Bicycle and Car (symbols)

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by Julie H, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. A bit of nostalgia for me. I remembered I had a photo of a person riding a bicycle on the breakwater in Santa Barbara back in 1972. This is the largest scan I have of the neg without digging it out and re-scanning. bike reflection.jpg
    Julie H and Supriyo like this.
  2. Good example, Phil. It's interesting that your picture reads "across" even though it's a vertical. I think that's because the car is such a force and it's at the bottom of the frame (see below for more on this).

    Crewdson ... we've been through our disagreement on him before. Everything is just too congruent in his pictures. That's phony, to my eye; at least in photography. The cars (and all his other content, down to the smallest dust bit) have been turned into type players, not allowed to be what they are. I know you disagree.

    I like that Gursky picture. I don't recall seeing it before. Gives me an excuse to rummage through my books ... I have a documentary DVD on him that made me like him less than I thought I would/did. But I'm getting off topic.

    Back to vertical/horizontal reads from the top of this post. There are two "car" pictures from John Gutman that are almost identical, but they read very differently, to my eye:

    John Gutman The Artist Lives Dangerously (first)

    John Gutman The Artist Lives Dangerously (second)

    The first one is almost square and reads, for me, horizontally, left to right. The cars are annoyances that are being ignored by the boy, who is in another world. The cars are the non-artist "real" world of busy people; the boy is in his imagination.

    The aspect ration of the second one is 1 to 1.2 and reads vertically for me. It reads up and down, with the car being a menacing monster from which the boy winces. Where, in the first one (horizontal) the boy seems solidly on the pavement, in the second one (vertical) he seems to me to be floating in the air, barely holding on to his art. The black car descends onto him like a vulture.
  3. Car photo from the 60's. The Pontiac GTO was a symbol of "cool" especially for the teenagers. My friend Dana had one, and we all helped him work on rebuilding the engine. dodi and dana gto.jpg
  4. 16x20 bike in snow.jpg Another bike photo
  5. Steve, how did you guys rate the Dodge Charger as compared to the GTO?
    [as somebody who secretly admired those cars, though we were a Ford station wagon and Volvo family]
  6. Chargers were cool as well. Just google "muscle cars of the 60's" and the GTO and Charger are on the top of the lists.
  7. My photo of Dana and Dody with his GTO shows a young man proudly leaning on and showing off his car, with girlfriend on the other arm. I love his casual pose, cig in hand too.

  8. I know. *sigh*

    When I was in high school I had an MGB GT (the hardtop MG). It was orange. I wanted to jack it up in the rear and put on big fat tires. I remember the mechanics roaring with laughter at my request ...

    My little sister and I would regularly feel the need to go 100 mph on our way to school. The only way we could do it was to floor it for the entire ten mile segment of 4 lane highway that was on our route. As we went down the exit ramp, that little down slope would just put us over the top. That car's tiny four-cylinder engine was most definitely not "muscle" car material. At high speeds it sounded like an enraged mosquito.
  9. Hey, I would have died for an MGB GT! My friends drooled over muscle cars, but I was more into sports cars. My first car was a used 1961 Austin Mini I got for $100. The transmission didn't work but I took it to a British mechanic and he notice that one bolt was loose in the thing. I tightened it up and it was fine!
  10. $100!! Wow!

    Okay, okay, I admit I loved my orange bug; it was quick (as opposed to fast) and sporty.
  11. bicycles in film

    Remember this?:


    I hated that movie.

    The one that I did kind of like is Breaking Away. Sort of an anti-James Dean rebel or maybe a New and Improved James Dean for the post-60s.

    We must not forget Pee-wee's Big Adventure. I won't say I liked it but I won't say I didn't, either.

  12. The GTO in Steve's photo is definitely associated with power and speed, and Julie's MGB had sexiness, and both cars, especially when modified (like with the Goat's custom rear-end mailbox ;) ) add to the owner's persona. But not having seen the bicycle movies that you listed, Julie, I'm not sure what symbolic meanings the bikes are taking on. What is your take?

    I do like your GTO photo, Steve. It captures some of the zeitgeist of the time.
  13. I went to high school in NYC, where not one in my group had a car. We walked and took the subway. I don't remember if any of us thought one subway line was cooler than another because in those days I don't think they were air conditioned yet. On the rare occasions when I used my father's yellow Chevy Impala (certainly don't remember impressing myself or anyone else with the speeds it could go) to visit friends out on Long Island, all I remember about the car was how hard it was to find a parking space for it when I got home late at night. I could literally ride around for an hour or two looking for a spot in the neighborhood. There was nothing cool about that! But at least I never had to walk around with a pack of cigarettes rolled into my tee-shirt sleeve to add to my car coolness.

    I was one of those Jewish kids who could sport an Afro back in the day. Does that get me into the cool-symbols-of-the-late/mid-20th-century club?

    Next up, penises. Or did we already cover that with cool cars?
  14. Symbolism or nostalgia?
  15. Seriously, though, Steve brought up a good point in mentioning nostalgia. Symbolism and nostalgia are different. I think it's important to say the fact that cars can be used or seen symbolically doesn't mean every or most photos of cars are symbolic. Steve's photo of his long-haired friend, to me, is nostalgic but not symbolic. The car acts precisely on its level as car. It's been very important to everyone here exactly what kind of car it is. Specificity rather than universality. Importantly, in that photo, the car is acting as what it is, a car, and the nostalgia taking hold is because those for whom it's nostalgic recognize it as such and attach memories to it. His friend's long hair is not a great photographic or literary symbol. It's long hair and it recalls but does not symbolize that era, IMO. This is meant to take nothing away from the photo.

    A photographer friend of mine made one of my favorite car pics a while back on a road trip with his then girlfriend. Sorry, I can't link to the photo because it's not online. She's in a red dress seen through a very partial shot of the tinted windshield, and most of the photo's space is devoted to the road. It's in color so has a snapshot feel, not unlike Steve's black and white pic. There's no way of knowing what kind of car it is. Not identifying the car and instead using the car in this way seems like a symbolic usage to me. There's harmony and narrative in his usage of the car along with her sleeping and the open road. There's also a quiet sexiness to it. It's more art than nostalgia, IMO.
  16. Give me a break! Talk about selective and picayune enforcement of a bizarre rule to begin with. I've seen hundreds of member photos used in more than one thread. Now, suddenly, when the site is shedding members like a sinking ship sheds sailors, were going to start enforcing this nonsensical rule.

    Please refer to silly PN rules and change them rather than unnecessarily stifling the few dedicated members you have left!
  17. Heh. A response to the LINK from my previous post:



  18. For me, bikes let you color outside the lines. They're also kind of invisible and/or below the radar. Compare that to cars that are rule-bound; you can roar and break the rules, but you play in/with/against them. Visibility is kind of the point.

    Bikes seem to me to always be tied to childhood, being in it or leaving it. They're human-powered which makes them more integral to the person that even horse transport. For me, they're very 'animal' things. When I'm riding a bike, I'm a little bit feral.

    Read the Wikipedia links for the movies and I think maybe you'll see how bicycles 'act' in their roles, especially to do with childhood and rules.
  19. Norma Desmond likes this.

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