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Sunday, January 17, 2010


Simplistic Art brings together good reading and links / Good Type, Bad Type, a tumblr / the purest of treats, a weblog (occasionally nsfw) / pentimento / polarama, a weblog (usually nsfw) / we haven't scoured Strength Weekly for a while, but this post on Fairy Liquidity is an entertaining look at how the sprite disappeared from folklore and legend before rematerialising in the ad industry: 'It's odd that even today advertisements for all sorts of products are adorned with snappy, winsome little homunculi'.

R-O-B, 'Flexible Production of Building Elements', a robotised bricklayer and a winner at Wallpaper's 2010 Design Awards / Mockitecture, a weblog, especially the post on Extra-Ordinary Architecture, 'terrible and naughty' / Forgotten Ohio, via Guy.

Indian Book Depot, which produces some superb posters (via The Estrangement Gallery / Strength Weekly, a weblog / Metaltype, 'the place for Printers and Typesetters who remember the old days of Letterpress Printing to come and reminisce'.

FOOL, 'the transformative potential of objects' / World of Warcraft, an architectural perspective / Susanna Blasco's weblog / theGAME, the world of the highly desirable Casio Game Calculators.

Mountains of Paper, music related ephemera / Cumbernauld Town Centre, long celebrated by modernists and blasted by traditionalists, has held a design competition that will 'transform and develop the existing situation into a coherent town centre.'

Me Studio on the graphic evolution of The Highway Code: 'they also clearly show an evolution in design, fashion, automotive, typography and printing technology between those nine years... whereas the first one still displays some of the 'homely' naivety of the late fifties with kids sat on fences and young men in open-top sports cars etc. the second has a certain serious, more business like tone of voice to it, to me they represent and nicely illustrate the end of one era and the birth of the following one'.

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Archive and Conquer, a tumblr, tapped into the new vogue for curation culture, linking to this essay, 'A Complimentary Rant on the State of Convenience at Repository. From Archive and Conquer, a paragraph that's worth quoting in full:

'I worry about the echo chamber of tumblrs and their ilk and the meaningless repetition and amplification of digital objects. I’m obsessed with the way that people collect, hoard, and re-broadcast photos and music and words without also creating their own. I’m not saying every tumblr reblogging pictures of hot girls in kitten earmuffs or grainy photos of Parisian cafes is as intentional and special as [Gabriel] Orozco's working tables, but the impulse, I think, is similar. We are overwhelmed, and if we can pick and chose a few objects that we like, put them in a place where we can keep them, it helps us to exercise some kind of control over the flood, even if it leads to visual/aural/literary ADD and a tawdry kind of exhibitionism: look at all these things I found. But while I’d rather not bother with some peoples’ online collections, I think some are interesting as works in progress, and some seem like ready-made archives, perfect and complete.'

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This collection of Chernikov imagery - the famous Architectural Fantasies from 1925 - can be found at the Iakov Chernikov International Foundation (via Coudal). Even in the 1920s, just before the Five Year Plans kicked in, the forms proposed bore little relation to the real needs of culture, industry or society in general, being simply extravagant, elaborate, quasi-abstract compositions that delighted in visual drama and form. Architecture as Cubist or Futurist painting. What's perverse is how influential these images have become, to the point where architectural culture has allowed itself to be twisted and turned so that the aesthetic first described by Chernikov could actually come to pass in physical form.

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Art by Stephen Floyd / kenfrederick, a tumblr / Architectural iPhoneography, a rather grittier take on shooting buildings at Fotofacade / the economic perils of a globalised menu: McDonald's pulls out of Iceland: '"It just makes no sense. For a kilo of onion, imported from Germany, I'm paying the equivalent of a bottle of good whisky," added [owner Jon Gardar Ogmundsson].' / Pan Am in the garage / long piece on Mad Men / matte paintings by Rich Mahon.

Iconic Photos, good use of the weblog format / at the other extreme we have The Daily Motor, which offers an interesting slant on how media outlets could start to look in the near future. Developed by 29GPS, the site distills (mostly) freely available content into a relatively compelling widescreen, HD 'broadband' experience. There is original content, but the nature of the motor industry means its often hard to distinguish from in-house promotional pieces, and obviously the site is not about to bite the hand that feeds it. Whereas big brands like Audi have their own TV channels, that medium looks increasingly outmoded when compared to a big, slick web experience. However, the sheer expense of doing things like video and high-end 3D animation will keep the relationship between 'pure' editorial sites and the PR machine a relatively cozy one.

Architizer looks elegant. Describing itself as a 'free tool with an open platform that transcends its peers to empower architecture in the current economic recession', it's sort of a more image- and PR-conscious version of Mimoa (which restricts itself to built work, rather than include speculative schemes), with dashes of imdb, in that links go deeper that the big names: 'A single project may have dozens of contributors and Architizer links them all, from the intern to the construction manager.'

Southsouthwest, the blog of a design studio / Unequal design, a tumblr / Small Worlds, a rather charming little platform game (via RPS) / eyecurious on Michael Wolf's Paris Street View / London's new folly? / revisiting the Secret Apartment in the Mall.

We feel like a pebble skipping across the surface, bouncing once, twice, maybe three times if we're lucky, before sinking swiftly and inevitably into the mire of data. Is nostalgia a symptom or the disease? / Conscientious has started to tumble / following the yellow brick road, a tumblr / KORUTime, a tumblr / Frugal Krueger, scaring on a budget / eyecurious, a photography weblog / Movies in frames pretty much summarises capsule culture. Can someone do games in frames? Or books in a page, key sentences sliced and diced into a competent summary? Everything has an abstract.

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This week saw the end of GeoCities, bought for £2.17bn just a decade ago. The site's closure has led to the Internet Archive's GeoCities project (Yahoo! is not archiving the pages itself), an object lesson in how to be a digital conservationist and also an illustration of how easily things can slip away into the ether and remain forever unchronicled. From the excellent Archive Team page: 'While the natural urge by some would be to let Geocities sink into obscurity and death, leaving nothing in its wake but bad memories and shudders of recognition at endless "under construction" GIFs, the fact remains that Geocities was for millions of people the first experience dealing with the low-cost, full-color, world-accessible website and all the possibilities this contained. To not at least have the option of browsing these old sites would be a loss of the very history of the web from the side of the people who came to know it, not the designers who descended upon it. For that reason, Archive Team thinks Geocities is worth saving.' See also Textfiles, the digital equivalent of scanning shopping lists.

Also related, Facebook 'memorialises' profiles. As the number of dead people online increases, this is the logical next step, the construction of an alternative 'internet necropolis', a virtual land of the dead that exists in parallel with the ever expanding realm of the living. Perhaps there will eventually emerge an online equivalent of the Necropolis Railway, a google of the dead that is the online equivalent of London Necropolis (a gazeteer of the capital's cemeteries), allowing the option to search only the works of the dead.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The news that St. Elizabeth's Psychiatric Hospital in DC is to become the HQ for the US Department of Homeland Security adds another layer of mystique to the monumental structure. Whereas old asylums are almost a cliche of the Urbex movement, the new multi-million dollar DHS HQ will effectively turn the building into an enormous no-go area (or as the Washington Post headline, 'As the Feds Take Over, St. E's Moves Further Into Shadow'). Fine photograph (if real) of the former staff members at Unremitting Failure. It's obviously a tough place for urban exploration (although some shots taken on official tours are around), but the shuttered exterior is epically grim, and pretty much perfect for a Homeland Security HQ without a single architectural intervention.

London Brownfield Sites, an interactive map. Apart from providing a high-res Ordnance Survey overview of London - always useful - it's pretty hit and miss, featuring plenty of sites in our locality that have recently been developed / the title of this image-driven weblog, More Ways to Waste Time encapsulates our growing feeling about the 'ghastly good taste' of the visual internet (where instead of Betjeman's preference for architecture from 'all centuries to my own' we have no point of contemporary reference, just a mad collage of 'good work' from past decades.

A recent event that looks fabulous: the surviving members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop played a gig at London's Roundhouse. Plenty of RW info online, from the wikipedia page, a brief history at Sound on Sound, an engineering perspective at The White Files, which also has an image gallery), samples at myspace, the great page devoted to Workshop guru Delia Derbyshire, etc.

Modernism and the little magazines, the world of the small literary publication in the first half of the twentieth century, focusing on the Modernist Magazines Project, an index of 40 or so modernist magazines from the period 1880-1945 (the 'so-called 'little magazines''). See also the Modernist Journals Project which contains scans of magazines, including the seminal Blast and its successor The Tyro, Robert Graves' The Owl (owl) and Le Petit Journal des Réfusées.



The Design Council image archive goes online (via CR Blog): it can be found here: Design Council Slide Collection. A fascinating collection of fragments from Britain's largely vanished industrial age, a swathe of long bankrupted industries and forgotten names, their abandoned aesthetic standards superseded by outsourced manufacturing and a pervasive global standard of 'good design' that is strangely characterless, despite the initial seductive thrill generated by visual aggregation. The toys are especially pleasing - Four toy guns in stained wood, made by Tall Tree Toys Ltd., 1969; Noah's Ark made from kit of printed cardboard (?) pieces, designed by Maureen Roffey, 1969 - and the technology typically nostalgia inducing / Police Notebooks of Charles Booth, part of the LSE's massive Charles Booth Archive.

A couple of lesser-known magazines in the Great Google cupboard: The Rotarian (which had some spectacular cover art in the early 30s, before descending into post-war whimsy) and Kiplinger's Personal Finance (via magCulture) / Star Wars Collectors' Archive / welcome to mobile Photoshop, the swift death of the idea that images from cellphone cameras could have a greater veracity than 'real' news photography.

Popshot Magazine, poetry and more / augmented reality starts to pop up (excuse the pun) in advertising material, as in this new Citroen spot / No Pattern Required, retro things / We Are Independently Wealthy, a weblog / move over Richard Scarry, the Snaeffel (via me-fi) / matt has a tumblr.

Fortune magazine covers by Antonio Petruccelli / contemporary photo-realism by Diego Gravinese (on flickr) / Pasa la Vida, a weblog / Love is a Prelude to Sorrow / Deputy Dog has shut up shop; instead, visit Letters of Note, photographs and images (occasionally nsfw).

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Sunday, March 01, 2009


'We're in danger of losing our memories', in which Dame Lynne Brindley, BL CEO, worries about the impermeance of digital culture and the ongoing problem of archiving the world (via me-fi). The Daily Mail quotes historian Tristram Hunt: 'Do we want to keep the Twitter account of Stephen Fry or some of the marginalia around the edges of the Sydney Olympics? I don’t think we necessarily do.' Hunt rather misses the fact that history is shaped by marginalia. Mind you, Lynne Brindley predicted the end of conventional printing by 2020 back in 2005.

Stuffing our faces (with information), redub on the cultural loss of 'freezing things in print' / roof dwellings from a bygone era (via Treehugger) / emu graphic design has a weblog / digital culture tracked at serial consign / Delayed Echoes, a weblog / a movie of Greeble City over at Digital Urban - demonstrating how quickly the building blocks of imaginary digital cities can be put together.

Beirut is an amazing cityscape. Images by Cristobal Palma / infuriating piece of retro-post-digital design / 300 images from 1800 sites (via see saw) / Bryan McKay's weblog / Unburying the Lead, tumbling with more words than one usually finds on this kind of site / Vaughn Shirley's weblog. See also Filthy Skies / Cut with flourish, a tumblelog.

Must we kill the street? at sit down man, you're a bloody tragedy, which also links to Au carrefour Ètrange, a mostly nsfw trawl through old imagery / photographs by Gaia Cambiaggi / Sy Willmer builds houseboats and other things / but does it float, a tumble log / Windows 7, is it worth it?

Marginalia and other crimes, a photographic survey of 'the destruction to the collections [of the Cambridge University Library' caused by some of its readers' / The Valve, a literary organ / William Mullingar Higgins's book The House Painter, or, Decorator's Companion ('Being a Complete Treatise on the Origin of Colour, the Laws of Harmonious Colouring, the Manufacture of Pigments, Oils, and Varnishes: and the Art of House Painting, Graining, and Marbling: To Which is Added, a History of the Art in All Ages') was published in 1841. The 'plates' which illustrate it are actually painted paper which is grained or marbled by an artist'.

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Monday, October 27, 2008
There has been a flurry of weblog interest in MINExpo ('the world's richest deposit of mining technology, services and products'), including this post at Telstar Logistics. Why? The internet serves us well as a repository for the unusual, the gee-whiz aspects of technology that would otherwise remain hidden away, available only to specialists. But now we are all esotericists and fetishists, as TL's post makes clear, unable to tear ourselves away from 'giant dump trucks, esoteric drilling machines, and industrial explosive'. There is no arcana any more, at least not online.

Attending unusual trade shows will become a new leisure activity, as perverse fascinations and hobbies spill out of the world wide web in search of a physical manifestation. Check out the Ultimate Trade Show Directory for some future vacation ideas, like the awkwardly-named FunExpo (funerals), the International Christian Retail Show, the Clinical Symposium on Advances in Skin and Wound Care, Event Expo, Northeast Ohio's premiere exhibition for party planners, and the very self-explanatory The Future of Wipes.

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This Old Toy, neatly packaged parcels of nostalgia / Accuracy and Aesthetics, whose mission 'is building consensus for the construction of semantic space as if it were a series of large scale public building projects.' What does this mean? The site has an interesting, almost sinister, love of diagrams and flowcharts / FormFiftyFive, a ffffound type thing with a more carefully curated approach. Via FFF, Thoughts from E17, the blog of the Build design studio. A blog is as an essential piece of designer kit as a clutch pencil in this modern world / Collected Visuals / I love typography, a weblog.

At Special Presentations at the Library of Congress, John Bull and Uncle Sam, Four Centuries of British American Relations / Peter Nencini, 'Making-looking-thinking of an illustrator-designer-lecturer' / is carefully thought out, beautifully designed, lovingly made, artfully presented and responsibly sold stuff still just _stuff_?

Photography by Ed Panar, via It's Nice That / Everything is Miscellaneous, an ominous-sounding website / The Way Things Go, the classic 1987 film by Fischli and Weiss (YouTube sample) / at first glimpse this is a spectacular mountain viewpoint, but ultimately it's genuinely hard to see what the point is / in the future, we will all have our own personal Biennales.

Cake Wrecks / buy shoes with Modista. Clever / the London Transport Museum photographic collection. Many, many gems, not just for those who get off on photos of vintage traffic (not such a bad thing), e.g. Tower Bridge under construction / How to See with John Ruskin / who would sure have approved of these websites and their avant-garde approach to Ikea's products: Ikea Hacker and Ikea furniture mods.

Rodcorp takes in an art fair: Frieze and Crash / need4speed, a website dedicated to images of speedometer needles reaching the end of their travel / quote from Dieter Zetsche of Mercedes Benz: "There are many studies that say it took 120 years to get to 800 million cars around the globe, and that it will take only another 30 years to double that volume." / Something about Sarah: 'pretty women foil men's ability to assess the future' / Fortress Finland, a nation's unusued bunkers.

We loved Tesugen, but that blog has now evolved into Tesugen Replaced, an experiment whereby past posts are revisited, reprofiled and re-posted, dead links fixed and ideas approached from a different angle. A piece of short-term digital archaeology, akin to flicking through old notebooks, searching for an overall theme to emerge.

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