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An increasingly virtual world 
Greetings from Paris...
I’m Christian Payne, professional over-sharer, photographer and writer. In this weekly dispatch I seek out novelty, explore how we share, what we share and consume, plus where we might be going. Thanks for stopping by.
After almost two weeks teaching in this part of Paris, novelty is becoming familiarity. Especially on my commute. I’m taking fewer photos and chatting more with familiar faces. Where last week I always had my camera at the ready, I’m starting to get complacent. Everyday I miss a shot. Today it was a father and young daughter blasting along on an electric bike. He was head down, fully focused, weaving between bollards and runners. She was super chilled. Balanced on the metal luggage rack. Her little legs stuck out either side. With no backrest she must have been velcro’d on, as in one hand she had a massive phone playing a cartoon, and in the other a lunchbox. By the time I’d lifted the camera they were gone. There’s always something to see.
I got in some sights over the weekend. I even managed to return to the Père Lachaise cemetery. Somewhere I visited regularly in the 90’s. Mostly for the parties, but on one occasion, to find somewhere safe to sleep. I checked in on Jim Morrison, Chopin, Oscar Wild and a few other interesting people. The place is huge. there’s a map but not an app AFAIK. When not just wondering to discover, I googled grid references and used a direction finding arrow to lead me places.
The image at the top of this email is of the Monument aux Morts. It was designed by Paul-Albert Bartholomé in the 19th century, and is a memorial to the unidentified Parisian dead who do not have graves of their own. Behind the monument is a communal ossuary. The inscription translates to, “For those who live in the shadow of darkness, the light shines.”
This week I also got to see the exhibition Corps à corps at the Pompidou Centre. There is art everywhere in Paris. In galleries large and small, in its architecture, in bars, hidden in walls and under your feet. But what an absolute pleasure to deep dive into the Pompidou for a day.
This particular exhibition had hundreds of images and documents from the private collection of Marin Karmitz, displaying the art of the portrait, self-portrait and nude.
This photo L'araignée d'amour (The Spider of Love), was taken in 1934 by Henri Cartier-Bresson. It was great to get up close and personal with work from some of my favourite photographers. An intimate lesson in the art of seeing. I’ll take photo paper over pixels any day of the week.
Some other photographers and artists I got to enjoy the work of were Berenice Abbott, Helga Paris, Laure Albin-Guillot, Mark Cohen, Shomei Tomatsu, Leon Levinstein, Walker Evans, Barbara Probst, William Klein, Josef Koudelka, Vivian Maier, Man Ray and Andy Warhol. I spent hours immersed in their imagery. Real nourishment for the soul.
In 1967, Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights during the Six-Day War. The United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 242, which emphasised the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and called for the withdrawal of Israeli forces.
In 2004 the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that the construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories was illegal under international law. The Oscar nominated ‘5 Broken Cameras’ is a first person viewpoint of life inside the occupation of Palestine during that time. Essential viewing.
It’s been awhile since I’ve thought I could trust anything I read on Twitter, but this post on 404, describes how bad things have got there.
Thanks to the students this week I now know about another handy AI voice generator. it’s called Play HT. It’s what I made the above recommendation quote with. Only last week was I thinking how voiceover actors were safe for the time being. But after knocking up that audio in less than five minutes (at no cost) I’m now not so sure.
I also had to resurrect the Eleven Labs clone of my voice today as I have completely lost the ability to speak. I created a few common statements as MP3s and occasionally tap on the files when needed. Luckily I was not needed for much talking today.
The Digital Human podcast asks why do we like to spend time with synthetic humans?
The second series of Adventures in Nutopia is out and it’s easily as good as the first.
Outside of a kilometre of baguette and lots of delicious plat du jours medication has featured heavily in the latter part of this week.
Some kind of virus (most likely a bad cold) has left me popping giant 1000mg tablets of paracetamol. I didn’t know they came that big. I normally have a maximum of 500 so I’ve been halving them unless feeling really crap. And after waking up without a voice this morning, I was informed to get some kind of natural throat spray made from from blackcurrant and pine buds. It claims to calm ‘bucco-pharyngeal irritation’. Whatever that is. It’s also meant to protect and purify the respiratory tract. As it cost £7 I’m thinking blackcurrants and pine buds are out of season round here.
The students I worked with this week submitted their final articles on Medium. One of them asked me if I had ever written anything on there. I was pretty sure I hadn’t as I preferred my own blog when Medium was popular. But when I searched for my name I dug up this old article. Not by me. But about a running habit I once had. During this time I remember feeling fitter than I had for a long time. But everyone kept asking me if I was ill.
Having my Radiacode scintillator/spectrometer in Paris has been fascinating. One of the places with the highest radiation events per second is my workplace. Americium-241, Samarium-153 and Iodine-131 are always peaks in the graph on the app. I’m guessing the Americium is being emitted by smoke alarms but the Samarium and Iodine could be medical in origin. The half-life of Iodine-131 is about 8 days but Samarium-153 is only 46 hours. They are both used in cancer treatment but I’m wondering if there is another reason for it to be around. (If you have knowledge in this area please drop a comment or reply to this email.)
I must thank those that pay $5/month to support this publication and get all the content I share into this feed. If you are able, please upgrade to become a paid supporter.
I’d also like to thankfor inviting me here and all the students who were an absolute pleasure to be around.
While many people treat short posts and video snippets as news, it’s worth digging a little deeper into places that employ serious journalism. Take a look at the independent, not for profit Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the CS monitor which is open about the values and motives behind each story they write, and the Associated Press.
If you are reading this in France please add yourself to the Documentally community map. Or if you are in any other country for that matter. :-)
Holographic petting zoos are here. Perhaps ready for when the endangered animals are gone.
This guy really did not want to pay for his restaurant bill.
- (who I’m working with here) is upset because I unfollowed him on Swarm after he confessed to checking into anywhere and everywhere without even visiting a place. [eyeroll] I do enjoy his newsletter though.
Thank you for reading. I’m heading back to the UK tomorrow morning. Normal service might resume shortly, but things could also get weird. Have a great weekend!
“A nation without the arts is a nation that has stopped talking to itself and has stopped dreaming. The soul of society lies in our collective imagination.” ~ Kate Alderton
See you out there.