Living in Oxford, I'm used to the antique, the restrained, the polite view. It's what we do. But there are times when it is a huge relief to just wallow in the modern, the unrestrained and unapologetically arrogant environment that man can create for himself when the kid-gloves are off. This is why a trip to a big city in the US is always a thrill, and can always be relied on to dazzle with a constant parade of eye-catching design - whole buildings, plazas, malls, skylines and smaller fragments, as here. Sometimes the juxtapositions are deliberate, more often they are unintended, but for those with eyes to see there are magnificent compositions at every turn. The severely rectilinear habitat we create for ourselves in these places simply acts as a foil for any organic form, and the shivering images all around animate the environment far more than we imagine. There is almost as much trembling movement from reflections in the glass curtain walls as we pass between them as there is under trees in a woodland, and perhaps it is this quality that enables us to survive in such unnatural surroundings, otherwise largely divorced from the soothing effects of contact with nature.
I loved the looping shape and vibrant colour of this Alexander Calder 'stabile' in the centre of Chicago - but what makes the picture for me is the corresponding square of red in the reflection from the neighbouring building. A piece of red paper in the window opposite that completes my composition - although I was unaware of it at the time.