April 24, 2009

EARTH, Disney presents - for Earth Day

Went to see this beautifully filmed movie today, literally awe-inspiring. Caution: sometimes the predators win, as we know, and it's not super sugar-coated.

If you're on fast Internet, click on "HD" at lower right of video for higher-definition video.

Opened at theaters on EARTH DAY April 22nd 2009

At Youtube, when clicking on "(more info)" button, you'll see the following text and a bit more:
'This amazing new [Disneynature] film is from award-winning British producer/director Alastair Fothergill, whose credits include the Emmy and Peabody award-winning "Planet Earth" series (BBC and The Discovery Channel) and "The Blue Planet."

Follows the epic migratory journeys of four animal families [polar bears, African elephants, humpback whales, birds] as well as the earth's journey around the sun and the massive influence it has on all life on the planet, from the Arctic spring to the Antarctic winter."

We follow them, via stunning cinematography work, over the course of a year.

  Over the credits at the end of the film, there were some explanations and examples of how they got some of that footage and I'd love to see a video on the making of the film, which began its life as the BBC Series "Planet Earth" shown on Discovery Channel and is, itself, available on DVD sets.  The theatrical release of Earth is still in the theaters but this DVD can be preordered.

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April 03, 2009

Desperately seeking Leonardo da Vinci

Possible newly discovered Leonardo self-portrait< in the Basilicata region of southern Italy, near Potenza, goes on display there in April and May.

Experts say it's not a self-portrait by da Vinci while others point to the da Vinci trademark carving on the back, in Latin, "Painted by" -- written in reverse as was his wont.  Not ultra convincing, as anyone could do that.  Strangely enough, The Times (UK) article treats it as a da Vinci self-portrait though there is no proof of that.

Also in March, a 600-year old terracotta bust "discovered under a pile of rubbish in an Italian palazzo may be by Leonardo da Vinci, art historians said today."  Originally attributed to Verrocchio, some point out that Leonardo worked in his workshop during those years.

Then there's a Reuters story from Milan about the unbinding of da Vinci's 12 volume Atlantic Code.   With some 2,000 designs held in the 12 volumes, "...they weren't visible," said Father Buzzi.  The article closes with "Last month Italian experts said a sketch obscured by handwriting for five centuries in one of Da Vinci's notebooks may be a youthful self-portrait."
  Of course.

To take it to a fine extreme, see the Oregonian article about readers seeing "Leonardo in the bones" -- "Chip Ettinger and his wife, Amelia, say the vision of Leonardo da Vinci on an anatomical drawing by the old master jumps off the paper." And many of The Oregonian's newspaper and online readers who saw the story on oregonlive.com/portland agree.
 Actually, it does resemble a Picasso-like fragmented face of Leonardo if you squint, or cross the eyes :-)

  Possibly of more interest to da Vinci enthusiasts is a book not due in the U.S. until September '09 - The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: The Intersecting Lives of Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped>, by Paul Strathern.

'In 1502, Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli spent the autumn together at the court of Cesare Borgia, the notoriously brutal and ruthless Duke of Romagna.
... Leonardo, at that time Italy's finest military technician, was Borgia's chief military engineer ... [Strathren] re-examines the lives of the three men in the light of this interlude: how it affected their careers and influenced the development of their thought ... a portrait of a fascinating trio, and an insight into the apparent paradox of why such turbulent times produced an outpouring of humanist sentiment almost unparalleled in the history of the West.'

I did get to visit "The Mind of Leonardo" exhibit in Florence but didn't get decent photos.  Interesting exhibit though, so I have links to it there.  Admirers of Michelangelo's David might enjoy the gallery I did for that sculpture, though.

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April 01, 2009

Queen Nefertiti and Facial Interpretation

After seeing the Yahoo news article on this, I went to see Scientific America's uniquely large images of the scans being distributed today of the inner limestone layer of this famous sculpture, which is a more detailed rendering of the Queen's head, overlaid by the stucco representation we have known all these years.  The Scientific American image captions struck me as strange in their interpretation of the differences.  So I commented there, asking :
'Why does the caption for the inner face say "the creases of the mouth in the inner layer, which are softer than those etched in the top layer" -- when the pictures show more, and deeper, creases by far in the inner layer?  The creases as shown in these images look considerably more smoothed out in the outer stucco layer.  Add that the cheekbones were made more prominent in the outer layer, an almost imperceptible 'bump' on the nose was removed, and all this indicates to me a sort of early 'photoshopping' equivalent of the Queen to add back the bloom of youth.  The inner layer as shown in these pictures seems to me more realistic in detail, and to a modern eye could represent someone for whom age was marking the years. Fascinating story.'
Then I went to National Geographic's news area, and the quick evaluation there, as shown in the title chosen, is the opposite of Scientific American's writer.  National Geographic:
'Nefertiti's Real, Wrinkled Face Found in Famous Bust? March 30, 2009—Researchers may have finally come face-to-face with the real—and wrinkled—Nefertiti, thanks to sophisticated CT scanning technology.

A carefully carved limestone face in the inner core of the Egyptian queen's famous bust (above, right) has emerged in new images, a new study says...'

A bit blunt and I wondered if the National Geo writer was male, but it was written by Christine Dell'Amore.  Scientific American's captions may be modified a bit later on, but they were a real puzzlement.   That one could look at these two layers and decide that the outer layer was likely a more realistic rendition and that a hint of maturity may have been added, even, is a bit bizarre.

But an amazing find.  The inner layer's image is more human, to me.

The Independent, which also has a detailed account of how the German archeologists took the incredible find out of Egypt (the conflict continues), points out that the inner limestone core was a "facial cast, which would have been taken directly from the queen's face..."

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