Photographers' Blog

To my friend Vladimir Lenin

By Charles Platiau

When I arrived in Donetsk, southern Ukraine, two weeks ago I didn’t think you would be one of the best friends I made during my stay. Nobody speaks English here, even if my hotel is called “the Liverpool hotel” and plays Beatles music all day long everywhere except, thoughtfully, in my room. I don’t speak Russian either, but I soon learned Vladimir Ilyich is how locals fondly refer to you, Mr Lenin. Your statue dominates the landscape of this city’s downtown. You remain in full view in contrast to the advertising you stand opposite; maybe people even remember what you stand for.

It’s hard to judge a place in such a short time but I wonder what Donetsk looks like when there isn’t such a big event in town. The city is quiet, very clean and there are more advertising boards than in most western countries. All the ugliest buildings are now covered with banners to advertise Japanese goods or to hide the worst aspects of the city.

Later I saw this big car advertisement had gone and residents behind it could walk on their balconies again.

You watch this all with admirable stillness, but nobody glances at you any more. The Soviet system is gone, then came the adverts, and now football has come, if only for a little while.

In the good old days there were thousands of comrades shouting at your feet, but now only a few soccer fans take photos of one of your last statues existing outside Russia.

from Raw Japan:

‘Bot seriously, folks

Fear not the fiery robot apocalypse of the Terminator movies. Fear the cute machines exhibited at the International Robot Exhibition 2009 because they will destroy mankind by being better spouses.

Flash forward 20 years: People start marrying robots, the population plummets. There’s no need for Skynet’s gun-toting Terminators, because there’s no one to shoot at and Craig’s List personals read like an automotive parts catalog: “Likes: hydraulic muscles and the smell of WD40. Dislikes: Clingy A-I personalities and 'bots that need to recharge every 10-minutes".

Reason to fear robots #1: Robots cook better than you do


Robot-maker Toyoriki’s "Okonomiyaki robot” has 15 motorised joints to precisely mix the batter for savory Japanese pancakes, then pouring it onto a hot griddle and cheerfully entertaining while you wait to be served by reading the latest news out loud and singing songs.

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