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2007 02 07
Angle of Incident #41: Seminar 3 “Elemental Thunder” Part C
This was followed by Christina Kalt’s “H” discussion of the “Heroic Flaneur”, as embodied by the contemporary street photographer:

The flâneur, first identified by Charles Baudelaire, is an idler and passionate observer of the metropolis. In Baudelaire's phrase the flâneur is 'a botanist of the sidewalk', an analytical connoisseur of the urban fabric. The man of the crowd is no flâneur; rather, the flâneur is necessarily objective and cannot be tied to the city:
“The flâneur is that character who retains his individuality while all around are losing theirs and derives pleasure from his location within the crowd, but simultaneously regards it with contempt. The flâneur is exactly that figure who heroically resists incorporation into the milieu in which he moves. Indeed, the disappearance of the flâneur into the crowd, the instant in which they become ‘one flesh’, is the moment of the extinction of the flâneur (Benjamin, 175).”
In an age of incredible immediacy, there is a technical adjacency with the flâneur. The contemporary photographer is a flâneur – a passionate spectator that surrenders himself to the clockwork of the city amid the intoxicating urban experiences. There is no lack of subjects or colours in the urban fabric. It is the job of the flâneur to latch onto the subtleties and nuances of space and time – the lyrical impulses of the city. The heroic flâneur brings something new to consciousness; his work carries with it a resonance that propels it beyond space and time and transforms it into an archetype of modern life.
1. Benjamin, Walter. Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the era of High Capitalism. (London: Verso, 1983).
2. Visual Culture and the Contemporary City: https://visualculture.wordpress.com/2000/10/16/the-flaneur/
3. Photo credit: http://www.inconduit.com/sets/

[email this story] Posted by Gary Michael Dault on 02/07 at 03:02 PM

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