DCA Talk – Imaginary Scotlands & Beyond

In the past ten or so years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and writing about a lot of great art galleries in about a dozen European countries. Thanks mainly to the vision of the curator Graham Domke, the DCA is up there with the best of them and in my opinion, it’s the leading space for art in Scotland (the current Hideyuki Katsumata exhibition is a joy). So it was a real delight when they invited me to talk about Imaginary Cities. I decided, following earlier talks elsewhere, to focus in on alternative Scotlands that were or could’ve been. The DCA were kind enough to record the talk and allow me to share it; here it is with the images I referenced chronologically. Hope you enjoy.

Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, Scotland 1938


W.F.C. Holden’s Tower Bridge, London (1943)


GLC’s 1960s monorail plan for Regent’s Street


Gaudi’s Hotel Attraction, Manhattan (1908)


Ferdinand Arnodin’s 1900 Istanbul bridge


Le Corbusier’s Ville radieuse, Paris (1924)


Frank Lloyd Wright’s plan for Greater Baghdad (1958)


Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson


Jules Verne’s The Black Indies or The Child of the Cavern, or Strange Doings Underground (1877)


Brigadoon (1954)


Alasdair Gray – Cowcaddens Streetscape in the Fifties (1964)


Scott Monument, Princes Street, Edinburgh (1881)


Stanley Cursiter – ‘The Sensation of Crossing the Street’ (1913)


William MacCance – Moloch of the Machine (Machine Gods) or Machine Moloch (1928)


Unidentified Aircraft (over Montrose), 1942 by Edward Baird

Eduardo Paolozzi’s I was a Rich Man’s Plaything (1947)

Arthur’s Oven (Roman times – 1743)


Arthur’s Oven II


Old Tolbooth (1400 – 1817)


Alexander Nasmyth – Princes Street with the Commencement of the Building of the Royal Institution (1825)


Victorian Arch, Dundee (1849 – 1964)



St. Peter’s Seminary, near Cardross, Argyll and Bute, Scotland


The Edinburgh Marine Gardens, Portobello (1909 – 1966)



Green’s Playhouse Cinema, Dundee (1936 – 1968)


Basil Spence – Hutchesontown C, Glasgow (1962-1993)


Bennie Railplane, Milngavie



Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, Scotland 1938 (& the Tait Tower)





The headstone of the future


David Dale and Robert Owen’s New Lanark (1785-)



Consumption of Smoke: Present & Future from Vol. 1, no. 8: Northern Looking Glass 17th September 1825



Dunmore Pineapple, Airth, Stirlingshire, Scotland



Jestico + Whiles’ St James Centre, Edinburgh (present)


Basil Spence’s St James Centre, Edinburgh (1962)


V&A Dundee submissions




REX_A1 Graphic Panels


Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Railway Terminus (1892-93)


Charles Rennie Mackintosh – Concert Hall (1898)


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When the Map Invades the Territory

The following piece on video games and architecture appeared at the recent Now Play This festival of games at Somerset House, London. They’ve kindly allowed me to share it here. It’s partly abridged from a two hour talk I’ve been giving, which I’m keen to expand on in time, if any games publications are reading. Enjoy.

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Following the ghost of Marco Polo


At the end of last year, I spoke to Cristina Sanchez about Imaginary Cities for Yorokobu. The interview was featured in Spanish on their site and they’ve kindly let me include the full English transcript below. The book should be getting out to more bookshops now and is available directly via the publisher Influx Press.

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Here’s a video of the London launch of Imaginary Cities made by the exceptionally-talented Meghna Gupta. Thanks to everyone who organised, came, bought books and said kind things; it was awesome.

Thanks also to Thom Cuell for a great review of the book (I can die a happy man after being compared to Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo) and the New Scientist for picking the book as one of their best summer reads.

The book is available direct via the Influx site while Waterstones Piccadilly, Waterstones St Andrews and Transreal Fiction in Edinburgh all have copies to buy. We’re working hard to get it everywhere so all suggestions passed on to local bookshops are greatly appreciated.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a steamboat to drag over a mountain…

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It lives…


So the Imaginary Cities book is finally out (you can pick up a copy via Influx Press’ site though most bookshops can order it in).

The response has been phenomenal. Thanks so much to everyone who has read it and been so encouraging.

Thanks especially to Stephanie Boland for interviewing me for City Metric/New Statesman, which you can read here.

And to the following publications and reviewers for their exceptionally generous and thoughtful reviews:

Chicago Tribune (“poetic, aphoristic and comprising a seeming infinity of quotable lines… a wonder cabinet”)

The London Economic (“a rare tome, one that fuses a grand scope with a heart to match… a challenging, enlightening, and intelligent meander through time and space”)

Seroword (“unique and intelligent… [it] walks the desolate undercarriages of cities in motion and peers into the dripping corners with a mining lamp at a world that was”)

The launch at Waterstones Piccadilly next week is sold out but I’ve events forthcoming in London, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast and Bristol, and hopefully further afield. More details on those to follow.

[Image by the continually-wonderful Atelier Olschinsky]

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mysteryandmelancholyofastreetThe Thinker’s Garden have very kindly interviewed me about the forthcoming Imaginary Cities book; an opportunity (if one were needed) to talk about Surrealism, virtual reality, topography and how music might influence architecture.

The hardback copies and London launch of the book have both sold out; thanks so much to those involved. Seroword have also given the book a very thoughtful and generous review. For those interested, paperback copies of the book are available to pre-order here. We have some really exciting events and projects in Dublin, Bristol, Glasgow and further afield coming up, more on those to follow when I return from travels.

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‘Imaginary Cities’ Book Launch

art decoWaterstones Piccadilly, London will be hosting the launch of Imaginary Cities on Wednesday 22nd July 19:00. It’ll be free of course but please RSVP by email: piccadilly@waterstones.com There’ll be a Q&A, book signing, drinks (I think) and I’ll give a brief talk, probably on imaginary versions of London. Full details here.

Thanks to everyone who came to the Festival of Architecture event and especially to the organisers Sandra Youkhana and Luke Pearson for their kindness.

The hardback version of the book has sold out but paperback copies are available for pre-order via Influx Press. Hopefully, we’ll have some Irish, Scottish and, fingers crossed, European launches/events to follow.

Anyone interested in a proof copy for review, contact @KitCaless on Twitter with your details & the publication or site you write for. Thanks.

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