"I have always wanted to find a particular image that I never had a chance to take a photo of. It is an image on the side of a building, facing west, which is visible from the bus line 26 on Rue La Fayette. I often passed that mural thinking each time, "next time I will get off the bus and take a photo of it". But I never did"
As I approached the mural, camera in hand, a thought came to me. I was becoming somebody else's eyes. This person had passed by the mural many times but how closely had he ever observed it? It was an arresting image on a banal bus journey, a colourful mural glimpsed through windows mapped with scratches and condensation. It had been powerful enough to make a lasting impression, but would the photographic reality match the picture in his mind's eye?
As I walked around the building, observing it from every possible angle, another fact became evident. From each of the angles, the picture was different. From underneath, the head of the man disappeared, and it was a Space Invader in the foreground that grabbed the attention. On the left hand side, the male figure was very clear. On the right-hand side, bathed in a streak of sunshine, it was three words that were brought into focus; Vous êtes ici.
Alongside the three words was a train sitting in a station. My visitor had mentioned a man taking off his hat, surrounded by trains and other machines of transportation, but the image I saw before me was mostly a representation of the city of Paris. Why was it the train that remained etched in his mind? The answer could be found 20 metres further along. After flashing past this mural, he would have crossed the La Fayette bridge that spans the Gare de l'Est. Two neighbouring features of his bus journey had perhaps fused in his memory.
One person who would appreciate this is the artist who sketched the mural. François Boisrond is mostly associated with the Figuration libre group of artists who were briefly famous in the 1980s, but today he is interested in everyday life and how this affects the perceptions we have of our surroundings. His paintings of Paris place him in the position of an observer, showing how we are often overwhelmed by the noise of the city. He has painted a series of pictures where typically Parisian scenes can only just be made out behind large advertising boards, and interestingly in the context of this post, views of the city through a car windscreen. This time, the observer himself created something that has changed a perception of the city.