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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Stop Smiling magazine / Mananarama, 'tomorrow never came', a weblog about architecture and things in Mexico in particular, e.g. this post on the devastating 1985 Mexico City Earthquake (wikipedia) / photographer Cristobal Palma in the Falkland Islands for Monocle magazine / China's Grand Plans for Eco-Cities Now Lie Abandoned, delving deeper into the Dongtan deception, if deception is what it was, rather than just over-ambition.

David Levine has scanned huge quantities of old Expo pavilion brochures from the 1950s and 1960s (example) / images of Saint-Denis by Frederic Fontenoy (rest of site is nsfw) / a selection of emulated old drum machines / the Audiotool / kottke presents a selection of recent media packaging mash-ups.

Colin Pantall's photography blog / Fortune Magazine once had art direction pretty much sewn up / the 1970s house lovers pool / architecture, art and design criticism from Naomi Stead / alternative architectural education practices explored in learning architecture / the BBC is running a Changing Cityscapes series looking at the local impact of high profile (iconic?) architecture on cities around the UK.

The Mudhoney Tourbook, 'an attempt to catalog all of Mudhoney's live performances, as well as the live performances of selected Mudhoney-related bands' / I Heart Noise, band biographies and discographies.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Chelsea Barracks: which design do you prefer?. It's traditionalist zombies versus modernist spin-doctors. But as Gabion points out, 'The Rogers Stirk Harbour design at Chelsea Harbour is Not. Very. Good. In fact, it is Shockingly Bad. So far as one can tell from the limited images available, it is a dog's breakfast worthy of Kanine Krunchies.' It's not Chelsea Harbour, of course, but some good points raised. Ideological battle lines are being drawn all over again, traditional versus modern, left versus right (e.g. The Indepedent (predictably pro-Rogers) versus The Telegraph (predictably pro-Charles)).

Both sides miss the point posed in the Gabion piece - this is an over-priced site that is now totally unable to pay for itself in the current economic climate, meaning that any architectural proposal, regardless of style, will be inevitably flawed. Ed West in the Telegraph is especially myopic, calling Rogers' plans 'post-modern starchitecture' and stating that 'even the Lloyd's building is at best considered interesting and should have been stuck outside of a historical baroque area'. He also claims that the 'terrible [architectural] vandalism' of Coventry began in the 1930s, when most people would point out that 14 November 1940 was a far more inauspicious date for the city's architecture.

Back to the source. A review of Le Corbusier: The Art of Architecture, with Hatherley on the wisdom of revisiting Corb through a contemporary lens, 'the Modernist notion of the architect as improver of mankind's lot is replaced by the superstar designer of three-dimensional logos'. Ultimately, he concludes that it is 'the architect who transformed buildings for communal life from mere filing cabinets into structures of raw, practically sexual physicality, then forced these bulging, anthropomorphic forms into rigid, disciplined grid' who is more interesting, if less influential, than the iconic late-period Corb currently in vogue (and usually overlooked by the zombie faction). The worst thing about this 'battle of the styles' is that it's not in the least bit entertaining; both sides of the argument are simultaneously dour and myopic, capable of being fogged by dogma and hidden agenda.


Zumthor imagery collections: Kunsthaus Bregenz; Bruder Klaus Kapelle; Kolumba Museum (via Archinect) / thrillingly miserable flickr set of images taken in Cardiff at night / The 98th Parallel, an epic post at A456 on Frontiers, great piles of buffalo skulls and boundary making.

Today's challenge: find the Car Garden on Google Earth. Check the thread for updates / related, a dead pixel in google earth / Curatorial Chaos, 'An annotated daily photo project taking place in Providence, RI' / small ritual, a weblog / paintings by Stephen Dinsmore, especially this one / the Wolds Print Studio / An Army of Adas, inspiration women in technology.

J.J. Abrams on the Magic of Mystery, from the great-looking Wired 17.05 (ironically timed just right to raise the bar ever higher above Wired UK - although arguably this story demonstrates the influence of Abrams/Lost chic) / reductivist paintings by Michael van Ofen (via 2 or 3 things I know).

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009
David Hepworth on What really killed Maxim (via magCulture) - the idea that the current fashion for ultra-photoshopped imagery has essentially sucked the life - and eroticism - out of a genre that was once a license to print money. 'It's years since any of the pictures in any of these magazines had even the faintest erotic charge. All the girls have got the same straight hair, the same make-up and the same pouty lips, appear to have been photographed in the same un-specific context and, where the thighs have been slimmed, the spots excised and the eyes whitened, are eventually bathed in that same Venusian sheen that leaves them looking as alluring as a pair of cable-knit tights.' Compare and contrast with old issues of Playboy, and take a stop-off at Photoshop Disasters on the way to see how the human form has become utterly debased and distorted.

Clive Thompson on Etsy: a Revolution in Micromanufacturing: 'Indeed, as this market evolves, the physical world is going to be increasingly customized—built to your specs by craftspeople. Etsy now runs a service that lets you describe something you want—a pair of pants, a shoulder bag, a table—and how much you'll pay, then artisans can offer to make it for you.'

The time travel cheat sheet, via me-fi / see also Unbelievable Time Required to Cover Immense Distances of Space, at Modcult, via A Whole Lotta Nothing / how to build a futuristic city in under 10 minutes / the simple pleasures of objects, a post at metacool / Teen-Age Booby Trap, an American anti-drug comic from 1970.

Caterina gives some background on the topics, questions and correlations that have emerged so far in Hunch's beta period. 'People who have broken a leg like video games such as Madden NFL 09 and NBA 2K9, whereas non-leg-breakers prefer Little Big Planet, Katamari Damacy, Super Mario Galaxy and World of Goo'.

Google's latest: News Timeline and Similar Images (e.g. Villa Savoye), which effectively kills sites like TinEye (see our earlier post on TinEye). In practice, Similar Images works best as a way of tracking how a particular press shot or wire picture gets disseminated and reproduced again and again and again. Choose something more abstract (e.g. bamboo) and you get a slightly more interesting selection.

Breaking down the mix of content and advertising: anti-mega on UK Wired / Urban Design for Google Earth, a post at an-architecture on designing for the bigger picture. See also this post on the growing trend for rooftop advertising to tap into Google Earth.

The Blascka glass flower collection at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, a flickr set from Curious Expeditions / New York's New Architecture by Fortune 1964, a flickr set / patterns and textiles at Neville Trickett's flickr stream / Unusual Books, a weblog (quite nsfw in places).

All about the envelope, one of those absurdly comprehensive wikipedia articles / Crimes Against Music, a weblog by Ben Sisario, with a fine collection of monster-about-to-chomp-babe posters / The Arting Starvist, a weblog by a painter / Invincible Cities, a 'visual encyclopaedia of the American ghetto' by photographer Camilo Jose Vergara.

The Art Cave at Archinect / real estate schadenfreude continues almost daily at Luxist, where the beautiful homes of conmen, embezzlers and proponents of Ponzi schemes are regularly placed on the market and wither and depreciate before your eyes / what does the downturn mean for the pavilion? Will the fashion for temporary architecture-art as architecture-sculptural architecture evaporate as swiftly as it arrived? Will there be more desire for the tangible over the fantastic? More starchitect backlash: more at AMNP / Visualising MPs' Expenses Using Scatter Plots, Charts and Maps / Not even prostitution is immune to economics of supply, demand.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Zion on the Prairie, the architecture of a very particular kind of utopia, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). An article by Adam Marcus on the environment created by this briefly notorious polygamist sect in Eldorado, Texas. This is design with a very particular brief: 'the typical FLDS house strives to project the idealized image of American domesticity, yet everything is scaled up in size as needed in order to accommodate the numerous sister-wives, as the brides are called, and scores of children who live inside'. The piece, in Museo Magazine, comes with a useful interactive map of the compound. See also our earlier post on Mormon architecture.

This is an architecture of preparation: 'The logistical foresight is staggering; the FLDS were able to build, from nothing, an infrastructural apparatus that includes a water pumping station; wastewater treatment plant; provisions for food including agricultural fields, orchards, livestock pens, and grain silos; and education, healthcare, and security systems, while also making plans for the construction of future buildings, with the intent of supporting a population in the thousands', topped off with fortified religious structures that embody 'American tradition of neoclassical municipal building that can be found in small towns throughout the country'.

Compare and contrast to another (speculative) utopian community. The Venus Project offers a comprehensive guide to creating a new future (via No Tech Magazine). Although the Project states explicitly that it is neither 'utopian nor Orwellian, nor does it reflect the dreams of impractical idealists', the Venus Project is unashamedly idealist, with a glossy, retro-modern cityscape - a blend of Corb, Calatrava, Mayer H and Niemeyer - purporting to be the future backdrop for a new society built on a set of lofty ambitions (starting with an experimental city and theme park).

The Venus Project is driven by what one would now call an old-fashioned faith in the power of technology to 'banish boredom and repetition'. These city renderings and transport concepts are straight out of the pages of Eagle or 2000AD or even the work of Luigi Colani, all of which posited the survival of base human and corporate instincts as driving factors in tomorrow's world. Instead, Jacque Fresco ('project founder and director') has created a lifeless, empty urbanism, devoid of human feeling or presence, all in the name of progress towards a world of endless leisure. Yet seen side by side with the Eldorado complex, and it appears that each shares a touching faith in the role of architecture in shaping behaviour and expectations. See also wikipedia's list of utopian communities.


We used to notice slight spikes in traffic when we led with an image, but these seem to have tailed off (as has traffic in general). Things will always be about physical things but the role of text and analysis has and always will be central to the publication (although readers might have noticed that the physical publication itself has been in an extremely long stretch of self-imposed limbo). As talk of design, objects and collections shifts from the linguistic to the strictly visual, it seems ever more important to write about objects and the role they play in contemporary life - and, by definition, the role that collecting and collections play as well - rather than simply add to the ever-growing museum that is the internet. It seems increasingly clear to us that things' role is not one of curator, but guide.

An Ambitious Project Collapsing, a weblog with an emphasis on the found photograph / old negatives scanned by Jason Lapeyre / images from Andrew Bush's Driving While Standing Still project at tmn / a treasure trove of contemporary radio: shows by Adam and Joe and Chris Morris for download.

Basically, at the moment, every time someone watches a video on YouTube, it costs Google about 10¢ / Even Cleveland, a weblog / the Waldo Wiki / Interstate Outlaws, a remake of a classic 90s PC game / watch e-commerce take place at the Zappos Map (via atlas(t)).

A selection of retro flickr groups: Atomic Housewives; vintage cook books; vintage advertising; Vintage Craft and Needlework magazines. Other groups that caught our eye: Xeroxes, Scans, and Faxes; Scotland: Then and Now; Vintage Engravings, Etchings, Lithographs and Wood-block Prints.

More alternative collections: women losing their shoes in movies / Welcome to the Time Machine! Bikini Science Chronology, via Coudal, which also links WebUrbanist's fine set of 20 iconic concept cars / Microkhan, a weblog (via, via) / and still the ephemera keeps coming: Pennsylvania Turnpike System circa 1953 and John F. Kennedy Int'l Airport 1964, two souvenir booklets / 3600 VHS video covers, helpfully placed in alphabetical order.

RIP JG Ballard: watch Ballardian for the tributes. And, of course, Metafilter for the links.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The Daily Icon is refreshingly honest, reflecting the way design is packaged and presented as a fabulous fait accompli, polished to perfection. It's little wonder that companies like Nestlé flock to firms like Rojkind Arquitectos, ultra adept at creating buildings like candies, adding to the sense of internet design commentary and coverage as being little more than tray after tray of brightly coloured sweets to gorge upon before the next one swings into view. Within the industry itself, one senses the emergence of a growing distaste for this feast. 'Zaha Hadid bore the brunt of a spirited attack against "jewel-making" starchitecture'. The approach of the jeweller and chocolatier are not so different. Both depend on the supremacy of the image

Straw Dogs, a weblog chronicling art, pattern and modernity / the Museum of Bad Art is a long-standing website (the original MOBA was founded in 1993) that seems to pre-date snark and irony, not to mention Stuckism) and the cult of the amateur / Coagula, an art journal / things to look at is as visual as one might expect.

I love grain elevators. See also Pruned / a stash of unplayed Burns guitars found in a basement and sold to a collector who doesn't play. More on Burns / we were just about to add Edificial to the sidebar when it shut up shop for good.

Roadside Architecture, reducing buildings down to an aesthetic of sideways, fleeting glances / another kind of roadside view at Sweet Juniper!, a street in Detroit where 60 out of 66 homes were vacant or abandoned on a single block. See also this selection of Detroit posts at landscape + urbanism / a photo essay on the village of Sipson, soon to be replaced by Heathrow's Third Runway / The Wintles, stalled eco village in Shropshire.

Pritzker prize-winning architect Peter Zumthor is interviewed by the Architects' Journal by Patrick Lynch: 'Basically I’ve come to think that I work like an author. There was a time when I thought that all architects work like authors, but when I looked around I saw that they were implementers and service providers.' The beautiful portrait - timeless, really - is uncredited online. Another quote: 'Everything today is often just images...'


Thursday, April 09, 2009
All The Joy I See Through These Architect's Eyes, an illustrated post on the architecture of Megacity-One at D'Blog of 'Israeli, via me-fi. Posted as part of a series on the creation of the new strip Lowlife, this is artist Mat Brooker's personal take on creating a contemporary comic universe. 'And it occurred to me that, really, the city is the actual star of Judge Dredd'. The how-to sections are dazzling in their complexity, revealing how the modern panel is a mix of 3D models, vector art and ink drawing, all seamlessly comped together. See also our selection of stills from the 1995 Judge Dredd movie / or even RPS's recent eulogy to the Rogue Trooper game / a few days late for April Fool, Swedes plan flat-pack home on the Moon.

Abandoned Virgin Megastore, via Racked / mapping the imaginary: the UK Television Series Map, at Meish / Las Vegas Studio: Images from the Archive of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown / we're not making an enormous amount of headway at the moment. Random links. LabGuy's World: Museum of Extinct Video Recorders and Accessories / Eye Blog observes the redesigned Architectural Review. See also this new vs old comparison at things to look at.

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Friday, April 03, 2009
The Angels of Mons in total fiction shocker. A good example of the retrospective application of false memory - see the Fortean Times article for more on the back story, and indeed forward story, of Doidge's Angel, a contemporary PR stunt that loosely wove in the Angels of Mons story but used the crucial hook of 'physical evidence' to draw people in to a false belief. See also 'A picture is worth a thousand lies: Using false photographs to create false childhood memories', a paper by Wade, Garry, Read and Lindsay (pdf) at the Empty Memories site.

Bigger is Better: 7 Insane Soviet Projects (via viadegem). See also animated anti-American Soviet Propaganda / pulpy book covers / welcome to the new Architectural Review / also to the new UK Wired, which demonstrates that the old future looks a lot like the new future, only perhaps slightly less orange / downsizing advice: how do I live with no current address?

The Infomercantile, a weblog / Found underground, a lair. See also the German Bunker in my garden site / lightning hits the Burj / My Pantone Past, something we missed. David the Designer's 'real time capsule of the colours that I've used or specified over the years' / postcards and ephemera from Carl / Can you tell me more about the BMW April Fool's adverts? / sometimes the not-so-subtle ones are the best / the internet has simultaneously killed and invigorated the idea of the annual pun / Building Services Porn, via Projects.

The architecture of the drug trade, Sam Jacobs on the hidden world of the grow house and the subversive effects of drugs on the built environment. Monocle had a piece on Narcotecture in Afghanistan a year or so ago, looking 'at the building boom in the western Afghan city of Herat, where gaudy palaces are wiping out the face of the medieval city. Much of the construction is being fuelled by money from drugs, guns or graft'. All economies are fatally skewed by the black market: the Afghan example is just more explicit than most.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Type Magazine / Make your own Morandi, seems to lose something / Truck and Type, the art of the lorry / Morse code convertor / Rasmus Bronnen's weblog / High Flight, a tumblr / linked via the latter, we like the Sit Com Houses diagram.

The various stream, a weblog / Garage, a Swedish design store / RoryRory's flickr stream / haddock keeps throwing up interesting flickr links, like the historic and old photos pool and the pre-1930 photos pool / flickr collections in the Metro Library.

'The little white lie that grew', Clive James on the Kafka-like tale of a prominent Australian judge who dug himself into a catastrophically deep hole in his attempt to evade a speeding ticket / A guide for Cuntrey men In the famous Cittey of LONDON by the helpe of wich plot they shall be able to know how farr it is to any Street....