Paris II: The River Fountain


The River Fountain, Place de la Concorde. (Eiffel Tower in the background.)

Yes, I’m inordinately fond of photographing things with the sun behind them but the cloudscape was especially attractive on this afternoon. There wasn’t as much visible water coming off the fountains as there had been previously but the spray was most welcome on a hot day. Some of the fountains of Paris are a good match for those in Rome.

Each of the Fountains beside the obelisk consists of a round basin, 53 ft. in diameter, above which rise two smaller basins, surmounted by a spout from which a jet of water rises to a height of 28 ft. In the lowest basin are six Tritons and Nereids, holding dolphins which spout water into the second basin. The fountain on the S. side is dedicated to the Seas, the other to the Rivers.

Baedeker’s Paris (1900).

Paris I: The Obelisk


The Obelisk, Place de la Concorde.

I love the way the thin layer of tarmac in the Place has been worn away by the traffic to reveal the cobblestones beneath. The Paris Obelisk seems more impressive than Cleopatra’s Needle, not least because of its dramatic setting and the way it’s aligned with the Tuileries promenades and the two Arcs de Triomphe (the famous, larger one at the end of the Champs Elysses and the smaller one before the Louvre).

The Obelisk, which rises in the centre of the Place, was presented to Louis Philippe by Mohammed Ali, Viceroy of Egypt. This is a monolith, or single block, of reddish granite or syenite, from the quarries of Syene (the modern Assuan) in Upper Egypt. It is 70 ft. in height, and weighs 240 tons. The pedestal of Breton granite is 13 ft. high, and also consists of a single block, while the steps by which it is approached raise the whole three and a half ft. above the ground. The representations on the pedestal refer to the embarkation of the obelisk in Egypt in 1831 and to its erection in 1836 at Paris, under the superintendence of the engineer J. B. Lebas. Cleopatra’s Needle in London is 70 ft. in height, and the Obelisk in the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano at Rome is 104 ft. high.

Ramses II, King of Egypt, better known by his Greek title of Sesostris the Great, who reigned in the 14th cent. before Christ, erected a huge ‘pylon’ gate and a colonnade before a temple which his great ancestor Amenhetep III (Amenophis or Memnon of the Greeks) had built in the E. suburb of Thebes, the site now occupied by the poor village of Luxor. In front of this gate stood two beautiful obelisks, and it is one of these that now embellishes the Place de la Concorde. Each of the four sides of the obelisk is inscribed with three vertical rows of hieroglyphics, the middle row in each case referring to Ramses II, while the others were added by Ramses III, a monarch of the succeeding dynasty.

Baedeker’s Paris (1900).

An announcement redux


The 2006 Jack Trevor Story Grand Prix was decided on Friday afternoon at L’Horizon, rue St Placide in Paris. The sans precedent prize can be seen above. After much deliberation the judges decided that Mr Steve Aylett was a worthy recipient of this most ingenuous of literary awards. Mr Aylett now has to spend the prize money within two weeks of its receipt and have nothing to show for it at the end of those two weeks.


In attendance (l to r): Mr Jeff VanderMeer, Mr John Coulthart, Mr Michael Moorcock, Mr Neil Williamson and Ms Emma Taylor. Behind the camera, Mr Eric Schaller who may be seen below on the left.


Previously on { feuilleton }
An announcement

Generative culture


77 Million Paintings by Brian Eno, Laforet Museum, Harajuku, Tokyo.

Brian Eno is in the latest Wire talking about his forthcoming DVD-ROM, 77 Million Paintings. He also mentions coining the term “generative music” in 1995 to a resounding silence. 77 Million Paintings continues the generative project:

This will be available later in the year as a DVD-ROM (which will play on most modern computers) and a DVD featuring Brian talking about the project. It also includes an extensive booklet covering Brian’s long and successful career as a visual artist.

The name 77 Million Paintings comes from the possible number of images that can be created from a huge number of combinations. Anyone familiar with Brian’s audio-visual installations will instantly recognise the inspiration behind the project. The music is from Brian’s installation collection.

Ambient stuff for the eyes, in other words. I’d be looking forward to this if I still had a TV (mine packed up a few years ago) as I used to program my primitive Spectrum computer (which still works!) to generate simple patterns, turning the TV screen into an abstract artwork for a few hours. The difference with Eno’s project, of course, is the greater variety, quality and degree of intent involved. I saw one of his installation works, The Quiet Club, at the Hayward Gallery in 2000 which used similar audio and visual processes. With 77 Million Paintings you’ll be able to turn your living room into a quiet club of your own.

In a similar generative vein, there’s WolframTones: “A New Kind of Music – Unique cellphone ringtones created by simple programs from renowned scientist Stephen Wolfram’s computational universe.” Too complicated to explain; go and play around with it.