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Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Victory City, Orville Simpson's epic attempt at creating a private utopia (via me-fi). This example of amateur urban planning is defiantly high rise (in exceptional detail), a rarity, as the fantasy conurbations of fiction and the imagination are rarely vertical. In the real world, going up remains the definitive statement of modernity (although the passion for tall buildings may well wane considerably). Related, a gallery of the Burj Dubai at IconEye featuring photographs by David Hobcote (who has contributed to BurjDubaiSkyscraper.com, a site that appears perpetually astounded by the relentlessly upwards progression of this building).

However, unveil an unlimited landscape of infinite possibility, and what is the architectural response? Nostalgic homages to a lost modernism. In Original Sim ('For the architects of Second Life, reality bites') a tour around the virtual spaces created by real world designers, the real and the surreal abut each other. For architects, the attractions of 'building' in Second Life are obvious: 'There are no planners, no building regulations, no thermal loss calculations, no value engineering by developers.' Yet this is a quote from a designer who 'also maintains [Second Life's recreation of the] Farnsworth House', surely the most iconic example of architectural arrogance ever created. When left completely to their own devices, architects either create chromatically extravagant, structurally improbable buildings or attempt to develop and finesse the more rigorous aspects of modernism.

Perhaps amateurism should be given free reign. The traditionalists are attempting to strike back, with limited success. 'I'll show you a real carbuncle, Charles,' Poundbury takes a pounding (excellent photographs by Paul Russell, demonstrating that so-called 'bad' architecture often makes a far more interesting subject than 'good' architecture, perhaps due to the accommodation of context). Two more things that relate to adhocism and individuality: all about The Story of High Street, a new book from the Mainstone Press about the retail variety of 1938. I want to get on with my life but the market won't let me, a photo-essay at infinite thought, a journey along the Piccadilly Line to the wretched Westfield ('the new home of luxury', the Gherkin looming out of the website in a deliberate perversion of the city's geography to lure the unwary) and on to the miserable (and doomed) Trocadero.

*

What are some great lost albums? / Slow Painting, a weblog / architecture photos by flickr user rucativava / the Gibson Dark Fire, a 'robot guitar' that looks intriguingly stuffed with all manner of sound-tweaking technology. Something for a future edition of music thing to obsess over.

Farewell to Oliver Postgate / at the other end of the creative spectrum (although linked, perhaps, via the Clangers, 'Sci-fi 'creator' Forrest Ackerman dies' / Strawberry and Cream, craft and art / 25 times a second, a tumblelog / The brilliance of creative chaos / Istanbul (Not Constantinople, a weblog.

Atelier Malkovich, a collection of half scale idealised artist's ateliers / revisiting the Taos Hum, 'a low-pitched sound heard in numerous places worldwide ... usually heard only in quiet environments, and often described as sounding like a distant diesel engine' / the demons of Building 280 / Iain's C64 homepage / paintings by Laura Moreton-Griffiths / buy stuff off the police with Bumblebee Auctions.

'The New Examined Life: Why more people are spilling the statistics of their lives on the Web' / thanks to David for the following digging at the New York Public Library's portal, including a selection of NYC Atlases, a huge image library, including the work of Bernice Abbott. Related, an Austeresque venture: a photo of every single street corner in Manhattan, by Richard Howe (via kottke).

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