Festive things

We haven’t really got the hang of Amazon Associates yet, but it seems that some of you are kind enough to buy things via things, theoretically giving us a bit of a financial boost and helping out with hosting costs. Here’s a small set of recommendations in books, technology and other stuff that has caught our eye. We’ll add to this post from time to time over the next few weeks.


Monographs: The Color Revolution, an amazing history of the colour industry / Norman Bel Geddes Designs America, fascinating monograph about futurism and the birth of the military-industrial complex / The New Modern House: Redefining Functionalism, a book we co-wrote / Thanks for the View, Mr Mies/a>, fun exploration of Lafayette Park, Detroit / Architecture in Northern Landscape, the architecture of Todd Saunders / Joseph Cornell’s Manual of Marvels, a facsimile edition of the artist’s ‘reinvention of a French Agricultural Manual’ / Thomas Heatherwick: Making, the hefty portfolio of a design polymath / Le Corbusier Redrawn: The Houses, go inside the greats / Carscapes: The Motor Car, Architecture, and Landscape in England / Caspar David Friedrich / still lives by S. J. Peploe.


Books: Jerusalem: The Biography, 5000 years of history, 720 pages and utterly fascinating throughout / Museum Without Walls, Jonathan Meades, collected journalism and scripts, highly recommended / Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, another collection of articles and essays / Chris Ware: Building Stories, the graphic artist’s latest magnum opus / Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down, culture clash memoir / Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang, a two volume set, one containing the official line, the other a behind-the-scenes analysis of the North Korean’s culture and built environment / Mrs Weber’s Omnibus, Posy Simmonds’ magnum opus / KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money / Instant: A Cultural History of Polaroid / Care of Wooden Floors, fine debut novel.


Technology: Kindle Paperwhite, a pocketful of books / Canon S100: things’ camera of choice / Samsung Galaxy SIII, likewise for smartphone / we love this: Line 6 Pod HD500 / Garmin Nuvi 3490LMT Sat Nav System / Sony NEX7, things’ potential camera of choice / Fujifilm XF1, likewise / LEGO Mindstorms NXT 2.0: Robot, change the world / Roberts RD60 Revival Digital Radio / Casio Digital Piano / Sonic Blue Thinline Telecaster copy Electric Guitar / Microsoft Surface 32gb, intrigued by this / Jambox, we hear good things.


Other things: Staedtler Ergosoft , the world’s best colouring pencils / Moleskine journals, everyday essentials / Stabilo Smartball, draw properly on your smartphone / the Lego Architecture series: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House and Fallingwater, Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House / Bigtrak, pure nostalgia / Nespresso by Krups Pixie Coffee Machine, compact and powerful / Toys Pure Wooden Domino Rally, get knocked down / Dinosaur Jr – I Bet On Sky.


Other places to go: Wonderwall sells art and prints / Nothing to See Here, A Guide to the Hidden Joys of Scotland / maps and guides by Herb Lester / the Monocle Shop the MagCulture Shop / People will always need plates / It’s Nice That / Cabinet Magazine / Stack Magazines / the Metafilter Holiday Mall / New Found Original / Evermade.com / the Society of Wood Engravers / Modern British Gallery, from where the Eric Ravilious prints in this post are taken.

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The Secret Garden

The tale of a secret theatre in Berlin, discovered by one Dirk Moritz of the Moritz Gruppe and posted at Design Porteur. From the site: ‘An old cabaret theatre from the roaring ’20s has been uncovered in the heart of Berlin. The music hall theatre has been buried in 30 tonnes of rubble since 1934 when it closed, perhaps as part of a crackdown on the cabaret scene by the Nazi regime. The three level musical hall and restaurant was a cabaret venue and featured a grand ballroom, a theatre, beautiful wall paintings and vaulted stuccoed ceilings.’


Real Space, Imaginary Stuff, Rob Walker on the experience of curating ‘As Real As It Gets‘, an exhibition dedicated to ‘imaginary brands’, recreating them for the real world. Although, as Walker notes, ‘While imaginary brands have populated fictions for generations, some have lately been “defictionalized,” crossing over into the real world — and into this exhibition, since their existence is uncanny enough to consider in this marketplace of ideas. What does it mean to sport a T-shirt, like those from Last Exit To Nowhere, advertising Soylent Green, the Tyrell Corporation, or some other menacing product or corporation?’.


The story of the BBC News website, now 15 years old. And from 2007, the story of the BBC’s online presence / But does it float publishes a selection of images from Corpus Christi, a photographic series by Fabrice Fouillet about contemporary places of worship / yet more Soviet-era architecture fetishism, a topic fast approaching modern ruins, quirky Lego modelling and tube maps as a predictable things staple.


Who would have guessed that Richard Scarry’s Busytown would ride high in Monocle’s Quality of Life Index? / more town planning: Sim City’s ultimate construction set / the late Mark Bourne ran an entertaining film blog, Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL / Supermarine Aircraft make a 90% scale replica of the Spitfire / related, Search for missing Spitfires in Burma due to begin.

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Fighting fire with fire

Occasionally, overthinking things is fun and entertaining: “Swiper, No Swiping!”: The Demonology of Dora the Explorer. Via MeFi, which has plenty more links and this this wonderful comment:

Q:How realistic is the Fireman Sam series? Like, would a town that’s really that small actually have a fire fighting force with such seemingly advanced and expensive equipment? I’m wondering if things are different in the UK, a town that small in the US would not. (yes, I know it’s not meant to be a documentary)

A: It would if the residents of said town were as oblivious and stupid as the people of Pontypandy. The town officials wouldn’t have much choice but to dedicate the bulk of the village budget to fire and rescue. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a town left. You might think that it would be better to put that money in the schools, so that future generations would learn things like “don’t store the camping fuel next to the space heater,” but that ship has sailed; the children of Pontypandy won’t survive to create the next generation if there’s no boat to fetch them every single time the fucking tide goes out.

What I can’t figure out is why they have all that expensive equipment, but they only hired one competent fire fighter: Sam. Penny’s almost competent, except that she can’t figure out to stay far away from the other firefighters when she knows they’re going to pin her under the truck or something.

Does Sam get any time off? What happens then? “What’s that? Norman and his friends accidentally set your collection of oil-soaked rags on fire? And they’re trapped in your shed with them? Why don’t you let them out? … Yeah, doorknobs are tricky things. Anyway, Sam’s gone down to visit his mother in the valley for the afternoon, so why don’t you just go back inside and turn up your TV real loud. We could send a crew, but we all know that means six dead people instead of four. Try to have a nice afternoon.”

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‘… a direct result of the actions and/or gross negligence’

We love it when little spikes of online interest can be traced back to source. The Acme Catalogue has got further traction on Mlkshk and MeFi, which links to this The ORIGINAL Illustrated Catalog Of ACME Products (‘accept no imitiations’). It was also picked up by Coudal, which was inspired to post this classic transcript, Wile E. Coyote, Plaintiff -v.- Acme Company, Defendant:

As the Court is no doubt aware, Defendant has a virtual monopoly of manufacture and sale of goods required by Mr. Coyote’s work. It is our contention that Defendant has used its market advantage to the detriment of the consumer of such specialized products as itching powder, giant kites, Burmese tiger traps, anvils, and two-hundred-foot-long rubber bands. Much as he has come to mistrust Defendant’s products, Mr. Coyote has no other domestic source of supply to which to turn. One can only wonder what our trading partners in Western Europe and Japan would make of such a situation, where a giant company is allowed to victimize the consumer in the most reckless and wrongful manner over and over again.

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A new dustbowl

Elon Musk’s grand plans for colonising Mars – a throwaway remark, perhaps – have certainly captured the media’s attention. There’s a whiff of Bond Villain about the whole endeavour, with the totalitarian, almost cult-ish undertones that would inevitably be created by hiving humanity off into two different planetary entities. Naturally, this also conjures up a deluge of imagery, most of it wildly optimistic and inappropriate; the above picture is from i09’s post twenty retro-futuristic visions of the Red Planet.


A small selection of tumblrs: Accessible Exclusivity, imagery and colour / Pinecones and Hearts / the Art of Google, presumably unofficial. They look great en masse. We like this one especially / Lost Images, ‘correspondence between a Royal Navy sailor and his sweetheart in the early 1900’s’ / the retro review, old games and things / the wandrlustr, old things / Fear the Engineer, fun with 3D printing / Bauzeitgeist, architecture.


DBG emerges from the post-natal gloaming to offer up a poem, a parental lament / it’s entirely possible that the recent Acme Catalogue image was taken from images in this flickr set by Dystopos. Check the Found Art section for more gems / Artifice, a literary publisher / how MIDI changed the face of music / the Kottke holiday gift guide. Ours will follow. It will be more cynical, probably.

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Dark matter

Tokyo 1955-1970 at MoMA (via C-Monster). An exhibition about the avant-garde in post-war Japan, revealing an avant-garde set at ideological odds with the country’s outward expression of calm and conformity. Having declared its post-war reconstruction over just 9 years after being subjected to two atomic bombs, Japan’s economic and technological performance in the 50s and 60s was remarkable, but also contained an undercurrent of uncertainty and upheaval caused by the presence of the US and the close proximity of the war on the Korean peninsula. Often dark and disturbing, the artwork on display reveals a little-known period in contemporary art history. Above, Haraguchi Noriyuki’s painting Tsumu 147, 1966.


Catch it quick: ‘Radio Eris is an algorithmically generated audio stream that will broadcast for 15 days from 23rd November 2012, and then shut down for good.’ Described as a ‘response to the burning of million pounds on the Island of Jura by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty on 23rd August 1994′ (an event which we remain fascinated by), the station has been set up to promote (?) the book KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money, by John Higgs. Few pop acts have taken the time and trouble to create a mystique even half as interesting as that of the KLF.


A beautiful model of Ford Timelord / art by Dr Lakra, showing at Kate Macgarry / The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, a comic about Victorian geniuses / secret codes in everyday life / a view from the ground of the flooding in south-west England / Aesthe/tech:Tonik, visual culture.

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More photo-realism

The Bernarducci Meisel Gallery seems to be home to many of the voyeuristic fringes of photo realism, including the cityscapes of Gus Heinze, the Sofia Coppola-inspiring ‘portraits’ of John Kacere (possibly nsfw), and the, um similarly-themed imagery of Hilo Chen (also nsfw). Even more pin-up art, early erotica and vintage film stills at El Vuit Bruit (decidedly nsfw) / Extraordinart, a portfolio-driven art weblog / through which we find the work of Chelsea Bentley James / fiendishly complex paintings of glass by Steve Smulka.

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Like fairy wings fading away

A short history of the Lego Space Shuttle / Alec Shao, a tumblr about art and installation / see also not shaking the grass, which collates large, visual posts like this one on Lucinda Devlin’s The Omega Suites / where would the proposed Northern Line extension actually go? / Solitaire.exe, a deck of cards by Evan Roth (via Ben Bashford, who also links to Dronestagram) / Dangerous Minds has a Look at London’s Private Clubs, from 1965 / Cave to Canvas, a tumblr about art, from Beardsley to Twombly and many, many more.


Archimodels. A good companion to drawings architecture / new drawings by Angie Lewin / Driveway, a painting by John Ogilvy (at Drawn) / London Underground Tube Map. B minus (for the Prof) / The same bomb joke: endearing young charms / Objective Correlative, the ‘Anthropology of art, objects & the everyday’ / Athanasius Kircher’s cross-section of Vesuvius, 1664. At Diffusive Architectures


Pompeii’s not-so-ancient Roman remains, Mary Beard on how the last days of Pompeii have been carefully constructed, shaping forms out of voids to create macabre limited edition sculptures of the moment of death:

In fact, at the very moment that one version of the young woman is greeting visitors to the Getty Museum in Malibu, an identical version has pride of place in another Pompeii exhibition in Denver, Colorado – different casts and recasts of the same void made by the same dead human being 2,000 years ago (and 5,000 miles away).

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Away, bombs

Is this famous image of a Heinkel bomber above Millwall actually a German propaganda fake? Airminded is on the case / MDM Props are the manufacturers and makers behind many iconic contemporary artworks and installations, including Anish Kapoor’s Turning the World Upside Down installation in Kensington Gardens and Fiona Banner’s Harrier and Jaguar (more images) / Natural Born Matador, a short film celebrating the Lamborghini Espada (via Autoblog).


Seaside Ghost Town: The Abandoned Millionaire’s Resort, yet another modern ruin, this time the town of Varosha in Cyprus / Ms Blue Sky’s photo stream, old ads, pin-ups, and more / Robi, a cute little Japanese robot. We’re not nearly tech-minded enough to know whether it is actually real or not / this little electric guitar is neat, but probably barely playable / 1,000 destructions, an explosive tumblr / keyframe, a tumblr.

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End of week collection of things

A big Friday link round-up. Deck the halls in a Slayer Christmas Jumper / incredible miniature military dioramas at Brigida Tripeira / Quick Streetview, instant access to the world’s front doors (via MeFi / are you growing tired of my love? / The Brothers Brick, a Lego blog / paintings by David Waterson / a fine MeFi post about Britain’s last typewriter. See also an illustrated guide and a debt of thanks at the Guardian / a collection of clapper boards, amongst other effects for sale at the Nordic auction house Bukowskis.


A collection of 3D maps of London Underground/DLR stations / worker bees spill miserable corporate secrets / architectural zoetropes: I, II, III. By students at the Bartlett’s Unit 22 / WWII pigeon message stumps GCHQ decoders. The picture is especially poignant / vintage fish tanks / How to Draw a Tree, with wonderful small scale sketches and paintings / the impact of Hurricaine Sandy / the weblog of the National Railway Museum / a collection of paintings and prints by Winslow Homer / suburbs in the sky, a quirky apartment building by Edouard Francois.


That Last Landscape, a weblog about ‘Art, maps, models, underground buildings and hidden landscapes’, hosted by artist Matthew Miller, whose work includes Ponderosa, a video showing ‘the developing landscape of the American west as I imagine it, a kind of prequel to the map illustrated in the title sequence of Bonanza (1959-1973)’ / a gallery of the New York Aquarium, 1896-1841 / extracts from the collections of the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum / Pruned on Giovanni Bologna’s Appennino pavilion at the Villa Medici at Pratolino.


Wildfire Worlds, a beautifully stylised computer environment for a game about simulated civil unrest / Jon Stick Likes, art and design tumblr / Of Time and the City, a film about Liverpool / World’s Tallest Building will be complete in 90 days, says Chinese building company. Meanwhile, Architecture in China [is] big, bold and shoddy, says the NYT / a collection of stories about early online connections / what are some influential manifestos? / Art world goes Gangnam Style mad in solidarity with Ai Weiwei / I am a shapeshifter, a tumblr / strange pots by Hawktrainer / Did the Lomo camera save film photography? / Man Made Moon at Strange Harvest:

This is a proposal to turn the dome of St Paul’s dome into a man made moon. Wren’s building is transformed into a selenosphere, a hemispherical map of the moon synced through its lighting with the phases of the moon. The cathedrals dome and the moon would hover over London as though it were a city on a planet with two moons. St Paul’s becomes a secular device linking our earthly concerns with the heavenly realm.

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Under Tomorrow’s Sky

Under Tomorrow’s Sky, ‘a fictional, future city’ held at the MU Foundation in Eindhoven and created and curated by Liam Young. Young’s intention was to explore the intersection between architecture, science fiction, speculative literature and real technology, bringing together practitioners from around the world. As a result, Under Tomorrow’s Sky generated a wealth of imagery and a vast miniature model city. Collaborators included Bruce Sterling, Warren Ellis, Rachel Armstrong, Daniel Dociu, Paul Duffield, Microsoft Research Lab, BLDGBLOG, Factory Fifteen and others. Above, concept art by Hovig Alahaidoyan. Young is also co-curated the 2013 Lisbon Architecture Triennial, Close, Closer.

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Solar century

Jamey Stillings photographs Google power plant, Phaidon’s Agenda posts a series of photographs of the world’s largest solar plant, the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System (see the site on Google Maps). Stillings also has some fine photographs of the Hoover Dam Bypass under construction on his site.

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Realist paintings by David Finnigan. Progress and technique information on his weblog, including the underpainting and structure of a work like ‘Interchange‘, above / pop paintings by Terry Thompson, including urban signs.

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The future, then

The Handley Page Victor still seems like a vision of the future, over 60 years after it was designed. Aviation has a habit of confusing timelines, blurring advanced concepts with impossible futurism, with the shroud of secrecy clouding what is new and what is old. One of many photographs posted by Hangar user Barry Jones / related, The Story of the Harrier, early VTOL experiments.


Measuring Victorian London: Mogg’s cab fare map, a post at rag-picking history, an ephemera and history blog. See also The language of the walls: Victorian posters, a snapshot into the sheer density and all-pervasiveness of Victorian advertising culture / Crustaceans, prints by Debby Mason. We also like her Cephalopds.

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Psock’s corner

Deborah Copaken Kogan on rifling through the cupboards at Richard Rogers’ Chelsea house:

What did actually happen was this: I opened Richard Rogers’s sock drawer and started to cry. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It did not only what a good sock drawer should do—organize socks—it did what great works of art aspire to do. It took the bedlam of everyday life, organized it with careful attention to spatial harmony, color balance, and composition, and transformed it from chaos to order, from ordinary to extraordinary, from a simple container for necessities into a perfect expression of the artist’s philosophy: minimalism, bright colors, functionality, form. Everything I’d ever admired about the Pompidou was sitting right there in that drawer.

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The life aquatic

Parlour Aquariums is a massive site devoted to aquarium history, in particular the Victorian naturalists and entrepreneurs who brought the sea shore and the rock pool into the city and the home. See also the excellent The Ocean at Home: An Illustrated History of the Aquarium, which explores the culture created by pioneering books such as A Naturalist’s Ramble on the Devonshire Coast, driving the Victorian mania for taming, categorising and importing the natural world into the home, enjoying the new technologies (‘Their condition in such a vessel is analog to that of a number of persons shut in a room or dungeon with no supply of fresh air; the fish-globe is a sort of crystalline Hole of Calcutta, and the finny prisons die for want of oxygen’) that allowed them to observe the microcosm of life laid before them:

The fish, the weed, and the mollusc, having secured to us a clear view of the inhabitants of the tank, let us inspect them one by one. Here we see the parasitic anemone. Like the old man of the sea, it fixes itself upon some poor Sinbad in the shape of a whelk, and rides about at his ease in search of food. Another interesting variety of this zoophyte is the plumose sea-anemone, a more stay-at-home animal, who generally fixes himself upon a flat rock or an oyster-shell, and waits for the food to come to it, as your London housewife expects the butcher and baker to call in the morning.

Other things. The above image might not even be Victorian, but it’s taken from a huge collection of crustacean imagery at Vintage Printable / Still Unusual has uncovered a box of 1980s fanzines, which are being scanned and posted, as well as being put up on flickr / see also The Golden Age of Indie Fanzines / Pressed up to page, compositions by Peter Nencini / some computing history, ‘Two-tonne Witch computer gets a reboot‘: the Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation from Harwell / Klaus draws architectural cartoons / the Great Ball Contraption, using Lego to make Rube Goldberg-esque machines.

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The life Oramic

The Oramics Machine, ‘a unique electronic instrument invented by Daphne Oram, [who] controlled both the structure of a piece and how it sounded by painting on strips of 35mm film. The fundamental sound came from waveforms that she also painted onto glass slides.’ More on Oramics at We make money not art and watch Atlantis Anew, a film about Daphne Oram and the machine by artist Aura Satz. There’s also an iPhone app.

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Back stories

Other things. Terrifying close-up photographs of eyes / scratch-building a Lamborghini / Three Star Books make artists’ editions, including work by Ryan Gander (I’m Trending) and Matt Mullican (88 Maps) / the story of Vulcan Bomber XH558 / landscape photography by Marie José Jongerius, including the long exposure series lunar landscapes / Postales Inventadas / Making Up Postcards, a project that creates new stories out of existing architectural postcards.

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In storage

A Living Archive, a project that ‘recognizes the cultural compulsion to collect in the U.S., and investigates how this practice should transform the existing typologies of the home and the archive within an emergent American landscape of storage.’ A proposal for a world formed of personal wunderkammers by Megan Panzano. The illustrations reminded us of Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence, about more of which at a later date.


Carlos Acosta’s Cuban ballet school dream. See John Loomis’s Revolution of Forms: Cuba’s Forgotten Art Schools for more details about these remarkable structures. There’s also a documentary, Unfinished Spaces / architecture and design blogged by Ruth Mellor / trade secrets revealed.

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Mostly harmless

A few days of randomness ahead. Who needs a kick-starter? Griff Industries builds ships for Oolite / ‘Car dealer forced to hide Jimmy Savile’s Range Rover after hate campaign over abuse claims‘. The sale was greeted with characteristic nudges and winks in the tabloids back in January / Windows 95 tips (via b3ta) / ‘Disused Rochester Subway: City Asset or Dangerous Abandonment?National Museum of Dentistry.

Posted in nostalgia | 2 Comments