October 16, 2003
Cities and Memory, As If.


As if memory came in any other form, as if cities came in any other form.

I was thinking about it recently when db etc and I were at the Met exhibition of French Daguerrotypes. I was thinking it was kind of a shame that photography starts around Paris, since that's one of the only cities on earth that looks pretty much like it did at that very moment in history. Basically, I like city photographs most when they represent what's never or doesn't or was.

Like there's the false memory of James Sanders' Celluloid Skyline, which is kind of a great site, as has been noted. The flash rollover skylines of "visions of the dream city" are dense and small, like digital things should be.

And if those are photographs of a New York that never existed, then Douglas Levere's rephotography of Berenice Abbott's Changing New York are photographs as if the camera itself were a monument. Know what I'm saying, as if the camera itself was the great monument of New York City? It really is, in a way, since Levere uses Abbott's 8×10 "Century Universal" (!) to speak the same language that she did. Speaking the same language, since it's a dialogue.

Geoff Walden's "Third Reich Ruins" is a different kind of dialogue, one with his now-deceased dad, who was stationed in Germany '45-46. Since Walden also runs a nazi-memorabilia sales site and is NRA (he votes!), the intentions of his Berlin are less clear maybe than, e.g. Levere's New York. Quite interesting stuff, though. There is something kind of unique about the "Lost Sites" section of the site, photo above is from there. He has his father's unlabeled photographs of a Germany that no longer exists (that's one up above), and has only the whole wide world to help him identify them. In this, using photography to close some books and open others, I was kind of touched.

To paraphrase, DBrown might have something to say about this. It's a high lob.

Posted by kevin slavin at October 16, 2003 12:55 AM

yes, but you already said all of it.

The Geoff Walden stuff reminds me of the forthcoming "My Architect", another dialogue with a now-deceased dad, in this case Louis I. Kahn. If we forgive our fathers, what is left?

not the lob you had in mind.

Posted by: dbrown on October 16, 2003 11:19 AM

I saw My Architect last year. The Kahn son who made it is uncompelling, but incredible story and worth seeing. Who has 2 secret families?

Posted by: Kio on October 16, 2003 02:06 PM

If I told you they wouldn't be secret, now would they?

Posted by: dbrown on October 16, 2003 02:52 PM

I knew my dad was a student of Louis Kahn, and I knew my parents lived in Philadelphia. but it was only after seeing My Architect with my mother that I learned that they lived next door to one of the secret families. Who knew? you might ask, and the answer is, my mother, my mother knew.

Posted by: Kevin Slavin on April 10, 2004 03:57 PM

Your mother knew, AND she remembered. There's hope!

Posted by: Kio on April 13, 2004 09:32 PM
Post a comment

Email Address:


Remember info?