Blog archive October 2003

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30.10.03 / 02

btw, if you find parts of this site missing or not working, it's because my server space is completely full. i had to delete some stuff to get this index page to load. is the problem, it is atm a subdirectory of this site. i'm moving it to a new server at the weekend.

30.10.03 / 01

went to a delightful seminar after work, about the Kunsthaus in Graz. The Kunsthaus [art gallery] has a blue plexiglass outer skin, behind which are about 1000 circular fluorescent lights that act as computer-controlled pixels.

there's an architectural subculture, modulated by mindset, dress code, rules of behaviour, to which i don't really belong. chic intellectualism, expensive black clothes, severe and theoretical, aesthetic to the point of preciousness. divas of either sex in cutting-edge glasses. i always find entering a room in this subculture slightly intimidating, even though i can look the part [maybe i just don't have enough money]. i felt this not-belonging even as a student, but i only realised it was a subcultural issue when i went to work for sheppard robson in 98, after some years working in firms that were not part of the subculture [not all architects are]. at sheppard robson about half the staff appeared to have been cast from a model agency.

i'll be at board-x on the 9th, where i'll feel entirely at home. i wondered if some of the people at the Kunsthaus seminar would feel slightly intimidated at that gathering. it's not so much the overt achievable things such as dress code - more the underlying subtleties of manner and conversational mesh. that sense of shared endeavour - i wonder if alt worship looks this way from outside?

26.10.03 / 04

btw is a bit incomplete still, because i seem to have run out of server space to finish the site. i'm moving servers shortly.

26.10.03 / 03

yesterday i bought a canon eos 300d to replace my little minolta and my ancient olympus. am working my way carefully through the instruction book, not diving in as usual.

26.10.03 / 02

from the tomorrow's world book 1970 - the future as anticipated, verbatim [square brackets are me]:

orbiting space laboratory launched.

automatic mercury-bound spacecraft misses target.
1000 dead in jumbo jet collision over urban area.

major revision of world air-traffic procedures.
space shuttle launched.
automatic spacecraft orbits jupiter and identifies red spot as ferrous cloud.

new york's first moving sidewalk switched on. [you can tell by the way i use my walk...]

automatic spacecraft lands on mars and finds a form of life.

first module of spacebase in orbit with US president on board.

speech typewriter on market.
deep-freeze mulit-organ transplant banks set up.
worldwide ban on professional boxing.
launch of automatic spacecraft to extreme edge of solar system.

birth control pill for men perfected.
plastic glue available for instant repairs on human bones.
total control of obesity with drugs.

computer terminals in the home. [note: terminals not computers]
insurance companies insist on automatic burglar alarms in all houses as condition of cover.
channel tunnel opens [happened 1992].
artificial ageing of wines, spirits and liqueurs perfected.
ban on use of hormones and growth-promoting substances for rearing livestock.
abortion pill perfected.
world satellite navigation system completed.
large-screen thin tv sets on market.

televising of parliament begins.
techniques widely available to select sex of children at moment of conception.
campaign for conservation of insect life.

london's first moving pavement switched on.
electronic touchlines installed at wimbledon.

insurance companies demand automatic fire extinguishing system in every household as condition of cover.

US manned landing on mars postponed until 1990.
simple surgery devised for permanent contact lens implants to replace spectacles.
water pollution controlled.
british wren extinct [it's still here].

crash programme launched to preserve british songbirds.
driverless long-distance trains in service.
last british foxhound pack disbanded through lack of game and country.
pocket language-translation machines on sale in department stores.
animal languages decoded by Man [sic].
videotape from security camera accepted in evidence at old bailey [highest british criminal court].
worldwide ban on petrol-driven automobiles.
nuclear-powered submarine tug in transatlantic cargo service.

first homo sapiens grown to full term artificially in a laboratory.
channel tunnel closed for installation of magnetic accelerator/hover system.
automatic spacecraft (launched 1978) leaves solar system and is overtaken by advanced satellite (launched 1983).

control of arteriosclerosis and heart disease.
soviet manned landing on mars.

US manned landing on mars.
air pollution controlled.
first ape taught to communicate in english.
worldwide telephone dialling.

sea-bed farming commercially viable.
socially acceptable narcotic drugs widely used [well 1989 *was* the year of the rave boom :D ].
surgical grafting of permanent mechanical limb replacements achieved.

use of drugs to increase intelligence widespread.
3D colour laser tv on sale.
cure for cancer discovered.
last national morning newspaper closes down.

hybrid soft fruit perfected that ripens in the open during european winter months.
amalgamation of british army, navy and air force into one defence organisation with same uniforms.

computerised polling leads to frequent national referenda.
virus diseases, including the common cold, curable.
genetic adjustment replaces cosmetic plastic.

average national working week 22.33 hours [ho ho].
mini-helicopters for urban transport outlawed.

establishment of world computer-information bank.

the end of tooth decay.
domestic video-phone available.
first use of tactical nuclear missiles in local war.
creation of facsimile fresh fruit and vegetables in US laboratory.

chemical creation of living cells.
legislation to abolish the use of coal and oil as fuels for heating.
thermo-nuclear fusion controlled and economically viable.

world's first international city completed under south polar ice (population 1/2 million).

creation of intelligent artificial life achieved.

semi-voluntary euthanasia at the age of 60 encouraged by department of health. [what do they mean by semi?]

manufacture of elements to order.

bank of england withdraws cash and notes in favour of credit-card economy. [all too plausible]

compulsory birth control instituted.

first three floating cities completed round coasts of britain.

2000th edition of tomorrow's world.

supersonic commuter land-transport system opened.

average age of puberty reduced to 9 years old. [didn't we get there already?]

global weather control programme launched.

so that was the future as seen from 1970. the unstated assumptions are interesting:

firstly, it was assumed that the population of western nations would continue to grow exponentially at baby-boom rates, leading to the virtual disappearance of the countryside under cities by the end of the century. this was a serious assumption made by government forecasters in the 1960s. no-one foresaw the impact of the pill.

equally no-one foresaw the impact of feminism. the tomorrow's world book features women as housewives in the kitchen however far in the future it looks. marriage and two children was still going to be the norm.

and very obviously no-one foresaw microprocessors, miniature electronics and the rise of IT as we know it. computers were going to stay big and mainframe.

rather weirdly, no-one foresaw that people would live longer and healthier lives. 60 was considered 'elderly' - as it was back then. in the 1960s people lived on average 3 years beyond retirement - a testament, perhaps, to the effects of two world wars and the great depression on that generation.

and yet all these things were already happening, or would begin in the next five years. so one lesson to be drawn is that the things that will make the future radically different may be right under our noses. another lesson is that social and political change can have a bigger impact than technology, not least because it determines which technologies flourish and which wither [viz. the space race].

26.10.03 / 01

for those who are foreign or too young:
'tomorrow's world' was a BBC tv series of the 1960s showcasing the cutting edge of science and technology for a mainstream audience. in an age of technological utopianism it was bang on the zeitgeist, wowing the masses weekly with tasters of the new society that was just around the corner. it shaped the hopes of a whole generation of british children [mine]. by the 1980s the show had lost its cultural influence, made ridiculous by the sheer failure of any of its predictions to come true. it was the kiss of death for any invention to appear on tomorrow's world - chances were you'd never hear of it again, or only as a colossal waste of money.

24.10.03 / 03

btw, if you think i'm exaggerating about the noise [seven miles], the engines fitted to the prototype and pre-production planes really were that noisy. and left trails of black smoke. they had to quieten them down and *almost* get rid of the smoke for the production model. concorde was right on the edge of what was possible.

24.10.03 / 02

ah, tomorrow's world. from the 'tomorrow's world' book 1970:

BAC and Sud Aviation estimate the sale of 250 Concordes by 1975...Calculations based not upon wishful thinking, but the hard realities of commercial aviation, suggest that by 1980 the number of Concordes sold, the world over, could be as many as 400.

only 16 were ever made.

24.10.03 / 01

the concorde project began in 1962, when i was three. by 1968 my family lived 7 miles from filton, where the british concordes were being made. when they tested the engines we could hear the roar. heaven only knows what it was like for the people living next to the airfield. in 1969 the british prototype flew for the first time. we watched it take off live on TV, then rushed outside. minutes later it passed over our house, low and deafening, trailing smoke from those brutal engines, on its way up the west coast of england. it was our local miracle. any time we went into bristol on the bus we would look out as we passed the end of the runway and the manufacturing hangars in case we saw a concorde. and often in the early 70s we did. as children we all had toy concordes - mine was an airfix kit, though i coveted the corgi die-cast model with droopable nose. as children of the space age [c. 1960-1973] we regretted the cancellation of the rival boeing sst, wondered about the russian tu144 [concordski] and looked forward to a supersonic future. eventually we expected to take pan am flights to a space station in earth orbit.

but that future never happened. nowadays i live in west london and can see the planes coming in to land at heathrow from my bedroom window. when, occasionally, a concorde broke the procession of boeings and airbuses, it was as if a window had opened into a parallel universe, where all those dreams came true. the plane always looked other-worldly, beamed back from thirty years in the future even when it came from thirty years in the past. it never lost its mythical quality - note how everyone refers to it in the singular, as 'concorde', as if there were only ever one - to talk of *a* concorde feels as strange as talking of *a* titanic. when a concorde crashed in paris, 'concorde' crashed - and a part of my childhood died. the future was mortal, after all. and today it ended. i wish i had been there at heathrow, the last one flying over my head as the first one had. like many people i shed a tear at its passing, because something got lost. some dream of tomorrow's world.

17.10.03 / 01

here's the weather project photos. remember the top half is a reflection.

16.10.03 / 03

the bookshop in tate modern is wonderful, but today i found it frightening. everything has been done. everything.

16.10.03 / 02

then to tate modern to see bill viola's wonderful 'five angels of the millenium', which i last saw in 99 in a commercial gallery in the west end.

the turbine hall has a new installation 'the weather project', which consists of a gigantic simulated sunset. in fact it's half a sun, but the ceiling has been mirrored. there's a fine mist in the gallery, to create a shimmering haze. critics seem to find forebodings in it, i found it joyous, 'cafe del mar' - and that was the reaction of the public. they lay in the glow and watched their tiny reflections in the far-off ceiling.

the photo on the tate website isn't great - the real thing's much better. my photos hopefully tomorrow night.

16.10.03 / 01

today i went to see damien hirst's latest exhibition 'romance in the age of uncertainty', which for the most part explores christian themes. i have no pictures to show because one was not allowed to take them, and the catalogue is not out until saturday, but here are my notes.

the central room contains the 'apostles', a series of works that represent the deaths/martyrdoms of each of the 12, and the ascension of christ. each piece consists of a steel and glass cabinet hanging on the wall, containing objects arranged on several glass shelves. most of the objects are laboratory glassware, but mixed in are other symbolic and narrative objects derived from the stories of the apostles and their deaths. there is a good deal of [dried] blood splashed about, on objects, cabinets and in some cases on the floor. there are circular holes in the glass cabinets which, one realises, represent wounds - a crucifixion, for instance, has three [two hands, one for feet]. in front of each cabinet on the floor is a vitrine with a skinned cow's head in formaldehyde.

st. bartholomew: was he flayed? lots of forceps with bloody tissue
st. james the lesser: no 'wounds' but a bloodied mallet
st. andrew: four holes, out of each a blue nylon rope with blood - as i recall his limbs were tied to four horses to tear him apart
the suicide of judas iscariot: this cabinet only is painted black. on top is the hangman's noose. in the centre of the cabinet is a single hole, out of which dangles a plastic container like a stomach and masses of tangled plastic tubing, falling onto the floor - acts 1:18 'his intestines burst out'. it's convincingly grisly. in the cabinet, the 30 pieces and purse. blood everywhere, floor, walls - huge amounts. the cow's head is black, and blindfolded
st. peter: everthing is upside down, because peter was crucified upside down. keys, picture of cockerel, book by peter kaplan - meaning?
st. john: died of old age, hence no 'wounds', everything in cabinet covered in dusty earth, skulls, a candle burns, stubbed cigarettes - thermos flasks?
the ascension of jesus: clean cabinet, completely empty, doors [with wounds] wide open. above, glass shelves mount into the sky, topped off by a real [stuffed] white dove taking flight. no cow's head in the vitrine.
st. thomas: the cabinet run through by four bloody spears
st. james the greater: bloodied sword by which he was beheaded. scallops, and a horse [?]
st. philip: another upside own crucifixion, judging by the 'wounds' and everything being upside down. skull, bunch of grapes
st. matthew: axe topped with skull - purse, ink and pen [reference to being a gospel writer?]
st. jude: bloodied femur, mallet - 3 nails as elsewhere in cases of crucifixion
st. simon: clearly sawn in half, as the cabinet is, with bloodied edges to the cut - also three upside down 'wounds'. saws, and icepicks. the cow's head also sawn in half.

upstairs, other works:

spirit: a tacky dove painting [presum from religious kitsch card]
memories lost, fragments of paradise: shiny chrome cabinet with shelf upon shelf of white pills - each turned to precisely the same orientation. a sad comment on chemical heaven
creation explored, explained and exploded: clearly referring to 19th c. science and the loss of belief - a victorian cabinet, with rock/mineral specimens, all upside down and the whole sawn in two.
forgive and forget - two spot paintings, but the spots are white gloss on white matt. it's as if the [normally coloured] spots are sins covered over, made white. the edges of the canvases are covered in gold leaf, like the pages of confirmation bibles or picture frames.
in the centre of the room, matthew, mark, luke and john: each a cow's head in a vitrine. each head has scissors, kitchen knives, skewers, broken glass stabbed deep into it - most gruesome, but i'm not sure of the meaning. a copy of the gospel in each - the heads go from unskinned to skinned via stages - luke rests on an artist's pallette and brushes.

it's clever stuff, and the apostles make one realise how little one knows about the details of their deaths - i'll have to look them up to know how to interpret some of the items. but the ones i do know well were convincing enough, so i have hopes for the rest. q. re meaning and detail - hirst knows [research], i know [some] - but most people don't know and so can't read much of what's happening - as i saw in their reactions. most wandered in and out, i spent a long time in there 'reading' the artworks. but once the game of meaning was played, there was nothing to draw me back.

15.10.03 / 02

i have until the weekend off work. twisted their arm a bit. hoping for more later. just desperate for some personal space.

15.10.03 / 01

meanwhile in the real world, this little tale of unpleasant behaviour by US immigration officials

'Beate (Bay - ah - tah), Trevor's fiancee, was returning to the US from Germany. She had interviewed with career diplomats at the American Embassy just weeks before and was granted a 6-month visa. Nevertheless, when she landed in Atlanta she was interrogated for six hours, led away in handcuffs with criminals, booked into the Atlanta prison system (finger prints, mug shots and a group cell) and the next day was placed in solitary confinement in a white room with nothing save a toilet. She was left without food for 20+ hours and finally deported to Germany. The whole time being told that she was not a criminal, nor suspected of any crime!'

please note 1: trevor hughes works *for* the US department of homeland security. his fiancee was kicked out *by* the department of homeland security.

please note 2: trevor is dan hughes' brother. check dan's blog entry and beate's blog about her experience. she has an interesting life story which partly explains [while not excusing] her 'interesting' experience...

12.10.03 / 05

just added Maharishi to my consumerism section. nice flash site worth a look for the hexagonal graphics. i'm being tempted by their trousers atm. damn expensive tho. they have a thing about camouflage patterns - it was a camo fleece that first made me notice them c. 97. i still want it.

12.10.03 / 04

american apparel are a non-sweatshop t-shirt business. they also do dog t-shirts. apparently 'dogs are human too'.

12.10.03 / 03

my set theory diagrams which should have gone with policemen and shepherds. better late than never. they are of more general application.

12.10.03 / 02

amused me too:

In the beginning, all was mush; and the mush was without form and void. And God brooded on the face of the mush, as it is written. 'A hen is an egg's way of making another egg.' And as he brooded, so the mush divided itself and became many small pieces of mush. And God looked and saw that it was good.

And behold the Name of that God was called Tinkertoy and Tinkertoy had a grab bag in which were very many handy little magical tricks.

And each small piece of mush reached into the grab bag to see what it could get. And the lucky got more tricks than the unlucky. As it is written: To him that hath shall be given, but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he seemeth to have.

And God called the tricks adaptations, and God looked and saw that it was good.

And after that they ran around, each according to his kind. And they did eat each other. And some kinds did eat their own kind. Only the dog did not so.

And God looked and saw that it was good and God said: Behold these creatures, which I have created in the image of Charles Darwin. How cleverly they do steal each other's ideas.

And it came to pass that, between meals, they all played a game. Each against all, and all against each.

And the name of the game was 'Free Enterprise'. And each played as dirty as he could according to the tricks which he had received.

But God always won because he played zigzag as a snipe flies.

So they threw him out.

Gregory Bateson

from they threw god out of the garden

12.10.03 / 01

glancing app idea

09.10.03 / 04

and looking at the v2 code reminds me of a] how out of date my knowledge is getting and b] how much i miss working on coding sites

09.10.03 / 03

compassion and the crafting of user experience from v2 - i'm indebted to daniel for this one. i lost my link to v2 but now it's here for regular use. i love this guy. this particular article is pertinent to me as a designer of user experiences in both architecture - and church. how often has our *church* experience been designed with *compassion* for those who will encounter it? if that were a prime determinant, what would change?

09.10.03 / 02

the new outkast double album is *wonderful*. two albums for the price of one, and both masterpieces. prince must be sick with envy at what they've done with his old blueprint.

09.10.03 / 01

a survey of blogging has found that "66.0% of surveyed blogs had not been updated in two months", and

"Blogs are updated much less often than generally thought. Active blogs were updated on average every 14 days. Only 106,579 of the hosted blogs were updated on average at least once a week. Fewer than 50,000 were updated daily."

which all makes me feel a whole lot better. i generally make the 14 days.

01.10.03 / 05

subscribed to frame magazine while i was there.

01.10.03 / 04

i spent last saturday at 100% design checking out new interior design products. naturally i couldn't help sourcing stuff for alt worship:

fatboy is the ideal giant floor cushion for alt worship. 140x180cm is the size of a single duvet, plenty big enough for four people if they don't hog it by lying down. the material is a hard-wearing wipeable synthetic canvas that takes to church floors better than the usual domestic velours and cottons. and they are very stylish with that big label. i'm trying to order some for grace.

b-bitz are remarkably close to my kirchelandschaft sketches. they're even made the same way. makes you wonder why churches bother with benches, wooden chairs and the like.

boo! seats light up when you sit on them, and turn off when you stand up - there's a pressure switch under the seat pad. simple really. use them at stations to give light when it's wanted. or use one for that kiwi bar-stool idea. sit down to tell your story, it lights up. unfortunately at £199 each they're rather expensive.

loop showed translucent cushions with fluorescent lights inside, and a table whose surface glows beneath anything placed on it.

'office in a bucket' by inflate hasn't made it onto their website yet. it's the thing that jonny enthused about on his blog when he saw it at the sony exhibition.

the bucket is actually a plastic dustbin. you take the fabric out, plug into the mains, switch on and the built-in fan inflates the office in 8 minutes. it's an ideal chapel or chillout space. only snag is it costs £2995. but apparently you can hire, i'm looking into it. after all, you might not want it for every service.

not at 100% design, but in selfridges, is the chillout room. £170 for the 1-person size [150cm diameter], £350 for the 4-person [250cm diameter]. grace might get one of those too. i'm working towards turning my drawings into reality. should have some of this stuff by grace tenth birthday event [nov 8th].

01.10.03 / 03

another thing. they're gonna put stephen on my business cards. nobody calls me stephen except my family. and that's because they started before i was old enough to stop them.

01.10.03 / 02

at work yesterday, an administator phoned to discuss details of the business cards my firm intend to give me. and i laughed out loud, because whenever a firm decides to give me business cards i either leave or get sacked shortly after. i have never actually received any of the cards that have been made for me. and as my contract ends in two weeks' time and no-one has said it will be renewed, i thought, this is an omen!

but when i explained my amusement, she told me that my name was attached to several bids for work the firm is currently making. and my associate said that the two of us were down to do the remaining parts of barclays, ie the ground floor lobbies and atria. which alone willl take us close to christmas. and if any of the bids are won there'll be work for another year. so it seems that my contract will be renewed, and nobody's told me because it's taken for granted.

but who knows what the partners are up to, i could still be let go. it would be a pity to break the pattern :)

and when oh when will i get a break? i'm due two weeks before christmas, if i'm allowed. two months would clear my backlog. maybe they won't want me for a while between the end of barclays and the start of a new project?

01.10.03 / 01

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