Down in the city

The Tube is really noisy / this is what an abandoned high-speed train looks like / a bit of both: abandoned Tube trains / we liked the story of the US bases revealed by eager joggers (via MeFi, etc.) / histories of St John’s Wood / jobs of the future, visualised at designboom.

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And it’s goodnight from him

Photographer Jeffrey Milstein’s series on Amusement Parks / Modernist Estates’ favourite Instagram accounts / hunting the lost river of Paris / musings on Citroen concepts from the 80s / farewell to Wendell Castle / farewell Slayer / Hidden London / paintings by Richard Fitton / Race the Tube / when double acts go sour.

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Stacked up

Centralia, then and now. Home to the long-burning Centralia Mine Fire / R.I.P M.E.S / there’s a ghost tower in the city / music by Grok, especially their live soundtracks to silent classics like The Cabinet of Dr Caligari / What’s wrong with shipping container housing? Everything, apparently. Except, perhaps not / art by Rita McBride / Kosmograd’s paintings of the Guardian Motor Column.

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Where did you leave the car?

Mary Lee Berners-Lee, an obituary of an amazing life / skiing without snow / the London Time Machine (via Coudal) / Brazil in 10328×7760 – A 10K Timelapse Demo / Straight outta Romford: Britain’s hard-man movie scene, an insight into the funding and thinking behind the straight-to-DVD hooligan special feature that you inexplicably see in supermarkets / the mystery of the cars abandoned in a robot car park.

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See you around

Locrating presents huge quantities of mapping data about commuting, schools, etc. ‘Outstanding’ schools are of green green, ‘good’ ones are yellow and woe betide your property prices if you live in close proximity to the little bomb-like red ones / a rather different scenario is played out by the Nukemap and the Missilemap. Fun with ICBMs / a veiny map that shows the best driving route from the USA’s dead centre to every county / Kingdoms and Castles looks like retro fun / Moog’s Drummer From Another Mother weaves some impressive sounds / behind the scenes at Manson Guitars, hand made and high tech / Paul Roden and Valerie Lueth make beautiful art at the Tugboat Print shop / It’s Nice That showcases photographer Francois Prost’s exploration of a replica city in China (via (and apparently originated at) the morning news)) / in remembrance of Dean Allen, web designer and creator of the Textism blog, one of the very on our webroll and a daily read ‘back in the day,’ before everything online turned to mush.

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“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”

Dodo, Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, exploring the landscape and remnants of the Mexican town of San Carlos and its role in the film of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 / paintings by Tom Walton / The Coast, photographs by Charlotte Bland / Drugby Union, on the music of Spacemen 3 / I will overcome many, many different things / Patrik Schumacher get defensive / Korea translation is hard / great story: The men and women who brought curry to Birmingham / the 30 most misguided vanity projects.

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Ruined forms

Casa Sperimentale, by Giuseppe Perugini, at Architizer and Dear Magazine, where these photos by Marco Ponzianelli were published. One of the internet’s favourite bits of ‘lost Brutalism’. See also the Visual News essay by Oliver Astrologo / twisted pop, slowed down, sped up and chopped about, courtesy of Pluffnub / Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, Live at the BBC, 1973 / a classic GoldfingerHouse / BrandNew, on corporate design and identity / the origins of tea / ‘It’s never aliens until is‘ / Neville Brody for Coca-Cola / Renny Tatit’s Simplified London.

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The Vestaboard, when you want text messages delivered on old-fashioned train announcement boards / Superseventies is a tumblr devoted to said decade, includes the occasional that might reflect badly in the modern era/ a London charity shop scavenger hunt (via Projects, which also linked to the redesign of Roads and Kingdoms magazine / War Pigs, First Aid Kit / Quora compiles many scans from illustrated books / The Surf Ranch, perfect waves every time, via tmn / the day Captain Harry Gee landed his play on Heron Quays / illustration by Rohan Daniel Eason / Video games for architecture buffs (via MeFi).

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Sony has announced the birth of an all-new AIBO at CES. The reception has been unsurprisingly ecstatic, especially as the original model, introduced back in 1999, was discontinued in 2006 to much disappointment and then, even worse, unsupported from 2015 (the sub-head on that WSJ article reads, pitifully, ‘Masters Run in Circles Seeking Help for Aged Robotic Pets; Failing Joints’. There were reports of Aibo funerals and there is still a functioning AIBO hospital that cannibalises dead dogs for their useful bits. In AIBO’s absence, the robot dog became a bit more toy-like, and the influence on robot design has also leaned a bit closer to Pixar than the retro style of the original AIBO. Luckily Sony’s designers are taking no tips from Boston Dynamics. Perhaps tomorrow’s full range of robot dogs will run a similar gamut to flesh and blood ones, from pocket-sized to intentionally terrifying. Some of our thoughts on robots from 15 years ago / a few other things. Folded metal things from Another Studio / an animated Chris Ware New Yorker cover from 2015.

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21st Century Landscapes (via Kottke) / sort of related, the astounding bid to designate Trump’s border wall concepts as land art. Satire? ‘MAGA is proud to announce the Land Art Exhibition PROTOTYPES… [consisting] of the eight border wall prototypes commissioned by the U.S. government and built as models for testing and evaluation for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico’ / more culture vs commerce. A papercraft Airbus A380, created for an ad campaign, of course, as was this Škoda Cardboard Karoq / Building on the Built, dedicated to exhibitions about transformations in architecture / photographs of Venice by Maximilian Meisse.

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Carriage returned

Random things. Sticking a 1000 watt LED on a drone / Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch, ambient sound generator / sort of related, the 15 Second horror movie challenge / crowdfunding for the Cardiacs’ Tim Smith. More Cardiacs / Social Decay: Illustrations by Andrei Lacatusu / all back to Rennes-Le-Chateau for some top flight conspiracy theory / the most accurate Lunar globe / see also the 1961 NASA moon simulator / Five Ton Crane, an artist collective / the home of Rock Family Trees / art by Richard Galpin / street art and lettering by Survival Techniques / the amazing story of the Paige Compositor (via Coudal), the machine that nearly bankrupted Mark Twain.

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What never came to pass

Unbuilt cities: the outrageous highway schemes left as roads to nowhere. Good timing as the CBRD blog has just relaunched its page on London’s motorway saga: The Ringways are back. Lots of gloomy artist impressions within, e.g. the concrete pylons stalking past Kensal Green Cemetery / Guillermo Santomà’s Fantastic Interior / biro illustrations by Helena Hauss (a little bit nsfw in some jurisdictions, perhaps) / Seattle 3-year year time lapse.

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Modelling, or not

London 2026 is promising us a glossy lump of architectural inelegance, largely unreadable from every direction, with the grim reality likely to be far less pleasing than the CGI. Eight years ago we were lamenting the lack of a 3D model of London (complete with images). How times have changed / the 80s were never as 80s as the 80s are in this decade: coloursteelsexappeal, a tumblr / photography by Nick Frank / DIY Marble Art with Shaving Cream / a fine piece about the insidious and constant policing of women’s appearance: How I Learned to Look Believable.

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Three necks, 15 strings, Feel Good Inc / If birds left tracks in the sky… / how much of Britain is concreted over? / Ghent in Motion / a signwriter’s life, work by Nick Garrett / What a difference… Cars that never made it has run a long series of contrasting car designs from then and now / tmn has the year in music and the year in board games / engadget has the worst gadgets of 2017 / a couple of questions: what is your album of the year and why? / What media/pop culture “easter eggs” are format-specific? / contemporary illustration for sale at Room Fifty / illustrations by Manabu Yamaguchi / photography by Nick Frank.

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Welcome, 2018

Google mapping versus Apple mapping and the use of ‘commercial corridors’ as mental maps for urban navigation: ‘areas of interest‘. Sort of related, Strava Art. See also this then and now series, aerial views of Chicago taken in 1914 with video from today / The guidebook that led me to a lost corner of England / The People’s History of Tattooine / Rachel Laine’s flickr stream is full of retro inspired audio graphics (and many nsfw imagery) / the story of Jaguar’s lost ‘F-type’, the XJ41 and 42 / VCV Rack, ‘an open-source virtual modular synthesizer’ (via MeFi). Related, how to make techno / the Occasional blog of Tobias Revell / the Lazzarini Design Hover Coupe / At Least 1000 Tigers, illustration by Molly Fairhurst. Happy new year.

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Watching the skies with jaded eyes

Kottke made the point a couple of days ago that the USAF’s recent casual announcement about its now-defunct UFO division – and the release of a couple of blurry but presumably far more authentic films than have ever been seen before – was swiftly overtaken by the rampant insanity of the modern news cycle. Are we all just more jaded and cynical? Is the idea of unknown (non-alien) machinery capable of incredible feats simply accepted? A true conspiracy theorist would posit that this soft peddling of hard news is a way of preparing us for a grand announcement about Oumuamua (good work there with the Lovecraftian name generator), but it turns out that it was just a rock. The possibilities were endless.


Other things. Dynamicland, an ‘authoring environment’ / music from Dronningen / The House that Edek built, a tale of war, escape, redemption and architecture / photographs by Ivan Jones. See also his project This is Landform / photographs by Yiannis Hadjiaslanis / at home with Ricardo Bofill, part of Nowness’s In Residence series / Make Anything, a YouTube channel about 3D printing.

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Be kind, rewind

Make interesting books happen. The World Through the Eyes of Alexander von Humboldt, ‘beautiful illustrations from the greatest scientific traveller who ever lived’. A Kickstarter / Cain’s Jawbone – A Novel Problem at Unbound (via Tom Gauld), a reprint of a 1934 puzzle book by Edward Powys Mathers, aka Torquemada / Reyner Banham’s Megastructure is also up for a crowd-funded revival / a great history of the great British sandwich / Save me from suburbia, Boy George on the power of pop in the 1970s / odd poppy sculptures by Eric Nado / pop-culture Easter eggs.

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Off world

Compare and contrast: the globes of Emmy Ingeborg Brun, ‘a Danish Mars enthusiast who made a small number of globes… Her inscriptions suggest that she viewed Mars as a potential model for Christian socialist cosmopolitanism on Earth’ vs Google Mars. A Brun globe is for sale at Crouch Rare Books / Boundary Breaking in 3D games / simulates radio waves travelling into the distant empty expanses of space / The Englishman and the Eel, a new book about a (relatively) unknown delicacy / what is an eggcorn? / photos from inside the cabs of long-distance truckers / buy a theme park, of sorts, in Florida. Some other theme parks for sale / the world’s wind turbines.

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Labour intensive

Without wishing to invoke Betteridge’s law of headlines, is Bitcoin a bubble? For an essential primer, John Lanchester’s LRB story on the currency last year is the gold standard. But for an even more alarmist headline, this time without a qualifying question mark: Bitcoin could cost us our clean-energy future. ‘Today, each bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy used to power nine homes in the U.S. for one day.’ Check the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index for more stats. At the time of writing, the carbon footprint per transaction, in kg of C02, is calculated as 122.14kg. This is an issue that people have been writing about for years: Virtual Bitcoin Mining Is a Real-World Environmental Disaster / lighter things. Music by Ulrika Spacek / pedals by Acid Fuzz / recommendations for weird online fiction.

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Around the world

Cyriak’s latest is all about horses / the sound of a gif / a recent Google Doodle celebrating coding for kids / good overview – with simulations – of the challenges facing carbon capture / airport runways, abstracted / the incredible, the world of stray tunes, random voices and static (via Mefi) / I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor. The story of The Shed at Dulwich (also via MeFi) / a new book about the commercial art of Heath Robinson. A good gallery of the artist’s work.

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