Cameras and the accounting of cities (entering Berlin on a cart)

on Sep 1, 2012 in Cities and Men | No Comments

Cameras – essential items on journeys

1. Can a horse carry a modern camera behind it? Let’s imagine a horse, in 2012, transporting the most modern technology from one country to another. Or let’s imagine a 21st-century salesman that enters cities on horseback; for example, he enters modern Berlin and interrupts the traffic with a loudhailer announcement. Here’s the image: the horseman screams, he’s there to announce the arrival of a new technological era. This knight hasn’t come to save morals nor souls, nor behaviour, nor does he come to impose a new position before the mirror, before conscience or before the State; every man is now free, but with a very different freedom. We are looking at a new way of everyone being free and fixing their image.
– I bring the camera! Saddled in the old century, I announce the new century! – screams a man on a horse, brandishing a loudhailer.

2. The largest camera, according to the precise information of an exact encyclopaedia, “weighs 27 tons, is 2.69 metres tall and 2.50 metres wide and approximately 10.6 long”. That camera, built in 1959, is a “Rolls Royce” (or so it’s called, I’m not sure).
What is certain is that this is an industrial camera; essentially, a large camera, which occupies an area of around 23 square metres (2.5 x 10.6). It is the size of a living room.
Here, there are two questions, the first: how do you lose a camera of this size?
On the other hand, the second question: what objects would be worthy of this camera: great mountains, enormous skyscrapers?

3. The first cameras – we can verify this from historical images – were gigantic – men would go inside them. They were mini-houses with lenses.
The cameras were transported on carts and Jonathan Boll, an illustrious gentleman of this 21st-century, really liked the idea of four horses pulling a cart that carried an enormous and heavy camera. It was as if an earlier century, the 19th century (symbolised by horses) transported the 20th or 21st century – the camera.

4. In a way, Jonathan realised that this large, heavy and non-portable camera reversed the concept of travel. Instead of taking a portable camera to other countries, this heavy and fixed camera obliged the different places to file past it. Cities came from far and wide to pose for the heavy camera. This is Jonathan Boll’s dream (or nightmare).

On names.
There are people’s names that are time: April, Tuesday.
For example: April Jones, Tuesday Smith.
There are other names that are places in the city: Bridges, Square, Street, Corner, Tower.
For example: John Street, James Bridges.
If we choose people with the right name, we can have, around the table, at a banquet: a Tower, a Square, a Street. As if the parts of the city were things with appetites.
It’s a powerful image.

The value of cities – a fictional character that enjoys accounting

There is a tower with a bar code and that code is updated and there’s something strange about putting a bar code on that tall tower that doesn’t move; however, that lack of movement is merely an illusion because there is movement (and a lot) in terms of transaction: the tower moves among various people, bought and sold a number of times on the same day – and the bar code is updated.
Carlo Dinari, our character, also invented a new vehicle that travels the world and gives the price of everything. A fast vehicle, more than fast, as it has no exact speed, it is an immediate vehicle. Its speed is such that it can’t be measured, there are no kilometres a second, nor anything like it; it is immediate, a means of transport that goes from A to B without traversing the space between A and B.
The important thing here is: that vehicle puts a price on everything; even if that thing isn’t a thing, but rather a man. It passes and gives a price to a table, an old car, a new car, a young person, an old person, a boy, etc. Everything has a price, as if the entire world, the street, the public space, were a huge commercial area.
It is necessary to attribute a value to each thing in the world, the living and semi-living things. This was a long-term project, one to see how much every city was worth, down to the last detail, down to the last cent; comparing the value of each city: Tokyo and New York, Athens and Budapest.
So, Carlo Dinari invented that sensor that traverses a city in a nanosecond and gives a bar code to every material thing in the world, to every thing that occupies space – height, length, width.
Attributing value not only in terms of money – as the value of money, in itself, depends on a lot of different circumstances, and not only on the exchange rate –, but also attributing a monetary value to the buildings, of course, and to moveable assets. Also attributing, as we have said, a value to each human being and creature – donkey, horse, dromedary, dog, cat. And after counting up everything, considering everything, doing the maths to, in the end, calmly come to an objective conclusion. Then, Carlo’s project is to rank the cities according to their exact value, to the last cent. The calculation would be done via the average figures; and on Wednesdays, in the middle of the week.
The problem, of course, there are problems in these major projects, the problem is that moveable assets, essentially, move, they cross the city limits. And more than that: people, those restless aspects of accounting, the human being, that living thing that travels or flees, messes things up, on Monday being here, in this city, and tomorrow moving to another.
Therefore, people are those elements who, basically, are on this Earth to fall in love, once in a while, but, above all, to disturb cities and their rigorous accounting methods.

by Gonçalo M. Tavares

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