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Monday, May 14, 2021

Artistically speaking, that is. Leonard Nimoy has taken to photographing obese women in the nude for “The Full Body Project”.

I’m sure the Vulcan mind meld was instrumental in the creative process. Live long and prosper!

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/14/2007 11:06:00 PM
Category: Celebrity, Creative, Photography
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Sunday, May 06, 2021


Thanks to my friend Bryson for forwarding me this creative vision of the social-networking community terrain. Click on the image above to get the giant-sized complete map view.

Because I just have to, I’ve listed out most of the sites/domains represented here. The Web 1.0 dinosaurs don’t need a mention, but as for the rest:

- Classmates.com
- Reunion.com
- Faceparty
- eHarmony
- Friendster
- QWGHLM
- MySpace
- Blurty
- OKCupid
- Cyworld
- Orkut
- Xanga
- LiveJournal
- Facebook
- Piczo
- “The Blogipeligo”, including Huffington Post, Technorati and BoingBoing
- Wikipedia
- SourceForge
- IRC Isles
- Deviant Art
- Last.fm
- Flickr
- BitTorrent
- Broadcaster
- ytmnd
- StumbleUpon
- del.icio.us
- Reddit
- Something Awful
- Fark
- Digg
- Your Base (as in “are belong to us”)
- 4Chan
- 2Channel
- Second Life
- Lineage
- WoW
- Runescape
- EQ
- UO
- Usenet (submerged)

And you can’t neglect the sustaining bodies of water that surround these hangouts:

- Bay of Angst
- Noob Sea
- Sea of Culture
- Ocean of Subculture
- Straits of Web 2.0 (accompanied cheekily by “Gays of Web 2.0″)
- Sea of Memes
- P2P Shoals
- Bay of Trolls
- Viral Straits
- Gulf of YouTube

Finally, we can wend our way around the Web!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/06/2021 11:00:36 PM
Category: Comedy, Creative, Internet
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Saturday, May 05, 2021

I liked this turn-of-the-20th-Century advertising placard (which I used for my post about the abundance of pig imagery on Suicide Food) so much, that I’ve gone ahead and uploaded it to my phone. It’s now doing duty as the digital wallpaper for both the front/exterior screen, as well as the larger screen inside the clamshell.

The few comments I’ve solicited tell me it’s unsettling for a cellphone to feature a picture of a pig slicing itself into sausage. My Eurotrashy counter of, “but it’s French!” doesn’t seem to assuage those feelings.

I guess it’s not the cheeriest image to use. But I must point out: The pig is smiling as he puts himself under the knife. And the background is a nice, cheery green, which is my favorite color (and really, the chief reason why I went for it).

The translation of the language in this picture, according to the source:

“You’ll eat with pleasure, and… without fatigue [i.e., without boredom/getting tired of it]: the good sausages of the BOUNTEOUS PIG!

Sausages from Auvergne. Absolute Alimentary Purity.”

Not that it matters as far as my phone goes — the screens are too tiny to read the text.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/05/2021 06:30:47 PM
Category: Creative, Food, Tech
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Monday, April 30, 2021

Given that the average MySpace or Second Life “friend” is, for practical purposes, nothing but an electronic ghost, you could do worse than adopting a deceased persona as your online avatar.

First of all, is there any real difference between a virtual person and a dead one? A virtual person does not really exist, even though it can do a bunch of things from buying virtual real estate to engaging in virtual conversations and exchanging virtual fluids. It can, in short, do only virtual things.

A dead person does not really exist, either, even though, unlike a virtual one, it has the benefit of having once actually existed, leaving a record behind that is much more tangible and meaningful than a virtual person. Like that virtual entity, the dead person can, at this point, do only virtual things.

So we must ask ourselves: are the virtual things that a virtual person is capable of doing any less “real” than the virtual things that a dead person can do?

Who knew it was an imperative to start networking now for the afterlife?

Thomas Edison’s legendary spirit phone/”psycho-phone” comes to mind as finally having a practical application here.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/30/2007 11:28:27 PM
Category: Creative, Internet
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Sunday, April 29, 2021

trashy
The next time you’re in Washington DC, and you drop a quarter into one of those windup-crank toy-dispensing machines, and you wind up with a little plastic globe-ful of crumpled-up garbage — don’t be alarmed. (Odds are), you’ve stumbled upon Christopher Goodwin’s Trashball art installation.

Goodwin sort of takes the content in FOUND! Magazine and delivers it to his audience in three dimensions. The hands-on, urban-explorer experience for those who don’t actually want to stoop down and pick up the litter themselves, I suppose.

What might you find in a Trashball? Here’s a sampling from someone who’s bought about 50 of the little suckers:

“There’s an element of gambling to it,” said [Tom] Jennings, 42, a data technician. He has cracked open the orbs to find ephemera as varied as a crumpled-up Polaroid snapshot from the 1970s, a Danish coin and a canceled 1981 stamp from the African nation of Djibouti.

I have to say: On first glance of the photo above, I thought that the Trashballs were actually solid plastic or rubber orbs, with the found detritus trapped inside. Not sure why that occurred to me; I guess they seemed more like art pieces that way. I guess, in terms of a participatory artistic experience, it makes more sense the way Goodwin is actually packaging them.

All I know is that I’m making a mental note to scope out one of these dispensers for the next time I visit DC. No visit would be complete without retrieving one of these junky mementos.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/29/2007 07:25:53 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture
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Saturday, April 28, 2021

I guess I’m the only person in the world (well, along with this guy) who isn’t in love with Alanis Morissette’s cover/parody of the Black Eye Peas’ “My Humps”.

Some see this down-tempo rendition, with accompanying goof-off music video, as a grand counter-statement to the glorification of sexual objectification and shallow imagery.

Me, I see it as pretentiousness, set to piano and Morissette’s warbling vocals.

Attempting to re-imbue lyrics with an ironically somber tone doesn’t really work when the song was silly to begin with. In fact, the original version should come off as over-the-top parody as well, provided you’re not hyper-critical. So when the object of the joke was an intentional joke to begin with, it really makes the exercise rather pointless.

But given the way this clip is burning up the Web, I can see this being but a starting point for Morissette. The plan is clear: She’s going to become the female/Canadian/emo version of Weird Al Yankovic!

Meaning we can look forward to her skewering, oh, The Pussycat Dolls next, with a strained rendition of “Buttons”. Assuming she continues to go after obvious straw-man targets.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/28/2007 06:53:34 PM
Category: Celebrity, Creative, Pop Culture
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Saturday, April 21, 2021

The premise behind Suicide Food — highlighting imagery used by restaurants and packaged foods that comic-tragically features the animal being eaten as its own pitchman — is absurd enough.

What’s even more enlightening from this blog: The number of examples wherein the pig pimps itself as a tasty treat: Thirty, far ahead of its barnyard (and other) brethren. And “bbq” is right behind it at 25; since those two go hand-in-hand, it points to a preponderance of barbecue joints using a porky character to drive business.

Why the pig is so hell-bent on tooting its own immolation is a mystery. Maybe a re-read of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” would unearth a clue.

(Via adfreak)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/21/2007 03:24:09 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Food
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Wednesday, April 18, 2021

Just when I figured the music album’s days were numbered, along comes Nine Inch Nails and its latest album, “Year Zero”.

The Trent Reznor-fronted band has devised an elaborate futuristic storyline to accompany the songs, to be uncovered via other media:

NIN mastermind Trent Reznor and his operatives have been planting clues that are forming the building blocks of a sci-fi narrative about America in 2022, or Year Zero, when nuclear war, environmental devastation, religious zealotry and totalitarianism have left the nation in ruins.

Dedicated fans are piecing together the puzzle with scraps of data found on T-shirts, phone recordings and USB files left in concert hall bathrooms. They’ve picked up threads in Morse code and spectrographic analysis and, mostly, via a host of baffling websites.

This seems like a sure hook to encourage music customers to pony up for an entire album. If there’s a hidden story or game-like context behind the compilation, fans will forego their usual single-song purchase strategy in favor of immersing themselves in this interactive crypto-quest.

The “Year Zero” storyline is an interesting exercise in dystopia:

In 2009, L.A. is attacked with dirty bombs, the catalyst for escalating tensions and war. After U.S. nuclear strikes on Iran and North Korea, Muslim nations unite against America, which soon imposes emergency measures at home to quell dissent. Protesters are jailed and executed. The population is pacified with drugs slipped into tap water. Africa implodes. India and Pakistan annihilate each other.

By 2018, free elections end. Seattle suffers a bioterrorism attack in 2019. Was it staged by the government? Life grows chaotic and oppressive as the police state tightens its grip, world tensions rise and earth’s fragile ecosystems fray. A weaponized virus kills a U.S. diplomat. Miami is under water. Baseball is a winter sport.

In 2022, a new calendar exists. America is “born again” in Year Zero. In February of that year, The Presence is first spotted.

Honestly, none of those themes is particularly original (which is really a summation of the bulk of Reznor’s creative output, past and present). But this certainly plays to NIN’s goth/industrial fanbase. Besides, it’s the delivery that’s really the point.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/18/2007 11:39:19 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture
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Saturday, April 14, 2021

Have you hung onto those pen-and-paper diaries/journals you kept during your tender teenaged years? Feel like you missed out by not being able to display them to the world, ala today’s MySpace-ing kids?

Here’s the cure: “Cringe Night” and similar bar-based performance art, where 30- and 40-somethings recite their crusty entries for their own amusement (and others’).

“There’s no way you can get up and do this and sound cool,” said Sarah Brown, 29, creator of Cringe Night. Six years ago, she stumbled upon a box of her old diaries. She invited her best friend over and read passages aloud over a box of wine:

Jan. 5, 1991:

Jennifer and I were in Musicland, playing “Stairway to Heaven” on the keyboard and laughing. I was laughing and my hair (thank GOD I curled it today!) fell over my shoulder and for once I KNOW I looked good. Then I looked up and there he was, five feet away, like he was waiting to say something, and I know if he had said something, it would have been, “Sarah?”

I dunno. Purportedly, you’re laughing at yourself, but really, it’s your now-defenseless younger self. What’s the point? Everyone went through their awkward phases. This comes off as just seeing who was geekier than who, and how far they’ve subsequently come.

It may surprise some that I never did keep a journal way back in my high-school days. Not in college, either. Shortly after college, I started a paper-based journal, more out of boredom and to keep my writing skills limber; it didn’t last, and I’m pretty sure I trashed it shortly after abandoning it. A few years passed, and now of course, I’ve got the blog habit to provide a creative (and incriminating) channel.

I suppose I could print out my old blog and recite select posts from there. Since my teenaged angst didn’t make it to the Internet, I’m sure my Cringe Night contributions would be a poor fit.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/14/2007 05:55:39 PM
Category: Comedy, Creative
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Thursday, April 12, 2021

Having gone through an aquarium-keeping phase, I quickly recognized a familiar principle behind the workings of “natural pools”, the ecologically and aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional chlorinated backyard swimming holes:

Materials and designs vary — the pools can be lined with rubber or reinforced polyethylene, as in the case of Total Habitat’s, and may look rustic or modern — but all natural pools rely on “regeneration” zones, areas given over to aquatic plants that act as organic cleansers.

The pools have skimmers and pumps that circulate the water through the regeneration zone and draw it across a wall of rocks, loose gravel or tiles, to which friendly bacteria attach, serving as an additional biological filter. Unlike artificial ponds, which tend to be as murky with groundwater runoff and sediment from soil erosion as the natural ponds they’re modeled on, in a natural pool the water is clear enough to see through to the bottom.

This is basically cycling, the method of achieving a self-sustaining fishtank. The way to get a nice-looking aquarium that hosts healthy fish is to help beneficial waste-eating bacteria establish themselves, as part of an overall biochemically-balanced water ecosystem. External filters and natural plants also do their part. In essence, the tank should (mostly) clean itself.

Natural pools depend on the same setup on a larger scale, complete with plants and biofilters. It’s all about keeping the pH balanced, and letting the chemistry work over time to hit the balance, versus dumping chlorine for a quick-fix system shock.

Maybe hyping the fishtank similarities is the way to make it popular. Call it the “Family Aquarium” or something, where you can school with your spouse and children… And peeing in this pool? Go ahead — it’s bioengineered to handle it!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 04/12/2021 11:28:10 PM
Category: Creative, Science
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Saturday, April 07, 2021

On a hunch, I did a Google search on “photo synthesis” and “gallery”.

It got back 815 results, and it looks like most of them had to do with museum-like photography exhibitions. Which tells me that “Photo Synthesis” as a title for some artsy-fartsy collection of snapshots is way overused.

Despite the edgy-sounding co-mingling of those words, aspiring artistes should keep in mind that, when you get down to it, at root they refer to watching grass grow. Not the most scintillating of imagery.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/07/2021 08:01:41 PM
Category: Creative, Wordsmithing
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Monday, April 02, 2021

Something special’s in store for the stage production of “Losing Something” at 3-Legged Dog Art & Technology Center this month:

A 3D holographic projection system called Eyeliner is being used to insert pivotal special effects into the play, including fully-fledged characters and plot devices.

This is exactly the sort of tech-wizardry that theater purists denounce as a warping of the stage experience. So it’s smart of the “Losing Something” team to define Eyeliner as the modern version of a time-honored technique that’s been in use since the 19th Century:

The Eyeliner system makes use of an old stage trick called Pepper’s Ghost that by most accounts was first seen onstage in an 1862 production of Charles Dickens’s “Haunted Man,” at the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London. John Henry Pepper (1821-1900) is usually credited with discovering the illusion, though an engineer named Henry Dircks was really first to suggest placing an angled piece of plate glass between audience and actors, allowing off-stage objects or people to “appear” reflected on the glass as if they were onstage. When the off-stage lights were turned off, the ghosts seemed to vanish.

It seems like a stretch to characterize a high-powered computer-generated effect as part of the traditional stagecraft arsenal. And the bigger issue is the application of the technology: In this case, as an integral, proactive part of the action. It’s not like you can ignore the Eyeliner effects, or perceptionally consider it as non-essential window-dressing. If you’re watching electronic ghosts act out the story, you have to ask: Are you really still watching live theater, or an animated spectacle?

Regardless, this is intriguing enough for me to get tickets. Maybe.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/02/2021 09:55:14 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture, Tech
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Friday, March 30, 2021

face time
That’s funny. A rundown of the anatomical targets in yoga technique doesn’t seem to mention exercises for the face.

So using yoga as an alternative to plastic surgery facelifts is, much like other forms of meditation, more of the mind than the body.

Want to sculpture and narrow your nose? Alternate breathing out of each nostril, Revita-Yoga teaches. Have crow’s-feet? Open the eyes wide to smooth the lines. As pale as the winter sky? A dose of downward dog can add color to the complexion while oxygenating the skin.

On the other hand, what about that old rule of thumb about not making weird, straining faces, lest your mug get stuck that way? It could throw off that desired “balanced facial symmetry”. But on the plus side, it would result in an instant moment of zen — which, ultimately, any good yoga regimen should accomplish.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/30/2007 08:30:01 AM
Category: Creative, Science
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Sunday, March 25, 2021

Can trees be considered cool?

Perhaps only in an unconventional sense, and that’s good enough for a list of the 10 Most Magnificent Trees in the World.

My favorite: The Banyan tree, represented by the No. 3-ranked Sri Maha Bodhi plant of Sri Lanka. It’s an aesthetic preference for how the aerial roots create a weird wooden webbing effect. That’s independent of surroundings, unlike most of the other trees on the list; but surely, the visual of the Banyan Strangler Fig root structure intricately wrapped around the ruins of Cambodia’s Ta Prohm Angkor is a stunner.

There are a couple of bonus neat-o trees added to the list, along with several commenter submissions. My own contribution there: Dragon’s blood trees, found only on Yemen’s Socotra Island. They look like part of a fairy-tale landscape.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/25/2007 02:06:34 PM
Category: Creative
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Saturday, March 24, 2021

Among the many disclaimers for taking Viagra, isn’t one of them, “should not take if deceased”?

Perhaps that would dissuade Chinese worshippers from buying paper replicas of the purple pill, for the purposes of burning them for their deceased relatives’ use:

The [Nanjing] Morning News reporters, on a tour of the city in advance of the Grave-Sweeping Festival next month, found paper laptop computers and mobile phones, credit cards, travelers’ checks, and passports.

But money is nothing without life’s — and death’s — little pleasures. “At one suburban graveyard, they found call girls, condoms, and Viagra.”

The afterlife sounds as hectic as this mortal coil. And I’m sure the dead could do without spiritual erectile dysfunction.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/24/2007 03:43:31 PM
Category: Creative, Society
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Friday, March 23, 2021

If, like me, you need two alarm clocks to ensure that you get up in the morning — located on opposite sides of the room, and timed a couple of minutes apart to achieve a staggered-wakeup effect — you might want to consider this Flying Alarm Clock from Hammacher Schlemmer:

This digital alarm clock launches a rotor into the air that flies around the room as the alarm sounds, flying up to 9′ in the air, and will not cease ringing until the rotor is returned to the alarm clock base, compelling even the most stubborn sleepers to get out of bed on time.

So you wake up every day to an immediate treasure hunt for that wayward plastic spin-a-ma-bob. Hopefully it doesn’t do any collateral damage to bedroom furnishings during its flight!

My first impression was that the flying rotor would somehow be aimed at your head, to jolt you from slumber. That would be a bit harsh, and I’d imagine you’d get used to it after a while and sleep-shrug it off. Plus, if you’re me, that projectile action probably would trigger decapitation nightmares, with the deadly weapon from Master of the Flying Guillotine in the starring role. So all told, the indirect method is probably the best bet.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/23/2007 08:17:46 AM
Category: Creative, Tech
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Thursday, March 15, 2021

No lie: A few days ago, I spied a computer-printer generated flyer advertising something called “Four Horsemen Home Improvement”.

I don’t know if it’s an intentional allusion to the Biblical riders of the Apocalypse. All I know is the last thing I need when adding a patio or redoing a kitchen is a touch of Conquest, War, Poverty or Death.

Well, okay, maybe Death, if we’re talking landscaping.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/15/2007 06:42:12 PM
Category: Creative
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Saturday, March 10, 2021

man at work
Yes, wearing the infamous double-can beer helmet instantly identifies you as a suds-soaked, siphon-sucking imbecile.

But why should that be? After all, the premise of this contraption is that it provides liquid refreshment while freeing up your hands to do other things. The problem is that, for the typical helmet-wearer, “other things” means “shoving an extra handful of nachos into his mouth”.

I say we redeem the helmet. The best avenue for that is to market it to the most unlikely group you can imagine: Work-at-home moms.

Why? I’ve spoken to a few of them, and one thing that nettles them is that they never seem to be able to keep themselves sufficiently hydrated in their home offices. Between the work multitasking, household chores and child-tending, they don’t even think to stop for a much-needed drink of water — even when they’re dying of thirst. Contrast that with an office setting, where swinging by the water cooler several times is a routine part of the workday drill.

So why not push the helmet as the solution for thirsty WAHMs everywhere? You can put a couple of cans/bottles of anything in those straps, after all. No more cotton-mouth at the end of a hectic weekday. Thirst-quenching relief is just a sip away, thanks to the ever-present plastic tube-straw. And yes, the hands are free to continue typing on that keyboard or grabbing your kid before he breaks something.

That’s my pitch. I look forward to the day when the can-helmet is de rigeur equipment for home-based workers everywhere.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/10/2021 08:30:02 PM
Category: Creative, Society
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Thursday, March 08, 2021

Rosemary Goes to the Mall is one woman’s journey through the Mall of America, in a quest to acquire shopping bags from every one of MOA’s retail stores (and subsequently returning most of the purchased items).

Why did she, self-described as “not much of a shopper”, do this? To build The Wall of Mall:

The piece invites viewers to come closer and identify the individual stores through their logos and designs, and relate to the act of shopping through the memory of their own past retail experiences. The Wall represents both an engagement with the act of shopping, but also a dread of it, overwhelming the viewer with the immensity of stores and products available to them. It means to shed light on this favorite American pastime, and to look critically at the ways in which shopping dominates our mental and physical landscapes.

Of course, Rosemary wound up keeping a good chunk of what she bought, including an MOA souvenir t-shirt — and a bit of a shopaholic habit. Which tells me that, in this case of artistic endeavor, the subject wound up molding the artist.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/08/2021 09:58:13 PM
Category: Creative, Society
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Tuesday, March 06, 2021

Oh what to do about those too-tight seatbelt straps, as they cut into your arm and shoulder and chest?

Enter the cushiony-soft Tiddy Bear clip-on strap insulator!

Owing to the pronunciation of “tiddy”, and the apparently favored placement of these mini-bruins in the cleavage area, Dabitch prefers to call them “titty bears”. That certainly heightens the impression that the little plushies are doing a little groping while guarding against strap-burn. And of course, it’s due to this non-entendre that I’ve posted this silliness here.

And since this has all devolved into yet another breast joke, let’s clarify one last thing: Yes, these tiddies are real.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/06/2021 06:48:04 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Comedy, Creative
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Sunday, March 04, 2021

It’s no surprise that the post-9/11 political culture would find physical form in urban building design — artfully integrated, of course:

Like their 13th- to 15th-century counterparts, contemporary architects are being enlisted to create not only major civic landmarks but lines of civic defense, with aesthetically pleasing features like elegantly sculpted barriers around public plazas or decorative cladding for bulky protective concrete walls. This vision may seem closer in spirit to da Vinci’s drawings of angular fortifications or Michelangelo’s designs for organically shaped bastions than to a post-cold-war-era of high-tech surveillance.

Architectural trends can change in a hurry, and you can’t always predict what will trigger that change. Some might lament the abrupt shift from the minimalist open-aired concepts that were en vogue prior to the World Trade Center attack, but chances are a new aesthetic would have emerged anyway. The current atmosphere of heightened security called for an architectural revolution versus evolution — the timing was accelerated, but it would have happened eventually anyway.

In any case, architects are quite adept at blending the proscribed barrier elements quite skillfully into a building’s overall design. One prominent example, albeit from suburbia/exurbia instead of the city core, is Target’s concrete-ball barriers, adorned bright red to complement the corporate bullseye logo. Regardless of purpose and perceived structural-plan burdening, this “new medievalism” component doesn’t have to look grafted on.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 03/04/2021 02:57:13 PM
Category: Creative, Society
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