The Architectural Uncanny

A set of photographs of Poundbury by Dennis Gilbert. There’s a studied blankness here, an almost subconscious attempt at sabotaging the contrived neo-classical picturesque that Poundbury supposedly represents. It’s unfortunate perhaps that the modern archetype the town most closely resembles are the sprawling commuter estates, their banality cherished by contemporary photographers and used ironically to symbolise the passing of an unattainable utopia. Gilbert’s camera seems to focus on the bits that aren’t quite right, the architecturally uncanny – small windows, blank walls, top heavy roofs, random facade arrangements. Perhaps in more careful hands, these self-conscious diversions would have a certain charm – that’s largely the reason for Portmeirion’s success.

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Few places have never aspired to ape any aspects of this pervasive domestic nostalgia. Milton Keynes, for example, followed the American model: MK as LA. See also Gentrification and Its Discontents, ‘Manhattan never was what we think it was’, or how the image of the perfect city is informed largely by memory and wishful thinking. A quote, ‘[Sharon] Zukin declares that she “resent[s] everything Starbucks represents,” which really means that her urban ideal is the cool neighborhood at the moment before the first Starbucks moves in, an ever-more-fleeting moment.’ Previously at things.

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Republican web woes: “A ‘teacher’ told my child in class that dolphins were mammals and not fish!” a third [policy submitter] complains. “And the same thing about whales! We need TRADITIONAL VALUES in all areas of education. If it swims in the water, it is a FISH. Period! End of Story.” / What have we today? Clippings from This England / are Orbit bashers indulging in a ‘nervous desire to second-guess posterity … a new phenomenon [that’s a] product of the modernist supremacy slipping into the past and the immense power of the “they laughed at Columbus” meme in a relativist age, or part of the same queasy cultural acceleration that means some artists and comedians now see outrage as a form of acclaim.’.

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Dungeness: Sounds in the Darkness at Restless Energy: ‘This is no gentle lulling of crickets and frogs on the bayou, but rather a raging torrent of sinister gurgling screams, like the collective anger of a million inconsolable babies all reaching fever pitch at the same time.’ Via Spencer Murphy / Buy Vintage, old cars, mopeds and bicycles for sale. See also the Online Vintage Bicycle Museum / contemporary acoustic sessions at Songs for the Shed, including things favourites Owl in the Sun / Alvaro Siza at dinner / MyPaint, ‘open source painting’.

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Work stops on Chinese ghost town. No names, but this urban shell is in Qingshuihe province in Mongolia, probably not too far from Ordos, which seems to be set for a similar fate. A couple of recent news reports: Gizmodo, WeirdAsiaNews.

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The Gigapan camera / the art of Kim Gordon / Liverpool Museums blog / Place Setting, an art project / it’s almost counter-productive, but we feel duty bound to share Willfully Obscure with you, an mp3 blog pushing out ripped copies of some truly obscure gems / see also Space Rock Mountain / the complete works of Serge Gainsbourg.

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Take Ivy, ‘originally published in Japan in 1965, setting off an explosion of American-influenced “Ivy Style” fashion among students in the trendy Ginza shopping district of Tokyo’ / create a rainy mood / how to make a time capsule in the digital age. Sad premise, interesting tips / Tenderproduct and Tenderpixel / ecar, an architectural tumblr.

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On Tetris, ‘Most importantly, as a freelancer, my life has become a constant wait for the “I” block.’ That wait is often unbearable, but when it finally comes—via an editor’s e-mail or telephone call—there’s a flash of light and a scream of sound.’ At The Millions, a literary magazine. See also Berlin Block Tetris, via Caterpillar House. Once upon a time this would have passed as wry social comment, but now it’s just something rather neat and beautiful.

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