Wednesday, October 31, 2012

View of Regents Canal in London, U.K.: Courtesy of Hamish Stewart

Regents Canal in London runs from Paddington to Limehouse basin on the Thames. Through its journey it passes through the splendour of Regents Park but also through the areas of re-generation around Hackney. 
These images follow a walk along the Regents Canal from Camden to Victoria Park near Mile End. It takes in recent changes to the area around Kings Cross station and then along the Canal from Islington to Hackney where new housing developments, council estates and a decaying industrial landscape define an urban landscape that is undergoing a rapid period of change. It reflects a broad gentrification of the East of London and a reminder of the constant tides of re-development and change that have marked London over the centuries.

For more urban landscapes go to :  Le flâneur: the random urban photographer.
Comment by  Hamish Stewart 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Café: an essential stopping place for an urban flâneur

When an urban flâneur becomes weary of wandering the streets, s(he finds himself a café that offers the best vantage to observe the outside street and the inside activity.  The flâneur always has in her/his possession, a book, a notebook and maybe a camera if s(he is an urban flâneur photographer. 

The flâneur makes reads furtively when the scene is boring or writes in a notebook of his/his observations, but is always watching the inside and outside activity.  Sometimes, s(he is fortunate to overhear conversations.  

The following might be some of the observations of a flâneur while siting in a  café:

There is the couple looking at webpages on a laptop

Another couple are holding hands across a table and talking quietly.

A student who is reading a textbook in the corner.

The old man who is circulating from table to table stricking up conversations with whoever will listen.

The young mother with a young child in a stoller having a pleasant a conversation with a friend.

On the street, people are passing on the sidewalk.

There are two retired gentlemen speaking Italian. 

The young teenage with a mobile in his hand talking in earnest with a friend while walking down the street, oblivious to the surrounding environment.

And.. there is one of your friends walking up and sitting down at your table.

Such is the varied, complex and rich environment that the urban flâneur observes contemplates..  and participates. A café represents a microcosm of the neighborhood and city that sh(e resides or is visiting. It can tell about it composition and diversity, giving insight to its participant observer..

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Urban Graffiti: Spontaneous Artistic Expression

(Location unknown. Graffiti art by Guy Fawkes: )

Urban graffiti is an 'art work' which is often  ignored as a visual distraction. However, from seen in the photographs below, it is art.  The urban flâneur wandering the streets would also view these public displays of art with amusement and contemplation. One can see in these selected works, political statements, particularly the one by Banksy, color schemes reflecting the culture of the area (e.g. example from Cuba) and abstract art (as seen above.) May we always have these artist that present ideas that should be in the public sphere.

If any readers of this blog has seen excellent examples of urban graffiti where they reside, please e-mail them to me and I will post them. Some explanation about the work, including city, location within the city etc. would be appreciated. Please do not send images more than 1 Mb.



Thursday, October 4, 2012

Be a Virtual Urban Flâneur

(Street scene in London. Captured on  Robot Flâneur: Exploring Google Street View )

I chanced upon this site: Robot Flâneur: Exploring Google Street View website where you can explore:

London; San Francisco; Manhattan (New York City); São Paolo, Paris; Berlin; Johannesburg; and Mexico City via Google Earth.

You can also explore the city of your choice by going to Google Earth and selecting the street view option, if it available for your selected city.

This is an interesting way to view cities and be a virtual urban flâneur.  However, being an authentic urban flâneur means being involved with the urban environment, hearing sounds, awareness of activity and spontaneity.  Nevertheless It still holds your interest and could provide a teaching tool for Geography instructors.