Thursday, August 25, 2011
The Loraine was the grandest hotel in Madison when it was built in 1924, andit hosted many luminaries over the years -- including presidents Truman and Kennedy. Times changed, and so did Madison's hotel market, and in 1968 the building was converted to office space for the state of Wisconsin. In 2001 it was renovated and took on new life as The Loraine luxury condominiums.
Photographed with handheld iPhone, HDR on, filtered in-camera with ShockMyPic, Gaussian blue applied in PS. It's a combination that gives interesting Hopperesque effects at night, as long as the light is not too low.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
A French word that goes way back but which picked up the modern sense in which it is used in critical theory from Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin and others. Has led to considerable dense prose on modernity and related matters.
The concept of the flâneur is important in academic discussions of the phenomenon of modernity. While Baudelaire's aesthetic and critical visions helped open up the modern city as a space for investigation, theorists, such as Georg Simmel, began to codify the urban experience in more sociological and psychological terms. In his essay "The Metropolis and Mental Life", Simmel theorizes that the complexities of the modern city create new social bonds and new attitudes towards others. The modern city was transforming humans, giving them a new relationship to time and space, inculcating in them a "blasé attitude", and altering fundamental notions of freedom and being.Susan Sontag jumped right in and applied it to street photography.
The most notable application of flâneur to street photography probably comes from Susan Sontag in her 1977 essay, On Photography. She describes how, since the development of hand-held cameras in the early 20th century, the camera has become the tool of the flâneur: "The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world 'picturesque.' "Perhaps "flâneur " is not totally apt as a title for the photo (who's the flâneur -- the photographer or the man with the bags?), but it seemed so much cooler than "Man in a Sport Jacket Carrying Shopping Bags and Flowers at the Wednesday Farmers' Market."
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I took these photos of feet at Madison's Maxwell Street Days several years ago. State Street is about 3,900 feet from the base of Bascom Hill to the Capitol Square, and it was filled with many times that number of human feet.
Enough to power all our portable devices without breaing a sweat, it seems. According to a UW-Madison press release (thanks Angela), humans generate an enormous amount of energy just by walking, energy that's usually completely wasted. Two UW engineering researchers, Tom Krupenkin and J. Ashley Taylor, published a paper outlining their research and its implications.
"Humans, generally speaking, are very powerful energy-producing machines," explains Krupenkin, a UW-Madison professor of mechanical engineering. "While sprinting, a person can produce as much as a kilowatt of power."The researchers go on to describe a technology that could be put in the soles of shoes to capture this energy and make it available for either recharging batteries or extending their charge. "Feet, do your stuff!"
Grabbing even a small fraction of that energy, Krupenkin points out, is enough to power a host of mobile electronic devices — everything from laptop computers to cell phones to flashlights. "What has been lacking is a mechanical-to-electrical energy conversion technology that would work well for this type of application," he says.