There’s something about these rooftops. And the streets. And the light. The mix of construction materials, textures, natural greenery, fabrics. Sound and smell might have something to do with it. Surely. Hopefully for you, not too much. You can’t have those. You can have these few photographs. Montevideo. The neighborhood of Palermo. But that might be unnecessarily more specific. Or not.
Rooftop, north, afternoon
These vertical pipes. They are common and then uncommon. They are like the boxes, formed like houses, mounted on poles to attract martins or bluebirds. Of course they’re nothing of the sort. They vent something common that is not important what it is, except that it might be a mystery. But you would decipher it. And they are capped with miniature belfries, little cupolas.
Here they are in a line receding from center frame to distance on the right. The water tanks go opposite, up and away to the left. Behind them are rectangles and trapezoids of white to grey to black. The spiky green tips of a plant peek over a wall. Tops of trees hint at the bordering streets of the block. There’s sky, blue and clear, bright and plain, without texture and lightly blue above the pile of textured greys.
An antenna pokes up. The pre-cable era, pre-digital, VHF array in a horizontal plain topped with a UHF vertical reflector directed toward the source, higher in the distance, like an electromagnetic sunflower aiming itself at the sun.
Interior and exterior, Candy Bar, night
Here from within the Candy Bar at night. You have a whiskey or an artisanal beer, or both. You be or pretend to be a poet, or philosopher, or artist. You meet and discuss with other sharp minds the culture, movements, ideas, alternatives. You answer the text messages of another friend while listening and responding to the one present at the table before you. It is not you being half present, multi-tasking, or distracted. It is you that enjoys a presense in multiple universes, a freedom of parallel discourse that is as natural for you as breathing. You are modern, seeing and being seen, appreciated, known, acknowledged. You are the opposite of the invisibles, the untouchables who sometimes wander past in the street. You are desirable, desired, empowered to satisfy your desires. In touch.
There too is always the universe of your mind, your internal dialog, your own thoughts talking to you, begging for attention while you try to attend to the words of your friend or whatever else your senses are bringing to you. That has always been true. From the moment you felt consciousness, pre-verbally, the you.
Back in the photograph. Here a kind of shrine to the tree fairy, or to the squirrel, or to the beautiful lithograph of a squirrel. Or all all of those things. There the street, a light pole with a poster. Some bicycles suggested by their wheels captured in a bicycle stand. The frame of a bicycle that, too long abandoned, lost its wheel.
The interior and exterior light, both floods, make contrast of strong highlights and dark shadows. Outside the light is warmer, a little bit more diffuse. On both sides, branches with leaves spray out, disconnected from their rooted plant.
The food is delicious, the air, the light, the gentle crush of voices, smoke, alcohol, experience and memory. Intoxicating.
Rooftop, east, morning
Three worlds stacked in vertical bands one on top of the other. Your eye goes to the middle one. The busy one. The one with objects to take in and decipher. Tops of skylighted atriums. Colors and textures of clothes and sheets hanging to dry on a line. The line connects the bottom of the frame to the top, drawing your eye from the close foreground to the distant dwellings, with their windows, floating above a plateau of rooftops, as much in the sky as rooted to any gravity.
Above all you take in the blue plain that tells you the weather is fine. Maybe you notice the blue just barely brushed by faint patches of visible moisture. Below a warm, rosy, textured wall in shadow and some greenery pricked here and there with reflections of the sun. Perhaps for you these specular lights answer the reflections on the skylights and the distant rooftop.
A photograph is always more than a record. It is a framing, a focus, a juxtaposition, a point of view, a selected moment. Like any picture it takes your mind somewhere, however briefly. You add to it what you have in your experience, your sensibility. In a way it is as much you as it is it. Like all things. An interplay of what is expressed, perceived, interpreted, evaluated, invoked, and supressed.
Often times (as in here, partly) you make a photograph to share with others your here and now: “Look! Here is a window into my world, see!” Or, “This is me, here, with. see! with thee or another thou. beloved.” You use photographs like birds use song.
As a record, with time, a photograph might become nostalgic, or maybe horrifying, for presenting something before you that was once alive, present, and is no longer. Or a comforting reminder of who you are and where you came from, what you have seen and what you have been. Sometimes it is a little of both.