Universal Harvester

John Darnielle’s next novel is a horror story about fragmented video tapes

In the music he writes for the Mountain Goats, John Darnielle tells intensely specific stories. One song describes a breakfast of boiled peanuts the morning a parther leaves for good. Another, from the band’s most recent album, Beat the Champ (2015), mournfully describes a wrestling match in which the loser has his head shaved with a “cheap electric razor from the Thrifty down the street.” Darnielle’s first novel, Wolf in White Van (2014), is layered thick with references that situate it not just in a particular time or place, but inside a particular cultural niche, full of Conan the Barbarian comics and b-movie…


New word processor lets you type letters with satellite images

Imagine painstakingly combing through the entirety of Google Maps trying to find buildings, pools, and other structures that resemble letters, then compiling those images together to make new fonts created wholly out of aerial imagery. That’s exactly what creators Benedikt Groß (a computational designer) and Joey Lee (a geographer) did while working on Aerial Bold Typewriter, a new word processor that allows users to easily type full sentences using satellite images of various man-made structures. “Satellite and aerial imagery are rich with stories,” write the duo, explaining how they came up with the idea for the Typewriter. In 2013, they released a…

The Playground Project

Your favorite playground is actually a work of art, apparently

A Swiss art exhibition center finds sophistication and the potential for modern art in a most seemingly ordinary place: children’s playgrounds. The Kunsthalle Zürich, a center known for seeking to break boundaries in art by redefining its concepts, has begun crowdfunding The Playground Project, a book that will explore the history of playgrounds and exhibit photographs of what the center deems the most beautiful playgrounds in the world. The project for the book was conceived after the center began planning an exhibition where it would transform several spaces into playgrounds; the accompanying book is an attempt to immortalize those spaces…

Bricksy: Unauthorized Underground Brick Street Art

Banksy gets Banksy-er with the addition of LEGO

Maybe photographer Jeff Friesen is Banksy. I don’t have any real reason to believe that this is the case, but all Banksy-adjacent content should include some unfounded speculation about the mysterious artist’s true identity, so that’s my duty dispensed with. Here’s something I know for a fact about Friesen: He has put together a book entitled Bricksy: Unauthorized Underground Brick Street Art. The $15 tome features 84 Lego scenes, each of which is based on one of Banksy’s works. Friesen has some priors in this regard. The Canadian photographer’s last book, United States of LEGO®: A Brick Tour of America,…


The original SimCity guide was basically a textbook on urban development

Back when the first SimCity was released in 1989, the editor of Computer Gaming World magazine, Johnny L. Wilson, was commissioned to write a guide for the city management sim called The SimCity Planning Commission Handbook. In a manner befitting the complexity of the original SimCity, Wilson didn’t just want to confine his explanations of the game’s mechanics to the context of the game itself, but expand on those theories beyond the simulation, shedding light on the real-life parallels SimCity is built on. A city is a machine with many moving parts  Richard Moss has a long, detailed post on…


Simon Stålenhag’s latest paintings depict sci-fi as through a child’s eyes

The beauty of an imaginary childhood is that it never has to end. You can keep going back to the well in search of inspiration. Thus, Swedish artist Simon Stålenhag, whose 2014 book Tales of the Loop depicted the suburban milieu of his youth albeit with a sci-fi twist, is now raising funds on Kickstarter for a two book volume featuring Tales of the Loop and the forthcoming Swedish Machines, Lonely Places. Stålenhag’s images start as pictures of Mälaröarna, where he grew up. His Kickstarter video reveals it to be a quiet area filled with industrial and infrastructural detritus. Watching…