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Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This collection of Chernikov imagery - the famous Architectural Fantasies from 1925 - can be found at the Iakov Chernikov International Foundation (via Coudal). Even in the 1920s, just before the Five Year Plans kicked in, the forms proposed bore little relation to the real needs of culture, industry or society in general, being simply extravagant, elaborate, quasi-abstract compositions that delighted in visual drama and form. Architecture as Cubist or Futurist painting. What's perverse is how influential these images have become, to the point where architectural culture has allowed itself to be twisted and turned so that the aesthetic first described by Chernikov could actually come to pass in physical form.

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Art by Stephen Floyd / kenfrederick, a tumblr / Architectural iPhoneography, a rather grittier take on shooting buildings at Fotofacade / the economic perils of a globalised menu: McDonald's pulls out of Iceland: '"It just makes no sense. For a kilo of onion, imported from Germany, I'm paying the equivalent of a bottle of good whisky," added [owner Jon Gardar Ogmundsson].' / Pan Am in the garage / long piece on Mad Men / matte paintings by Rich Mahon.

Iconic Photos, good use of the weblog format / at the other extreme we have The Daily Motor, which offers an interesting slant on how media outlets could start to look in the near future. Developed by 29GPS, the site distills (mostly) freely available content into a relatively compelling widescreen, HD 'broadband' experience. There is original content, but the nature of the motor industry means its often hard to distinguish from in-house promotional pieces, and obviously the site is not about to bite the hand that feeds it. Whereas big brands like Audi have their own TV channels, that medium looks increasingly outmoded when compared to a big, slick web experience. However, the sheer expense of doing things like video and high-end 3D animation will keep the relationship between 'pure' editorial sites and the PR machine a relatively cozy one.

Architizer looks elegant. Describing itself as a 'free tool with an open platform that transcends its peers to empower architecture in the current economic recession', it's sort of a more image- and PR-conscious version of Mimoa (which restricts itself to built work, rather than include speculative schemes), with dashes of imdb, in that links go deeper that the big names: 'A single project may have dozens of contributors and Architizer links them all, from the intern to the construction manager.'

Southsouthwest, the blog of a design studio / Unequal design, a tumblr / Small Worlds, a rather charming little platform game (via RPS) / eyecurious on Michael Wolf's Paris Street View / London's new folly? / revisiting the Secret Apartment in the Mall.

We feel like a pebble skipping across the surface, bouncing once, twice, maybe three times if we're lucky, before sinking swiftly and inevitably into the mire of data. Is nostalgia a symptom or the disease? / Conscientious has started to tumble / following the yellow brick road, a tumblr / KORUTime, a tumblr / Frugal Krueger, scaring on a budget / eyecurious, a photography weblog / Movies in frames pretty much summarises capsule culture. Can someone do games in frames? Or books in a page, key sentences sliced and diced into a competent summary? Everything has an abstract.

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This week saw the end of GeoCities, bought for 2.17bn just a decade ago. The site's closure has led to the Internet Archive's GeoCities project (Yahoo! is not archiving the pages itself), an object lesson in how to be a digital conservationist and also an illustration of how easily things can slip away into the ether and remain forever unchronicled. From the excellent Archive Team page: 'While the natural urge by some would be to let Geocities sink into obscurity and death, leaving nothing in its wake but bad memories and shudders of recognition at endless "under construction" GIFs, the fact remains that Geocities was for millions of people the first experience dealing with the low-cost, full-color, world-accessible website and all the possibilities this contained. To not at least have the option of browsing these old sites would be a loss of the very history of the web from the side of the people who came to know it, not the designers who descended upon it. For that reason, Archive Team thinks Geocities is worth saving.' See also Textfiles, the digital equivalent of scanning shopping lists.

Also related, Facebook 'memorialises' profiles. As the number of dead people online increases, this is the logical next step, the construction of an alternative 'internet necropolis', a virtual land of the dead that exists in parallel with the ever expanding realm of the living. Perhaps there will eventually emerge an online equivalent of the Necropolis Railway, a google of the dead that is the online equivalent of London Necropolis (a gazeteer of the capital's cemeteries), allowing the option to search only the works of the dead.

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