Tracking the decline

We are living in a trackable world. As well as the fascinating Flightrader24 site there’s also Marinetraffic.com, which parcels up the world into chunks of maritime movement. There may be more, but our favourite piece of realtime cartography is this London Underground train location map. Related, the evolution of Google Maps. And the introduction of enhanced Google MapsGL.

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Nothing To See Here: A Guide to the Hidden Joys of Scotland / where are some good secret places to put things? / Don’t be afraid of the Art of Noise, an epic MeFi post on the pioneering sample-driven pop act / the Wing House takes flight; recycled 747 as prefab.

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Emergency in the Netherlands: Dutch training environments photographed by Jeroen Hofman. These non-spaces scatter the globe and are periodically dug up by websites like ours; there’s a fascination with architecture and buildings that is designed for something other than conventional use, whether it’s Imber on Salisbury Plain, or the Huangyangtan Mystery.

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The Forgetting Machine: Notes Toward a History of Detroit, Jerry Herron on the evolution of ‘ruin porn’ into a mixture of fine art and banality, neither of which advance our understanding of how cities evolve: ‘At so many now-familiar ruins — the Michigan Central Station, the Packard Motors Plant and Fisher Body Plant No. 21, the jazz-age United Artists Theater, the American Hotel, the Grande Ballroom, the Lee Plaza Hotel, the Vanity Ballroom, the Metropolitan Building, the libraries and schools and churches, etc. etc. — the photogenic decline and fall of the Michigan Empire has been captured by countless observers.’ In the process of creating these images, much of the actual history has been lost, most especially when even the ruins no longer linger to temper our 21st perspective. Herron produces an expanded history of Hudson’s, a monumental department store, second only to Macy’s in size, but demolished and therefore scrubbed out of the modern era’s mental picture of Detroit as a city of ruins. ‘If our history is a history of forgetting how to remember the past, as I am arguing, then the city of Detroit is the engine of our conflicted deliverance. It’s the machinery we’ve used for particular acts of forgetting, each connected to the place and time where the forgetting got done.’ (another good quote from the piece: ‘In the first decades of the new millennium it seems clear that the best years of our American lives were precisely when the mechanisms for abandoning our cities were being put in place.’)

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