Statues of heroes past, present and fictional in London and Manchester will be able to talk to the general public thanks to smartphone technology and Sing London, with additional funding from the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. Perhaps most notable is the First World War Tommy in Paddington Station, which has been brought to life by Tony Harrison and Patrick Stewart.
Although the statues can be heard via traditional web browsers and QR readers, near field communication (NFC) is also used. This is the same technology that is used for contactless payments, and as a result creates spontaneous moments. When close enough to a statue of Sherlock Holmes (for example) you will receive a phone call from Sherlock Holmes, at which point the monologue begins. It is believed to be the first time NFC has been used for cultural purposes, but hopefully not the last. Click here to find out more information.
Mother’s names are to be added to marriage registers in England and Wales for the first time, with David Cameron sighting it as ‘another inequality in marriage’. This will be the first reform for the institution in 150 years. David Cameron claims that the existing process ‘fails to reflect modern Britain’, not realising the ultimate irony that both himself and the political party he represents are notoriously traditional and backward and that he himself fails to reflect modern Britain. Hey ho, you can’t have it all.
This fortnight also brought us the sad passing of much-loved comedian and actor Robin Williams, best known for his roles in Good Will Hunting (for which he won an Oscar) and funnier roles such as Mrs. Doubtfire. This writer’s favourite performance of his was in One Hour Photo in which he played a paedophile. It truly is rare for somebody to possess such a natural ability to make people laugh, yet at the same time excel in serious roles, and he’ll be remembered as a true talent of our time.
To end on a lighter note, celebrities and the general public worldwide have been taking part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a terminal illness which causes the muscles to weaken and stiffen. The ice bucket challenge started when former Boston College basketball player Pete Frates was forced to stop playing due to ALS.
Since then a number of celebrities have completed the challenge (which involves ice water being thrown over one’s head) including Lady GaGa, Will Smith, Charlie Sheen and most recently Liam Gallagher who, true to form, nominated “Spongebob Squarepants, Ivor the Engine, and while we’re on cartoon characters Noel Gallagher”. Your turn Noel.