Us, people, and the cities
How do we place ourselves in the continuous flow and how do we cut meaningful slices out of it, with our aperture blades?
Many have said it:
Baudelaire in 1863 about his stroller "Il s'agit, pour lui, de dégager de la mode ce qu'elle peut contenir de poétique dans l'historique, de tirer l'éternel du transitoire."
and Italo Calvino in 1974 about his Venices "Io credo nell’avvenire delle città acquatiche, in un mondo popolato da innumerevoli Venezie."
and we have walked down the roads with them, when "evening comes. The witching hour, the uncertain light, when the sky draws its curtains and the city lights go on. The gaslight stands out on the purple background of the setting sun ... M G. will be the last to leave any place where the departing glories of daylight linger, where poetry echoes, life pulsates, music sounds; any place where a human passion offers a subject to his eye ..." The Painter of Modern Life, III. An Artist, Man of the World, Man of Crowds, and Child
and we have agreed with them that "it is the mood of the beholder which gives the city of Zemrude its form. If you go by whistling, your nose a-tilt behind the whistle, you will know it from below: window sills, flapping curtains, fountains. If you walk along hanging your head, your nails dug into the palms of your hands, your gaze will be held on the ground, in the gutters, the manhole covers, the fish scales, wastepaper ... For everyone, sooner or later, the day comes when we bring our gaze down along the drainpipes and we can no longer detach it from the cobblestones ... and so we continue walking, through Zemrude's streets with eyes now digging into the cellars, the foundations, the wells." Invisible Cities, Cities & Eyes 2
How about today? Nowadays What Is to Be Done? Que Faire Monsieur M.G. ? Che Fare Marco (Polo) ?
Of course our subjective gaze continues to become the transforming agent of the objective space around us. For sure, the transformation still depends on how we do or don’t choose to interact with the surrounding flow.
But maybe it is time we all agree that ultimately, we'll end up looking down, that time will inevitably lead to disillusionment and pessimism.
And I am fine with this. Because only by times of suffering we take that road, we stroll that city, we slice that specter haunting us!
I cannot resist to say something here on the Street Photography "eminence" since we are now flooded by financially engineered contests. There are people that go quickly through MoMA and they think that they know their museum, its photographers, the art of candid, of street photography.
But fortunately, there are also people that acknowledge the futility and the uncertainty of knowing how to see!
People like us!
Photos of the month (by Vassilis Dimitriades and Giorgos Kasapidis) November 2019, Instagram account of BULB (curated by Marius Petrescu, Panagiotis Kalkavouras and the undersigned Michail).
The Bulb Collective consists of photographers active in urban (and rural) photography with an expressive shift to include highly aesthetic and poetic images in their assignments.