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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 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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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Photography by Andras Gefeller, including the Supervisions project, which feature carefully stitched together birds-eye views of every day scenes, each composed of hundreds of individual images / oh we like this: design books, a collection / the collections of Vladimir Arkhipov. See also Arkhipov wrote Home Made, a gazetteer of improbably but essential (to their makers) anti-consumer objects, created for a highly specific purpose. His "Museum of the Handmade Object" project is very low key, much like these objects, which could sit unnoticed on a shelf or in a cupboard, untroubled by taxonomers or anthropologists / For Once, We Welcome Your Bulldozers, Russian conservationists finally agree with developers / old cars never die, they just go to China.

New things that look like old things. Announcing UPPERCASE magazine, which has that 60s art directed vibe, at least on the cover. In the other corner, Icon tears a strip off the new Routemasters, or at least the design competition to find a worthy successor to the original bus. But alas, all is not well, and 'the designs are rife with cuddly, friendly, smiley anthropomorphism'. This is partly due to the way the Routemaster has been drilled into the public consciousness as both a design 'icon' and an example of British engineering skills at their best. Any attempt to recreate them is dabbling in nostalgia, a dangerous commodity that resists being controlled. Good piece: 'Foster's entry looks like a bone to gratify the polo-necks.'

Some more about nostalgia (and long titles are back): Attending the NME Awards With Pete Doherty and a Whole Bunch of Actual Musicians, Feeling Nostalgic, a new Letter from London.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Paho Mann's Junk Drawers and Medicine Cabinets series are beautifully executed, the kind of thing we couldn't possibly pass up (via kottke). But each little composition of objects reminded us not just of Joseph Cornell, Kurt Schwitters and even Damien Hirst, but also the plethora of similar projects that abound on flickr. As we're fond of often saying, we are all curators now that the internet has given us keys to an infinite cabinet. Nowhere is this more evident than in the plethora of flickr pages that serve as personal monuments to acquisition.

Some examples: a junk drawer project, kitchen drawers, inside your drawers, my desk drawer, etc. Many of these seem to be inspired by the What's in your Bag? group (and its nemesis, What's REALLY in your bag?), as well as What's in your purse?, handbag contents, in my purse and object collections. Unsurprisingly, there are even groups devoted to bathroom cabinets and genuine wunderkammer.


Other things. Six Martinis and the Seventh Art, a fabulous film stills weblog. E.g. this image from House of Bamboo / illustrations by Joao Fazenda / strange form of life, a weblog / junk drawers (via the moment) / letters from Salisbury at English Buildings: 1, 2, 3 / peta press, craft and more / all but the dissertation, a weblog / Russell Davies on patina, something the shiny digital world sometimes encourages us to forget, unless it's a deliberate ploy. Flickr's patina group.

Shut(er)eyes, a visual blog focusing on the unseen in the everyday / A cup of Jo, a weblog, which links to Nina Katchadourian's Sorted Books project / my happy things / the glossiest fashionesque images on flickr at flickrista / Save our Saarinen! The American Embassy in London under threat. Pearman on the inevitable philistinism that's about to go down in Grosvenor Square / gone to croatoan, a weblog.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Book covers are a burgeoning cult online, in flickr groups (books with nice covers, Old-Timey Paperback book covers, repetitive graphic paperback book covers, etc., etc.) and dedicated websites. The obvious is perhaps not being said often enough: these are just covers, a scan of a piece of thick paper that usually says nothing about what the book contains. If the internet persisted and all printed matter eventually decayed, these colourful little mementoes would create a complex jigsaw for any future anthropologist eager to discover why some things were more important than others.

Simplistic Art. The post on the art of Madelon Vriesendorp doesn't mention that her post-coital skyscraper painting, 'Flagrant Delit, graced the cover of her then-husband Rem Koolhaas's first (major) book, Delirious New York. In fact, as the linked ArtReview article, 'Misconceptual art: The World of Madelon Vriesendorp', makes clear, she was a co-founder of OMA and sales of her paintings kept the practice afloat in its early years (a studio that now sits astride the globe, expertly attuning its output to the myriad market conditions and cultural expectations, from the 'dramatically sombre' northern European market (thanks, Dan) to the harsh shadows and ultra-light structure of renders aimed at the Middle East). Ultimately, the artist eschewed painting in favour of assemblage, bringing together landscapes of pop cultural artefacts - souvenirs, mementoes, and trinkets. As James Westcott notes in his piece, 'Vriesendorp has said that she's only interested in failed objects, and that in her global city she feels like a tourist who has been given the wrong directions, misheard them and ended up in the right place anyway'.

We don't hear much about 'failed objects' these days, especially in the rabidly circular online culture of aesthetic appreciation, where objects are there to stimulate and enthrall, but little else. The idea of an online representation of any 'thing' being said to fail is almost an oxymoron - by the very act of being photographed/scanned/digitised and uploaded, anything that is represented online has successfully ensured its survival. In the Darwinian struggle for cultural memory, it is only those poor, neglected and reviled objects that never have their own flickr set, eBay watchlist, ardent newsgroup or me-fi post that can truly be said to have failed. Pity the future anthropologist, for they will be entirely in the dark about this subculture of the unknown.

Ironically, simply by collecting and cataloging her own definition of 'failure', Vriesendorp is helping this barrage of kitsch to keep itself skimming along the surface along with all the other cultural flotsam. Currently on show at the Architectural Association, it seems like this exhibition is one of those pivotal events that tie up loose ends and associations, bringing lesser known connections into the mainstream and forging new connections with the strata of international cultural society that seem to know everyone and everything. The catalogue includes Beatriz Colomina, Douglas Coupland, Zaha Hadid, Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Rem Koolhaas.


Other things. World's Best Urban Spaces, initiated by City of Sound and Russell Davies / the rather confusing Web Trend Map 2008, hampered by those infuriating snap preview pop-ups / the odious, ironic parallels are ladled on but ultimately left unsaid in this Harper's piece on GWB's favourite painting, "Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught." (via tmn).

We have a new career: roller coaster advisor / The Afterlife of Cellphones / car parks, a flickr set, and the Parking Garage and Car Parks pools / despite the existence of this, we'd never noticed this, a small example of ongoing consistency in the Pelican design language / Experiment 33, slathering over design and visual culture from decades gone by.

Graphicology, a design weblog / a weblog by Mark Boulton / 2 and fro, a photojournal of a daily commute / go on, produce a 'Ballardian home movie' and submit it to We'd have thought that most of YouTube had some kind of Ballardian dimension / Apophenia, visual things / Eightface, visual things / ID please, a flickr group / not sure how we feel about this.

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