{{One small change in the world a day}}

The importance of looking carefully

It was rush hour at the Amsterdam railway station and I was on my way to Brussels. The train was running late and as a consequence everybody was walking up and down the platform impatiently, moving in coordinated blocks. white ladyThat's how I saw her: at one point the mass left a huge gap right where she was standing. At first she seemed motionless like a statue: an elderly lade, somewhere in her eighties, with wavy hair, a soft suede coat, a mohair turtleneck sweater, wonderfully cut pants and lovely flats. All of which was in the purest shade of white. She looked as if she had stepped right out of a Vogue winter fairytale. But the lady was conscious of everybody staring at her: young girls with their mocking smiles, young boys rolling their eyes in disbelief. The white lady's hands clutched more and more to the bag she had pushed in front of her like a shield.
I thought she looked amazing. I went up to her and said 'Madame, you look beautiful'.
A lovely smile broke her face in thousand wrinkles. She lowered her arms and thanked me.

The train arrived and we lost each other in the mass. I found an empty seat, took off my coat and waited for the train to leave. Suddenly I saw her bony hand holding a carefully wrapped sweet before my eyes. The lady was towering over me. 'Take this, please, and enjoy. I am sure it has been a long time since someone has offered you a sweet. Just as long as someone has said to me I looked beautiful.'
She smiled again and left.

That moment was magical to me. I think of her words very often and while many people were there at that exact moment, none of them carries this memory with him or her. Not just beauty is in the eye of the beholder, life is as well.

My Italian grandmother had a special way of dressing up: on important occasions she applied a hint of deep red Chanel lipstick with her index finger and sprayed a hint of No5 on her wrists. After that she was ready to be taken out by grandfather and indeed, although the changes remained unnoticed for the untrained eye, I could see her metamorphosis: she had shed her worker's coat and felt like a woman.

It's important to train our heart to see things as they are, not as they look.

Ed YourdonFlickr is a endless source of poignant tales for people like me. Some are speculative, others aren't. Like this old lady sitting on a bench from Ed Yourdon. She is wearing a nice blue dress and pearls, which shows she has carefully dressed up for shopping. But she is holding her groceries and bag so close to her body, that it's clear she is not feeling entirely safe in the world. Her gaze isn't very trusty either. Her hand is resting next to her, obviously reserving that seat for no-one. In the comment the photographer notes that he bumped into the lady one week later, wearing the exact same clothes and pearls and carrying the exact same plastic bag...

Most of us have heard of Jonathan Harris. To me he was the pioneer of online story collectors. He is perhaps best known for We feel fine, a website which measures emotions through blog analysis. Another great project he did is I want you to want me, which gathers its data from online dating websites. The data is presented as an interactive installation showing a sky whose weather (sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy, etc.) can be controlled by the viewer. Hundreds of blue and pink balloons float through the sky, each representing a single dating profile.

Larry SultanLarry Sultan spent a decade photographing his mother and father, both retired, in a series of colour-rich and hyper-realistic portraits. Nearly all images were staged. Sultan was fascinated with fiction and suggested narrative. He depicted his parents as if they were lost in life, dressed up for no reason, waiting for things not to come. An example of how you shouldn't always trust what you see through the eyes of someone else.

FOUND MagazineFOUND Magazine is a wonderful collection of found objects, love letters, birthday cards, kids' homework, to-do lists, ticket stubs, poetry on napkins, telephone bills, doodles. Memento's of someone else's life which sparkle the imagination of its finder.
In this case, the finder is juist as intriguing. The photo shows an unsettling image of a laughing girl with a horrible fire in the background. The founder was a guy working at a photo lab who made copies of all the pictures he liked.

Flip through the pictures of William Eggleston and you will see mailboxes, fast food restaurants, convenience stores. But however common these places seem to be, in every picture he manages to capture a glimpse of a beautiful and colourful story everybody seems to overlook. This old lady sitting on the swing bench embodies fifties coolness: cigarette in one hand, her striking patterned dress trying not to blend in with the background. Her legs are elegantly aligned which reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. When I look at her I see someone who would give everything to escape her own life.

Rob from the.found.object is someone who started collecting found photos after finding a run over camera and developing its film. Why don't we all do this? Imaging having a photo album full of people you don't know: you could invent everything about them. Ted, 37, toothpaste tester. Mia, 25, hates flies and loves saying hello to people in the street.

Mark ClarkeMark Clarke’s Cabinets of Cures is a series of mismatched cabinets enriched with fascinating stories about its character. Each cabinet is created from found fabrics and everyday objects, and represents a series of surreal moments in medical history. This lady is the Countess of Chinchon, the wife of the Spanish Viceroy of Peru. When court physicians were unable to treat her malarial fever, she turned to an alternative native remedy: Cinchona bark.

Juliana BeasleyAnother photographer, another picture I love, from Juliana Beasley. In the obviously staggering heat, three dressed up ladies in their golden age are having a snack-moment. At least one lady is wearing a bra underneath her bathing suit and at least one other has curlers in her hair, but they all have perfectly manicured hands and are wearing make-up. Isn't it wonderfully obvious that these ladies love being themselves?

mobileI tend to collect little broken objects. Or other things with no purpose. At one point a flatmate lost his coolness about this and commanded me to throw all the useless crap out of the house. But I didn't wanted to. So I started making hanging mobiles with all the little bits I had. The objects were still useless but by being part of something bigger, they had turned into pages of a wonderful book.

Be amazing,


Background image train station: Claudio.ar

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