Bicycle and Car (symbols)

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

  1. Stages of life (or the evolution of transport ... ):

    Thomas Hoepker Boys in the rain

    All of the symbols in this next one — 'home,' 'door,' and path/road,' 'bicycle' — are between the photographer and the viewer. The kid has no clue what the heck is going on and he's not going down that path on the bicycle anytime soon. But I'm not sure the dog isn't in on the conversation.

    by August Sander


    It's whatever the good photographer/artist crafts it to mean. Phil 1) knows the connotations of what he's using, and 2) uses it accordingly. He's not pointing and saying "Hey, lookit that!", and leaving it up to the viewer to figure out what the heck he's lookit-ing at, he's making a picture.
  2. Doesn't that final scene begin with their car pulling up to the airport in the fog? [Agree with you about the car not being much of a defining noir element in Phil's photo.]
    Always felt to me like Robert Walker played the dame in Strangers on a Train and John Dahl did in Rope, though I'm sorry but no man could ever take the place of Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat. Also see Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter and Charles Boyer in Gaslight as so-called homme fatales.

    I do it myself, motivated by low key black and white and stylish lighting, but hesitate when associating photos with film noir. The melodrama, cynicism, and smoldering sexuality that help define classic film noir are often absent in photos referred to as being of that genre. Wonder if there's a better term with which to refer to those photos.
  3. Norman, here's an article of the presence and symbology of cars in film noir:

    John Hill - Driving is Murder: The Automobile, Violence, and the City in Film Noir

    While it's not necessary they are a recurring motif like all the other motifs of film noir. If not for their symbology than for how they can be used visually (as a way of lightning by the car's headlight or as a way of framing through windshield and car windows and for creating claustrophobic spaces)

    Talking about cars in film: Christine
  4. I think the texture and energy of the smears in Phil's photo are more noirish, almost providing a sense of paranoia, than the car. But I don't think the smears are "symbols" of paranoia or noir. Also, agree with Phil that cars are often used effectively as an element in noir, though not necessarily symbolically.

    My sense is that all these threads, as good as the discussions may be at times, have often conflated "symbol" and "element."
  5. When I was using the term noirish as a description I was referring to the whole image in which I think the car plays an important part in the image being more noirish than it would be without the car.
  6. Well, it's all the elements (or a single element) of a picture that can contribute to the picture's symbology.
  7. Very true.

    That doesn't mean it's helpful to conflate symbol with element. And it doesn't mean it's helpful to post a photo which contains an element being discussed as a symbol when that element is not acting as a symbol in the photo being posted.
  8. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    great link Phil, thanks.
  9. Phil, as your last statement suggests, there's a difference between all elements of a picture potentially contributing to "symbology,"--or we might more simply say "symbolism"--and an element which so contributes being erroneously referred to or mistakenly posted as an example of a symbol itself.
  10. I'm interested in the photograph being a symbol for...or as something symbolizing this and not that by means of certain elements in the photograph (in this case the car) and their relation to the photograph as a whole. The symbol is not to be confused with the index (see Peirce's classification of signs into icon, index, and symbol). How or what something can come to symbolize can depend on layers and layers of association that are rooted in a shared cultural knowledge.
  11. I read Peirce back in college, liked it then, but that was enough. I'll stick with photos for now. ;-)

  12. The photo I linked earlier:

    ... was made for Strand's book Un Paese, which he made with the Italian screenwriter of The Bicycle Thieves, Cesare Zavattini . I've been debating whether it's worth the time and effort to scan some of the pictures from the book, in which bicycles are everywhere.
  13. Julie, thank you! That was good information. In the linked photo, besides the bicycle, what I notice are the gazes of the different people that are directed in different directions in harmony (well thought deliberate poses). The bike feels like an extended appendage of the person leaning against it. It fits in nicely as part of the family. I am also curious about the tiny artifacts (bottles and cans) on the top of the main entryway. I know, some families in India do that to wade off bad spirits and stuff.
  14. Supriyo, that family had a tough time of it. Zavattini, who wrote the book's text, had the person(s) in each picture write their own caption, sometimes extended. Here's part of what the mother in that picture wrote for that picture:

    "I married at eighteen and had fifteen children, four of whom died young. In '21 my husband Lusetti was beaten, then he was beaten again in 1926. I never knew the reason for this, I only know that this is what caused his death. In '33 my husband died on Christmas Eve, leaving me in misery with eight sons and three daughters. During the war my dear sons served in Italy, France, Greece, Germany, Africa, and England. ... " She gives details of what happened in the war, ending with: "In 1945 they asked me if I wanted revenge, but I didn't."

    My favorite bicycle picture from the book is this one:

    Paul Strand, Luzzara bicycle

    There are a lot of things that I like about that picture but an odd one is that the bicycle reminds me of a horse in a stable. I doubt the picture would be the favorite of most people: I love it. What's odd about most of the pictures-with-bicycles in the book is that they show really old guys in suits and ties, holding their old bicycles as if it's the most normal thing for guys in suits and ties (and old-guy hats) to be riding bicycles. There is not one car in the whole book, though the streets seem to be paved.

    [I hadn't noticed the artifacts above the door that you point out. They are interesting.]
  15. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    weird, i always imagine a horse facing out of the stable.
  16. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light


  17. My little soft-top running flat out has done 105, top up, on level ground. With stock sized tires and no overdrive, that is 5600 rpms-a shade above the red line. At that point, a couple of things happen-the old tractor engine with siamesed intake and exhaust ports starts to run out of ability to "breath" and the weak old valve springs start to float.

    Not too long ago, I did a mild refresh/upgrade with a rebuilt cylinder head that also raised the compression ratio and has larger intake valves. I'm still getting things "settled" so haven't done an extended interstate run. With new valve springs, being able to "breath" better, and having the combustion chambers actually completely seal I might get a few more MPH out of it.

    Granted this is with twin SU carburetors and the factory "double Y" exhaust manifold-the most free breathing factory set-up. '72-74 US models with low compression engines lost some. Post-75 cars with a single Z-S carburetor on an absolutely terrible combined intake an exhaust manifold really lost a lot. Those cars are lucky to hit 90. The GTs are more aerodynamic and can usually squeeze out a few more mph, but then we didn't get GTs in the US after the 1974 1/2 M/Y. I looked at and nearly bought a 1974 1/2 GT about a year ago-there were 1200 and some odd of these imported, and they are the only GTs in the US with rubber bumpers(making them firmly in the "who cares?" category). Interestingly enough, just putting plastic shields over the headlights("Sebring covers") is supposed to be good for about the same.

    Granted we're talking speeds where the things get downright scary. Mine is happy to cruise all day at 70-80. I'm hoping to install an overdrive transmission this fall that will at least knock down the interstate rpms.

    There again, though, MGs aren't FAST cars-they're meant for twisty roads and not winning drag races. I did some work to increase my engine power(I'm not done yet) to get more low-end power for pulling out of curves. The MGA that I'm doing a frame-off restoration of will get a similar power plant. Fortunately, at 2000lbs, it doesn't take a huge amount of grunt to get these cars moving. The stock MGA gearing is also a bit more aggressive than the MGB to compensate for the fairly anemic 70hp engine from the factory-when all is said and done it might get an MGB rear axle for that reason.
  18. Evans2.jpg

    ^ Snapped at the Walker Evans exhibition in the Pompidou that I was at yesterday (also saw the David Hockney exhibition there). Amazing seeing all of Evans' photographs (there were more than 300) in the flesh. Can't be compared to seeing them in reproductions with the crisp details and richness of the prints. There were also very small (the size of 35mm frames) prints from the start of his career and which I didn't know about. I also visited another museum that had all of the Japanese photographers like Moriyama, Fukase, Ishimoto, Sugimoto,...and which was also great.
  19. Phil, seems like you had a very good experience. Way to spend the day!

    To me, the first photo feels like, someone placed the truck next to John Gossage's pond that he photographed, but shows less ambience and more of the subject than Gossage did in his work. I followed the thread on aspect ratios. It's interesting how the square aspect reflects the shape of the dark truck frame within it, and works so well with the composition.

    The second photo also shows a juxtaposition of nature vs man made mess, with more of the mess as if nature is pushed to a corner. I feel differently here compared to the first photo where the abandoned truck seemed more at home with nature. The intact car in the mid ground seems to be helplessly propped up on a pile of body parts, waiting for its fate. My impressions of course can change if I see the photos up close.
    Phil S likes this.
  20. Most of the images weren't square, I agree the format works well with that one. I quickly snapped these with my cellphone (photography was not allowed). It's unlikely they will translate what the photographs look like when standing in front of them. Seeing the Walker Evans exhibition and all of his work like a retrospective puts things in perspective. Makes you feel like an ant in terms of photographic contributions. There were also a couple of Atget prints to show the Atget influence.

    I tried to find some good bicycle pictures when I was walking around in Paris (until late into the night when things were getting out of control) but didn't find any. I did make a picture of a vandalized bicycle that was locked to a tree, but the image doesn't do anything. I usually go home from a trip to Paris with at least one or two potentially good images but not this time...

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