#425. Giants of steel and glass. But it depends how you shoot them! (2)

By philberphoto | Travel Photography

Nov 12

In the previous post, I enclosed some pictures of La Défense that incorporated reflections and details. To show other styles, I would now like to move on to other “out-of character” shots, some of which are so far out that one wonders where one is.

The first picture of the first instalment showed a pool of water in the main axis of La défense. Its purpose, I suppose, was to reduce that impression of void of such a huge bit of emptiness, where a bazillion people on seemingly important and rushed missions scurry like so many ants. Then, later, they (the planners) did it again, but this time, instead of giving it the look of an urban fountain, they did this. Though, if I were you, I wouldn’t try to swim in 12″ of water…


This is only the beginning of the bizarre elements of urban design at La Défense, as though populating a place with so-called modern art imbues it with some form of soul. Why someone chose incomplete body parts to give a cold place some warmth is past me, but then, what do I know?

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In the same vein, not incomplete this time, rather the oppposite…


Other “art works” grace La Défense, no doubt to significant expense. Or is it to hide exhaust pipes? Still, they do make for photo opportunities

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OK, I am being hugely critical. To be honest, I should add that not all of that “art” is ugly, or beyond understanding. How about this?

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The problem, though, is that the last 3 pictures are taken in a spot where, litterally, it is almost impossible to get to. There is no reason anyone should be there, and therefore these murals are very well hidden from view. The mind boggles…

OK, enough on that topic. Now, how about some elements that are completely out of character in such a place?

For example, amid this sea of steel and glass (or is it a mountain?), someone decided to use wood, maybe to buy himself a good conscience. Which gives this:


Though you could say this fake bench fits naturally, being close to the fake swimming pool above…:-). Another picture to show how out-of-place this wooded expanse feels against the “normal” background. As to the tree, it is so forlorn as to be almost more painful than bare space. Fortunately, fast glass can do the merciful thing and blur the out-of-focus areas.


Lastly, this question mark. Is this deliberate, or just happenstance? Is it an attempt at art, or just a joke? I just can’t imagine any valid reason for designing something like this…. And, yes, before you ask, 135 APO…


Well, here we are at the end of this second instalment. There will be a third one coming, with elements picked out in a way that completely transforms the true nature of the whole. A very pompous ways to say: abstracts.


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  • Paul Ferzoco says:

    Great post!

  • Leonard says:

    My feeling is that intention is irrelevant to the question of aesthetics. (I would have loved a discussion with Howard Roark on this point.) Whether it is the source, in this case these bits of architecture and sculpture, or the photo, what matters is our response. To the extent that we can gather an emotional connection to an art experience (again, either the source or the print) devoid of judgment (positive or negative), to that extent, we deepen our connection to it. Else why bother?

    Technique, discipline and an understanding of one’s medium is another matter entirely. It is helpful when in critical mode, to have at least a foggy notion of what goes into the creation of an art object. Unfortunately, art is all too commonly understood in economic and political terms. I suppose that is why I don’t easily respond to rap as music. Point being that it is more helpful to understand how an art object comes into being than why.

    Sorry about the polemic, but I feel rather warmly about this issue.

    Love the photos. With few exceptions here, I’m not so sure I’d respond with as much to the “real thing.”

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