocy of idears', a free book without 'ISBN, barcode or author'. To be distribute covertly: find 'under the Fiction, Poetry, Art, Philosophy and/or Travel sections in Central London bookshops from 10th August and other locations around the UK after that.' A combination of Steal this Book and BookCrossing.

London in Oblivion, Allen Varney in the Escapist magazine on the intersection of modelling, architecture and gaming, and why 'real architects laugh at game engines'. The piece revisits things favourites Digital Urban, doing remarkable things with off-the-shelf gaming software and tools like SketchUp. According to Dr. Andrew Hudson-Smith of Digital Urban, 'Every architect's office should have an Xbox 360 or PS3, if only to remind them of the level of graphics they should be aiming for.' (the relentless glossiness of contemporary visualisation makes us wonder whether there is an 'uncanny valley' for buildings).

More at DU: Mapping Games, and a link to UpNext, a 'next generation local city guide' that is a 3D city in your browser. There's also the sad news that the epic Virtual London model developed by Hudson-Smith and the team at CASA (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis) won't make it into Google Earth / related, Spatial Miscellany, a weblog / images of Peckham Past / perspective correction: how to simulate an architectural projection.

Photographs of Phoenix Historical Buildings by Michael Lundgren / so where are the great pictures on flickr? A question, with answers, from Alec Soth / monkey magic, 'thoughts on thinking', a weblog / Zumthor's Kapelle St.Bruder Klaus, a flickr set / a post on the worst coffee in the world encourages a micro-debate and brewing tips, spanning several years, over at City of Sound (have a good journey and be in touch soon).

Wednesday, August 08, 2007
And here we are again, see-sawing between producing long lists of ephemera, conjucture, opinions and collections, and then sitting back and thinking about what it all means. In all our years observing the evolution of the weblog, and the exponential growth in the amount of visual material that is being uploaded daily (like the steady rise in CC licensed imagery at flickr), it's rare that anyone actually stops to decode what it all means. Sure, there's an array of new and re-profiled words brought into currency to describe this new world - retroism, popist, neo-futurist, post ironic - but nothing is all encompassing enough to capture the

Barely a day goes by without us stumbling across another repository of wonders (Nouvelle Vague, Arkintia, Supercolossal, etc. etc.). Maybe not 'wonders', but _interesting things_. Stuff that makes you stop and look a bit closer, and maybe click through. Perhaps there's a problem. There's a point in Andrew Marr's excellent book My Trade where he observes, grumpily, that the modern newspaper, with all its supplements and sponsored sections and 'ten bests...' and shopping pages, exists solely to sell you things. The list format, which leaked into newspapers from the magazine trade, has proved the natural way of presenting information on the internet. Visual creatures that we are, it is the sites that spool off an array of delicious images, like a fresh layer in a chocolate box, that garner the most interest.

The danger is that architectural arcana or academic enquiry is relegated to the same level as the ongoing tidal wave of objects and flippant scans, that essays on urbanism are lumped with kitsch flickr sets or scanned scrapbooks. Everything is flattened down to the same level, attention spans are eroded and nothing very much ends up being done. Instead, all that's observed is the accelerating pace of creative activity. Objects, places, things, memes, everything boils down to data points on a graph, the decanting of shifting opinion into easily digestible forms.


And so on to the links. Your House, a paper creation by Olafur Eliasson / Fresh Creation, bite-size round-ups of what passes for international creativity / Very, 'a blog about the Pet Shop Boys / Laboratorio Italia, a site about contemporary architecture in Italy / the Double-Nosed Andean tiger hound.

Jailbird Greetings, a love letter from prison, circa 1977, at Swapatorium. A different kind of outsider art to the frankly terrifying Russian prison tattoos (some, actually most, images nsfw) / Footprints in the Snow, the website of designer Rick Myers / Natalia Zelmanov's Second Life Diary, a tour of an imaginary place with a virtual Ivana Trump (via haddock).

David Byrne on people who live in glass houses; a life lived meticulously: 'one very considered vast modernist artwork, or stage set, as if to say that modernism doesn’t stop at the door of the museum or at a building’s edge. It’s a way of remaking the world.' Our Glass House post from a few weeks back.

It's not quite When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Judith Kerr's wartime masterpiece, but Blossom the brave balloon deserves a place in the wartime library. The story of a barrage balloon and her tangle with the Nazis, it's an attempt to familiarise children with extraordinary circumstances.

Jenny Turner's article In search of lost time is a tour-de-force exploration of one particular manifestation of contemporary nostalgia, the 'boys' book', epitomised by the best-selling The Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden (a book so steeped in the past that even its website is an adept mock-up of a gilded and embossed tome) and now the The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls (which apparently doesn't deserve a website. Never mind: John Crace digested it quite succinctly in July). Turner adeptly demonstrates how nostalgia skips around decades, swathing each era in a cotton wool romance of objects and events, taking in E Nesbit, Proust, Fat Owls, Boden kids, David Foster Wallace and Penguin's skillful re-packaging of tales of derring-do into 'Boys Own'-style covers along the way. She also demonstrates a perfect understanding that the 'gust of joy' of nostalgia (literally the 'pain of return') is all quite real, essentially unquantifiable but ultimately personal, and not for sale. The tragedy is, nostalgia has been commoditised to the point of no return, as these books demonstrate. Turner's piece on office life is worth reading, too, as is her first novel, The Brainstorm.


The Prefab Fad, 'Prefabrication is everywhere in American home-building. But that doesn't mean your next house is going to be a stylish, Modernist box.' Witold Rybczynski on the missed opportunity of mass-produced housing, featuring, in what must a first for architectural journalism, one of Mr R's own projects to kick off the slide show / Touch the sky, Edwin Heathcote on high-rise living. Amazingly, St George's Wharf in Vauxhall gets yet another kicking. Is there no end to this building's ignominy?

Shameless Hollywood film tie-in, the Bourne Stunt Simulator, which cribs somewhat from ancient internet mainstays stair fall and the dismount series of games. See also Rig of Rods / the Dome Supercar / Antiquariaat J.A.Vloemans, 'books on 20th Century architecture and avant-garde' (thanks, Paul) / feuilleton, a weblog.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Fabulous footage of the opening of Expo 70 in Osaka, perhaps the most cohesive and exhilerating architectural event ever held. More images at Ribapix. The Expo's time capsule was built by Matsushita, and is due to be opened in 6970. Unlike recent time capsule fiascos, one has high hopes the Japanese one will remain intact for 5000 years. Happily, the entire contents of the capsule are online (albeit in Japanese). Via arkitektur, via ExpoMuseum, which has its own Blog, tracking upcoming Expos and Expo architecture. The Swiss Pavilion at Expo 2010 is a bit of a departure - a toe in the water of international post-modernism (Gulf State Post Modernism, perhaps), MVRDV meets Palm, and a world away from Peter Zumthor's wooden pavilion at Hanover 2000.

On to the ephemera. Jose Guadalupe Posada's bloody but concise pamphlets chronicling the History of Mexico, commissioned in 1900 (via Candyland, which also has a sustained pop at Monocle) / a guide to Ten Different New Yorks, from the viewpoint of the Design Maven to the Dog Freak (with presumably some crossover between the two).

Dyckhoff draws up a list of Britain's ugliest buildings in The Times, a popular pastime in this day and age, which says something about the perceived quality - or lack of quality - of contemporary architecture / container cranes made by ZPMC, the Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Company. Something you own has probably been lifted by a ZPMC crane at some point in its life / Atlas(t) has evolved into what it's calling 'The Galleon Trade Edition', 'embedded reportage' from Galleon Trade, 'a series of international arts exchange projects, focusing on the Philippines, Mexico, and California'. Posts tackle issues like the cultural equalisation resulting from pirate DVDs.

The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway goes to war / all about architecture in Milton Keynes / a chaotic but enthusiastic Volvo fan page / BigShinyThing, a weblog / headline of the week: Bear confronts Whitesnake singer / Video games need 'realism boost' / Broken Britain, urban exploration close to home /, objects and places with a modernist bias.

The UCM Museum, eccentric isn't the word / 163 beach huts / What They Could Do, They Did, an arts collaborative / artblog, self explanatory / buses in Huddersfield / VW buses, old and new / Swiss Army Mobile Bakery / slumber offsetting / atmospheric photos of the Borges Ranch in Walnut Creek, California / Seoul, Then and Now (via).

Sunday, August 05, 2007

One of those drifting, not-quite-nailed-down kind of days. The Directive's Morgue project, images 'that were not intended to be particularly compelling [but which] contained something visually inpiring.' / Nicholas Manion's beautiful works on paper (via Swiss Miss) / 50s era public transport in France at Mes Annes Cinquante, including the the buses of Toulon / Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, a film weblog / Rare Bird Finds, a shopping weblog. The things you don't really need are intensifying their desirability. Apparently.

Empty America in the work of Jake Longstreth, via loud paper / Iain Claridge, a personal weblog / not visited for a while, imagery by Pallalink / art, music and more at A Million Keys, including a post on our recent musings about shallowness / which we will completely ignore for now with a link to Find Great Stuff.

Edward Lifson, a weblog, including posts on the restoration of Mies van der Rohe's apartments at 860 - 880 Lake Shore Drive / Hi-iD, art and objects / we are in the midst of the International Polar Year, including a collection of weblogs / paintings and thoughts at Simplistic Art / do we really need The Celebrity Map of London? / information and lamination come together at Visibone / a Rolls-Royce and Cadillac photo archive.