It was March 14, 1932 when George Eastman, famed inventor, philanthropist, and founder of Eastman Kodak, invited a few loyal friends over to witness the rewriting of his will. He had made the decision to give a good portion of his money and prized possessions, including his enormous mansion, to the city he called home for his whole life- Rochester. To this end, he bequeathed his house and a $2 million endowment (about $34 million today) to the University of Rochester. Eastman also donated a large sum of money to dental dispensaries across the city, attempting to ensure that no child in Rochester would go without proper dental work. Finally, he left $200,000 (about $3.4 million today) to his beloved niece, Ellen.

Cheerfully signing the will, he assured his friends this was just a matter of ensuring his wishes. Later, it was thought that he also wanted his friends to see him mentally alert so the credibility of the will wouldn’t be questioned. After all the t’s were crossed and i’s were dotted, he asked if everyone could excuse themselves for a moment. When they did, George took out paper and pen and wrote a note, which read,

To my friends,
My work is done.
Why wait?

Then, he took a pistol out from his nightstand and shot himself in the heart, ending his life at the age of 74.

So who was this captain of industry and why did he, quite cheerfully, suddenly choose to take his own life?

George Eastman, and his company, turned photography from a complicated, expensive, unwieldy, and potentially dangerous hobby (due the chemicals needed to develop the film) into one that, quite literally, a child could do. He was not only a genius inventor, but a brilliant marketer.

His story begins as it ended, in Rochester. The Eastmans always put a priority on education. In fact, George Eastman Senior founded Eastman’s Commercial College in 1854, the same year George Junior was born. The family was middle-class and living pretty comfortably, but this was short-lived. In 1862, when George was only eight, his father passed away from a “brain disorder.” His mother, Maria, was a now a widow with three small children, one of them (George’s youngest sister Katy) suffered from polio and other illnesses. Life was hard for the Eastman family after George Senior’s death and self-reliance became a necessary trait.

At age of 14, George dropped out of high school to support his family. He worked at a local insurance company and as a clerk at Rochester Savings Bank. Then, in 1870, tragedy struck again when his sister, Katy, passed away from complications related to polio. She was buried next to her father.

George, even at an early age, was meticulous, detailed, and controlling of every aspect of his own business. Starting when he got his first job at 14, he began keeping ledgers to detail his finances. Due to his careful planning and earning enough working at the bank, Eastman was able to afford certain luxuries. It was in one of these ledgers, under January 27, 1869 to be exact, that “photography” was first mentioned. As the months passed, besides helping to support his mother, George spent more and more money on “photos” or “photograph materials.”

In 1878, Eastman learned an important lesson – photography (at least at the time) was hard. The legend goes that he wanted to treat his mother to a vacation in Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic (other sources say he was looking to buy land in the newly independent nation). Either way, to document his trip, he bought a photographic outfit. Cameras then are not what we think of cameras are today. An outfit included the camera (constructed from several parts that must be put together before taking pictures), a stand, a light, and wet glass plates (with chemicals) in order to preserve the picture. As Eastman later put it,

In those days, one did not ‘take’ a camera; one accompanied the outfit in which the camera was only a part. I bought an outfit and learned that it took not only a strong, but also a dauntless man to be an outdoor photographer.

Eastman, so fed up with everything he had to bring, not only didn’t take a camera, he didn’t take the trip at all. At this point, Eastman thought to himself that there had to be a better way.

For the next several years, while still working at the bank, Eastman developed a new kind of dry plate, one made out of gelatin (the same ingredient used in Jello, which would be invented twenty years later in a small town thirty miles from Rochester), not glass. Glass was heavy, fragile, and expensive. Gelatin was an improvement on all of these things. By 1880, he had patented a dry-plate coating machine made out of gelatin, making the process of preserving film negatives simpler, cheaper, and less dangerous.

While developing this process, he came across another innovation that would allow photography and, eventually, cameras to become something that wasn’t just for the professional. As described by Eastman,

I also made experiments by using paper as a temporary support and coating the Cellulose immediately upon the paper, and afterwards coating with the emulsion. I had no difficulty stripping the Cellulose from the paper, the cellulose adhered to the emulsion and separated from the paper.

He patented this film on March 4, 1884. That same year, Eastman and his associate William Walker developed a roll holder to hold the film. The invention of this revolutionary film wasn’t enough, though. What he really wanted to do was, “to popularize photography to an extent as yet scarcely dreamed of.”

In 1888, the name “Kodak” was thought up while playing with an anagram set with his mother. Eastman loved the word because it was simple, easy to pronounce and it started with a “K.” Said Eastman, “It became a question of trying out a great number of combinations of letters that made words starting and ending with ‘K.”

Kodak was officially incorporated as a company in 1890 and quickly rocketed to the top of the industry. Also that same year, Eastman introduced the first Kodak camera, equipped with his film. It cost $25 (about $640 today), but the most important thing was that the customer didn’t do the developing of film themselves- Kodak did. The customer would send the camera back (film and all) to the company for developing and processing. Their motto aptly illustrated this: “You press the button, we do the rest.”

He had now made it easy for anyone to take and have pictures developed. The next step was to change the camera from a luxury item or expensive hobby to something just about anyone could afford.

In 1900, the revolutionary Brownie camera, versions of which were so popular through the mid-20th century, was born. It cost only one dollar ($28 today) and was even marketed to children. For the next hundred years, George Eastman and Kodak would be synonymous with cameras and film.

For his entire 40+ years of heading up his own company, George Eastman was used to being in control. So, when he was diagnosed with a spinal condition in the late 1920s, forcing him to be confined to a wheelchair, it depressed him greatly. His mother, who lived with him until her death in 1907, was also in a wheelchair for the last years of her life. His baby sister was in a wheelchair until she died. He saw them suffer and Eastman did not want to go through the same long drawn out process. He also didn’t like that he felt this gave off an image of weakness. Eastman was used to being a man respected the world over, not an “invalid.” He mused greatly about death and illness, writing a friend,

God keep me from being like them (referring to family and friends who he had seen succumb to illness). Doesn’t it seem strange that the clearest minds I have ever known should be taken this way? That is the sad thing about illness.

So, by March 1932, he had enough. George Eastman wanted to go by his own hand, rather than the hand of illness and fate. So he tidied up all the loose ends of his life and, once complete, ended it immediately on his own terms.

Source… i


வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை …” கல்லறைப் பூவின் கண்ணீர் துளி “


சில்லறை இல்லையென்றால் இல்லை
உனக்கு  மரியாதை !  உண்மையும்
நேர்மையும் போடுமா உனக்கு சோறு ?

“பிழைக்கத் தெரியாத மனிதன் நீ ”
இந்த ஒரு பட்டம் மட்டுமே அந்த
மனிதனுக்கு  கிட்டிய சொத்து நேற்றுவரை !

இன்று கல்லறையில் அவன் அடங்கும் வரை
அவன் அருமை அவனுக்கே தெரியாது !

அவன் உறங்கும்  கல்லறை மேல்
எத்தனை எத்தனை மலர் வளையம் இன்று   !
அவன் இறப்பிலும் அவரவர்  ஆதாயம்

தேடி அவனுக்கு சூட்டும் பட்டம்  எத்தனை
எத்தனை இன்று !

“பிழைக்கத்” தெரியாத அந்த ஒரு மனிதன்
பெயர்  சொல்லி  தங்கள் “பிழைப்பை”
நடத்த துடிக்கும் ஒரு பெரிய கூட்டத்தின்

நாடகத்தின் நடுவில்  கல்லறைப் பூக்கள்
மட்டும் வடிக்குது கண்ணீர், மறைந்த
அந்த மனிதனை நினைத்து !

நடராஜன்   in dated 19th june 2017

What happens if You accidentally damage a Precious Work of Art in a Museum …?


What Happens if You Accidentally Damage a Priceless Work of Art in a Museum?

destroyed-ancient-potteryIf you’ve ever walked through a museum or an art gallery you may have noticed that a lot of the art and historical treasure on display is completely exposed. In fact, with the exception of some of the world’s more famous pieces of art, you could easily fall over and damage much of the artwork on display worldwide, right now. So, what would happen if you did trip and accidentally damage an irreplaceable priceless piece of art? As it turns out, not all that much.

This is mainly because of two things- first, museums and galleries will almost always have insurance to cover any such damage. Second, accidents happen and the people running the museums understand that.

In fact, in nearly every case we could find of a piece of artwork accidentally being damaged, no charges were pressed by either the museum or, in some cases, the owner of the art in question. In fact, it appears that the worst that might happen in such a scenario is that you’ll get banned from the museum.

For example, consider the case of Nick Flynn, a man who in 2006 tripped over his shoelace while walking around the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and knocked over three 17th century vases worth about £175,000 (~$225,000). Flynn noted of the experience,

“I snagged my shoelace, missed the step and crash, bang, wallop. There were a million pieces of high quality Qing ceramics lying around underneath me… Although [I knew] the vase would break I didn’t imagine it would be loose and crash into the other two.  I’m sure I only hit the first one and that must have flown across the windowsill and hit the next one, which then hit the other, like a set of dominos. I can say with my hand on my heart that it was not deliberate … it was just my Norman Wisdom moment, just one of those unbelievably unlucky things that can sometimes happen.”

The museum official’s response was to merely send him a letter advising Flynn “not to visit the museum again in the near future.” Yes, he didn’t even technically get banned; just politely asked to abstain from visiting for a while.

In fact, the museum didn’t even identify Flynn to the public to spare him the embarrassment of being known as the guy who tripped and knocked over three vases that, before encountering Mr. Flynn, had managed to survive about four centuries and a full six decades sitting on those very windowsills. (We only know his name because British tabloids tracked him down after the fact.)

In another example, this one in 2015, a 12 year old boy tripped while visiting a Taiwanese art exhibition. During his fall forward, he managed to punch a hole through a 350 year old painting, Flowers, by Paola Porpora, valued at about $1,500,000… (You can watch the video of this happening here.) The organisers of the exhibition went out of their way to assure the boy and his family that they wouldn’t be liable to pay any damages nor in any trouble legally. In fact, one of the organisers, Sun Chi-hsuan, publicly insisted that the boy wasn’t to blame.

In yet another case, in 2010, a young woman, who as per usual with these sorts of things went unnamed publicly, damaged a $130,000,000 Picasso painting called The Actor by falling into it during an art class. The result was a six inch tear in the lower right-hand corner. In this specific case, the museum officials were more concerned with reporting that the woman was uninjured than the fact that her accident had potentially wiped away half the painting’s value.

So those are pure accidents. What about more negligent cases? All evidence would seem to indicate that museums and galleries similarly seem hesitant to do anything to the patron in question.  Beyond countless selfie-related accidental destruction of art that has become something of a frequent occurrence in recent years, there is the case of a clock made by artist James Borden that hung in Columbia Pennsylvania’s National Watch and Clock Museum for over two decades before being destroyed. How did it meet its end? An elderly couple began touching and pulling on its various bits, seemingly trying to see what the clock looked like when working; this ultimately caused the clock to come crashing down. (You can watch a video of this here.) The museum chose not to press any charges nor seek compensation for the damages. In fact, as in other examples, they didn’t even berate the individuals in the press, choosing not even to name them at all.

That said, we did find one exception to this “no fault” negligent destruction of art general rule. This happened when a tourist scaled the facade of a Portuguese train station to take a selfie with an 1890 statue of Dom Sebastiao, resulting in the statue’s destruction when said tourist accidentally knocked the statue over and it shattered on the ground below. The unnamed man was later charged with destruction of public property.

As for the non-public, even in cases where museum or gallery staff damage or destroy the art, the individual usually gets off with only a slap on the wrist if it truly was an honest accident. For example, in 2000, some porters at the Bond Street auction house accidentally put a painting by artist Lucian Freud, valued at £100,000 (about $130,000), into a crushing machine…

The painting was stored in a large wooden box, which the porters assumed was empty and put out with the rest of the trash. The auction house assured papers that the porters wouldn’t lose their jobs over the matter, and that it was an honest mistake.

In another case, an unnamed cleaning lady tossed a bunch of modern art valued at about $15,000 into the garbage in 2014. To be fair to the cleaning lady, the “art” in question, created by modernist Paul Branca, was a bunch of cardboard boxes haphazardly strewn across the floor of a section of the gallery (modern art everybody). Again, no action was taken against the cleaner. (We can only hope Mr. Branca was on his game that day, and he simply took the opportunity to go full meta-on it, displaying his former cardboard box art now in the garbage bin, perhaps even increasing its value in that case…)

All this said, while it appears most museums, galleries and even artists will take the destruction or damage of their work in good humor if done accidentally (even if there was a fair bit of negligence involved), the same can’t be said if the damage is malicious. In these cases, the museum can and will press charges, and one might expect a bit of jail time.

For instance, in the aforementioned vase-smashing story, sometime later there was some thought that Flynn had smashed the vases on purpose for the publicity of it (given his going out of his way to give interviews about it and some of his comments therein, despite that the museum had so carefully avoided assigning any blame or mentioning his name). As a result, he was eventually detained for a night, though noted he was treated very well while under arrest, with the police simply trying to determine if he’d done it on purpose. Once they decided it had indeed been an accident, he was let go with no further consequences.

In another instance, one Andrew Shannon punched a Monet painting, Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat, then worth about £7m (about $9 million). He later claimed he tripped and fell and it was an accident, but security footage clearly showed him intentionally punching the painting.  When he was detained by security guards, a can of paint stripper was also found in his pocket.  He was given a five year prison sentence.

This brings us to perhaps the most obvious question that arises from all this- why is such valuable, and often irreplaceable, art stored in such a way that people can just walk up to it and damage it (whether accidentally or not).

Well one reason is cost- placing every painting, sculpture and fresco behind protective glass or under the careful watch of a burly guard is expensive. Contrary to the value of the pieces they sometimes contain, museums and art galleries often aren’t swimming in money.

A second, perhaps more important reason, is that it would disrupt the experience of viewing the art in question; ensuring the art can be properly appreciated is of tantamount importance to those running various museums and galleries. It’s noted that said institutions have to constantly strike a balance between “keeping works of art accessible to the public, and protecting them at the same time”. Such a balance necessitates a degree of trust be placed in the public to not paw at the priceless works of art on display and to otherwise be careful around them.

Source… i


வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை …” கவிக்கோவுக்கு ஒரு கவிதாஞ்சலி “


கவிக்கோவுக்கு கவிதாஞ்சலி
கவிஞன் என்று சொன்னாலே  அது கவிக்கோ !
கதையிலும்  கவிதை விதை விதைத்து  கவி
சொன்ன கவிஞன் அவன் ….இந்த புவி கேட்ட
கவிதை தானும் கேட்க விழைந்தானோ அந்த
இறைவன் ?  இறை அழைப்பு ஏற்று இப்புவி
துறந்து எமை  மறந்து பறந்து சென்றாயோ கவிஞனே ?
நீ பறந்து சென்ற வேகம் பார்த்து நான் வாய் மூடி
மௌனியானேன் …உன் பால் வீதி கவிதைப் பயணம்
முடித்து  உன் வீட்டு  வீதிக்கு நீ மீண்டும் திரும்பும் நாள்
வரை காத்திருப்பேன் நான் மெளனமாக !
உன் பால் வீதி பயணத்தில் என் மௌனத்தின் குரல்
உனக்கு கேட்காமல் இருக்குமா என்ன ?
12th June 2017

வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை …” மேகம் போடும் தாளம் “


மேகம்  போடும்  தாளம்
நீல வானம் இசைக்கும் மழை இசைக் கச்சேரிக்கு
வான் மேகம்  தவறாமல் போட்டிடும்  சரியான தாளம் !
கரு மேகத்  தாளம் இல்லாமல் மழை  இசைக் கச்சேரி ஏது ?
மனிதன் போட்ட தப்பு தாளத்தால் இன்று நீல
வானம் இசைக்க மறந்ததே தன் இன்னிசை மழையை !
மழையின்றி மனிதன் தவித்து ஒரு வாய் குடிநீருக்கு
போடுகிறான்  தாளம் இன்று ! மேள தாள வாத்தியம்
சகிதம் காத்திருக்கிறான் அவன்   வான் மழை இசைக்கு !
வான் மழை இசைக்கு சரியான தாளம் போடும்
மேகமே இன்று போடுதே தாளம் அதன் முகத்தை
தொலைத்து விட்டு !
தொலைத்த முகத்தை தேடி எடுத்து வான் மேகம்
போட வேண்டும் மீண்டும் ஒரு தாளம் வான் மழை
இசைக்கு கட்டியம் கூறி !  இசைக்க மறந்த  வானமும்
மேகம் போடும் தாளத்தில் தன்னை மறந்து இசைக்க
வேண்டும் ஒரு இனிய மழை  கீதம் இந்த மண் குளிர!
Natarajan … in datec 5th June 2017

வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை ….” கல் வீச்சு “


கல் வீச்சு
கல் எறிய கற்றுக் கொடுக்கவில்லை உன் கல்வி
கற்றது மறந்து கல் எடுத்து நீ வீசி உடைப்பது
ஒரு பேருந்தின் கண்ணாடியை மட்டும் அல்ல
உன்னைப் பெற்றவரின் இதயத்தையும்தான் !
பேசி தீர்த்துக்கொள்ளும்  பிரச்சனையை கல்
வீசி தீர்க்க முடியுமா சொல்லு …தம்பி ?
நீ கற்ற கல்வி உனக்கு காட்டாத  வழியை
ஒரு கல் காட்டி விடுமா உனக்கு ?
சற்றே யோசி நீ தம்பி … உன் வாழ்வின்
வெற்றிக்கு உன் கல்வி மட்டுமே அடித்தளம் !
அது மறந்து ஒரு கல் நீ கையில் எடுத்தால்
அந்த ஒரு கல் உருமாறும் ஒரு தடைக்கல்லாக
உன் வெற்றிப் பயணத்தை சீர் குலைக்க !
கல் வீச்சில் வீரன் என்னும் பெயர் உனக்கு
வேண்டாம் … கல்வியில் அசகாய சூரன்
என்னும் பட்டம் மட்டுமே வேண்டும் உனக்கு !
My Tamil kavithai  in dated 29th May 2017

வாரம் ஒரு கவிதை…. ” குழந்தையின் குரல் “


குழந்தையின் குரல்
மழலையின் குரல் ஒரு அன்னைக்கு
அழைப்பு மணி என்றால் அந்த
அன்னையின் பதில் குரல் தந்திடும்
ஒரு புத்துணர்ச்சி அந்த குழந்தைக்கு !
இது ஒரு பாசப்பிணைப்பு !
குரல் ஒலி வழியில்  குழந்தையும்
தாயும் இணையும் இந்த பாச  சங்கமம்
ஐந்தறிவு ஜீவனுக்கும் சொந்தமே !
இறைவன் படைப்பில் இது ஒரு
அதிசயம் …ஆச்சர்யம் !
தொடு திரை கணினி அலை பேசி
நம் கையில் குழந்தை போல இன்று !
“தாய்” நம் குரலை இனம் கண்டு
தன் கதவு திறந்து இந்த உலகையே
நம் கண் முன் கொண்டு வந்து சேர்க்குதே
இந்த அலைபேசி “குழந்தை” !
இந்த  கணினி அலைபேசி நமக்கு
குழந்தையா ….இல்லை  நாம்
அதற்கு குழந்தையா !  இது இன்று
புரியாத  புதிர் !
தன் குழந்தையின் குரல் மறந்தாலும்
தங்கள்  அலை பேசியின் அழைப்பு
மணியின் ஒலியை சற்றும் மறக்காத
தாய் தந்தை பலர் நம்மிடையே  உண்டு இன்று !
இது விந்தையிலும் விந்தை !
K. Natarajan  in dated 21st May 2017