Friday, 29 June 2012

I have seen the future and it is a parking meter

I have been reading William Gibson's excellent Pattern Recognition and thinking about how speculative and science fiction have shaped the world today. Gibson, along with other luminaries like Syd Mead and Bruce Sterling, have an uncanny knack of detecting and extrapolating from cultural and technological trends to show us a future utterly convincing in its logic and design. Reciprocally, we have been seduced by their visions and we shape our developments accordingly.

With all this bouncing around my skull I was stopped dead this week when I encountered what must qualify as the world's most terrifying parking meter. It sported a vast array of buttons, keys, decals and instructions. Although it features none of the refined design Mead imbued his version with, the thing does resemble the meters in Blade Runner.

Mead had predicted the need for full QWERTY keyboards, card payments and instructional text, all wrapped up in a rugged design. This speaks volumes about Blade Runner's portenous nature and its impact on the world today. Indeed, the only thing that is inaccurate is the film's portrayal of all municipal services as bloated, corrupt and shambolic institutions. Oh, wait a minute...

Thursday, 28 June 2012

3D rendered sci-fi interiors by Cornelius Dämmrich

Dämmrich is the co-founder of the agency evoleeq and describes the rooms depicted in these images as "an itch inside my head".

Via whatanart.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Capture millions of boys...

Muséum national d'histoire naturelle

I recently had a wonderful adventure in Paris' Muséum national d'histoire naturelle (the Natural History Museum). Long-time readers will know I have a fondness for such collections, especially those in the Victorian vein.

The institution has a long and esteemed history. Founded in 1793 it survived the French Revolution and has been chaired my many eminent minds like Cuvier (the paleontology pioneer). It is also, more awesomely, embedded in French pop culture as the home of a not-so-fossilised pterodactyl's egg in Les Aventures extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec.

The collection exceeded my expectations. Now only does the museum house a broad range of specimens, the building is a Steampunk's dream. The exposed iron girders are studded with rivets and the cabinets are of aged wood with ornate decoration. The polish and sparkle of London's museums is eschewed and the dull grey wash on the stone walls has been left to peel and fade adding a patina to the place. All this is topped off by some amazing calligraphy on the hand-written specimen labels.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Monday, 18 June 2012

Sunday, 17 June 2012


So I have food poisoning and, as a consequence, have done little these past 36 hours. Lots of plans-within-plans in my head and keeping my spirits up by listening to the amazing

Here's a sticker that lives on my desk:

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Blogger iPhone app

Is now installed on my device so expect more on-the-go content!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The BBC, the UN and Halo

A few days ago a bright spark at the BBC mixed up the UN logo with that of the fictional UNSC from the Halo game. The story has been reported mainly as another example of the media not checking their visuals properly (they really need to install the awesome Tineye add-on). Clearly this example was just amusing but when it's shots of warzones which are erroneous or Photoshopped the seriousness of the issue becomes apparent.

I am intrigued by the Ballard-ian aspect of this story. That fictional conflicts of the future can somehow bleed into our reality is very evocative. We live in an age where our knowledge of the world is very complete, but this knowledge is based on the reports and documentation of others. If these reports are realistically faked or tampered we can easily be duped. Perhaps in this era of vast, instantly-downloadable data and immediate minutia of detail Rationalism (which teaches that we must only believe what can be proved by repetition) is being eroded.I am reminded of the opening sections of Asimov's Foundation when one of the protagonists espouses the view that, to be a good archaeologist one simply has to read all the reputable authors and weigh up their opinions.

With the advent of augmented reality technology this issue is only going to become more prevalent as the boundaries between our created universe and the real one become blurred. Perhaps this will lead to the birth of a Realist underground movement, as in Cronenberg's Existenz, who rail against this erosion of the tangible?

Very soon we're all going to have the feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Archetype - sci-fi short by Aaron Sims

Via hudsandguis and thanks to Neil101 who gave me a heads-up on this amazing blog!