Let’s Listen to the Sound of Milan (City’s Voices, Alberto Garutti)

Milan (Italy). There are some afternoons during the weekend, in which I really love (well more then love, it’s a sort of need) to take one of my cameras, leave home and walk around randomly, without a specific destination or assignment. When I was living in Istanbul, I remember I used to go very frequently to Uskudar to take photos of people, landscapes, situations: it was a great way to fight against the stress accumulated during the week and relax a bit.

Being now in Milan, one of my favorite “walk around” areas here is the new site at Porta Nuova, with the UniCredit Tower and some other modern buildings such as the Bosco Verticale. The situation here is of course completely different from the one I was dealing with in Istanbul. In fact, photographing around Uskudar was mainly based on trying to capture the unique mix given by interesting people, a breathtaking landscape, and – sometimes – peculiar situations (to give an example: this is one of my favorite photos ever, taken on the Bosphorus seaside close to the Kiz Kulesi). Photographing around Porta Nuova and Piazza Gae Aulenti in Milan is a totally different situation, and when I’m there walking around, my attention is mostly captured by the architecture, and how it can influence the behavior of people spending their time there (many people gather here for a walk).

The photo posted here is an example: it’s an interesting artwork by Alberto Garutti. Several pipes – 23, to be exact, and they look like trumpets – connecting different floors of the building, and used by people to listen to the sounds from underground. The name is “City’s Voices”, and people show to appreciate them putting their ear to listen to the soft noise coming from the other floors (as said, “underground”).

I photographed this artwork using a Leica Q camera with its wonderful 28 mm Summilux lens: the perfect angle for situations like this one (in my opinion).


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Jorge Mendez Blake – The Castle at the 13th Istanbul Biennial

Istanbul (Turkey). To write this post, I decided to unearth an old photo taken years ago (in 2013) at the 13th Istanbul Biennial – and I did it for two reasons…

The first one, it’s because in these days – after another horrifying terrorist attack, which killed more than 40 people at the Ataturk Airport – I have Istanbul in my heart more than ever. Those who know me (or, at least, those who follow my blog) know how much I love Istanbul, a city where I have lived many years and that completely changed my life (and not only because it was in Istanbul where I discovered my passion for photography, one Sunday afternoon during a walk along the Bosphorus).

The second reason, it’s because I’m more and more convinced that the most efficient (and probably the only) way to fight terrorism, is opening people’s minds to culture; and it’s not a coincidence that one of the activities of terrorist groups is the destruction of cultural heritage (I already wrote some thoughts on it in a post about a night visit at Louvre Museum).

The Jorge Mendez Blake’s work, exhibited at the 13th Istanbul Biennial, was perfectly describing – and it still today describes, without the need of a single word – what I’m trying to explain in this short post. A book, wisely positioned at the base of a wall, shows its destructive force, creating a discontinuity in a tall and solid structure made by little bricks.The metaphor is rather evident: spreading culture will create many of these “discontinuities” and will make walls – built up with terror and hate – collapse.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one….

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France Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015

Milan (Italy). I finally had the opportunity of visiting Expo Milano 2015, the Universal Exhibition hosted in Milan from May 1 to October 31, 2015.

Unfortunately, as expected, the queues were too long and it was impossible to visit more than five or six pavilions in a day. The waiting time to see Brasil, Japan or Italy was more than three hours, and I found it very frustrating.

Therefore, I decided to take some photos: I brought my Leica with me and it was a nice exercise. Some pavilions (Russia and Germany, for example) have a terrace which offers a decent view over the exposition area.

Here are some samples: all my photos of Expo are tagged with “Expo Milan 2015” and can be seen clicking here.

The image here has been taken inside the France pavilion (one of the few ones I could see) and shows one of the Country’s characteristics: its wide production of seeds and agricultural products.

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Thomas Demand – Grotto Process at Fondazione Prada

Milan (Italy). Yesterday I finally had the opportunity to visit the newly opened Prada Foundation (Fondazione Prada) in Milan – Largo Isarco, 2. The Foundation is hosted in a former industrial site, amazingly redeveloped and reconverted in spaces for exhibitions and cultural activities. It includes also a very trendy bar, designed by the popular movie maker Wes Anderson (author of “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Grand Budapest Hotel”, just to mention some among his most popular movies).

I promised to myself that I will come to visit the Prada Foundation again soon to take photographs specifically of the buildings, the interior spaces and the architectures (only these things alone are worth a visit). The photo posted here represents the Grotto Process (Processo Grottesco): in order to realize the photographic work “Grotto”, Thomas Demand studied and reproduced a 3D model of a grotto using many layers of cardboard, which “simulate” the geologic stratification, including stalactites and stalagmites (in the lower left corner of the image, the stratification of cardboard layers is pretty evident). The final photo (displayed at the entrance of the room) demonstrates how something perceived as real, at the end is unreal and artificially reproduced.

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National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York

New York (USA). I visited the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in 2012. It ‘a place that should be visited in absolute silence, not only in respect to the many people that have lost their lives here, but also meditating on how that day changed the world. Today, on the 15th anniversary of that tragic September 11, I decided to prepare and post an old photo taken during this visit. While developing it, many things experienced during this visit came to my mind: the engraved names of dead people, the flowers left by their family, the incredible number of people – of all races and religions – walking silently around the huge fountains built in correspondence of the Twin Towers. It was my way to commemorate that tragic unforgettable day.

New York. Ho visitato il National September 11 Memorial and Museum nel 2012. E’ un posto che va visitato in assoluto silenzio, non solo in rispetto alle tante persone che qui hanno perso la loro vita, ma anche in meditazione su come quel giorno ha cambiato il mondo. Oggi, nel 15esimo anniversario di quel tragico 11 Settembre, ho deciso di riprendere una foto scattata durante tale visita. Mentre la preparavo per postarla qui sul blog, mi sono tornate in mente tante cose vissute durante quella visita: dai nomi incisi delle persone morte, ai fiori lasciati dai loro familiari, alla incredibile quantità di persone – di ogni razza e religione – che camminavano silenziosamente intorno alle enormi fontane costruite in corrispondenza delle Torri Gemelle. E’ stato un modo – per me – di commemorare quella tragica indimenticabile giornata.

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Testing the Leica M-D (Bike Mi, the Milan Bike Sharing)

Milan (Italy). Frankly speaking, although in the post title I wrote “testing”, this was not a proper test.

First of all, because who am I to test a camera? I’m just a “passionate user of photo devices” and I intend cameras as instruments for creating positive feelings – that’s it.

Second point, because there are so many official and unofficial tests on this camera around internet, that mine would be “just another one”. Who cares of it?

Third, and probably most important aspect: what’s the sense of testing a camera that is the essence of pure photography? The sensor? Well, it’s the “usual” 24-megapixel high-resolution CMOS full-frame sensor. The screen? There’s no screen in the Leica M-D. The effects? Please, don’t make me insist…

So, all above considered and to be more precise, this was not a test: this was an experience.

Yes, the correct title should have been “experiencing the new Leica M-D”, concentrating the whole content on my feelings and emotions with this fantastic camera. And probably, the best feeling that explains what is photographing with a Leica M-D, is the same that a swimmer has when she starts swimming from shallow to deep water – does it give the idea? For a large number of photographers, the presence of a screen on the back of the camera (to review the captured images) represents a sort of comfort zone, given by the opportunity of instantaneously check what has been photographed. The new Leica M-D – let me be a bit “hard” – gives a kick to photographers’ backs, saying “ok, if you call yourself a photographer, demonstrate that you are confident enough to survive without the screen!”. On the other side, a photographer must love this kind of challenge – at least, I did!

So, I walked randomly around Milan downtown for more or less one hour. A sort of touristic tour around Piazza Duomo, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Piazza dei Mercanti, capturing photos and being exclusively concentrated on what I was doing. No distractions. No feeling a sense of accomplishment, because I had no idea of what I had captured. My eye was only on the street through the viewfinder, not down on the screen zooming-in&out to see the result of my previous clicks, and potentially risking to miss another shot (I guess that film photographers perfectly understand). Yes, this is the true difference of the Leica M-D: with a screen camera, you constantly bear the risk of being distracted by the screen itself (eventually missing a better capture, the next – decisive – moment) and of feeling the sense of accomplishment that a photographer should never feel. With the Leica M-D, photography is a pure action, done straight forwardly to the subject, the scene, the situation.

This is my feeling. And I think I will experience it again, since I’m seriously considering to buy this camera. Yes, because – as clearly stated here in my blog’s manifesto – I buy the cameras I use, and I’m totally free to say what I think.

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How to Reuse an Old Book | Fuorisalone @ Milano Design Week 2017

Milan (Italy). Here we are again: one year has passed, and Milan is again the place to be for architects, interior designers, bloggers, design lovers and simple curious – like me. Well, this year I’m a bit beyond the pure curiosity, since I’m completing the renovation of my apartment and I feel myself much more involved than the past year. But this is a personal stuff, and I guess it won’t interest anyone.

The Fuorisalone is the “unplugged” face of the Milan Design Week (the official name is “Salone Internazionale del Mobile”), and it’s a set of events taking places in different parts of Milan, including some prestigious and hidden locations. The list counts almost 1,500 events, scattered all around Milan downtown: Brera, Isola, Università Statale, 5 Vie, Lambrate and Tortona are the most popular and dense of events locations, but more or less every part of the city has something to offer.

Under the tag Fuorisalone 2017 I’m posting my personal way to watch, visit and photograph the many exhibitions, installations, events and any other thing that can be considered as “design”. If you don’t have enough, you can give a look to past editions’ events here (2016) and here (2015).

Last night I had a short walk around the “5vie” district, and I visited a studio where some books were exposed. Well, they were not properly “traditional books”, but mostly handcrafted sculptures made by books and manuals. A nice idea to reuse an old book and to save it from the perpetual shelf destiny.

Milano. Eccoci di nuovo: un anno è passato, e Milano è nuovamente il posto giusto per architetti, disegnatori di interni, blogger, amanti del design e semplici curiosi – come me. A dire il vero, quest’anno sono un po’ oltre la pura curiosità, dal momento che sto terminando la ristrutturazione del mio appartamento e mi sento molto più coinvolto degli anni passati. Ma questa è una faccenda personale, e immagino non interessi a nessuno.

Il Fuorisalone è il lato “non ufficiale” del Salone Internazionale del Mobile, e offre una serie di eventi in diverse parti di Milano, incluse alcuni luoghi prestigiosi o nascosti. La lista conta quasi 1,500 eventi, sparsi in giro per il centro di Milano: Brera, Isola, l’Università Statale, 5 Vie, Lambrate e Tortona sono tra le zone a più famose e con la più alta densità di eventi, ma più o meno ogni parte della città ha qualcosa da offrire.

Sotto al tag Fuorisalone 2017 posto il mio personale sguardo sulle varie mostre, installazioni, eventi e tutto ciò che può essere considerato “design”. Se non ne avete abbastanza, potete anche guardare le foto degli eventi delle passate edizioni qui (2016) e qui (2015).

La scorsa notte ho fatto una passeggiata in zona “5vie”, e ho visitato uno studio dove c’erano esposti alcuni libri. A dire il vero, non erano propriamente libri in senso tradizionale, ma piuttosto sculture fatte a mano da libri e codici. Una bella idea per riutilizzare vecchi libri e per salvarli dal destino dello scaffale perenne.

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Giardino dell’Orticultura (Interior of the Greenhouse)

Florence (Italy). I was a baby when I used to spend part of my afternoons at the Horticultural Garden (Giardino dell’Orticultura) in Florence. At those times, two things were capturing my attention – so much that I still clearly remember them. The first one was an old parked locomotive: I cannot count how many hours I spent climbing it and dreaming of being a railwayman. The second one was the huge and abandoned greenhouse, with broken glasses and in very poor conditions.

Time ago I passed in front of the Horticultural Garden (I already posted a photo about it) and I noticed – what a beautiful surprise! – that the greenhouse had been perfectly renovated and is now brightly illuminated. While I was capturing this image posted here, somehow it was for me like jumping onto a time machine: my mind was brought back to those times when I was playing there with some other children (so many years ago) and I realized that photography is a great tool to surf the time back to old memories…

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Milan (Italy). The “Fuorisalone” is always a great opportunity to take interesting photos: for many days, the city hosts an incredible number of events, exhibitions, installations and every possible thing related to design and architecture. I could walk around Milan only on Saturday and Sunday, since in the days before I was abroad in a business trip. However, I collected here some photographs captured “around me”, as usual…

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