Men on a Rooftop in São Paulo

René Burri’s original photo from São Paulo in 1960. Credit René Burri/Magnum Photos via New York Times

This article, about a photograph taken in São Paulo in 1960, is wonderful. Photographer and writer Teju Cole explains how ‘‘Men on a Rooftop,’’ by the Swiss photographer René Burri (1933–2014), became an obsession:

I’m not sure when my interest in ‘‘Men on a Rooftop’’ became an obsession. Through the years it gained a hold on my imagination until it came to stand as one of the handful of pictures that truly convey the oneiric possibilities of street photography. The celebrated Iranian photojournalist Abbas, who knew Burri well (they were both members of Magnum Photos), described ‘‘Men on a Rooftop’’ to me as ‘‘vintage René: superb form, no political or social dimension.’’ Abbas zeros in on the formal perfection of the image, but I’m not sure I agree that it lacks a social dimension. To me, it literally portrays the levels of social stratification and the enormous gap between those above and those below.

A great photo comes about through a combination of readiness, chance and mystery. Gabriel García-Márquez, once asked whom the best reader of ‘‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’’ was, responded with a story: ‘‘A Russian friend met a lady, a very old lady, who was copying the whole book out by hand, right to the last line. My friend asked her why she was doing it, and the lady replied, ‘Because I want to find out who is really mad, the author or me, and the only way to find out is to rewrite the book.’ I find it hard to imagine a better reader than that lady.’’ Like the lady in García-Márquez’s story, I thought some act of repetition would clarify things. And so I went to São Paulo in March, looking for René Burri.

Read the rest.

Men on a Rooftop in São Paulo

Beautiful photographs of Algiers, Algeria, from 1899

Moonlight view, with lighthouse, Algiers, Algeria][ca. 1899].
Moonlight view, with lighthouse, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
A very good friend of mine, Hicham Yezza, recently discovered a beautiful collection of photos of his home country of Algeria from 1899.

I asked Hich for his thoughts on the photographs:

“The photos evoke quite mixed feelings in me. They are exquisite portraits of a bygone era. They are also a record of colonial conquest and domination, of how a land was transformed by the arrival of a European power. Above all, they are a remarkable record of a beautiful landscape, most of which has been lost in the century since, to wars, to capitalism, to modernity.”

One day I would love to visit these places, to see them for myself, and to see how they have changed.

The cemetery, with chapel, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
The cemetery, with chapel, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Cathedral, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Cathedral, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Street of the camels, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Street of the camels, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Group, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899]
Group of Arabs, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899]
Moorish coffee house, Algiers, Algeria [ca 1899].
Moorish coffee house, Algiers, Algeria [ca 1899].
Government place, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Government place, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Moorish woman and child on the terrace, II, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Moorish woman and child on the terrace, II, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Market, Biskra, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Market, Biskra, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Luce Ben Aben, School of Arab Embroidery, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Luce Ben Aben, School of Arab Embroidery, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Museum: entrance hall, II, Algiers, Algeria
Museum: entrance hall, II, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1999].
Merchants of eatables, Bona, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Merchants of eatables, Bona, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Screenshot 2015-08-17 16.30.06
Luce Ben Aben, Moorish women preparing couscous, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Distinguished Moorish women, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Distinguished Moorish women, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
Harbor by moonlight, II, Algiers, Algeria
Harbor by moonlight, II, Algiers, Algeria [ca. 1899].
View the full collection here.

Beautiful photographs of Algiers, Algeria, from 1899

The projection booth

From Wired:

WORKING THE PROJECTION booth at Avon Cinema was like a second film school for Taylor Umphenour. The single-screen theater on the east side of Providence, Rhode Island—a favorite among Brown and Rhode Island School of Design students—provided a sublime mix of unlimited free movies and a century’s worth of cinematic innovation.

The nine-year education would prove invaluable to the aspiring filmmaker. But as much as Umphenour cherished the analog world of carbon rods, lenses, and aperture plates, by 2011 it was clear film was dying—or at least fading into a specialty medium.

[…] for two years the owner allowed Umphenour to photograph and film what has become a relic in most US movie theaters: the 35mm projection booth. “I saw that there was an opportunity to take people into this vanishing world,” he says, “a world that was also deliberately kept in the shadows, unseen for almost a century that it existed.”

The projection booth

Everybody Street – New York City Street Photography (Trailer)

I need to watch this documentary asap. From Wired:

BEING A STREET photographer is a bit like conducting a drunk symphony: You must make order of chaos. Only a few photographers do it well, and many of them appear in Cheryl Dunn’s film, Everybody Street, which chronicles the street photography of New York City.

Dunn chose New York because it always has been at the center of the genre. Many a shooter has made a career documenting the city’s colorful characters, and many of street photography’s most iconic photographs were shot in one of its boroughs.

“If you want to get a really broad slice of humanity, you can find it in New York,” Dunn says. “Every kind of person is out there and I think that’s what’s attracted all these photographers.”

Camel Coats, 5th Avenue, New York City, 1975. Photo by: Joel Meyerowitz.

USA. New York City. 1959. Brooklyn Gang.Photo by: Bruce Davidson/Magnum

Photo by: Jamel Shabazz

Everybody Street – New York City Street Photography (Trailer)

The strange shop windows of the Soviet Union

This is great. From Wired:

Walking around cities like Prague and Krakow in the late 1980s, American David Hlynsky was struck by the lack of advertising on the streets. Instead of Pepsi and the Marlboro man, shop windows displayed scant offerings of everyday items like bread or plumbing supplies. The lack of frivolity fascinated him.

“In the dying days of the Cold War, I saw these windows as a vast ad hoc museum of a great failing utopia,” Hlynsky writes.

He documented the crumbling aesthetic in 450 windows across the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. A portion of his work recently was published in Window-Shopping Through the Iron Curtain. His photos capture a world on the brink of collapse, one in which a strange blend of Communism and consumerism converge.

The strange shop windows of the Soviet Union

Abandoned towers

From Wired, photographs by Spencer Harding of abandoned microwave towers across the US:

The skyway was the largest network of its kind when it opened, and it marked the first time telephone conversations and television broadcasts were made via microwaves, not transmission wires. After 1951, more towers and repeaters were built across the country in an ever-expanding web. Six decades later, however, the system had long since ceased being relevant, and AT&T sold off most of the network in 1999. Many towers—the tallest of which are hundreds of feet tall—were abandoned, vandalized, or scrapped.

Abandoned towers

And now for some photos of colossal statues

From Wired:

Enormous statues have been erected around the globe for centuries, omnipresent memorials to historical figures and events. Fabrice Fouillet’s series Colosses—a collection of photographs of the world’s most imposing monuments—makes these familiar sights downright strange through a simple shift in perspective. It’s not the size and scale that interests him, but their place in the surrounding landscape. The result can be dizzying and disorienting.

“I was first intrigued by the human need or desire to built gigantic declarations,” said Fouillet. “I was not especially looking for the ‘spectacular’ in the series—even if the dimensions of the statues are—but I wanted to explore how such huge monuments fit in the landscape despite their traditional social, political, or religious functions.”

Fouillet frames these sites from the sidelines, capturing the perspective you don’t see in postcards. He frames Dai Kanon in Sendai, Japan, from a few blocks away, for example. Christ the King in Świebodzin, Poland, is framed from behind. In some cases, he shoots wide enough to include mundane details of life and the people living in the shadow of these looming monoliths. Laundry flaps in the breeze beneath the imposing facade of Ataturk Mask in Izmir, Turkey, and a Coca-Cola machine sits just down the hill from Grand Byakue Kannon in Takazaki, Japan. Fouillet appears to be toying with our notions of the sacred and profane.

And now for some photos of colossal statues