Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Art of the Flâneur

From today's Planetizen:

The art of the flâneur -- wandering aimlessly around the city, observing its daily rhythms -- has been revived by photobloggers.

Maisonneuve urban affairs columnist Christopher DeWolf takes a look at the flâneur, the dandyish boulevardiers who wandered aimlessly around nineteenth century Paris, observing the city and its inhabitants. Flâneurism was dealt a blow by car culture and suburbanization, but lately, it seems to have made a comeback. Can part of the credit for this revival be given to photobloggers? "Today's flâneur is the photoblogger," writes DeWolf. "Wandering around town, snapping photos of places and faces, these men and women are urban ethnographers, observing and interpreting the city around them."

Par example: The above photo is one of my favorite street shots that has a great back story. I took this awhile ago at Times Square when I was just wandering around taking photos and observing the city. Nearly two years later, I was interviewing someone for an arts-related real estate story, and the interviewee mentioned they were moving their office out of Times Square. That's all she said. While we were still on the phone, I emailed this photo to her, and sure enough, it captured a birthday party her office was having that spilled out onto the street. Totally random New York story ... and a perfect little example of
flâneurism. (Flâneuring is also how I happened across the whole St. Marks squat story ... scroll down for more on that.)

For the whole flâneur article (a good read), click here:
The Urban Eye: The flaneur is alive and sauntering in the modern metropolis