Paris : Simon Cutts & Erica Van Horn
With different kinds of times spent here, things are always returning as both familiar and new. I know I keep saying this but I keep experiencing it, so I cannot ignore it. A long time ago, I spent a year at the Cité Internationale des Artes. I had virtually no money so my Paris was a parsimonious one. Every Wednesday afternoon, I went to the Louvre because it was free for that half day. Each week I gave myself an assignment. Some days I looked only at clouds in paintings, and some days I studied the treatment of draped fabric for clothing and curtains in Medieval paintings. Some days I went around looking at the food and drink represented. Other times I walked through the rooms and hallways and looked only at the floors in the different wings of the museum. Or at frames. It was a good way to build a familiarity with details. Even now I find I have a lot of small parts of Paris, carefully tucked into my subconscious. I know things I did not remember that I knew.
Even with lots that is familiar there is always more that is new. One new thing was a visit to the Musée des Artes et Métiers. My birthday was full of cancelled plans and rain so I took myself there. It is large and full of inventions, architect’s models of buildings and bridges, items of measurement and a whole area called MATERIALS. Other areas were TRANSPORT, COMMUNICATION, SCIENTIFIC INSTRUMENTS, MECHANICS, CONSTRUCTION and probably a few others I am forgetting. Machines of all sorts and maquettes for things like beginning the production of cement. I was interviewed by a young man who wanted to know why I was looking so carefully an early stenography machine with enamel keys. I explained all I knew about stenography for his recording project. I surprised myself by how much I knew on the subject of Stenography. There were a great many things I did not imagine I would ever want to look at. The museum was bigger than I thought. I finally had to give up and anticipate a return someday. The old wooden floors through most of the galleries are squeaky and if there are more than two or three people in a room, the noise is impossibly loud. Just as I was leaving, I came across a display called Safety in the Work Place. A rubber flip-flop with steel toe protection caught my eye. It was from Brazil. EVH