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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posy Simmonds’ classic Guardian series from the late 70s and 80s is being republished as Mrs Weber’s Omnibus. The Sunday Comics Debt has an expansive post on Simmonds’ social satire, a very British (and middle class) story that is densely layered and still relevant, 20 years on. The above strip is from 1986.
Other things / paintings of London streets by David Western / Other People’s Things is a tumblr dedicated to cars / see also the incredible HotWheels / David Catta is a furniture designer. His Boeing Chair is a synthesis of Marc Newson, Carlo Mollino and the ubiquitous Aeron / The Forgotten Line, Thomas Jorion’s photographic journey along an abandoned railway, ‘the last great wasteland in Paris’ / Swiss toymaker Naef makes the remarkable Cella, a nesting cube of intense beauty.
London Cross: A straight line walk across London undertaken by Paul K Lyons, the first part of a grand project: ‘My intention is to do a similar walk from east to west, thus creating a cross. I decided to start and finish both walks at the M25 since it provides a neat geographical boundary for the London area. Both walks are over 30 miles long as a crow would fly.’ / related: Sweet Thames, run softly till I end my song, Quintin Lake’s ‘photographs of the mercurial River Thames made during a 10 day walk in August 2012 backpacking and wild camping where possible along 170 miles of the Thames Path from the source near Kemble in Gloucestershire to the City of London. I chose to end my journey on the steps of St Pauls.’ / also related 10×10: Drawing the City of London.
London Buses, a collection by Kate Farley, presented at Obsessionistas, a website about collections. There are some fine collections on display, including whistles, Braun digital watches, bricks, airline junior wings, Sony Walkmans, vintage British Camping Club pennants, do not disturb signs, miniatures, Christmas catalogues, Japanese guitars and many, many more.
Reverend Clyde Lott and the red heifer of millennial doom. From 1999: ‘If Clyde Lott has his way, several hundred cows will be flown to Israel this December. And the Mississippi preacher has some unlikely allies in his quest: Jews living in Israel and the West Bank. The cows, the first of what Lott hopes will be 50,000 sent to the Jewish state, are part of his plan to fulfill a prophecy that a red heifer being born in Israel will lead to the “Second Coming” of Jesus. The return of Jesus is part of a Christian apocalyptic vision of the end of time, which includes the slaughter of those who don’t accept the Christian messiah as their savior.’ (don’t poke around that site too deeply). The red heifer is mentioned specifically in Numbers 19:2: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke”. One part of a complex jigsaw of events that’ll bring about the end times. Surprisingly, ‘the existence of a red heifer that conforms with all of the rigid requirements imposed by halakha is a biological anomaly‘. The Wikipedia page also notes that the Islamic requirement was for the cow to be yellow. A red cow was born in Israel in 2002, but it was disqualified.
Other things / Urban Air, transform a billboard into a garden above the freeway / the Peckham Literary Festival approaches / buy a Barragan / ‘Is it every blogger’s secret wish to get into retail?‘ / Marzipan and Marmite, a weblog / Gov.uk, the British government services portal, has had an impressively straightforward redesign / a portrait of Saudi Arabia by Olivia Arthur, also co-founder of the Fishbar photography space.
Friendship Explosion, 100 colour studies created by the artist Anthony Gerace. ‘Each one is constructed from a single image, or rather the counterforms from an image, [sourced] mainly from 1960s-1980s magazines, and using the backgrounds from the covers.’ Tonally rich and varied, Gerace has used uncoated paper and tried to create collages that reference the forms on the page – usually portraits.
There’s a strand of contemporary art that involves extremely detailed and complex construction, using techniques taken from cinematic special effects and other disciplines to create an effect that goes beyond real, venturing into the realm of the uncanny. The late Duane Hanson was arguably one of the pioneers of this genre; pieces like Flea Market Vendor and Queenie II elevated observational art to a new level, using fiberglass and other model-making materials to create strikingly life-like figures, initially in the throes of action or confrontation but increasingly in repose and at rest towards the end of his career.
The truly radical nature of Duane Hanson’s procedures – by which casts were made directly from the body and head of a particular but anonymous person with exception of Jogger a doctor friend of Duane Hanson who volunteered for the mold-making sessions, and whose body type fit perfectly with his idea. Reassembled into a complete figure, ilusionistically painted for the most convincing skin-tones and finally dressed in actual clothes. Duane Hanson judged the success of his work insofar as it obscured all traces of his subtle interventions so the figure appeared to be nothing more than a three dimensional replica of an actual person.
The genre that Hanson created underpins many contemporary artists, such as the Anne Geddes meets David Cronenburg nightmares of Patricia Piccinini, the distorted figures of Evan Penny, the moody sculptures of Sam Jinks, the more commercially focused work of Adam Beane and even some pieces by Maurizio Cattelan. Perhaps the best-known artist working in this vein is Ron Mueck, whose career has dovetailed with the image-hungry demands of the internet age. Mueck’s games with scale have a transformative effective on the audience, with hyper-realism used to give the viewer a different perspective on an exaggerated reality. Piccinini, on the other hand, uses this visual language to present a very dystopian view. There’s an exhibition of Piccinini’s recent works at London’s Haunch of Venison gallery later this month. The above image is taken from her 2010 show
After feathers flew in the debate about the fowl extravagance of hedge fund manager Crispin Odey’s chicken house – a little Palladian pastiche courtesy of Smallwood Architects – here’s another OTT chicken coop, a $100,000 special edition created for the legendary Neiman Marcus Christmas book. This isn’t just architecture (‘inspired by Versailles’ Le Petit Trianon‘, no less), it’s a piece of instant agriculture, something approaching an art installation:
– The buyer will receive an initial farm consultation and grounds survey and two additional onsite visits from Heritage Hen Farm expert, Svetlana Simon.
– Simon will select three to ten heritage-breed hens carefully selected to suit your region.
– Installation includes 2 custom-designed + installed raised vegetable or herb garden beds.
– Package includes a multilevel dwelling, nesting area, “living room,” broody room, library with books, two Heritage Hen Farm pasture grazing trays, waterer, feeder, and chandelier. All other props and furnishings not included.
Off the back of the Odey structure there was also a piece in the FT, A coop de théâtre, listing the architectural precedents for elaborate farm building, including the UK’s only listed fowl house, complete with period graffiti (“LIVE AND LET LIVE; SCRAT BEFORE YOU PECK; TRIAL BY JURY; TEACH YOUR GRANNY; CAN YOU SMELL; GIVE EVERY (DOG) HIS DUE (DAY?); HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY.”). At the other end of the scale there’s Frederik Roije’s Breed Retreat, an ‘architectural hen house’ in the SuperDutch mould, or Torsten Ottesjö’s HONSHUS-1, a building for chickens. Also related, Architecture for Dogs (via Architectural Record). Surely an elaborate hoax?
‘When wild beasts roamed the UK‘, the story of menageries, animal shows and exotic beast dealers like Charles Jamrach and Edward Cross. ‘Most exotic pet shops were in London – by 1895 there were 118 wild animal dealers in London alone – but there were also shops in Liverpool, Bath and Bristol.’ Cross’s menagerie shifted around central London, first on the Strand, then to behind Trafalgar Square and then finally to the Royal Surrey Gardens in Walworth, from where it was eventually dispersed and the site used for the construction of the Surrey Music Hall, no trace of which remains in today’s Palsey Park. The modern park is a few steps away from the current workshops of Victor Mara Ltd, scenery painters, about which very little exists online. The company can be traced back half a century at least, before one enters a rabbit hole of stories about theatrical stagings and grand public spectacles:
When Sir Edward Moss, the founder of Moss’ Empires, opened the Hippodrome on January 15th, 1900, he achieved his ambition to give Londoners “a circus and watershow combined with elaborate stage-spectacle impossible in any other theatre.” The first show, entitled Giddy Ostend, starred Little Tich and the cast included a youngster whose name was Charles Chaplin. After Giddy Ostend came a series of extravaganzas with titles like Volcano, Typhoon, Earthquake, Avalanche, and Flood. These productions were by no means confined to the stage; in front of it, the part of the auditorium normally occupied by the stalls, there was a circular arena; the floor could be lowered and the resulting tank filled with a hundred thousand gallons of water. In the course of an Arctic Spectacle called The North Pole, seventy-six Polar Bears slid down into the tank from the stage!
History of film, 100 years in a chart / Remember who you are, James Ward takes the considerable time and effort to attend an all-day long David Icke marathon at Wembley Arena, just so you don’t have to. Also by Ward, what the computer-owning, tweeting popluation sees when it looks up / RIP Lebbeus Woods, Geoff Manaugh pays homage to the charismatic and visionary theorist who died last month / vaguely related, Alexander versus Eisenman, an architectural debate.
Design, art and creativity at Construct of the Mind. We especially like their collection of contemporary landscape photographers, Take a Look / Spectrascopic, a tumblr / Chase Cars, are ‘slot cars with character’ with enhanced suspension and body lean. Perfect for old-school car chases. Part of the presumably huge slot car modifying subculture, such as this site’s attempts to map the 2012 F1 circuits: ‘Our interpretation of the Albert Park circuit requires floor space of at least thirty feet by sixteen feet’.
200 Wilhelms, a composite image created from every appearance of the celebrated Wilhelm scream: ‘By digitally averaging the scenes from 200 films and TV shows they get destroyed, removing the people and leaving behind just a big, bright screen — and a small but larger-than-life sound.’ By Keaggy / Solitudes, a series of woodblock prints by David Bull.
Iconic Houses is a new site designed to map and chronicle houses that are ‘recognized for [their] significance in the development of modern architecture of the 20th century.’ Slick and well-presented, the twist is that all the featured houses must be open in some way to the public.
KGF Classic Cars takes beautifully detailed photographs of its stock, which makes for a fine collection of flickr sets. Check out this Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC, a well-loved Citroen CX20, an incredibly original Trabant 601S, and a Barkas B-1000 Minibus.
A little late for this, perhaps: ‘Dracula will be a 740 page book by the artist Roman Vasseur that features the covers of an ongoing collection of novels from the vampire genre.’ See some of the covers already collected. The project was on show at the Stanley Picker Gallery last week / ‘The tyranny of cultural choice is making my brain gasp‘: ‘Time anxiety induces a perverse reaction to recommendations. Links to “must-read” articles or rave reviews of “must-see” box sets make me sigh.’ Instapaper is the VCR of the information age / illustrated above: paintings by Jessica Rohrer.
David Foster Wallace’s posthumous essay collection, Both Flesh And Not, versus Jenny Turner’s The Brainstorm, a novel about the ins and outs of a progressive newspaper on the cusp of the information age and a sudden – but not catastrophic – loss of memory. The rubber band motif is clearly a good one.
A city map scattered with over 10,000 red dots: the Spatial distribution of executions in Stalin’s Moscow, a ‘database of purges of Moscow residents in 1930s-50s’ taken from data provided by The Memorial Society. Linked via an article by Daniel Sandford via the BBC News magazine, ‘In Moscow, history is everywhere’:
In my flat – Flat 7 at Number 9 – lived two brothers. Olimpiy Kvitkin was killed in 1937 and his younger brother Aristarch in 1939.
It turns out that Olimpiy Kvitkin was a rather important person. Born into an aristocratic and military family, he became a life-long socialist and revolutionary. After studying mathematics at the Sorbonne University in Paris, he became one of Stalin’s leading statisticians. He was the man in charge of the 1937 census, an ambitious attempt to count everyone in the Soviet Union.
That was where his troubles began. Because Stalin had announced in 1934 that the population was 168 million and growing fast but, when the returns came in from the 1937 census, it was clear that the population was just 162 million – six million fewer than Stalin had announced just three years earlier.
It did not mean Stalin was wrong, though he might have been out of date. It meant that the sheer, unimaginable scale of the millions of deaths from the man-made famines of the 1930s was starting to show up in the official statistics. By far the largest numbers died in Ukraine, in what is known as the Holodomor – the extermination by hunger.