Posts Tagged ‘night’

SCOTCH and SODA Sweat, and other things

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Catie, Emma, and I all wanted to make the most of our time in Marseille, so we spent the majority of not only the days but also the evenings walking around the city. I’ve talked before about my affection for night photography, and the winding streets of Marseille offered plenty of good new content. I could ramble on for a little while now about some of the things we saw, or the pleasant taste of the nighttime sea air coming off the Mediterranean, but frankly I need to cut straight to the point of this post; while we were walking along some random street in a city in France, we glanced at a small clothing store display window and saw a BRONXVILLE sweatshirt for sale.

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)

Photo taken in Marseille, France on November 12, 2010.

Before we go any further, be sure to take a good close look at that picture. Everything about the display of that sweatshirt in a shop in the middle of Marseille is so incredibly bizarre, that I don’t even know where to begin. For anyone totally clueless, Bronxville is a very wealthy self-proclaimed ‘village’ with approximately 6500 residents about 15 miles north of Manhattan in New York State. (According to Wikipedia, it is actually one of the places in the country with the most affluent households and the highest average incomes.) Sarah Lawrence College (from which both Catie and I graduated) happens to be located in Bronxville. Actually, to be more precise, SLC sits mostly in the much less prestigious city of Yonkers, but the college is very careful about associating itself (including its postal code) instead with Bronxville as much as possible since it has such a nice (and did I mention wealthy?) high-class reputation.

OK, so the obvious general question is – how did a Bronxville sweatshirt end up in Marseille? Who knows. And why did someone put it there? Well, it does also say “NEW YORK” underneath, and it seems like no matter where you go in the world, there will always be people who want to associate themselves with New York. That’s fine! I’m not judging! New York is a great place. I love it there!

The next weirdest part of the display is the listed price of the sweatshirt. Over the course of my last three months living and squandering money in France, I have become intimately familiar with the exchange rate between the Euro and the American dollar. It has remained fairly consistently at a rate of at least $1.33 for every €1.00. (In other words, for whatever price you see in France, add on an extra third of that to get the true cost for us American suckers. After you do that, feel free to cry a little before paying the probably egregious sum.) That means that this Bronxville sweatshirt – which in my opinion is rather old and ratty-looking, not to mention just plain boring – is being sold in a French shop for almost $45. I don’t think even the swindlers who work at the Sarah Lawrence College bookstore would try to charge that much for such a sweatshirt. Who is buying this for $45? I honestly can’t imagine.

Finally, we get to what I think is easily the strangest part of this enigma. Why is it labeled as a “SCOTCH and SODA” sweatshirt? Is it because this is the type of article of clothing that you would only want to wear while lounging about, drinking scotch and soda? (For that matter, do people lounge about, drinking scotch and soda? I haven’t the foggiest.)

EDIT: I did some research, and I found out that Scotch & Soda is actually the name of an “Amsterdam Couture” fashion design house, specializing in very expensive clothes. I can’t actually find the Bronxville sweat anywhere on their website or store, but let us assume that it is indeed designed and distributed by this company. I have to say, I think this makes it even weirder! What is expensive and fashionable about a shabby blue Bronxville sweatshirt!? Who in Amsterdam decided this was a chic idea?! Have they been to Bronxville before? Were they trying to make a BRONX sweatshirt instead, and just got confused? (Not that I would consider a Bronx sweatshirt particularly “chic” by any regard, but it would at least be more imaginable than Bronxville!)

I am sure this mystery will never be solved. Maybe if I had stayed in France long enough, I would have started seeing fashionable young ladies wearing black tights, tall boots, and sweatshirts featuring the names of other somewhat obscure locales in Westchester County. Who’s to say, really…

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)

Photos taken in Marseille, France on November 12-13, 2010.

A city by the sea

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

When I was living in Tasmania, I loved that my life in Hobart centered around the sea. My apartment was more or less in the city center, and every day I would walk ten or fifteen minutes to the University of Tasmania School of Art, which had its campus in an old jam factory directly on the water. I wasn’t much of a socialite in Australia (nor anywhere, truthfully), so when I wasn’t working at school or at home, I was often meandering around the docks, staring out at the water or (when feeling less pensive) hunting seagulls with my camera. I don’t know why I liked it so much. There was something about the constant presence of the water and the quietly lapping waves that just seemed to help keep me at peace.

So, I was happy when we got to Marseille and I saw that the city (part of it, anyway) centers itself around Vieux-Port. The seaport was first settled by the Greeks in 600 BC, and the harbor has remained an important spot ever since (although it is now used only as a marina and a docking point for local boat trips). I don’t know much more about it than that (and I freely admit I pulled even that pitiful historical tidbit directly from Wikipedia), except that it is now surrounded by what seems like hundreds of restaurants. I honestly don’t even really love any of the photos I took around the water. I just wanted to take a moment and note my appreciation of this maritime quality of Marseille.

Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 12, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)
Marseille, France (Nov 13, 2010)

Photos taken in Marseille, France on November 12-13, 2010.

A sisterly arrival

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Ever since we moved in, Catie and I have been feeling like our studio apartment was just a little too spacious for two people, so we were relieved yesterday to finally add a third resident to the mix – namely, Catie’s sister Emma! She took the train from Geneva to Lyon yesterday afternoon and we didn’t waste too much time before setting out into the mild clouds and wind (and fortunate lack of rain) for her introduction to our city. We did what I would call the ‘classic introductory ramble’, walking west from our apartment across the Rhone to Place Bellecour, then onwards over the Saône to Vieux Lyon, stopping by the Cathédrale Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Lyon, and then looping back towards Place des Terreaux. We kept walking for a while at night, but once it got a little too chilly for our liking, we took refuge in my favorite local creperie for dinner. All in all, it was a great first day (in my ‘veteran Lyonnaise’ opinion, anyway)!

Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 9, 2010)

Photos taken in Lyon, France on November 9, 2010.

Silhouettes, lookouts, and a few regular photos to boot

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Since I arrived in Lyon a couple of months ago, I have picked up my old “Place in Silhouette” project that I began a few years ago while I was in a drawing class at Sarah Lawrence College. (You can see the two compositions I made at SLC here and here as well as the one I did in Hobart, Tasmania.) The idea of the project is to create a landscape of a place by (photographically) capturing its relevant or recurring (or just plain interesting) shapes, making silhouettes of those shapes (in a very low-tech laborious fashion in Photoshop – using none other than the “Legacy” Brightness/Contrast tool), and then compositing those shapes together to create a landscape that is abstract but hopefully still captures some essence of the original place.

So, I have been spending some time walking around Lyon on my own trying to gather as many shapes as I can before I have to leave. One part of the city that I have decided to possibly feature is the Fourvière Lookout. On the North side of the Basilica at the top of Fourvière Hill, there is a large lookout area that provides one of the best sweeping views of Lyon. Everyone who visits the Cathedral invariably makes their way outside to look down and usually take a few photos of the city below. (I would love to do a study of how many pictures are taken from that spot over the course of a single day, and I would love even more to somehow gather everyone’s digital images – perhaps over the course of a week – and composite them together to create an extremely detailed panorama of the city… Maybe someday, when wireless camera/computer communication is a bit easier and more ubiquitous.)

Ever since my “Art, Natural Environment and Technology” course at the University Tasmania, I have had a fascination with that sort of ‘scenic overlook’. I might also call such spots ‘visual sinkholes’. I don’t necessarily mean to convey scorn with that term; I just find it interesting how fascinated people are by wide views from high vantage points. Perhaps it is just because that scene is rare in our visual lives, or maybe it is something more intricately primal or psychological. In any case, I enjoy watching the mobs of people lean over the stone barrier. I wonder how much they are really in awe of the view, and how much they are just doing what people are expected to do and looking at what people are supposed to want to look at. (I also wonder how much time people will actually spend looking at the wide angle photo they take from that vantage point. My guess is that it will be forgotten fairly quickly…) I don’t mean to sound like a visual elitist, pitying the poor masses. I just cannot shake the feeling that a lot of inner dialogues at that spot are somewhere along the lines of, “Hmm… Pretty. Oh, there is that thing we saw. We really are high up… How long should we stand here?”

Well, somewhere in the midst of my self-satisfied chuckling, I noticed that the silhouette of such groups of people at the lookout could be compelling, so I decided to start capturing people (sneakily and stealthily, and hopefully not too creepily) as they gazed on. I’ve made it back to do so three times in the last week so far, and I’m excited about the potential.

Group silhouette at Fourviere Lookout (Nov 1, 2010)

Group silhouette at Fourviere Lookout captured on November 1, 2010.

While I have been scouring Lyon for shapes and repeatedly walking up and down Fourvière Hill (or funicularing up and down when I am lazy in a hurry), I have taken a few general photos as well. Visiting the lookout so often is a good excuse to regularly duck into the Basilica (which continues to my photographic nemesis) and stop by other nearby spots as well, such as the Cimetière de Loyasse. There is no shortage of photographic material in Lyon!

Lyon, France (Oct 29, 2010)
Lyon, France (Oct 29, 2010)
Lyon, France (Oct 29, 2010)
Lyon, France (Oct 29, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 1, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 1, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 1, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 1, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 1, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 1, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 1, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 1, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 1, 2010)
Lyon, France (Nov 1, 2010)

Photos taken in Lyon, France between October 29 and November 1, 2010.

Walking in French shoes

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Our time in Lyon is going by far too quickly… I think Catie and I are both feeling like there are just not enough hours in the day (nor in the night, I would add). Catie is gulping down French lessons and vocabulary flashcards and pages of Harry Potter (en français, naturellement!) by the bucketful, and I am trying to make serious progress on various programming projects (iPhone apps mostly, at the moment) as well as commit myself to start a few other art projects, and we are both trying to maintain some semblance of a well-kept blog. The problem is, there are just so many things to see and so many foods to eat and so many people to get to know better here in Lyon! I suppose this problem of having too many exciting things to do might be an indication of a fairly good life at present, but it’s proving a bit frustrating and stressful all the same. In any case, Catie and I are putting our feet to good use and walking as much of this great city as we can – recently armed with new French shoes (boots, in Catie’s case)!

Lyon, France (Sep 18, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 25, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 25, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 25, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 25, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 25, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 25, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 25, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 25, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 25, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 25, 2010)
Lyon, France (Sep 26, 2010)

Photos taken in Lyon, France between September 18-26, 2010.