The 19th century French poet, Charles Baudelaire, described the flaneur as a person strolling around the city in order to experience it. He saw this as a particularly male-centric activity, yet as the century moved on women became freer to stroll alone, and did so in a mindful manner in order to experience places as well, so the term also come to be used in its feminine form, flaneuse.

While Baudelaire saw his flaneur as one who uses art to express his experiences, he did not embrace the expression of art through photography.

The modern day thinkers such as Urry acknowledge that there is not only a link between flaneur and photographer, but also the tourist who photographs the places through which he or she is strolling. The tourist is a spectator that becomes a voyeur or flaneur, by observing and taking time to figure out meaning. A spectator looking for the essence or uniqueness of what is on display.

For instance, in a promenade performance, the audience members’ relationship to the work changes. Rather than remaining seated, the viewer becomes an observer, a participant, encouraged to walk around and find more and more focal points of interest.

The question is: what is, and is there, a distinction between flaneur and voyeur?


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