An alibi

From this question, Umberto Eco on photocopies: ‘Photocopies are indispensable instruments. They allow you to keep with you a text you have already read in the library, and to take home a text you have not read yet. But a set of photocopies can become an alibi. A student makes hundreds of pages of photocopies and takes them home, and the manual labour he exercises in doing so gives him the impression that he possesses the work … There are many things I do not know because I photocopied a text and then relaxed as if I had read it.’ Eco might have been talking about any form of mechanical reproduction (shades of Benjamin), in that the act of acquisition and collecting seems to rapidly usurp the experience of actually using or enjoying something. This collectomania is one of the defining elements of modern consumption. Discuss / other things. Music by Art School Girlfriend / paper cuts and doodles by Melanie Titmuss / paintings by Jon Pilkington / the story of the Headington shark.

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Golden Rabbits (or hares…)

Masquerade: How a real-life treasure hunt obsessed a nation. See also the following Me-Fi posts: I, II, III and IV. See also Hareraiser: Prelude, an accompanying Spectrum game / LOC Serendipity, ‘Curated and Randomly Generated Selections from the Library of Congress’ (via MeFi) / paintings by Martha Armstrong / Steve Albini shows us his junk / ‘This is a story about how an opportunist stole a band and an already stolen beat from a man he didn’t believe in.’ Burundi Beat: The Ants + Annabella + Appropriation / ‘It is a religion’: how the world went mad for Moomins / Other Places, a video series about video game world design (via RPS): their new playlist is Ambient, which starts with the soundscape to Alien: Isolation. Also via RPS, learn typing with the ancient Greeks / The Current: New Wheels for the Post-Petrol Age, a book / Kickstart ‘the most beautiful construction kit in the world‘ / music by Hurray for the Riff Raff
/ music by Trimdon Grange Explosion, psych folk on Borley Rectory records.

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Some things to listen to

Codex 99 has some fine in-depth design history reporting spliced with personal recollections, e.g The XB-70: My Dad and the Cold War, the story of ‘perhaps the most audacious plane ever commissioned by the Air Force’. Also the Box of Vacations, European travels in the 50s and 60s / 1991 Toyota Crown Hearse for sale / Monorail Music is a record label / Anti Gravity Bunny posts intriguing mixes / how to turn a $200 pair of headphones into a $350 pair of headphones, with a screwdriver / music by Astronoid / play music on IKEA’s forthcoming FREKVENS party system, developed in collaboration with Teenage Engineering / breaking down a track: Killer, by Adamski and Seal / riding the ‘white line’ in Sedona.

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The rotten side of self-publishing. The cheap schadenfreude of plagiarism accusations / Buster Keaton, Master Architect / animal photo art reference search / Armortek make scale metal models of historic tanks, with exceptional attention to detail / American public transit systems mapped, then and now / related, Landscape Stories, photographic stories of urbanism / the story of Gandolfi Cameras, a Peckham-based family business that only recently closed down / the sculptural beauty of Japanese highway interchanges / related, can you draw a perfect circle? / The Lost History of One of the World’s Strangest Science Experiments: Biosphere 2. “In short, the Biosphere 2 experiment failed to generate sufficient breathable air, drinkable water and adequate food for just eight humans, despite an expenditure of $200 million.”

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Look to the skies

More flying saucers: the National Museum in Qatar, by Ateliers Jean Nouvel / an installation in Paris by Japanese collective , via Fubiz / stress testing: bending the Galaxy Fold / related, Testing, Testing, a great edition of the BBC’s Q.E.D documentary series. Proto YouTube / Chris Clegg’s Canal Time Map at City Metric / sort of related, a map of the Internet from May 1973.

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A House Is Not a Home

In pictures: Kenyan artist Khadambi Asalache’s London house, available to visit through the National Trust. See also Stephen Wright’s House of Dreams in South London and, for a more deliberately contrived approach, Grayson Perry and FAT’s A House for Essex / other things. Micro-Chop has ‘Song Deconstructions’, ‘dissecting beat making, DJing, rapping, and sampling’ / a bit of a cliche these days, perhaps: Tokyo as a Giant Video Game, photography by Davide Sasso / American Dream or American Nightmare, an architecture project by Maria Yue Ma / Much Unseen Is Also Here, photographer Joshua Dudley Greer cruises the interstates for Places Journal / it’s the next logical thing: Belief in aliens could be America’s next religion, via MeFi. Time to break out the UFO paperback gallery again / music by Lusts / five ways to cut down on phone use.

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Crunch Time

Rediscovering Hampshire’s Wartime History at Urban Ghost Media / paintings by Suhas Bhujbal / paintings by Nancy Gruskin / music by The Ornament Birds / music by Coby Sey / Ettore Sottsass’s The Planet as Festival, the height of 70s technotopianism / a masterclass on how to end a song, by AC/DC / 41256 was a podcast experiment by Russell Davies / the Aston Martin Bulldog, 1979 / following on from the last post’s Alexa-driven therapist, The Difference, Caterina Fake’s new Should This Exist? podcast tackles a AI-powered chatbot to provide CBT around the clock. Hi, I’m Woebot.

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Down things today. A sobering look at The Last Days of Walter Benjamin’s Life / Mike Monteiro’s upcoming book Ruined by Design looks like it’ll be an essential read / a list of services and devices that have been (intentionally) Killed by Google / How a bookshop wolf handles awkward customers, all about Anne Barnetson’s Customer Service Wolf / oh this will end well: The Difference, ‘Connect with a Therapist via Alexa Voice Services’.

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A Gap in the Street

Wickham’s Department Store, on Mile End Road, was once known as the ‘Harrods of the East’, part of a city-wide network of grand shops, often family owned, that offered their customers practically everything under one roof. Wickham’s unusual punctured facade was due to the resolute Spiegelhalter’s Jewelry Shop, which refused to sell up. The building has recently been renovated and Spiegelhalter’s building remains prominent. This ‘Holdout‘ is relatively uncommon in London, but is more recently seen in the ‘Nail Houses’ of China / other things. Matt’s Repository of Information, a design tumblr / the The Sheela Na Gig Project. See also at the BBC / The Sometimes Catastrophic, but Mostly Just Embarrassing Consequences of Screen Sharing at Work / Meet Vermeer, ‘Vermeer’s complete works united: 36 paintings from 18 museums across 7 different countries’ / Dirty Lies, a long read about Dieselgate / organ69 is a retro-themed Japanese keyboard shop / a new album Blood Red Shoes has sneaked out / Tortoise play their TNT album in full for its 21st anniversary / WePresent is a curated portfolio site from the WeTransfer people / A Huge Collection of Apollo 11 Press Kits / a comprehensive MeFi post about the Poverty Maps of Charles Booth.

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Check your head

Getting inside the head of the man who was Frank Sidebottom / related, Chris Sievey’s The Biz, a Spectrum game from 1984. While we’re at it, the Thompson Twins Adventure from the same year and the (critically acclaimed) Frankie goes to Hollywood game, from the following year. The latter is also available to play online, courtesy of the Qaop online Spectrum emulator / Curious Architectural Phenomena, a MeFi post about the intriguing behind the scenes work of Austrian photographer Gregor Sailer / not really related, Terrible Things Happening in Cold Places (via Projects) / a close reading of the Vessel photography ‘rights’ document is yet one more thing that won’t help brand Heatherwick / Nicholas Dixon’s series ‘The Brown Sisters‘ reached the forty-third portrait last year / Outstanding, a tumblr about art.

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Bold and bright

Pavilion fix. Help get Pricegore’s Colour Palace off the ground, a collaboration with the artist Yinka Ilori / The man who takes tech apart – so we can learn how to fix it, a piece on the photographer Todd McLellan / Spatula, a tumblr about architecture and design / the Robocar from the Roborace series, photographed by Benedict Redgrove / an album by Ice Baths at Blank Editions. More Ice Baths / Grid comparison: the best smartphone cameras of all time, compiled by Steve Litchfield.

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Stairs to nowhere

A few snippets. some thoughts on online magazines, courtesy of the founder of The Millions / Everywhere At The End Of Time – Stage 6, a final release, apparently, from The Caretaker / Bauhaus-style logos of famous brands at Kottke / fx videos at pedal of the day / nicely interactive but ultimately depressing analysis of Hudson Yards in New York.

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Standing under stones

Recalling random acts of kindness / Fixing Computer Space, restoring one of the earliest arcade machines / three-dimensional origami made of fabric backed plywood by Sinead Fahey / Toyota Lunar Camper concept / an obituary of Sir John Richardson, biographer of Picasso / support the publication of Jonathan Meades’ Pedro & Ricky Come Again at Unbound / ‘Dutch ‘blunder building’ bans dancing‘, a rare miss from OMA / Repacking Social Media Into 1980s Nostalgia, the work of Thomas Ollivier / the refurbished and extended MK Gallery reopens with The Lie of the Land, an exhibition that ‘examines the modernisation of leisure propelled by industrialisation’. Also related, BBC4’s Arcadia, a hauntological, English eerie compilation of newly-soundtracked documentary material. Also related, Antequera, ‘the first in a series of Heroic Gnostic Poems by Julian Cope‘. A good excuse to dust off Jonathan Key’s review of The Modern Antiquarian. It’s all out there, somewhere.

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Crack an egg

How to Study the Bible – the Language of Colour, by Thomas Macklin, 1909. “A highly idiosyncratic, eccentric and colourful engagement with his Bible by an East Anglian merchant, who over a twenty year period (c.1888-1909) extensively annotated the volume throughout in bright colours, following a system of his own devising… Words and phrases on each page are washed over or outlined (often both) in watercolours, in one of eight colours – each denoting a meaning: Yellow (God Speaking), Blue (Good. Honest), Green (Bad. Evil), Violet (Name of Place), Black (Devil. Sin), etc.” / other things. A portfolio of pictures from the Bell Labs data center in Oakland, California, 1969 and 1970 / via MeFi / art from the future, a tumblr / ghost characters and lost elements, some musings / ‘you’re alone in a small Russian apartment in a concrete tenement: it’s Winter.’

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Accounting for

Book things. Money, money, money, 404 Ink on the economics of contemporary publishing. Matching publishers with corresponding dinosaurs. a series. Both via the always information Mr Benneworth-Gray / ‘Dieter Rams “regrets contributing to culture of overconsumption” says documentary director‘ / Mark Zuckerberg is rumoured to have a secret escape passageway beneath his conference room for emergencies / there is a blog devoted to Landslides / Atomic Playground, images by Clay Lipsky and Greg MacGregor / Still Waiting For a Savior: Before GM Left, Avanti Sold an Ohio Town an Impossible Dream. There’s a certain beauty to these post-industrial landscapes / the Picturephone, AT&T’s experimental concept shown at the 1964 World’s Fair: ‘By the end of the 1964 just 71 calls had been made, probably because the cost of the call was $16-27 for a 3 minute call. The Mod I was never put into commercial production, and an estimated 150 consoles were built for trial use.’

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Warm electronics

Material Matters is a new podcast about objects and making by the design writer and critic Grant Gibson / Synchedelia: Beyond the Dark Side of the Rainbow, which links to the epic and Alternative Synchs, but fails to mention Godlflesh Superstar (Godflesh’s Anthem meets Jesus Christ Superstar). Another fascinating music piece: An Oral History of Electronic Music in East Germany, both via the excellent Red Bull Music Academy Daily / sort of related to the East German link, a collection of Stoic Electronics (via Kottke), including this Soviet home automation concept design, the Sphinx project, 1987. Some more about Project Sphinx (‘When the USSR tried to change the computer forever’). Back to the haunted world / ‘A race against time’: urban explorers record vanishing Hong Kong / a found object: wooden chapel in Bavaria by John Pawson.

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The haunted world

Into the Eerie, a radio documentary touching on the work of the late Mark Fisher, PJ Harvey and many more (via MeFi). See also What is hauntology? And why is it all around us? The eerie’s urban cousin / other things. The Dhabiyan, an extreme desert custom job for Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan / Infrared Dubai, photographs by Paolo Pettigiani / Smoke and Mirrors: Harry Potter Scenes Reimagined by Architecture Students / The architects who built Palm Springs / Turning disused buildings into artists’ studios.

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Space and light

The New American Home is a Condo; how much space do we need to live? / paintings by Chloe Wise / ten extraordinary effects pedals / classic cars as animals, art by Frederic Mueller, via hotvvheels / from 1993, a Full Moon Party at Koh Phangan (via Electronic Beats) / Only Shallow, a My Bloody Valentine cover / where would this fall on Every Noise at Once’s genre map (and their new feature, Genres in Their Own Words / the story of the Casa Sperimentale, a modern ruin near Rome / Cambridge time expert fears sundials are ‘old hat’ / a small archive of work by Barbara Jones, artist, illustrator and chronicler of folk art.

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A clutch of collections, ancient and modern

Some things to browse, starting with the incredibly accurate cutlery drawer simulator (via b3ta) / Tiny Commotions, a weblog / Fan Ho’s Street Photography of 50s & 60s Hong Kong (at kottke) / Building on the Built, an architecture website / ‘I’d get 400 toilet rolls at a time’: how it feels to win a lifetime supply / sort of related, Financial Windfalls: 15 Stories of the Money That Changed Everything (via Kottke) / compare and contrast: the Steve Vai Guitar Database vs the Sonic Youth Illustrated Equipment Guide / MIDI City 2000, skyline music / Hypercard Adventures. Is this emulation, or something more? / see also Word Perhect (sic) / more old stuff: noclip (via MeFi), a dive into levels from consoles past / Cambridge Digital Library, an impressive collection of journals (via BBC News). Divided into collections like Curious Objects / see also MetPublications, Five Decades of Metropolitan Museum Of Art Publications online (via MeFi) / and another: Lost & Found: orphaned objects from the UL City Centre, ‘What library visitors left behind in the University Library City Centre in the year 2018’ (also via MeFi, which has a discussions of similar objets trouvé) / Tokyo Live Camera. Urban voyeurism.

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Cabbages and things

Berberian Sound Studio becomes a stage play. See our earlier post, Aural Excitements / all the strange things are collated and presented by 41Strange, which is a veritable dark cave of the uncanny and the esoteric in 20th century media / an obituary of John Harold Haynes, instruction manual pioneer (via MeFi). Haynes is one of those companies, like Pantone, that while it never lost sight of its core business, obviously succumbed to the advice of a marketing and diversification specialist at some point. Pantone is still the industry standard, but also a lifestyle and consumer product supplier. Similarly, Haynes diversified into Practical and Lifestyle Manuals, where you could learn about things that exist (or once existed) and things than manifestly don’t exist, rather blurring the lines of what a manual actually is. Nevertheless, the company single-handedly flies the flag for technical drawing / also recently passed, Jim Dunlop, creator of electric guitar accessories / psychedelic noise making devices from digdugDIY.

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