Future Present

June 14, 2018

Wet Planet or Disk Outside PA 42nd St
Both of these images are from NYNJ Port Authority bus stations: the first one outside the main terminal at 42nd Street; and the other at 178th Street. The latter building has a roof platform by the innovative master of reinforced concrete, Pier Luigi Nervi. I think the towers and the terminal look like something from the notebooks of the futurist Antonio Saint’Elia. For some pinhole images of Port Authority “monuments,” including the Calatrava extravaganza, visit this post.
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Memphis

February 20, 2018

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Tail end of my trip to the Delta was a short visit to Memphis, and the first stop was the National Civil Rights Museum, which incorporates the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered while he was there on a visit to support a strike by the Memphis sanitation workers.  I was very pleasantly surprised by the exceptionally high quality of the place:  I had expected a more standard, triumphalist, and celebratory exhibition that focused heavily on MLK, but instead I found a rich, creatively arranged multi-media exhibit that described the huge effort by many actors that made the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.  The museum did not shy from presenting information on the divisions that existed in the movement, and MLK, although clearly the great leader the movement needed, was not alone in his work.

Of course, since MLK stayed there, that area of South Memphis was the black side of town in those days.  Subsequently, it seems to have declined quite a bit, and today, in the numbing and depressing development cycle we call gentrification, it is being given new life.  The old buildings have coffee bars, galleries, and not-too-cheap condos, and some new building are plopped into spaces where old ones have been demolished.  The developers, having ignored the area for generations, are swooping in to make their kill as the grand march of capital moves into another “virgin” territory.  But as with the Spanish conquistadors, there were people there already, but now they are being squeezed out.  As it happens, on the drive up to Memphis, we heard this fantastic, but very depressing report on part of how this all happens today.

The pictures below were all taken in South Memphis, along the river, or Main Street.

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Condos, wine bar…gentrification

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Mural recalling the sanitation workers’ march down the street from the Civil Rights Museum

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As in so many cities, highway construction blighted the waterfront.

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The old riverbank in Memphis

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The so-called record flood of 2011 doesn’t seem all that high right here! 🙂

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Beautiful terra cotta work on this structure on Main Street, now largely a pedestrian mall.

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The oldest operating restaurant in Memphis

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An old fashioned storefront, c. 1940 I would guess, now defunct.

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That’s a flood wall!


Concrete and Reliquaries

January 16, 2018

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I have been reading this book because I am fascinated by medieval art, and I see a lot of reliquaries.  The book is sort of rambling, and it jumps around thematically, but it has focused my attention on these objects lately, so I took another trip to The Cloisters to see a few.  I drove in, and decided to park and walk around Washington Heights with my camera a bit before going to the museum.

First off, again, the Port Authority Bus Terminal with that fantastic reinforced concrete roof by Pier Luigi Nervi.  I was struck by this view from my car, and walked back to capture it.  It conveys, for me, the creepily attractive monumental and oppressive nature of some modernist architecture.  The tower in the background, one of four known to traffic alert listeners simply as “The Towers,” gives the view a Futurist look.

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Once in the museum, I went to see the three little ladies, reliquaries purportedly containing the skulls of martyred women, three of the 11,000 killed with Saint Ursula.

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Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but it made me think of this final scene from Mystery of the Organism.vlcsnap-694373


Lower Manhattan Jaunt

January 8, 2018

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On my Lower Manhattan jaunt I took two pinhole cameras:  a coffee can model; and a rectangular box type.  My photo journey began uptown, of course, at the 178th Street Port Authority Bus Terminal.  The building’s roof was designed by Nervi was designed in the early 1960s, and I just love the trapezoidal-shaped columns resting on a massive steel rocker.  This was shot with a rectangular box pinhole.

As usual  with my interior pinhole shots, I had trouble getting the exposure right.  Actually, getting the exposure right is always a problem, but it’s harder indoors.  Considering the overcast skies, this one came out pretty well, but I have been finding that my low-light outdoor shots are often over exposed because I have been relying on an iPad light meter app.  According to the reciprocity law rigmarole, long exposures calculated “by hand” are too low and need to be increased.  I don’t know what the “rule” is for light meters that include very large f-stops, or maybe there isn’t one.   I should probably rely on rule of thumb and experience and dump the meter!

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This coffee can shot of the plaza outside of the $4 billion luxury shopping mall otherwise known at The Oculus or Transit Hub by Calatrava shows the exposure problems.  It is also a roughed up image, showing the effects of my clumsy field handling of the cameras in my darkroom bag.  Haven’t gotten the hang of it yet.

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This interior shot of the structure was also taken with a coffee can pinhole, and it turned out pretty well.  The building is more impressive in this image that it is in fact, but I could go on about this for a long time…

I found relief from the contemplation of the Port Authority’s pharaonic waste at The Rubin Museum on 17th Street which contains fantastic collections of Tibetan art.6961121A-0102-4239-8DC0-1C428BC2955B

After my visit, on my way to the subway to get back to Nervi’s place, I captured this little scene, so typical of Manhattan, with my coffee can pinhole.

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Upper Manhattan Jaunt

January 7, 2018

I revisited one of my favorite buildings in Manhattan; the multi-storey sub-basement of an old apartment building in Washington Heights, amidst the Columbia Presbyterian Hospital Complex.

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It really does seem like a dungeon to me.

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It’s barely visible from this perspective amidst the hospital behemoths that recall to my mind the fantasies of Saint Elia.

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Manhattan Schist, so it’s called, is prominent up here, and from such soil, great structures grow.

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Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, we had barely two seasons:  I love the winter!love winter II

After all this gawking at icy splendor, I retreated to The Cloisters.

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Son of Clovis?

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Saint Lawrence Being Roasted:  The story goes that after grilling for a while, he declared, “I’m well-done, turn me over!”  Thus, he is the patron saint of cooks.

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Pinhole @ “Ground Zero”

October 13, 2017

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Yesterday, I ventured into Manhattan to meet a friend for lunch down near where I used to work, and afterwords, we strolled over to the WTC Memorial, directly across from my old office.  (Also from Century 21,  where I bought a pair of Italian shoes. 🙂 )  I had been planning to take some pinhole shots, and the weather was good.

I had my 5″x7″ photo paper camera loaded and ready, and I set up my tripod for what was to be a one-minute exposure.  Oops, no tripods allowed, I was informed by two policemen.  I can see how they would need to have that rule to prevent the area from being clogged with photographers at their stations.  Nevertheless, when they saw the nature of my equipment – clearly, I was not a professional doing commercial work – they looked the other way for sixty seconds, and I got this shot.

Over near the Santiago Calatrava PATH terminal, I took another shot, this time with my 0.2mm, 0.9″ pinhole using 3″x 3″ paper.  I crouched down and held the camera in my lap for a thirty second exposure.  Not tripods there, either!  I like the spooky, Expressionist feel to this image.

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Two for Minoru…

October 8, 2014

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…Yamasaki, that is.  Something about his buildings..?