Highways, byways, backstreets, canals and beneath the waves

The triumph of ephemera. The Situationist thrill of discovery was forever thwarted by the Modernist desire for order and simplicity; one effectively cancelled out the other in the crisply bland corners of the brave new cities (‘We leave to monsieur Le Corbusier his style that suits factories as well as it does hospitals. And the prisons of the future: is he not already building churches? I do not know what this individual – ugly of countenance and hideous in his conceptions of the world – is pressing to make him want thus to crush humanity under ignoble heaps of reinforced concrete… his power of cretinization is vast.’, ‘Formulary for a New Urbanism, Ivan Chtcheglov, September 1953) Yet as modernism appears ever more weathered, the Situationists have surely won. Consider the internet, a product of the military-industrial complex, capable of light-speed global communications and intended as an invisible umbical cord that bonded together the institutions that really mattered. This infrastructure now underpins the billions of trivial connections that bind society together. The ‘city as museum’ metaphor favoured by Situationism has been substantially bolstered by the internet’s facilitation of the ‘art’ of curation. Now, everyone curates space, and in the process, creates something too.

It ought to be a Situationist paradise, from the tumbling randomness of Everlasting Blort, the bewilderingly extensive world(s) of ‘design‘, to the lovingly crafted, achingly beautiful A London Salmagundi (Salmagundi, ‘a salad dish originating in the early 17th century England comprising cooked meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, leaves, nuts and flowers and dressed with oil, vinegar and spices.’), casual browsing is a path through little things that snag on the synapses, endlessly recycled and clipped. Ultimately, stealthily, the Internet of Things is replacing the City of Experience. Our perception of the real world is being consumed by our desire to see things through the lens of the screen. Or the pad. The mind alone is no longer enough to store the visual experience of modern life. The temptation to drag and drop the folder called ‘scrapbook’ into flickr uploadr is getting stronger and stronger.


On to the clips. What was hot online in 2006? We were, apparently. Thanks to fake is the new real, which does great things (e.g. All the Streets, Centered, 50 States and 50 Metros and Identically named places connected (USA). New topographies, indeed / underwater remote control spaceships. More here – the language barrier is rather holding us back from learning about Japanese submarine modelling. A few years ago, the need to learn about such things would have been unthinkable.


The proper use of multimedia: 360 Video from inside the Texas Stadium Implosion / panorama of London skyline, in 2007 and in 2012 , by Will Fox (who is also responsible for Future Timeline) Via the Evening Standard, ages ago / Ripped Knees, a weblog / East Tennessee of days gone by.


How Much Do Music Artists Earn Online? Possibly flawed but fascinating look at how the economy of physical objects still trumps the virtual realm (via – read the comments to find the real definition of ‘house music’) / Rich Mix Cuts Project, haircuts in the East End / Grimm, a German-language baroque-styled fanzine, via The Cartoonist / White Hot Magazine, contemporary art / watch the emergence of The Shard.


A quick question. How do we alert subscribers to the old RSS feed that it will no longer be updated? And that we no longer have access to it? Thus far less than 1% of people have switched over to the new RSS feed, despite the fact that it looks rubbish. All tips appreciated.

This entry was posted in ephemera, esoterica, things magazine. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Highways, byways, backstreets, canals and beneath the waves

  1. Jane says:

    Hello, I have just moved my blog on to WordPress and wondered about updating RSS feeds and that nobody seems to have done it, too. But then, I hadn’t updated my subscription to Things until I read your post. When I went to do so in Google Reader I found I couldn’t edit the old one but had to delete it and re-subscribe to the new one. A bit of a faff. So readers are not only missing the fact the feed has moved but it’s not necessarily a one-click action either. It’s frustrating! Sorry, this doesn’t help your actual problem but you aren’t alone.

    • things says:

      They may well have been ‘modern’, but as the Corbusier quote implies, they were very much against the strictly rational work of the international style, etc.

  2. Jonathan says:

    I’ve always thought of the members of Things as “virtual flaneurs”
    I don’t want to undermine the value of a virtual space, especially as it perhaps fulfills some of the Situationist’s dreams, but I would imagine that Debord would see such cyberspace ventures as the proliferation of the Spectacle, rather than the victory of Situationism. The internet obviously has a potential for, and delivers us with both outcomes. I agree with what you’ve written, I just think the ways the internet has furthered the Spectacle should be acknowledged as well.

    Oh, and Things is amazing amazing amazing. Life changing.

  3. a says:

    I find the Situationist remark baffling, as Situationists were clearly modernists. It’s a sad world if we give Philip Johnson credit about what Modernism is or isn’t.

  4. baker says:

    someone else i followed linked to you guys, and i was all… damn! something mustve happened to my rss feed! maybe you should just send out an APB to friends in the blogosphere that you guys changed rss feeds? im glad to have you back in my feed <3


  5. It’s always a pleasure to put Things on best-of lists. Sadly, i haven’t been asked since 2006.
    Thanks for the kind words.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.