Paris Changing
January 1, 2008 10:18 PM   Subscribe

Paris Changing Photographer Christopher Rauschenberg rephotographed the Paris images Eugène Atget around 100 years later for his book Paris Changing.
posted by doug3505 (25 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
These are always fun to see, but they seem like more the work of a historian than a photographer.
posted by smackfu at 11:04 PM on January 1, 2008

I agree, smackfu. To me, Rauschenberg's photos are really only interesting in their juxtaposition to Atget's work - on their own they're just not very captivating. I do like the storefront with pots vs. the window of the contemporary art gallery.
posted by anarcation at 11:16 PM on January 1, 2008

Paris NOT changing is more like it! Not that that's a bad, thing, far from it. But these locales have changed so very little that it seems there's little point in this kind of documentation, outside of showing... how little it's changed!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:52 PM on January 1, 2008

One expects of the genre to chronicle decline, so I was surprised to see Paris improved (visually, at least) in most of the Rauschenberg's photos. The city has traded its casual and familiar airs in favor of something cooler and more precise. The result is perhaps less livable, but visually striking.
posted by limon at 11:53 PM on January 1, 2008

Um, sorry for that extra comma after "bad". Pesky gaddam com,mas. They're, every,where,,,, ,,,

,,,,, ,,,, ,,,,,,,, ,,,,


posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:54 PM on January 1, 2008

That's interesting, limon, that you see improvement. Many of the places shown have indeed gotten cleaner and crisper, more antiseptic, which doesn't translate into "improved" for me. I find it more bland. From a visual and a "living" point of view.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:57 PM on January 1, 2008

I prefer the "Older" Paris too, flapjax. What happened to the cobble stoned streets? We still have some of them here in New Orleans.

The signs painted on the buildings in the "Old" recalls the post by Brandon Blatcher, Wall Dogs.

The carts are really neat. Who or what pulled them? Man or Beast and where are they?

Nice post doug3505.
posted by JujuB at 1:04 AM on January 2, 2008

Reminds me somewhat of John Walker's Lignières: Then and Now,
which also includes an extensive DYI guide, The Craft of
“Then and Now” Photography
posted by effbot at 1:16 AM on January 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

What happened to the cobble stoned streets?

There are still plenty left.
posted by Wolof at 2:09 AM on January 2, 2008

I tried to do that once. I took that hefty Atget book I had and searched for locations in my neighborhood that matched Atget's pictures. Project stopped after a couple of hours when I realised that I would have to stand up, for a few minutes, right in the middle of some heavily trafficked street, with the book in one hand and the camera in the other trying to find the exact shooting angle. Paris didn't change that much visually, but the car traffic sure did.
posted by elgilito at 3:01 AM on January 2, 2008

Interesting idea, but needs something... more cowbell, for instance.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:26 AM on January 2, 2008

I really like it. I just wish that he'd managed to find the exact same spot Atget had and, more importantly, taken them at the same time of day.
posted by Kattullus at 5:12 AM on January 2, 2008

more cowbell, for instance.

Plus de clarine*, sil vous plait!

*clochette de bétail
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:21 AM on January 2, 2008

Also, I love how the Zeus graffito is integrated into the classical decorations on the house next to it. Ah Paris... were even the graffiti is tasteful.
posted by Kattullus at 5:38 AM on January 2, 2008

I prefer the "Older" Paris too, flapjax.

Me too. And so did Charlie Baudelaire:
Le vieux Paris n'est plus (la forme d'une ville
Change plus vite, hélas! que le coeur d'un mortel)...

Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 5:56 AM on January 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I just sent this link along to my GF, who is going to go absolutely merde de singe over this stuff (ya see, she loves Paris). Thanks, doug3505!
posted by Pecinpah at 6:33 AM on January 2, 2008

I am fascinated by any then-and-now city photos. I've seen pictures showing twenty year differences that are more extreme than these with a century gap. Here it's the subtle differences that are so cool, as opposed to the usual "thirty years ago it was a beautiful building, now it's a parking garage!" type observations.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:47 AM on January 2, 2008

I wish they were juxtaposed on the same page.
posted by desjardins at 7:08 AM on January 2, 2008

More graffiti, less horse shit.
posted by Paid In Full at 7:15 AM on January 2, 2008

Many more of the photos from the book are at this photography site. I found it linked from the author's pages. These helpfully have locations noted, and I was surprised to see many of the spots I recognized aren't actually where I thought they were.

The problem with these photos, at least seen online, is all you really see are the shapes of buildings. Which mostly don't change, of course. What's fascinating to me is how the minutiae change; street furniture, affiches, hats and hairstyles. I wonder if there's any useful way to capture that in this genre of photography?
posted by Nelson at 9:33 AM on January 2, 2008

Next week I'm visiting Paris for the first time. It's wonderful to see how unchanged the basic structures are. The first thing I thought was: If someone did a similar project with photos of Toronto, it would be unrecognizable, as anything worth looking at here is torn down to build fugly condos.
posted by operalass at 2:38 PM on January 2, 2008

operglass - I can't remember the title or anything relevant, but someone did one of Toronto and I swear I saw it on the blue in the last month or two... it was 77 and 07, and there was a good mix of very different and not-so-different pictures.
posted by glip at 4:36 PM on January 2, 2008

Leonard Pitt produced an interesting book along somewhat similar lines -- Promenades dans le Paris disparu (English version, Walks Through Lost Paris) -- juxtaposing photos of Paris ca. 1860 (just before Baron Haussmann undertook the massive restructuring of the city) and the present. At the first link you can click the map of a particular walk, then click an individual "stop" to see the juxtaposed photos from that standpoint.
posted by Bureau of Public Secrets at 6:00 PM on January 2, 2008

I've already seen her giving head, why would changing clothes be of interest to me?

Oh, wait. Seriously, what both limon and flapjax said. The new shots are definitely in the main more antiseptic, stripped of life. People may live someplace, but they no longer bop down to the first floor to shop for coffee or cucumbers or flowers or postcards.

That's not just the loss of Paris, but of cities everywhere.

More graffiti, less horse shit.

That's why in the first one you can see they've been able to raise the contour of the street. In the past it was necessary for them to drain pretty efficiently, you see ....
posted by dhartung at 7:21 PM on January 2, 2008

The new shots are definitely in the main more antiseptic, stripped of life.

I think it's really difficult to compare them. The original shots are the best photos that Atget took of Paris. Even though it was 100 years ago, the motivation was still good photos, not documentation of the buildings. The ones that were antiseptic were never shown to anyone, because they were crap photos. But the reshoots... well, who cares if they are good photos artistically, as long as he has the location and the angle right. The reshoots aren't art.
posted by smackfu at 8:59 PM on January 2, 2008

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