I am awaiting warmer weather, in the hope that I will then feel up to taking a photo-walkabout, somewhere in London town.
Meanwhile here are some photos from a walkabout I did, walking (about) from the Angel Tube to the Barbican, as late sunshine was replaced by early moonshine, back in April of 2016:
The final photo there is of how a stretch of Oxford Circus Tube was looking on that day.
The lady seen smiling through a window of reflections (photo 10) is the then only very recently (March 31st 2016) deceased Zaha Hadid (as you can maybe guess from photo 11). This was the lady whose buildings only had straight lines in them at all because people will insist that the floors they walk about on and work on are mostly flat rather than curving up and down. Clients eh? Philistines the lot of them. ZHA has (or had in 2016) a building in Goswell Road, and I walked right past it that day, and also had a nose around in it. I remember being surprised, because I had no idea this place even existed.
See also the photo of another portrait picture, this time of actor Charles Dance, which I photoed on this very same walkabout.
Chaos! Modern Art, only for real! I think it’s a coffee place of some kind,, or maybe a hairdo place that also sells coffee. There are a couple of Brian Micklethwaits in there, reflected in the window, and in a mirror behind the window. (I photo myself instead of photoing strangers.)
And, there’s this building …:
… which used to be the Office for National Statistics, until that enterprise moved to South Wales. Since then, I don’t know who has been occupying it. Some even spookier government enterprise or enterprises is my guess. Somehow it doesn’t look like the sort of building that would make regular people very welcome. Too much like a Modernistical version of a medieval fortress. It looks like the sort of building with occupants who think that they might one day have to defend themselves against angry mobs.
A big part of my life now is my visits to the Royal Marsden Hospital on the Fulham Road. I’m talking about this building:
I show the above photo of the Marsden here. again, because I want now to draw your attention to the big square gap in the middle of this building, behind the main entrance at the front. This used to be an open square, not unlike other London Squares, although admittedly not nearly as spacious. But now it’s all been filled in, with a biggledy-piggledy huddle of small and mostly just rather functional buildings, which they put in the square because these buildings had to go somewhere and this was the only place they could fit them in. Like this:
I’m not going for artistic effect there, just trying to show you the sort of place I’m talking about.
The reason I was in the square was that I was visiting this place …:
… to have my heart scanned. (At the end of the scan, the guy said it seemed to be working fine, which was nice.) And this Markus Centre would appear to be one of the early square-violating buildings, erected as you can see in 1904. It is trying to look architecturally nice, in what now looks rather ancientist but which no doubt looked modern when first built. Nevertheless, this air of architectural show is undermined by the much more functional look of lots of other buildings which have since been inserted into the square, with lots of pipes and ducts showing, because why not? These buildings are here to do important jobs, not to look pretty. See also, the entire design of more recent hospitals.
The front of the Marsden is the usual piece of grandiose Victoriana, and I love it. But these photos I photoed today were of what you might call backstage architecture. Not basically there for show. There to get stuff done.
As with so much recent and especially “modern” architecture, it is very easy to get lost trying to find your way to the bit you want. Luckily the staff at the Marsden are unfailingly helpful when you ask the way. If they weren’t, and if there were not signs everywhere, the entire building would be a Kafkaesque nightmare. And especially this random clutch of buildings stuck down in the middle.
LATER: Actually, I think I may have been in the smaller square, off to the right. Which just shows you how easy it is to lose your bearings in this place.
Ah happy days, of the sort I spend just wandering about in London, photoing whatever I see that seems amusing, in whatever seem like amusing ways:
But sadly, these photos were not photoed today or yesterday or some such very recent day. On no. They were photoed on March 3rd 2012, in other words just over nine years ago. Because of the cold and the effort (both of which I feel more now) and because of Lockdown (which can actually be ignored but I don’t like the ubiquitous propaganda and pressure I feel when I do that (also a function of getting old (oldies being more nervous of these sorts of vague atmospherics))), I am now doing very little of this kind of thing. I hoping that may change in the summer.
I was using a then very recently acquired camera, a Panasonic Lumix FZ150. My more recent cameras, an FZ200 and an FZ300, having been very similar to that one. Basically, around five or more years ago, they stopped improving such cameras, and threw all their money at the cameras in mobile phones. If they manage to beef up the zoom on those, I might very well make my next “camera” my next mobile, and forget about getting any sort of better “camera”. Just like millions of others.
So I was at Dezeen, checking if there’s been any big architecture lately (only in China), and I saw this photo:
And I assumed we were in Japan. New modernist white box building, yes. The Wires!!! in front of it, yes. Absolutely nothing said in the text about The Wires!!! But all this was happening in Seattle.
Why do I make such a fuss about The Wires!!!? It’s because the phenomenon of The Wires!!! is an extreme illustration of the matter of what is seen and what is not seen. The point about The Wires!!! is that they are literally not being seen. There they are. And the Real Photographers are definitely seeing The Wires!!! They put them centre stage. They are saying to the people who write these extraordinary pieces, about buildings with The Wires!!! all over them: Look, The Wires!!! Write something about The Wires!!! But no, the writers don’t see The Wires!!! Or if they do, their Editors are under strict orders not to see The Wires!!! They delete all mention of The Wires!!!
Cities, in particular, abound with things you are supposed to look at, and things that you are not supposed to look at. Like stage scenery that is there to be looked at, and the equipment that supports the scenery or in some way services the scenery, that you aren’t supposed to look at, or even to see. We all look at cities in this way. I do it. I still try to avoid looking at all the poles, for lighting and for signs, that sprout out of urban pavements. (Memo to self: Photo photos that put these things centre stage, in the manner of the above photo of The Wires!!!))
What’s strange about the The Wires!!! phenomenon is that there is a stand-up fight going on between the people supplying the photos, and the people commentating, at Dezeen anyway, on the photos. These Dezeen writers are either forbidden to see The Wires!!!, or, even weirder, they literally do not see The Wires!!!
The above photo, and the commentary on it, is the most extreme example of this phenomenon, of The Wires!!!, that I have so far encountered.
What we have here, photoed five years and a day ago, is one of those window cleaning cranes, and the Moon. In the first photo there, we see all the ingredients, but this is not the Photo itself. It is merely the photo with the ingredients that went into the actual Photo.
Very little is said about window cleaning cranes, and the aesthetics of window cleaning cranes. Yet they often become the biggest feature in a particular scene.
I just wrote the sentence: “There is nothing temporary about them”, concerning these window cranes, but that’s not right. Sometimes they reach up out of their buildings, spread themselves, and dominate the scene. But somethings they fold themselves up into almost nothing. Or, they literally hide themselves inside their buildings, and become nothing.
They are invisible to some, because if you pick the right moment, they are invisible, nearly so or completely so.
Here are a couple of photos I photoed earlier in the month, of a rather handsome building just off Sloane Square, just past the tube station as you leave, in the direction of Pimlico, Victoria and such places:
A moment later, I tried photoing a detail at the top of the building, of where the top of the tower seems to collide with the big rectangular chimney under a row of chimney pots. Seems being the word, because you cannot tell from my photo, any more than you can from looking at the photos above.
But my closer-ups didn’t solve the problem. They merely magnified it. Memo to self, blah blah. Go back and check it out.
Well, today I did just that. I was in a bus and in no mood to get off it. I wanted to be home. But luckily for me, the state of the traffic stopped the bus and I was able to photo the exact detail that I earlier didn’t photo properly. It helped that this time around, the light was in the right place:
There was photoshop-cloning in both of the above, but we’re not talking my prowess as a photoer, we’re talking architectural detail, and my photoshop-cloning made things clearer.
I don’t know quite what to make of this. Best guess, the chimney basically has the right of way, because without it the machine-for-living-in that this building is doesn’t work so well. But, that little top-of-the-tower thing has nowhere else to go except to bury itself in the chimney, while actually, in reality being brushed aside by it. Whatever exactly we are looking at, it’s decidedly odd.
It is also unclear whether this is an old building or a fake old building, or maybe a hybrid in the form of a painstakingly restored-exactly-as-was old building.
I say this because a year or two ago, this is how it was looking. This being posting with photos that show a lot of activity going on in what became the inside of this new building. I’m guessing, although it’s only a guess, that they only got planning permission if they left the previous exterior untouched. But this was very hard to contrive, give what they wanted to do behind that exterior. In short, a lot. So they said, can we smash it all down and then build a new building with an exterior that looks exactly like the old one? And that was okay, provided it was exactly like that. So that’s what they did, right up to and including the way this chimney collides with this roof top thingy.
It’s a bit unfair to call this “roof clutter” (as I do in the category list below), but what else can I call it? Maybe a new category is due called Rooves? Or is it Roofs?
On further reflection, I think that what this strange little circumstance shows is that chimney pots have swung wildly back and forth from being just severely practical, towards being highly ornamental (as well as practical) and then back again. Which means that umpiring between a plainly decorative tower top and a chimney gets very … odd.
Being so restricted in my movements just now has got me pondering the view from my kitchen window. It doesn’t change from day to day, or now, from year to year. But, oh, there was a time, a time when it would change from hour to hour:
Those were photoed between October 2015 and February 2016. I show some because they show what was going on. and others for artistic effect. You decide which is which. What they were doing was converting the building opposite it something different and taller, in which more living and working could happen than before.
The one that got me interested in these photos was the silhouette of the guy with the machine. But now, the ones I like best feature the reinforced concrete being destroyed. I love that effect.
The netting that you see in some of these photos is to stop pigeons crapping in the courtyard. It didn’t help with the focussing, but it does create an effect.
Memo to self: Dig up the old posting where a crane unfolded itself in this very spot.