In 2013, 85% of new houses in London were sold to non-UK buyers. Many stand empty and decaying, held as investments instead of homes. On the other end of the scale, desperate renters turn to leaking barges on the Thames.
In a remarkably satisfying video, London city workers painting street lines, show off some excellent freehand typographic craftsmanship. [va]
If you don't like Marcellus Laroon's pictures of London street life in the late 1600s, perhaps Thomas Rowlandson's "Characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders" from 1820 are more to your liking. Moving up in society, take a look at what the fat cat bankers of 1824 wore, courtesy of Richard Dighton and contrast them with the costumes of the lower orders as depicted by T. L. Busby in the same year. All found at the Spitalfields Life blog, which has an uncanny knack for finding these extraordinary depictions of London street life in previous centuries.
Britain will betray the United States and Ukraine to keep laundering dirty Russian money. "The city has changed. The buses are still dirty, the people are still passive-aggressive, but something about London has changed. You can see signs of it everywhere. The townhouses in the capital’s poshest districts are empty; they have been sold to Russian oligarchs and Qatari princes."
DevArt: An exhibition of art created with code - skywriting quadcopter drones programmed with c++, room dividers reimagined as 3D screens for psychedelic projections, using raspberry pi to rename WiFi networks as lines of poetry. They are collaborating with the Barbican in London for the Digital Revolution exhibition and are currently seeking an emerging creative coder to be funded to present at the exhibition alongside world-class interactive artists Zach Lieberman, Karsten Schmidt, and the duo of Varvara Guljajeva & Mar Canet.
After Michael Mann set out to direct Collateral, the story’s setting moved from New York to Los Angeles. This decision was in part motivated by the unique visual presence of the city — especially the way it looked at night. Mann shot a majority of the film in HD (this was 2004), feeling the format better captured the city’s night lighting. Even the film’s protagonist taxi needed a custom coat to pick up different sheens depending on the type of artificial lighting the cab passed beneath. That city, at least as it appears in Collateral and countless other films, will never be the same again. L.A. has made a vast change-over to LED street lights, with New York City not far behind. Why Hollywood Will Never Look the Same Again on Film: LEDs Hit the Streets of LA & NY
Homes are on the market for up to £65m but there are also 16 unoccupied mansions. More still are only used by their owners for short periods each year. Most of the properties on the most expensive part of the street are registered to companies in tax havens including the British Virgin Islands, Curacao, the Bahamas, Panama, and the Channel Islands, allowing international owners to avoid paying stamp duty on the purchase and to remain anonymous.
Embedded with London Cara Ellison writes about some of the game developers (like George Buckenham, Alice O'Connor, Ed Key) involved with the Wild Rumpus, an indie game nightime event. This is a part of her ongoing independent embedded videogame reporting.
David Lynch is back, and he's showing new fantastic photography at la Maison Européenne de Photographie: "Small Stories". (European House of Photography). This, in case you're in Paris, from Jan 15th to March 16th. But if you're in London, from Jan 17th to March 30th, you can see at The Photographers Gallery: David Lynch "The Factory Photographs"; William S. Burroughs "Taking Shots" and Andy Warhol with his Photographs from 1976 to 1987.
The allure of abandoned Tube stations. The eerie empty platforms and booking offices have enthralled photographers. The worlds oldest undeground metro sytem has more than its fair share of abandoned and unopens stations all over the network (abandoned stations, Brompton Road and Kingsway previously).
- A Trip Down Aldwych
- Inside St Mary's disused underground station
- Down Street Tour (Part 1 and Part 2)
- Taking a Special Look at the disused Jubilee Line platforms at Charing Cross
You may not know his name but you will certainly know his work: Morris Cassanova (aka Mr Chicken) designs and makes signs for most of the fried chicken shops in the UK. Meet Mr. Chicken
For over 17 years Furtherfield gallery, London, has been working in practices that bridge arts, technology, and social change. As its physical and online territories expand to include a new 'Commons' lab space curator, director and critic Marc Garrett reflects on the gallery's rich history, arguing that art from beyond the mainstream exhibits an ever burgeoning oppositional agency. [prev-iously]
"Detectives investigating the case of three women allegedly held as slaves for 30 years in south London have uncovered a "complicated and disturbing picture of emotional control". Last month officers were contacted by Freedom Charity after it received a call from a woman saying she had been held against her will for decades. A Malaysian woman, 69, an Irish woman, 57, and a British woman, 30, were rescued from the house on 25 October. A 67-year-old man and woman were held in Lambeth and bailed until January." More details on the BBC here.
A parakeet infestation that started when Humphrey Bogart left the door to the set of The African Queen open, pigeons taking the Tube, foxes learning to sit pretty for sausages, a colony of pigeon eating pelicans gifted by a Russian ambassador in 1664 and underwater warfare between rival gangs of invasive crayfish species are just some of the miracles found in the unnatural history of London's wildlife.
"This year of grace, 2013, sees the 150th anniversary of the London Underground Railway (tube). In honour of this occasion, we thought we would give you a little church crawl around the circle line...Over the coming weeks we will take you around each station on the Circular line and show you not only the station, but also a church and a place of interest, so that those of you who are impeded by distance or other reasons from seeing the delights that central London has to offer in the flesh may not be bereft of some of the experience." The Watts Church Crawl. [more inside]
Tim Derbyshire, owner of London's On the Beat Records, has put his entire store up for bid on eBay. Says the NYT: "[Derbyshire] has decided to retire but would prefer not to just pack up and go. Nor is he keen on having an everything-must-go sale. His preference is to leave the shop as it is, with its stock of singles, albums, posters and 1960s through 1980s memorabilia intact, and turn over the keys to a record fanatic who will run it more or less as he has, since the late 1970s." The buy-it-now price is £300,000.
Bob Dylan is a welder and he makes big iron gates out of scrap metal. You can see for yourself at Castle Gallery in London for the next couple of months. Says Bob: "Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow. They can be closed but at the same time they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways there is no difference."
Meet the Somalis is a series of short comics depicting the various experiences of fourteen Somali immigrants in cities across northern Europe.
"Perhaps, in some way, the suburbs encapsulate the British identity in a way that the cities don't any more – small dramas playing out beyond the stations without barriers, rather than the heavily policed, heavily funded bourgeois ghettos of the inner cities."
A website by Luke Taylor has all you ever needed to know about the London pigeon.
Yesterday, Tatyana McFadden, a ten-time Paralympic track medalist, became the first athlete in history to win the "Grand Slam" of marathon racing, having won the 2013 women's wheelchair athlete divisions in Boston, London, Chicago and now New York. [more inside]
Numerous "Stranger's Guides" written for 19th Century tourists can be found on the Internet Archive. A sample: New York (1828). Boston (1857). Washington DC (1884). Montreal (1872). London (1828). Paris (1822). United States and Canada (1838).
Ayn Rand: More Relevant Now than Ever
The speaker was the CEO of Saxo Bank, Lars Seier Christensen. As the head of an investment bank based in socialist Denmark, Christensen is particularly enraged by high taxation, social welfare and banking regulation. "The world is on the wrong track," he told us. "A malady that has long beset Europe is currently spreading to the US". Apparently we are experiencing a "socialist revival" to which "Ayn Rand is the only answer".
Take a fly-through tour of 17th century London! Six students from De Montfort University have created a 3D representation of London before the Great of Fire of 1666. The digital model is based on the area surrounding Thomas Farriner's bakery in Pudding Lane, where the Great Fire began. The project is the winning entry in the Off The Map competition, in which students were invited to build 3D models based on maps at the British Library.
Now it is beginning to feel that the next phase of London’s history will be one of transience, with no allegiance to the city. (slNYT)
"It's about coming together as a local community and sharing the fruits of your labour, your creation." In what has been described as a peer-to-peer community marketplace, people are connecting online with local cooks, who provide them with a meal for less than they would be likely to pay anywhere else. In Athens, the price is usually between three and four euros (£2.50 to £3.40). [more inside]
Zero Hours - For a workshop on future London, Arup, Social Life, Re.Work, Commonplace, Tim Maughan and Nesta created 10 Future Londoners for the year 2023. This one describes the working day of 19 year old Nicki, a zero hours retail contractor.
As the sun sinks slowly into Mayfair and the stars come out over Centre Point, the funster’s thoughts turn inexorably towards the bright lights and rundown neon of that square half-mile known as Soho, sin city nestling like a soiled Kleenex in the bosom of our great metropolis Soho 1983: A Girl's Guide To Peep Shows, Topless Bars & Nude Encounters
London’s coffee craze began in 1652 when Pasqua Rosée, the Greek servant of a coffee-loving British Levant merchant, opened London’s first coffeehouse (or rather, coffee shack) against the stone wall of St Michael’s churchyard in a labyrinth of alleys off Cornhill. Coffee was a smash hit; within a couple of years, Pasqua was selling over 600 dishes of coffee a day to the horror of the local tavern keepers. For anyone who’s ever tried seventeenth-century style coffee, this can come as something of a shock — unless, that is, you like your brew “black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love”, as an old Turkish proverb recommends, and shot through with grit.
British market-research firm Ipsos Mori has released the results of "The largest ever global study of the best city to do business in, live in, and visit." Interactive data here, more info here.
"The owners of the 37-story tower known as the Walkie Talkie in the City of London financial district are investigating a light beam cast by the building that’s so intense it melted parked cars." Jaguar owner Martin Lindsay was none too pleased by this evidence of the laws of physics. And architect Rafael Vinolyapparently hasn't learned from his previous hair-scorching design error in Las Vegas.
For £20 million you can buy your very own London
tube station underground military headquarters. [more inside]
London to Brighton, side by side. "In 1953 the BBC made a point-of-view film from a London to Brighton train. 30 years later it did the same again. And after another 30 years it did so once more." [more inside]
49 Years in the making, a map of how London Tube stops 'taste' to lexical-gustatory synaesthesia sufferer James Wannerton. [more inside]
"My first taste of Europe. My first realisation that a border is just a line – you cross it and nothing changes. No, everything changes. You are in another world, which is both exactly the same and entirely different." When you leave a country to live somewhere else, where is home?
The street photographer I share with you this week was a man born in Great Britain an entire century before Winogrand and Friedlander. His name was John Thomson (1837-1921) and it is known that he traveled the Far East taking photographs during much of the period between 1860-1879. When he returned to London, he began taking documentary photographs of everyday people on the streets of London. Via madamjujujive
Londoners have bad drain habits: the removal of a 15 tonne 'fatberg' from the sewers beneath the suburb of Kingston has brought this double decker bus-sized issue back into the headlines. [more inside]
Boris Johnson unveils a giant blue cock in Trafalgar Square, causing an outbreak of terrible puns. Hahn/Cock is the work of Katharina Fritsch, better known for her Rat-King sculpture. The colour is (probably) an homage to (NSFW) Yves Klein's favourite colour.
Pink Floyd's The Division Bell tour in 1994 was the highest-grossing tour in rock music history to that date, and featured spectacular special effects. For the first time since 1975, the band played the entirety of The Dark Side of the Moon in many of the tour's shows. On October 20, 1994 the concert at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London was filmed, and the subsequent documentary P•U•L•S•E: Live at Earls Court was released in 1995. Fullscreen. Widescreen. [more inside]