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December 31, 2007

The Rhetoric of Casino Architecture

Design for Service points out a page on casino design in this archeological history of slot machines (by William Choi and Antoine Sindhu).

Other features of the casino, including the music, carpeting, and even the air conditioning system, are manipulated to the casino’s advantage. Studies have shown that carpeting is often purposefully jarring to the eyes, which draws customers’ gaze upwards toward the machines on the gambling floor. Music is usually mild and soothing, and plays on a continuous loop rather than individual songs, contributing to a trance-like feeling of warmth and comfort in the gamblers. It has even been reported that casinos have attempted to manipulate the air circulation in order to affect the behavior of gamblers. They may add extra oxygen to the circulation to keep gamblers more alert, or even add pheromones that make people feel more relaxed and at ease.

All of which actually points to how common it is for us to be powerfully articulated by design and architecture. They work best by fooling us.

And work they do, all the time and everywhere: Not just in casinos, but shopping malls, grocery stores, sports stadiums, fast food restaurants, clubs passé and trendy are designed in ways that help us forget our surroundings and participate in ways consistent with the goals of the space. Malls without clocks and exterior lights but with food courts, park benches, and piped-in bird songs, like casinos, attempt to take us out of the world and part of an isolated, fully contained environment. Fast food restaurant seating that's not quite comfortable urges us to eat quickly and leave, freeing up space for the next consumer. Crackdowns on loitering and visibly homeless people before high-profile city events like the Olympics or large conventions prevent visitors from seeing what real city life is like.

Sometimes they're designed that way intentionally—particularly when large markets are involved—but sometimes they just get that way in an evolutionary fashion, as different arrangements are tried out over and over again. Those that work get repeated, refined, and dispersed. That's how culture works.

[via Design for Service]

Control Rooms


In the I Need a Setup Like This category, we have the CScout Japan's pictures of a visit to the Tokyo Traffic Control Center. More at theCScout Japan link above as well as Tokyo Metro's "foe [sic?] foreign people/traffic" page.

[via Gizmodo]

December 27, 2007

2007 Logo Trends


Logo Lounge discusses logo trends from 2007: helices, rubber bands, eco smart, urban vinyl, and more. Nice (both article and examples).

Above are from the urban vinyl section of the piece. From left to right, San Marko's design for webpublica, Innfusion Studio's for Infusor, Glitschka Studios' for Fire Squad, and Tactix Creative's for Cyclops.

[via kottke.org]

Party Mix, Vol. 15

"Drunkard's Dream," Figurines, When The Deer Wore Blue
"Getting It Wrong," Sparklehorse, Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain
"Last Love Song For Now," Okkervil River, Black Sheep Boy
"Looking For Astronauts," The National, Alligator
"Uptown Again," The Afghan Whigs, Unbreakable
"Lit Up," The National, Alligator
"Please Be Patient With Me," Wilco, Sky Blue Sky
"Good Lovin'," Grateful Dead, Long Strange Trip, Vol 4
"A Stroll Through Hive Manor Corridors," The Hives The Black And White Album
"Ship Caught In The Bay," The Frames, Burn The Maps
"Boyz," M.I.A. Kala


I'll be upgrading (well, attempting to upgrade) my MovableType installation for work/space today. It's been a long time since I've upgraded, so there may or may not be horrendous problems with the weblog.

update: or not. Clarkson doesn't support the version of MySQL. Actually, they refuse to support any version of MySQL because, apparently, it's such an uncommon and demanding piece of software that we shouldn't need to use it.

December 23, 2007

365 Days in the Life of a Desktop


Sean Nicholas Ohlenkamp at TBWA\Chiat\Day took a screenshot of his computer desktop every day for a full year, turned the images into a stop-action animation, added a jumpy soundtrack, and posted the video.

[via Monoscope]

December 21, 2007

Peter Sellers as Remixer

Peter Sellers reciting "A Hard Day's Night" in the style of Laurence Oliveir reciting "Now is the Winter of Our Discontent" [youtube]. From a 1964 TV program.

December 17, 2007


Long Exposure

December 12, 2007

The Five Users You Meet in Hell

Computerworld lists a help desk's top five troublesome users. If you're like me, you can recognize some of them in the mirror. (Scratch that; all of them.)

4. The Finger-Pointer

Finger-Pointers never think (or at least, never admit) that they're in any way to blame for any of their problems -- you are.

When their systems are running slow, they assume that IT must have "done something to the server." Their lost or misplaced documents and forgotten passwords must be the help desk's fault. And yep, their misdirected print jobs and lost e-mail folders are all part of a vast IT conspiracy to mess up their workdays.

You know you've got a Finger-Pointer on your hands when you hear phrases like, "Everything was fine and then my system just blew up. What'd you guys do?"

In my own defense, sometimes IT does just randomly blow up the system sometimes (and doesn't say anything about it in the hope that no one will notice that, say MySQL hasn't been running for a week). Still, I'll keep this article in mind the next time I fire off an angry email message to the help desk. Probably.

[via Slashdot]

December 10, 2007

Mark Mothersbaugh/Mutato Muzik

LA Weekly has a piece on Mark Mothersbaugh's Mutato Muzik production company (w/extensive video/audio clips). Probably still best known for his work in Devo, Mothersbaugh's film, television, and ad scoring are easily as freaky as that earlier MTV-shaping efforts. The Pee-wee's Playhouse intro, both music and video, have to be among the best two seconds of television ever broadcast.

The iconic opening of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, which debuted in 1986, is a wondrous convergence of art and music, and is, even more so than Devo, what set Mothersbaugh on the path he’s on now. In two action-packed minutes, we’re introduced to Paul Reubens’ (quirky) comedic creation, an odd, subversive man-child; comic artist Gary Panter’s masterful (quirky) art direction, which manifests itself in prop-characters Chairry, Randy, Globey and Pterri; and Mark Mothersbaugh’s first (quirky) foray into scoring for a television series. Beginning with a riff on Martin Denny’s “Quiet Village,” the introduction kicks into gear with Mothersbaugh’s stomping theme song, which sounds like a futuristic synth-disco version of “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” It exudes joy, and inspires Pee-wee to race around with pure glee, do some jerky rhythm-walking, spin and cackle, and go nutso, all while a sassy, Betty Boop–inspired Cyndi Lauper delivers marching orders: Get outta bed, there’ll be no more nappin’! (Wake up!)/’Cause you’ve landed in a place where anything can happen!

There's a lot of other things going on in the interview, including Mothersbaugh's (and other Mutato members') takes the death of record companies, videogames, and writing jingles:

From the start, continues Mothersbaugh, he and Casale were drawn to the Pop-art movement, inspired by Warhol, Rauschenberg and others who blurred the lines between commercialism and fine art — and by ad men who did the reverse. Specifically, one TV campaign struck him. He hums the melody to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, then sings the words to a Burger King commercial: “‘Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us.’ I loved that. Now that’s subversive. I thought, that’s amazing — to take such a beautiful piece of music and turn it into an ad for hamburgers. And then it got more interesting, because they then interpreted a country & western version, and a blues version, and a Dixieland version, and they totally went crazy on it.” That tuned his attention to television and radio commercials. “That was way more interesting to me than hippies or punks screaming for anarchy or revolution. I watched the hippies become commodified and turned into hip capitalists — and the punks, you just watched them kind of dwindle away.” Devo’s mission, decided Casale and Mothersbaugh, would be more subversive.

[via TapeOp Message Board]

December 08, 2007

Sound and Technology in 20th Century Lit

I just found this link to Michael Heumann's 1998 dissertation, Ghost in the Machine: Sound and Technology in the Late Twentieth Century. Which, as the title says, is a cultural studies/critical theory/etc. with heavy detours through James Joyce, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Marinetti and the Futurists, among other things.

[via things magazine]

December 04, 2007

Architectural Tetris

Full story and more video at Gizmodo.

Speaking in Code

The New Yorker's Emoticons During Wartime. Includes


This e-mail is being monitored by Uncle Sam for your protection.

(Which could probably be applied to any email written anywhere.)

[via Fimoculous.com]