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At the National Media Museum

Joseph JB Priestley, Action Hero?
Joseph JB Priestley, Blue Sky Thinker?
A portrait with dephlogisticated air?

This sculpture of Joseph JB Priestley is in front of the National Media Museum in Bradford.

The museum wasn't entirely my cup of tea, but it did have its moments. I liked seeing the branch of BBC Radio Leeds hard at work, broadcasting radio, albeit surrounded by display stuff on television.

And it was amazing to see the workings of an IMAX projection booth. (With warnings not to take flash photography as the audience would be able to see it.) It was a glorious encounter with the technological sublime, reels like millstones on a floor-to-ceiling spindle, the 70 mm film passing to and from the pair of hulking projectors. I loved it.

As I now know, this was the UK's first IMAX theater and, for about 12 years, was its only one. No wonder several people enthused about it as something to do in Bradford! As it happens, I lived in Toronto for a while, home of the IMAX company, which, as a result, has a whole slew of them. They get used for non-IMAX projections too, when a multiplex has enough demand for a new film. This is how I came to see so much of Keanu Reeves' pores in one of the Matrix sequels.

But I had never seen a projection room for them before.


Sep. 16th, 2011 07:20 am (UTC)
So, I was right it being J.B.

But totally wrong about the scientist Joseph Priestley being a Birmingham lad. I have discovered (thank you WIkipedia!) that he was born in Yorkshire, and travelled around, Daventry, Warrington, Leeds, and didn't get to Birmingham until 1780, where he lived until he was driven out by the mob in 1791. I suppose it is because I think of him as so central to the Lunar Society of Birmingham--which he was, sort of, but for a long time as a corresponding member. I must read Jenny Uglow's book on the Lunar Society again!