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Tuesday, January 05, 2010


An artificial kingdom, Joakim Dahlqvist's epic pen and ink drawings of imaginary lands - Aristide and Podalida - two extraordinarily complex cityscapes that blur the forms of contemporary architecture (he has worked with OMA/AMO, amongst others) with intense doodling. Dahlqvist describes the images as part of a 'self-initiated study of superdense cities', and they belong to that literary and artistic tradition of the utopia, a place defined through the eyes of am unfamiliar visitor.

Density also appears to be one of the defining conditions of the modern age, a state that demands a constantly shifting veil of shallow complexity to be drawn across every medium. The aggregation of news, information, objects and opinion is just one manifestation of this complex veil, the myriad patterns of parametric design are another. This is a new topography of information, one which we must navigate using new methods. Studio Kinglux is a 'trends and culture bureau', just one of many guides to post-post modernity.

We wonder what the first example of this genre of research specialisation was? At what point did 'creativity' become a commodity that could be surveyed, mined, refined and distilled as if it were something physical? There are clues. At the turn of the century, the newly-elected Labour government set great stock in Britain as a manufactory of ideas, spearheaded by former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Chris Smith's Creative Britain, a sort of manifesto of nothingness that proclaimed the new age of creative economics.

In order for creativity to impact on the economy, it must be consumed. Complexity and density is our new planned obsolescence, an abstract replacement for the physical act of incremental changes and upgrades. Perhaps we've been jaded by several years of watching 'creative work' flashing before our eyes online, a conveyor-belt of loveliness that translates not into a new kind of commodity fetish but rather a fetish for novelty and invention.

Trends and culture is now shorthand for the kind of entrepreneurial, cultural-industrial process epitomised by Damien Hirst's Spin Paintings (used on the cover of Smith's book), through to personalised apps or the micro-economic culture of Etsy (coffee cup art) and eBay, the portfolio face-offs of ffffound.com and the relentless cascade of tumblrs.

*

Majuscle, a zine by Brad Walker / see also the SameTime2010 project / say no to cynicism in 2010 with the Succeed Blog / watch B-movies in your browser with AMC TV / fashion imagery and more at Phicto (regularly nsfw) / how to make an imaginary flag into a county emblems / Bootlegs from Buckleberry, live sets / Lunch Money throws imagery at you (occasionally nsfw) / What type are you? Password: character / Curious Pages, 'recommended inappropriate books for kids'. The Winter Blast! post is fun / the FoundFootageFest. Mostly very depressing snippets of a more earnest, unfiltered, unselfconscious time.

Paris, 1962, via Kottke. More on the sad saga of Les Halles at this Metafilter post from 2004, with a few historic images of the original 'stomach of Paris'. Chris Heathcote has a set of image grabs of Covent Garden on his flickr stream, the demolition of which was contemporaneous to Les Halles but which was saved rather than flattened in the early 70s. Vaguely related, a gigantic panorama of Prague, so big as to be entirely unusable when zoomed in.

The Artificial Marketplace, a second hand store in New Bedford, Massachusetts, that nods to Celeste Olaloquiaqa's classic of kitsch iconography, The Magic Kingdom (reviewed in things 11 but not yet online). See also Scott Teplin's beautiful Alphabet City.

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