14 August 2008

Le Flâneur et al

Takes Two to Tango
Take two to tango at a red light in Copenhagen.
Plant Mouvement
Copenhagener with a new plant in the process of transporting it home.
Pushing Off
A different angle on cycling in Copenhagen.
Le Flâneur
Thanks to a friend, Nicole, in Paris, I have been suddenly presented with a definition of myself. In a word... Moi je suis un flâneur. In more than one word, via Wikipedia:

The flâneur's tendency toward detached but aesthetically attuned observation has brought the term into the literature of photography, particularly street photography. The street photographer is seen as one modern extension of the urban observer described by nineteenth century journalist Victor Fournel before the advent of the hand-held camera:

This man is a roving and impassioned daguerreotype that preserves the least traces, and on which are reproduced, with their changing reflections, the course of things, the movement of the city, the multiple physiognomy of the public spirit, the confessions, antipathies, and admirations of the crowd. ( from "Ce qu'on voit dans les rues de Paris", "What one sees on the streets of Paris")

The most notable application of flâneur to street photography probably comes from Susan Sontag in her 1977 essay, On Photography. She describes how, since the development of hand-held cameras in the early 20th century, the camera has become the tool of the flâneur:

The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world 'picturesque.'

6 comments:

Alan said...

Your're in exalted company...:-))

Flâneur was often used to describe Parisian photographers like Brassai, Robert Doisneau, Boubat, Willy Ronis(still around at 90+) and the much earlier Eugene Atget, well before Susan Sontag popularised the term.

Robert Doisneau occasionally photographed local bike races in his formative photographic years and bikes featured in some later pics, so there is a connection:-)

Zakkaliciousness said...

holy shit! :-)

Mex said...

if you dont take my photo while im in copenhagen i will absolutely spew. im practicing my chic just in case.

lagatta à montréal said...

And of course, Walter Benjamin, though he was not a photographer (as far as I know).

Anonymous said...

In the photo we see Zak, our modern-day Flâneur, perusing a Swedish magazine - but not the sort that Iggy Pop referred to.

Our bikey-boy is reading 'Vi bilägare" - We Car-owners.

So is he a closet petrol-head?

My guess is he's just reminding himself of all the hassles he doesn't have to deal with, not owning one of those big hunks of metal.


PS cool table but take your feet off it, puh-leeeze!!

Zakkaliciousness said...

mex... let's line it up and do a feature!

lagatta: indeed. M. Benjamin.

anon: glad you caught the irony. me reading swedish car magazines from the early 1990's. oh, and it's my table so I'll do as I please... :-)