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Monday, March 01, 2010
Is it really hip to be glum? Riffing on the insta-popularity of Unhappy Hipsters: 'US psychologists ... cropped pictures of models in ads so only their faces were visible, then asked people to rank them in order of mood. Overwhelmingly, models ­advertising pricier brands were judged to look glummer.' (pdf link: Facial Displays of Emotion in Folk vs. Elite Advertisements).


Antonio Contador's 6=0 consists of six copies of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence". "The records were bought on ebay and never removed from their original envelopes and they never will. Each of the records will travel: from my house to each exhibitions place, from each exhibition location to another, to each envelope another one is added. Upon arrival the date is annotated and a photograph of each envelope is taken to be shown on the next exhibition." Showing at the CMCA


The Most Popular Journal / iconism is not dead, including CCTV redux and OMA's design for a homage to Roger Hargreaves / The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers / The First Word: A Dictionary of New Architecture / Binky the Doormat / Muriel Auclert Real Estate, modern houses for sale in France / Artur, contemporary architecture tours in Budapest / Big Lorry Blog / Styledeficit, a tumblr / illustration by Wells Brown.


Thinking outside the bun: redesigning the hot dog ("If you were to take the best engineers in the world and asked them to design a perfect plug for a child's airway, you couldn't do better than a hot dog") / cruise back in time with the history of the Wienermobile / Inventory Updates, upscale, hyper-tasteful fashion blogging / yet another set of Penguin and Pelican book covers / Parr's ambivalent obsessions, Poynor on Parrworld: The Collection of Martin Parr. More images at we make money not art.


Lost Landscapes of Detroit (via) / Traffic control in Pyongyang / post-earthquake in Chile - follow Platforma Arquitectura for information / Who here recycles? / Random Brand finds music videos, but not for a while / Come on Sugar, Let me Know, the standfirst says it all: 'This week, Giles Turnbull reaches out to the masses on Chatroulette for advice on sexiness, with horrifying consequences.' / Arcadia demade, retro-engineering modern video games / A magical miniature day in the life of NYC / The Tom and Jerry Censorship Comparison Guide / what's it like around the Watts?

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Friday, January 22, 2010

A bit of everything today, with no obvious connections / short car-bound interviews at LlewTube / 'Ever wanted Joey Santiago or David Lovering to play on your song or album? The Everybody wants you' / London, Spite as Snow / dwbl.ldwb, a tumblr. Occasionally nsfw / photographs by Kirill Kuletski / The Wallpaper Tragedy / Flip Flop Flyin's iPhone drawings using Brushes.


Making Maps at Cosmopolitan Scum / Sir John Soane - The Furniture of Death, a reprint of a 1978 Architectural Review piece on Soane's fascination with all things funerary, but also his playful spirit that never descended into gothic mawkishness (a shame the article is broken up into separate pdfs, rather than just one) / cast objects at Heavy Metal Design.


Sign up for the Helsinki Design Lab 2010, hoping to recreate the spirit of the 1968 event / photography by Sven Hamann / From the Pocket, an experiment in 'iphoneography' / Nest of the Skeletons, a creepy little animation by Tessa Farmer and Sean Daniels (via Strange Attractor) / Nemesis Republic, a fine weblog / Daily Tonic pushes design porn / the best of the unbuilt, competition competition 2010 at Architizer.


Joe Queenan explores the weird world of movies on YouTube / Insert Clever Title, a tumblr, yet more proof that editing is now the most critical skillset on the internet / Chris Etchells' series on the decline of the pub / art by Maarten Vanden Eynde / Are2, pop culture is a many splendoured thing / 50 cars or 1 coach.


Free Love Records, a new enterprise set up to reissue the majesty that was World Domination Enterprises. Interview at The Quietus / drawings by Alison Moffett / on Japan's 80s boom: 'A 10,000 yen note folded as tightly as possible and dropped in [Tokyo] city centre was worth less than the land it covered.'


Simple Style, a weblog / Gunsights' biblical references concern US and UK forces, 'the markings [on Trijicon products] include "2COR4:6" and "JN8:12", relating to verses in the books of II Corinthians and John.' / Professor Olsen @ Large, a history of science, day by day / beautiful photography by Ana Himes.


Hannover Expo 2000, then and now, a flickr set. Especially this image of MVRDV's NL Pavilion, which is marinating nicely, with the original planted levels withered and dead and the surrounding trees growing fast (see below for before (l) and after (r)). Another image, and one from within at Vacant Plot (see also Facadomy).


Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The car park as a way of life, Herzog + de Meuron's bravura reinterpretation of the parking garage, a mutable space that uses the draw of automotive architecture as a catalyst for regeneration. An old strategy, one might think. 'The idea is to create a series of layers that extend the public realm up into the building, to attract events, parties and life into the structure. Both architects and developer see the structure as an experiment in a new kind of downtown transport architecture, a building as exciting to enter as to emerge from, blinking into the Miami sun. This may be optimistic, but it's a good story.'

And yet. Consider the South China Mall, home of the 'Teletubbies Edutaiment Centre' and the self-proclaimed 'First super-mega shopping theme park of China' is 'almost completely empty' (via me-fi). A sterile collision of Vegas-lite iconism, temples to euphoric consumption and theme hotels, a monument to the ambition of one man, entirely bereft of a logistically or strategically beneficial location. Near empty, with just a handful of tenants, it represents a piece of both artificial urbanism and artificial capitalism, where the maintenance employees simply re-do what they did the day before, happy to have a job and bosses who won't listen to suggestions for change, and where the store workers are bored out of their minds. The only future is as a slowly declining ruin, enlivened by the steady influx of adhocism and the abandonment of the ideology of the brand. It will be fascinating to watch.


Hilobrow and Significant Objects, two sites we really should pay more attention to / all about Room A in the National Gallery, which will surely not stay a 'secret' for long / studiotwentysix2, a weblog / a graphic cartography of Japan, strange, often nsfw.

kickcans and conkers, a blog with a crafts emphasis / little brown mushroom, a weblog with contributors including photographers Alec Soth (Sleeping by the Mississippi), Carrie Thompson and Charlie Ward / tmn's albums of 2009 / time capsules.

Warped at loud paper / liveevil, music and more / weblog name of the year, the Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week / a highly desirable Dieter Rams Poster to celebrate the current Design Museum Exhibition / the new Casa Morandi Museum / for reference, Google Image Ripper.

The Willis Fleming Historical Trust is a exemplerary illustration of how relatively esoteric historical information can be presented online. Search the collections, which include The Catalogue of Dispersed Objects. More about the Fleming Estate, which spanned Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Bond and Saab, via these Saab stories / Werner Herzog and Krautrock, at John Whitlock / many ways to make cookies / 25 times a second, a tumblr / The Fall, Richard Mosse's photographs of the 'wreckage of celebrated machines and technologies ... slowly being absorbed by the natural world.'

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009
As 3D flythroughs of the real world get more detailed, the hidden nooks and crannies of the city will eventually all be laid bare. There'll be no 'here be dragons' in the 21st century, as every buttress, alley, terrace, tower, parapet, oriel, spire (see View from the top of the Burj Dubai's spire) will be revealed. As a result, interior life will become richer, more involved, the open plan living ideal will be overtaken by a desire for rooms and corridors, mezzanines, steps, landings, closets, pantries, wardobes and attics. See also this question about the best 'Virtual Vacation Worlds', indicative perhaps of a desire for travel to places that truly can't be _seen_ by anyone else.


Such Hawks Such Hounds, 'Scenes From the American Hard Rock Underground', a documentary / Terrifying Tales for Christmas, put together by One Eye Grey. See the map of scary London / Ghost of Shopping Past / the world of the MakerBot, a preview / Google Goggles, uses camera images as the basis for a google image search / RIP Larry Sultan.

The Apathist, a fashion blog / the Obama Watch, a Jorg Gray 6500 Chronometer (via the Guardian) / J230 TJM, the victim of 'automotive involuntary euthanasia' / a frightening thought: imagine porn-a-like facial recognition technology. Simply upload the photograph of the person you want in porn, adjusting the sliders as necessary, and the facializer will scan through a large database of adult performers until it finds the best matches.


Twilight of the American Newspaper, a rambling ode to newspaper barons, San Francisco, and the slow death of the newspaper as a voice of a community: 'We no longer imagine the newspaper as a city or the city as a newspaper.' / the ABCs of branding at The Best Part / illlustrations by Camilla Engman / The Itty Bitty Hearing Trumpet, a weblog / the pandas are moshing, a carefully curated image tumblr / a collection, a tumblr.

Men Health gets caught cutting and pasting / Casual Optimist, a fine weblog with a literary focus. Includes our Pelican Project in its 10 Websites for Vintage Books, Covers and Inspiration / island for sale. See also private islands online / David Ruperti has a photography weblog / sketches by Tom Hovey.

Interactive Map: a decade of road deaths in the UK / Legos on Hoth / Slow Muse, a weblog / all about the Austin Ant, a true small 4x4 that wouldn't suit a world where small is no longer beautiful / Ir/rational is a game about being rational, whipping you into a philosphical frenzy within seconds of switching on the lights.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Redub LLC has thought about the relationship between print and online: Don't Make Me Scroll, the story of the battle between the widespread but unwieldy conventions of 'Faux-Print' and the 'Magablog'. The post culminates in a link to Redub's own experiment in online presentation, kick-started with an interactive version of GOOD's Transportation Issue 015 (conventional GOOD website here). '... since we didn't have the high resolution of print, we took advantage of the screen's native attributes, namely, animation. I'd even posit that what the screen lacks in dots per inch it more than makes up for in dots per inch per second.'

Meanwhile, over at McSweeney's, there is the SF Panorama: "We at McSweeney’s love newspapers. We love the internet, too. But we believe that print newspapers are an invaluable part of the journalistic landscape. So we’ve spent five months collaborating with dozens of reporters, designers, photographers, and authors on a 21st-century newspaper prototype." A 'huge and luxurious prototype', the Panorama is intended to exploit the medium of paper, extolling its virtues over the web. This one will run and run. However, we can envisage the American Newspaper Repository getting excited about the Panorama.


Bitsavers, a digital archive of fading digital things: 'very little software for minicomputers and mainframes has survived in machine-readable form from the mid-seventies and earlier. If you know of surviving software on 1/2" tape, paper tape, cards, DECtape, etc. from users groups or computer manufacturers, please contact us. Equipment is available to recover these bits, and in some cases can be brought on-site.'

'The Historic "Blue Book" Photograph Collection is a compilation of images considered for, or published in, the Official Manual of the State of Missouri' / Pink Tentacle publishes illustrations by Shusei Nagaoka / OK Go's rather excellent video for WTF? / for this weekend only, The Apartment Project, in Broadway Market, London.

Before and After, the legacy of fast urbanisation at Oobject (via kottke) / more futures past and present: London in 2010 (flickr set). See also the current (January 2010) issue of Blueprint, which looks at what's coming up in 2010 (there's also an interesting piece on the threatened 'Maslennikov kitchen-factory (1930-32) built in the shape of a hammer and sickle', once home to ZIM watches. Google Map.

Sinclair Spectrum development / Brickstructures, your source for Lego architecture / a selection of simple magic tricks / Ellen Lupton's weblog, design and curating / Private Circulation, a pdf magazine / Letterology, a weblog / Payroll, a weblog / Cheapskate Chic, a fashion blog / Strange Maps assembles some accidental geography / Bryce Digdug, a weblog / Bentley double-decker charity bus / Rotating Kitchen, via piran cafe.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Soon, there will be progress bars on everything, from traffic lights, cookers, lifts, underground stations, to queues and more. We will be incapable of accepting an amount of unspecified 'dead time' without some indicator of when that time will end and/or a way of passing it / Vintage French children's books at A Journey Round My Skull (via me-fi) / MTM, design movies aggregated / Text Patterns, a technology blog hosted at The New Atlantis.

Bad sex extracts. A worthy shortlist / Architect designs bungalow for 39-stone man, 'The doors are 1,100mm wide compared to a normal width of 900mm and [the contractor] had to check floor loads and the roof strength because of the need for the winches to have a 60-stone lifting capacity. The house is a lot more open-plan to minimise corridors and things like that. We've made it easier to move round the house and to get outside.'

Huis Marseille photography foundation is showing images from Edward Burtynsky's 'Oil' series / Dubai not too big to fail? A sharp reversal of earlier predictions of endless growth, plus limitless bail-outs from neighbours. Watch Kazakhstan for the next big thing / vaguely related, Natashism has created a book, unsettling changes in London's Architecture 2004-2009, a personal survey of the capital's altered, threatened or simply vanished buildings in a period of exceptional change.

Private Circulation, 'a monthly PDF bulletin. Previous issues have featured proposals, unrealized art projects, brief histories, photo collections, large posters, and essays.' There's also a weblog / The Future of Self-Knowledge, a weblog / The Considered Ensemble, a fashion weblog / beautiful sets of Mid-century Children's Books at Wardomatic / great animation of the fall of Empires at kottke.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
On momentum. A hard thing to sustain. At times this site seems to gather itself up and float out onto the internet on invisible wings. At other times, it's all too ready to gather dust and let everything pass it by. So apologies for not keeping everything up to date.

The internet's burgeoning museology has little in common with the museums of real life beyond metaphor. Whereas a collection - whether historic or simply - can gain aura through the accumulation of cobwebs and neglect, the website that simply dies becomes a dull thing of stasis almost instantly: there's little joy in stalking a series of abandoned virtual corridors. This is a very roundabout of way of apologising for the relative lack of new content here in recent days.


Or something, a weblog. Absurdly in-depth musings on PC gaming culture. See also MPs row over Modern Warfare game / Cornebuse et cie, a comic from 1945 / Bear Alley, a blog with a focus on 'old British comics, books and magazines' / Unlikely Words, a weblog.

NHTSA study indicates hybrids have higher pedestrian crash rates, which will no doubt be seized upon by the hybrid sceptics / the Berlin Wall Then and Now (via tmn) / Pink Box: Inside Japan's Sex Clubs, a new book (clearly nsfw).

Photography by Tom Baker (not that one), including visual essays on Los Angeles without traffic and the LA Guardian Angels / The Donut Project chronicles stuff / Dove&Snake, a weblog with a print edition / JennyDraws, an illustrator's website / this, that, and also, etc., a weblog featuring 'art, vintage illustration, glamour, technology, pop, punk, psychedelia, cats, the idea of squirrels, etc...'.

Bombardier train future competition, now open / This'll Be On My Videotape, a tumblr / Amusement Magazine: 'The time has come for a landmark video game magazine. Transversal, curious, thoughtful : AMUSEMENT redefines the video game magazine with style and precision.' An Intersection of the console, if you like (French blog here) / Vintageous, vintage fashion resource. See also Fashion-Era / Where is the most bountiful font of 'hipster cribs' stories?

Slightly disbelieving review of Stephen Bayley's Woman as Design, a new monograph that is the reviewer's fish in barrel of choice, this month / photography by Andre Wagner / Taqwacore: the birth of punk Islam / Gorey back in print / Phlog, an evocative photolog.

Fifty 3D milestones in gaming / Top 10: List by Jon, a weblog / A drawing diary, a weblog / Filmwasters, who needs digital? / Crust Station, another inspiration blog / Between Treacherous Objects and Evidence of Everything Exploding, two net art projects by Jason Nelson.

The Mobile Office, by The Practice of Everyday Design, 'constructed from discarded materials within a one block radius from the site... the only purchased items were the hardware used to hold it together.' / Photopia and Architexture, a weblog / the Hu Huishan Earthquake Memorial, one life magnified as a reminder of a tragedy / Saatchi Online.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Home Movie Reconstructions 1974 / 2004, a project by Elliot Malkin / photography by Youngsuk Suh / skate photography at they call me osde / My Playground, a new firm about Parkour and Freerunning / Wild Particle, a weblog / 50 3D milestones in gaming / A Common Nomenclature for Lego Families. Superb evocation of domestic taxonomies / also at tmn, The Babysitter / m. gerwing architects notebook, a weblog.

Gimme Shiny pumps in 'popular images from Flickr and deviantART' (blog) / see also Dear Computer's image ripper / a demonstration of Sketchpad by Ivan Sutherland (via quiero tiempo y dinero / Jeff still likes buildings / the artblog / the tim brown, a weblog.

The acme of brand architecture, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. The architectural precedent here appears to be the big top / the Last Days of Gourmet. See also empty offices / cardboard office at CR Blog / offices and interiors photographed by Mep'Yuk / Merrell's new website is pretty much an archetypal representation of the modern blog template - big type, largish images, patterned background.

Art by Molly Crabapple, which is as bawdy as her name suggests / Platial News and Neogeography / spacesick, retro video games / an ambitious project collapsing, a weblog / Tisbuts, a weblog by photographer Robin Mellor.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009
A beautiful little animation exploring the world of scale / a timeline for Primer, the low-budget time travel film / Cloudy Weather, English Russia drags up some urban exploring images of Moscow's emerging new skyscraper cluster / A Million Years of Isolation: An Interview with Abraham Van Luik, BLDG BLOG on the challenges of architecture and design that will endure for all eternity. It beats archival cockroaches.

Leonardo Finotti's architectural photography blog celebrates its one year anniversary / Bank Notes, 'a collection of bank robbery notes' (via) / 2001: A Spiritualized Odyssey, a project by The Almighty Sound. Please dig out the torrent and speed things along a bit, because it is currently s.l.o.w.


Friday, October 23, 2009

It's been a while since we visited the Guidebook, 'a website dedicated to preserving and showcasing Graphical User Interfaces, as well as various materials related to them.' Almost obsessive compulsive in its comprehensiveness / Creative Voyage, a weblog / descend deep into the uncanny valley with the 'Plush Alive Elvis and Plush Alive Chimpanzee / Bad at Sports picks up on our recent death of the object post from last week / Jimmy Wales asks 'is the the magazine dead?

Untiny, get original URLs from tiny ones / atmospheric photography by Megan Baker / very honoured to be nominated as one of the top 25 UK arts and culture blogs by Creative Tourist / Little London, tilt shift photos of London by Toby Allen (via Stuff) / Making a Mark, a weblog / Plazm blog and Plazm Magazine / Endless Day, via Set up like a deck of cards, a tumblr.

Beer and Loathing, Conor Dillon on the Frankfurt Book Fair: 'The Frankfurt Book Fair is a bibliophile’s reverie. There are more than 400,000 books. The stalls overflow with literary fiction, coming-of-age, bildungsroman, children’s books, young adult, romance, chick-lit, mystery, fantasy, crime, science fiction. There are mash-ups of genres, and mash-ups of the mash-ups.' The sheer overwhelming scale of Frankfurt is an unwelcome insight into publishing as industrial process. Related, an angry thread on about general incompetence at the top of the UK book trade.

'Happy Farms' Game Destroys Chinese Jobs, Relationships: 'I like Happy Farms. I enjoy cultivating, irrigating, spraying, and harvesting. My high-pressure work, and cold tall buildings makes me feel like I cannot breathe. I have to turn to virtual nature, have my own house and farm. I wish I could have a real house and farm, but it seems so far away.' (via haddock). Hard to find a site for the game itself, apart from a deluge of posts about 'stealing crops and ruining relationships'

A new film Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman looks at the work of the late architectural photographer. However, this LA Times piece, entitled What the new Julius Shulman documentary leaves out, makes the unfashionable point that Shulman's work 'helped promote the idea that the finest architecture of the period was a vessel for personal rather than collective ambition and had little if anything to do with the messiness of cities or urban planning.' It's reiterated in the piece by Kazys Varnelis, who notes 'that modernism in Southern Californa became more and more "associated with the idea of lifestyle." The idea is dropped, though, before it gains a foothold in the movie's crowded visual landscape.' See also the film Coast Modern (blog).

A Million Keys, a music focused weblog / The H Line, a weblog / Square Door, a tumblr / Design for Mankind, a weblog / Safety in the use of Compressed Gas Cylinders (with special reference to oxy-acetylene processes) / Estupipedia, a weblog,

London RIP, 'you liked it... it's gone', angry capital nostalgia / Cartolleria, a tumblr / The Samba, VW fan site / Say no to Grampa Joe, the capitalist subtext of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (via me-fi). See also Breaking Free, the anarcho-socialist samizdat Tintin comic published in the 70s.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A few quick things today. Concrete Toronto versus Celluloid Toronto / Berners-Lee 'sorry' for slashes / future city, London from now until 2031 in The London Plan, a relatively dry document that (probably sensibly) doesn't stick its neck out with any grand designs or visions / related, a hexagonal map of London. See also city of signs.

'In this latest video Bioware talk about the making of the city-planet of Coruscant in The Old Republic'. At RPS / Teemu Manninen asks What's so great about paper? at Books from Finland / cosecosi, a tumblr / LTWP, a blog by Lukas / swift notes on James Wines' recent lecture at the Barbican, An Economy of Means.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Cryonics, what's it all about? Dubious practices, if this recent story is to be believed: Former Alcor Employee Makes Harsh Allegations Against Cryonics Foundation (via me-fi). From the piece: 'When a body is brought into Alcor's facility, the patient's blood is pumped out and replaced with a chemical concoction to minimize freezing damage. In many cases, the head is separated from the body with the member's prior consent. Johnson said he began to grow uneasy about his new employer once he saw what went on in Alcor's operating room, where he witnessed three suspensions. "It was barbaric ... the third suspension that I witnessed, they actually used a hammer and a chisel," he said. "I actually witnessed them remove her head with a chisel and a hammer."'

Such strangeness is to be expected. A few years ago we had the pleasure of visiting Alcor, where we found a friendly workplace utterly devoted to what they were doing but also, how to put this, somewhat deluded about how they were going about it. This must have been about the same time the disillusioned employee was able to witness chiselling operations at first hand. When we were there, nothing was happening at all, save for a bit of clearing up. The big metal tanks hummed away to themselves, filled with dismembered sports personalities and immortality enthusiasts.

For the staff, their major problem in life was the inevitability and finality of death, an injustice that had to be conquered. Staff member Dr Mike Perry had written a hefty book, Forever for All (which we still have, somewhere), considering 'the problems of death and the hereafter and how these ages-old problems ought to be addressed in light of our continuing progress.... The immortalization of humans and other life-forms is seen as a great moral project and labor of love that will unite us in a common cause and provide a meaningful destiny.' It's a goal that is eccentric at least, a trait shared by many of the staff (some of whom wear their futurism proudly, like Regina M. Pancake, Alcor's 'Readiness Coordinator', former 'Nuclear Pharmacy Technician' and sci-fi prop handler).

The scope of ambition is illustrated by the Timeship concept, 'the "Fort Knox" of biological materials. DNA, tissue samples and cryopreserved patients will be housed in Timeship, and their safety and security against all threats, both natural and human-made, will have to be maintained for hundreds of years.' Designed by Stephen Valentine, this piece of epic Neo-Classicism is architecture for the long game (see the recent Design Observer link as well), its location secret, defended against intruders, bulky enough to withstand rain, disaster and the threat of ruin.

While the actual science of cryonics remains elusive beyond the relatively simple act of freezing something - resuscitation is still an entirely speculative process - the culture of cryonics is underpinned by the desire for immortality and the fear of death. The American Cryonics Society stresses there is no political or social undercurrent to their activities ('The American Cryonics Society is not a "utopian" organization.... We are a cryonics society: PERIOD. Our program is simple: freeze-wait-reanimate.). Indeed, a large amount of the debate surrounding cryonics is fiscal, looking at ways to sustain large, power-consuming organisations that require total financial and physical stability for a totally unknown amount of time. Nonetheless, the sense of impending apocalypse hangs over the entire movement, the conflation of disaster, survivalism, futurism and utopianism that has grown out of pop science, the same alternate reality that sustains other pseudo-scientific ventures, all of which are sadly gaining traction in our distracted world.

But we're repeating ourselves - Alcor is a thing of eternal fascination, as they (presumably) intended. There's more information in these earlier posts from December 10, 2003 and August 15, 2008.


Other, more transient, things. Photographs taken within a theme park at the Heterotopia. The location is Blackgang Chine, allegedly the oldest theme park in the UK, perched on the crumbling chalk cliffs on the south coast of the Isle of Wight / Data Liberation, striving to make it easy to extract everything you own from Google at your own convenience, not theirs / Meanwhile in Stoke, what would Cedric do?

His Old Haunts, an interview with writer (and one-time things contributor) Tobias Seamon / Mouette7, a tumblr / the Bloomframe is a neat piece of design, a window that doubles up as a balcony. Formerly just a concept, the design, by Hofman Dujardin Architects, has now entered production / One year after Hurricaine Ike.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Millennium People has posted a long response to our earlier post about data cities and the future, 'Data City + Jules Verne, with a postscript on the rediscovered Verne novel 'Paris in the Twentieth Century' (see also 'In the Year 2889' by Verne and his son Michel Verne, published in the late 1880s).

Sacred facts, a weblog / Bakgard, a weblog with a design and architecture focus / read and listen to Kerri's Diary (via Rumblings, a tumblr), a project by Kerri Sohn / David Archer on David Hockney's iPhone drawings, which seem to be finding their niche in Second Life, a 'place' that we had largely forgotten about. Even Second Life Cartography has a faded, archaic feel.

Well linked, but deservedly so: My Parents Were Awesome / more on Michael Heizer's City / MetroShip, a modern houseboat, splicing the fab pre-fab aesthetic with the Bouroullecs' Maison Flottante / Uppercase Journal, looks interesting / Strange Undisciplined Dreams of Great Things is rather steam-punky, but has musings on retro-futurism, slow technology, etc.

Life on Mars #duststorm, City of Sound on Sydney's freak dust storm last month / cosmopolitan scum, architecture and more / fun children's furniture / Joie de Vivre, a piece of deco-era animation (1934) at the Animation Archive (via Buck Macabre). The AA has a great post on Tibor Gergely's early children's books, including the fabulous '"Watch Me" said the Jeep', surely a US companion to Blossom the Brave Balloon. More on Joie de Vivre here.

The work of David Blamey / the work of Sam Messenger / Still-unsurpassed box store architecture: SITE at Ouno Design (via Pop Vernacular) / The Silver Lining, a visual weblog / The Age of the Marvellous, a new exhibition at All Visual Arts, 'inspired by the Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosities, popular in the late Renaissance through the Baroque period.... the sum of all of man's knowledge could be represented in rooms filled with natural wonders, artificial exotica and relics or art works concerned with the supernatural.'

Apothecary's Drawer on the truth behind fossil squid ink / For Sale/TVs From Craigslist, a project by Penelope Umbrico (via anArchitecture) / also via aA, Dagmar Schmidt's Plattenbau sculpture / related, Social Housing after the Soviets, 'a comparative study of the oppurtunities and the urgencies of public and private use of the Microrayon, the large-scale social housing projects developed throughout the entire former Soviet Union.'

Adam Curtis is compiling an epic 'history of the West's relationship to Afghanistan over the past 200 years', Kabul: City Number One (continued), featuring his usual collage of timeline, fact, events and key players.

House of Travel, travelling, via Architecture in Berlin, a weblog / architectural arteries, Anti-Mega on making maps with CloudMade. See also the Typography Map by James Bridle at Short Term Memory Loss (reminiscent of NB Studio's London's Kerning). Bridle also blogs at, a site exploring the evolution of the book into handheld devices.

A collection of graffiti in Tenerife / Pieces of Me, Pink Iguana's musings on objects and memory / a long, lyrical look at the early days of the American auto industry (via kottke) / a collection of local spooky legends / Historic Pages, Phil Barber's historic newspaper collecting page / Sarah France's weblog / Together in Disharmony, a tumblr.

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Some art and illustration. Fine prints at St Jude's Gallery (which runs the fine blog All Things Considered) / The Curwen Gallery also has a blog / The Rowley Gallery doesn't / nor does the Travelling Art Gallery / flickr cutaways pool, via haddock (image at bottom of page, 'Step Up To A 'Step Down' Hudson').

'Sited upon small volcanic cone in the high desert midway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, this 60-acre retreat seems to cap the mountain top with its dome-like roof' / the connection between Saarinen and Star Trek / Internet Archaeology, via haddock / Douglas Coupland's Vancouver [Second] Home / We Were Modern, 'archaeological/anthropological writing on the remains of the modern' / The Northern Light, a weblog by Sean Dodson.

It's Full of Stars, an astronomy tumblr / the wikipedia entry on the film Primer is almost as hard to follow as the film itself: 'He has also replaced it with a duplicate failsafe that he brought with him. Thus, when Abe uses what he thinks is the failsafe, he is in fact using this duplicate, and therefore can't undo what Aaron has done using the real failsafe.'

Eating Bark, 'landscape, architecture, urbanism' and football / Enter 99 / Slawkenbergius, a weblog / Ephemeralism / the Radical Activism Visual Archive / Design Probes, future product speculation / The Hive Design, inspiration and links / Monster Brains, 'a never ending celebration of monsters'.

Museum of the Phantom City, 'uses personal digital devices to transform the city into a living museum', a concept that ties in slightly with our last post 'lamenting the loss of the unknown landscape' and the physical object, and our hunger for simulacra of ephemeral cast-offs. Only here the cast-offs are the 'phantom' projects that never made it out of their software packages, a museology of speculation. It's also an iPhone app.

Matthew Houlding makes architectural models of imaginary places, which use the visual language of Sixties modernism (Archigram again) and the verbal language of the speculative developer and time share salesman ('Secluded Tented Camp in the Western Corridor', 'The Best Bit is the Black Cement Pool on the Beach Which is The Perfect Spot to Watch the Sun Set', 'Exclusive Waterfront Development Opportunity' ).

Ten artists working with folded paper / This is the Green Room, a weblog with an economic focus / MagCloud, a site that reignites the world of zines through digital printing and distribution. Featured magazines include Fray, the 'quarterly of true stories' / Christmas is coming: the Throbbing Gristle Palm-Sized Loop Playback Machine /

David Harvey, cultural critic, and his website / Ai Weiwei hospitalised / work by Rafael Rozendal (and blog) / Five Dials is a literary magazine published by Hamish Hamilton / The Intrepid Art Collector, 'adventures in the art market' / RIP Monica Pidgeon, creator of the Pigeon Digital architecture interview archive (currently free as a tribute) / A book of blogs, in which magCulture rather takes the concept to task.

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Apologies for a few weeks of downtime. This piece is getting some linkage, 'The City is a Battlesuit for Surviving the Future', on the legacy of Archigram, the media image of architectural innovation and the ongoing evaporation of urban interaction into non-physical form - a form that paradoxically is enhancing how we interact with physical spaces and one another. The one issue that is integral but always somehow unspoken with these treatises is contemporary information density, the ongoing aestheticisation of data that was very much a characteristic of Archigram's work and has steadily increased in day to day life.

The modern city is the data city. Architectural renderings and monographs present case studies in the context of information, with statistics and graphs supplementing the traditional projected view. The utopia of tomorrow will be saturated with information, and it is how we navigate this space that is the focus of so much contemporary speculation on technology and the city.

However, the idea of the 'information city' has created a very fine line between utopia and dystopia. So many of the qualities beloved by bloggers (this magazine included), designers, architects, designers and commentators seem to exist in a fluid state between good and bad. For example, how to reconcile the idea that 2000AD's Mega-City 1 is one of the great inspirational sci-fi cities with the 'reality' of the comic's metropolis as a crime-ridden, fear-saturated, consumption-crazed urban nightmare?

One suggestion is that we are mistaking complexity for cultural engagement. Just as the dense jumble of links and images that characterises the contemporary website gives an impression of a rich cultural experience, it also recalls imagery of the chaotic, layered city. One example is the ongoing fascination with ruins of the recent past, a means of instantly conveying historic context and patina, a seductive visual shorthand for two hundred years of industrial and economic data.

The web is not a city. Data space is not a place. But the analogies are persistent. By committing our memory to Google or the 'cloud' we have inadvertently created a great hunger for the intangible and ephemeral, the scraps and minutae of everyday life that get sucked into the circuitry and instantly forgotten. Already we are lamenting the loss of the unknown landscape as a result of global satellite imagery, gps and mapping. Physical space and the raw quality of still air immobilised by a structure cannot by duplicated or imitated. The 'infrastructural city' is not the labyrinth of chance encounters so celebrated by the Situationists. Our interactions are manufactured and governed.

Yet imitation remains our focus. The way virtual interfaces mimic physical spaces - desktops, pinboards, tables and surfaces you can post, pin, pinch and scatter content across - acknowledges our hunger for the tangible. 'The City is a Battlesuit for Surviving the Future' acknowledges architecture's debt to fictional cityscapes and how the most ambitious masterplans aim at creating spaces where 'the infrastructures are layered, ad-hoc, adaptive and personal - people there really are walking architecture, as Archigram said.'

Visualisation is at the heart of these new utopias. Once, the imaginary city was merely shaped and re-shaped in the corners of our mind - the rolling roofs of Peake's Gormenghast would have been impossible to create except in the imagination ('Blackstone Quarter, Stone Dogshead, Angel's Buttress, the Coupée (described as 'the high knife edge'); the North Headstones 'beyond Gory and the Silver Mines'; and the Twin Fingers, 'where Little Sark begins and the Bluff narrows'.) Today, we expect constant visual challenge, not the mental gymnastics of linking spaces and names and building cities from text on the page.

How do we reconcile the real city, with its messy unpredictability, with the visionary dreams of the utopians, where everything is connected and complete interaction is taken for granted? The internet does its best to connect the two, but it feels as though the scraps of reality, once processed, scanned and catalogued, lose the very qualities that endear them in the first place. Example: the literal billions of images on flickr are a snapshot of people, places and things defined by a finite number of tags, not the myriad, impossible to reproduce connections that denote reality.

Perhaps this gap will close, and visual search systems, tags and metadata will evolve to supersede the connections we make instinctively. But ultimately the city is not about searching, but about memory, and how cultural collages trigger, accentuate and erase our rememberance of the past and our perception of the future. The data city of the future will be unnavigable without technology, granted, but as a species we seem to be crying out for help remembering, unable to find things with the arsenal of digital tools and reliant, instead, on other people's recollections. This is why, we'd suggest, that the idea of archives, museums, drawers, corridors, boxes, cellars, warehouses and vaults, modern ruins and scanned ephemera, still hold such fascination, without ever really satisfying our innate desire for things.


As if to confirm the above, a collection of 'other things'. The security implications of hypergraphics / Fernando Feijoo, illustrator / @random, a tumblr / All Things Considered, a weblog / James Wines of SITE on the art of architectural drawing / a couple of flickr groups focusing on architectural drawing: I and II.

Crash test, old versus new: '2009 Chevy Malibu versus 1959 Chevy Bel Air at Autoblog. See also old family car versus new car / retro design seems to be emerging as one of the core qualities of electric cars: Honda's EV-N is a good case in point / we're taking another run at Hunch, which has quietly been pushing out consumer advice for the past year or so.

Archive and Conquer brings together some interesting topics, including the most over-photographed parts of Detroit (think ruins, although the 100 houses in that last link offer a spread of architectural variety and intrigue sadly lacking in almost any contemporary housing development) and a link to a set of famous vandalized paintings, a collection by Lance Wakeling. See also Ice House Detroit, a literal freezing of one such ruin as a comment about the glacial economy and the domestic wastelands that have been generated as a result.

The work of Gerrit van Bakel, collected over at The Silver Lining / see also the world of KidZania, a chain of small scale townscapes aimed at children. Found via this Guardian piece: 'Its buildings, vehicles and other features are scaled down to two-thirds real size to accommodate its young inhabitants, who have more than 50 jobs to choose from during a typical five- or six-hour shift, with each job lasting about 30 minutes.'

A pictorial history of Grey Gardens, the house made famous by the 1975 documentary (and a recent film) and the subject of a fan sites and other online reliquaries. The house, now owned by Ben Bradlee, can be found here, amongst a generous scattering of beachside mansions.

Things of Interest. We've watched the 'things' brand be chipped away in recent years, most notably by the Mac application Things, which swept in and stole our Google search thunder (quite justifiably) / guest editors: Paul Petrunia of Archinect, Jeff Carvalho of Selectism and Josh Rubin of Cool Hunting / Google Crop Circles, a hoary old publicity trick / programme for the Rotterdam Architecture Biennale.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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.


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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Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Things has been lying rather dormant for the past few weeks - our apologies. Pet Sounds Acapella / step back to the 70s at My Beat Club / see also Galactic Ramble, 'the fullest ever study of the 60s and 70s UK music scene' / a review of Greg Milner's Perfecting Sound Forever: The Story of Recorded Music.

The World Trade Center: A building project like no other. Related, Shifting Shorelines #2: NY, at Millennium People: 'For 4 years the Twins fronted the Hudson directly, until the backfilling was complete' / The Functionality, small scale but intriguing architectural works / all about the The Independent Group, a labour of love for a deserving cause.

'The mouse universe', an experiment by John B.Calhoun. 'The conclusions drawn from this experiment were that when all available space is taken and all social roles filled, competition and the stresses experienced by the individuals will result in a total breakdown in complex social behaviors, ultimately resulting in the demise of the population.' / The Wonder of Whiffling 'and other extraordinary words in the English Language.

'The following scene shows how the high-grade titanium wedding ring saves Bud's life' / Stranded II, via ask me-fi / The Entropy Tango / previously bookmarked before but worth revisiting, Airminded, 'air power and British Society 1908-1941 (mostly) / collecting airline passenger certificates (found via dark roasted blend.

What's for School Lunch?, a weblog / B of the Bang, launched, dismantled / an art-centric weblog by James Wagner / a pedal-powered monorail / HearWhere, 'find live music anywhere'.