Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Zombie chain

I am a big fan of zombies. There's something appealing about their mindless shuffling and refuse-to-stay-dead attitude. I give you: A chain of zombies!

We begin with Boing Boing (they have some great entries lately) and the Annotated Walking Dead Google Map. It maps the action from the Walking Dead Comic onto a map of the real site.

Then, we move on to Trendhunter and Undead Movie Apparel which includes living and dead movie stars. They call this one 'Zombie at Tiffany's'
Next, armed with our map and t-shirt, we move to literature and the zombie-ification of classic literature at You will all be familiar with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (and once you have enjoyed this new classic, you can move on to Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).

As we come to the end of our chain, some zombie movie greats:

And finally, because you know you want to - a video game: Plants vs Zombies.

We are being overrun with zombies. For dead ghouls, they're surprisingly active.

Why am I so interested in zombies? They are a key theme in a range of Gothic literature and popular culture and this is an area of fascination for me at the moment. The Gothic's engagement with the past, the provisional and slippery notion of the incomplete or fractured self, constructions of the 'other' as monstrous and fearful, its fascination with the grotesque, its attention to the boundaries of life and death, space and place and claustrophobia and control. These themes have resonance.

UPDATE. See Trendhunter for a just posted list of zombie stuff: "Forget werewolves - zombies are for sure the biggest contender against vampires for pop culture domination...the undead have invaded every facet of mainstream life, from lingerie to plush toys".

More mappings

More on the theme of maps and how we represent the world around us. Boing Boing pointed me towards the brilliant blog Comic Book Cartography.

This stuff is awesome!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vampire conference in the UK

The University of Hertfordshire's Dr Sam George is convening the first UK Vampire Conference 'Open Graves, Open Minds: Vampires and the Undead in Modern Culture' (16th & 17th April 2010) in response to the Americanization of contemporary vampire narratives.

Catherine Spooner (whose work i have coincidentally been reading this week - see for example The Routledge Companion to Goth & Contemporary Gothic) - is giving a keynote (yay!!) and the conference themes look spectacular: 'undeed teens', 'politics of the undead', 'undead in the new media', 'appetites of the undead' to name a few.

For more information, contact Sam George.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Feed your inner Goth

I see you admiring my gothic masterpiece 'untitled'. Make your own deeply gothic poem with The Goth-O-Matic™ Poetry Generator.

It's soooo much fun.


Remember when Pluto was a planet? Did you grow up being told that dinosaurs were slow, cold-blooded dull lizards (in my own defense, i never believed this one)? Remember when the moon had no water? Name the countries that make up Africa.

The things we know as 'fact' change. Knowledge is not a constant. This is very exciting albeit a little inconvenient for school text book publishers. It is also slightly inconvenient for those amongst us who fondly remember the good old days when schooling was about learning facts and useful stuff that you could demonstrate your mastery over via direct recall.

Samuel Arbesman introduces the concept of the mesofact. In the Boston Globe, he writes: "When people think of knowledge, they generally think of two sorts of facts: facts that don’t change, like the height of Mount Everest or the capital of the United States, and facts that fluctuate constantly, like the temperature or the stock market close. But in between there is a third kind: facts that change slowly. These are facts which we tend to view as fixed, but which shift over the course of a lifetime". Read the article here. Visit here. I very much like the concept although i'm not sure that his example of a capital city and a mountain are good examples of facts that don't change.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Google's Model Your Town Competition

Maps, geolocation, studies of place and space are all the rage. The popularity of Google's mapping software, particularly Google Earth and Google Maps (who can live without 'street view'?) are testament to our fascination with where we are in relation to everyone else.

The Google Model Your Town Competition has been running since December 2009. The competition was about creating detailed 3D models of communities (and demonstrating the power and beauty of Google's SketchUp and Building Maker). While all the entries can be seen here, the five finalist towns have been selected (Barranco (Lima, Peru), Braunschweig (Niedersachsen, Germany), Donostia-San Sebastian (Gipuzkoa, Spain), Dursley (Gloucestershire, UK) and West Palm Beach (Florida, USA) and the competition has now opened for public voting. If you're interested and want to vote, voting closes May 1 with the winner announced by May 15.