Brian Micklethwait's Blog
In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.Home
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Most recent entries
- The outdoor map next to the Twelvetrees Crescent Bridge over the River Lea
- Marc Sidwell on experts
- Guess what this is
- Robots build a bridge
- The Robert Stephenson statue at Euston
- Cruelty to a fake animal – kindness to a fake animal
- Shopping Trolley Spiral beside the River Lea
- An Underground sermon
- Rubbish blogging
- Tim Marshall on the illiberal and undemocratic Middle East
- Opera North’s Ring
- An important game and only a game
- Making blue by copying tarantulas
- An old person television set
- Battersea from Clapham Junction
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6000 Miles from Civilisation
A Decent Muesli
Adventures in Capitalism
Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise
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Burning Our Money
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Counting Cats in Zanzibar
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we make money not art
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Category archive: Computer graphics
I just started watching the Opera North Ring Cycle on BBC4 TV. Very good.
The basic problem with The Ring is how to stage it, and how to do the costumes. Extreme Trad, where they all dress like nineteenth century fictional fantasy characters almost always looks ridiculous, like a bunch of opera singers clumping about in silly costumers on a daft stage, which is of course what they are. (The only way to do that would be to do it as a fantasy cartoon movie. Which I hope somebody will eventually get around to doing.) But modern costumes on a stage that looks like the inside of a nuclear power station is even sillier, because it plays havoc with Wagner’s very carefully scripted symbolism. You end up with blokes who look like merchant bankers or geography teachers, holding spears and waving them at steam turbines, or some such ancient-modern mish-mash. Either that or they go totally modern, and rewrite the opera. Yes. They literally do not perform Wagner. If you change the Rhine and its maidens into a nightclub and some strippers, that’s something else, and something else pretty damn stupid.
What Opera North have done is film a stage performance. The singers all wear suits and dresses, albeit suits and dresses that were very carefully chosen. And then on top of that is photographically superimposed Wagner scenery, and, when it helps (it often does), simple words on the screen to tell you what is happening. Plus, because it’s the telly, you get subtitles to tell you what they’re singing about. (CDs have the best costumes, i.e. no damn costumes, but you do need to know what they’re singing, if you don’t do German.) It’s hard to describe, but I don’t need to, because you can sample it here, it you care to.
The Rhinemaidens are three opera singers in matching dresses on a stage, with wateriness added on top of them. At no point are you asked to believe that they are actually swimming about, naked, under water for minutes on end, and singing. I have never before not seen that scene look totally ridiculous, one way or another, and I bet it was totally ridiculous, one way or another, on the first night. This time, it was not ridiculous. That’s how very, very good this production was.
I particularly liked how, when Donner was summoning forth the right sort of weather for the Gods to enter Valhalla, at the end of Das Rhinegold, he was dressed like a conductor. He was dressed that way throughout, but it worked especially well for that moment.
Loge was particularly good, both as an actor and as a singer. His look and manner reminded me a bit of Stan Laurel.
Dezeen details here:
Bring it on.
I love signs. So tedious to copy in writing. So easy to photo. And I was photoing signs yesterday, at Victoria Station.
Here are two of those signs that go well together:
I was just about to stick these up late last night, but discovered that BMdotcom was malfunctioning.
This is not the kind of sign I love to see, when trying to add stuff to this blog, or for that matter just to look at this blog:
Error Number: 1194
Description: Table ‘exp_throttle’ is marked as crashed and should be repaired
Query: SELECT hits, locked_out, last_activity FROM exp_throttle WHERE ip_address= ‘184.108.40.206’
But, as you can see, it’s now sorted. Unless you can’t see and it isn’t.
And until the next time something like this happens. Partly because of such cock-ups, I am, thinking of doing what all other bloggers who still exist did long ago, and switching to Wordpress, which The Guru also suggested. Comments on the wisdom of that from other gurus would be very welcome.
Meanwhile, while waiting for sanity to be reasserted here, I did a Samizdata posting, entitled Brexit has unified the Conservative Party and divided Labour. It has.
The trick with photography is knowing what to photo in the first place. In particular, you need to be photoing things that are not going to be the same if you come back later. Photoing captures the ephemeral, far better than it celebrates the eternal. This being why people like photoing their kids. Soon, they’ll be different. But, a photo of Big Ben? It’s been done. A lot. No point in another of those.
Or what about something else that changes, like the price of a piece of electronics? I took this photo of such a price, in February 2005:
I have helpfully picked out the price and photo-enhanced it, so you can read it without any clicking. That’s a terrible photo, technically, but no other photo in that directory ("miscFeb05") is anywhere near as entertaining.
I love how it is reduced from £7,999.99. So if you had bought it then, you’d have saved five hundred quid! Now five hundred quid is the entire cost. (Which you can now save by not buying it.)
This afternoon I read in the Evening Standard that Chelsea FC were hoping to get planning permission for a big new stadium, and sure enough, this evening, they got it. I guess they’re all pretty happy there, what with Chelsea being top of the Premier League and all. (Although, I can’t help mentioning their recent winning-streak ending loss by Spurs.)
Here’s how it is reckoned the new stadium will look (I found this picture here), from above, when it’s dark:
The architects are Herzog de Meuron, the same firm that did the Tate Modern Extension. And, they also did that amazing new opera house out in the estuary in Hamburg. And hey, that opened today, according to that report. Blog and learn.
But back to that Chelsea stadium, what strikes me, yet again, about this major eruption of architectural modernism is that while it is very modern, it is also very carefully crafted to fit the inevitably rather oddly shaped site. Indeed, the architects make use of this odd shape to give their stadium its rather particular, asymmetrical shape, while nevertheless contriving an exact rectangle in the middle, in the manner required by the rules of football. Form follows site plan. That’s the way modern architecture is now done.
(It would seem that the exact same principle applied to the new Hamburg opera house also. It was put on top of an “historic brick base”. A brick base, I’m guessing, which was whatever shape it was, and could not be otherwise.)
And what also strikes me, yet again, is what a total nightmare it would have been to have attempted a design like this Chelsea stadium without computers to keep track of everything and handle all those asymmetrical shapes.
(The Hamburg opera house was plagued with delays and cost overruns and defects and took a famously long time to finish. But that’s a different story.)
Today I visited Tottenham, and I intend to return tomorrow, both expeditions having been prompted by these two weather forecasts:
That I have already decided this evening where I will be going tomorrow, and that I already knew last night what I was going to do today, is typical of how I now do these expeditions. Trying to work out, in the morning, where I’ll go that day, given that the day is turning out nice, tends not to work so well. Being old and tired and physically lazy, I have to have an interesting and attractive destination in mind as soon as the day starts, in order to force me out the front door soon enough for the expedition to amount to something.
In this respect, I am turning into my Dad. When I was a kid I used to tease my Dad about all the planning that would go into family expeditions, and he used to justify this with questions starting with the words “What if?” What if, we get into an accident? What if, one of us gets sick? What if, the trains are disrupted? We need a plan capable of taking care of everything. I used to think he was being over-cautious, and that we ought to just get started and deal with problems as and when they happened, which they mostly wouldn’t.
Well, as I get older, I become less good at adapting, by which I mean that I can change a plan in mid plan, but that it takes longer and is more stressful.
But more fundamentally, I now suspect that my Dad may have needed his plan just to get him going at all. Without a plan to drive the expedition forward, with artificially created deadlines and reasonably enticing objectives, maybe he just wouldn’t have been able to muster the energy he needed to lead us forth into the world at all. Like me, he knew that he would be happier if he did get stuck into an expedition, and would be depressed if all he did was sit at home doing this or that amusing but trivial thing. So, he would devise plans to make himself do what he wanted to do. My Dad’s plans were not as he sold them to me, mere precautions. His plans were energisers.
But maybe that’s just me.
Or maybe it has been invented and the answer is it’s called lots of little flat screen televisions.
This thought was provoked by seeing this picture, at Mick Hartley‘s:
There’s nothing wrong with this Big Thing that painting it entertainingly wouldn’t put right, in fact very right indeed. It could become a well-loved landmark, if only it was spruced up a bit, with some bright colours. This Big Thing is called the Edificio Torres Blancas, and it is in Madrid. In Spain they like bright colours, right?
But, what bright colours? The answer is to copy what they now do in Trafalgar Square, with that Fourth Plinth. In Trafalgar Square, they have solved the problem of what to put on the Fourth Plinth by keeping on changing it. That way, everyone gets to like some of the objects they put on the Plinth, and that way everyone who dislikes what is there now can comfort themselves with the thought that it will soon be gone. All can photo the ones they like and ignore the rest. Eventually, a winner may be declared. Eventually, a thing will be put there that seems to right, to so many people, that it will be decided to keep that thing there for ever.
That’s what they should do with the colouring of the above Big Thing in Madrid.
So, techies, get to work. What we need is a new sort of paint that you just slap on, but whose colours, down to the minutest detail, can then be controlled by a big old computer at ground level.
Or, this is already possible, as the advertisers are now proving with their changeable screens, and all that it missing is that this is, for a mere building, as opposed to a commercially profitable message, for the time being, too expensive.
Also, maybe the architect is still alive and vetoing any such notions, insisting that his masterpiece remain blancas, or failing that then at least grey all over. Time will soon correct this sorry state of affairs, if state of affairs it be.
From the BBC updates on the Scotland v Georgia rugby game at Murrayfield this afternoon:
Scotland have really struggled against the Georgian scum in the second-half.
Hastily corrected to “scrum”. Should have done a screen capture. As it is, you just have to take my word for it.
Actually Georgia is a great place. It recently came sixth in the world in one of those economic freedom charts, as I mentioned in passing in this posting
LATER: Oh dear. Not Murrayfield. Kilmarnock. Whenever you moan about someone else’s error, you make an error. It’s inevitable.
Sunlight on sea
A dogs and cats building
The Spraycan bounced off the new US Embassy
Strand Palace Hotel footbridge
Another fine day at the Oval (4): Scoreboards old and new
Another fine day at the Oval (2): Jason Roy – and an extreme contrast
The hottest day of the year (5): Old Citroens in Roupell Street
Large number of jobs
Comparing London then with London now (and the Oval then with the Oval now)
The right moment and the right alignment
On comments – and some commentary on some Brexit comments
Referendum day graphics
Big Things and viewing galleries in the Square Mile
New Thin Things in New York (but not in Lower Manhattan)
Incoming horizontality from Simon Gibbs
Goodbye PhotoCat – hello PhotoPad
Benevolent Laissez-Faire photos
Weather and weather
With PhotoCat I can do cropping while keeping it the same shape
A souvenir screen capture
Looking in at the Zaha Hadid Design Gallery in Goswell Road
John Cage does Sudoku
South Bank views
What I hope will be a better way to post clutches of photos here
Checked out: The Big Olympic Thing
Memo to self: photo-destination required for tomorrow
Recent taxis with adverts photos
Feeling the need to meet
Blue Big Things by Shard Baby
Photoers on Westminster Bridge
A rejected Grand Chose that shouldn’t have been
Footbridges in the sky
A Big Thing and a Much Bigger Thing – on a not-black cab
Enjoy it when you can
A really good piece about London and its Big Things by Oliver Wainwright
Skyscraper covered in Gothic sculpture proposed for Manhattan
Out and about with GD1 (6): The journey gets properly started
The next but one London Big Thing
Metros of the world
Four towers joined together by two bridges
Antony Flew on the Terrors of Islam
Going to Kings Cross to see gas holders
Jim Glymph gets Frank Gehry past the limits of what is buildable
A new Big Thing for Paddington?
Painting the bridges of Richmond
A day in BMdotcom heaven (4): A tale of two penultimate overs
A day in BMdotcom heaven (3): Adverts
A couple of old squares
Designing and building with glass
Palestra House – then and now
The next London Big Thing
The Shard was looking very special today
Windsor Castle from the top of the RAF Memorial
Tourists and locals in London
All this stuff
Snohetta does zig zag roofs for competitive cities
London is getting more colourful
From a cat cushion to Bill Murray and a nude to a demon horse sculpture that killed its creator
BT Tower behind trees
Feline Friday – an apology for yesterday’s premature posting about cat recognition
Peter Thiel on how humans and computers complement each other
Drunkblogging a new London Big Thing
The Bayeux Tapestry small enough to fit in this blog
The Bayeux Tapestry – the ultimate horizontalised graphic
Smartphones and tablets at the Charlie Hebdo demo
Hand done photos
Sixty Charlie Hebdo demo signs that say something other than “Je Suis Charlie”
Some photographers last November
Posting difficulties so see you tomorrow
Touch typing or no typing at all
Christmas Day photos
Christmas tree with scaffolding
Cameras photoing the Wheel (in 2007)
Cats – and technology
A small photo posting
In which I quotulate from a photo of a Canadian train
Driverless open-plan tube trains for London
An old story about colour perception
Helter Skelter scrapped
Another facade being carefully preserved
The ballerina and her support act
On not letting either God or (the other) God do everything
PID at the Times
Back from France (plus cat photos)
The River Thames carpet
New London bridge competition
OpenOffice Writer default resetting nightmares
More Big Things from the Oval
Big Things in the sunset
Cashing a cheque by photoing it
Robyn Vinter is wrong about Google Glass
Photographer photoing photographer photoing Big Ben
The London Look
Pictures of soon-to-be-built London Big Things
Spot the owl
Battersea park in the sky
Another strange artificial landscape
Sam Bowman on Bleeding Heart Libertarianism
Me trying to tell Norman Foster and Richard Rogers apart
When Open Symbol attacks!
Big Things happening in the City
One new thing (an IPS screen) makes me want another new thing (also an IPS screen)
My 110 percent problem
Eiffel Tower with chimney pots – La Défense ditto
I now have a new computer screen
Big Thing news from New York and London - and a picture of climate alarmism losing
Please help me buy a new computer screen
The text of my talk for Christian Michel last night on the impact of digital photography
3D printer sighted!
Nowadays a picture is no longer worth a thousand words
I’m not the only one who suffers from rightward lean
Taking photos with Big Flat Things
Confirmation that map use has seriously declined
Digital photographers holding maps
How big should these squares be?
Rob Fisher on old things not looking old
Smaller is more legible – big is more fun
Twisted picture from Burgess Park (untwisted with Photoshop Elements)
A fake feline photo and a faltering feline enumerator
Women of Japan – better luck next time
The Johnathan Pearce Samizdata gap
the Norlonto Review is back!
Reflections on a strange coincidence involving an Android app and a malfunctioning bus stop sign
Wembley Arch with balloons and with umbrellas
Typing on the new smartphone
More March 5th photographers (and more spaces between pictures)
A mannequin in Tachbrook Street sheds light on the nature of perception
Panoramic view of London from the top of the BT Tower
Alastair James on Blythe Hill Fields and smartphones
Looking along Victoria Street to The Wheel (and on how to be liked (or disliked) by Google)
Is Samizdata in danger of becoming a photo-blog?
“No one has to know!”
Some more presidential debate prophecy
PID at Samizdata
How gun control works and how it will defend Libertaria
Does anyone know how I can straighten these gasometers?
What’s up with that?
Hockey Stick art
The Jobs difference
One World Trade Center
Empty tables and empty chairs
A photo taken of a taken photo of the photo being taken
Gormley’s South Bank Men
Jobs departs from Apple (again)
On pictures that don’t get any bigger when clicked and on the power of the tangential
OpenOffice.org 3.2.1 Writer font default setting help wanted
Richard Dawkins on university debating games
I can do squares!!!
The new mainframe
First blood to Australia
Shard in rain
Cricket technology and its imperfections
Cricinfo gets its clock in a tangle and Pyrah bowls an unforgivable no ball
Everyone who shows this picture needs to add that it is not Photoshopped
Cats and bridges on Pixdaus
Alex Singleton on Photoshop CS5
Everybody draw Mohammed every day!
Darling and Darling cat
Incoming from Molly Norris!
Molly Norris was just kidding!
Everybody draw Mohammed on May 20th!
Beyond iPad (and a picture that goes beyond this posting)
What’s up with this?
Forget the fifth of November - and the Brown curse strikes (again)
Green cats - feral cats - cats murdered in Wales - more than 113 cats in Livingston NJ
A little archaeology
Model T parts flatvert
Back lit by the sun
Laptop for emails
Register for your free pack and five £1-off-coupons
A question about double inverted commas in OpenOffice.org Writer
Jesus above the keyboard instead of beyond it
Jesus gets a big new keyboard
Another resizing test
JD gets PTD
First picture posted to this blog from the wild
Now I’m going to try to stick up a picture with Jesus
They aren’t complete idiots all the time
Wonderwoman picked by Unsuperman
Africa is big
Cats are (as of) now being counted in permanent italics
What’s this for?
Cisco – fuck off and die
Permanent Bold Disease strikes Brassneck
PID strikes Guido
An impulse posting about procrastination
PID hits DK
Self-guided photo-tour of the streets of San Francisco
Flat pictures for flat screens
Beetham Tower – and a couple of other towers
Dot matrix printing in the sky
Typed man walking
Aid rewards low growth
Dave Gorman sees faces!
Short picture of a long distance
Photo-ing the weather
Pictures with words
Not actually a photo of Saturn’s rings
Smallest mobile keyboard yet?
Amazing map of amazing new Moscow bridge
Evite makes sure I remember it
New Moscow road bridge
“I already knew most of what they were to try and teach me …”
One Man and His Very Thin Blog
Printer in your pocket
Very very low cost kitten in space
Other people’s photos (2): New architecture in Hamburg
But what is so evil about Powerpoint?
Other people’s photos (1): Soul transference
History of the Middle East as a moving map
Spreading the word for free