Over the course of this hot summer, the light maps out a new geography for the city. First we seek shade to move around in, our routes differ from the milder times. The city becomes a playground which is organised around drop shadows: anything to avoid the long open sections heated by the sun. We are thankful for the linden trees in Place Jules Lobet, the bays in the promenades, the line of trees on Rue Libergier and the columns in Place d’Erlon, but our steps cannot be restricted to these safe havens. We venture out onto the melting streets. In this much maligned region, it is rare that we consider the sun as an enemy and not an accomplice.

We get to know a different city. The height of the buildings; the flat and high-pitched roofs; the domes; the balconies: everything sketched up high turns into straight lines and diagonals, forming the lines of shadow that offer shelter on our new routes down below. A new city emerges with the continuous projection of a different kind of architecture; not the usual, vertical one, but one of a city tattooed by the ridges of its greatest heights. Everything becomes a shape, just like in the animated cartoon La Linea, where the creator Osvaldo Cavandoli made his character and all the other props in his story appear from a simple horizontal line. Were the heat not so overwhelming, we would find ourselves tightrope-walking along the uneven line of shadows or jumping from one section to another like a Yamakasi leaping from roof to roof, minus the danger. Or even – to play the inversion of lines to its limit – like the children who play hopscotch between Heaven and Earth while staying in boxes drawn on the ground…

It doesn’t stop there, with our city wanders also making us appreciate the different types of shadows: darkness, the projection of houses and apartment blocks; diaphane, the light filtered by tempered glass canopies; vibrating, the branches and leaves that let a few rays filter through in the gentle breeze. Finally, we relearn the rotation of the earth by watching for the progression of the penumbra, with a street overwhelmed by the midday sun becoming a shelter for the afternoon.

The city is a constant diversion.

Text : Jérôme Descamps
Illustrations : Philippe Dargent