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The Traveller’s Guide to Sacred Scotland

We’re pleased to be able to tell you about the new book from our friend Mar­i­an­na Lines. An author­i­ty on ancient sites, espe­cial­ly in Scot­land where she lives, Mar­i­an­na is also a tal­ent­ed artist. Her book is avail­able now from all the usu­al places, includ­ing your local book­store and those online peo­ple who don’t pay their tax­es. The Trav­eller’s Guide to Sacred Scot­land is pub­lished by Goth­ic Image in Glastonbury.

The Trav­eller’s Guide to Sacred Scotland
A Guide To Scot­land’s Ancient Sites and Sacred Places
Mar­i­an­na Lines

Buy from the pub­lish­ers, Goth­ic Image

The first guide­book to weave togeth­er the cul­tur­al, his­tor­i­cal and spir­i­tu­al aspects of this fas­ci­nat­ing coun­try, it will enhance the expe­ri­ence of the arm­chair trav­eller as well as any pil­grim to the ancient mag­i­cal land of Scotland.

Scot­land has a rich pre­his­to­ry stretch­ing from Neolith­ic times through the Bronze and Iron Ages. She has islands from the mag­nif­i­cent Orkneys and Shet­lands to the Out­er Hebrides and the Uists, the Isle of Skye and the Inner Hebrides. Each one is renowned for its ancient sanc­ti­ty. Scot­land was home to many dif­fer­ent cul­tures includ­ing the Norse, Picts and Celts. She has a par­tic­u­lar­ly unique and stun­ning land­scape with holy moun­tains, spec­tac­u­lar lochs and sacred trees. The High­lands with their Pic­tish set­tle­ments and carved stand­ing stones offer yet anoth­er kind of awe-inspir­ing beau­ty. Fairy folk­lore, poets and bards, Arthuri­an and Mer­lin relat­ed sites, Celtic Chris­t­ian foun­da­tions and their Saints are all to be found in this land.

This guide­book not only takes the read­er on an inspir­ing jour­ney of dis­cov­ery into Scot­land’s past, but, also, offers direc­tions to places regard­ed by Scots them­selves of spe­cial impor­tance, what they mean and their rel­e­vance today.

  • Pub­lished : 03/11/2014
  • ISBN : 9780906362761
  • For­mat : Paperback
  • Imprint : Goth­ic Image Publications
  • Size (mm): 110 x 215
  • Cat­e­go­ry: Travel
  • Pages : 500
  • Price £16.99

November 4, 2014   Comments Off on The Traveller’s Guide to Sacred Scotland

Poetry at Relay for Life

I love Shake­speare, but I’ve nev­er real­ly thought of per­form­ing any.

How­ev­er when we were prepar­ing for the Relay For Life of Sec­ond Life Telethon, sev­er­al mem­bers of the team were invit­ed to record a series of poems to be played dur­ing the Lumi­nar­ia cer­e­mo­ny (one of the most mov­ing parts of the event).


Lantern release dur­ing the Lumi­nar­ia cer­e­mo­ny — image by Beq Janus

The Lumi­nar­ia Cer­e­mo­ny occurs at every Relay For Life event, whether in the organ­ic world, or as in our case, in a vir­tu­al world. As the sun sets, lumi­nar­ia lin­ing the track light up the night. A hush falls over the crowd that had been over­flow­ing with cel­e­bra­tion. Par­tic­i­pants, sur­vivors, and care­givers then gath­er to remem­ber loved ones lost to can­cer and to hon­our those whose fight con­tin­ues. The cer­e­mo­ny in Sec­ond Life includ­ed a won­der­ful addi­tion­al fea­ture: the releas­ing of illu­mi­nat­ed Chi­nese lanterns into the night sky (see Beq’s pic­ture above, tak­en in front of her amaz­ing Esch­er build that you can just make out).

The offi­cial com­men­tary is car­ried by T1 Radio, and they read a list of names, between which they play pieces of music. Now, they have a licence to play com­mer­cial records, but we don’t, so this year they kind­ly gave us a run­ning order and tim­ings and we were able to deter­mine what was to go in the slots occu­pied by music in their cov­er­age, so we could “opt out” to our own audio pro­gram­ming. This was the pur­pose of the pre-record­ed poems. Mem­bers of our team put these record­ings togeth­er with pro­duc­tion music (main­ly by Kevin MacLeod, see cred­it below) to cre­ate a series of real­ly beau­ti­ful sequences, which I will hope­ful­ly be able to link to for you short­ly where they’ll have full cred­its — they’re being assem­bled into a series of short videos accom­pa­nied by images of this year’s campsites.

One of the two pieces I chose to record was this speech from Pros­pero in The Tempest:

Our rev­els now are end­ed. These our actors,
As I fore­told you, were all spir­its, and
Are melt­ed into air, into thin air;
And, like the base­less fab­ric of this vision,
The cloud-capped tow­ers, the gor­geous palaces,
The solemn tem­ples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inher­it, shall dissolve;
And, like this insub­stan­tial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our lit­tle life
Is round­ed with a sleep. (IV.i.148–158)

In addi­tion to send­ing the voice-only record­ing off to the guys for incor­po­rat­ing in the sequence, I found a piece of music [Vir­tutes Instru­men­ti, Com­posed and per­formed by Kevin MacLeod ( Licensed under Cre­ative Com­mons: By Attri­bu­tion 3.0] and ran it under the voice record­ing. As it will nev­er be used for any­thing, here it is, and I hope you like it:

Pros­per­o’s Speech with music — click to play

August 1, 2013   Comments Off on Poetry at Relay for Life

What is authenticity?

My atten­tion was drawn to a rather inter­est­ing arti­cle in the Wash­ing­ton Post late last year on the use of “his­tor­i­cal” FX in the movie “Lin­coln”. Spiel­berg actu­al­ly tried very hard to cap­ture “authen­tic” sound effects — Lin­col­n’s actu­al pock­et watch tick­ing, the ring of the bell of the church he attend­ed, and so on.

Quite a lot of the time, in my expe­ri­ence, record­ing actu­al sounds does­n’t give you as effec­tive a result as fak­ing it with some­thing else, but with sounds like those men­tioned in the arti­cle, you can see why it might be worth chas­ing the orig­i­nals. Apart from the fact that peo­ple notice when details are wrong — the BBC used to get let­ters if they used the sound of the wrong vin­tage plane in a radio play, for exam­ple, and they prob­a­bly still do — there’s an inter­est­ing philo­soph­i­cal dimen­sion here, about what we mean by “authen­tic”.

In the days of phono­graphs and cylin­ders, it was com­mon to make record­ings of famous peo­ple mak­ing famous speech­es and oth­er spo­ken mate­r­i­al. Very often these were not record­ed by the actu­al per­son claimed. But the degree of “real­ism” — or may we say “authen­tic­i­ty” — was judged by how well the per­former rep­re­sent­ed the orig­i­nal per­son, not by whether or not it was the orig­i­nal per­son mak­ing the recording.

Sim­i­lar­ly, we can read reviews of Clé­ment Ader’s his­toric stereo relays from the Paris Opera House to the World Expo in Paris in 1881 and be sur­prised that lis­ten­ers found the expe­ri­ence of lis­ten­ing to a pair of ear­ly mov­ing-coil tele­phone ear­pieces fed by car­bon micro­phones down hun­dreds of metres of wire so real­is­tic. Sure­ly it was noth­ing like hi-fi as we know it.

Exact­ly what we mean by “authen­tic­i­ty” has cer­tain­ly changed over the years. And there is a dis­tinct dif­fer­ence between accu­ra­cy and expe­ri­ence. When I’m in the stu­dio, I try to do my best to ensure that the lis­ten­er at home or on the move hears as close as pos­si­ble to what we heard in the con­trol room when we played back the mas­ter mix and said “That’s the one”. Is this a rea­son­able thing to seek to achieve? Or should we be striv­ing to give peo­ple the best expe­ri­ence, regard­less of authen­tic­i­ty? I touched on this the oth­er day refer­ring to mim­ing at the Pres­i­den­tial Inau­gu­ra­tion: def­i­nite­ly a case of going for the best experience.

To me, you can apply the old slo­gan “The clos­est approach to the orig­i­nal sound” to any record­ing as long as you know what you mean by the “orig­i­nal sound”. In my opin­ion this is gen­er­al­ly the mas­ter play­back, not what it sound­ed like out in the stu­dio. In the case of mul­ti­track lay­ered pop­u­lar music this is obvi­ous­ly the case. But how about a record­ing of a string quar­tet? Are you try­ing to give peo­ple the audio expe­ri­ence they would hear in a con­cert hall (I say “the audio expe­ri­ence” because you would be miss­ing all the non-audi­ble cues), or are you try­ing to give them the expe­ri­ence you had when you signed off the mas­ter play­back? Well, prob­a­bly, the latter.

It would be worth point­ing out that lis­ten­ing to con­cert-hall record­ings is fre­quent­ly not very much like being there, because you only hear the music. Even if you record­ed the con­cert Ambison­i­cal­ly, cap­tured the entire sound­field and played it back fault­less­ly, you would only have cap­tured the audio of the event, not the expe­ri­ence. This being the case, what is often done is to make the record­ing more live­ly and excit­ing to make up for the non-audio aspects of the per­for­mance. Close mics, changes of dynam­ics, and oth­er tech­niques do make the play­back more involv­ing. In my opin­ion there is noth­ing wrong with this as long as it’s not dis­hon­est­ly pre­sent­ed. Once again, the orig­i­nal sound is what’s heard in the con­trol-room, not in the con­cert-hall — and that’s what you should be want­i­ng peo­ple to hear at home.

It’s all very well claim­ing to ref­er­ence play­back sys­tems to the sound of actu­al musi­cal instru­ments, but that begs all kinds of — gen­er­al­ly unan­swer­able — ques­tions about how you estab­lished the sound of the instru­ments in the first place. What was your ref­er­ence? Where did you hear them? How far away were you? Who was play­ing what? What was heard in the stu­dio on mas­ter play­back, how­ev­er, is a per­fect ref­er­ence: it’s what the pro­duc­tion team thought was the best rep­re­sen­ta­tion of every aspect of the music, the com­pos­er, the artist and the per­for­mance — and more. They regard­ed it as the best com­mu­ni­ca­tion between all those fac­tors and the per­son lis­ten­ing to the record­ing. And, in my opin­ion, it’s the only thing you can rea­son­ably expect to try to recre­ate for the listener.

For a fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion of the philo­soph­i­cal impli­ca­tions of “authen­tic­i­ty”, in the con­text of “Lin­coln”, check out this blog post.

February 1, 2013   Comments Off on What is authenticity?

Changes at the top of the page

More or less since we moved this site from being a con­ven­tion­al sta­t­ic web site to a Word­Press envi­ron­ment based around the The­sis meta-theme, the head­er image has been ran­dom­ly select­ed: each time you vis­it­ed the site, you would see a dif­fer­ent image.

This is actu­al­ly very easy to do — there is a tuto­r­i­al here — and it’s worked well. How­ev­er, the oth­er day I thought it would be rather neat for the head­er to con­sist of essen­tial­ly a slideshow of the avail­able images, gen­tly crossfading.

One of the neat things about Word­Press is that there are a great many plu­g­ins out there, many of them free, which you can locate to do things like this. For the Radio Riel site, I used a plu­g­in called the Smart Slideshow Wid­get, for exam­ple (it replaced a rather fid­dly flash slideshow that I used on the old RR site). The wid­get appears in the left side­bar to dis­play a con­tin­u­ous and ran­dom­ly-rotat­ing set of logos for the sta­tion’s spon­sors. How­ev­er, this sys­tem only pro­vides a wid­get: you can’t use it for a head­er image.

Go and search Word­Press plu­g­ins for slideshows and you will find a great many, but most of them are a lot clev­er­er than I want­ed. I just want­ed to be able to stuff a set of images in a fold­er and have them dis­play for a set peri­od and cross­fade over a set time. I def­i­nite­ly want­ed to avoid flash (if I did­n’t, I already have the tools to cre­ate flash slideshows, but flash is… a pain). This left me essen­tial­ly with Javascript as the way to do the cross­fad­ing, and JQuery (already run­ning on this site) or one of the oth­er libraries will do that and lots more.

Many of the slideshow sys­tems used the stan­dard Word­Press media upload sys­tem, which again was rather more than I need­ed. I start­ed to install one of them and noticed that it messed with the Fea­tured Image fea­ture of Word­Press. This rather warned me off, as I am already mess­ing with the Fea­tured Image capa­bil­i­ty to get it to work with The­sis — I’m using Word­Press Fea­tured Image for The­sis Theme from The­sis­tut, and I did­n’t want to mess that up. And any­way, it was more com­pli­cat­ed than I needed.

I final­ly found what I was look­ing for in the form of Cimy Head­er Image Rota­tor from Mar­co Cim­mi­no. The plu­g­in gives you some use­ful dis­play options, such as a “Ken Burns Effect” instead of a sim­ple cross­fade — that’s the ros­trum cam­era effect used exten­sive­ly by film-mak­er Ken Burns, notably in his land­mark series The Civ­il War (and now appar­ent­ly a require­ment for any PBS doc­u­men­tary), where rather than sim­ply dis­play a sta­t­ic image, you gen­tly zoom in on it. The plu­g­in also lets you include a cap­tion and a link — either for all the images or for each.

The plu­g­in has an upload fold­er (and you can actu­al­ly upload addi­tion­al files right in the plu­g­in, which was a bonus) and once you’ve defined the para­me­ters you get a bit of code to copy and paste into the appro­pri­ate The­sis hook (if you’re using The­sis), in my case the hook after the head­er. I replaced the exist­ing ran­dom sta­t­ic head­er code with the new piece and it worked straight away.

Of course I want­ed to tweak it a bit. I need­ed to change the size and posi­tion of the head­er image pan­el a lit­tle, which was easy, and want­ed to alter the way the cap­tions were dis­played. The default is a lit­tle black lozenge (aka a round-cor­nered box) at the cen­tre bot­tom of the image with the text in white. I tried drop­ping the lozenge and using a CSS drop shad­ow in black behind the text to pop the cap­tion out of the image, whether it was dark or light, but the drop shad­ow was­n’t strong enough to do the job on real­ly pale back­grounds. Even­tu­al­ly I low­ered the cap­tion to just under the image and made it black.

More tricky (and unsolved cur­rent­ly), I want­ed to move the cap­tion to be ranged left  rather than cen­tred. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the cap­tion is posi­tioned with respect to the entire brows­er win­dow, and I have the page cen­tred in the win­dow so if you enlarge the win­dow you get more air around the page equal­ly on either side. This is fine if the cap­tion is cen­tred, but if it isn’t, you can’t define the loca­tion of the cap­tion rel­a­tive to the image. I will sort this out anoth­er day. In the mean­time, enjoy the pics.

October 19, 2012   Comments Off on Changes at the top of the page

A belated movie discovery

I won­der if any read­ers watched the fas­ci­nat­ing BBC series The Secret His­to­ry Of Our Streets a few months ago, which traced 150 years of social his­to­ry of sev­er­al Lon­don locations.

In the intro there was a view of a fas­ci­nat­ing “dark Satan­ic mills” kind of city (see above), pre­sent­ed in a con­text in which you would imag­ine it was rep­re­sent­ing Vic­to­ri­an Lon­don. But if you look for a moment at the image, you’ll see at once that there was nev­er a Lon­don quite like that.

In fact it was a brief clip from a movie called Franklyn — and believe it or not, I know about this movie sole­ly because, intrigued by that intro­duc­to­ry image, I cap­tured the frame, stuck it into Google Image Search, and looked at what came up. Hence I came to this film four years after it came out.

Franklyn (not the world’s most inspired title, but it is actu­al­ly quite impor­tant to the action) tells a very nice­ly detailed and inter­twined tale of four char­ac­ters and moves between mod­ern Lon­don and a kind of neo-Steam­punk-medi­ae­val ana­logue, “Mean­while City”, in which all the inhab­i­tants are oblig­ed to have a reli­gion of some sort. It’s a very noir, Steam­punk, SF, psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller. There’s a cer­tain amount of vio­lence, which I don’t go for in gen­er­al but here it’s fair­ly essen­tial to the sto­ry: that is prob­a­bly what earned it a 15 cer­tifi­cate in the UK (and “R” in the US).

The film fea­tures gor­geous cos­tumes and CGI, yet on a rel­a­tive­ly small bud­get. Not only that, it’s a British film, with British fund­ing too, writ­ten and direct­ed by Ger­ald McMor­row. It was his first fea­ture, and con­sid­er­ing the com­plex­i­ty of the plot and the visu­al require­ments of the sto­ry, he does extreme­ly well IMO. Mor­row wrote it him­self, inspired by a short film of his, Thes­pi­an X.

The Mean­while City seg­ments are beau­ti­ful­ly done, and that’s where the CGI is con­cen­trat­ed, of course. The bud­get was able to be rel­a­tive­ly small by virtue of the fact that only around 20% of the movie requires top-lev­el effects like city-build­ing and recre­ation of busy streets with all man­ner of char­ac­ters milling about. The detail in the par­al­lel world is excel­lent, and the cos­tumes are won­der­ful and wondrous.

Yes, there are faint echoes of oth­er films here (notably V for Vendet­ta, some have sug­gest­ed, but apart from a char­ac­ter in a mask and a Lon­don set­ting most of the time, that’s about the extent of the similarity).

Reviews at the time of release (2008) were mixed, but that just shows how review­ers have dif­fi­cul­ty with sophis­ti­cat­ed plot-lines: it worked fine for me, and although there were some details that weren’t quite under­stand­able until you’d seen the film through, real­is­ing what those details meant after­wards was part of the appeal (I felt the same about Sixth Sense for exam­ple). And I do like a film where I can’t tell what’s going to hap­pen or how it’s going to end.

Some crit­i­cised it for not devel­op­ing the char­ac­ters suf­fi­cient­ly, but in fact I was­n’t con­scious of that. We learn about them grad­u­al­ly as the sto­ry evolves. We need to learn about them grad­u­al­ly, because the entire plot revolves around the con­flu­ence of the char­ac­ters and giv­ing us their back-sto­ries up front would be ruinous. Like Sixth Sense, you do not want to know too much about this sto­ry before­hand (don’t watch the fas­ci­nat­ing “Mak­ing of” extra on the DVD until after you’ve seen the film, for example).

Yes, there are some issues with this film, but they’re minor IMO and it’s def­i­nite­ly worth a look. Actu­al­ly two looks, because once you know how it ends, you’ll find you can sud­den­ly grasp some lit­tle sub­tleties through­out the film that per­haps passed you by. There are even some ele­ments of humour that are sur­pris­ing­ly appropriate.

And look out for the impres­sive dif­fer­ent use of colour and shoot­ing approach for each char­ac­ter. Mean­while City is all earthy tones, for exam­ple, with lit­tle or no blue. Scenes involv­ing the char­ac­ter Sal­ly are always warm and well-lit. Mr Ess­er senior is often seen in sil­hou­ette, in the mid­dle dis­tance, with cool colours tend­ing towards the blue. And so on. You may also notice (well, you will now) that as the action shifts back and forth between the two worlds, each loca­tion in Lon­don has a cor­re­spond­ing loca­tion in Mean­while City that echoes it visu­al­ly or at least functionally.

Here’s the offi­cial trailer:

The movie also has a very effec­tive sound­track by tal­ent­ed com­pos­er Joby Tal­bot (Once Around the Sun, Hitch­hik­er’s Guide to the Galaxy, Divine Com­e­dy, etc) with an impres­sive major the­mat­ic element.


September 21, 2012   Comments Off on A belated movie discovery

Pitfalls of Facebook Page Tabs

I recent­ly had occa­sion to cre­ate a cou­ple of Face­book Apps for a client, to be accessed from tabs under the main time­line image on a busi­ness page.

There are plen­ty of tuto­ri­als around on how to do this, but I found a cou­ple of pit­falls that don’t seem to be men­tioned in the write­ups I’ve seen.

Face­book Page Tabs

One of the many things that has changed about Face­book recent­ly is the way that tabs on Busi­ness Pages are han­dled — this hap­pened from April this year.

To begin with, you can no longer set up a tab as a land­ing page so non-fans who arrive at the page see it auto­mat­i­cal­ly: tabs are sim­ply list­ed with thumb­nail images under the head­er image. And while the con­tent was pre­vi­ous­ly lim­it­ed to 520px width, you can now choose 810px wide as an alternative.

I was cre­at­ing the very sim­plest of Face­book Apps: ones that sim­ply call what is essen­tial­ly a web page that gets embed­ded in a Face­book page with the Face­book equiv­a­lent of an iframe. The basic tuto­r­i­al on this pro­vid­ed by Face­book can be found here.

To do this, you log into Face­book as a Devel­op­er ( using your usu­al cre­den­tials. Just to right of cen­tre in the blue Face­book strip at the top of the page you’ll see “Apps”. Click this link and it shows you any apps you have cre­at­ed pre­vi­ous­ly and there’s a but­ton top right called “Cre­ate New App”.

As described in the tuto­ri­als, you need to give your new app a Dis­play Name that appears beneath it on the Page; a unique Name­space; and a sup­port con­tact email address. Then from the pop-up menu “Cat­e­go­ry”, choose “Apps for Pages”. For this sim­ple app, that’s all you need in the top sec­tion. The tricky bit is next.

Select­ing how your app inte­grates with Facebook

You now select how your app inte­grates with Face­book. Select­ing “Page Tab” is obvi­ous. You give the Page Tab a name; and sup­ply secure and non-secure URLs. These point at the web loca­tion where the HTML con­tent you want to dis­play insert­ed on the Face­book page can be found. Pro­vid­ing a secure URL (ie one accessed via https:) is manda­to­ry. It does­n’t seem to mat­ter if the two URLs point to the same place, but I would sug­gest it’s a lot eas­i­er if they can, and your serv­er is set up to serve both secure and non-secure content.

It may not be oblig­a­tory, but it turns out to be sim­plest if the URLs point to a direc­to­ry in which the desired con­tent is the default page: in oth­er words, call your page “index.html” or what­ev­er your serv­er is set up to serve as default, and put it in a direc­to­ry, for exam­ple one named after the appli­ca­tion. So you might have a URL like “” — in oth­er words, the URL points at a direc­to­ry. This is what you want to enter into the Page Tab URL slot: with the for­ward-slash on the end.

You don’t need to pro­vide a page tab edit URL. What you prob­a­bly will want to include is a 111 x 74px image to appear in the box under the head­er on the main Face­book Page.

In addi­tion, select the width of the insert­ed HTML mate­r­i­al. You can use the orig­i­nal 520px width or the new 810px. Remem­ber that whichev­er you choose, the HTML will be dis­played on a blank white page with a Face­book blue strip at the top and lit­tle else: it should work visu­al­ly in this envi­ron­ment. It turns out that the width is not quite as straight­for­ward as it appears, as will be seen below.

On the face of it, you’re now done as far as the Face­book side of the set­up is con­cerned. Wrong. There is anoth­er step you need to take, and that is to click the check-mark next to “App on Face­book”. This asks you to enter Can­vas URL and Secure Can­vas URL. Enter exact­ly the same URLs as you used above. This step is not obvi­ous (don’t you just need to select Page Tab? No.) but if you don’t do it, you will get an error 191 when you try to add the App to a page. I have not seen this doc­u­ment­ed any­where: have you? And if you look up Error 191, you’ll find that absolute­ly every­one gets this error and that nobody has sug­gest­ed that fill­ing in the “App on Face­book” tab is the solu­tion, or what should go in there.

Once the above has been com­plet­ed, you can go off and cre­ate your mini-pages that will be stored at the URLs above and will be dis­played in an iframe on the Face­book page when vis­i­tors click on your app tab.

You can cre­ate the HTML in your favourite edi­tor: I use Dreamweaver, but you can even cre­ate it in the Post Edi­tor in Word­Press, then click the HTML tab in the Edi­tor and copy the code out, save it in a file with the right name, and upload it to the server.

In my case I had a 520px-wide x 775px high image and I sim­ply placed it cen­tred on the page and cre­at­ed a local image map to allow me to make it click­able, with dif­fer­ent parts of the image tak­ing vis­i­tors to dif­fer­ent URLs on the clien­t’s main web site. The clien­t’s for­mat involves black back­grounds, and the image had this, so I set the page back­ground colour to black too, just in case. This proved to be inadvisable.

Adding the App to a Page

Once the page con­tent is in posi­tion on your serv­er, you are essen­tial­ly done, and you can go back to Face­book and enter the spe­cial URL that allows you to select which of the Pages you admin­is­ter the App should be added to. Why this isn’t eas­i­er is beyond me. A but­ton would have been nice. The URL is:

You get the App ID from the Set­tings page of your App, in the top sec­tion. The “Your URL” is the tricky bit. It’s the Can­vas URL, and this is why it needs to be there. If it isn’t, then what­ev­er you put in there, you’ll get the 191 error, which seems to relate to where the app redi­rects you to when you click on it.

All being well, though, you will get a nice lit­tle page that allows you to choose one of the pages you admin­is­ter and add the App to the Page. You can then go to the Page and move the order of the tabs around to suit you (the “Pho­tos” tab has to be first, for some rea­son, but you can move the oth­ers by swap­ping them around).

When 520px is actu­al­ly 512

If you cre­at­ed the page the way I described above, with an image and imagemap, you will notice straight away that it has­n’t quite worked. The same is true if you sliced your image into bits, each with its own linked, and posi­tioned them with a table. You will (prob­a­bly, I assume it was­n’t just me) see hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal scroll bars. WTF?

By sim­ply reduc­ing the width one pix­el at a time I dis­cov­ered that both scroll bars go away if you set the width to 512px. Nowhere have I seen this doc­u­ment­ed, so I would be fas­ci­nat­ed to know under what cir­cum­stances this appears. So I trimmed the image a lit­tle so that it was 512px wide and lo! It worked!

And now you run into anoth­er lit­tle aes­thet­ic issue. You’ll recall that I had my image on a black back­ground. So I look at my image on the Face­book page and I notice a black strip down the left-hand side. It turns out that this strip is 8px wide. Hmmm. The image has to be 512 or it shows scroll bars, but it is placed in a 520px-wide space. Odd. Not only that, the image is ranged right in the space, even though the HTML cen­tres it on the page. This appears to be the case what­ev­er image posi­tion­ing you use.

As a result, I had to remove the black back­ground from the page, instead set­ting it to white, the back­ground colour of the Face­book page. Nobody will notice that the image is 8px to the right.

June 15, 2012   Comments Off on Pitfalls of Facebook Page Tabs

Last Riot at Valle dei Templi

Sit­u­at­ed near the SW Sicil­ian coast is the town of Agri­gen­to, home of the so-called “Val­ley of the Tem­ples” (Valle dei Tem­pli), a ridge of land above the ancient city that is the site of a lin­ear clus­ter of (main­ly) Ancient Greek ruins, many of which are quite spec­tac­u­lar — the place is well worth a vis­it. It is a UNESCO World Her­itage site.

In addi­tion to the Greek and Byzan­tine remains, there is the Vil­la Aurea, which was home to 19th Cen­tu­ry British mil­i­tary offi­cer and archae­o­log­i­cal patron Alexan­der Hard­cas­tle, who financed, among oth­er things, the re-erec­tion of the pil­lars at the Tem­ple of Her­a­cles on the site.

Today, the Valle dei Tem­pli is not sim­ply a col­lec­tion of ancient sites: it’s also a loca­tion for mod­ern art which is dis­trib­uted among the ruins and else­where, such as in the Villa.

Thus it was that on a recent vis­it I encoun­tered this remark­able piece of stat­u­ary in the Vil­la Aurea gar­den, in bril­liant, shiny white mate­r­i­al show­ing a group of fash­ion­ably-dressed young peo­ple poised to kill one of their num­ber with var­i­ous weapons. What on Earth was this amaz­ing piece of work? There was no indi­ca­tion on or near the piece to indi­cate its ori­gin or significance.

After a sur­pris­ing­ly lengthy Inter­net search, I found the answer. It is a (small) part of a mul­ti­me­dia col­lec­tion of works by the Moscow-based art group “AES+F” titled Last Riot/Last Riot 2.

AES+F are named after their ini­tials: the group, found­ed in 1987, was orig­i­nal­ly AES — Tatiana Arza­maso­va, Lev Evzovich and Evge­ny Svy­atsky — but they were lat­er joined by pho­tog­ra­ph­er Vladimir Frid­kes — hence the “+F”.

Last Riot first appeared in 2007 at the Venice Bien­ni­al as a three-screen video pro­vid­ing win­dows into a high­ly detailed 3D vir­tu­al envi­ron­ment, inspired appar­ent­ly by the US Army video game “Amer­i­ca’s Army”, cre­at­ed to encour­age young peo­ple to enlist. You can see excerpts from it here:

AES+F say about the work:
“The vir­tu­al world gen­er­at­ed by the real world of the past twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry as the organ­ism com­ing from a test-tube, expands, leav­ing its bor­ders and grasp­ing new zones, absorbs its founders and mutates in some­thing absolute­ly new. In this new world the real wars look like a game on, and prison tor­tures appear sadis­tic exer­cis­es of mod­ern valkyr­ias. Tech­nolo­gies and mate­ri­als trans­form the arti­fi­cial envi­ron­ment and tech­niques into a fan­ta­sy land­scape of the new epos. This par­adise also is a mutat­ed world with frozen time where all past epoch the neigh­bor with the future, where inhab­i­tants lose their sex, and become clos­er to angels. The world, where any most severe, vague or erot­ic imag­i­na­tion is nat­ur­al in the fake unsteady 3D per­spec­tive. The heroes of new epos have only one iden­ti­ty, the iden­ti­ty of the rebel of last riot. The last riot, where all are fight­ing against all and against them­selves, where no dif­fer­ence exists any more between vic­tim and aggres­sor, male and female. This world cel­e­brates the end of ide­ol­o­gy, his­to­ry and ethic.”

In addi­tion to the video, there are series of glossy white sculp­tures of which the exam­ple at the Vil­la is one, and remark­able still images fea­tur­ing the same weaponised, brand-name-dressed young peo­ple, in a kind of super­re­al­is­tic style that some­how echoes works of the Renais­sance as much as they do CGI-cre­at­ed videogame characters.

Here’s the stat­ue from the Vil­la in an art gallery set­ting (from the AES+F web site):

…and one of the images from the same source:

I would love to expe­ri­ence the orig­i­nal video as well as the oth­er pieces, espe­cial­ly giv­en my inter­est in vir­tu­al worlds. Kudos to the peo­ple who arrange the art exhi­bi­tions along the Valle dei Tem­pli for intro­duc­ing me — and many oth­er peo­ple I hope — to the stun­ning work of a fas­ci­nat­ing group of artists.

Vis­it the AES/AES+F web site
Last Riot on the AES+F web site

YouTube search for “Last Riot”

April 20, 2012   Comments Off on Last Riot at Valle dei Templi

Lumiere — A Festival of Light

Last week­end I was lucky enough to get up to Durham, in the NE of Eng­land, to spend a cou­ple of nights expe­ri­enc­ing the lat­est event from Arti­choke, titled Lumiere. And a mag­nif­i­cent event it was too.

Lumiere was in fact how I first heard about Arti­choke, via a TV doc­u­men­tary on Sky Arts (in the old days when I used to sub­scribe to Mur­doch TV — we’re now on Freesat). That first Lumiere hap­pened in 2009, and of course I’d missed it. But they planned to do it again, and when I heard about the 2011 event I was quick to block out the time and book a hotel.

The event, which brought dozens of inter­na­tion­al artists work­ing with light into the heart of the medi­ae­val city, turn­ing it into a vast illu­mi­nat­ed art gallery, last­ed over four nights, nom­i­nal­ly from 6–11pm, and fea­tured around three dozen sep­a­rate exhibits. Some of the high­er pro­file instal­la­tions were in the city cen­tre, but many were rather fur­ther out, and in fact you would have need­ed all four nights to catch every­thing. I only had two nights, and that sim­ply was­n’t enough — I prob­a­bly saw about 2/3 of the instal­la­tions and missed some that I real­ly want­ed to see. Thank­ful­ly the weath­er was kind to us — no rain and in fact quite warm — a good deal warmer, in fact, than the last Arti­choke event I attend­ed, Din­ing with Alice, back in May!

What I had rather under­es­ti­mat­ed was the num­ber of peo­ple who would throng the cen­tre of the ancient city as night fell and we approached 6pm. We gath­ered next to the stat­ue of the Mar­quess of Lon­don­der­ry — not one of the nicest peo­ple in life, alleged­ly — who had been trans­formed, thanks to Jacques Rival, into an immense snow-globe with the words “I Love Durham” on the plinth. Hehe.

The crowd con­trol was excel­lent, despite the enor­mous num­bers of peo­ple, but what the organ­is­ers could have done that would have helped was to have had a fair­ly seri­ous PA set up in the Mar­ket Place so that the crowds could be informed about what was hap­pen­ing. The bull horns in use had an effec­tive range of about 10 feet, so most of the time none of us had any idea what was hap­pen­ing or going to hap­pen. It turned out that we were wait­ing to be allowed up the cob­ble streets to the Cathe­dral, but we did­n’t all know that. How­ev­er, that is the only mild­ly neg­a­tive com­ment I have about the whole fes­ti­val, and hope­ful­ly the planned 2013 event will take this sug­ges­tion into account.

Via Twit­ter, @ArtichokeTrust asked what my favourite exhib­it was, and it’s real­ly dif­fi­cult to say. Of course the amaz­ing son et lumiere at the Cathe­dral, high­light of the orig­i­nal 2009 show, must rate up there, and that’s the first thing we were effec­tive­ly queu­ing to see. Titled Crown of Light, it con­sist­ed of mar­vel­lous images of the Lind­is­farne Gospels and much more, illu­mi­nat­ing the front of the Cathe­dral with mul­ti­ple sec­tions slid­ing up and down inde­pen­dent­ly, accom­pa­nied by a pow­er­ful sur­round audio and music sound­track includ­ing actu­al envi­ron­men­tal record­ings from Lind­is­farne itself (though I think it would have sound­ed bet­ter in Ambison­ics, of course). Crown of Light was cre­at­ed by Ross Ash­ton, Robert Ziegler, and John Del’ Nero.

It’s actu­al­ly quite hard to con­vey much of a sense of Crown of Light as it was so immense. But here’s a taste:

The above video includes two extracts, one from near the begin­ning and the oth­er from the end. It’s a hand-held mini-cam­era run­ning at its high­est sen­si­tiv­i­ty, so it’s not won­der­ful qual­i­ty, but hope­ful­ly you’ll get the idea. The first extract is 16:9 and the sec­ond pil­lar­boxed 4:3, the lat­ter show­ing rather more of the building.

Fol­low­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion (there were three per hour), we could either go off to the left, and down towards the riv­er, or we could file into the Cathe­dral itself, where there were some amaz­ing things going on in the Nave, the clois­ters and the Col­lege gar­dens behind.

Com­pag­nie Cara­bosse had hung the Nave with lamps made of white vests on frames, while at the far end of the Nave, next to the pul­pit, was a gen­tle­man per­form­ing on elec­tric gui­tar, synth and vocals, in a rather cool neo-Steam­punk envi­ron­ment. This pho­to of him is a bit ropey, but hope­ful­ly you get the idea from that and the (even more ropey) raw iPhone video below (the audio improves dra­mat­i­cal­ly at 2:22).

In the clois­ters and gar­dens it was fire — with amaz­ing met­al frame­works and sculp­tures with flames issu­ing from var­i­ous parts — from the enor­mous (a rotat­ing globe cov­ered in fire­pots in the clois­ters) to fiery foun­tains and strange lit­tle figures.

Emerg­ing from the gar­dens through an ancient arch­way, we turned down the hill to be con­front­ed by a sequence of mar­vel­lous illu­mi­nat­ed wire-mesh sculp­tured human fig­ures, some­times fly­ing, some­times sit­ting non­cha­lant­ly on a roof, or reclin­ing in a gar­den. These were Les Voyageurs (The Trav­ellers), by Cedric Le Borgne — a num­ber of French artists were rep­re­sent­ed here.

We pro­ceed­ed down the hill, mar­vel­ling at these over­head, near­by and dis­tant fig­ures, until we came to Prebends Bridge, which gave us a pas­sage through a pro­gres­sive rain­bow of colours.

And then it was back towards the cen­tre of the city along the river­front, with the trees and bridges illu­mi­nat­ed by gen­tly shift­ing coloured lights — and vir­tu­al­ly all the lights in the Fes­ti­val, inci­den­tal­ly, were low-ener­gy vari­eties, with some City light­ing turned off so the over­all ener­gy impact of the event was minimal.

Some of the exhibits were low­er-key, but nonethe­less effec­tive. Real and imag­i­nary sto­ries were told in illu­mi­nat­ed text; a clock on a far build­ing spelled out the time in low­er-case Hel­veti­ca; and a series of illu­mi­nat­ed pan­els hung high above the nar­row streets. Pos­si­bly the best-known artist’s work at Lumiere was Tracey Emin’s: an illu­mi­nat­ed phrase, “Be Faith­ful to your dreams” in blue, hand­writ­ing-style text on the side of the chapel in a dis­used grave­yard, approached along a path lined with trees soft­ly shin­ing with slow­ly shift­ing colours.

Else­where, an enor­mous light bulb made of lights hung over the riv­er Wear:

…while com­mon­ly-thrown-away objects were mon­taged and lit with LEDs:

We had an invi­ta­tion to join friends and spon­sors in the Town Hall on the Sat­ur­day night, which was good fun, and I had some inter­est­ing chats — with Arti­choke co-Direc­tor Nicky Webb and with the peo­ple who organ­ised the food for Din­ing With Alice, who had quite a tale to tell, to name but two.

All in all, Lumiere 2011 was an amaz­ing, mag­i­cal, mar­vel­lous fes­ti­val of lights and art – exact­ly what I have learned to expect from Arti­choke. I do hope they are able to do it again in 2013.

For more videos of Lumiere (includ­ing some from the first event in 2009) on Vimeo, click here.

November 23, 2011   Comments Off on Lumiere — A Festival of Light

Christmas(ish) At Beamish

When­ev­er I’m in the NE of Eng­land, I try to get over to Beamish - “The Liv­ing Muse­um of the North”. It’s a won­der­ful place built around a road/tramway loop on which run vin­tage bus­es and trams.

On this occa­sion (20 Novem­ber) I was up for the week­end to go to Lumiere in Durham, so nip­ping over was a chance I could­n’t miss. It was fog­gy on leav­ing Durham but approach­ing Beamish the sun came out and it was gor­geous­ly sun­ny until the dri­ve home, when the fog closed in again.

Dif­fer­ent sites around the tramway loop recre­ate dif­fer­ent eras, each cre­at­ed from build­ings that have been lov­ing­ly trans­plant­ed from their orig­i­nal sites: the Town, for exam­ple, is Edwar­dian, with a Bank, a gor­geous Mason­ic Hall (rebuilt with the help of the Masons, appar­ent­ly), a Co-Op depart­ment store, sweet shop/factory and lots more. It also has an adja­cent Steam Rail­way and sta­tion and a steam-pow­ered fairground.

The Pit Vil­lage is per­haps some­what ear­li­er, and fea­tures a col­liery and a rel­a­tive­ly new addi­tion: a coal-fired fish & chip shop that uses beef drip­ping to cook with, result­ing in utter­ly tasty meals that you have to queue for twen­ty min­utes or so to get, it’s so pop­u­lar. Yet anoth­er area, Pock­er­ley, is more Geor­gian, with a Wag­gonway that fea­tures steam locos from the ear­li­est times and Pock­er­ley Old Hall. I’ve talked about Beamish before, here.

From this time of year until Christ­mas itself, Beamish is hav­ing a series of Christ­mas week­ends, includ­ing San­ta’s Grot­to some­where over by Pock­er­ley I think, com­plete with snow, an ice-rink in the Col­liery Vil­lage (above), and dec­o­ra­tions up in the Town.

I had to pop into some of the ter­raced hous­es, sev­er­al of which con­tain busi­ness­es, such as a solic­i­tor’s and a den­tist — the tor­ture cham­ber itself is shown below. In those days you would have had the option of (unreg­u­lat­ed) nitrous oxide (with a fair risk of death) or cocaine as anaes­thet­ics, the lat­ter effec­tive­ly remov­ing your short-term mem­o­ry, so things hurt but you did­n’t remem­ber it (rather like intra­venous Val­i­um it would appear, which I always loved as an adjunct to den­tal operations).

Anoth­er house includ­ed peri­od Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions in the front room.

Across the street is a lit­tle park, with a band­stand, and there was the Mur­ton Col­liery Band prepar­ing to play some suit­ably sea­son­al music, which they pro­ceed­ed to do beautifully.

Here’s some video of extracts from their programme:

The band was formed as the Mur­ton Gospel Tem­per­ance Blue Rib­bon Army Band in 1884, and play­ers were request­ed to wear a blue rib­bon on the sec­ond but­ton of their waist­coats. They became Mur­ton Col­liery band in 1895. When the col­liery closed, the band became self-sup­port­ing — and it still is today. They’re also one of the few remain­ing bands to con­tin­ue to call itself a ‘Col­liery Band’, and they still proud­ly march through the vil­lage dur­ing the Durham Min­ers Gala and Armistice Day. I don’t know about you, but brass band music and Christ­mas do seem to go togeth­er rather well.

There was time for a good wan­der around and trips on some of the trams — includ­ing a 1930s enclosed dou­ble-deck­er Black­pool tram, which is tech­ni­cal­ly a lit­tle late for their re-cre­ations but very impres­sive — and I had some good chats with the tramway staff, notic­ing that they wore the arche­typ­al “wheel and mag­net” emblem of British Elec­tric Trac­tion (lat­er to become the par­ent, sur­pris­ing­ly, of Red­if­fu­sion Tele­vi­sion) on their caps. The shop at Beamish should sell those cap badges — I would have bought at least one.

Final­ly it was time to head off on the 3+ hour home, and soon after get­ting back on the A1 the fog closed in, and it end­ed up tak­ing a good deal longer than that. But it was a great day out.

November 23, 2011   Comments Off on Christmas(ish) At Beamish

75 Years of BBC Television

Wednes­day 2nd Novem­ber saw the 75th anniver­sary of the open­ing of the BBC Tele­vi­sion Service.

To com­mem­o­rate the event, the BBC held a spe­cial cel­e­bra­tion at Alexan­dra Palace, where the Ser­vice opened.

Orig­i­nal­ly, the inten­tion was to hold a spe­cial Open Day on the 2nd, at which mem­bers of the pub­lic would be able to vis­it the stu­dios and see audio-visu­al pre­sen­ta­tions. How­ev­er this was even­tu­al­ly moved to Novem­ber 5–6, leav­ing only an inter­nal BBC event hap­pen­ing on the actu­al day.

I man­aged to obtain an invi­ta­tion, for which my thanks to the ebul­lient Robert Seat­ter, head of BBC His­to­ry, and tech­nol­o­gy jour­nal­ist Bill Thompson.

The invi­ta­tion said “3:45 for 4pm” and as a result I found myself in the Alexan­dra Palace Tow­er end car park well in time for the off, giv­ing some time to take in the views over the city, expe­ri­ence the con­tin­u­al wind and enjoy some dra­mat­ic skies over this “Palace of the Peo­ple” locat­ed at the high­est point in North London.

When the BBC decid­ed on Ally Pal­ly as the site for the new BBC Tele­vi­sion Ser­vice in the wake of the Sels­don Report in 1936, the place was already decay­ing some­what. It’s a process that has con­tin­ued since BBC Tele­vi­sion left here sev­er­al decades ago, and although the team now fronting the Trust that runs the site today is incred­i­bly, and impres­sive­ly, enthu­si­as­tic and upbeat, there is no way it can be oth­er than an uphill strug­gle in these aus­tere times. But you can’t say they aren’t try­ing hard and I wish them every success.

The BBC still main­tains active offices in the block under the mast. But instead of enter­ing through the doors there, adja­cent to the GLC blue com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque on the wall, we were motioned into an entrance along to the left, up a met­al ramp and into what had orig­i­nal­ly been the Trans­mit­ter Hall. It may be not­ed that this was prob­a­bly not the first, but pos­si­bly the last, time that any­one had the bright idea of plac­ing a pair of pow­er­ful VHF trans­mit­ters and a pig­ging great set of trans­mit­ting anten­nae right next to a set of tele­vi­sion stu­dios full of sen­si­tive equipment.

Inside, the room had been dec­o­rat­ed with pan­els against the walls, each car­ry­ing infor­ma­tion and images of some aspect of Ally Pal­ly TV his­to­ry, and a free-stand­ing pho­to dis­play of his­tor­i­cal images, main­ly pro­vid­ed by the Alexan­dra Palace Tele­vi­sion Soci­ety. A jazz quar­tet played suit­able 1930s style music; servers glid­ed among the assem­bled invi­tees dis­pens­ing water, orange juice or Prosecco.

We had the chance to min­gle and chat, and I was very pleased to meet TV cook Zena Skin­ner, who prob­a­bly coined the phrase “Here’s one I made ear­li­er” — though in her case she real­ly had made it ear­li­er, her­self; I also met Pro­fes­sor Jean Seaton, the BBC’s Offi­cial His­to­ri­an and Pro­fes­sor of Media His­to­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of West­min­ster; and talked briefly to John Tre­nouth, Tech­nol­o­gy Advis­er to the BBC Col­lec­tion, whom I met dur­ing his time at what is now the Nation­al Media Muse­um in Bradford.

In the cen­tre of the room, a make-up table and lights were set up, where var­i­ous young women were being made up using the colours required by the Baird System.

When the BBC Tele­vi­sion Ser­vice was estab­lished, the Gov­ern­ment required two tele­vi­sion sys­tems to be used. On the one hand was the all-elec­tron­ic Mar­coni-EMI sys­tem, which offered 405 lines, and on the oth­er was the Baird electro­mechan­i­cal sys­tem which deliv­ered 240-line tele­vi­sion. Ear­ly on, it became evi­dent that the Mar­coni-EMI sys­tem was sig­nif­i­cant­ly supe­ri­or, but it had been Baird who had tire­less­ly pro­mot­ed tele­vi­sion as a con­cept, and lob­bied the GPO over licens­ing and the Gov­ern­ment to leg­is­late for a Tele­vi­sion Ser­vice. Baird high­light­ed the fact that his was a British inven­tion – though it could equal­ly legit­i­mate­ly be claimed that the Mar­coni-EMI sys­tem was British. Almost cer­tain­ly the Gov­ern­ment deci­sion, a typ­i­cal British com­pro­mise, was made at least in part to avoid sug­ges­tions that they were turn­ing down a British inno­va­tion, the deci­sion man­dat­ing the use of both sys­tems on an alter­nat­ing basis for six months before a choice was to be made before the two. The prob­lems expe­ri­enced with the tech­no­log­i­cal dead-end of the Baird mechan­i­cal scan­ning sys­tem result­ed in the deci­sion — in favour of Mar­coni-EMI — to be made after just three months.

Baird Tele­vi­sion actu­al­ly used two sys­tems. The fun­da­men­tal fea­ture of both was a “fly­ing spot scan­ner” in which, almost com­plete­ly counter-intu­itive­ly, the scene was scanned with a spot of light and pho­to­cells col­lect­ed the light reflect­ed from the sub­ject. The “Spot­light Stu­dio” used noth­ing more than this; the Inter­me­di­ate Film Tech­nique used a con­ven­tion­al film cam­era, exposed film from which was then passed imme­di­ate­ly through devel­op­er and high­ly poi­so­nous cyanide-based fix­er (par­tic­u­lar­ly nasty when it got loose), then scanned with a a fly­ing spot actu­al­ly under water. The fly­ing spot scan­ner was very sen­si­tive to red light, so if you were appear­ing in the Spot­light Stu­dio, you need­ed the spe­cial make up: black lip­stick, blue eye-shad­ow and a pale white face. Very neo-Goth. You checked it by look­ing through a red gel.

This was the make-up that was being applied to the young ladies at Ally Pal­ly on the 2nd. Appar­ent­ly the idea had orig­i­nal­ly been that BBC Lon­don would be send­ing a crew up to cov­er the par­ty, but they had pulled out and the job was left to an enthu­si­as­tic team from BBC News School Report.

Mean­while, we were treat­ed to wel­com­ing pre­sen­ta­tions: by the PR gen­tle­man from the AP team, and from Robert Seat­ter, who encour­aged us to relin­quish our glass­es and pro­ceed upstairs to Stu­dio A.

There were two main stu­dios at Ally Pal­ly orig­i­nal­ly, one above the oth­er. Stu­dio A was the Mar­coni-EMI stu­dio, while direct­ly above it was the Baird stu­dio, Stu­dio B. You can’t go into B today, because it’s rid­dled with asbestos and things are like­ly to fall on your head. But Stu­dio A is acces­si­ble. At one end of the room is a tableau rep­re­sent­ing the pro­duc­tion of the mag­a­zine pro­gramme Pic­ture Page, which ran from 1936–39 and 1946–52 and was ini­tial­ly pre­sent­ed by Joan Miller.

Around the room are assem­bled old TV sets, and var­i­ous exhibits in the room itself includ­ed an EMItron cam­era, which John Tre­nouth of the Nation­al Media Muse­um in Brad­ford kind­ly removed the lid of so we could have a look at the innards (sans tube).

In Stu­dio A we were treat­ed to a cou­ple of brief audio-visu­al pre­sen­ta­tions, the first assem­bled main­ly from clips from the film doc­u­men­tary Tele­vi­sion Comes To Lon­don, which was made to tell the BBC Tele­vi­sion Ser­vice sto­ry in 1936. Rebec­ca Kane, the MD of Alexan­dra Palace Trad­ing Ltd, intro­duced Michael Aspel, a news­read­er at AP dur­ing the peri­od when BBC Tele­vi­sion News was based here, to cut the cake.

And what a cake it was: made in the form of an old bake­lite tele­vi­sion with a pic­ture of Alexan­dra Palace on the screen, deli­cious­ly thick icing and suc­cu­lent innards. Very nice.

After that, we all wan­dered around Stu­dio A and chat­ted to each oth­er. I got into an amus­ing dis­cus­sion about the way in which the Tele­vi­sion Ser­vice closed down at the start of the Sec­ond World War, on Sep­tem­ber 1st, 1939 – about which a num­ber of myths have arisen, most of which are incor­rect (includ­ing the per­pet­u­a­tion of the main myth in Alan Yen­to­b’s Imag­ine doc­u­men­tary, re-shown on Wednes­day) – see The Edit that Rewrote His­to­ry on the Trans­d­if­fu­sion Baird site, which includes a num­ber of arti­cles on tele­vi­sion pri­or to 1955.

And then we grad­u­al­ly sloped off home.

See also:

The birth of tele­vi­sion: the “Baird” microsite at Transdiffusion

75 years on from BBC tele­vi­sion’s tech­nol­o­gy bat­tle — a nice piece by John Trenouth

BBC Cel­e­brates 75 Years of TV — Nick High­am vis­its Alexan­dra Palace











November 5, 2011   Comments Off on 75 Years of BBC Television