David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

23 May 2011

The father of digital photography

Above, that's the headline in the obituaries page of today's AGE for the physicist Willard Boyle, 1924-2011.

The father?

The Age article (click here) is reproduced from The Los Angeles Times, which has it under a different headline :

Nobelist was a father of the digital camera

The obituary credits Willard Boyle and his colleague George E. Smith as co-fathers of digital photography.

Sounds so odd though, this father attribution. Is it because the progenitors are male that they are the fathers of digital photography? If they'd been female would they have been the mothers of digital photography? Like Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention? If Willard Boyles' research colleague had been Georgia Smith rather than George Smith would they have been the father and mother of digital photography? The parents of digital photography?

Digital reproduction, including digital photography, is based on a binary number system, most commonly one and zero : 1 0

The XY sex-determination system is the sex-determination system found in humans and most other mammals. In this system, females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome (XX), and are called the homogametic sex. Males have two distinct sex chromosomes (XY), and are called the heterogametic sex. (Wikipedia)

So, the parents of digital photography. The 1(XY) 0(XX) of digital reproduction.

On their digital site, The Age reproduces the L A Times obituary along with with a (cropped) photo that shows Willard Boyle looking at a monitor projecting his own same-time self regard. At a glance, this tends to confirm the sole originator proposition implied by the headline The father of digital photography.

O, to be created in one's own flickering image
A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/

someone looks at something ...

However, the fuller, more complex image, makes clear the contribution of both parents. It's a classic family photo: proud parents with offspring, but all with a considerable twist.

A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/

someone looks at something ...