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Tuesday, 16 April 2019


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There are quite a few high res photo on the gigapan site.

Yesterday's in-the-moment graphic/video coverage from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal appeared to be pulled from social media -- a rich but low-quality source for such material. This morning, both were running images and videos from wire services (are they still called that?) which were more (I'm searching for a word here) satisfying (didn't find it).

There is art and craft in high quality news images. And plenty of technology that neither Apple nor Google have managed to pack into a phone. Yet.

According to ‘The Atlantic’ in an article discussing the rebuilding of Notre Dame, Andrew Tallon passed away last year:
“Andrew Tallon, a pioneering architectural historian and father of four, died on November 16, 2018, from brain cancer. He was 49.”
An awful tragedy, contrasted against the devastation of Notre Dame.

Mike - It could be that you missed it; the article says that, tragically, Prof. Tallon passed away last year from brain cancer, leaving a wife and four children. His data will certainly be used in rebuilding Notre Dame, and perhaps there will be something inside that notes his role.

"Vassar Professor Andrew Tallon uses laser scanners to make incredibly detailed 3-D maps of ancient structures..."

FYI, according to the Washington Post, Andrew Tallon of Vassar died last year.


And unlike St Pauls in London they never charged for entry

Thing is, in today's world of barbaric, ritualised slaughter of civilians and beheadings of news photographers et al. a burning building really, partisan emotions aside, counts for not a lot.

The place was already falling perpetually behind its restoration targets (so I have read repeatedly but cannot, of course prove) and in the measure of 9/11 fails to count for very much.

Stones are just stones, and in the case of churches, monies diverted to the glories of sects, monies otherwise better spent feeding the poor and the destitute, which is supposedly the purpose of such western religion.

Unfortunate for the tourist market. Not a major catastrophe for some poor schmuch trying to pay the light bills.

[You need to read more Stephen Pinker, specifically his books The Better Angles of Our Nature and Enlightenment Now. They make the case very convincingly that violence is steadily diminishing and wealth is steadily increasing and equalizing despite greatly increased population numbers. And "progress is not just material but moral," writes Pinker; "the world has abolished human sacrifice, slavery, heretic-burning, witch hunts, duelling, apartheid and male-only suffrage. It is also decimating child labour, capital punishment and the criminalisation of homosexuality." Granted, I don't think he is adequately accounting for environmental effects, which I believe will be the overriding issue of humanity in the 21st century.

The trouble with your comment is that it's the sort of attitude that stalls every discussion and every concern, like a 14-year-old saying "yeah, but we're all going to die in the end" to every topic of conversation. Cultural and artistic heritage matters much more to me than any number of peoples' need to pay light bills. Mankind cannot live by bread alone. --Mike]

Reason reports ...

At the time of the game’s release, Caroline Miousse, senior level artist, told The Verge she spent the better part of two years working on the game’s virtual version of the cathedral. [ … ] In a separate interview, she said she based some of her designs on historical blueprints.

[ … ]

Ubisoft, the developer behind Unity, announced today that it will give away the PC version of game for free this week, allowing anyone to experience its recreation of Notre Dame. The company will also donate €500,000 (or about $564,000) to the preservation effort. It’s obviously not the same as the real thing, but I’m glad it exists anyway; thanks to a video game, some version of Notre Dame, or at least the cathedral’s digital descendant, is still open for virtual tourism.


Maybe Ubisoft has Prof. Tallon's laser scans. :)

Comment about the fire expert - too harsh.

Maybe I saw a different interview here in Singapore, but I found analysis by people who handle other church files quite interesting. The scale may be different but the principles are the same. A vast volume of air, to feed a fire in a vulnerable roof structure. A fire-trap void between stone vaulting and the roof proper, populated by combustible timber - all virtually inaccessible to firefighters. The fire at York Minster was started by a lightning strike, but is an interesting precedent. The original St Paul's Cathedral (on a huge scale) was destroyed by fire. Several others over the centuries all over Europe.

All these precedents are interesting, are all those fires that start during the course of restoration work (as in Windsor Castle). What's the betting on some worker leaving a smouldering cigarette butt in a pile of dust and debris?

Final rant: I was as devastated as anyone watching the fire on television. I now find the very public commitments by rich celebrities to the cost of restoration a bit too close to virtue-signalling for comfort. These are people who resist contributing to the public good through higher taxes, but are now enjoying the warm glow of public approbation.

Really the final rant: I wish they were not having a public competition for the design of the replacement flèche, or spire. They'll end up with some fashionable gimmick, when a rebuild of the original (admittedly 19th-century not mediaeval) would have been more appropriate.

Fire-prevention specialists and manufacturers of alarm systems are about to make a fortune.

Notre Dame will be rebuilt. It won't be identical to the original medieval Notre Dame but the cathedral that burned wasn't the original medieval Notre Dame. Most medieval European churches & cathedrals have evolved over hundreds of years: They've undergone additions, repairs ( very often after fire damage ), fashion driven renovations & have been generally buggered about with often at the whim of the rich & powerful of the day.* Medieval spires sometimes had to be rebuilt after they had fallen down because they'd been built too high.

The loss of a 19th century church spire is nothing to get too upset about: 19th century church spires are ubiquitous in Europe. There are probably at least half a dozen in the little town I live in.

This is also an opportunity of sorts: There will be years of work for skilled stonemasons, woodworkers, stained glass makers & conservators of old stuff. Hopefully the amount of work required will lead to a bunch of youngsters being trained up in the relevant disciplines.It would be nice if some of these kids were lifted from the ranks of the homeless of Europe. There'll definitely be work for technically decent photographers as there'll be a hell of a lot of documentation required.

Academics will get funding to write stuff which only other academics will ever read.

Because of the extent of the damage to the building it may be necessary to dig more deeply into the fabric of the building than during a normal restoration. This could lead to some interesting discoveries.

If you're ever in Blighty & want to see some REAL medieval check this out:


Best wishes to yourself & the doggies.

PS The suggestions that the fire could have been brought under control sooner by repeatedly dropping tons of water onto the roof of the cathedral from helicopters are pure genius.

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