Mapping the immediate past

Cryptoforestry, on feral, in limbo, incognito, precognitive and just all-round unappreciated forests. Guerilla gardens for lumberjacks / The Penguin Blog joins Phaidon’s Agenda as publishers shift to the weblog format as a means of presenting their wares. Books – and eBooks/iBooks – are effectively becoming little parcels of information, just like a blog post. Only the incentive isn’t to click on the links, it’s to buy/download the book in question. ‘Click here to read more’ is the modern enticement to consume culture / great flash experiments by Paul Neave, including the impressively simple Flash Earth.


Notes to a further excuse…, contemporary crafts /, a means of turning your ham-fisted, unreadable scrawl into a computer font. Nice idea, a bridge between digital and analogue but also instantly archaic (using a webcam to convert letters into a font that is, paradoxically, unreadable to machines) / explore Ralph Lauren’s garage. Obsessive compulsive in the extreme. See also the Japanese publication Garage Life and blog Dream in Garage. The American Garage Journal is also a haven for tool and workbench obsessives. They have a Garage Gallery.


Yesterday’s Bright Future: Contemporary Concrete – A Failed Utopia. Is this a book, or just a cover? Hard to say. Compound Eye has a host of interesting flickr sets, with lots of architecture, urban exploration, etc. A striking image, but the book itself doesn’t seem to exist, which is a shame given the nature of the argument it presents in one picture and eight words / Poisonous abandoned factory in Poland, at the excellent The Spectral Dimension, which also has a great post on ‘BBC Scotland’s occult 1979 adult thriller The Omega Factor, ‘a forerunner to the X Files, Medium, Supernatural and Sea Of Souls, with elements of The Prisoner’.


Metafilter recently hit its 100,000th post with this sprawling precis, summary and round-up of the back-story behind cult(ish) animation ‘Battle of the Planets’ (click through for many, many links). Just recently, though, we’ve noticed the link-rich, information drenched and thoroughly encyclopaedic posts by Rhaomi, each of which is a perfectly pitched little package / art by Jeremy Deller / the Europeana portal brings together the EU’s digitised cultural collections. We can’t help thinking that something less unwieldy and more accessible – something along the lines of The Library of Congress’ photostream – would be better.


Our God is Speed on the aesthetically-driven “death of Modernism”, and the upcoming film The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: An Urban History (Archidose and Archinect coverage, found via me-fi projects; the associated questions are interesting too, ‘Steer me to your nearest “bad neighborhood”…‘) / related, Street-level crime maps launched online. Go to, enter your postcode, ‘click and frown‘. Data is a funny thing. Government data even more so. From Metafilter: ‘Of course, like every government IT project in the history of the ever, it fell over as soon as it was launched. It looks like it’s managed this despite being ‘in the cloud’ by being typically Web2.OMG’. It’s hard to see exactly how this will be helpful, except to scare house buyers / not really related at all: London’s Blue Plaques.


A life online: Ben Hammersley reviews a selection of new tomes about the net, including John Brockman’s book ‘Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?‘ (question mark all present and correct, as per his other titles) / more futurism: Future London, a project ‘exploring some of the vantage points from where the Shard might be photographed in 2012 when it is completed’. Slightly presumptuous – and thunder-stealing – as if we are now a culture that can’t wait and has to have things revealed in advance in order to accept them. We would link an image but the watermarks are prominent and allegedly must be retained.


Freedom Journal: how to live life in a van / [london] smog, art in the capital / the interactive Nolli Map of 1748. Giambattista Nolli ‘a significant improvement in accuracy, even noting the asymmetry of the Spanish Steps. The map was used in government planning for the city of Rome until the 1970s;[2]it was used as a base map for all Roman mapping and planning up to that date.’ / The Pictorial Webster’s, ‘an artistic visual reference of what was important to 19th Century America.The 400 plus page volume is printed with the original wood engravings and copper electrotypes of the Merriam-Webster dictionaries of the 19th Century’.

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2 Responses to Mapping the immediate past

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Mapping the immediate past | things magazine --

  2. Compound Eye says:

    Alas, my “Yesterday’s Bright Future” book cover is not from a real publication. Indeed, Globus Publications doesn’t exist, and came about because I really liked the ‘Globe’ custom shape in Photoshop.

    I have long been an admirer of ‘retro-municipal chic’ and contemporary concrete architecture, having several books on such subjects myself, and do indeed spend a lot of my time photographing [in]famous sites like Goswell Road, The Westway, The Barbican, The South Bank, The Brunswick Centre.

    It seemed to me that “Yesterday’s Bright Future”, in the 1950s, was very much one of futuristic concrete usage, new town precincts and domiciles that owed as much to engineering as design – machines for living in, and to post-war social experiments & the reshaping of a nation well used – after 6 years of war – to maximum economy for the greatest return.

    It also seemed to me that the idea was shortlived and never fully realized, that those buildings that went up quickly became oddments and eyesores rather than leading lights in a grand national vision, only to fall into disrepair, disuse and ultimate demolition.

    I love the architecture, I love the designs for living, but sadly I never got to experience them for myself. All I can do is gaze at such relics as do survive and wonder what it would have been like, living in a city in the sky, shopping in a pedestrianized retail ‘paradise’, strolling through the Festival of Britain’s glorious South Bank site in 1951…

    So, I decided to imagine what a book on such a subject might look like – if someone like PHAIDON had published it. I only wish someone like them would embrace such a book concept – it would certainly be amusing to me for an imagined book cover, talked about in inquisitive & longing tones on various design & hauntology blogs, to drive the creation of a tangeable, readable volume. I’d buy it!

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