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REFLECTIONS AND REFRACTIONS

Venice, the storied city situated in a lagoon off the northeast corner of Italy, is comprised of 117 small islands, 150 canals and 409 bridges. Indeed, its gondolas are its cars, its vaporetti its buses, its canals its roads, and the sweeping S-shaped Grand Canal its major thoroughfare. It would be an understatement to say that it is one of the most interesting and beautiful cities of the world. The immensely creative individuals who called the city home at one time or another include painters, Titian, Bellini, Tintoretto; composer, Vivaldi; astronomer/mathematician, Galileo; lover and general low-life, Cassanova… and for a short time in the early 16th century, the universal genius, Leonardo.

There had been no new bridges built in the last 70 years when in 1996 the contemporary Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, was awarded the commission to build the 409th bridge — a 94-meter (310 ft) long, single-arch bridge — the first bridge in 70 years, and only the fourth bridge spanning the Grand Canal. With an expected price of 5 million Euros, the bridge was to have been completed by 2005. Because of endless vicissitudes, however, the cost of the bridge and its completion date turned out to be a pipe dream — the cost soared to four times the expected, and the bridge was opened in 2008, sans an opening ceremony. Its many admirers described it as “… a carpet of light,” while an army of detractors called it “a whale… a monument to bad administration, and a waste of Venice’s money.” I happen to belong to the former group. For me, the Calatrava Bridge is breath takingly beautiful in its graceful lines, its glass façades allowing reflection and refraction, depending on how the light hits it. I believe personally that rather than emulate the architectural styles of earlier periods, the Renaissance and Baroque, it is better to build in a contemporary design, and make it harmonious with the setting. Venice is after all a living museum. In this photo shot in August 2010, I consciously chose a vantage point that allowed the viewer to see a few pedestrians directly above and through the glass, the dome of a nearby church reflected in the glass, and, simultaneously, the steps of the bridge refracted through the glass.

I dedicate my first post of the New Year to my many Italian friends at TE.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5968 W: 457 N: 10311] (34563)
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