Sunday, June 26, 2011

Deja View

Part of the joy of travel for me is taking photos of the places I go. I realize that the world really doesn't need any more shots of the Eiffel Tower and that mine stands no chance of being better in any discernible way from what professional photographers with far better equipment than I have done.

But there is still an air of creativity I like to linger on to. My shots may not be original but they are original to me.

An artist named Corrine Vionnet has turned other people's photos into art. She has rummaged through photobanks like Flickr and collaged pictures of world landmarks in a unique way. She superimposes hundreds of photos over each other. The results are hazy dreamlike montages. She takes concrete images and turns them into impressionistic memories.

A series of 23 of her images can be found here. I haven't been to every place in her gallery but I was shocked with how many I have. And how do my photos stack up against the collective soul of the photo taking public? Here are some examples:




We nearly missed the Brandenburg Gate on our visit to Germany last summer. Our tour guide had some last minute disruptions and asked us what we still wanted to see. We ended up taking a nice leisurely stroll along the path of the former Wall to arrive at the gate. It was the day of a World Cup match and the locals were streaming to an outdoor festival with video screens. The streets were alive with a united Berlin and I cannot imagine events that would force a scar down the center of such a beautiful city for so long.




The Colosseum in Rome is an amazing contradiction because of both how much of it is left and how much is gone. I was amazed to learn that after the fall of Rome, the ancient monuments of the city were used as an open air quarry for centuries. many of the gorgeous Christian churches have this ancient center of lavish entertainment in their roots.



There is no more iconic geological formation representing the American West than the Mittens in Monument Valley. But I imagine only the hardest core of fans of old westerns know where they are. Part of my trip last year to Arizona was planned to deliberately brush into Utah to see this area. The local Navajo tribes have done a wonderful job of making this remote area accessible while still letting its natural grandeur speak for itself.






Tienanmen Square is fraught with symbolism, both for Chinese Communists who are the current stewards to this enormous palace in the center of what was once the largest city on Earth as well as the freedom advocating protesters who have used this center to bring attention to their own struggle. Now the plaza is regularly patrolled for demonstrations, but unrest may someday return.



Every time I see the Golden Gate Bridge I marvel at how such a utilitarian piece of engineering can blend in so well with the surrounding natural beauty. The sheer challenge of such a structure demands awe and appreciation.



London has so many iconic views, but perhaps Big Ben is the best emblem of a Victorian sense of monumentalism and lavishness of detail which may never return.



Even older than the ruins of Rome or the pyramids of Egypt is Stonehenge which shows that our combined eagerness to build things and to look at the heavens predates the written history to explain what fascinates us so.



And finally, the Eiffel Tower is perhaps the most iconic structure in the world. There is a certain majesty which demands attention.

I guess my humble takes pale against the weight of thousands of others. But these photos are my memories of what I have found graceful and beautiful And if others have taken inspiration of the same views from the same locales so be it.

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