101, Dalmations, 101; Toast counts individually, 102

The remarkable 8-Bit Beatles want to chirrup their chiptune back catalogue at you (via MeFi) / also on the blue, Trains with the faces of men, a compendium of links about Thomas the Tank Engine, the series that unwittingly mines the ‘vein of Scarfolkian eldritch creepiness that has been a mainstay of British children’s entertainment since pagan times’ / Fastcompany’s UI design round-up is actually an insight into the state of machine intelligence, be it genuinely artificial, cleverly simulated (for now) or simply deceptive.


More fun with the future, Japanese insurance company employs AI, at the expense of real people. See also, The seven stages of denial (that a robot will take your job) / a follow-up to yesterday’s post: How the Gurus Behind Disney’s MagicBand are Remaking a $38B Cruise Giant. Carnival automates enjoyment / tmn offers up a review of 2016 in music / intricate drawings by Ben Tolman at Faith is Torment / the KLF, yes or no? The usual intrigue / a gem: The comedy book index, part 1: I, Partridge, part 2. Alan Partridge: Nomad and part 3. Toast on Toast. At the wonderful blog of Paula Clark Bain, Society of Indexers member (see also The Indexer magazine).

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Supposedly fun things (with Bluetooth)

There are countless silly things coming out of CES, including the nugget of information that the Faraday Future FF91 is only 9 (not 6) inches narrower than the new London Routemasters (2283mm to 2520mm). One of the more fascinating and sinister developments is the Ocean Medallion, a tracking device developed by Princess Cruises as a way of improving on-board service. ‘The first ship to feature the system is the Regal Princess. 75 miles (121km) of cables, more than 7,000 sensors and 4,000 digital screens were installed in 10 days in Italy.’ It’s essentially a sea-going version of the Disney MagicBand (dissected and appraised in this great Wired piece from October 2015).

This kind of tracking is even more perfectly suited to the closed environment of a cruise ship than it it is to a theme park, but what happens when the cruise is over? Will you be encouraged to keep wearing it in anticipation of your next trip, with biometric data gauging when your system is in need of a holiday. Partner companies on the high street and in the mall could offer subtle enticements to band-wearers to keep powering through (a free rum-spiced latte to evoke the tastes of the Caribbean) until cruise-time comes again. Thanks to the medallion, you can gamify 50 weeks of your life to make your next two-week vacation seem even more special.

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No longer leaving the building

Mini Metros (via Kottke) / unrelated, the Mini Metro story / a bunker refurbishment / similar aesthetic at Something Concrete and Modern / more residential concrete, the Haus Ruscher by Olkruf / vintage electronics / The Age of Female Dominance – brought to you by robots. Different take on the ‘coming world of automation’ / Krimson37 produces car videos from a scrapyard. Beats The Grand Tour / more auto culture. Waft is a Belgium outfit that produces Curves Magazine / Momo’s Media Monstrosity Part IV / Secrets of the Psychics, a six-part documentary / many more fascinating things to unravel at Paul Slade’s Planet Slade / is the KLF back for 2017?

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Things to start the year with

No reviews of the year here. Just some links / medieval forensics and more at Sarah Woodbury’s blog / photography by Thorsten Klapsch / The Lives They Lived, personal spaces (tidied and cleaned) photographed shortly after death / staying with the cheery theme, World War Three by Mistake sees Eric Schlosser – author of the excellent Command and Control – sets out some unwelcome unintended consequences for 2017 / sort of related, the Denge Sound Mirrors, doomed to become the Easter Island statues of our declining civilization / of course, what go wrong with the idea of giant flying warehouses spooling out drones above our heads? Sky piracy, unsecured cargo dumps, Whisky Galore style, the darkening of the sun when goods go viral and everyone one-clicks at once / architects and engineers crit the Death Star design. They could have gone further. Related, the data formats of Rogue One / why the Helsinki Guggenheim was doomed (and why the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi has yet to start on site) / more architecture, lost Frank Lloyd Wright buildings rendered in full colour / Robbie Wojciechowski’s weblog / the story of 16 2/3 rpm records at Bloggerrhythms, including the Seeburg 1000 background music system and Chrysler’s Highway Hi-Fi / sort of related, the history of Muzak / cars by Keith Haring / coffee lids collected by Louise Harpman.

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Jumpers for goalposts

FIFA, the video game that has actually changed the culture of the game it is simulating (and not always for the better):

The data Fifa draws upon has become so accurate that teams have started to use the game to scout for potential new signings or to test out the strengths and weaknesses of upcoming opponents. The Arsenal midfielder Alex Iwobi recently told the New York Times that when he was starting out, if a player he had never played against was on the other team, he would “look at his name and then try to remember how good he was on Fifa”. In October 2013, Leyton Orient’s manager introduced a no-Fifa-before-a-match-day policy, after members of his team stayed up late rehearsing the next day’s fixture (which they subsequently lost).

Also, how an American company ended up building the best-known game about a decidedly non-American sport: “I mean this respectfully, but the reason Fifa is so successful is that the game was developed and published a long way from head office.”

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Cats and boots

RayGun FX Super Fuzz Boy. Bzzz / Thomas Doyle, artist / 0s&1s has an interview with Tony Tulathimutte, author of Private Citizens / a satisfying film of a pen plotter test performed by the Edison Pen Company / is the replica furniture business finished? / 20 best acid house tracks / 30 tracks to celebrate 30 years of house / the CIA’s flickr stream is filled with Cold War mapping fun / the art of building, a photography competition / Rye Wax is a south London record shop / history of the pin badge / Top ten art installations of 2016 / which doesn’t include this disco ball cement truck / political cartooning at The Nib / Martin blogs about Moths / The Hi-Bit Era, new look old look video games / The Kid Should See This Gift Guide / Alongtimealone, a tumblr about art / Wheels of Aurelia is a great-looking game / Aylesbury, a short film about a housing estate that ‘perfectly encapsulates the growing housing crisis and problems caused by gentrification’.

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Eat, drink and be merry, graphed

The Secret World of Stuff / fast food calorie counting gets an infographic / Time’s 100 photos of the year / David Titlow, a photographer with a blog / Woobots, wooden transformers / Patrick Henry Village, from US Army base to commune? / 8late, a design studio focusing on conservation and reuse / all about the Moscow Design Museum / paintings by Simon Ling.

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Links for the week ahead

London Ends, the edges of the city in photographs by Philipp Ebeling / we want to believe, part 396: a lush, vegetation-filled jungle city might actually be a thing. More investigations into the media image of the unbuilt at Failed Architecture / illustration by Elisa Macellari / music by Elly Parsons / Ran When Parked, a blog about interesting automobiles / illustrations by Guy Shield / Designability, a weblog about design / instant creativity, 2016-style: Idea Mic Drop / Stop Using Math as a Weapon / music recommendations, ‘dark, driving, haunting tracks‘ / Silicon Valley has an empathy vacuum / Isocity, an animated landscape / translated into the real world? The Fastbrick Robotics Hadrian X Digital Construction System / paintings by Paul Winstanley / paintings by Helen Lundeberg / 98 Wounds a photozine about London’s music scene.

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Finding oneself

Now that everyone has a global atlas in their pocket, we’re looking further and further afield to find ways of exploring places that might not otherwise be easily found, either in real life or in the imagination. A selection of recent books: Atlas of Lost Cities; Atlas of Cursed Places; The Phantom Atlas; An Atlas of Countries That Don’t Exist; Vargic’s Miscellany of Curious Maps; Atlas of Improbable Places; the Atlas Obscura; the wonderful Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands and the old but still great From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association.

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Out on the ice floe

Some random links / music: The Cherry Wave / Courtney Love, Rem Koolhaas and Martha Stewart: together at last / more music at When the Sun Hits / photographer Deidre O’Callaghan’s new book is ‘The Drum Thing‘, portraits and talks with 100 contemporary rhythm keepers / Google Earth timelapse, striking stuff / photography by Mike Pucher / art assembled and presented by Mr Motley / the Swisscom Screenpad was an early tablet, released in late 2000 / new book: Ice Bear: The Cultural History of an Arctic Icon.

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Raising up

Other things and random thoughts. The Pioneering Spirit is a truly big thing, the largest vessel ever built at 403,342 gross tons and 123.75m wide (Wikipedia), designed specifically to lift oil rigs without the need to dissemble them. With a slot between twin hulls, the ship can scoop up rigs and take them to new sites or back to port for decommissioning. It will soon be topped by a larger vessel, ‘Amazing Grace’ / Dezeen asks, ‘what happens to temporary pavilions once their time is up?‘ / art by Alice Bucknell / an island for sale / we love this kind of landscape: the bog / photography by Maria Lax / photography by Gareth Gardner / OK Go drop another video / sometimes it seems that Patrik Schumacher often acts as if there is an outstanding vacancy for an evil, cackling architect, rubbing their hands together at the thought of their will being imposed on a fumbling, ignorant populace, too stupid to know they’re actually crying out to be saved by the perfect machinations of the market. It’s the only way to explain it.

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Built up to knock down

News of the slightly unusual edition. BA boss shocked to find out that third Heathrow runway will raze his HQ. BA’s Waterside, an award-winning office block by Niels Torp, looks set to be a casualty of the forthcoming third runway. Joined up thinking. In other gun-foot related news, right wing groups rail against the renewable energy industry.

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Hugged to death

Modern Berlin is the latest map from Blue Crow Media. The spike of interest in architecture-related travel continues unabated with Phaidon’s Mid-Century Modern Architecture Travel Guide: West Coast USA. Modern architecture has always had this problem of being reduced to a thing, a pin on a map or a perfect snapshot. Perhaps we need a prosaic revival / instead, we have the curious cultural misappropriation that is ‘hygge‘, a mix of optimism, nostalgia and largely bogus presumptions (via MeFi) / nostalgia: Peckham’s Crown Theatre, long lost / the evolution of Microsoft Flight Simulator.

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Good maps

The crumbling infrastructure of the nuclear age intersects with religious fervour in North Dakota’s concrete pyramid / paintings by Phil Hale (via Hi-Fructose) / Unkee E, a flickr stream rich with illustrated and printed ephemera / Peter Serafinowicz’s Sassy Trump will save us all / the legacy of Ian Nairn in the Return to Subtopia / the Dutch have good maps and have done for many centuries / the end of What.cd, the internet’s biggest and best music collection / design by Cheng-Tsung Feng / where is Miami’s sand going?

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Things to do

Thomas Edison’s Hugely Ambitious “To-Do” List from 1888 (via Coudal) / Photographic Reunions in Peterborough by Chris Porsz (via Kottke) / t- e ni h?m-are of·`a c ty, an experiment in atmospheric virtual city-making (via RPS) / British problems / American problems / recent headlines sends reporters into the world of cryogenics. Some more on Alcor / The Secret of NIMH – The Great Owl, a 3d scene to explore / the Rose and Joseph Pagnani Collection, Girls’ Series Books from 1917 to the Present / Frank Reade and His Steam Man of the Plains: technology comes to life.

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A selection of recent photography

Photography by Mischa Haller / see also Amelia Shepherd’s project Peacehaven in III parts / photography by Sarah Janes / The Politics of the Office is a photographic series by Andreia Alves de Oliveira, quietly chronicling the subtle ‘system of spatial ‘status markers’ – quantity and quality of furniture, décor, amount of space per person, location within the floor and the building, – put in place to signal hierarchical relations of power, reflecting wider systems that influence life in industrialised society, where material possessions often signify social status.’ / ‘Edgelands‘, by Geoff Hodgson, ‘the non-descript spaces between the Urban and Rural, an ill-defined, constantly changing boundary that separates the City from the Countryside’ / Alexandra Serrano’s moody ‘Postcode War‘ charts ‘various crimes scenes throughout the borough of Hackney, where gang members have violently lost their lives over the last 12 years’ / Cosplay, portraits by Mark Hooton / Nothing here’s set in stone, edge conditions captured by Alex Gale.

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New builds

A house in the Alps, a short film on Kirsten Dirksen’s very engaging channel dedicated to small, architecturally elegant dwellings / architecture photos of the year, a shortlist / top 30 Art Deco houses at Wowhaus / beautiful stop motion animation of the Lego Death Star being built / old but good, a supercut of cinematic hacking scenes. Clack, clack, clack / music: Gemini Suite by Outer Space.

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Drifting on the wind

In Love with Japan, an illustrated book by Johana Kroftová / beautiful illustrations by Erwin Kho / glacial, disconcerting self portraits by Katerina Belkina / Driving Survival, post-apocalyptic road trip pursuit game (via RPS) / vaguely, sort of, could be related, inside Porton Down / a poster on the work of Guillermo del Toro by relajaelcoco studio / extraordinary Brutalist pile in Queensland / journey deep down in subterranean London / artist and architect Christian Tonko / paintings and prints by Steven Hubbard / a selection of Fritz Lang-style sandcastles / Czech-based company Bastl Instruments make custom synths and explain massively complex traditional rack systems in their videos (via Synthtopia) / in 2013, UKIP put out a ppb that was essentially ‘A Vision of Britain’ in video form.

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Contemporary portraiture by Alexandra Diez de Rivera / Desert Islands, a design project by Elisa Chieruzzi, which brings to mind Judith Schalansky’s Atlas of Remote Islands (subtitled, ‘Fifty Islands I have not visited and never will’), and seen here at The Island Review / an original Harry Beck Tube Map from 1939, at Sotheby’s endlessly fascinating sale of Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History / fluid simulator by PIC/FLIP Fluid Simulation by Ryan L.Guy / design by La Tigre Studio from Italy / the graphic art of Atelier Bingo from France.

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Keep it short and simple

Crows, a series by Marten Lange / Photographing the Impact of California’s Water Crisis, by Mustafah Abdulaziz for the New York Times / colour guide from 1692 at Colossal / grand photographs of mountains by Tim Hall.

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