The lack of symmetry is in the detail I feel. Since I have arrived here I have taken an interest, for whatever reason, in the inherent symmetry of Paris. Baron Haussmann’s design for a modern Paris, one of massive endless vistas and the unification of major centres of the city with the various symbols of Paris has carved into the fluidity of natural human organisation an inescapable symmetry. This is the sort of grandeur, the sort of order that is non-existent in my mind… a sort of planned brilliance that gnaws at the electrical pathways in my brain. I was made for far more disjointed places… far more natural places… far more chance. It’s not that I dislike this quality of Paris… in fact I think it is one of the most beautiful things about it. This is why we come here. This is why the world has been fascinated by the city for so long. The intention was to create grandeur, create an empire worth fighting for, a stamp so great on the face of the earth that generations for years to come would flock to it just to say that they had been there… This is a unity on a grand scale… something created to please the eyes of man… but as I begin to seek out a place for my asymmetrical brain in this symmetrical maze I am beginning to realise that man himself is this cities most asymmetrical enemy.
Why am I so interested in all of this? Why am I so concerned with this order? Well I can only imagine that as a person so used to medieval structure with Georgian highlights suddenly encased within a world so dominated by order and balance, my uncoordinated brain has repulsed the invasive French facade that now surrounds me… and what has resulted is this ramble and perhaps the concentration of my work for time to come.
I have noticed you see, that while symmetry is so evident here in everything we glance at, it is when we look closer that we find an asymmetry within. I think it is in the detail… Now I could be wrong! But I want to find out if I am or not and this is going to take time. Let me insist that this is not going to be an attempt at ruining the supposed beauty of Paris! I feel that while we may think the beauty is in the symmetry, it is in fact in the unknown asymmetry. The most beautiful human faces are plastered all over our news papers, magazines and billboards yet no human face is even close to symmetrical… if one was to see a perfectly symmetrical face it would seem weird without ever understanding why. So the asymmetry I am looking for is more for my piece of mind rather than for my hate of Parisian city planning. So I am going to look closer… I am going to point my lens in new directions and try and find the roots of Paris’ beauty.
One thing that I feel is the most destructive of Paris’ symmetry is the presence of man. If it was possible to rid Paris of everyone but one single occupant, to that persons eye the symmetry would be untarnished. Yet the presence of even one more person unbalances the picture, and tips the scales towards disorder and mayhem. When we try to take a picture in the Touillerie Gardens everything must be central, everyone in the picture must be central… or else our eyes feel strained and our minds are stretched. Yet today people, little black smudges, speckle disorder across the Parisian canvas and unbalance the picture. Only in an ordered, totalitarian state can I imagine the power required to harness man in such a way as to maintain the symmetry of a place which includes multiples of people… we destroy the very thing we want to see, just by being there!
I want to use this disorder, I want to expose it and feed off it. I want to live inside it and bring to attention its incredible beauty and uniqueness.
I want to see the asymmetry of Paris.
This is what I’m thinking.
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