Monday, 16 February 2015

Postcard from Amsterdam 3

When visiting museums and galleries, one of the things that probably marks me out as a suspicious oddball, and an obstructor of the orderly flow of visitors, is my inconvenient interest in the building itself and its infrastructure, especially the windows.  How I love windows.  Like Mullah Nasruddin under the lamppost, I'm looking for my keys pictures there, because that's where the light is.

I'm pretty confident that a thousand snaps will have been taken of The Nightwatch on the Friday I visited the Rijksmuseum -- and even quite a few ironically reflexive Thomas-Struth-alike shots of the crowd photographing The Nightwatch, like the one in Postcard from Amsterdam 1 -- but I doubt whether many visitors, if any, will have brought home images quite like these.  Everyone else will have been looking in the right place!

For me, it's the difference between the camera as a simple aide-mémoire and the camera as a medium.  It's also why, used thoughtlessly, a camera can become an obstacle to experiencing the moment but, used well, is a way of creating a more permanent "moment", one that might just be permanent enough to make its way back inside the gallery one day, as an object of contemplation in its own right.  Besides, I think they've already got enough pictures of The Nightwatch.


Carsten Schultz said...

Dear Mike,

Please accept my apologies for my lack of seriousness: Im Museum...
I wonder, by the way, if you would enjoy reading Max Goldt. Maybe not.

All the best,


Mike C. said...


I never have a problem with lack of seriousness, but I have no idea what you are talking about!

I'l check out Max Goldt, and maybe then all will be clear!