I was born to look.

Our outside (afuera) was suspended and we retired without protest. We were afraid. Suddenly the deafening noise within us is louder and we crave the external one back, to distract from it.

I look at a section of a city: Barcelona. It could have been anywhere. Without the strategic privileged position (a 180-degree view terrace) in which I find myself, I could not have done it. In fact, I never meant to, I just looked out the balcony and saw an older man walking on the roof, just like he would on the street, but without shop windows or people; only with himself. My immediate reaction was to make a video, not a photo. I was attending a unique, private, historical event. The man is doing well, he is not sitting on a couch all day. He moves, he exercises. His thoughts maybe are in the future, longing for that afuera.

I open my field of vision a little more and there they all were. I had a feeling that something was going to happen and I was there, with my looking machine. Life moved to rooftops and balconies. There is no precise time, although good weather lures them outside. Contemplation and confinement became a way of survival. People with balconies look out expecting to see something that is clearly empty, some kiss or hug each other, others just talk, quite a few do some kind of exercise, look at the horizon, play ball, sunbathe, take selfies…

I had a feeling that something was going to happen and I was there, with my looking machine. Life moved to rooftops and balconies.

No one sees me. I’m hidden, they don’t know that I exist. For the moment. I observe, with some nervousness: the sensation of being discovered is the excitement of a voyeur. The smartphone has become an extension of my body, it is what connects me to the world. A world in collective hysteria. So I prefer to come back to the roofs and the balconies around me. Where real people are just waiting with enormous resilience.

That older man keeps walking on the roof. This vision has become the emotional thermometer of my confinement. If I see him, I feel good. Whenever the time to go out will come, who knows, the desired routine will return and he’ll go out again, watching people move, the cars, the noise of the city. Then, I will stop meddling.

It will be weird, for everyone.

—Luis Cobelo


Editor’s note: We discovered this new work (and many more excellent visual stories) on the great new site created by the visionaries behind the Cortona on the Move photo festival — Be sure to check out The Covid19 Visual Project, and submit your own stories for consideration, too.