“Entre chien et loup” – „between dog and wolf” is a rather strong French metaphor for the twilight time when you can’t distinguish a dog from a wolf, when the day’s certainties give way to the ambiguities of the night. A metaphor that goes way back in human evolution, evoking life in the wilderness – without any connection to life in office buildings and electric light. And yet…

While during the day you hardly ever think about the people working in the office towers of La Défense, at night you are more keenly aware of their presence, you wonder what keeps them in their lit-up offices, what drama might be going on there; how different life may be for those in the neon-lit open spaces and those in the individual offices with warm coloured light from lamps that leave part of the space in a twilight of their own. Drama, stress, and solitude may well be highest in the warmly lit spaces. (“Götterdämmerung”?) You can’t tell the dog from the wolf.

Photographing at this hour of the day is a bit of a challenge: You carry a heavy tripod in addition to your camera bag, you need more time to set up everything, and light changes by the second. Saisir l’éphémère !

Also, you need to photograph during winter, since offices are rather deserted and dark when twilight sets in at 9 or 10 in the evening or before 6 in the morning. In the cold and in the dark, a stream of people walk briskly by to get home, and you are an obstacle in the flow. Sometimes someone is puzzled enough to stop and see what you are doing. Some nice conversations ensue with strangers in the night.

Jardin virtuel

“Jardin virtuel”: Standing in the passageway beneath the “Maison de la Défense” and looking up at what was then “Tour TOTALFINAELF”, I suddenly saw this “suspended garden”, not knowing where the reflection came from. It was definitely not from the building just behind/above me. Going back towards the Parvis, I realised that the reflected image came from the twin towers GFF/Franklin right at the other end of the pedestrian platform.

Coeur Défense - Maison de la Défense crépuscule

This “diagonal” is created by different parts of “Maison de la Défense” (built in 1981) reflecting in each other. The backdrop is the rather recent Coeur Défense building (2001).

Tour TotalFinaElf crépuscule Tour TOTALFINAELF: Remember the #2 posting on la Défense (17 Feb), when I was talking about the different names of this tower? This photo proves that people really thought “TOTALFINAELF” could be a reasonable name for a company. If “crepuscule” signifies the end of an era, then this photograph symbolises the end of Elf, a powerful oil company and political institution.

Before Total became Total, it was called CFP: “Compagnie Française du Pétrol”. Its detractors from rival Elf interpreted the acronym CFP as “Can’t find petrol”. After too much political power mongering by Elf and a number of politico-financial scandals, “Can’t find petrol” swallowed Elf, cleaned the accounts, and finally dropped any reference to Elf in its name, reverting to Total again..

Courbes - crépuscule

“Courbes”: Une partie du stabile de Calder épouse la courbe de l’élégante tour EDF. On dirait que beaucoup plus de personnes travaillent chez EDF que dans la Tour Atlantique à coté. Mais peut-être on doit allumer la lumière de tout un plateau dans la tour EDF pour une personne qui continue à travailler ?


"Interpenetration": The illuminated Cœur Défense building “penetrates” the Tour Total.

City Lights “City Lights"
Again, the lights of Coeur Défense are reflected in Tour Total. The architecture of Tour Total structures this image differently. At the bottom, you can recognise the glass dome that gives the name “La Coupole” to the square around it.

Tour Total cubiste crépuscule

An early morning view of Tour Total reflected in the Moulinex building.
The distortion gives it a “cubist” look that is even more striking in this daylight image:

Tour Total cubiste

(Click on the smaller images to enlarge them.
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