Mainstream Modern

Here’s a website that’s worth checking out if you’re in to modernist architecture and design. The research and detail that has gone into this project is, frankly, phenomenal.

It is mostly based around Manchester and the North West, which is a welcome change considering so many architecture blogs, or, should I say, British architecture blogs, focus on “that” London. I have done some work with Manchester Modernist Society and, for their money, Richard Brook, creator of Mainstream Modern, is the guy for information about Modernism, Brutalism and 20th century architecture in the North West. He is the Principal Lecturer for Architecture at the Manchester School of Art, so you can rest assured that he has worthy credentials.

In addition to the thoroughly researched materials, Brook has accompanied each entry with a mixture of archival and personally-taken pictures. You can find out more about the project here, but, in short, he has used archives from RIBA, Manchester Metropolitan University, The University of Manchester, among others and with contributions from societies including the 20th Century Society, and the associated academic institutions.

Pictures were shot using the Samsung 35mm compact camera, Nikon F60 35mm SLR, Sony F707 digital compact, Canon 5D, Ricog G200, Panasonic GH2, Minolta SR1 35mm, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5S – I like knowing what cameras people use, and you may too.

The website is split into building categories (commercial, educational, residential, religious, etc), decade built, location, and architect. This makes it far easier to use than the English Heritage website. And useful. There is even geotagging on each building. For those who like looking at maps, here is an interactive map that the Manchester Modernist Society are developing (and which I have helped do some research for).

So far there are 108 collected archives on the website, and its content is being ever-populated. The website also has a life in manuscript form which will hopefully one day make its way to a coffee table near you. In the meantime, the website it quite sufficient, and I am in favour of the more dynamic capabilities that websites offer.

Whether you are a fan of Modernist architecture or not – and it seems that on the whole people tend towards the ‘not’, although those who are very much are – it is worth checking out the project due to its scale. Plus, learning is fun.

All images © Richard Brook | Mainstream Modern Go on the website to find out the details (and for the craic).


Green Screen Vacation

I often like to pretend that I am good at a number of things, and this month’s in vogue hobby/area of expertise is photography. I have a camera. In fact, I have three, if you count a phone camera and an 8MP digital camera from c. 2009 as “camera cameras”, as well as my trusty DSLR which makes me look fancy and knowledgeable to people who know nothing about cameras, but like a poseur to those who ask me about my kit (a single 14-42mm lens that came with the camera body) and try and have an intelligent discussion about lenses and what not with me.

I’m a point and shoot photographer, à la my photography hero Bill Cunningham, but every now and then I see a technique that I like the look of. More often than not it’s a gauche technique, and this month’s is no different. From photographer Christopher McMahon, boyfriend of Dreama Walker who is one of my current favourite working TV actresses (that sounds moderately cutting. She has also been in film), comes what I’ll call the “Green Screen Vacation” effect.

I have no idea how he does it, but he has made most of his pictures look like they were taken using a green screen then edited in post, when they were actually taken on location. Fascinating. Full websites can be found here and here and choice pictures are featured below.

Good stuff.





Green Screen Engagement

Truth be told, I haven’t attempted to figure out how this effect is achieved, but if anyone knows please find me and tell me and maybe one day I can take a picture of you in situ looking like we could afford to do a green screen shoot, just like the time I was in Florida and inexplicably had a t-shirt made with myself an Eminem with me doing a Spiderman pose. Pics or it didn’t happen? I burned the pics.

Performing Comedy

Yesterday I performed stand-up comedy for the first time ever. It went okay. I got some laughs. I didn’t die. I’d like to think that “don’t die” is the comedian equivalent of “break a leg”, and if it isn’t already I’m totally laying copyright to it.

I’ve wanted to perform stand-up since I was about 15, so good for me for only taking eight years to realise that desire.

This is a way longer article than what I had anticipated it being, so click ‘continue reading’ if you want to continue reading.

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