Friday, August 19, 2011

Le Flâneur

Le Flâneur
A project by Luke Shepard, a student at The American University of Paris.  Composed completely of photographs.  Location: Paris, France; Camera: Nikon D90; Music: Intro by The XX (   Thanks to Urban Demographics for posting this video.                                                                                                   Le Flâneur – what is a Flâneur, anyway?  Le Flâneur is a term normally ascribed to a male stroller who gathers a reading of urban space through arbitrary exploration; the Flâneur figure as a contemplator of urban space.  In French, the word means “stroller,” “loiterer,” “lounger,” “loafer,” or “saunterer.”  There really is no direct English translation.  Charles Baudelaire developed a derived meaning of flâneur—that of “a person who walks the city in order to experience it.” 
Baudelaire's aesthetic and critical visions helped open up the modern city as a space for investigation, while other theorists codified the urban experience in more sociological and psychological terms.  In his essay “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” Georg Simmel theorizes that the complexities of the modern city create new social bonds and new attitudes towards others.  The modern city was transforming humans, giving them a new relationship to time and space, inculcating in them a “blasé attitude,” and altering fundamental notions of freedom and being
         One of the reasons the concept of Flâneur-ism is typically associated with men is that until quite recently women did not have the ability to wander safely and unaccompanied and anonymously through the city, and go wherever they pleased.  Many areas were off-limits to women, for one reason or another.  Therefore, le Flâneur was almost always a male, since being able to move through the city anonymously and without attracting undue attention is one of the pre-requisites, in fact it is the hallmark, of Flâneur-ity.  It is also the reason why, throughout time, certain bold women have decided to masquerade as men, to have access to that type of urban observer anonymity and jettison all the restrictions that normally devolved upon their gender. 
So, we have here, for your viewing pleasure, a couple of time lapse videos.  The first one (above) is of Paris, the original home of the Flâneur, and the second one (below) is of New York City.  These are two of the greatest cities in the world, the first the cultural capital of the world in the 19th century, and the second the cultural capital of the world in the 20th century. 

Time Lapse Photography of Brooklyn & Manhattan, New York City (with 9/11 tribute)  All production: Tal Kagan; Blueglaze LLC (
Music: Adele - Hometown Glory (Chewy Chocolate Cookies Remix)

Time Lapse of NYC 1812-2013

I couldn’t resist adding in a third time lapse video, this one a model of the built environment of New York City, 1812-2013.  Music by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind

OK, based on a reader's comment below, I have added a FOURTH video, this one is not time lapse, but the tilt shift technique, NYC in miniature. For details on how this technique works and an interview with the artist, see:
Thanks, Amy Trexler, for sending us the link to the Sand Pit a couple of years ago, and thanks, Joanneseale, for bringing it to our attention again! 


  1. If you like timelapses i think you will love tilt shift here is one on new york :)

  2. Excellent! Yeah, we love the Sand Pit, thanks for bringing it to the attention of the blog readers. I had seen this a year or two ago, and sent the link around via e-mail, but that was before I started the blog, so it didn't reach as many people. This tilt shift technique is really incredible. For some technical details about how it is done (it is VERY different than time lapse photography) and an interview with the artist, see