Backed by Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, new Islamic galleries at the Louvre are topped by golden undulating roof
New York Times, By CAROL VOGEL (Paris, France, Sept, 20, 2012) — When I. M. Pei’s glass pyramid opened at the Louvre more than 20 years ago, many argued that this 70-foot-tall structure had destroyed the classical beauty of one of the world’s great museums. But today, as crowds wait on long lines outside the pyramid, which serves as the Louvre’s main entrance,what once seemed audacious has become as accepted a part of the city’s visual landscape as the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe.
Now the museum is again risking the public’s wrath as it introduces the most radical architectural intervention since the pyramid in 1989. Designed to house new galleries for Islamic art, it consists of ground- and lower-ground-level interior spaces topped by a golden, undulating roof that seems to float within the neo-Classical Visconti Courtyard in the middle of the Louvre’s south wing, right below the museum’s most popular galleries, where the Mona Lisa and Veronese’s “Wedding Feast of Cana” are hung.
Ten years in the making, the $125 million project, which opens on Saturday, has been financed in part by the French government, along with Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, who gave the Louvre $20 million toward the galleries, the largest single monetary gift ever given to the museum. Corporations have kicked in money too, including Total, the oil company, and the governments of countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, Morocco, Kuwait and the Republic of Azerbaijan.
On a recent cloudless afternoon, as teams of workers were putting the finishing touches on the project, a visitor was allowed to enter the heavily guarded Visconti Courtyard, where the golden roof billows up from waist level at the edges to about 22 feet close to the center. At first glance it looks gauzy enough to blow away in a heavy wind, but according to members of the architectural team who were working at the site, it weighs 150 tons and has been painstakingly fashioned from almost 9,000 steel tubes that form an interior web, over which are a layer of glass and, on top of that, a shimmering anodized gold surface.
This deftly engineered design is the work of two architects, the Italian Mario Bellini and the Frenchman Rudy Ricciotti, who won an international competition to create the new wing in 2005. When the plans were first unveiled, the architects said, the roof resembled a “a scarf floating within the space” — a somewhat loaded description, perhaps, considering that last year the French officially banned full veils in public places. The museum’s “luminous veil,” or “flying carpet” as it has also been called, covers some 30,000 square feet of gallery space on the ground and lower floors.
The new galleries, roughly four times as large as the space previously devoted to Islamic art at the Louvre, house a collection spanning 1,200 years of history, from the 7th through the 19th centuries, and includes glass works, ceramics, metalwork, books, manuscripts, textiles and carpets.
Their opening comes 10 months after the Metropolitan Museum of Art introduced its own new galleries dedicated to the arts of Islam. The Met, in an effort to avoid defining the collection solely in terms of religion, chose an unusually long title for its spaces, “The Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia.” The Louvre, on the other hand, has taken the exact opposite approach, calling its galleries simply, “Islam.”
“This is the way the world has spoken about Islam, not only the religion but the civilization,” explained Sophie Makariou, the Louvre’s director of Islamic art, insisting that the name is not an oversimplification. “We were out to tell the history of these people. It’s as complicated as a textile. There are many different threads and a lot of different kinds of civilizations who built this world.”
And while the Met’s installation is organized mainly by geography, the Louvre has arranged its objects chronologically. The collection draws both from the Louvre’s own holdings of about 14,000 artworks and artifacts representing the breadth of the Islamic world from Spain to India and from the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which is contributing 3,500 works on permanent loan.
Delicate manuscripts and textiles are displayed in the lower-floor galleries, where there is no natural light, while vitrines upstairs display stone sculptures, glassware and metalwork. (These angled glass cabinets — the work of the architect and museum designer Renaud Piérard — allow art and artifacts to be seen from all angles. “It is very important to have perception of objects, their shapes, their profiles and not to hang them like pictures against a wall,” Ms. Makariou said.)
When Henri Loyrette, the Louvre’s director, arrived at the museum in 2001, there was not even a separate department of Islamic art. This in spite of the Louvre owning what it calls “one of the richest collections of Islamic art in the world” — a trove large and varied enough to easily warrant a museum of its own. Still, Mr. Loyrette said recently, he did not want to create a separate museum for the Islamic works because they are “so closely linked to our collection, and to Western art, they would be sorely missed were they not part of the Louvre.”
Already the world’s most popular museum, with nearly nine million visitors in the past year alone, it is on its way to becoming even more popular, Mr. Loyrette said. “We have always been open to the world, and today, as our attendance keeps growing, our visitors are increasingly interested in the Islamic world. But many people do not know anything about it, and it is important to show them the luminous face of this civilization.”
The Islamic collection includes prized objects that have been on view at the Louvre for years, like an intricately inlaid 14th-century metal basin from the Middle East known as the Baptistery of St.-Louis, Ottoman jade bowls that belonged to Louis IV and an early-11th-century Egyptian rock crystal ewer from the royal abbey of St.-Denis. But now there will also be scores of artworks and objects that have not been displayed before.
If you were taking a college course called iPhone 101, your professor might identify three factors that have made Apple’s smartphone a mega-success.
First, design. A single company, known for its obsession over details, produces both the hardware and the software. The result is a single, coherently designed whole.
Second, superior components. As the world’s largest tech company, Apple can call the shots with its part suppliers. It can often incorporate new technologies — scratch-resistant Gorilla glass, say, or the supersharp Retina screen — before its rivals can.
Third, compatibility. The iPhone’s ubiquity has led to a universe of accessories that fit it. Walk into a hotel room, and there’s probably an iPhone connector built into the alarm clock.
If you had to write a term paper for this course, you might open with this argument: that in creating the new iPhone 5 ($200 with contract), Apple strengthened its first two advantages — but handed its rivals the third one on a silver platter.
Let’s start with design. The new phone, in all black or white, is beautiful. Especially the black one, whose gleaming, black-on-black, glass-and-aluminum body carries the design cues of a Stealth bomber. The rumors ran rampant that the iPhone 5 would have a larger screen. Would it be huge, like many Android phones? Those giant screens are thudding slabs in your pocket, but they’re fantastic for maps, books, Web sites, photos and movies.
As it turns out, the new iPhone’s updated footprint (handprint?) is nothing like the Imax size of its rivals. It’s the same 2.3 inches wide, but its screen has grown taller by half an inch — 176 very tiny pixels.
It’s a nice but not life-changing change. You gain an extra row of icons on the Home screen, more messages in e-mail lists, wider keyboard keys in landscape mode and a more expansive view of all the other built-in apps. (Non-Apple apps can be written to exploit the bigger screen. Until then, they sit in the center of the larger screen, flanked by unnoticeable slim black bars.)
At 0.3 inch, the phone is thinner than before, startlingly so — the thinnest in the world, Apple says. It’s also lighter, just under four ounces; it disappears completely in your pocket. This iPhone is so light, tall and flat, it’s well on its way to becoming a bookmark.
Second advantage: components. There’s no breakthrough feature this time, no Retina screen or Siri. (Thought recognition will have to wait for the iPhone 13.)
Even so, nearly every feature has been upgraded, with a focus on what counts: screen, sound, camera, speed.
The iPhone 5 is now a 4G LTE phone, meaning that in certain lucky cities, you get wicked-fast Internet connections. (Verizon has by far the most LTE cities, with AT&T a distant second and Sprint at the rear. Here’s a cool coverage comparison map: j.mp/V5wEwN.)
The phone itself runs faster, too. Its new processor runs twice as fast, says Apple. Few people complained about the old phone’s speed, but this one certainly zips.
The screen now has better color reproduction. The front-facing camera captures high-definition video now (720p). The battery offers the same talk time as before (eight hours), but adds two more hours of Web browsing (eight hours), even on LTE networks. In practical terms, you encounter fewer days when the battery dies by dinnertime — a frequent occurrence with 4G phones.
The camera is among the best ever put into a phone. Its lowlight shots blow away the same efforts from an iPhone 4S. Its shot-to-shot times have been improved by 40 percent. And you can take stills even while recording video (1080p hi-def, of course).
So far, so good. But now, the third point, about universal compatibility.
These days, that decade-old iPhone/iPad/iPod charging connector is everywhere: cars, clocks, speakers, docks, even medical devices. But the new iPhone won’t fit any of them.
Apple calls its replacement the Lightning connector. It’s much sturdier than the old jack, and much smaller — 0.31 inch wide instead of 0.83. And there’s no right side up — you can insert it either way. It clicks satisfyingly into place, yet you can remove it easily. It’s the very model of a modern major connector.
Well, great. But it doesn’t fit any existing accessories, docks or chargers. Apple sells an adapter plugfor $30 (or $40 with an eight-inch cable “tail”). If you have a few accessories, you could easily pay $150 in adapters for a $200 phone. That’s not just a slap in the face to loyal customers — it’s a jab in the eye.
Even with the adapter, not all accessories work with the Lightning, and not all the features of the old connector are available; for example, you can’t send the iPhone’s video out to a TV cable.
Apple says that a change was inevitable — that old connector, after 10 years, desperately needed an update. Still, Apple has just given away one of its greatest competitive advantages.
The phone comes with new software, iOS 6, bristling with large and small improvements — and it’s a free download that also runs on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S.
The chief attractions of iOS 6 are a completely new GPS/maps app (Apple ditched Google Maps and wrote its own app); new talents for Siri, the voice-activated assistant (she now answers questions about current movies, sports and restaurants); and one-tap canned responses to incoming calls (like “I’m driving — call you later”).
There’s a new panorama mode for the camera, too, that comes in handy more often than you might expect. As you swing the phone around you, it stitches many shots together into a seamless, ultra-wide-angle, 28-megapixel photo. Unlike other apps and phones with panorama modes, this one is fully automated and offers a preview of the panorama that materializes as you’re taking it. (For mycomplete review of iOS 6, see nytimes.com/pogue.)
Should you get the new iPhone, when the best Windows Phone and Android phones offer similarly impressive speed, beauty and features?
The iPhone 5 does nothing to change the pros and cons in that discussion. Windows Phones offer brilliant design, but lag badly in apps and accessories.
Android phones shine in choice: you can get a huge screen, for example, a memory-card slot or N.F.C. chips (near-field communication — you can exchange files with other N.F.C. phones, or buy things in certain stores, with a tap). But Android is, on the whole, buggier, more chaotic and more fragmented — you can’t always upgrade your phone’s software when there’s a new version.
IPhones don’t offer as much choice or customization. But they’re more polished and consistently designed, with a heavily regulated but better stocked app catalog. They offer Siri voice control and the best music/movie/TV store, and the phone’s size and weight have boiled away to almost nothing.
If you have an iPhone 4S, getting an iPhone 5 would mean breaking your two-year carrier contract and paying a painful penalty; maybe not worth it for the 5’s collection of nips and tucks. But if you’ve had the discipline to sit out a couple of iPhone generations — wow, are you in for a treat.
It’s just too bad about that connector change. Doesn’t Apple worry about losing customer loyalty and sales?
Actually, Apple has a long history of killing off technologies, inconveniently and expensively, that the public had come to love — even those that Apple had originally developed and promoted. Somehow, life goes on, and Apple gets even bigger.
So if you wanted to conclude your term paper by projecting the new connector’s impact on the iPhone’s popularity, you’d be smart to write, “very little (sigh).” When you really think about it, we’ve all taken this class before.
KEPADA peminat yang baru berjinak-jinak dalam dunia fotografi kini berpeluang mengolah daya kreativiti mereka menerusi Kamera Sistem Kompak (CSC) terbaru Samsung yang diperkenalkan dalam rangkaian model NX.
Kemunculan siri ketiga kamera CSC Samsung itu ditampilkan menerusi siri NX1000; selepas NX20 dan NX210 ditawarkan di pasaran sebelumnya.
Bagi NX1000, dua ciri unik serta menarik yang berjaya diketengahkan Samsung adalah pengkhususan membangunkan produk untuk segmen pengguna baru.
Pada masa sama, ia memberikan tambah nilai apabila turut dilengkapi sistem sambungan WiFi yang cekap.
Gambaran NX1000 dikhususkan untuk segmen pengguna baru dapat dilihat daripada bahan yang kurang berkualiti digunakan dan sedikit menyedihkan apabila kelasakannnya boleh dipersoalkan.
Di sebalik faktor penampilan kurang menonjol, NX1000 memanfaatkan kehadirannya di pasaran sebagai satu-satunya kamera CSC di pasaran paling ringan pernah dibangunkan pada berat 0.217 kilogram.
Sekiranya sasaran pelanggan bagi NX1000 tertumpu kepada segmen peminat dunia fotografi novis, sudah tentu ciri WiFi yang didatangkan mampu menjadi daya tarikan kepada pemilik laman rangkaian social untuk memilikinya.
Ringan, cekap dan efisien sedikit sebanyak menggambarkan keperluan kamera Samsung NX1000 di kalangan pelanggan warga kota yang tidak memerlukan fungsi kamera canggih .
Boleh disifatkan kamera era moden itu sesuai dipasarkan kepada pelanggan yang tergolong dalam komuniti laman rangkaian sosial seperti Facebook, Twitter dan Instagram.
Reka bentuk dan navigasi
Sekilas pandang, NX1000 umpama kamera mainan berdasarkan reka bentuk ringkas yang diketengahkan dengan disalut warna asas sama ada putih atau hitam.
Bagaimanapun, Samsung berasaskan pengalamannya membangunkan pelbagai produk elektronik pengguna memperkenalkan NX1000 yang dilengkapi sistem pengesan CMOS APS-C pada 20.3 megapiksel.
Teknologi imej bertenaga Samsung itu juga membolehkan gambar dirakam pada jarak zoom menakjubkan dan pada masa sama menjamin kualiti imej yang diambil tidak terjejas.
Untuk rakaman video pula, ia menawarkan kadar kerangka sebanyak 30 kali sesaat pada 1920 x 1080 piksel Definisi Tinggi (HD) Lengkap.
Bagi aspek navigasi fungsi kamera pula, Samsung mengetengahkan pendekatan lebih produktif apabila menempatkan butang fungsi di kawasan yang mudah untuk diakses serta penggunaan ikon yang jelas dan mudah difahami.
Keunikan produk Samsung termasuk sistem kamera yang dibangunkan syarikat itu adalah butang “Smart Link” yang ditempatkan pada bahagian atas NX1000.
Butang “Smart Link” itu direka khusus bagi membolehkan imej atau video yang dirakam menerusi kamera Samsung disambungkan secara terus kepada telefon pintar.
Di sebalik pelbagai teknologi mesra pengguna diperkenalkan, Samsung dilihat tidak memperkenalkan modul Sistem Kedudukan Global (GPS) pada kameranya.
Ia menimbulkan sedikit tanda tanya sama ada Samsung mempunyai penjelasannya tersendiri untuk tidak memperkenalkan modul GPS atau mungkin mahu memperkenalkan produk kamera bertenaga dan dilengkapi teknologi asas saja.
Skrin dan kualiti imej
Skrin NX1000 menggunakan paparan LCD tiga inci pada nisbah 4:3 di bahagian belakang kamera.
Ia memainkan peranan bagi memastikan imej atau video yang diambil adalah tepat dan sebaik gambar berjaya dirakam, skrin terbabit adalah perantara berkesan untuk tontonan semula..
Skrin yang menggunakan resolusi 920,000 dot itu mampu memaparkan imej dengan jelas walaupun menghadap pancaran cahaya matahari.
Dari segi kualiti gambar yang diambil, NX1000 didatangkan dengan lensa antara 20 hingga 50 milimeter yang direka khusus untuk tidak mengeluarkan bunyi bising.
Walaupun kamera Samsung itu tidak dibangunkan dengan sistem binaan dalaman flash, ia turut dilengkapi dengan ruang sambungan flash tambahan.
Secara keseluruhan, Samsung NX1000 adalah kamera ringkas yang dibangunkan dengan aspek navigasi mudah digunakan serta aspek penyampaian bertenaga.
Malah, fungsi WiFi yang dibangunkan pada Kamera Sistem Kompak (CSC) Samsung itu mampu memberikan kelebihan kepada model terkini NX berkenaan berbanding produk seumpamanya di pasaran.
Huge crowds packed the newly-opened Legoland theme park yesterday as tourists from other states and Singapore took advantage of the long weekend to visit the latest family entertainment hub in the country.
Hotels around here reported full occupancy because of the spillover effect from the theme park which opened on Saturday.
Newly-opened KSL Resort had a corporate booking for 220 rooms on Saturday and all the guests visited Legoland before checking into the hotel for their annual dinner.
Its sales and marketing director, John Ting, said the hotel registered a high occupancy rate over the weekend and had benefited from Legoland.
Pulai Springs Resort marketing communications manager Charlotte Monterio said the hotel's accommodation package, which comes with two Legoland passes, was selling like hot cakes since it was launched last month.
She said 180 room packages were booked for the first two days of the opening.
"We are very happy with the response and will continue with our room promotion package by tying up with the theme park."
Johor Tourism, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Hoo Seong Chang said the state government was having discussions with tourism industry players to increase room supply in Iskandar Malaysia.
He said the birth of a world-class theme park in Johor would undeniably bring in more tourists, hence the need for more rooms during school holidays and weekends.
"Legoland has not only benefited the hotel industry, it has also brought businesses to the retail and food sectors, too.
"The economic spillover is tremendous.
"With a new attraction in Johor other than the Johor Premium Outlet, we foresee a sharp rise in tourists, especially during school holidays," he added.
More than 35,000 annual passes offered at special rates have already been sold, with more than 60 per cent being taken up by locals.
The RM700 million theme park, which occupies 30ha in Iskandar Malaysia, comprises seven parks with different themes.
Legoland Malaysia features replicas of iconic Asian landmarks such as the Petronas Twin Towers, the Great Wall of China, India's Taj Mahal and Singapore's Marina Bay, recreated using more than 25 million Lego bricks.