Quirk:— Device Gallery: the Fantastic Contraption exhibition + Stephane Hallieux‘s contraptions // The amazing Cadbury’s Creme Eggs contraption (video) // A short illustrated survey of gay androids // Unintentionally surreal medical mannequins // The 6th Buxton Puppet Festival, 28th July – 2nd Aug, in the nearby Peak District — includes master puppeteers from India and Japan, and a… “shadow puppet retelling of Beowulf” // The Bicycle Film Festival, from 9th-12th July 08 — yours for a plane ticket to the U.S.A. Or you could just DIY, by strapping a camcorder to the handbars of your Pashley Guv’nor and heading off on the 500+ rider bicycle trip from Birmingham to Oxford, on Sun 6th July 08 // Mapping caffeine intakes // The teacher voice //

West Midlands:— My Flickr photo-set from the opening day of the £55m Public art gallery in West Bromwich. More pics here // The Custard Factory’s ‘Rhubarb Radio’ station (from Dynamic Arts) seems to be firming up. I met Dan at the Public opening, and he tells me it’ll include interviews as well as music. A handy Created in Birmingham posting later filled in the rest of the details // Work has started on building Worcester’s new £60-million library and history centre. I’m guessing it might have a corridor or two serving as an arts exhibition space? // The Telegraph rounds up the multi-million new-build property developments in the West Midlands, although a slightly over-ambitious sub-editor has slapped on a headline declaring that we’re… “the new Beijing”(!) // The Artists’ Access to Art Colleges scheme now has places available at Wolverhampton, Hereford, Worcester, Derby, and Birmingham City University // West Midlands allotment holders notice more thefts of food from allotments, as poor families become even poorer // Killriculum, a proposed new £175k horror/sci-fi feature-film that seems to originate from Hereford, and is pencilled in for a premiere at the October 09 Birmingham Film & Media Festival // The Ansel Adams exhibition is now on at the The New Art Gallery Walsall, and the West Midlands Open 8 biennial exhibition opens at Wolverhampton tomorrow // Rousette has blogged about attending the annual ‘Happiness Lecture’ at the University of Birmingham, this year given by the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion // The new Custard Factory website is live now, and very nice it looks too // Birmingham International Comics Show invites writers to pitch an idea for a Tharg’s Future Shock. The final three will face an audience vote at BICS 08, with a prominent 2000AD artist illustrating the winning idea for publication. The winner will be paid at 2000AD‘s commercial rate. To enter send full contact details, the title of your story, and a one line description in less than 8 words to: shane *at* thecomicsshow.co.uk // A report from the London launch of Channel 4’s £50m 4IP media production fund, a chunk of which is set to be spent in the West Midlands // Submerged magazine is in development by Emma Wooley, and it plans to cover electronic music in Birmingham and thereabouts // Edward Burne Jones: Magnificent Dreamer, a two-hour walk around Birmingham’s famous son, with Antony Clayton. It’s on Sunday 6th July 08, starting at 3pm // Birmingham websites seem to be sprouting faster than dandelions in a wet summer — another three this week, Digbeth.org: Digbeth is Good (goodly creative doings in Digbeth), LOLitics (dull Birmingham local politics photos, enlivened with LOLcat captions), and Eclectic Connections (images of beautiful young models from the Midlands and beyond, by a BIAD graduate). Many more, of the blog variety, at birminghambloggers.com, which is currently mailing out a survey for local bloggers to complete // Take a peek at the fine 2006 street-art murals inside Birmingham’s Gamestation shop // Yes, that looks like Broad Street to me… // Following the major 2006 report Making it to Market: developing the market for contemporary craft, the support org Designer Maker West Midlands now requires a freelance consultant/researcher to research the potential for the development of markets and showcasing activities for West Midlands designer makers. Pay is £11k for “approximately 35-45 days work” during Aug 08 to Jan 09. Deadline: 18th July 08 // Starting on 1st Aug 08; the annual photography competition at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens // Birmingham’s annual Poet Laureate competition is now open for nominations. Deadline: 31st Aug 08 // Wolverhampton: gleaming city of the future, or so says a narrator who sounds deeply unconvinced (video) //

Publications & films:— Ten years too late, plans for another UK-localised version of the tired Wired magazine // The definitive book-length history of curry, now in paperback from Oxford University Press // A copy of the long-lost ‘long version’ of Metropolis appears to have been found, in South America // The three winners of the Jerwood Moving Image Awards, chosen from “a longlist of 30 films”, Sadly, no interactive media such as websites or games ever seemed in prospect // A new book, weighing in at 450 pages, Dungeons and Desktops: the History of Computer Role-playing Games //

Apparel:— The anti-paparazzi, anti-CCTV pair of sunglasses (video) — possibly a spoof? // Damir Doma menswear: I’ve blogged the fantastic Autumn/Winter 2008/9 collection before, and now here comes the Spring/Summer 2009 collection // Given the likely costs of fuel next winter, you may want to stock up on some of these //

Foto:— Covering photography examines the use of photographs as book-cover illustrations // The emoti- camera which only takes pictures when you’re, er… aroused // Photographers looking for backup storage could do worse than a portable terabyte (i.e.: 1000Gb) USB 2.0 hard-disk from Maplins, for £139.99 // The re-education police want to outlaw airbrushed photos in the UK // UK Press Gazette reports that police officers and community plods are still routinely ‘exceeding their powers’ with photographers. And in London the police are building a secret database of photographers (I can think of better uses of police manpower during wartime), which the courts have apparently just had to rather-too-hastily square with the Human Rights Act // Useless CCTV camera s //

Arts policy:— Conservatives outline their initial arts policies, including “a review of Arts Council England to clarify its role” and an “Arts and Parliament Trust” as a sort of cross-party think-tank to inform MPs about the arts // Lottery organisations ‘sit on £1.7bn surplus intended for good causes’ // Following a Facebook campaign, The English Heritage Blue Plaques committee met couple of weeks ago and… “have agreed to undertake further research into potential locations where they can honour Kenneth Williams” // A summary of the new report “Creative Futures: building the creative economy through universities”. UPDATE: The report itself is now online // The many hidden costs of arts attendance in the UK. Consider, also, the 2006/07 taxpayer subsidy that averages at £5.19 for each arts attendance (excluding nationwide events) // “Patterns of Arts Attendance in England” (2008) (PDF) // The Creative Scotland Bill crashes and burns // National Audit Office concluded in June 08 that… “Arts Council England does not have a clear understanding of the costs or efficiency of its grant-making” // The Progress on
Public Service Agreements review concluded in June 08 that… “The DCMS has failed to meet eight out of its 12 targets for culture and the arts” //

Knowing cities:— Will Google-style applied mathematics replace theory? // The Hidden City Symposium: Mythogeography, Writing, & Site Specific Performance (University of Plymouth, 4th October 08) // “Digital Yet Invisible: Making Ambient Informatics More Explicit to People” (2008) (PDF link) // Unimpressive websites for early geomicroblogging tools: ByNotes and Yahoo’s FireEagle // An abstract for “Wayfinding with a GPS-based mobile navigation system: a comparison with maps and direct experience” (2008) — the… “ineffectiveness of the GPS-based navigation system [ for urban walking in Japan is ] discussed”. Yes, you read that right — ineffectiveness //

Structures in landscapes:— Imagine if Andy Goldsworthy worked with artificial light, and was German // “I am so sorry. Goodbye” //