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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Are video games indistinguishable from just looking out of the window? These faux time lapse scenes in GTA IV - by no means up to the minute technology - illustrate a persistent, living world that embraces the mundane as well as the spectacular, from the play of dappled light coming through a canopy of trees to the flaneur-like pleasure derived from watching 'people' come and go. It's a hackneyed point, perhaps, but at what stage will people be literally unable to distinguish between game worlds and the real world? When the simulacra of reality accommodates not just the epic and the awe-inspiring, but the prosaic and quotidian? The hand-wringing that accompanies contemporary releases will be as nothing compared to the outpouring of indignance that will welcome each successive wave of immersion.

And yet. And yet there doesn't seem to be much writing or thinking about historic precedents for such escapism, play, and pretend. Russell Davies' recent musings on world building, being playful and why we pretend speculated that great swathes of our daily lives are consumed with pretence in any case, through the clothes we wear, products we buy, things we imagine just to keep us sane.

In The Unreal Deal, Will Wiles speculates that it is speculation itself that does a great deal of future-shaping; sci-fi visions inspire developers, coders and designers to replicate functionality that was once strictly fantasy, or 'the seeds of the future are planted in the stories that people grow up with', in Quiet Babylon's summary. Here's the disjunction between real and pretend. As the imaginary landscapes of video games approximates reality in all its degrees of interest and immersion, what, if any, visions will remain to inspire the designers of the future?

Cinema is arguably going the other direction, going beyond reality to sometimes ludicrous extremes (for example). Maybe even architecture is doing the same? The vision for Lords' unveiled today is cinematic in scope, a popular style of visualisation that gives proposed buildings a hyperreal gleam they cannot ever hope to fulfil.

*

Workspace, a project by Joseph O.Holmes / photography by Alan Aubry, especially la Corniche, habitat provisoire and citadelle / Sine Lab Concepta, Dutch landscape photographs by Jan Koster.

Flora Thundercloud Funmaker / Vaguely live map of trains in the United Kingdom / Matandme, interviews (written and drawn) with contemporary designers / Me and Belle de Jour, the quiet machinations of a linkblog / the Association pour la Défense de l’Eglise de Royan, an epic slab of French ecclesiastical concrete.

Tulgey Wood, on Disney, mostly / I Heart Noise, the 'Illustrated Encyclopedia of Audio Terrorism', has a new URL / Postales Inventadas, making up (architectural) postcards / Hail the new puritanism, Dyckhoff on an emerging austerity in public buildings / Ordnance Survey maps to go online. Unsurprisingly development with OpenStreetMap gnawing at their heels.

Rather surprisingly, BD comes out as a climate change sceptic. The AJ offers a swift a riposte, while Leo Hickman in the Guardian also weighs in. The most level-headed comments are at the AJ, in particular this and this, both of which we heartily endorse.

aKun, a tumblr / Portavilion, park art, including The Wind House by Monika Sosnowska / loca London, 'Reviews of major exhibitions currently open in London'. Nice idea - a metacritic for culture / photography by Natalie Tkachuk, including posted and miscellaneous objects.

Ex Cathedra 'is by no means a religious literary magazine. In fact, it is much more of an unholy magazine, never traditional and always unique in its modernity.' / kill author, a literary journal 'for the mostly alive' / play The Police Officer's Dilemma / Baedeker's Old Guide Books,London and its Environs 1905 / Image Swirl from Google. Not seeing any useful application for this just yet.