Shuttle Hexagon Lensflare

Shuttle hexagon lensflare

During the first few minutes of the rather curious documentary Around the world in 60 minutes, shown recently on BBC Four, there is a stunning short sequence of the Space Shuttle Atlantis (mission STS-132) as filmed from the International Space Station.

As the shuttle slowly approaches the ISS, suddenly a myriad of iridescent hexagon lensflares flood across the screen. It's beautiful.

Here are some screen shots.

Shuttle hexagon lensflare
Shuttle hexagon lensflare
Shuttle hexagon lensflare
Shuttle hexagon lensflare
Shuttle hexagon lensflare
Shuttle hexagon lensflare

The past bleeds into the future

Leningrad - St. Petersburg

In a similar realm to the virtual bleeding into the real (still the most popular post on this blog), these amazing images of St. Petersburg show the past bleeding into the future. Images of modern day St. Petersburg are meticulously matched to wartime images of the city during the Siege of Leningrad.

Instead of a slippage between two spaces. these photos show a timeslip, the exact same location caught at two moments in time. A wormhole opens, we cannot help but fall into it.

Ghosts of the past enter the present.

Leningrad merges with St. Petersburg.

Leningrad - St. Petersburg
Leningrad - St. Petersburg
Leningrad - St. Petersburg
Leningrad - St. Petersburg

Kin-dza-dza

Spend any time on FFFFound, and you'll probably come across this image sooner or later:

Kin-dza-dza

Seemingly defying gravity, an impossible cantilever, a tethered spaceship made from corrugated iron sheeting, a rusting Howl's Moving Castle.

Here's another view.

Kin-dza-dza

The reality is that the original photograph, of an abandoned grainery, near Krasnosilka in Ukraine, was simply photoshopped to remove the other struts. But it's amazing how the perception of the structure is alterated so completely by simple photo-trickery. The enthusiasm of the comments shows just how much people wanted it to be true.

Kin-dza-dza

There's another one here:

Kin-dza-dza

With this series of image manipulations, photoshopper Kyryl has created a new archetype of rural structure. The Germans, of course, have a word for it - lügengebäude - "a building of lies," an elaborate edifice of interrelated falsities.

Is "form follows fiction" the new language of architectural production?

Kropilak

Kropilak

Kropilak

Kropilak

The web site of Branislav Kropilak now features larger scale images of the beautiful parking garages series, and the stunning billboards series of photographs.

In the Garages series, underground parking garages become a secret place of order, rhythm and intense colour. The images appear almost hyperreal - the empty spaces so brightly lit, the surfaces so gleaming, the symmetrical one-point perspective - that they almost seem computer generated.

Similarly the Billboards series, with its vertiginous views looking straight up the stanchions of a billboard tower, each glowing in a dusk sky,present an alien view of a familiar object.

I am increasingly becoming convinced that there is more truth in these 'found' architectures than any of the works that feature in contemporary architectural magazines. If Learning from Las Vegas taught us to think about the separation of sign and container via the casino signs along the Vegas strip, these images invite us to consider the signs themselves as pure structure, signifying nothing but themselves.

Kropilak

Kropilak

Kropilak

City of Signs 5

Gregor Graf, Linz

Hidden Towns, by Austrian photographer Gregor Graf, offers a fascinating view of the contemporary city. With careful retouching, Graf removes his images completely of signs and symbols.

Gregor Graf, Linz

What is left is unsettling, the cities seem deserted and uninhabited. The photographs of Graf's home town of Linz are especially provacative, with the flat colours of streets and building facades strongly recalling paintings by Edward Hopper.

Gregor Graf, Linz

Gregor Graf, Linz

This is Graf's description of the Hidden Towns project in Linz:

Borderline urban spaces in Linz, major thoroughfares leading in and out of the city, lined with buildings from the 50s to the 80s. Districts formerly located on the periphery that are today squeezed in between the city's historical centre and the frayed suburban and industrial zones lying on its outskirts. These are the motifs of the four photographic works in Gregor Graf's hidden town - verborgene Stadt series. The "stars" in these photos are are the buildings on Dinghofer, Dametz and Mozart Streets. Back in the 60s this streets were incorporated into a traffic concept that was even then reguarded as only an interim solution to get the rising number of vehicles in the city centre under control. Buildings were torn down, whole rows of houses were shifted and existing structures were were altered. These intermediaryregions became spaces dedicated efficient movement, filled with all the traffic lights and signage systems that entails.

The city as living space is today no longer shaped by the individuals who inhabit it. At the textural level - with words, symbols, logos, directional and traffic signs, commands and prohibitions-the only elements allowed are those that serve the end of law or consumption. Free expression, such as graffiti or the unauthorized hanging of posters in the public space is punishable by law. The real city is increasingly becoming a personality-drained world of corporationsand branding, coupled with the proliferation of rigorous regulations dictating how individuals are expected to behave. Modernism tried to rid architecture of ornament-advertisingand directional systems have now brought it back, under a new guise and with a new function. City centres have evolved into "literary" spaces. New technical possibilities (glass, large print, tickers, digital text production technologies, mega displays, transparent buildings) turn buildings facades into another medium for conveying nwes, with whole buildings becoming there own logo.

For hidden town - verborgene Stadt - Gregor Graf applied a complicated retouching process to remove all graphic elements from his photographic images. They appear as spaces void of signs, making them seem unreal, and cultural interchangable. At the same time, they offer an undisguised view of the architecture and at the clarified spacial systems. The digital editing involved traffic signage and graphics. Signs of wear and tear, such as patina or weathering, and things that hint at human usage were deliberately left unaltered. But the cultural and communicative information we are accustomed to seeing has disappeared. An apperantly virtualized space emerges, which we are unable to reconcile with our normal visual experience. How is a city without signs, without visual regulations, without guiding graphics, perceived? How do we move through this urban construct? Do we still recognize these (non) places?


Previously:

City of Signs 4

Sao Paolo No Logo

The recent advert for Sky Movies is beautifully shot across the Brazilian city of São Paulo, that recently decreed to remove all billboards. It is inspired by Tony de Marco's São Paulo No Logo photographs, (Flickr set here), as previously written about here.

It is an advert celebrating non-advertising.

The imagery of the city scape presented is depicted as a purer, simpler urban realm, a rather surreal landscape of blank spaces and empty billboards.

As Ads without products points out, this could be the opening sequence to a psychological thriller much more interesting than 90% of the films Sky Movies show.

"And even better, way better, is that the damned thing looks like the opening sequence of an absolutely incredible (and a good deal more horrifying, to many in the wider audience, than Cloverfields, which isn’t very horrifying at all) of a very different sort of speculative fiction, one about a specter lurching back from the place where dismissed specters go in order to decapitate the idols of the era, break open the walls of the buildings in the expensive neighborhoods, and leave most bedazzled and exhilarated at the sweep of violence that has rubbled so many things we thought could never go, that we believed, despite ourselves, that the world simply couldn't live without."


Previously:

City of Signs 3

Closer investigation of Stephen Gill's website reveals an intriguing portfolio of projects, including the Billboards project, contrasting the aspirational messages on the front with the quotidian reality that lies behind.

"The billboard can often be seen with its back to the railway tracks or car park, a construction site or an area of wasteland. The basic and most common type is a wooden hoarding structure fixed into the ground with vertical supports to resist strong winds. The range of items promoted is seemingly endless, although adverts for consumer goods far outnumber civic or community announcements. Whatever the product, we read the visual signs in a flash and absorb the meaning in spite of ourselves. As well as relaying their message, billboards naturally become a curtain for whatever lies behind."

Stephen Gill
L'Oreal Paris. Because you're worth it.

Stephen Gill
Free texts when you join Orange. Pay as you go.

Stephen Gill
Turn the key. Start a revolution - (Mazda)

Stephen Gill
Why wait? - (Murphy's Fast Flow) Dior Addict


Previously:

The Bastard Countryside

Stephen Gill

In a recent article in the Guardian, Robert Macfarlane and Iain Sinclair walk the perimeter of the 2012 Olympic Park, accompanied by photographs by Stephen Gill.

Gill has been documenting the lives of spaces of the borough of Hackney for several years, and for his most recent publication Archaeology in Reverse, captured the early stages of the transition from urban hinterland to Olympic Park.

[Order Archaeology in Reverse from Amazon ]

Gill and Sinclair, in their respective work, both inhabit the slippage between the reality of the landscape of Lower Lea Valley, and the utopian ahistorism of large scale 'regeneration', especially the gleaming heroism wrapped up in the Olympic 'vision'.

"The ODA has worked hard in its literature to cast the Lower Lea as a fouled zone, culturally void and ecologically wrecked: it is "contaminated, derelict and abandoned". Such language prepares the way for a heroic clearing and cleansing of the area, and for the hygienic raptures of the Olympic Park itself. Let there be no doubt, the Lea is dirty. Among other serious problems is thorium pollution, following the illegal dumping of fissile material into a cesspit."

What the ODA will not acknowledge, however, are the many improvised ecologies - human and natural - that have long thrived in this region of "bastard countryside" (as Victor Hugo once called such city edgelands). The best example is The Manor Gardens Allotments, a plot bequeathed to the area a century ago by a philanthropist called Major Villiers. All allotments are beautifully chronic places: developed over time, cobbled lovingly into being. The Gardens' 80 plots provided food for more than 150 families during the summer months. They were also superbly biodiverse. In the phrase of their defenders, they were a "life island" of the East End. The Gardens are now locked off behind the blue fence - and due to be bulldozed this month."

The Blue Wall
[Flickr image by Johanna]

As others have described, the site requisitioned by the ODA for the Olympic park is now encircled by a 11-mile long lurid blue fence, with crack squads of fence painters ready to overpaint any graffiti at a moments notice.

As Brian Finoki at Subtopia puts it:

"the Olympic fence is "the emblem of an Olympic sham; a politics of 'microbordering' that carefully carves sites of wealth with both blatant and disguised forms of exclusion."

Consider it an instant Christo, right here in the heart of London.

121 images of Mies

Mies building

Flickr mosaic

At auction house Jeschke, Hauff & Auvermann in Berlin, on November 13th 2007 is an auction of 123 photographs from the prewar ouevre of Mies van der Rohe. Now my understanding is that Mies was notoriously restrictrive about images of his work being distributed and published, so these are a real find.

But their provenance is debatable, and their origins unknown. Speculation is they were once owned by Mies' long-term collaborator Lilly Reich, or Eduard Ludwig, a Bauhaus graduate who worked for Mies and Reich. As this article in Architect magazine states:

"During the Allied bombing raids on Berlin," explains Claire Zimmerman, an art history professor at the University of Michigan and author of a 2006 Taschen monograph on Mies, "Reich and Ludwig stored the office archive for protection in a barn at the Ludwig family's farm outside Berlin." The downtown studio, where Reich left her own archive, "took a direct hit," Zimmerman adds.

Shortly after Ludwig's death in 1960, according to Mies' grandson, Dirk Lohan, a Chicago-based architect, "the East German authorities confiscated the crates from the barn, claiming that everything to do with the Bauhaus was state property, since the Bauhaus had been a state organization." Mies eventually persuaded the government to ship his material to Chicago. (He donated his archive to New York's Museum of Modern Art. "It's the only architect's archive MoMA has ever agreed to accept," says former MoMA architecture curator Terence Riley.) "But we have no idea what had been removed from the piles in Germany over the years," Lohan says. The photos to be auctioned on Nov. 13, he adds, "could have been kept in Lilly Reich's or Ludwig's private possession, or [they] could have come from the crates. I have no idea. I find it very strange and mysterious that the auction house won't specify where they came from."

Whilst the origins of the photographs might be dubious, they present a fantastic history of Mies' development as an architect, including shots of the Wiesenhof Siedlung immediately after construction, and the Barcelona Pavilion, including interior mock-ups.

I loved the yellowed hue of these photos, and the beautiful, economical sketches.

As these images may not be online too much longer, and the Jeschke, Hauff & Auvermann site is not the easiest to navigate, I've uploaded these images as a Flickr set here.

City of Type

London's Kerning

London's Kerning

London's Kerning, by NB Studio, is a map of London composed entirely of type. The city is rendered as pure typography.

Untitled Project

Untitled Project

In contrast, another project by Matt Siber, the Untitled Project, removes all the text from images, presenting a city devoid of type.

"The isolation of the text from its original graphic design and accompanying logos, photographs and icons helps to further explore the nature of communication in the urban landscape as a combination of visual and literal signifiers."