Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Victoria & Albert Museum has just launched its interactive birthday book, a service which matches your birthday (day and month) with those of famous designers, artists and printers. You can find out a little about the person and see a picture of them or their work. You can also send friends an e-card with an image by or of someone who shares their birthday.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

The Pre-Raphaelite Vision Exhibition at the Tate Britain.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The book that launched the science of anatomy,De Humani Corporus Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius (1543), is one of the books included in the British Library's Turning the Pages Project, the online part of which is launched today.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Kingston University has purchased Iris Murdoch's books for a reported £120,000 - £30,000 below the asking price: 'UK university buys Iris Murdoch library, by John Ezard. The Guardian, Saturday 17 April 2004.

The pub in which we met our friends last night had a gothic theme, including the carcasses of old books stuck on the walls to form a fake library. This included several sets of Chambers' Encycoplaediae, which gave me a particularly spooky feeling, as my masters thesis was on W&R Chambers. I always have a mixed feeling about this type of decoration anyway, and, on the one hand, I enjoyed the flush of recognition of seeing familiar spines around me, but, on the other, it's sad to think that these books have been ripped apart quite violently in order to satisfy a whim of interior decoration ...

Thursday, April 15, 2004

This month'sScientific American includes a really interesting overview of linguist Paul Kay's study of the way that languages describe colours.'Draining the Language out of Color' by Philip E. Ross. Scientific American, April 2004.
One of my favourite pieces on display at the Tate Modern is The Great Bear by Simon Patterson, 1992. The station names have been replaced by names of kings, philosophers, footballers, engineers and other famous people in categories delineated by the tube lines. It's difficult to distinguish the names on the picture on the Tate web-site, but DARE Artists' Gallery includes a close-up of the North-Central section.
I have always liked the London Tube Map: it's a design classic. If only my taxonomies could look so neat and be parcelled up in such a compact way: it amazes me that all the tube stations in Greater London can fit inside my wallet on a tiny card which is still easy to decipher. It was one of the first things about London that looked familiar to me: my Dad, an electrician, told me before I came down the first time that the tube map is "just a big wiring diagramme," and that is exactly what it is: designed by electrical engineer Harry Beck in 1933, based on the circuit diagrammes with which he worked.

The tube map revolutionised London and the way that Londoners thought about their city. Today it is almost impossible not to picture the place divided up by tube lines and stations, and, when we do so, we are holding in our minds an image of the tube map, and picture the nearness of our destination by proximity to the map's features. At the bottom of this page, the Transport for London website includes a Macromedia Flash presentation that allows you to click and see the current tubemap for Central London morph into the original 1933 version and / or into a streetmap version.
One of my very favourite blogs, The Map Room has pointed a link to the 'London Underground Map Translated into German' by Horst Prillinger. It's really great, and funny in places. I like "Kennington's" having been translated as "Ken's Hof" (which can be translated back as "Ken's Yard), and I like the clever touches elswhere in that part of the Northern Line : "Elephant and Castle" is rendered as "Elefant und Burg" which shows far better than the original English the relationship between it and its neighbour, "Burg" - "Borough." The best pun is obviously the rendering of the Bakerloo Line as "Bäker-WC."

Friday, April 09, 2004

Surfing around sites relating to Le Petit Prince, I was really pleased to come across the page on le roman de la rose on lepetitprince.com, and particularly the beautiful rose calligramme that it includes. I love calligrammes, and coming across this one online made me look for others. Probably the most famous creator of calligrammes was Apollinaire, and you can see some of his work here and here and here.

There are lots of sites with calligrammes by French schoolchildren. My favourite the one by Mme Cungs' class at Ecole Brieux, which includes an outstanding poem of / about the elephant, who never forgets, but is terrified by the mouse ...

Calligrammes Américains provides some really amusing poems based on "typical" American subjects ... like sports, the Stars and Stripes and, my personal favourite, fast food.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The plane in which the author of The Little Prince met his end has been discovered by a French underwater salvage team. The wartime pilot was on a reconnaissance mission when his plane was lost at sea in 1944, only a year after the publication of the children's book that gave him cult status. According the the BBC News report, the salvers were able to distinguish the plane's serial number, and so confirm its identity. However, Antoine de Saint-Exupery's body was not inside the cock-pit, and mystery still shrouds the reason for the plane's crash: the weather was fine and clear, and "No bullet holes were found, nor was there evidence of a bent propeller, researchers said."('French find Saint-Exupery's plane,' BBC News, 7 April 2004).