Thursday, December 25, 2008

Gone to Sidcup

RIP Harold Pinter - greatest English playwright of the 20th century (come on, who else? Orton? Wesker? Osbourne? Coward? I think not), user of strangely sinister London place names, anti-imperialist and impressive orator.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

С Рождеством!

A merry Winter Shopping Festival (as they so appropriately call it in Dubai) to every one of you, recession and flu epidemic pending. As I am in my hometown for the holiday there will be the annual post on how rubbish it is, but until then posts may be thin on the ground, something also neccessitated by my Mum's appallingly slow computer. Still, ding dong merrily etc - and more appropriate midwinter entertaiment can be found in the form of Snegourotchka's seasonal Soviet ice queen cartoon.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Negative Space

I don't know if Sidney Lumet ever read the work of the architectural critic Ian Nairn - given that Roger Ebert is a fan, it's not too unlikely - but his 1972 film The Offence seems to pick up on one of his critiques of the post-war New Towns. All that space, a reaction to the grimy bustle and overcrowding of the East End - from which many of the inhabitants of these towns came - became something weird and disturbing. In Modern Buildings in London, he writes of how the grid pattern combined with these areas where nothing particular happened meant that 'there is always the awful moment when you suddenly come to the end and meet a howling desert'. Personally I've always liked these howling deserts; I write as someone deeply aggrieved when Alexanderplatz was built over, and the most interesting element in, say, the 'Learning from Milton Keynes' series linked to by Fantastic Journal is not the banal architecture, but the banal space - the voids, the flyovers, the embankments.

They are deeply weird, these voids, and Lumet's film is all about them. Filmed in Bracknell, The Offence is the story of a policeman who has a nervous breakdown and murders a serial child rape suspect (with a surprisingly harsh performance from Sean Connery), and like Get Carter it uses the stark lines of post-war architecture as the stable referent for casual violence and barely suppressed rage. The policeman rents a flat in Ove Arup's Royal Point, seen in shockingly bare profile after a horrible domestic quarrel, harasses a suspect in one of those two-level shopping centres you could find in Stevenage or Coventry; and in the brilliant opening sequences, winding closes of unornamented council houses skirt around a huge thing too neat to be a heath, too bare to be a park or a wood, searching for a missing girl; the use of this useless, negative space gives the film much of its cold, uncanny power. Not mean streets, but pinched plazas, mean public spaces, psychotic concourses.

It would be deeply unfair to damn a film as powerful as The Offence for making a point - postwar planning = alienation - made much less stylishly or convincingly by innumerable others. So maybe Lumet's film needs to be watched alongside Gregory's Girl. This is such a romantic version of the new town that it's a wonder Bill Forsyth wasn't receiving a direct stipend from the Cumbernauld Development Corporation. The notorious town centre can only be glimpsed once, from a distance - the rest of it uses the different layers, pedestrian bridges and unusual housing arrangements as a playground, an awkward, gauche but charming site for gawky adolescent crushes. Everything is 'new', and not as a pejorative - new feelings, new ideas ('a girl on the football team - it's modern!'). As the film ends, with Gregory, having been moved from girl to girl and ending with Clare Grogan, it's on one of those voids, not-park, not-wood and not-garden that they lie, thinking about the world spinning round as gravity holds them to the surface.

All doomed

Shameless plug #47: in January's Frieze I can be found, along with Shumon Basar, doing a round-up of the past year in architecture. Online, the preview of the piece credits Make architects with the building above - before Sam Jacob and Charles Holland take me off their links bar I'd like to point out that this error is not repeated in the magazine itself.

Irrelevantly, this is utterly spectacular (via Things).

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Tulips are too Excitable, it is Winter Here

Some things to read in the bitter cold, as respite from depressing mud-slinging: an intriguing looking new blog, Modern Missives, with a fine post on 17th century Tulip Mania and the art market; Poetix, with a post on Egalitarianism and Elitism, and the differences between Leavis and Badiou, as one such agonistic couple: worth at the very least a chapter, I would think; and rather spectacular, Socialism and/or Barbarism on 'Eisenstein avec Meatloaf', or rather avec Jim Steinman, as different facets of same wildly baroque and overblown, carnally and technologically 'ecstatic' aesthetic. Quite brilliant. Finally: you could watch it again and again, couldn't you?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Housing as War

Entertaining recent reading: Nothing Like a Dame - the Scandals of Shirley Porter, by Andrew Hosken. As she is now largely a forgotten figure, to the point where I picked up this recent bio as a remainder, a recap on Porter's career: heiress of supermarket behemoth Tesco, she became Conservative head of Westminster City Council in the 1980s, and was very quickly almost thrown out of office. Realising that Labour's base in Westminster's council estates meant that this 'flagship' council had a distinct possibility of 'going socialist', she undertook a systematic policy of emptying estates in marginal council wards of their working class tenants, moving yuppies in to take their place, or simply boarding up and refusing to re-let old properties until said yuppies showed an interest. The homeless were dumped in other boroughs or made to live in uninhabitable buildings. This policy, which she systematically recorded in endless communiques and minutes, was called 'Building Stable Communities'.

She got caught eventually, of course - what distinguished Porter above all, it seems, was a stunning naivete and stupidity, in leaving so meticulous a record and virtually proclaiming her gerrymandering intent by ostentatiously cleaning up and adding pot plants to marginal wards. Hosken's book features interviews with a handful of Tories who dissented from Porter's policies, especially the otherwise impeccably Thatcherite Patricia Kirwan, who eventually became her nemesis. Yet it seems that her legacy has been remarkably unchallenged. For one thing, it worked - Westminster has, for years, been as safe as Tory councils get. And more to the point, without ever using her sledgehammer-unsubtle methods, local government has been emptying council estates of their tenants and getting in the young professionals for the last couple of decades. Hosken notes that one of the Tory excuses in Westminster was 'revenge for Morrison', i.e for the massive council building programme of the 1930s, at which point Labour council leader and Mandelson's Grandad Herbert Morrison said (allegedly - I wish he had, but almost every source suggests he didn't) that he wanted to 'build the Tories out of London'. 

There's obviously a vast ethical difference between building housing for the poor and hounding them out of aforesaid housing, but this never bothered the Tories much. And while Porter's opponents might have favoured privatisation, at least unlike her they never shoved the homeless into condemned tower blocks so riddled with asbestos that they were unfit for human habitation. Nonetheless, both the name - Building Stable Communities, just switch 'stable' to 'sustainable' and it could be yesterday - and the rhetoric of Porter's gerrymandering initiative, with the claim that they were only making the class makeup of council estates into something more 'mixed', anticipate New Labour housing policy in a remarkable fashion. Actually, more council tenants would have kept their flats under Porter's Westminster than under the mass sell-offs and clearances now underway in Labour-controlled Elephant and Castle and Kidbrooke.

Yet the key, and very weird, point is one made early on in the book by one of Hosken's sources: the municipal politics of 1980s as a bizarre and unique time when class war was fought using housing as an instrument, with the GLC and other 'loony left' councils like Liverpool on the one side, and Porter's Westminster on the other. This use of housing as a party political instrument is akin to something BLDGBLOG might write about, the use of space in a strange, non-architectural manner, something only supported by the achingly bland non-architecture that both sides were producing - none of it even remotely as aesthetically interesting as the stylistic and political warfare of 1920s Berlin. It all contrasts interestingly with another famously corrupt city boss, Newcastle's T Dan Smith, the subject of a brilliant recent post at Enchanted Isle. Smith's architectural legacy is both better and worse than Porter's and Derek Hatton's; better, because of a couple of magnificent, visionary (and now despised) buildings by Rodney Gordon, compared with, irrespective of their noble intent, the drab provincialism of Militant's cottages. Worse, because there was a genuinely laudable aim behind all his greasy politicking - to create a Modernist, socialist city out of the shabby detritus left by the industrial revolution - which was thrown away in cheap system-building and favours to influential crooks. Now, what is most prevalent is a combination of the boosterist side of Smith - Howard Bernstein's Manchester as a fine example - with a Porteresque determination to abandon all social obligation as something old-fashioned and unworthy.

Exhuming McCarthy

Now isn't this sordid? For the thoughtcrime of giving a good review to Richard Seymour's book, it first alleges, incorrectly, that I am a member of the Socialist Workers Party, then calls for my sacking from the New Statesman for this apparently heinous offence. Then after I categorically deny being a member on their particularly psychotic comments thread, the delightful David S Toube claims that, as an occasional writer for Socialist Worker's arts pages, I'm an 'SWP activist' so the accusation still stands. Which would also make the many other non-members who have contributed to the paper, from Tony Benn to Mike Davis, 'SWP activists' - news to the former, I'm sure. Note also that this little crowd of would-be McCarthyites (sorry, 'defenders of free speech') are very keen on throwing around the word 'totalitarian' to describe others...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Old Mole

Communiques from the Greek riots: If something scares us it is the return to normality. (via)

Ford without Us

E-mailed to me yesterday, and thoroughly worth a few hours' boggle: a staggering photo-essay at The Kohrman Report on the abandoned factories of Detroit, where Fordism was born and died; and much more where that came from, with photoseries on empty department stores, abandoned hotels, disused railway stations and 'skyscraper graveyards'.

Something which came through the post: Junk Jet, a very peculiar Stuttgart-based architectural zine, with articles on architectural monsters, Sam Jacob on mistakes, and other curios; and as if as a reference to Adolf Loos' claim that ornament on buildings was the equivalent of the tendency of criminals and 'savages' to tattoo themselves, it also contains an 'architectural tattoo'...

Also, me caught on the horns of a dilemma, or failing to come to a proper conclusion, in BD.

Of Architecture, Nostalgia, Violence and Queerness

'Shat on by Tories, shovelled up by Labour - and here we are, perhaps the last island of beauty in the world'
Perhaps the most worthwhile thing about Terence Davies' Of Time and the City is the very fact that such a wildly self-indulgent film managed to get made, in a Britfilm context still mainly defined by heritage and proleface. From the magnificently portentous narration onwards (provoking the thought that the only place BBC English now survives is in the diction of ageing autodidacts like Davies) this is something absurdly out-of-kilter with what films are supposed to be like today. Yet as a city-portrait, the film doesn't even approach the eloquence and weirdness of Patrick Keiller's London, edging closer to the less rigorous, sub-Keiller Finisterre. Davies' Liverpool lacks, especially in his text, the historical imagination or strange intelligence (not to mention the erudition on urbanism and architecture) that Keiller brings to London, with the archive footage doing most of the talking. This footage is dominated by seemingly endless vistas of slums being demolished and tower blocks taking their place.

It seems mean to point it out, but Davies is not particularly architecturally literate. The cold rationalist Schinkel style of St George's Hall and the camply preposterous Edwardian bombast of the Pierhead's 'three graces' are filmed in an equally lingering way, as if they signify exactly the same thing: as with his beloved Mahler, and presumably unlike the loathed Beatles and tower blocks, they stand for Europe, aestheticism, faded grandeur - the huge stylistic differences between Cunard and St George's seemingly not noticed. The post-war architecture rising from the ruins - 'we were promised paradise', he wonderfully intones, 'but municipal architecture, combined with the English talent for the dismal, made for something far from Elysian' - is mixed in with footage of far more interesting 1930s schemes, when Liverpool's municipal architect Lancelot Keay was considered one of the best designers and planners in the country (cf this site: and note that this architectural mistake is repeated in the slum clearance footage of Grant Gee's Joy Division). Much of what emerges out of the rubble sometimes does indeed look utterly dismal; and much doesn't, with some of the buildings exhibiting a more genuinely European aesthetic than Davies' favoured Edwardian pomp.

Which brings us back in a tortuous manner to the question of Morrissey and modernity. As A of Aloof from Inspiration implies, there is - and I intend this as a compliment - something very Morrisseyesque about Davies. The recreation (or here, archiving) of a vanished Northern working class culture, which is, though clearly held on to dearly, never entirely romanticised - think of the punishment and systematic violence that runs through Distant Voices Still Lives or 'The Headmaster Ritual'. Both are hostile to a certain kind of modernity and modernism, but equally scathing about the claims of old conservative England - the most gleeful moments in Of Time and The City are the bilious insults for the Royal Family and the Catholic Church, which in this old sectarian city evokes the marvellous Partick Thistle chant 'we hate the boys in royal blue/we hate the boys in emerald green/so fuck the Pope and fuck the Queen'. Another common point between the two is queerness, as opposed to gayness. I recall an interview with Davies where he expressed his horror of the idea of anyone having the misfortune to have sex with him - the film stresses a feeling of liberation, when he rejects his religion and accepts his sexuality, but its aesthetic representation leads to the film's worst sequence, an incredibly mawkish montage of soldier boys disembarking for the Korean war accompanied by the Hollies. Nonetheless, Davies' position is akin to Morrissey in that the actual deed itself is faintly unattractive; this is an aestheticised stance, not a hedonistic preference. 

Accordingly, the film ends in worried bafflement at the hedonism and sexual display of contemporary Liverpool; you can sense that while he feels he ought to prefer this to the world we see destroyed in the film, it's another false promise, a paradise deferred; the tower blocks and the queues for the clubs both are both ways of trying to destroy an old world that might well deserve destruction, but failing to produce anything qualitatively better in the process. The ambiguity is at the heart of the opening scenes of an opulent church, deconsecrated and turned into a pub. It implies a grim choice: escape as getting wrecked at the weekend, or escape as church-going, piety and dreams of paradise. Neither Davies or Morrissey could imagine an alternative modernity or another Modernism, but neither can be reduced to nostalgia for beatings, repression and slums.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jolly old Empire

A rare review by me not featuring any major gripes or caveats, except for on the subject of the awful title. Not the least of The Liberal Defence of Murder's virtues is its usefulness for socialists who are still invariably called upon to defend the butchery and failure of Stalinism (as if the majority of socialists ever believed in the Soviet myth anyway), as it provides an extensive record of how liberals have spent the last 400 years thinking up humanitarian excuses for famine, war and genocide. It also has some good recondite insults.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Weisse Streifen, Grüner Rand

Another short post (although a longish thing on the urban legacy of Dame Shirley Porter is on its way, excitingly), imploring you to go read a456's post on Kraftwerk's videos and 'centrifugal space'. Which is as intriguing as it sounds.

Here come the Nice

A great site, found when searching for possible locations of more overcast photo-essays: the wonderfully unironic Nice Buildings, a photo-site of British post-war architecture. What is particularly fun about it is the concentration, for the most part, on the less immediately sexy side of the period. Rather than the Brutalist masterpieces that have started to edge their way back into fashion, the sets here on such destinations as Plymouth or Harlow are catalogues of low-rise, stoneclad grids, in the small-c conservative post-Blitz idiom which anyone raised in a town that was given particular attention by the Luftwaffe might view with a certain amount of Proustian longing. Lovely.

The Undeath of New Labour

This marvellous image (via The Weblog) came to mind when surveying some of the rather sly policy announcements of the last week. While Peter sodding Mandelson has promised a policy of industrial intervention, other New Labour shibboleths are dying very hard indeed. So, the government which began by abolishing student grants and slashing lone parent benefit might just end as the one which forced the mothers of one year-old children into work and subjected benefit claimants to lie detector tests. That this is, let's say, utterly fucking grotesque in a situation of spiralling unemployment and massive state welfare for banks should, one might think, go without saying. Yet spending my Sunday afternoon flicking through the tabloids, the grim thought did occur to me that people may actually fall for this nonsense. It is, however, looking increasingly unlikely.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Londoners, stalkers and anyone else with nothing better to do on a Friday evening should note that, rather terrifyingly, I am sole speaker (following the mighty, if Cherry Coke-splattered Comrade Seymour last week) at the Institute of Historical Research, as part of the the Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture series. I'll be on Friday the 12th December, 5.30, and here. It goes on for about two hours, about half of which will be spent listening to me talking and showing slides. The subject matter is 'Aesthetics of the Offensive: The 'Third Period' and Comintern Modernism, 1928-32'. 

(Attempts to remember what he was talking about when suggesting that title) In short, I'll be tackling an awkward question for Trotskyist or (in my case) Trotskyish aesthetic historians - that the consolidation of Stalinist power and the defeat of the Left Opposition in 1927 did not, as the usual history has it, lead instantly to the abandonment of Modernist film, design and architecture. In fact, this was the period of - to name just a few artefacts - the workers' clubs of Melnikov, the 'social condensers' of the OSA in architecture; in film, Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera, FEKS' New Babylon; in design, El Lissitzky's PRESSA exhibition or the posters of Gustav Klutsis. The argument is that in many respects, early Stalinism brought about not just a continuation, but an intensification of aesthetic radicalism, aligning itself with the developmentalism of the Five Year Plans. This continued in the international wing of the movement, in the form of the glossy USSR In Construction propaganda sheet, designed by Lissitzky, Rodchenko and others. In fact, the 'radicalism' of early Stalinism, when added to the suicidal tactics of the 'Third Period' of the Communist International ('after Hitler, us', the refusal to work with the SPD against the Nazis, and so forth) led to an aesthetic aggression and particularly, an aggressive youthfulness, that is under-investigated by leftists and easily exploited by the opponents of modernism or indeed of socialism. Without wanting to defend the often appalling politics they represented, the paper will try to argue that this aesthetic radicalism threatened to spill over into something that threatened Stalinism altogether, which perhaps is what ultimately led to its suppression from 1932-4. Now I have to write the bloody thing...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

'but, is it not more true to say...'

Go read: a brilliant, compressed Poetix post on the very important elisions between when one is and one is not joking.

What is the artist trying to do here

More trainspotting: me, on the decline of London Transport's role as benevolent art patron; which perhaps should be read alongside this amusing paean to the Turner Prize's blurb writers.

Monday, December 01, 2008

'I want to get on with my life, but the market won't let me'

[Being a photo-essay of a rare excursion to West London, with Infinite Thought and others. My interjections are in brown, the rest of the text is by I.T herself, as obviously are the photos]

The title of this photo-essay was spoken by a woman on the tube on our way to a trip round the outer reaches of the Piccadilly line.

The font on this sign, Owen would explain, is specific to the station.

Sudbury Town station. Charles Holden designed a lot of stations of the Piccadilly line. They tend to be fantastic, with brick towers and concrete and glass and flats sort of integrated into the structure.

In 1930, Frank Pick, Managing Director of London Transport, took Charles Holden round Germany, Holland and Sweden to find inspiration for new tube buildings. They liked Sweden the most. Sudbury Town was the first thing they designed on their return.

A hauntological underground sign! This tells ghosts where to go.

I can't find out anything about Haskins of E17, but they clearly made this shutter at some point.

So it was.

The lettering of all signs should be slightly raised.

It is hard to imagine how London could be any more surveilled. There was even one aimed at a dead or dying pigeon in the station, which was lit up in a crown of barbed wire thorns. The picture I took of it was not adequate. Later, when Joel talked about how he liked to eat white sausages, I imagined them to be made with the blood of doves.

Wizz..per me a secret on the Piccadilly line. We were very impressed when Joel jumped on the same train unexpectedly. Does he have GPS devices implanted in our cerebral cortex? An international spy must have his gadgets.

'Travel in style' this old poster instructed us, stuffed as it was in the damp and rain-drenched back of some sort of brown box device at Alperton.

This is the station at Park Royal, influenced by Holden. Yet again the Dome infuriated me as its poster interrupted the fine view of the step detail.

CCTV cameras with spikes to stop the pigeons landing on them. Does any object better sum up the contemporary British city? We used to have clocks and wooden benches and magazine we have frequent requests that 'if we see anything suspicious, please tell a member of staff', spikes, barbed wire and a weariness that infects even the tired birds in search of a perch. But nostalgia is perhaps not the answer...

The washing machines had been patiently waiting for service since around 1993.

Owen made me take this. It's not very good, particularly as I tried to pre-emptively excise the car. That's always a problem with taking pictures of buildings - damn automobiles make even the most luscious modern block look crap and banal. A tram whizzing past on the other hand would have been just perfect. Owen declared in no uncertain terms that he wanted to live on this street, or perhaps in one of the flats above the station.

Park Royal station was designed by the firm of Welch, Lander and Cachemaille-Day, former assistants of Holden's. Their other major work is the finest German Expressionist church in Eltham. It seems they also did some of the houses nearby. Many of these have the curved-glass fenstration known as 'suntrap' windows, made by the Critall company, whose employees all lived happily in flat-roofed houses in Braintree. As can be seen here, any sun had been successfully trapped.

Other reasons why I want to live in Park Royal: it was once the largest industrial zone in Western Europe, hence the big empty ruined box. Several generations of Hatherleys toiled in the factories here, making sheet metal, vacuum cleaners and munitions and other such things, after which at least one of them got unexpectedly rich, moved to the Isle of Wight and voted Tory. Another person to have toiled in the area is Reginald Perrin, who was oppressed by C.J at Sunshine Desserts until faking his own death and attending his own funeral. Perhaps by living here I can assuage residual guilt at never having worked sheet metal.

Clamping. We hoped it was of the suburban nipple exoticist kind, but feared once more that it properly had something to do with cars. Again.

A big empty ruined box opposite Park Royal station. We compared this to some of the 'Blair Boxes' that Douglas identified, which are characterised by their flimsiness, faux-perkiness and general Fosterosity.

Then, like the good little Ballardians we are, we went to Westfield, now the biggest mall in Europe. On the bus on the way we saw a personalised numberplate that read 'GIPLS', which we presumed to be several hundred pounds cheaper than one with an 'R' in it. Joel recounted a merry tale of someone being stalked by a cop with magic keys, and Owen remembered that they had seen a car with the number plate 'KIIING' when last we were protesting at the banks. Would Mervyn be so cheap, we wondered, driving around his manor with such an auto-description?

This sign reminded me of the prehistoric rubble of my youth, where trips to Avebury were frequent. Perhaps in 2500 years time, we will wonder what this henge meant.

A sublimely disgusting 'pie hoarding' greeted us at the entrance to Westfield. if you look carefully enough, you can see a small infinite pig reflected in the gleam.

The font of the Westfield name reminds me of Dubai, even though I have never been there. Douglas confims that it is indeed 'kitsch serif'.

These satanic ghouls adorn the panels between bougy restaurants in one of the sectors of Westfield.

I-pod, Myspace....You'th!

Ripply. Douglas claims that this roof would take five minutes to design but much longer to check the maths.

I suspect former students of the Architectural Association had a hand in Westfield mall somewhere along the way...

These crystal trees genuinely appeared to be structural. Quite impressed by their madness, we were.

Baubles. Mmm. All-year-round baubles.

Come and sit on our Nu-Laboury kidney-bean sofas 'n' carpet!

Westfield has a Foyles. It is full of cookery books and kids' toys. Bizarrely enough, we spotted the Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Michael Gove, in the bookshop, um, telling his children off. I swear I'm not making this up.

Whilst in the bookshop, Joel read to us from a successful chick-lit confessional novel in which he features, under a different name, as a caddish rogue who lacks sufficient interest in the heroine. We all agree that one of the things this brand of narcissistic-auto-fictioning can't countenance is the fact that a male love interest just might not be that into you. I briefly contemplated writing a scandal-ridden philosophy 'n' sex pig-lit novel, but concluded I'd probably rather write the Feuerbach book instead.

The ceiling of the super-posh 'The Village' section looks like a giant alien sex organ. At this point Joel got told off for taking photographs. I, however, did not. Apparently it is not a rule but it is also not permitted to take pictures of shops themselves. People are fine, however. You are only allowed to take pictures of people.

Phew...escape from the mall, where we spent no money apart from on some pizzas for lunch that were themed by cities (how jolly). I suspect our choices revealed more about us than we would care to admit. I was New York, Owen London, Douglas Cairo and Joel Casablanca. The waiter flirted with us all equally.

This map is - can you guess? - at Piccadilly Circus. It is a very outdated, but extremely attractive, map of the world.

It might also be noted that the interior of Piccadilly Circus is by Holden, completed in 1929. Its apparent luminosity and efficiency were compared at the time to the film Metropolis, then appearing at the cinemas nearby.

What it says.

We exited via the Trocadero, which looked more Blade Runner-y than ever. A dearth of massages, however.

And this drinking establishment had clearly become a bakery (sadly closed). Perhaps it is where the Drunken Bakers work.

As we walk through the empty passageway to the Trocadero, we note a display of signs declaring that it is soon to undergo a total redesign to make it more 'family friendly'. The trocadero's postmodernist aesthetic is denounced on the signs in exactly the same terms that brutalist architecture was 20 years previously. In reality, of course, the Trocadero is being destroyed because it is a lawless interzone dedicated to the systematic derangement of the senses.

Walter Benjamin meets a Tehrani bazzar! Er, or something...

Bra Candy: Bling for Your Shoulders was on sale here. None of us had ever seen any before. I suspect Owen was tempted, but kept quiet at this time.

Funland! Though where does this tube go?

We didn't try our hand at winning one of these, although we did shoot some zombies.

Signs at the exhibition of sculptures made from old computer parts promise 'an archaeology of the history of our future'. A sign also claims that they were created by an '8 years young Tellurian'.

The picture above and the ones below are from somewhere I am not allowed to tell you, according to my photo-essay companions (hint: not a million miles from the Trocadero!). It is one of the weirdest things I've ever seen - a kind of cyber-recycling art gallery complete with ancient old computers for surfing the web (1.0, I assume) and stickers promoting Islam on the door. It is as if the CCRU and rave-hacker types from the early 90s had won. It was quite the best way to conclude our day, even though we also then went to see Terence Davies Of Time and the City and ate at the Stockpot. The whole of this post should be read as if infused with a deep post-Catholic nostalgic guilt for the arses of young men. Apart from the pictures below.