Pixels or petals
With the first hint of spring, the number of visitors skyrockets. Each arrives armed with GPS, tri-band phones and the constant need to comment. Instagram, Facebook, textos and Twitter are the modern parallel of building plaques that resume a life or a death with Ici Veçut or Ici est tombé. The wave of abbreviating strangers arrives after weeks of rain but just as fresh fruit and flowers pour into markets and shops.
At the same moment, buckets of blooms appear on the sidewalks. There are flowers in the gutter, on the corners, outside stores. The new sightseers fetishize each pretty petal, keeping one another always in the shots. The floral bounty is so rich one has to sympathise as they blur the boundaries between virtual and visceral.
Emerging into watery sun after months of low, grey skies, the rich green of public spaces is astonishing. The young artists driven indoors since la Semaine du Dessin (“Week of the Drawing”) pour out into them, as do the art students. Many are also iPad artists.
This phenomenon didn’t exist last year. But, when David Hockney chose Paris to debut his bouquets on iPhone and iPad, it must have stirred up something local. Presented by Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Hockney’s luminous Fleurs fraîches were as likeable as Invader’s mosaics. Hockney may have gone back to making blockbusters. But here, from cafés to art schools, smart phone “art” is a topic du jour. It’s back to the questions posed by John Berger and Walter Benjamin; how much do we actually ‘see’ in the beauty we digitise?
Hockney himself says to digitise is not enough. “I’ve been looking through cameras a long time and it always imposes, it forces a certain kind of picture. Photographs won’t show you how the eye really sees”.
For him, Apple’s app-laden tools offer a different avenue. It’s not that of Twitter, Instagram or tu m’as vu. Said the artist in Paris, “I advocate drawing. I think the teaching of drawing is the teaching of looking…and learning how to really look has to be good – for anyone.” Regarding petals or pixels, whether you’re transient or resident, in Paris this is wisdom that knows no season.
• Paris parks that offer free WiFi display a plaque.
To connect, you follow these steps:
1. Launch your browser and type in the address
2. Wait to be guided to a login
3. Click ”Selectionnez votre pass”
4. Fill in details and accept the Terms & Conditions
5. Confirm (Valider)
You will receive a confirmation for a two-hour session.
To continue after two hours, reconnect.
NB: Do not confuse the choice of “Free” with the city service; free.fr is a separate service provider.
• Find the free WiFi : It’s in these parks and gardens. Note that the Luxembourg (which belongs to the Sénat) and the Tuileries (which belongs to the State) are not part of the Mairie de Paris WiFi scheme.