Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Flickring cities

I've been noticing something unusual lately on Flickr. After I post photos with tags (descriptive terms like "mushroom" and "playground") I sometimes search by those tag terms to see what groups my pictures fall into. Each tag can be organized either by recency or by interestingness, which Flickr calculates on the basis of some mysterious formula. I have been noticing that the Milwaukee photos highest in interestingness are almost all of one subject: the Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum designed by Santiago Calatrava. I cannot find another city whose interestingness is so dominated by a single edifice. Neither cities famous for a building (Agra, Chartres) nor cities with other prominent Calatravas (Seville, Valencia) have interestingness pages that are virtually all one thing. (A few days ago Milwaukee's page was completely Calatrava; today there are two photos among the top twenty that are of other subjects: one the lake and one of the river.)

These are the first interestingness pages for the other cities I have inhabited:

London (1972-1973) is a hodgepodge; fewer than half have architectural subjects.

Toronto (1973-1990, 1995-1997) has few shots of buildings, a bit surprising for a city with such a distinctive array of downtown skyscrapers.

Montreal (1990-1994) is eclectic; my favorites are the shots taken at the hippie Tam Tam Jam (Anglos like me used to call it Bongo Park) that convenes at the foot of Mount Royal on weekends.

New York (1994-1995) has lots of architecture and two shots of Christo's Gates. (New York City offers much of the same.)

Madison (1997-2002) includes some images of Madisons that aren't in Wisconsin, and several of the capitol dome.

I can think of at least two reasons why photographers love our museum so much. The other photogenic buildings in Milwaukee are mostly old. And there aren't many buildings like this one in North America, not yet anyway. If you haven't seen it in person, you really must come to Milwaukee.


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