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Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Some more thoughts on augmentation. Michael Lascarides directs us towards Bruce Sterling's Beyond the Beyond weblog, which devotes extensive space to augmented reality, tracking product and project announcements. Check the French company Total Immersion and their new announcement of a partnership with Microsoft, for example. The company specialises in creating an 'interactive experience where virtual components are dynamically merged into a live video stream in real time' - trade fairs quake with anticipation. Sure, there'll be a market for animated baseball cards, or even Franklin Mint produced Star Wars HoloChess and Battleships (tm), along with a myriad of other quasi-virtual family games that will be the yard sale detritus of the near future and our grandchildren's kitsch collectables.

But as Sterling usually concludes, the more interesting applications of AR appear to be mobile, where the layering of information atop of a small user-controlled section of reality - as opposed to media that envelopes you entirely - is practical, desirable, and here right now. The future dreams are still of people plucking dreamily at thin air, but little apps like Layar (which we've finally tracked down thanks to some Android ROM-flashing shenanigans) make a case for genuine usefulness. For example, the Archinform Layar promises to merge an international architecture database with your phone as the portal, bringing up information about the world around you. Throw in Pevsner and things start to get interesting.

The idea of a portal is key, be it a phone or personal projector, rather than the suggestion of data saturated landscapes generated by special glasses or headsets or whatever. We'll pitch in with a suggestion for a name. The history of technology is also the history of linguistic reappropriation - things get new meanings in the digital realm, loosely based on their function and appearance in the real world: tabs, layers, skins, windows, panes, palettes, panels, buttons, boxes, forms, paths, etc. etc. The lorgnette seems like a good match, something you hold up to your eyes to make something a little clearer.

See also, The Lorgnette, or Studies of the Town, by an Opera Goer (1854) / the Optical Heritage Museum.

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More archives continue to drip out of the world's media repositories: Tomorrow's World, which we're partly being invited to laugh at and point at the fashions and the goggle-eyed optimism and hopelessly backwards, unoptimistic or great but wide of the mark predictions (as Maggie Philbin recalled). A shame, as always, that the whole programmes aren't just indexed and uploaded.

There's a bit more from the late Rex Malik, featured in that last TW clip, here. Prescient stuff (it's undated, but the show 'The Computer Programme' went out in 1982): 'Does this mean there's a kind of electronic Big Brother waiting out there in the future? Well, yes, I'm afraid there probably is. For the technology is now beginning to place awful temptations in front of administrators..... we need to be able to control what is held on computers, who has access to it and how they can use it.' On the future office and the role of technology: 'So you have problems with the office next door? Well just wait. I can see you having similar problems in the Eighties but with offices in Tokyo, San Francisco, London and Melbourne. As I say, welcome to the electronic village.'

The British Library Sound Archive are mostly free to peruse. The blog is good for actually tracking down sounds you can play (which, infuriatingly, isn't many of them).

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Fantastic Journal's post on Raise the Titanic pointed us to the Encyclopedia Titanica / also referenced by Earth Capitol, a weblog / Nice Stuf, a tumblr / C-monster, a weblog / Into the Loop, a weblog / Ludic Interface, a weblog.

Glen Mullaly's image-strewn photostream / The Realist, an archive of the American counter-cultural magazine / After a Frantic Pace for Building, a Nervous Pause, contemplating the sudden glut of starchitect real estate available in Chelsea (NY) / a year has passed since the resurgent textism plunged back into inactivity / i feel it too, a weblog by artist Isabel Samaras (via scrubbles).

Tom's North American Trolley Bus Pictures / Emphemeral New York, a fine urban history weblog / the architectural photography of Maynard Parker (via me-fi). Rich pickings here for aficionados of hyper-stylised mid-century interiors.

Penguin Science Fiction - wow! Pretty impressive stuff / related, Cover Browser / Pension Office, 1918 at Shorpy, via Martin Hayes. The building in Washington DC is now the National Building Museum.

How Scribblenaut recognises 10,000 different words: 'The company had five employees who spent six months reading everything they could get their hands on. Their daily job was to comb through various dictionaries, encyclopedias and Wikipedia to find words to add to the game'.

Folding is a distributed computing project / Bill Guffey paints quasi-naive views of places he's visited on Google (via me-fi) / UK Freecycle breaks free. Seems like classic mismanagement to us - we've used the service several times to offload items and will happily pursue other options like RealCycle. Fighting for Freecycling has more information. As timely compound words go, 'freecycling' is a pretty good one. In a brand-obsessed world, it's hard to disagree with the idea that it has 'value', and that someone somewhere wants to be paid.

Gin and Crumpets, a food blog / Mustard Plaster, more food / Old Chum, a Curtis-esque tumblr / the V&A has expanded its online collection (via fed by birds) / svpply is a blend of tumblr and shopping site, picking eye candy from virtual shelves and stacking it up as a clickable rack of things to buy /

Mockitecture has an eye for the architecturally absurd (and there's a lot of it about), with a link to the 'freakiest building on Earth' and a musing on trends in architectural visualisation: 'a refreshing departure from the technologically dominated field of realistic night time renderings that have us all wondering if buildings are simply being designed for that "one view" or for specific night time lighting conditions.'

Glad to see someone's keeping track of this: The (New) Daily Mail Oncological Ontology Project (via Liz Male) / Why Can't She Walk to School? Related, How children lost the right to roam in four generations, with an interesting, if not entirely scientific map of curtailed freedoms.

A Rare Important Photograph / new Bugatti concept. Old school / the Sketchbook Project / Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry demo SixthSense, a form of augmented reality that projects information (via a little self-mounted projector) onto things like walls and rolls of kitchen paper and frontispieces. Intriguing; no-one has coined an all-purpose term to describe augmented reality just yet - anything 'aug'd' feels a bit too Scientologist.

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Friday, September 11, 2009


We've written before about the single-pixel depth of online culture, but perhaps we should also stress the infinite length and width of that one-pixel-deep image, a vast jpg that envelops the earth. Imagine the world scanned and mapped at 1:1 scale, with no surface left unimaged. Part of the problem of writing about 'things' in a virtual place is that so much of the physical world is left unchronicled. For us, if something isn't online, it doesn't exist.

Throw in the things that don't exist anywhere but online, and you have a world of confusion, a place where the only time you get to dive beneath the pixel-deep surface is when you are entering a virtual world. A case in point: the Infocom Collection, text adventures of legendary depth and complexity (via metafilter). Here are places to get lost without even moving. 'Congragulations on your fine dental hygiene'.

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Hermann Zschiegner's thirty-four parking lots of Google Earth (posted at reference library) inspired him to 'collect Ruscha-inspired book and have found close to 50 different Ruscha-esque books... [including] Jeff Brouws' "26 Abandoned Gasoline Stations" and "Macintosh Road Test" by artists Corinne Carlson, Karen Henderson and Marla Hlady.'

Monopoly City Streets, supposedly the world's largest game of Monopoly? Interesting to see how this one plays out. How about a global version of Risk? Or War Games? (although apparently DEFCON: everybody dies does a good imitation). The Google Maps API could be hacked about to allow any number of games to take place around the world.

Related, high resolution photos of the moon, taken from Earth (via kottke) / photography and mash, aggregating London photography exhibitions and a gallery / Tumblr round-up. Schumtzig presents illustration / lqdx blgr, 'scrapbook of infogasmic charts and interesting links' / Jen Benkman, gallerist and curator / are2, old artwork and posters.

Parenthetically wonders 'how many middle aged advertising and fashion executives of the '60s fetishized the look or music of their youth: the 1920s.' / Stork Bites Man, a weblog / bunker chic, the Nixie Concrete Clock (via Yanko Design) / Allee Willis has a Museum of Kitsch, a sort of Stuckist anti-museum / Escapees, an RV discussion forum.

Archive and Conquer, which points us to the site of artist Rosamond Purcell, 'keeper of an incredible wunderkammer', 'a full-size recreation of 17th Century naturalist Olaus Worm's Wunderkammer', the original etching of which can be seen here, with more selections from Museum Wormianum seu Historia Rerum Rariorum (1655).

Technology histories: Edison National Historic Site / Transdiffusion Broadcasting System, comprehensive television archives / the Soviet Digital Electronics Museum / the Fading Ad Blog / mag and cover art linked here / slightly circular, via this greeble piece at Creativity Online (picked up via our referrer logs), an essay, 'John Scalzi's Guide to the Most Epic FAILs in Star Wars Design'.

'The British public, and more especially naval circles, are very much amused over an amazing hoax perpetrated last week on Admiral Sir William May, Commander in Chief of the Home Fleet, and the officers of the flagship Dreadnought at Portland by a young woman and five young men.' More about the Dreadnought Hoax, perpetrated by Horace de Vere Cole ('The prankster at one point gave theater tickets to each of his bald friends, strategically placing them so that their heads spelled out an expletive when viewed from the balcony'), with friends including Virginia Woolf and Duncan Grant. Simpler times...

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Thursday, September 10, 2009


A couple of months ago we received a book, Blogs: Mad about Design (that link is to a comprehensive post on the book with many pictures by David Airey). Published by Maomao Publications in Barcelona, it's an is a rather curious publication. We say curious, but things is in it, as are a fair few other sites from our sidebar, so obviously our perception is skewed. But it is a funny concept - a book about weblogs, snapshots of (hopefully) ever-changing pages fixed at one point in time, typos and all, as a set of near-illegible screen grabs and then set against hundreds and hundreds of other sites, all of which are loosely concerned with the ever-growing amorphous entity that is 'design'. All that said, paper is a surprisingly pleasing way of browsing through large collections of sites - with a laptop to hand, of course.

The contents can be neatly summarised into two categories. The first is sites we are already aware of: +KN / 1+1=3 / 2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle / 30gms / Ace Jet 170 / Book By Its Cover / Brand New / City of Sound (hooray) / Core77 / Coroflot / Creative Review Blog / designboom / dataisnature.com / the great Design Observer (pretty much the gold standard for a collaborative, creative blog) / Design*Sponge / DesignNotes / dezain.net / eBoy / Efimera / grain edit / I like / It's Nice That / Jean Snow / Josh Spear / Just Creative Design / Less Rain Blog (Red Bull Soapbox Racer) / Lost At E Minor (sample post: The Pool at The Joule, a Dallas hotel by Tihany Design that appears to be channelling the pool at The Adelphi in Melbourne (by Denton Corker Marshall)) / magCulture (always worthwhile).

And there's more, including NiceFuckingGraphics! / Noisy Decent Graphics (essential) / NOTCOT.ORG (likewise) / PingMag (which closed its doors at the end of last year) / printfetish (with a post on The September Issue) / Scrapatorium / Smashing Magazine / Speak Up (which closed in April 2009: weblogs are vessels for nostaglia too, 'I get terribly nostalgic writing this and reading all the great goodbyes our friends have sent in. It all makes me question the decision but, ultimately, nostalgia never carried anything forward. And we must move forward. Always.')

And a few more. Swissmiss / The Style Press / TheDieLine.com / the great Typographica / UnBeige (peeling wallpaper*) / UPPERCASE journal / The Skinny /VVORK / We Made This / we make money not art.

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The other category is sites, rather embarassingly, we were not in the least bit aware of: re-nourish (soon to be part of rethink design) / track 6 designs / fresh tee guide / [LSD] / {non}TYPE / 40 fakes / a best truth / origen / abduzeedo / AiBURN / AisleOne / Akinori Oishi / All Graphic Design News / Alquimistas del Diseno / Amkashop / Andy Jacobson / Anepco Blog Packaging / Anna-Lisa Backlund / Another Limited Rebellion (sample post: DIY artist) / Another Company, now known as Another Something (sample link: photographer Geert Goiris) / Art Backwash / As Found (great - see 'every image on scientology.org' - perplexing) / Asi se fundo Carnaby Street / au secours j'ai un blog!!.

Be A Design Group / bees knees ('a little visual notebook', clearly happy with its copy) / Behance / BIT-101, which does fun things for iPhones / Bittbox, which pushes out little parcels of free (or low cost) creative work / BladBlog / Woumpah / Thomas Frenzel / Blogpocket / Bold / Brand Flakes for Breakfast / Brand Infection / Buenos Aires de Diseno / Caligrafia en Peru (also pleased) / Camilla Engman (sample post, photographs of the Alpes Maritimes) / Catalizado / Changethethought (sample link, photographs by Vincent Fournier) / COLOURlovers / Computerlove / Creative and Live / Creative Curio / Criterion / Social Fiction (previously known as Crystalpunk, and worth a look) / Cuarto derecha / cuatro cosas / CuatroTipos / cubik.

And still it goes on. Dailytype / Dan Germain / Dansk Dynamit / Stara Datasky / David Airey / Design Digest / Design Meltdown / Design Tagebuch / Design Trotter / Andy Rutledge's Design View / Design You Trust / designUp from Brazil, which might have once been the now dead http://www.design.com.br/blog / Design Altruism Project / designdiary / Designers who Blog / detalles / Digilicious / Disenistica / the invite-only Diseno Wolko / DissenyArt / Dlounge / Dorian Moore (book receipt post) / Draplin Design Co. / Duopixel (nicely done).

El Diseno no se Mancha (book receipt post) / El Utilitario / el50 / Elmanco / Etienne Mineur archives / evasee / exljbris font foundry / Stash DVD magazine (formerly FEED) / FormFiftyFive (sleek and nicely curated) / Freelance Folder / Freshcut.it / Fubiz / Generator.x / Graphic Design Blog (US) / Graficante / Graphic Design Blog (UK) / GraphicDesignBar / Graphic-ExchanGE / Guerilla Innovation.

Hard Format / Heavy Backpack / Heuserkampf / i heart photograph / I Love Typography / iA Notebook / iBLOG / ideasonideas / Illustration Friday / IllustrationClass / IPF / Inconciente Colectivo / InDesignSecrets.com / information aesthetics / Intenta / Isopixel.

Jbarahona.com / Journale (Asgeir Hoem / Jules Vernacular / Kanardo // Blog / Laughing Lion Design ('8 alternative versions of the London Tube Map') / Letritas / LifeClever / Linzie Hunter at Drawger / live from bklyn (which has moved to tumblr / Logo Design Love / Logolog.

Manystuff (in love with the process of print) / Maquetadores / Mariana Coan, now closed, moved to flickr / Mark Simonson Studio Notebook (sample post, on the launch of Typedia, 'a shared encyclopedia of typefaces') / Miau! Mao Mao Publications' Blog / Nina Klausen (site being updated) / NowNow / O.K.BLOG, a grid of things / On My Desk / Papel Continuo / Perpenduum (sample post: Recycled Houses) / Plixweb (now password protected?) / Print and Pattern.

Quipsologies (links to How 20 popular websites looked when they launched, a Daily Telegraph online department list special, but interesting in spite of this) / randform / Reconstructing Ideas / Repeatafterme, partly compiled by architectural illustrator Guillaume Ninove / Rob Goodlatte / Roger C.Parker's Design to Sell Blog (business book turned website, by the looks of things) / rohdesign / Round Pixel / Seccion Aurea / Selector, another grid of stuff / SELEKKT (on hiatus?) / Sequ3nce (down?) / Shaun Inman /.Skull-A-Day / Slanted / SocialDesignZine / SpiekerBlog / subconscious tonic / Subtraction.com / suffix.abuse / Superficiel in depth / Swiss Legacy.

The Design Conspiracy Blog / The Last Blog / John Maeda's unsurprisingly sporadic The Laws of Simplicity ('Life’s been quite busy for me since I became the President of the Rhode Island School of Design') / theyedropper / Things of Random Coolness / Wieden + Kennedy's now dead Think Global, Act Stupid / Your DIY Mustache (lovely link to these muscle car drawings / Tinselman (underwater churches) / Tiny Gigantic / TOCA ME (which died in April) / Treats and Treasures / Trend Insights / TT Crew / TutorialBlog (Photoshop focused) / see also Tutoriales Photoshop / Type for you.

United Visual Artists' blog / Valentina Tanni ('The Tree') / Vaquelita / Veerle's blog / ventilate.ca / VIEWERSLIKEU.COM / visual evasion / visualcomplexity.com / VisualMente / visuelle / Industrial Brand / Web Designer Wall / why not? / yewknee.com / You The Designer / Your Brain on Design.

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The latter list is enormous and favours Spanish-speaking countries as a welcome break from the usual UK-US focus. Certain things surface again and again - key buzz words like 'creative', 'brand', 'design', 'graphic' - and we question the wisdom of 'freezing' web pages in print. There are also a few surprising omissions (Coudal, for example, or dezeen), as well as a couple of dead links, abandoned sites and switched directions (Artes Visuales and Serial Flasher, to name but two).

But overall, the tone is rather flat, a reflection of the relatively small circle of things, stuff, content and eyecandy that gets passed through the blogosphere (dread word). The book captures none of the esoteric splendour one might find in, say, the BLDGBLOG book or the BibliOdyssey publication, or their websites, or in Subtopia's architecture fetish or Curious Expedition's wanderlust, not to mention the worlds conjured up by Apothecary's Drawer, Cabinet of Wonders, the Atlas Obscura, The Map Room, Mrs Deane, efimera, ephemera, etc., etc.

The bulk of the sites in the book are about going forward, charting new work, new works, emerging sympathies, styles and movements, all framed by the technology that shapes the internet as a whole. Yet as a museological exercise, the contents of Mad About Design don't really succeeed; what's chronicled within is not a series of obsessions but rather the drive to be most visible. It's a book about creation, not curation. The catalogue raisonne of the web has yet to be compiled.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Our jackdaw tendency is not getting any better. Swooping in and pulling out links, vainly trying to contextualise them, but usually failing. Perhaps each link needs a little more exposition? A lesson in how to do things: Kottke conveniently cuts and pastes the new Gladwell book / how to celebrate a strange life: Live Forever, 'The Michael Jackson Monument Design Competition', organised by Archinect. Our illustration down below shows Michael Takko's '50 steps'.

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We've been wondering about the ongoing relevance of issuu, a site that compiles magazines in a format that mimics archived paper copies but all too often seems to be mostly stocked with purely digital productions. The outlaw days of people bootlegging magazines seems to have vanished (although sites like fashion scans, The Black Pit and Pink Pistol will sort you out). Instead, there's a strange array of zines, catalogues, brochures and specialist press, all wedded to a delivery mechanism that's slick but utterly unsuited to the physicality of magazines. Of course, there's always the odd gem, like the Urban Sketchers' car magazine.

What the site actually does is contort things that might not otherwise be suited to print into a magazine-inspired format, forcing their reappraisal on a series of predetermined aesthetic grounds. Have a new clothing label? Create something that implies a history, a backstory, a continuity. This can only work for so long. Ten, maybe twenty years from now, when flat panel readers will finally kill the tropes and habits of traditional print design, the only emotion associated with the Issuu shopfront will be nostalgia. Perversely, it will be only the sketchbook, the last immediate link between hand, eye and page, that will endure. The lavish, ad-fat newsstand behemoth will cease to be a model to imitate.

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Related (and rather implying that day is not here yet), What are you reading on the subway? (via daily discoveries) / on Eichlers / PLSJ, a tumblr / Honey is Funny is a fine weblog / Miniature Brides / nineteenpoint, a designer's weblog / design and music come together at Beautiful Sounds (both last links via diskant).

Michael Jantzen is the ultimate virtual architect, something he is well aware of: 'You know, I design these things, and get them out on the Internet and hope someone will come back to me wanting to build. So far, all I seem to get is more press. [Laughs.] Which just leads to more press.' We've often featured his work on things, and his self-awareness is relatively rare within the industry. Here is the contemporary design dilemma in a nutshell; virtual architecture begets more virtual architecture, a spiral of imaginary forms.

Circa, an art magazine from Ireland / thirty-four parking lots, a 'remake of Ed Ruscha's project using Google Maps' (via we will become / Polis, 'a collaborative blog on urbanism with a global focus' / 1194km, a weblog / A design a day / hooray, we qualify as being slow web / Freddie Robins is a curator.

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Monday, September 07, 2009


We've only just caught up with the IKEA font controversy (via the New York Times and also referenced in this expansive question 'What do the Makers like?', giving examples of art forms that are abhorred by the masses by held in high esteem by the (self-described?) elite). Back to IKEA - it seems the adoption of Verdana is a delayed, mass-market version of 'the new ugly,' epitomised by relatively low circulation, high concept magazines like 032c, where an apparently casual and spontaneous approach appears - to the uninitiated - to be deliberately anti-design.

Nothing is ever as simple as that. IKEA's adoption of a font designed for screen reading has been predictably savaged by designers ('This is a disastrous move by a company that's supposed to be design-led! The use of Verdana has the unfortunate effect of making any design look as if it's been quickly knocked out on a home computer with no thought or effort, just because it's (usually) the default typeface on any Windows machine. Pages from IKEA's catalogue now look like rubbish flyers for a backyard sale.').

Ultimately, the company's claim to be purveyors - nay, torch-holders - of modernism no longer stands up to scrutiny. Ignore the type issue, what's most interesting about the IKEA 2010 catalog(ue) is the lack of stylistic cohesion of the catalogue as a whole, no longer a definition of 'modern design' but rather a visual shorthand for the contemporary understanding of what 'good taste' means, as filtered through a thousand style magazines, put through the wringer of consumer choice and then scattered with the visual pluralism of modern times. It's chaotic.

Related, IKEA 1965, and the company's own history pages.

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VW is mooting mini domestic scale power plants (we think). See also Honda's Home Energy Station. It's not too much of a stretch to see more car manufacturers muscle in to this sector of the market in the next decade: micro-generation that doubles up as fuel source for their products. Without an industry standard to work to, the idea of locking in consumers to several decades of vehicle 'upgrades' that are compatible with the (presumably hefty) capital outlay of a piece of domestic-scaled energy-generating plant is a very attractive one.

Other things. The animated gif continues to haunt the internet, the closest the medium will ever come to the stilted movement of the silent slapstick movie: Three Frames (via Regular VIPs (both occasionally nsfw)) / Ugly House Photos, including the World's Largest Louis Vuitton Purse / Plan 59. Retro illustrations that seem to have been polished. We're always losing this link so here to remind us. Also links to Shorpy / What We Do is Secret, architecture and design / Colonize the Borderland, a tumblr / Raspera, 'Super Real Animal's Paper Craft. Rasterized Peramodel from Japan.'

Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons / as yet unfamiliar with The Awl / The London Review of Breakfasts / FWA, favourite website awards. This is where all the intense flash sites went / Etherpad, an online collaborative word processor / 9000's photostream is filled with interesting things.

Inevitably, Poundbury, Spillway weighs in on the design blog subject of the week, Dorset's most famous model village and the debate about its merits, 'psychedelic urban experience' or otherwise / a fine weblog, Nutty, Dry and a Hint of Vanilla (thanks for the Pelican link) / A collection of sounds from the sea, including the mysterious Bloop (more info) / Aeron chairs for seats / Could the UK drive on the right? Why?

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Thursday, September 03, 2009


What is new? The above image comes from the promotional website for Belgia, an idealised 'Belgian-style' community near Moscow, complete with Dutch gables and windmills. We hadn't considered the suburbs of Belgium to represent a suburban domestic idyll, but clearly a Russian developer thinks otherwise. The site is exceptionally heavy on flash (found via The FWA), stuffed full of movies of sunbathing 'desperate housewives' and dense brickwork patterns. As the montage suggests, this is a piece of instant utopia, a place where there are no unexpected architectural juxtapositions, just choices made in an attempt to emulate an ideal, a sense of atmosphere that is, in itself, largely a fiction.

How much does this obvious fiction relate to 'genuine' best urban places and spaces, a flickr group-into-book project, organised by Dan at City of Sound, Russell Davies and James Goggins as a sort of user manual of the intangible, the spaces and places that give delight but that aren't consciously designed. Related, Hong Kong, then and now, thanks to Hong Kong Man. See also Normandy 1944, then and now and Ardennes, then and now. Also, Manhattan Island, then and now, with much more at the Manhatta Project.

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Recycle LACMA: 'On January 14th, 2009 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced that it was deaccessioning more than 100 items from its costumes and textiles collection. Once carefully collected, catalogued, and cared for, these items have now been cast back out in to the world. What will happen to them? Like any other useless item, they will need to be recycled or disposed of. Recycle LACMA is a project of Los Angeles-based artist Robert Fontenot. At three separate auctions he purchased over 50 items deaccessioned by LACMA and is now trying to find new uses for these otherwise unwanted items.' (many thanks to Sarah)

La Premiere Rue, dedicated to modern architectural heritage / the Zundapp Janus 750, a microcar / Painted Bride Quarterly, a literary magazine / Ranya Chantal's weblog / nomenus quarterly, an art quarterly / 44, a tumblr / The Ragbag, a tumblr / turn anywhere into a place of abandoned splendour with the tourist remover / Cabinet of Signs, photography by Alan Thomas / Sftrajan's Photostream.

How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet, seemingly still pertinent / Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan Rocket, a novice car designer maximises global publicity for his debut project / aesthetically related, the Mohs Safarikar, a post at Ectomo.

Photography by Philippe Munda (via 2 or 3 things) / art installations at Evoldaily's flickr stream, especially the miniature ruins / David Pearson's flickr stream is filled with Penguin design imagery / the Carbuncle Cup has a winner. Bad British Architecture would concur.

Field recordings at freesound, a couple of thousand of them. See (hear) also the brown noise and soundscape tags, as well as dark-ambient and dissonant. There's also a field recordings section at Epitonic, a website we haven't frequented for years. This may have been the first place we ever found an mp3.

Down to a sunless sea is an obscure piece of apocalyptic literature from the early 80s, the final peak of Cold War paranoia with the establishment of Greenham Common Peace Camp, a couple of years before Threads, and the 'evil empire' soon to be prominent in everyone's minds. We read this book in around 1986 and most of the Amazon commenters - the vast majority of whom give it five stars - seem to be returning to it. Wikipedia has a plot summary, revealing how the book neatly conflates techno-obsession, nuclear paranoia, and survivalism into a bizarrely satisfying whole (related, a catalogue of nuclear accidents).

Thanks for the link, Australian PC Authority.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009


A fine set of renders of the Shard, marking the start of a highly cinematic phase of architectural presentation. Gaming is also getting more cinematic, yet paradoxically, the visions created by game designers are more architectural, experimental and extravagant. Procedural Destruction and the Algorithmic Fiction of the City, a guest post by Jim Rossignol at BLDGBLOG, on procedurally generated landscapes in games. Related, Cananbalt, a random scrolling urban landscape via RPS

Does Beijing's CCTV building contain hidden allusions to architectural pornography? See the images in question (nsfw) / The Immaculate Consumption, bringing together old magazine ads - weblogs like this are always entertaining / Saint Verde Digest, a weblog / scans of the 1965 Ikea Catalogue / Gallic road-planning, tail-end of silly season.

Informative and somewhat pertinent: the curious appeal of miscellanea - 'Why do we turn to Britain for useless information? Britain is the parents’ house that American culture moved out of. It has so much more storage space than our place, and we can always rummage through the bookshelves and the attic when we visit.... Or they’re more comfortable amid the picturesque ruins of the old informational empire. The broken brickwork of authoritative knowledge - Bartlett's, Hoyle, Debrett's, Guinness, the Boy Scout Handbook - has become the deftly juggled informational bits of Schott's. Cool Britannica.'

Related, all about the Musgrave Collection in Eastbourne / The Littlejohn Collection's photostream / Container List, 'the blog of the Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives, featuring weekly graphics and ephemera from the design archives at the School of Visual Arts.' / Librophiliac Love Letter: A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries at Curious Expeditions, a baroque cascade of bibliomania so rich that the smell of musty volumes practically seeps out of the screen. The literal stacking of knowledge in the ancient library is poorly served by the internet. A couple of modern libraries, the self-consciously iconistic proposal for National Library of Kazakhstan and the complex and controversial Biblioteca Vasconcelos in Mexico.

Art by Max Ducos / art by Denise Kupferschmidt / art by Malcolm Liepke. More at Sexuality in Art (nsfw) / photography by Dan Holdsworth / accused of card-carrying neophilia, Will Wiles pens a retort to the conservationist impulse to recreate the Euston Arch. We're in two minds about this. On the one hand, the demolition of the Arch was bureaucratic philistinism at its most infuriating.

Fig.8 is a beautiful flash game (via RPS / there's something rather hermetic about Starck's much-heralded Motor Yacht A / The Zinc Roof, an architecture weblog / explore Google Moon / the ephemera assemblyman / the Dieter Rams flickr group.

Mad Men channels Huxtable, referencing the ill-considered decision to knock down Penn Station / Los Angeles in (500) days of Summer, a google map / 'This blog charts the ins and outs (and ups and downs) of researching and writing my new book, The Chinese Typewriter.' / Translinguistic Other, a weblog / Marydebat's weblog.

'Explore Murray Hill through Images and Maps' / Minor Mania, all about the Morris Minor / a blueprint of Soyuz, one of many high resolution images available at Vincent Meens's Space Model Web Page / the Cliff House Project, 'The goal of this website is to preserve the visual imagery of Adolph Sutro’s Victorian Cliff House. It was neither the first structure nor the last to carry the name of Cliff House, but it was certainly the most grand. Sadly, its existence was short-lived. It was constructed in 1896 and, like so many wooden structures of that era, burned completely to the ground in September of 1907.' The postcards make today's most ambitiously cinematic architectural renders look positive realistic.

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