The Imaginary Wilderness

We have returned from a fortnight of travelling that took in one of the most easterly points of Europe (related) and one of the most westerly. Our apologies for the lack of updates and slow order dispatch (things 19/20 available here…). Some random links: Wig and Pen on the science of what bugs us, a new book about things that are Annoying / related, perhaps: Ball-droppings, a gentle browser-based music generator / not related, CBeebies constant generator for hands-free childcare / Theories of the Deep Understanding of Things, a tumblr / Celluloid Days, a tumblr / hey, this tumblr is called things / Graphical Distractions. Great site / a tumblr filled with architecture with not a lot of context / last but not liste, a vast collection of links. This is what weblogs used to look like before people discovered snappy black and white movie grabs and photographs of pencils arranged neatly on desktops.

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A Short History of the Campsite, Martin Hogue on the evolution of the modern campsite, and how our perception of spatial enclosure and spatial alienation are tempered and balanced. We could go on endlessly about the emotive power of the vintage Airstream, but really what these objects do is compress a number of emotive responses together. A few years ago, Tom Bentley wrote an elegiac piece on his Airstream Caravan for issue 17-18, neatly capturing the romance that is bound up in these semi-sacred objects; romance for the open road, for the wilderness and for an unbridled modernism that wraps up everything else. ‘Our Airstream has only moved about fifty feet in the three years we’ve owned it, from its delivery spot on the driveway to its present ensconcement, resting in regal repose, surrounded by poppies and shaded by the apricot tree behind the garage.’

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We’re very grateful for the recent mention on MagCulture, one of our favourite sites, for which we are very grateful. Our pronouncements about the end/death/finality of things in print are heartfelt but we’re still looking into our options. The current issue is especially lovely in terms of its lightness of feel and the density of text. There’s something about the imprecision of the black and white image that encourages further investigation; unlike the full colour hi-res reproduction, a black and white image is more like a memory, an indication of what something is like without revealing its full qualities. We clip hundreds of images to our virtual scrapbook. They sit in a folder, captured, like butterflies pinned to a board in a display case. These images aren’t uploaded to flickr, tumblr or our project pages, but kept as memories, invariably shorn of context and source (although TinEye has the potential to become the omniscient archivist of the visual internet). Just as the butterfly collector must experience some kind of lingering sadness at the incompleteness of the things they wish to collector, so the hoarder of virtual objects is stuck with a facsimile.

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The Portuguese word saudade is usually translated as a form of extreme, even painful, nostalgia for things, places and people that are in some way lost in their remembered form. Things is frequently preoccupied with nostalgia, and how that emotion feels like a constant undercurrent running through certain aspects of the internet of objects, memories and recollections. The archival internet is a visual internet, and we’d suggest that the richer the online treasure troves become, the greater and more widespread the saudade at what they represent in terms of lost and irretrievable things.

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