Wednesday, 29 September 2010

behind schedule

Millennium People is not dead, its just resting.

We're running behind schedule with the relaunch, 29 days to be precise, but let me give you a quick update:
  • MP is moving to a brand new (physical) location – leaving behind Blogger HQ (Moffat Airbase, CA) and setting up shop on our own British servers.
  • It is getting a complete re-design and overhaul as part of its metamorphosis into a collective – as is fitting for Britain's premier think-tank pertaining to all aspects of the New Millennium.
Accordingly, the info@ address is no longer active – but it will be up and running again sometime next week with the re-launch.

Obviously we will make a song and dance all over the web, with tweets, fb updates, etc, etc.

Keep all sets tuned to this station.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

rendering speculations

Temporary intermission in the hiatus, just to let you all know that there are big changes in the works here - I can't wait to share all the exciting things that are going down in London this summer...

Just as an addendum - find below the link to a recent article I wrote for the Architectural Review about the AA's Rendering Speculations symposium held in April. The AR have also just launched their new site, which is pretty amazing in all truth... check it out:

Saturday, 3 July 2010


Change of plans. MP is off until September 1. This is due to a problem with the change of servers and databases associated with the implementation of MP2.0 (which, we remind you, will be a paradigm shift).

The current site will still be available during this period, and the posts that were due to appear will be back-dated once we return.

Sorry about all this, we're upset too.


Monday, 28 June 2010

fistful of links

Screen print via Nakatomi Inc.

Gulf of Mexico: go in crude, come out refined. Some news.

London is full of weird historical kickbacks – perhaps the weirdest is the 100th Livery Company, a guard group from the old City formed in medieval times to regulate the guilds. They have now been re-named the Information Technologists Company, but if you think this means they've abandoned the silly metal hats, tights and big wooden sticks then you're wrong...

You know, MP is way more popular in the States than it here in its hometown. I attribute this to the time-honoured lust that yanks have for poms. Segue: Date British Guys (.com); 1960's posters have been discovered in an abandoned Nottinghill Gate tube tunnel; Take me there Boris: the mayor of London as a cab driver. Moving on to Britain (also known as Greater London), Prince Charles blames the world's ills on Galileo and 'soulless consumerism'. the UK tightens its recession belts, and prepares to make penny-pinching £5-note dispensing ATMs.

The ConDems are really screwing British architects: the Sesquipedalist eloquently explains why (bloody fools). A map of the London Underground in real-time. Ace. Related, a geography of London formed by the number of tweets from each part of the city. Also maps:

Historypin is a like a digital time machine that allows people to view and share their personal history in a totally new way. It uses Google Maps and Street View technology and hopes to become the largest user-generated archive of the world's historical images and stories. Historypin asks the public to dig out, upload and pin their own old photos, as well as the stories behind them, onto the Historypin map. Uniquely, Historypin lets you layer old images onto modern Street View scenes, giving a series of peaks into the past.

America: Restrepo, a documentary about fighting the war in Afghanistan; Still on Afghanistan: a recent mineral deposit find could completely change the game; Marshall McLuhan playing cards; MJ killed for his money, says whacko sister. I'm just not sure that corporate education is a good thing: the Wal-Mart university. iPreach: ipad used to spread the Word; salt flat racers made from the cowls of WW2 fighter planes.

The world: A closer look at sink holes; the silo home; hilarious tattoo mistakes: Loltatz; Chairs prefer gym socks; Two really nice photographers: untitled, and Andrew Moore. One more for good luck (a bit more pop). A fictitious brand created to campaign for industrial architecture in a post-industrial era: Cityfix.

There's been a trend to bend (apparently sexily) in Facebook photos of late, now there's a tumblr devoted to: The awkward lean. Japanese spacecraft deploys first ever solar sail. Still space, "We treat each other with respect and we have a great working relationship. Personal relationships are not ... an issue," says astronaut team-leader, when asked about what its like in the 100 mile club. Humourless response, but who can blame him? The man's name is Poindexter.

A five-step simple plan for everyone and everything; algae-powered flight; Jaguars are obsessed by Calvin Klein cologne; probably the coolest table in existence. Word on the street is that more and more women in their 30's are freezing their eggs, still waiting for "Mr. Right". I don't quite understand who Mr. Right is, but I can only assume he is symbolic for some sort of Cargo Cult. China gets their own native-script URLs. This. Is. Hot. How to beat Super Mario in 11 minutes; Save the Kittens; turn out whale faeces absorb CO2. Clingfilm (or, if you prefer, ceran wrap) architecture (must see!)

Finally, some videos:

1. Perhaps the best thing I've seen this year... via l'Histoire de l'Oeil. (if it gives you an ad, just click the cross to close it).

2. Cleese on Extremism.

3. The most awkward personal transporter I've ever seen...

4. Classroom Mario.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

aa, eh?

Millennium People's prolonged silence these past few weeks is the result of preparations for the AA Projects Review, which opened with a champagne-fueled party that spilled out of the school and into the green shadows of Bedford Square.

I haven't had time yet to see the whole show, although there were several units that looked quite interesting. MP will be reporting on the content some time next week, with the aim of trying to describe how the school is expressing contemporary trends in architecture.

There's several other surprises coming up in the next couple of weeks – the least interesting of which will be a fat fistful of fresh links first thing Monday (given that's at the bottom of the list, you can imagine that the other stuff is going to be pretty alright). Without giving too much away: Millennium People's new printhouse (Speculative Publications) will be launching its first title in a pilot run of 50; MP will be celebrating its first birthday with a fresh new site; and I will be travelling to the most remote part of Britain for a week to report on the possibility of isolation in the modern world.


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

post net art and the new now

Screenshot from Ian Andrew's 2002 piece: Ether-1.

I know Millennium People has been quiet recently. But the summer is coming, and a bold prospect of speculation awaits us. In the meantime, a finally-finished draft:

'The New Now' is the term used in this blog's tagline. It's really just another way of saying 'spirit of the times' or 'zeitgeist' – which were not used for these reasons: the former puts one in mind of la belle epoque, and the latter smells a bit too much like Nazis and 9/11 conspiracies. The core business of this blog is the attempt to describe, if only in a lateral or fragmentary sense, the conditions that make life in the second decade of the third millennium the swell trip that it is. It pursues several fields: global and local economic trends; our changing relationship to technology (in particular the Internet); the city (as a psychogeographical, historical and political arena) – all primarily through the lens of architecture and the built environment. Except of course where that lens fails to describe anything of relevance, which is more frequently than you might think.

"Net art is seen as an archaeology of the future, drawing on the past (especially of modernism) and producing a complex interaction of unrealized past potential and Utopian futures..."
Julian Stallabrass
"Hype around Net-based art began in the early 1990s, before the Internet had become a commodity. It developed in skeptical parallel to the rise and decline of the new economy. In 1997, documenta X featured Net art. Around the same time, major museums in the US started online art commissions or virtual showcases. The first (and last) retrospective exhibition, “netconditon,” was held in 1999. Several books published in the first years of the new millennium give overviews of the practice and theory of this art. But since then, this particular chapter of art history appears to have closed. The final indication that Net-based art was not to become another genre in the contemporary art canon was perhaps the discontinuance of the “Net vision” category in the Prix Ars Electronica 2007."

So begins Net Pioneers 1.0, a book about contextualising early Internet art. I'm fascinated by Net Art – which is produced specifically for the medium of the Web – such that remains, like Blue Hyacinth or Seattle Drift. And while this book dates the death of Net Art to 1999, I think it is clear that art that can only be experienced through the Internet is flourishing. We are using information today in such remarkable ways, here are just three of my favourite examples of what I would call Post-Net Art (Po-NeAr?):

1. Solar Beat: an ambient music artwork that composes a score by assigning each planet a note and then having that note sound when the planet passes a datum. Art thanks to flash (oh what will happen when Flash finally dies?)

2.Moonbell: developed by the Japanese space agency JAXA this is a violent piano piece generated by the scans returned from Selene (one of Japan's orbiters that recently crashed into the moon). You are hearing a translation of the moon's surface into music.

3.Three Frames: surely the Internet's greatest .gif (sic) is the addition of time to mediums that were otherwise atemporal. Three Frames is not the only, but one of the best, examples of a blog dedicated to expressing minute slices of time in otherwise still images.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

fistful of links

I'm in the labs waiting for some images to render (more on that later in the year), so while the computer plugs away at it: some news.

London: the image above maps the city by geo-tagged flickr photos – I'm kind of surprised the rapidly gentrifying East isn't darker. Check out the Geotaggers' World Atlas (must see!). Related, the Londonist has mapped city institutions that broadcast on Twitter. Slight diversion - did you know is an English nationalist site? Tweets precipitated into cuckoo clocks (also, tweets converted into bone structure). Back to geotagged photo maps: Europe. Back to London: Boris Johnson, mayor thereof, is scrapping the Western Congestion zone. WTF dude? Chelsea is where most of the cars are at, no? Also on Boris' to-do list, city-wide free wifi by 2012 - from the unimaginatively named company The Cloud.

Herzog + De Meuron have turned a car park into an art form (1111 Lincoln Road, Miami). But is it really Post-Ballardian? Related, Into The Loop's mixed-use car park/metro station. Still re-using urban structures – the Lords of Raisintown: skateboarders that clean out the pools of re-possessed homes in order to skate in them. Police and real-estate agents are cool with this, since it keeps the pools clean and the property supervised. BLDG BLOG on rogue factories.

I wrote yesterday about Renzo - MP tip-off (I wish you would all send in more, frankly) from an Italian reader – for $11 you can 'be Renzo Piano', its an ipad app... OMA have made a new map of Europe – Eneropa! It's been wrapped up by all the regular dudes, Supercolossal + Infranet and whatever, but the best images are by far Club Construct.

Image source and location unknown...

Dross: inside Hitler's bunker (LIFE have some great galleries); The Ghastlycrumb Tinies, a children's book; startup quotes (Twitter founder: "Investors are employees you can never hire. We made sure to pick investors that thought like us."); crazy tunnels in Russia's only private metro; Turkish bees make beautiful nests from flowers; Notes from Chris (must-read!); in relation to my screen bit, the Nintendo DS as building; why I don't go to festivals; Sean Connery in a thong; steal this idea; Japanese neon light fights (real gorey, with blood and shit, prob NSFW); minigolf meets publicity: advertput; a mad hail storm in the states...


Wednesday, 26 May 2010

symposiums at home and away

I'm not going to write one of those falsely self-deprecating – yet secretly/overtly proud – notices on the wonderful things I have been up to recently (viz: "here is a bit of shameless self-promotion *school-girl giggling*"), I am simply going to say the following:

1. I was involved in a very brief panel conversation at the end of a fascinating two-day conference held at the AA called Architecture's Pasts. It is available here online. Speakers included Jeff Kipnis, Mark Cousins, Adrian Forty, Brian Hatton, Reinhold Martin, and Brett Steele (and many more).

2. I have a review of another AA symposium Rendering Speculations published in June's Architectural Review. I've seen the issue, and there's some particularly good pieces in there – including one on H+DeM's Miami 1111 building/car park and some good visual porn from the Milan design fair.

The image above is purely gratuitous.

piano lessons

"Architecture is a dangerous profession. If we are wrong, we are wrong for a long, long time." So saying Renzo Piano began his short speech to a small audience gathered in the central courtyard of his first UK building (and the most colourful, by percentage of facade, ever built in London): Central St. Giles.

Personally, while I find his eye for detailing impeccable, I am not a fan of his work in general. Although he expresses himself with a frank charm, I find his approach to architecture strangely... archaic. His description of how the building came to be – starting with the destruction of an old Ministry of Defence brick fortress, followed by nine years of searching for the right way to create 'an urban meeting place' – was part architect-as-master-builder, part architect-as-social-engineer.

"London has a texture that is medieval, no two facades point in the same direction." he argued, describing the condition of the city. "It has a magic feeling. It is made of piazzas and streets and passages... it is always mixed in its use." I definitely agree London is medieval, but I've never stumbled into one of its piazzas. It is a grubby and run-down city, a city that takes time to learn to love, with none of the allure (or homogeneity) of Rome or Paris. The only people I've ever heard use the word "magic" in London are Spanish tourists describing the hit musical 'Mama-Mia: the songs of Abba'.

"I think the city is a place of surprise." Piano continued. There was something terribly trite about this Italian, who "wanted to tell the truth, and be completely honest" about the building. The corporate sterility of the courtyard and the transplanted oak jarred with this old-world charisma and sincerity about materiality. "Every building must bear the mark of the hand"... It didn't help the talk was called 'Piano Lessons'. Jeez. Talk about Cheese Louise.

"Architecture is the art of making shelter. But it also the art of answering desires and dreams." Cue whoosing wind and wind chimes. Then he suddenly changed pitch, and the smile fell from his face. "I want to confess everything. Some people think you begin with the idea. But there is always something missing from a project. I don't mean I am a perfectionist, I am talking about the real struggle. We want to be good, but this takes a lot of energy. We [architects] must be stubborn. But we must also be right, so we must be good listeners... I don't think schools really teach you that. Maybe the parents, but mostly we learn this in life. You must fight –" he gestured to the developers sitting in the front row "but we're not really fighting, we are struggling" The project team smiled knowingly at each other. "This is what I call the responsibility of the architect... No one can be so arrogant as to know exactly what to do in this job, you must struggle." He broke off to look at a large printed render mounted on card "This is the problem with scale and proportion. Many people know how to make these horrible renders, that always lie! They can make perfect models, but if they are not careful they will end up with buildings that are just large models."

He closed with a metaphor: "Being an architect is like conquering the wild west. First you must get a caravan, and then there is a big river, and then the horse gets tired, and then you are attacked by Indians... And then you make it there in the end. And you think, sometimes those Indians look bad, but they're really good guys." The audience sat bemuzed, thoroughly puzzled by this last remark.

Sunday, 23 May 2010


When Millennium People becomes a collective (around its first birthday in July) it may or may not adopt the title of Think Tank. In order to justify such a term MP has to start having an influence. Here's a suggestion: no one should use square and round brackets to name projects anymore. That era is over.

The practise of hid[in]g words within words began sometime around the beginning of last decade, popularised perhaps by the increasing use of code (in particular Java and Python) to script architectural forms. For those of you unfamiliar with this as a design tool, the idea is basically to write a small computer programme that defines certain parameters (this might be about the shape, or the limits or the function) of a particular element (say, a facade). You then use this little programme (a script) to generate your architectural solution, or a million architectural solutions. I can only imagine that it was the syntax of these scripts, which often involve defining commands through (round) or [square] brackets that led teachers and students to apply it to their design titles.

For example, the 2005 student book produced by UNSW's Faculty of the Built Environment (located within a bright terracotta building) was "Re[a]d Centre". You see what they did there? This is banal, but fairly innocuous. Versions that really irritate me tend to suggest another meaning through the inclusion of the brackets: "[Re]thinking Architecture", "[De]sign ", "Mor[e]ph", "Tran[s]tasis", and so on. This format ranks up there in the idiocy charts with unneccessary triple slashes /// and NASA's weird acronyms ('CUM BLOW' = cumulative booster lift-off weight).

Back to the [], the problem stems from the basic indecision of this naming. Rather than making me think the authors are innovative or cutting-edge, it just makes me think they can't make up their minds. You are either reading architecture or you're re-reading it. You can't do both simultaneously.

Remember your first e-mail address? If you're like me it was probably something ridiculous like 'self_inspired' or 'groovy_gurl350'. The novelty of the e-mail address made this kind of acceptable. It was a pseudonym and never meant to be associated directly with the user. The Internet was a place of anonymity back then. Nowadays the trend has generally been away from yahoo and hotmail towards gmail, with straightforward and serious formatting: The same is true of this naming technique. We're a bit more grown up now, and it's time to move away from these childish appellations.

P[ass] it on.