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the game between the photographer and reality. Photographs become memories of playing, a resource of self-examination, and signs of an act which highlights the photographer’s intention to interact with reality with the aim of walking the route to the self.
A crucible of cultures and traditions, a crossroading of identities and experience, the city has always offered much to the astute collector of images and anecdotes. Emotional archaeologies and epiphanic visions are the privilege of the street wanderer, imparting lessons in historical memories cultural geographies and social dynamics. “The city is the teacher of the man” remarked the Greek poet Simonides.2 Master and companion, the city – with its streets, arcades and squares – has taught its citizens to observe, judge or sympathise with life around them. The veracity of Simonides’ aphorism very closely reminds one of those incisive preambles or decalogues of urban advice which, since the nineteenth century, have insistently shaped European and American culture. Since then, cities and streets have been regularly constellated with wanderers and curb-side bards who have found inspiration, founded commentaries, fostered tales and created images on the road.
In Europe, cities such as Paris with its boulevards and galleries, embodied a privileged sphere for the investigation of modern society and its economic and cultural ascent, giving birth to the enigmatic and solitary figure of the flâneur.3 In the United States, the urban environment not only became an
14 | Street Photography as a Route to the Self