Like the earliest examples of books and film, the earliest computer games were defined by the limits of their technology. Games such as Tennis for Two (eventually re-envisioned as Pong) and Spacewar! used monochrome sprites that could be modulated via console-style controls; when graphics had to make the jump to home-based consoles, they became blocky and pixelated, recognizable only by the game’s title and box art.
AT OUR CURRENT moment in third decade of the 21st century, the relationship between technology and conservation could generously be described as uneasy: decades of greenwashing have seen the goodwill behind formerly sound words like “eco”, “organic”, and “autonomous” erode like so much sand. Current technological advances, from electric / autonomous vehicles to drones to the self-perpetuating slurry of metaverse and NFT content, pay occasional lip service to the impending wave of climate catastrophes, while rarely working to counteract it, and in some cases even accelerating it.
Survey, the newest addition to Park Books’ ongoing Architecture Iconographies series, is an examination of architectural drawings, paintings, maps, and photographs from the last five centuries. Rather than attempting to showcase the full range of images from such an eventful and prolific epoch, the book chooses instead to present its subject via six essays, each of which focuses on a single architect or scholar. Through these essays – which mostly focus on 18th-19th century drawings of classical architecture, many of them from the UK’s Drawing Matter collection – the book makes the argument that surveys are not just visual renderings of buildings, but also an integral part of the way those buildings are perceived and understood.
Antarctic Resolution, a monumental new “1000 page study of Antarctica’s architectural, historical, ecological and climatic peculiarities” from Lars Müller Publishers, traces the history of the southernmost continent from the early “Heroic Age” explorers up through the present. The book sets out to map the world’s least-known continent in numerous ways: cartographically, to be sure, but also chronologically (in both human and geological scales) and sociologically. Via dozens of essays and hundreds of maps and photos, the book creates a multidimensional model of Antarctica, with contributions from a diverse group of experts in science, history, ecology, architecture, and even art and literature. The essays are grouped into thematic chapters with unusually vivid and evocative names for a science-focused book (“Antarctic Pie”, “Twenty-Six Quadrillion Tons of Ice”, “The Ideological Use of Relics”), which serve more as prompts for creative thought than strictly organizational designations.
THE FIRST GUIDE of its kind, Chechnya and North Caucasus: An Architectural Guidebook explores the diverse architecture of one of the former Soviet Union’s least-explored regions. The seven independent republics and two Russian territories that make up the relatively small North Caucasus region represent an incredible array of languages, cultures, religions, and traditions, and offer a correspondingly broad range of architectural highlights, from modernism and brutalism to traditional and Islamic-inspired hybrids.