Piping the promenades

In Promenades on January 4, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Benjamin’s notes for the Arcades Project, that were saved and brought together by Bataille to leave us with the fragmented text that we have for this project today, originally included a folder of photos.  We assume from references within the text and elsewhere that Benjamin intended to include photography within his final work, but this folder has never been found.  We’ve been trying to find a way of incorporating photography into our adaptation of Benjamin’s approach for the study of the seaside promenade.  You’ll see we have used photography quite extensively in previous posts here, and here (for example).  We’ve now also decide to make use of an online tool for aggregating photostreams from flickr and merging them into a stream of relevance to this project.

The tool we are using is yahoo pipes, which allows us to automatically retrive photos from flickr taken by anyone who has stored them online in this way, where those photos are tagged with keywords that we select, like ‘promenade’ or ‘esplenade’.  Benjamin was developing methods in his analysis that dealt with snippets of information, the detritus of society, adverts, merchandising, observations of what might otherwise be judged insignificant; this yahoo pipe helps us to collect images in a similar way.  You can click on the image below to go straight to the pipe, which is a constantly updating stream of images.  We’ve also included a feed of these images at the botom of this blog.

We’ll be developing this pipe over the coming months, refining our use of tags and developing a method for anlysing a dynamic flow of images.

  1. I think that use of this ‘found’ material may be essential for us if we want to really get to grips with Benjamin’s method and with The Arcades Project.

  2. I completely agree. I’m truing to write something brief now on a sampling strategy for using this pipe thing. I’m going to set up another one using keywords from our posts so far on this project and then work out a way to take a random sample from the pipe, probably using screen grabs. We can then use ethnographic style coding / content analysis to anlyse the pics in the sample. I think as well we should attempt to develop a more holistic response to the stream – perhaps we could split these tasks between us and then bring the results together?

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