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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Design

Monday June 27 2016

Usually, I do quota postings in the small hours of the morning.  Today, I am doing my quota posting in the big hours of the morning, to get it out of the way before a rather busy day, at the end of which I do not want to be fretting about doing a quota posting.  Although, actually, this posting has now turned into something a bit more substantial than that, and I changed the title to something more meaningful.  So anyway, yes, cranes:

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Ah, cranes!  Those structurally perfect votes of confidence in the sky.  Those cranes were snapped from the south bank of the river, looking across at The City, on the same day earlier this month that I snapped yesterday’s quota photo.  What that new Moderately Big Thing is, that some of the cranes there are ministering to, I do not know, but I like how it looks, in its incomplete state.

With Brexit, will the cranes vanish for a few years, until London sorts itself out and finds itself some new business to be doing?  Crexit?  (You can always tell when a word has well and truly caught on, because people immediately start trying to apply the same verbal formula to other things.  Brexit, verbally speaking, is the new Watergate.  Frexit, Swexit, Thisgate, Thatgate, etc. etc.) I thought that the cranes were going to depart after 2008 and all that, but the money people managed to keep the plates spinning on their sticks, and London’s cranes carried on.  How will it be this time?

Here is a very pessimistic piece about Britain’s prospects, for the immediately foreseeable future.  Does this mean that my crane photo-archive will, in hindsight, be the capturing of a moment of the economic history of London that will now pass?  If the cranes do go, how will they look when they return?  When the new cranes move in, in ten years time or whenever, will cranes like those above look strangely retro, like digital cameras circa 2005?

Or, will the cranes never return, but instead be replaced by magic electric guns which fill the air with muck and sculpt a building out of the muck, 3D printing style, all in the space of an afternoon?

Saturday June 25 2016

Now that it’s been decided that we shall Brexit, Dezeen reports on what creatives have been creating to mark the event.  Here are the two images they reproduce which I think are the most striking:

imageimage

Both of these images are intended as expressions of regret that Britain has voted for Brexit, but neither quite say that, or not to me.  What, after all, is so great for a balloon about being stuck in a whole bunch of other balloons?  It’s creator says: “sad day”, but it doesn’t look that sad to me.  It just looks like a change.  If he was merely describing, relatively objectively, what had happened, then I guess: fair enough.

As for the disintegrating, weeping Union Jack, that would work far better as an expression of regret, in the event that Britain had voted Remain rather than Leave.  It is national flags like this one one that the EU has been working tirelessly to replace with its own flag.  Very odd.  But, a striking image nevertheless.

Thursday June 23 2016

First, this, which was the graphic on the front page of today’s pro-Remain Daily Mirror, and reproduced at Samizdata, which Natalie Solent reckons sends a somewhat ambiguous message.  I agree.  Because REMAIN is in the biggest letters, it looks like it could be saying that if you vote REMAIN, you’ll be sucked into a black hole.  As you will, by the way, if enough people do this. This is indeed the fate that awaits us all, in the event of a REMAIN victory.  One of the reasons why this graphic only works when misunderstood, is that when misunderstood, it becomes true!

image

The thing is, the EU is a lot nearer to being like a black hole than us leaving the EU is.  For that message, they needed something more like an endless desert, or a huge tundra, or maybe some grim maritime scene, doom-laden as far as they eye can see.

imageThe enormity of this decision is, I feel, appropriately reflected in the deranged graphics which occurred when this picture got loaded up.  Samizdata usually centres pictures automatically, and also makes them smaller automatically, if they need to be smaller.  That doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment.

In the comment thread on that posting, I mentioned that it was raining.  Which it was, torrentially.  But alas, it soon cleared up, thereby not dampening down the London (= Remain) vote as much it might have if it had rained with less violence but greater steadiness.  I mean, they even managed to have a shortened game of cricket at Lord’s, after the rain had stopped.

And on the right there, Elizabeth Hurley, who will have voted Leave by now, that being the picture she Twittered yesterday along with her support for Leave.  There she stands, wearing only high-healed sandals and a Union Jack cushion, or that’s how it looks.  Thankyou Guido.  She was probably right that this would get noticed, and would aid the cause she favours.  But I bet the Leavers have been circulating their own interpretations of this rather odd picture.  Is the picture recent, I wonder, or does it date from way back?

At least it is upbeat and optimistic in atmosphere, unlike that black hole.

Monday June 20 2016

One of the more intriguing consequences of the not-now-so-very-recent (what with another one coming along) Scottish independence referendum (which happened in September 2014) was that, rather suddenly, the world (by which I really mean: I) suddenly found itself (myself) contemplating the idea of the Union Jack flag disappearing into the history books.  Had Scotland gone separate, the Union Jack would surely have had to be redesigned.  I would not have regretted Scotland detatching itself from England, in fact I would have voted for this if I could have.  But, I would have regretted the passing of the Union Jack, if only because it is such a great design, so recognisable that it is capable of being endlessly mucked about with, while still remaining the Union Jack.

The new, non Scottish version of the Union Jack might have looked a bit like the bag on the left here, as we look:

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That snap was snapped in 2015, after the Scottish referendum, but I don’t think those designs have anything to do with politics.  They’re just simplified and rather dull variations on the Union Jack theme.  The one on the left just happens to look a lot like the Union Jack minus the Saltire.  (Saltire is the Scottish flag, right?  Yes.) But what does the one on the right signify?  In terms of the flags that go towards the Union Jack, it takes the blue stripes from the Saltire and turns them into a background for the red bits of the Welsh and English flags.  So actually, it’s just a blue bag, with bits of red Union Jack-ish stuff on it.  Maybe there was also a red one with white Union Jack-ish stuck on, to complete the red white and blue set.  I might never have bothered showing the above photo here, if it hadn’t been for the Saltire subtraction angle.

I had already been snapping Union Jack snaps, since quite a while before that moment of the Union Jack’s possible moment of disappearance.  I long ago added “funny things being done with the Union Jack” to my mental photo-category list, alongside such things as bald blokes taking photos, utilitarian and commonplace footbridges, taxis covered in adverts, Big Things seen from a long way away in among foreground clutter, and so forth and so on.  But, since that earlier referendum, I have been taking photos of Union Jacks with particular zeal.

Here are a couple of very recent Union Jack snaps I did.  The first is of some flip-flops, on sale at the Parliament end of Westminster Bridge:

image

I reckon it’s the cellophane that gives that its artistic effect.

And here is a London taxi wing mirror:

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That taxi décor isn’t part of an advert.  It is just a taxi decorated with the Union Jack.

And then, while I was ruminating on a posting along these lines, came this piece of graphic Union Jackery, from the Spectator, to decorate their decision to back the Leave campaign in the forthcoming EU referundum:

image

This reminded me of a picture I took in East London five years ago, of some Art:

image

I could continue, with yet more Union Jack snaps, but I will end with some more Brexit propaganda.  Still on the flying theme, just before I took the above snap of how fabulous Britain will be and will feel if we Leave, here, taken just moments earlier, is another Artistic-type picture of how ghastly things will be and will feel if we Remain.  That’s the EU there, trying and failing to take wing, because its bureaucracy is far too big and heavy and its wings far too feeble and misshapen, crushing us as it plummets to earth:

image

Are you thinking that there really needs to be a Union Jack on that car, to make this point even clearer?  But that’s exactly point!  The EU scrubs out the Union Jack. Look!  The Union Jack is nowhere to be seen!  The EU has totally obliterated it!  What could be clearer?

Slightly more seriously, the EU’s rulers will not be happy until they have driven the Union Jack into the history books, not by breaking up Britain, but by swallowing it and turning it into either fuel for itself, or shit.  The only Union they want, and want celebrated with a flag, is their own.

Tuesday June 14 2016

So I photo this guy outside Westminster Abbey who is wearing a Chicago Lions shirt:

image

Later I ask him what sport the Chicago Lions play.  He doesn’t know, but the magic WWW in the sky knows, because it knows everything that there is to be known.  Turns out the Chicago Lions play rugby. I couldn’t find any Chicago Lions shirts looking like that one, that colour.  But I could find no other Chicago sports team called that, so that must be it.

In the course of googling I also came across some Lion statues in Chicago, and further news of how these Lion statues were made to wear Chicago Bears helmets (American football), and Chicago Blackhawks helmets (ice hockey):

imageimageimageimageimage

Such is the world.  Such is Chicago.  Such is the internet.

Sunday June 12 2016

Photoed by me yesterday, in Lower Marsh:

image

How soon before you will be able to take a smartphone photo of such a vehicle, and then, on your screen, press on the Twitter or Facebook squares, or on the website, and get there.  Presumably, with that squiggly square, you can already do something like this.

That would certainly be an “intelligent advertising” improvement on what I have heard threats of, which is that adverts will change when they see you coming, to something they believe you are interested in.  But I don’t believe that will happen any time soon, because how would you stop other people seeing what the advert thinks you are interested in?  Leaving it up to you to investigate further, if you want to, will be much more civilised.

Friday June 10 2016

As I understand it, the big reason why miniature helicopters work is because modern computer magic can control all the propellers and stop them crashing.  Proper big helicopter piloting is notoriously skilful.  Now, a tiny little robot can fly a tiny little helicopter, all by itself.  But, first generation consumer drones are going to look very foolish to later drone-flaunters, because so big, and because they are just so clunky and dangerous.

This looks much more of a serious prospect, especially for indoors:

image

If that does an Enrique Iglesias to you, it will do you far less damage and do itself far less damage, not least because humans are less liable to beat it to death after it attacks them.

Regular commenter here Michael Jennings is fond of enthusing about the miraculous advances in materials technology we’ve been having lately.  I bet this gizmo is a fine example, especially those propeller covers.  If they’re too heavy, they sink (literally) the entire idea.

I wonder how noisy it is.

Not very, if this quicky engadget youtube review is anything to go by:

You wait a decade for videos at BMdotcom, and now two come along at once.

LATER: 6k drone blues.  Maybe cancel “Lily”, and get the above?

Friday June 03 2016

Here is a picture of the Lower Manhattan end of New York, the bit with the tallest skyscrapers, topped off in 2001 by the Twin Towers:

image

And here is another picture of the exact same scene, taken fifteen years later in 2016, this time topped off with the single replacement tower for the Twin Towers:

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The guy who took these pictures was interested in which photograph is photographically superior.  The first one was taken with old-school film and the second is digital.

To me the two pictures look nearly identical.  Their technical identicality does not interest me.  But their architectural identicality, aside from the Twin Towers alteration, is something that I find fascinating.

Skyscrapers have exploded all over the world in the last decade and a half.  New York is one of the world’s great cities.  And yet, here are two photos of New York taken at opposite ends of the last fifteen years, and aside from the rather dramatic change imposed upon the place by terrorism, nothing at all seems to have changed.

Things were not changing in 2001 and they aren’t changing now.  Consider the cranes in these pictures.  Basically, barring a few microsopically invisible ones, there are no cranes.

I don’t know why this is, but it strikes me as an extremely remarkable circumstance.

It’s not that you aren’t allowed to build towers in New York any longer, unless you are replacing something like the Twin Towers.  In the part of New York a bit further to the north, just to the south of Central Park, there is an explosion of skyscrapers under way.  Skyscrapers that are very tall, but very thin.

Here is a picture of how these new New York Thin Things look like they will look:

image

People have long feared that skyscrapers would make all big cities the world over look alike.  But the shape of individual skyscrapers varies from city to city, and does the shape of skyscraper clusters as a whole, and as does the variations in the heights of buildings.  A city where the newest and tallest towers are a lot taller than the older buildings is one sort of city.  A city where new towers are only slightly taller than old ones looks very different.

New York’s newest towers are, as I say, these tall Thin Things, a lot taller than their surroundings.  In London, the typical new tower is a much fatter looking Thing, the extreme recent case being the Walkie Talkie which is big on the ground compared to its height, and which then bulges outwards as it goes upwards.

Interestingly, the Walkie Talkie is the work of Rafael Vinoly, as is this new Thin Thing in New York.  (You can just see the top of this new Thin Thing in the second of the two Lower Manhattan photos above, bottom left, in the foreground.  That’s the one big change in these photos aside from the Twin Towers having been replaced.) It’s like Vinoly wants to do his bit to make great cities look distinct and recognisable, rather than them all looking the same.  Good for him.

Monday May 30 2016

As nudged by Simon Gibbs yesterday, I did indeed make my way to Trafalgar Square to check out Kenny and his Brexit chalk-proclamation.

The photos I sent to Libertarian Home yesterday evening were strictly utilitarian, to tell LH exactly what Kenny had written.  Read the entire thing there.

Here, on the other hand, are some pictures which give more of an idea of how it looked, what the atmosphere was, and what Kenny himself looks like:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

The atmosphere was low-key, actually. There were no scenes or arguments, although I did hear the occasional “not going to read it all because it says Out”, as people walked away.  Others, however, did stop and read.  Most significant, I would guess, were those with mobile phones who were, unlike me, maybe passing it on with twenty-first century immediacy.  (I had to wait until I got home before I could send off my photos.)

I had to wait a while for Kenny to finish his efforts.  I got there before 3pm, and it wasn’t until just after 5pm that he was done.  And he started at 10am.

But it was worth the wait, and there was plenty else in Trafalgar Square to divert me, and to take photos of.  But photos like that can wait.  First things first, and that means Kenny.

Sunday May 29 2016

I have been neglecting Libertarian Home of late.  Let me assure LH’s Dear Leader Simon Gibbs that this is not permanent, just a combination of the declining energy that accompanies advancing years, and being, first, knackered by my French expedition, ant then preoccupied with the meeting I hosted on Friday addressed by Dominic Frisby.  (Because this was a dry run for a theatrical performance at the Edinburgh Festival in August, some rearranging was required in my tiny front room, to make it less completely unlike a theatre.)

Simon has made it easy for me to respond positively to his constant nudgings, by serving up a nudge that is very easy for me to respond to, and in fact which I am glad to respond to, because it takes care of my something-every-day self-imposed rule here, for today.

At the Libertarian Home secret coven site where Simon nudges most of his nudgings to his various LH helpers and comrades, he posted this picture, which he recently snapped in Trafalgar Square:

image

Click on that to get the original, bigger and with more verbiage.

It is typical of Simon that he nudged this in my direction (picking me out individually thereby ensuring that an email about the nudge would reach me immediately) by emphasising the horizontality of this photo.  (He had other ways of recommending it to others.) What this illustrates is that Simon is good at tuning in to how others think, which is the bedrock of the art of persuasion.

Could the horizontality of a photo mean less to Simon Gibbs if it tried?  Probably not.  But Simon knows that horizontality means something (that was one of the snaps in this posting) to me

Photographic horizontality interests me because it suits the blogging format by helping to make blog postings vertically shorter and hence less unwieldy than they would otherwise be, and because horizontality also suits other circumstances that happen to be of interest to me.

So, he used it.  Thus are ideological movements built and strengthened.

That Brexit thing is getting less and less horizontal by the minute, apparently.  Although I promise nothing, I have in mind (more Gibbs nudging) to go to Trafalgar Square this afternoon and try to photo the whole thing.

Saturday May 28 2016

I was very proud of this photo of seven London bridges ...:

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… when I first posted it here.

Today I took another photo of these same seven bridges:

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I said I’d check this model of the City of London out, and today I did.

I wish this model included Westminster as well as the City, but it’s a model of the City.

Wednesday May 25 2016

I already showed you some Narbonne bridges, snapped during my France expedition.  Here are more bridges.

Are these first lot of bridges really bridges, or are they just buildings with holes in the bottom of them to let people through?  I reckon these make the cut, but once the buildings start really piling up on top of the holes …?:

imageimageimageimageimage

I’m doing these bridge photos in sets of three, and next is a clutch of photos of a set of three bridges that connect the town of Ceret to the other side of the local river.  Picasso spent time in Ceret, because of the light.  (I also photoed Renault Picassos.)

The regular shot of these bridges is from below, as you can see if you click on the second of these photos.  But I was with people who were in a hurry, so I only got to photo the bridges from the other bridges, or in one case, the shadow of a bridge, from the bridge.  And oh look, photographers!:

imageimageimageimageimage

In the first of these next three bridge photos, there are three more bridges, by my count.  They’re in the seaside town of Collioure.  The other two are in Perpignan, where, just like in Quimper (where I have also visited these same friends (G(od)D(aughter)2’s family) – they have houses all over the place), there is a river flowing through the middle of the town with multiple bridges over it.

imageimageimageimageimage

Finally, here are some rather more modern bridges.  First there is one of the main motorway from France to Spain, which carries a lot of lorries.

The motorways of Europe may, I surmise, be the place on earth where robot drivers have their first seriously big impact.  Robot cars are too complicated, and to start with, what will be the point of them?  But robot lorries will be able to travel a lot faster than regular lorries, for a lot longer than regular lorries, on roads that are the most controlled and predictable roads in existence.  European motorways carry colossal amounts of freight, unlike in the USA, where a lot freight goes by train, Europe’s railways being full of passenger trains.  And there’s nothing like a sight of this particular motorway, handily shown off by being placed on the side of a mountain in full view of the local and non-charged version of the same road, to see all this.

In the middle below is a hastily snapped shot from a bridge as we drove over it, over a newly constructed high speed passenger railway, again connecting France to Spain.  Brand new railways lines have a certain pristine charm, I think, with the gravel under the tracks yet to be blackened by constant use.

imageimageimageimageimage

Finally, we have what may well be my favourite South of France bridge photo of them all, on the right there.  This is one of those unselfconsciously functional footbridges, which more and more abound in towns and cities (London has many such bridges), and which join work spaces off the ground to other work spaces off the ground.  This particular footbridge is in Perpignan.

Quite why such bridges, which have long been around, are now proliferating is an interesting question.  Maybe it is just that organisations are getting bigger, and demand bigger buildings, and connecting two buildings by a footbridge of this sort turns two buildings into one building, at any rate for certain purposes.  If two bureaucracies that live across the road from each other merge, then a bridge joining the top floors together is the logical first managerial step.  This allows the new bosses to commune with one another, without having to trundle up and down and across the road all day long, rubbing their shoulders with the unclean shoulders of their underlings.  Lower footbridges bridges enable functional specialisation to proliferate among lesser personages.

But, what do I know?  My point is, I like such footbridges.  And whereas most of the other bridges in this posting are the sort that feature in lots of other people’s photos and in picture postcards, these Brand-X urban footbridges are only a Thing because I say they are.  Which is a major purpose of truly good photography.  Truly good photography doesn’t just celebrate the already much celebrated; truly good photography offers new objects of potential celebration.

So now I will celebrate this Perpignan footbridge some more:

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As I was photoing it, I was banging on to my companions about this footbridge and about footbridges like it, and they asked me if I was familiar with this London footbridge.  Oh yes.

Thanks to that little spot of googling, I just came across, for the first time, this bridge blog.  Do you want to meet bridges in your area?  That seems like a good place to look.

Sunday May 22 2016

I have already shown you some horizontalised signs that I snapped in France.  Here is a selection of the more regularly shaped sorts of signs, in the order I snapped them:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

I love the ambiguity of the very first (1.1) of them, with the French for bread being pain.

Whoever thought that theatre (1.3) could be so dangerous.

That T-shirt (2.2) is a reminder of how many Brits there are in these parts, and the “Tattoo and piercing” sign (3.4) of how French people think English is cool.  The French go to England to work.  The Anglos (apart from those going there to sing) go to France to unwind, as I was doing.  I’m guessing that’s roughly how it is.  France specialises in being nice.  England specialises in being busy.

I like how the French for cul-de-sac, which you would expect to be “cul-de-sac”, is actually “impasse” (4.1), which in English means something rather different.

I like (4.2) how on building sites, everyone gets credit, like at the end of a movie.

And then there are all those street name signs, that double up as history lessons.  2.4 and 3.1 are too famous to need a date, but one (3.1) still needs a brief explanation.  But I love how the guy who does need a date (3.2) would probably have been awarded dates no matter what, because look at those dates!  I only just noticed this.

I like how the French for diversion is deviation (4.3). 

That Crack sign (4.4) was actually not in France but in a big shopping centre in Spain.

2.1 is reminder that not all signs in France are as informative as most of them are.

Wednesday May 18 2016

So I was looking at Amusing Planet, the way you do, and looking in particular at a posting about bridges with shops on them, the way I do, and at the top of the piece, it said this:

There are four such bridges in the world.

And the pictures follow: Ponte Vecchio; Krämerbrücke, Erfurt; the Rialto in Venice; Pulteney Bridge in Bath.  (The old London Bridge is, alas, no more.)

But then the bit about how there are four such bridges was crossed out, and this was added:

Update: Apparently, there are a few more. Pont des Marchands in Narbonne, France, is one example.

Narbonne?  I was in Narbonne only days ago, hearing GodDaughter 2 and her pals sing the solo parts in the Mozart Requiem.  Afterwards, we walked beside the river back to the car.  Did I, I wonder, photo this Pont des Marchands?  I do recall bridges, and I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t photoed them.  Here are a couple of Narbonne bridges, that I photoed then:

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So, did the Pont des Marchands figure in my bridge-snapping?

Image google image google.

The Pont des Marchands looks like this:

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I had already copied those two bridge pictures above into my FranceMay2016/bridges subdirectory, but in that directory, there was no sign of anything with shops on top of it.  However, another look through all the pictures I took in Narbonne that evening brought me to ... this:

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The bridge in the front there is the one in the left of the two bridges above.  Behind that little footbridge, could that be the Pont des Marchands, seen from the other side?  Got to be.  Those Ms certainly look encouraging.  Short answer, after only a very little more image googling: yes.

There’s nothing quite like seeing something for yourself.  And the next best thing is when you photo it without seeing it, and then see later that you did see it after all.

Tuesday May 17 2016

I had today, May 17th, as the day when I would finally have recovered from the strain and stress of taking a holiday in the south of France earlier this month.

So, what else is there to say about France.  Well, a thing I love about France is … The Wires!  Just like all those dezeen pictures of bland new Japanese dwellings, surrounded by The Wires!, France also seems to have no inhibitions about hanging The Wires! everywhere, and in particular above the roads.

Below are sixteen South of France clutter photos, chosen from a clutch of clutter photos several times larger than that.  Included in these photos are views of The Wires!, and also of regular roof clutter consisting of kit for receiving entertainment.  Sometimes both:

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I am fascinated by all this clutter, because I am.  But in addition to just liking it, I think that it illustrates an important point about the modern world, which is that if clutter is so visually appealing – as I believe it often is – then people should, on aesthetic grounds, be allowed to do erect whatever they like.  Chances are, it will look amusing rather than ugly, in much the same way as a forest or a crystal cluster.

But, I have to admit that the general south of Franceness of it all also appeals.  All those orange tiled rooves, and stucco, and all that amazing light.  Almost anything looks good in light as nice as it often is down there, which it was for the first few days.

Most of the above photos were taken in the town of Thuir, where my hosts have a house.