Oct 6 2011: Fifteen Negatives Showing Architectural Landmarks in London and Paris (c.1938)

During the Nottingham Contemporary residency earlier this year I happened across two boxes of glass negative plates showing cityscapes under eerie black light, a discovery that led to a sequence of poems under the title Black Glass. Many months later – last weekend to be exact – another group of negatives, this time on film rather than glass, but closely resembling the first batch in subject matter, turned up, and I’ve divided these into groups, beginning with today’s fifteen or so showing cityscapes, some recognisably in London or Paris, others less easily placeable on my mental map: perhaps others might recognise some of the lesser known locations in the sequence here? Wherever they were taken, the dates can be resonably accurately fixed around 1938 for reasons that will become clear when a smaller group of cinema photographs is added here tomorrow: several of these show the facades of West End picture palaces whose hoardings are advertising movies that were released in 1938, which means these are cityscapes captured just before they were decisively transformed: all those black lights we see in these images were about to be extinguished.


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