Street Life in London

The London School of Economics’ Digital Library has a fantastic collection of photos published in 1867 and 1867 of street life in London.

 

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The photos are technically interesting to me given our recent focus on film. I can only imagine the darkroom process back then – my guess is it’s safe to say it’s much safer today.

It’s interesting that these are “snapshots”, almost by definition; and some seem quite staged. But despite that they’re still art. I think that more than anything today we are lacking in authenticity — the more carefully you listen for this need, the more you’ll see it expressed — and these photos are undeniably authentic. There’s a sort of imagined nostalgia for this world even if none of us have the context from which to imagine it accurately.

 

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