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Wednesday, February 25, 2009
The growth in sites for art direction reference continue to proliferate. The latest is Spy Vibe, a site devoted to the set design of the 1960s era spy film (via Dwell). There's also a weblog / Aporva Baxi's expanding collection of Nintendo's Game and Watch at the Eye blog / large scale photographic works by Wang Qingsong, including Dream of Migrants, 'a very disappointing scenario'.

Getting some comment, The Demon-Haunted World, 'the past and future of practical city magic', an essay by Matt Jones. This engaging romp through futurism past and present, from the Stanford Torus to Chile's long-lost Project Cybersyn, is fundamentally a call to arms for enabled objects, devices that facilitate our interaction with the city in ways which will parallel the growth of the automobile industry in the C20. It's no coincidence that one of the very first webcams pointed at a coffee pot.

Recreate catastrophic astronomical events with the space explosion Photoshop tutorial / New Red Tractors at the Factory, Luoyang, China / imagery of Lost London, via me-fi, and also see Hermione Hobhouse's amazing book Lost London (images from which found their way onto an earlier Skyscrapercity forum post, Your city's lost heritage: Buildings that should never have been demolished).

Owen Hatherley recently wrote of a tragic tale of two Thamesmeads in Building Design (after, we think, undertaking this walk chronicled at youyouidiot. The tags say it all: sarcasm, brutalism and romanticism, the triptych of emotions generated by British architecture of the past half century).

Heavy little objects, a self-explanatory journey into 'material obsession' / Boars and Fury, a tumblr of ideas and language / -pli - plic - plex, a thesis blog (new genre...?) / the White Noise of Everyday Life.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009
Yet more swings and roundabouts on the Dubai story: Dubai's skyline is a mark of vitality, not superficiality / a brilliant cave for sale / we haven't tried this, but are intrigued: Pastiche, 'a dynamic data visualization that maps keywords from blog articles to the New York neighborhoods they are written in reference to, geographically positioned in a navigable, spatial view'. Now all someone needs to do is create one for Dubai.

Half Map Half Biscuit / a life in coffee / the Westinghouse Time Capsules / How To Drive Exotic Cars, 'for Valet Parking Attendants, Car Enthusiasts, and Voyeurs' / 'Last' Woolies pic'n'mix on eBay. At time of writing, this particular auction had slightly lost the plot, and those '800g of delicious nostalgia' were priced at £2,050,300. (update, apparently the 'Last' pic'n'mix fetched £14,500).

Langley Collyer: The Mystery Hoarder Of Harlem, who ended up buried beneath the debris accumulated in the house he shared with his brother Homer. Some more famous squalor survivors / The Day of St. Anthony's Fire, an example of Ergotism.

How accurate was Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" about the future? / I love you forever and always, via kottke, from the era of the circle-as-dot on top of the 'i' / Half Full Half Empty, a project by Barbara Bloom / a modern hamlet, the start of a new experiment in collective living.

Booooooom, collating creative portfolios from various disciplines. A couple of links: paintings by Leah Tinari and Roberto Bernardi / Shrapnel Contemporary, a weblog / We Will Become, a weblog / The Pop-up City, both visually driven.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009
A few things noted here and there. As someone pointed out at haddock, the news of the planet's first major space collision is far more indicative of the modern era, certainly more so than a charred hotel in China / related, 'Imagining the universe as seen by a building used to track orbital debris', an artwork by Leah Beeferman / traffic is probably up at Secret Dubai / we're not sure Dubai was ever 'wallpaper hip', but here's yet another posted farewell to everyone's favourite foregone failed cityscape: Bye Bye Dubai / another take on townscape, the work of the late Gordon Cullen.

Mechanised, urban exploration at its finest. The visual essay on Cane Hill Asylum is absolutely first class in terms of photography, writing and descriptive power / extraordinary Lego creations by Jennifer Clark / cars and architects, a perennial combination, albeit one that has very rarely born fruit / Dezeen posts some photos of a fire-ravaged TVCC.

Suginami, a flickr set of Tokyo / unboxing a Lamborghini / Jak and Jil, a fashion blog / Vehicle Motion Drawings by Tim Knowles / Evolution of the household, a rather straight up presentation at Woman's Day that could have been a lot more clicky (via) / notes from the 'van, a blog about learning to build furniture from a cold caravan in Devon. Early days.

Rem Koolhaas, Tunisia, and Sandcrawlers / related, on the epic imagery of Close Encounters / The mystery of tinnitus, the New Yorker does ringing in the ears. Maybe related, Anvil: The Story of Anvil / Notes on breaking up, a textual tumblr / Fluid 960 Grid System / Chicken: Low Art, High Calorie, a new book by Siaron Hughes. See also the Fried Chicken Pantheon.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009


Extracting meaningful analysis and comment on the architectural scene in the Middle East and Far East is a fool's occupation. The combination of flaming icons and crashing, burning economies is a happy inversion of everything the last five years have apparently taught us. Today, the icon is out, and schadenfreude stalks the financial pages and comment section (Dubai's six-year building boom grinds to halt as financial crisis takes hold, from the Guardian).

It was noted almost everywhere, and the subject of frantic link making and dot-joining, so we're rather late to the party, but the idea that the TVCC fire is a neat bookend to the iconic era is too big to ignore (and the CCTV's site recent poll question is well-timed as well). And so the early analysis demonstrated (Steve Rose on what the TVCC fire means for the starchitecture export business).

In isolation, the fiery end of a key part of one of the most high-profile buildings of the century, Arup and OMA's self-consciously ironic symbol of the power of state and media, probably doesn't mark the end of the boom. Paul Goldberger rather presciently noted that 'I suspect that we will see some of the same tendency to read into tragedy more architecture criticism than the situation calls for'. The sight of a thing that moved straight from virtual image to charred wreck before its physicality had ever really been absorbed was rather shocking.

There are two narratives here, each highly conventional in its way. The first is the awestruck admiration for rampaging economies on the up, their ambition and the structures that result from that ambition. The second is the loving chronicle of their collapse. Interest in Dubai from the former position has largely fallen away: it's the latter story that everyone is interested in.

Germaine Greer is the latest commentator to weigh in on the unsustainably rampant growth of Dubai, sustained by dirt cheap immigrant labour and the promise of an already fatally compromised plan to create a burgeoning tourist industry. Read the comments to the Greer piece, however, and you get a dose of irate ex-pat, eager to extol the virtues of the place ('Plenty to do, never bored here. Great nightlife - there's always the Yok Hotel (know what I mean, lads).The wife and kids love the shopping, I get to go shooting at Jebel Ali or fishing over in Oman - whats the problem?').

Now the press trips are drying up, will this be a more common piece of commentary on Middle East megastructuralism? The other side of the coin is getting harder to find. Herbert Wright's essay in the latest issue of Blueprint urges us to Reject the Dubai Clichés, yet at the same time, the New York Times' headlines state baldly that Laid-Off Foreigners Flee as Dubai Spirals Down (the image of the abandoned cars at the airport being a particularly potent image with which to lead a piece).

Which to believe? Both stories have their hooks; the 2,684 foot Burj Dubai rarely fails to draw a verbal gasp from those writers that have seen it (Greer: '... I noticed with a thrill of something like terror that there were cranes still working on the top of it, half a mile up in the air...'), but then again, the tales of failing, sinking, collapsing modernist infrastructure has an addictive air of new century schadenfreude. From the NYT: 'Lurid rumors spread quickly: the Palm Jumeira, an artificial island that is one of this city’s trademark developments, is said to be sinking, and when you turn the faucets in the hotels built atop it, only cockroaches come out.'

Piers Morgan, a man not exactly known for his exceptional insight, also wrote about Dubai last month, in the Daily Mail. His piece, titled with typical Mail spread breathlessness 'Over the top. Dripping with money. Adored by celebs. Big, brash and loaded with ambition. No, not Piers Morgan - the incredible city of Dubai', was front-loaded with the predictable cliches (on the Burj Dubai: 'an astonishing needle-like edifice that reaches, almost literally, to the stars'). Morgan notes almost in passing a few 'uncomfortable realities', pondering about Dubai's apparent lack of the things that dog Daily Mail Britain, 'the worst rates of teenage drug abuse, binge-drinking, pregnancy, obesity and yobbery in Europe'.

Dying Dubai and abandoned icon stories are the architectural lead stories of the era and there will be many more of them to follow (bizarrely, Google Earth imagery of Dubai dates from 2006, whereas Google Maps are bang up to date. The 3D skylines of both cities look sadly empty). Perhaps we're witnessing the start of an architectural dead pool, where suitably OTT structures of potential candidates for picturesque modern ruins are lined up in anticipation of the next big sign of the times.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Intermittent posts at the moment, for which we apologise / Mozilla Phone / Have Your Say map: Your property plans, mapping people's ongoing property woes / See You See Me, scanning bags and cameras by Evan Roth / shedworking with Le Corbusier / Sirens of Chrome, regardless of the economic climate, motor show models always have a smile. A gallery at tmn / 45 vintage 'Space Age' illustrations / abandoned cars in Dubai, fact or fiction? / Lost in Paris, a house set amid dense vegetation in the heart of Paris / John Citizen and the Law, number four in our incredibly irregular 'Pelican of the Week series.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Signing away your rights is not cute, Conscientious on the new era of content management and the discrete evaporation of rights. In a world where web content is easily repurposed into something more lucrative (ironically usually a book), it's worth noting that 'if you upload a photo to Facebook, they can sell copies of it without paying you a cent. If you write lengthy notes (or import your blog posts!), Facebook can turn them into a book, sell a million copies, and pay you nothing. This deserves careful consideration!' (Legal Andrew, linked from the post. Also at C, a remarkable image showing just how hellbent we are, collectively, on capturing the moment.

Latitude is one of those quiet paradigm shifts that we have anticipated for so long that it comes as no surprise when it actually becomes a viable technology. The idea that we could see instantly where family and friends are on a map is almost as natural as the idea that we could be contacted via phone wherever we are in the world. It's something Dan touched on in his epic post on The Street as Platform (subsequently reprinted in 'Things Our Friends Have Written on the Internet' - thank you very much to whoever sent us a copy). There is, of course, this.

Unwanted (?) infrastructure as creative spur: The New Road versus Solsbury Hill / farewell Hans Beck, founder of Playmobil (via me-fi). Check out Collectobil for his back catalogue / London in just four photographs / things, a project by Stefan Ruiz / Lebbeus Woods' sketches for Alien 3 (via archinect) / McMansions are Built With Paper and Staples / nerdy fun with URLs / / largest snake 'as long as a bus' / rich people's rooftops / the Long Car Purchase. We certainly don't hate cars, but agree wholeheartedly with the idea of intense research being far more fun than the actual purchase itself.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009
Apologies for the long hiatus. A few links and things collected over the past week or two, with no apologies for the lack of a thread bringing them all together / Charing Cross - the fading world of books (via me-fi) / Paul Virilio's Bunker Archaeology gets the tmn gallery treatment / I LEGO NY.

Channel Beta, an 'information Channel on Contemporary Architecture' - a sort of portal for aspiring starchitects / The Lost Synagogues of Detroit. Amazing urban archaeology of a building form one doesn't expect to see abandoned / illustration by Lisa Hanawalt / Anna the Red's Bento Factory. The Totoro Snowman is especially spectacular / applying every filter.

Classic Shorts, a short story repository / paintings by Peter Wylie (via architects' journal / who was really responsible for that piece of work? / Fusion Anomaly is stuck in a day-glo timewarp, but no less interesting for that / supercomputer, 1960s style, from the East German film Der Schweigende Stern. More at Veoh, which seems like YouTube's poor relation right now.

Books from Finland, with which things has close affinity with, has a new website. Recommended / the Adam and Joe Back Catalogue / one piece, an art weblog / new design for American taxi is rather disappointing, especially given the conceptual precedents. Even if cabs never fly, the problem seems to be a literal creative bankruptcy, rather than a bankruptcy of ideas; there's just no money to develop a true C21 cab.

Richard Serra on Google Maps, at Greg.org / Craig Stephens' daily paintings / a huge gallery of mid-century fashion photography by John Rawlings of American Vogue (via ffffound) / Top to Toe: fashion for kids, an exhibition at the Museum of Childhood.

A few John Updike obituaries: New York Times, Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune. Related, the blog of death.

Pages from a teenage sketchpad, 1976, at smallritual's photoset, full of fascinating things: e.g. an 'early 1970s publicity brochure for the Soviet supersonic airliner Tupolev Tu-144', the County of London Plan 1946 (explained by no less than E.J.Carter and Erno Goldfinger), and some London Brutalism.

Landshare, 'linking people who want to grow their own food to space where they can grow it' / Even Cleveland, a weblog / Spectaculator / BBC homepage history, 1996 to 2006 at eyedropper's flickr stream / a huge page tracking the expensive diving watches owned by Jacques Cousteau and his aquatic pals / the Pineapple pit, how to grow tropical fruit in an unfriendly climate / paintings by Daniel Rich (via
Wrong Distance, which also posts Landscapes for the Aughts).

Schoolmap.org.uk / ecofont, use less ink. See also Dalton Maag's BT Directory Custom Font, which was designed to 'save around ten lines per page', 'Multiplied over the number of pages in The Phone Book and the number of directories printed each year, the cost of the font development was offset by a single print run'.

The Ruins of Fordlandia in Brazil (many thanks): "In a long history of tropical agriculture, never has such a vast scheme been entered in such a lavish manner, and with so little to show for the money. Mr. Ford's scheme is doomed to failure." There is even a Fordlandia website.

Digital art by Paul Brown / Aesthetic Echo, a web animation. Had this been a flight simulator, say circa 1988, our lives would have been complete (via delicious ghost) / a selection of websites by Jonathan Harris: word count, ten by ten, love lines, phylotaxis, we feel fine, universe and the now closed Time Capsule.

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