Saturday, January 22, 2011

2nd birthday

Two years old already... where did time go? Well I guess the first nine months went in playing all day long and not sleeping all night long and meeting little girlfriends while eating cakes and drinking tea and laughing and loving wholeheartedly. Then I went back to work, and there was a whole lot less cake n tea parties and not a lot more sleep, but a lot more fun yet with first steps and first words and other kinds of first times. Anyway, we got there soon enough - 2 years old.

Since we have the most beautiful place in the world - I decided to throw a proper party, complete with gift bags for little guests, finger food, beer and wine for grown-ups and juice for the pregnant moms. Of course, I over estimated everything and invited more people than I could possibly cope with - but somehow wonderously managed to!

We had her three little friends from birth, Matilda, Emma and Libby, with their moms and dads as well as friends from nursery, Amelia, Billy, James, Marleigh and Oliver with their moms and dads. Unfortunately, Byelle felt a bit overwhelmed with the crowd though and clingged on to mom or dad throughout the afternoon, until it was just her three bestfriends left, upon which she had a great time dancing and singing and playing!

Gabrielle was quite spoiled with lots of toys and books and jigsaws but I guess her favourite moment was dancing along 'ring a ring of roses' with Emma, Libby and Matilda or jumping on the bed with James and Amelia!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Muybridge Exhibition - Tate Britain

I was walking in the tube - I can't remember whether it was the time after my xmas lunch with various editors or after our Christmas party, when I saw this photo on a poster. I was fascinated, I stopped to look at the images. I loved it, it was intriguing and different, pictures of people or animals in motion - 'moving pictures'.

Eadweard Muybridge lived in the 19th century and was from Kingston - if I had bothered visiting the local museum, I would have known that!

His motivation was to prove that a horse could fly - not as crazy as it sounds - he reckoned that in the galoping motion, a horse had all four hoves off the ground, but the motion was too quick for the human eye to capture.

So he set up an elaborate device to photograph a motion under three different angles - he also invited a device - called a zoopraxiscope to show played the motion pictures in a form of animation - a few years before film strips were invented.
(For the record, apparently, the first device ever invented was in 1870 and was called a Praxinoscope, while Myubridge's Zoopraxiscope was invented in 1878 - both devices were at the origin of cinema).

Muybridge not only proved that a horse is indeed airborne for a split second but more extraordinarily, what he really achieved despite himself is 'motion pictures', which he referred to as locomotion or moving-picture. His method is the 'technology' that was used in shooting the film the Matrix. So there, you all learned something new :)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

The Book of the Dead - British Museum

The British Museum offers a great display of Ancient Egypt, but this exhibition offered so much more. The display in the central dome of the museum was very cool - with the rooms layed out in a spiral.

If you know a little about Ancient Egypt, you'd know that they sought eternal life in the afterlife pretty much like Christianity or Islam which both promise eternal life in Heaven or Jannah respectively. And as true as it is in these 'modern' monotheist beliefs, Egyptian believed that they had to live their lives a certain way to prepare for the afterlife and to be entitled entry to their equivalent of Heaven.

My knowledge of Islam is limited but to gain entry into Heaven, you need to live your life - or rather not live at all that would make it much easier - as a saint and then you might just get your ticket in. Between me and you, it sounds a lot like the lottery, I'd rather keep that tenner in my pocket, than bet it on a ticket that might possibly maybe win me a million pound, in this context, I'd rather live my life and take my chances with a potential maybe eternal happiness or damnation later.

The Egyptians did not just need to live lives of saints but also had a strict and complex rite of passing - now that's much more similar to Buddhism, which dates back from the same time (approximately 5000-3500 BC), whereby once dead, there is a complete physical ceremony, which is not what this exhibition was about, but the spiritual journey into the afterlife.

Above, Isis and Nephthys the wife and child Osiris, God of the dead, played a role of protecting the deceased throughout his journey.
Under the scale in the middle, is Anubis, also protector of the dead, in charge of the weighing of the heart of the deceased.
And to the right, Toth, God of writing and knowledge - behind him The Devourer, the monster crocodile-headed, torso and legs of the lion and bottom of a hippo, punished those who were judged undeserving of the afterlife. You'd have to want it pretty bad to face that one.

The Sun God and creator of the world, Ra, represent the cycle of life, by being resurrected every morning to the East and dying every night in the West. He was also interpreted by the cycle of seasons and plantations and recolts.

The exhibition was great, it had an entire wall scripture of two versions of the book of the dead from two different authors and by judging the characters (hieroglyphs) used, they must have been written at different eras. Then tons of papyrus as well as wall sculptures and a couple of sarcophogus and a mommy.

I'd recommend the exhibition, but watch out of the crowd, in spite of booking in advance and having an allocated time slot, we struggled seeing everything, but Byelle kept nice and quiet throughout - watching Timmy Time on my iphone, the wonders of technology in the middle of History.