October 11, 2018
With all the talk in the City about the poor and overcrowded state of the subways, I thought it would be a nice time to revisit this video of mine – 40 years old! – made as an homage to the trains. It is followed by a clip paying homage to 2001 which uses some of the same visual themes.
I made the piece during a summer class in video at NYU. The camera was about the size of a very large dictionary, and the the recording mechanism was slung over your shoulder and weighed a ton! I converted the video from 3/4″ tape to DVD several years ago at a video restoration lab in San Francisco.
The late sequence of the train moving through the tunnel as the Saint-Saëns music builds to a climax links the piece to the following bit inspired by 2001 and my night driving on the NJ turnpike. I have always been a time-space traveler! 🙂
These videos, and others I have made, are available on my MUNDO VIDEO!! page at this blog.
October 7, 2018
In the Flatiron Plaza, by Jorge Palacios. Bigger image here.
The Noguchi Museum in Queens is featuring Palacios’ work right now. The “Red Cube,” one of Noguchi’s most famous public sculptures is not, of course, a cube.
September 8, 2018
We take a break now from our finger gazing to talk about Jorge Palacios, a sculptor in wood who is now being shown at the Noguchi Museum, a favorite spot of mine. I read about his big piece, Link, in the Flatiron Plaza, and went to see it.
When I got there on a beautiful day like the one in the images above, there was a man scrubbing the piece clean.
I talked to him a bit in halting English and my halting Spanish. He remarked that the piece gets lots of scuff marks from people’s shoes! I asked him if it is hollow, it is, and if I could bang on it, I did. When I got home, I did some reading about the artist and the exhibit at the Noguchi and it seemed to me that the guy looked a little like the artist, didn’t he? He was a lot more friendly than his picture makes him seem!
Yesterday, I went to the Noguchi to see the exhibit of his work, including this one:
Wandering about the exhibit, examining the installations and putting in more lights, was the same “workman” I’d seen cleaning the piece in Manhattan. It dawned on me that this unassuming man was the artist, and I had a pleasant chat with him – I reminded him of our previous encounter. An amusing bit of serendipity, and I had him sign a copy of a monograph that I bought in the museum shop. 🙂
When I was leaving the museum, I chatted with the admissions person about my encounters, and he chuckled: “Yes, he’s a very hands-on type of guy.”
July 15, 2018
This painting is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the “Painted in Mexico” exhibition that originated in Los Angeles. Jesus displays his “carnal” heart – a very popular object of veneration at this time – while a personification of the Church uses the Eucharist to send a beam of light to illuminate a bible. I like how the beam is not reflected from the pages, but is instead transformed into jagged lightning bolts that strike dead the enemies of the church (and the Jesuits, who supported the cult of the sacred heart against its opposition.)
The image of Jesus is a direct adaptation of this earlier, less complex picture.
The sacred heart, representations of which originated in the middle ages, was at first shown iconographically, i.e. as a stylized heart shape, but eventually become anatomically correct. Not quite clear on whether this is a bleeding heart…
Up on the roof, there is a different, more ironic sort of veneration going on.
June 9, 2018
I took the aerial tram to Roosevelt Island today, the first time I’ve ridden on that thing, and a bad day to do it. Saturday, good weather, crowds, one car out of service, subway not running… Once you get there, the views from the island are pretty unusual for New York City.
The romantic one below is looking east to the new apartments in the Long Island City area of Queens.
Strolling around the island is pleasant once you leave behind the apartments and the new Cornell University hi-tech campus. The old Renwick shell of a small pox hospital is carefully preserved.
Something went wrong with my HDR shot here – it would help to use a tripod – so I call it “Good Vibrations.”
The southern end of the island is now the finally completed Louis Kahn park dedicated to FDR’s Four Freedoms. It is shockingly abstract in form – a real jolt to the senses. That’s saying a lot since it is just a baseball hit away from the dense Manhattan skyline, which isn’t exactly an English garden landscape. It’s the austerity of the design, I suppose…
Not sure what he was doing there, but he had a retinue of photo-tech people, so I guess he wasn’t fighting super criminals.
January 16, 2018
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.
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.
Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but it made me think of this final scene from Mystery of the Organism.
January 8, 2018
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
It really does seem like a dungeon to me.
It’s barely visible from this perspective amidst the hospital behemoths that recall to my mind the fantasies of Saint Elia.
Manhattan Schist, so it’s called, is prominent up here, and from such soil, great structures grow.
Growing up in the San Fernando Valley, we had barely two seasons: I love the winter!
After all this gawking at icy splendor, I retreated to The Cloisters.
Son of Clovis?
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.