I suppose photography can be political. Today’s post is an act of rebellion and a riposte against a dear friend who declared that cyclists should be banned from all public highways. This statement was of course accompanied by a suitable range of curses. So, I suddenly feel moved to make my protest against this private conversation public by uploading a few cycle shots from my hard drive to champion that great unsung hero of the metropolis: the bicycle. Long may it live and prosper and long may it occupy public space!
This next, rather wild, one might be a bad omen for my attempts to blog regularly. The last time I tried to start photo-blogging it was the first picture I uploaded (and possibly the last). Nothing looks like film (sigh):
« All of a sudden something appears. For example, a door opens, a butterfly passes beating its wings. Simply this nothing», writes Georges Didi-Huberman on the beautiful yet always fragile logic of apparition in his Phalènes: Essais Sur L’Apparition, 2, (Paris: Les Éditions de Minui, 2013). With their restless anamorphisms, shadows, the wonderful, fragile, shape-changers that they are, make wonderful apparitions. But what I perhaps like best about them is that they don’t suddenly appear: they creep up on you first, and then BAM! You have your shadow. And then…nothing; they vanish back to where they came from.
This one is actually a homage to Victor Hugo (see his L’Ombre du mancenillier).
I find shadows of trees particularly lovely, so perhaps this post ought also to be a homage to the trees of Paris:
Filmothèque on rue Champollion in Paris is the place to go for classic movies including those made in the days before it was all cgi, when film still seemed to have some authentic magic. Sometimes they show even older films, made in the days when real men wore hats. This is an old photograph, taken when I walked past and spotted this dapper looking hat-wearer tarrying with the fantasies of the silver screen some time around November or December 2010.
Architecture induces certain kinds of effects (and affects) on and in bodies so that we experience space temporally and through certain kinds of affective and cognitive responses. The layout of a gallery or a museum, for example, creates possible sequences for us to follow, so that bodies can be organised in particular ways as they pass through it. Spirals are a good example of this, designed to facilitate flows and circulation, as Le Corbusier quickly recognised. It’s always quite nice, then, when these artifical ways of organising space and managing bodies within space are undone; when the spiral staircase ceases to be concerned with a rational ordering that privileges movement, but instead becomes a meeting point as subjects occupying that space parody its layout and undo it, pausing the flow, halting the circulation to simply stand, smile, and talk, enjoying a moment of human time that disrupts rational organisation and induced effects on bodies by instead privileging human experience. Sudden moments of life that disrupt the patterns: a smile, words thrown and caught and then tossed back with a grin, all showing the limits of formal attempts to order not only space, but our responses to it. A triumph of the real, and a triumph of life itself, and if there’s any place you’d want that then it’s in the Louvre, a space devoted to aesthetic concerns, which is to say, a space devoted to how sensations are experienced, understood, and represented. I wonder what art they had seen that had so caught their imagination?
Amid some pleasant chaos outside a Panthéon hidden by Christmas trees, two friends hug – and I feel terribly intrusive for having photographed them.