Thursday, 3 December 2015

Dark Flight, Matchsticks and Colossus

Dark Flight :- It always amazes me that things that should be obvious are often overlooked and left out or diregarded altogether. So this beautiful 1920's built curved flight of steps is part of Brighton's Aquarium Terrace on Madeira Drive. It was once a grand and very resplendant bit of 20's architecture but now the entire area is run down, delapidated in places and in need of some serious care and attention. It looks bad enough by day but by night it's a creepy and unnerving place to find yourself in. Huge pools of darkness form and black recesses lurk at every corner. The stairs are negotiable but you have to tread carefully as you go up or down due to the inadequate lighting that's provided in the area. The beautifu 1920's lamps up top just help create more shadows below as the light hits upper level stonework and the one wall light that is there is off to one side and at the bottom. If you design anything at all you have to look at the big picture instead of slapping yourself on the back due to the bright and sunny architectural drawing and depiction of your finished design. What's it going to be like in the rain? How will it be if it snows? What will these steps look like with several drunks and cans of beer placed on them? And above all what's the place like after dark? These are an accident waiting to happen. If I were the council I'd be lighting these steps properly and trying to eradicate the vast shadows and bottomless pits of darkness that form in the area.

Matchsticks :- I've seen various models of things made out of matchsticks over the years. Boats, famous buildings and iconic landmarks have all been painstakingly rebuilt by gluing tiny bits of wood to each other over many months and sometimes years. I found myself standing on the wet sand and beach in Brighton and looking at the remains of the beautiful West pier and realising that the pier itself now looked like a giant matchstick model. I never tire of looking at her delicate and intricate framework. There's something fascinating about looking at the skeletal infrastructure of a building and there is an exquisite beauty in its slow decay. She was built by Eugenius Birch and opened to the public on the 6th October 1866 so next year will mark her 150th birthday.

Colossus :- So you sit at your PC or you have your lap top on a cafe table or you play with your ipad whilst you watch TV or you tap your smart phone as you walk through town instead of looking where you're going and you take it all for granted. In fact you even complain when the (invisible) connection is slow or you're in a 'dead zone' etc. We've come an incredibly long way. This image is of 'Colossus Mark 2' at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes. It's an incredible achievement to rebuilt this incredible machine because the plans and original machines had all been destroyed but Tony Sale and his team managed to find engineers' notebooks and the 'optical tape reader' was redesigned by Dr. Arnold Lynch the (original) designer from his own writing all those years ago. So what was / is 'Colossus'? Well, it was the world's first electronic, digital, programmable computer and was used by the British codebreakers at Bletchley park to read secret German messages during World War II. The back of this huge machine is a myriad of vacuum tubes and valves all glowing, in fact as you walk around the other side you are met with an incredible sight of 2,400 valves. By the end of the war ten of these remakable machines had been used! Next time you get your smart phone out to read a text or moan about lagging internet connections on your laptop just think of this image and put things into some perspective! The rebuilt Colossus is on show at The National Museum of Computing, in H Block Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

All Photography Copyright © Justin Hill