Statue of Isaac Newton in Grantham. What has Newton got to do with blogger Zoella? See below...
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A Personal Note (Archive)
December 15, 2014
So the young blogger Zoella. She gets hits in quantities I can only dream of, by chatting about what make up she buys in Superdrug. The modern age is certainly an era where individuality is championed. Everyone has their own page, channel, profile. We seem to be in the world envisioned by Andy Warhol, who in 1968 said that in the future everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes. This is a huge change from the past. Up until the late thirteenth century artists, no matter how wonderful their work, were either entirely nameless, or entirely disregarded even if their name was known. Plutarch apparently remarked that no one would want to be Phidias, creator of the Zeus at Olympia, even though the Olympia Zeus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Admiring the art doesn't mean you'd give the artist the time of day. But in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century this began to change. This is the time when the first "famous artist" emerged, in the name of Giotti de Bondone, more often known simply as Giotto (1267 - 1337). This Italian painter and architect was responsible for Nativity frescoes in the lower church at Assisi, and developed early techniques for portraying perspective. Since Giotto's lifetime, the idea of the creative individual has steadily gained momentum. We now seek the idea of the creative individual in all areas of human endeavour. Science, for example, is fundamentally collaborative, but by the seventeenth century the brilliant Isaac Newton was directing part of his formidable energy into trying to discredit people who came up with the same ideas as him, or were only a few years behind him in their work. Newton wanted his name to grace a revolution in human ideas generally, and that is what happened. The contribution of many individuals was denied by Newton.
And so we come to a strange conundrum. Since the Reformation we celebrate the individual. We like to identify an individual with any kind of advance or achievement, scientific, artistic or otherwise. And yet this obsession has the result of consigning the contribution of many individuals to obscurity. You might have heard of Newton's reflecting telescope, but have you heard of James Gregory on whose Optica Promota device Newton based his design, or of James Hadley who in 1722 perfected Newton's telescope? Users of the internet might have heard of Zoella, but did they know the name of the writer at Penguin who helped create her bestselling book about a young blogger? The modern age is not really one of individuality, it is in fact an age where many people seek to reflect their desire for individuality in one person.
Historical news for December
The Tate St Ives is currently staging an exhibition on the development of international photography from the 1920s - 1960s. The exhibtion runs until 10th May 2015. For more details go to: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-st-ives/exhibition/modern-lens-international-photography-and-tate-collection
Fancy going to a Christmas market in a historic location? Go to the National Trust Christmas markets page for an event near you: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/whats-on/markets/
A huge textile sculpture by Richard Tuttle has taken over the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern. This is part of a wider exploration of Tuttle's work in London this autumn, with a major event at the Whitechapel Gallery.
Anniversaries for December
5th December 1766: James Christie, the founder of Christie's auction house, holds his first recorded sale.
6th December 1897: London becomes the first city to offer a licensed taxi cab service. Cabs were powered by battery, and called hummingbirds, because of the sound they made.
11th December 1905: A workers' uprising takes place in Kiev, Ukraine. This establishes the Shuliavka Republic, which survives until December 16th when the uprising was put down by the Imperial Russian Army.
18th December 1958: The world's first communications satellite, Project Score, is launched from Cape Canaveral. It carried a recorded Christmas message from President Eisenhower.
22nd December 1965: A blanket speed limit is introduced on British roads. It is now illegal to exceed 70mph on all rural roads and motorways.
23rd December 1688: James II flees from England to Paris, following his deposition by Parliament in favour of William of Orange.
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Almost all photography on InfoBritain is by InfoBritain or by named contributors. All educational use is permitted, but copyright is reserved for commercial uses. Occasionally we have used copyright free stock images which are available for any use. A note will identify these images.
Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Derick Fusco, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.