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TOSHI OMAGARI DISCUSSES “ARCADE GAME TYPOGRAPHY”

IN-GAME TYPOGRAPHY of the arcade age played a role similar to that of neon signs in decades prior: to grab the attention of passersby, define brands and products, and above all make a unique aesthetic statement within the limits of its technology. Arcade games had to not only stand out in dark rooms and corridors, they had to compete side-by-side against other games, and along with eye-catching cabinet designs and sound blaring through speakers, a game’s onscreen display – called “attract mode” – was its primary means of drawing in paying customers. Typography played an essential role in drawing in players and convincing them to spend that first quarter – and after they had done so, in displaying essential information, providing encouragement, and keeping score. For those with enough skills, the experience of entering one’s initials on a semi-permanent High Score screen provided the ultimate type-based endorphin rush.

John Peck
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ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE: MOON

ARCHITECTURAL GUIDE: MOON, published to broadly coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first manned lunar mission, is a fascinating hybrid of various types of reference guide. From its first pages, the book fully commits to addressing the contradiction contained in its title: namely, how can one discuss the “architecture” of a place that is not just currently uninhabited, but could remain so indefinitely? While other entries in DOM’s Architectural Guide series are organized by region, the Moon guide is, understandably, instead chronological – after all, with most existing structures on the Moon having been built with little to no idea where they would eventually end up, the book can be forgiven for suspending the idea of architecture as a site-specific practice in this case.

John Peck
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ZACHELSBERG: POTSDAM’S ABANDONED SHOOTING RANGE

THOUGH THERE ARE dozens of locations in greater Potsdam with “Berg” (literally “mountain”, though often applied to much more modest hills) in their names, the region is overwhelmingly rural, flat, and agrarian. Nonetheless, even among the sprawling corn and alfalfa fields and winding highways of Potsdam Nord, occasional clusters of hills reach high enough altitudes to be notable.

John Peck
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SURVEY: ARCHITECTURE IN PEN AND INK

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.

John Peck
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ORTHODOX CHIC

The post-Soviet architecture of Ukraine is a complex and often fraught subject we’ve frequently explored on this site. Kyiv’s Osnovy Publishing is at the forefront of documenting the Soviet architectural legacy, as well as its newfound vernacular architecture, via numerous books that illustrate the patchwork approach to building and city planning in Ukraine since 1990. Its Chic series in particular – which began with 2019’s Balcony Chic, and now continues with Orthodox Chic – offers a deadpan view of the motley, often improvised constructions that define the modern Ukrainian cityscape.

John Peck
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BERLIN U-BAHN ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN MAP

Blue Crow Media, perhaps the foremost current publisher of city maps focused on modernist architecture, returns with the Berlin U-Bahn Architecture and Design Map. Like the previous entries in their series showcasing the architectural highlights of urban transit systems – London, New York, Paris, Moscow – the Berlin entry is attractively printed on thick, sturdy paper with a die-cut slipcase.

Also like the publisher’s previous offerings (including the Brutalist Berlin Map and the Pyongyang Architectural Map), the emphasis is less on wayfinding and more on presenting a minimalist and straightforward overview of the city’s architectural highlights. Rather than throwbacks to a purely analog era, where maps had to be followed street by meticulously detailed street, Blue Crow creates physical maps that are intended for the 21st century, in that they offer a clean, simple overlay of a city while leaving much of the work of navigation and transit connections to our ever-present smartphones. This stripped-down approach allows each map to focus on the essentials without getting bogged down in cartographic details that would likely be made redundant by modern technology.

John Peck
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PHOTO GALLERY: SONAMBIENTE BERLIN TXL

From August 12 – September 5, 2021, the sound festival Sonambiente took over Berlin’s recently decommissioned Tegel Airport (TXL). Various sound-based installations took over the airports corridors, gates, and waiting rooms. As the airport saw its final flight in November 2020, and was fully decommissioned in May 2021, the building remained relatively intact, though informational signs and installed businesses (such as in-terminal restaurants) had been deconstructed, and some of the exterior facades had begun to show signs of wear.

John Peck
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