This summer: beautiful weather. The sun shines brightly. Even on the Normandy coast it’s almost warm. So we took the train to Trouville, the beach closest to Paris. Yes, it almost looks like summer. This is what the seafront looks like. Once again, in those lovely Rollei Retro 80s tones…
In total, I spent almost ten days in Copenhagen, most of those spent in meetings at the University. But I did have some time to walk around town and look for photographs.
Looking back on those photographs now, I don’t feel I was particularly inspired. There are a lot of photographs of sea and people on bicycles. Here is a photograph that does not feature either the sea or a bicycle.
I can only hope for better better photographs in other cities…
Now, Copenhagen. Walking around on the city on a Saturday evening just after I arrived, I came across a round tower in the city centre. Inside, it looked like this:
A smooth brick floor curves resolutely to the top of the tower. Some soft evening light shone through the windows.
Of course, I discovered once I got to the top that the Rundetaarn was once an astronomical observatory, built in 1642, thirty years before the Paris Observatory. Peering through a window near the top one can see instruments and telescopes. Today, the centre of Copenhagen, like the center of Paris is no longer an ideal location for observations, at least of celestial objects.
After Bonn, I spent a few days visiting friends who live near Essen, in the Ruhr valley. Here one can find the remains of the massive Zollverein industrial city, once the largest coal-mine in Europe. The main coal-washing hall has been transformed into an enormous museum telling the history of the Ruhr valley dating right back to prehistoric times. It is a beautiful and and encyclopaedic museum.
So in the west, this is the story of our age: factories transformed into cultural artefacts. In the museum, countless photographs testified to the terrible conditions at the factory. And it’s not just photographs: one can see embalmed lungs shrivelled up by emphysema. Of course, such places still exist elsewhere in the world, and an epic film from Wang Bing a few years ago shows the hard life to be had in Chinese steel mills.
But today, the control room on the main floor at the Zollverein coal-washing plant has become a cafe.
Today, Zollverein is quiet, the machines are stilled, and the dials are all at zero (as you can see from my previous post).