"WARNING: This bench becomes red hot between 1 AM and 7 AM."

Defensive architecture: keeping poverty unseen and deflecting our guilt:

Defensive architecture is revealing on a number of levels, because it is not the product of accident or thoughtlessness, but a thought process. It is a sort of unkindness that is considered, designed, approved, funded and made real with the explicit motive to exclude and harass. It reveals how corporate hygiene has overridden human considerations, especially in retail districts. It is a symptom of the clash of private and public, of necessity and property.

Pavement sprinklers have been installed by buildings as diverse as the famous Strand book store in New York, a fashion chain in Hamburg and government offices in Guangzhou. They spray the homeless intermittently, soaking them and their possessions. The assertion is clear: the public thoroughfare in front of a building, belongs to the building's occupant, even when it is not being used. [...]

Defensive architecture acts as the airplane curtain that separates economy from business and business from first class, protecting those further forward from the envious eyes of those behind. It keeps poverty unseen and sanitises our shopping centres, concealing any guilt for over-consuming. It speaks volumes about our collective attitude to poverty in general and homelessness in particular. It is the aggregated, concrete, spiked expression of a lack of generosity of spirit.

Ironically, it doesn't even achieve its basic goal of making us feel safer. There is no way of locking others out that doesn't also lock us in. The narrower the arrow-slit, the larger outside dangers appear. Making our urban environment hostile breeds hardness and isolation. It makes life a little uglier for all of us.

Lots of good stuff at the Dismal Garden gallery (I think this is what used to be the "Anti-Sit archives" -- many of the photos look similar, anyway.)

And, one of my favorite background gags from Transmetropolitan, 1999. It took me a little while to dig these out. Can you believe that these images aren't googleable?

"Warning: This bench becomes red-hot between 1 AM and 7 AM. No sleeping."

"This bench releases level 8 virus 10 PM - 6 AM."
"Warning: Writing graffiti on these walls will induce a chemical spray causing blindness."

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Minimalist Posters

Seriously, fuck this shit.
Minimalist posters are a bait-and-switch: a lack of nuance disguised as insight.

Let's imagine for a second you go into a restaurant. You order a cheeseburger, and after waiting for a while, someone comes out and serves you a Lunchables version of a cheeseburger: two Ritz Crackers, a patty of Velveeta, and a swollen puck of saline-injected roast beef. You wouldn't say, "What a clever deconstruction!" or "How deliriously evocative of a cheeseburger!" You'd be like, "Where the fuck is my cheeseburger?"

The seemingly inexhaustible trend of reducing everything into series of twee minimalist posters is the design equivalent of the Lunchables cheeseburger. Minimalist posters are a bait-and-switch: a lack of nuance disguising itself as insight. Bad, lazy design retconned into spartanly applied technique. The single olfactory note of a fart masquerading as a seven-course banquet.


Almost exactly three years ago, I said:

I think the most annoying internet micro-trend this year has been graphic designers making "new" posters for old movies. "Oh look, I made a poster for a blockbuster scifi movie but I made it 'minimal' and/or look like it starred Steve McQueen! Aren't I precious?" No. You're a talentless hack. Make something new.
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What do we say to Dropbox? Not today.

Every time this dialog pops up and I click cancel, I feel just a little bit victorious.

(It only wants to be root to re-infect my Finder context menus with it's self-serving needy bullshit.)

Previously, previously.

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