Sunday, 17 June 2007

Architecture of density

Photographer Michael Wolf has lived in Hong Kong for over ten years. His series Architecture of Density is as breathtaking as it is haunting. Hovering between abstraction and extreme detail, these images seem to be constantly shifting scale. A poetics of mass housing, if ever there was one.

Email Scams and storytelling

There are many of these scam emails around, promising millions of dollars in exchange for your bank details and some kind of security deposit. For a while I was collecting them, fascinated by the creativity and exoticism of many of the narratives in them.
My favourite was one in which a grand Nigerian lady, a widow of a high government official who had been poisoned at an embassy cocktail party (just picture the dresses and the canapes!), was trying to get a few million dollars out of the country. There was a metallic suitcase involved which had to be snatched from her brother-in-law and travel by diplomatic channels through Ghana and Hong Kong before it could reach me.
My email provider's spam filters, unfortunately, have been efficiently upgraded, and now I barely get any of these. So I was thrilled this morning to come across the Job Scam Repository. I had wanted to create an online picture book illustrating each story, but never came round to it, of course. Maybe now that I have the archive at hand...

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Vintage animated drive-in Intermission film

Not very politically correct, but great graphics.

A 50 year old Plymouth

A few years ago I wrote a chapter on 1950s American cars in contemporary Cuba, for a book called Autopia. I kicked off by telling the story of a 1957 brand-new Plymouth Belvedere which had been buried in Tulsa City, Oklahoma, as a 50-year time capsule, a reminder for future generations of the excellence and panache of the North-American car manufacturing industry.

But suddenly, it's 2007, and yesterday the car was unearthed in a magnificent ceremony brimming with brash civic pomp and circumstance. Needless to say, the North-American car industry is not what it was 50 years ago. Neither is the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere. Cuba makes for a much more effective time capsule, if you ask me. Perhaps this faded automotive jewel should join the row of half-buried Cadillacs in Cadillac Ranch, Texas.

artek's vintage revenge

Maybe it's a concern with sustainability, preserving resources, re-using and re-cycling. Maybe it's a degree of ennui with the eternally new. Or maybe it's just that easy catch-all cultural diagnosis: the zeitgeist. (Or even, maybe, the subtle drift of my own interests which brings some things into sharper focus, regardless of their actual relevance). But there has been a steady buildup of interest in vintage design pieces - 20th century high-design furniture and objects which are currently changing hands for astronomical sums of money at international auction houses.
I've been following the vintage scene for a few months now, but Artek's latest contribution to it seems to be of a different nature altogether. Last April, Artek launched a project called 2nd Cycle, foraging around for vintage Artek pieces in Finland's hospitals, schools, factories and flea markets, and hoarding them in their warehouses. What they're planning to do with them is anybody's guess. Their website has a truly lovely selection of individual objects' life-stories and some wonderful pictures. I can feel a hefty profit in the making, though, if not a full-blown worldwide vintage design craze. Uber-hip-man Tyler Brule's new glossy Monocle publishes a filmed interview with Artek's creative director Tom Dixon in its online edition. Dixon waxes lyrical about patina. I can only agree. The purpose of this blog being drifting, and therefore not long-drawn critical analysis, I leave you to ponder the implications of this latest design development.