The city of Berlin is "a constellation of historical, cultural, political and aesthetic structures cohering into the same orbit."  In this longtime investigation, I am walking around the city armed with a couple of analog cameras. A kind of modern flaneur underway in the streets of the city I observe and I am trying to sense the atmosphere of the modern city.  My first goal is to construct/compile a very rough map of this complex. For this purpose, I need to develop a visual reference frame.  In a second step, I would try to develop my personal visual narrative of the city, my BERLIN STORY ... 

In a certain way, I think that modern cities do exist as complex articulations of particular imaginations or representations. The physical materiality of a city (stones, bricks, metal, glass, etc.) is one thing the materiality of language, stories, books, images, films, representations is another.  Maybe is an exaggeration but in a certain way "Modern cities most properly exist as representations". 
developing my personal visual narrative of the City of Berlin ... 

And precisely at this point, the role of the academic workers ( academics working on urban cultural matter, cultural theorist, and cultural producers) comes to light. The role of a photographer is to develop new and different representational systems for the city. Or even more radical new ways of representing the city.   ( see also: Ben Highmore, Metaphor City, 2013)

The Atmosphere of a City 

In this investigation, my core point of departure is that the concept of an atmosphere can play a powerful role in helping me caring on and realize this investigation of the city of Berlin. An urban environment and even less a historical city is not a pre-determined or ahistorical substance unaffected by the people who transit through it. Even further on individual moods, the walking photographer, generate a different interpretation of an atmosphere. 

A city is never devoid of an atmosphere. Even an innocuous city characterized by homogenous and pre-fabricated structures - a city of interchangeable megastores, lifeless streets, and an endless parade of concrete - even such a city carries with it a thick atmosphere. But what is the specific atmosphere of the city of Berlin? Notably, the idea of an urban atmosphere is not something we can understand in abstraction. Rather, atmospheres are understood through being grasped in a bodily sense. 
More often, however, when we talk about the atmosphere of a city, then we do so in terms of a tonality that permeates and gives character to a place, or by what Merleau-Ponty calls “a latent sense, diffused throughout the landscape or the town, that we uncover in a specific evidentness without having to define it” (Merleau-Ponty,  Phenomenology of Perception.  London 2012, p. 294). Consider here how we speak of the romantic atmosphere of Paris, the frantic atmosphere of New York, or the imperial atmosphere of Vienna. What these terms tend to denote is a constellation of historical, cultural, political, and aesthetic structures cohering into the same orbit. These constellations are not affective elements staged together as an image - though of course they are often manipulated and capitalized upon for political or commercial gain - but instead emerge as an affective presence, which gives a city its sense of place ( cf. Gernot Böhme, Atmospheric Architectures: the Aesthetics of the Felt Space. London 2017). 
(citation: Dylan Trigg, Atmospheres of Anxiety and Shared Emotions. London 2021.  )
GHM - The German Historical Museum. PENTAX67, 75mm PC, Fuji 400H Pro. 

exploring the City of Berlin with a pinhole camera ... 

I wanted to keep the whole project very simple and basic. That is why I choose at first pinhole cameras.
 Early in  2018, I started my first exploration of the city of Berlin: exploring the city of Berlin through a pinhole camera.  [ read more: Berlin Pinhole Project - Part One ].    The project aims to explore the very complex patterns of the urban structure of the city ... 

The City of Berlin is a complex of Forms and Architectural Structures. 

Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace)

Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace) is a Baroque palace in Berlin, located in Charlottenburg, a district of the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf borough.

The palace was built at the end of the 17th century and was greatly expanded during the 18th century. It includes much lavish internal decoration in baroque and rococo styles. A large formal garden surrounded by woodland was added behind the palace, including a belvedere, a mausoleum, a theatre and a pavilion. During the Second World War, the palace was badly damaged but has since been reconstructed. The palace with its gardens are a major tourist attraction. [wikipedia]

compilation of the visual narrative of the city of Berlin ... 

During various short journeys and countless walks through the various districts of the city,  I tried to compile "a personal image of the city of Berlin".  The main compass/guide was the history of the city.  The forms of singular architectural structures historical and modern and the process of their transformation. 

What follows is a small selection of this personal mapping, a very rough form of my "Berlin story". There are a lot more analog images that need processing, classification, evaluation, and embedding in a more complex narrative.  

Analog panoramic view of "Unter den Linden"

Unter den Linden (German: [ˈʊntɐ deːn ˈlɪndn̩], "under the linden trees") is a boulevard in the central Mitte district of Berlin, the capital of Germany. Running from the City Palace to Brandenburg Gate, it is named after the linden (lime) trees that line the grassed pedestrian mall on the median and the two broad carriageways. The avenue links numerous Berlin sights, landmarks and rivers for sightseeing. [Wiki]

Phase Two - Using more advanced cameras

In the following years 2019 and 2020 I started the second phase of my photographic exploration of the city of Berlin. I have expanded my toolkit by including some more advanced film cameras such as the PENTAX 67, a Zeiss Ikonta 6x6, a 6x17 panoramic camera but also a 35mm Nikon FM2. I would post those results in a separate blog entry as soon as I manage to order the visual material in a more coherent way. At the end of this post, there are some examples and contact sheets from those experiments.  

At first I am focusing on architecture. The new rebuild urban environment ... The modern Berlin is not the old Berlin of the 19th. This old Berlin has been destroyed in the flames of WWII and it is lost. Parts of this old old Berlin have been reconstructed. This is the new Berlin or to be more precise the new narrative of the city of Berlin.    

walking through the streets of Berlin with an analog camera ... 

Unter den Linden, Pentax67, Takumar 75mm PC, Fuji 400H Pro. 

Zeiss Iconta 524M 6x6


I would extend it soon ... 

Exploring Berlin with a PENTAX 67 MF Camera

I have done some experimentation shooting various films (Kodak TMAX100, PORTRA400, Fuji 400H Pro, etc. ) in various day times. 

Exploring Berlin with a PENTAX 67 MF Camera (Kodak Portra 400)

Unter den Linden, Pentax 67 with Takumar 75mm PC on Fuji 400H Pro. 

Panoramic View "Unter den Linden"

6x17 analog panoramic view of "Unter den Linden"

Contact me if you somehow are inspired or curious about my Berlin project! 


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