According to Flickr, these "items are from between 23 Mar 2010 & 06 Apr 2010" -- which seems about right.  They were all taken with an iPhone 3G, and processed with the CameraBug app.  Like many people, I found it exhilarating to have a camera in my pocket all the time--not because I was going out to take pictures, but because it was just there.  And the camera on that iPhone was both good and not-too-good, good for close-ups, bad for distance, good for day, bad for night, good, in short, for small acts of noticing and recording.  It seemed to me that my phone told me what kind of pictures it wanted to take--which turned out to be little neglected aspects of the urban environment. Of course my eyes had something to do with that, but if I had to give a location to the desire, it would be in the phone.

The bridge bells are actually the traffic warning bells that sound when the barricades come down and the middle of the bridge goes up.  I heard them all the time (since I parked on one side of a bridge and worked the other, and was often stopped by a bridge being raised for a passing coal barge) but I don't think I ever looked at one, not closely, until I began taking these pictures.

Taking a picture of a bridge bell was like taking a picture of a person--that is, the physical act was similar, not the social act. The bells are approximately at head height, at street level as you approach the bridge.  And it's impossible not to see them, at least fleetingly, as faces--faces with hats and noses and complexions and ages and ethnicities. But they don't have eyes or ears or mouths, so they remain utterly other. If Dr. Who was set in Milwaukee, these bells would turn out to be a diverse family of mechanical aliens.

When I upgraded my phone, I stopped taking these kind of pictures. Maybe the camera on the new phone was too good, or not good enough. Or maybe it just didn't want to  (which of course is ridiculous--it's just a machine.)

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