18 October 2019
Hi MLE,When I was in Israel last week, I noticed that each hotel room door had a little box outside on the doorframe. I learned that it is called a "mezuzah."They must always be on the door frame, not the door. Also they must also always be outside the door, not inside.They must be situated at about shoulder level, so that they may be kissed or touched upon entry.They are often leaning in towards the door, to signal that this is the direction in which God should pass.Inside the Mezuzah case is a Kosher parchment, with two handwritten paragraphs of the Torra. The writing must be done by a licensed Sofer Stam, a scribe who can transcribe the Torah. There must be intension in the writing of it.The verses say such things as there is only one God, you must teach your children about the God, you must love your children, and so on.The effect is that when you go into a Jewish home, you are made aware of the laws written on the scroll.Many people think that it is a good luck charm or a home protector. Some people even have special ones for their cars, etc. thinking it is an amulet against evil. It is none of these things - it is a reminder that helps one make conscious of their responsibilities to God.I bought the Mezuzah pictured above. When I looked at my credit card statement, it was about four times more than I thought it was. I'm terrible with currency conversions. And I didn't know it was ceramic and also 24K gold. It is not just a tourist souvenir, but rather a special item one may give someone on a special occasion, and now I appreciate that.I will fix mine in the right way on the outside my front door, and knowing me, I will probably also touch it each time I enter the house and it will make me happy.However, I have decided not to get a scroll to go inside. People have a lot of different opinions about this, but to me, as I am not Jewish, it just doesn't feel right to have the scroll. The case is enough to give a nod to this interesting Jewish custom.Suzan
25 September 2019
Though I love film, I don’t usually write to you about ones I have seen. However, this film is really special. Please try to see it in Vancouver if you can.
It has always really annoyed me, how two or three film companies have a monopoly on film distribution. So, if you want to see the latest idiot Hollywood blockbuster, you can go to any cinema in the city and it’s playing several times per day. There are ads everywhere. When it’s not in the cinema, it’s all over Netflix etc. Access is definitely not an issue.
However, independent films like “For Sama” only have a tiny proportion of the distribution that the commercial films have. I was finally able to catch this, but had to leave work early and travel into central London. Anyway, all this to say that I wish independent films were as accessible as the Hollywood ones. So try to see it while you can!
“For Sama” is a film about a Syrian student documenting the siege of Aleppo, even after she became pregnant with her daughter (Sama).
As activists against the Assad regime, Waad al-Kateab and her husband stayed behind in Aleppo as long as they could. It was heartbreaking when they had to finally leave, giving up the fight for freedom. Waad al-Kateab’s husband worked as a doctor in the last remaining make-shift hospital in Aleppo, so the footage here is devastating. To me, it was a good supplement to the footage you see on the news. This was the reality of the war in Syria.
16 September 2019
Hello the MLE,
I left the exhibition and stopped to watch all the people everywhere, each with their own particular identities, their own particular façades, each looking like a Cindy Sherman character… One of those special moments when you can really feel that art has slightly changed your outlook on the world (as cheesy as that sounds).
I was lucky to catch this major retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery here in London, that covered the development of Sherman’s work from the mid-1970s to present day. Sherman is famous for her use of make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics to create complex and ambiguous photographic images. She invents fictitious characters, photographing herself in imaginary situations, inhabiting a world of pure appearance.
My sister commented about how she always likes to imagine what the artist behind the work is really like as a person. Would she like to be friends with them? But she had no idea what Cindy Sherman would be like, judging by her art. And that is the point. Her art is “a lesson in throwing followers off a trail, keeping up a legend and putting on a disguise, hiding in plain sight and going undercover.”
My favourites were the series called, “Socialites,” a series of well, ageing socialites (a few featured here). I found the description particularly funny that it was a bit of a sensitive issue, as these characters could easily resemble some of her art collectors!
Posted in: art
20 August 2019
Hello the MLE,
Reporting back from the AI: More Than Human exhibition at the Barbican.
Overall, it’s okay. It can be summed up as a barrage of examples of various AI-related objects and experiences. The only context provided is a crash course history of AI - which only added to the feeling of superficiality. With so many examples, there is little room for depth.
The exhibition would have benefited by focusing on the only the past 20 years, which is already more than enough. This would allow for a deeper look, a linking between pieces, an insight into what is proving to become a reality and why this is significant, and so on. This would have made the exhibitions much more interesting and meaningful.
Of course, I was personally interested in examples of how AI may help save us from environmental destruction, as well as the ethical considerations.
On the positive end: Neri Oxman and Mediated Matter Group’s Synthetic Apiary creates the conditions for an eternal spring for bees; and the Personal Food Computer developed at MIT is a “slow robot” that proposes an alternative to environmentally ruinous agriculture.
On the negative end:
An open letter to pre-emptively ban lethal autonomous weapons. An Amnesty International website showing how the US-led coalition’s air strikes on Raqqa in Syria in the war against Islamic State — many of them carried out by AI drones — led to hundreds of civilian deaths.
On the creepy end:
A video exploring the use of AI in China’s social credit system, set to roll out in 2020. This is depicted in a cute, colourful and fun animation focusing on all the positives, which is not at all appropriate for such a controversial topic.
And finally, I found it quite funny that there were a number of displays that were suffering technological malfunctions…. But at least the robot bartender was working! The future is bright!
12 July 2019
Hi the MLE,
You know I'm known for liking identities that involve repetition, and here is yet another new example. You are correct, this logo is not for everyone. In particular, the circular logo does not work well very small (it would not be legible), or in certain areas with restricted real estate, such as the top of their brewery (fourth image above, where the circular signage would not be legible, hence the less interesting and more plain repeating pattern). But in application as a poster or on drink glasses, it works quite well indeed (second and third image above).
More info here.