Sunday, July 26, 2009

Poster Art

I have been preparing another round of street art, so I haven't had much time to shoot pictures. The light in late July is bright and flat. It is hard to get excited about. However, I came across some torn posters with tags that amused me.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Grand Central Station

When I am in midtown, I always try to swing through Grand Central. It is hushed and cool in there despite of the crowds.

In the bad old days, the ceiling was dark from cigarette smoke. I could never reconcile myself to the post renovation ceiling color. The old (dirty) ceiling looked very dark blue, like the night sky with the constellations showing through faintly. I have often wondered if the ceilings were supposed to be sea green. Maybe the restorers stripped away more than tobacco stains.

The small circles on the arched grill act like pinhole cameras. Between 2pm and 3pm on a cloudless day, it is possible to see an image of the sun projected onto a piece of paper. I really want to try this when I have an hour to kill in the middle of a sunny afternoon.

The chandeliers have bare bulbs because the station was in one of the first areas to be electrified and the designers were showing off the new technology.

Outside there is no way to avoid the Metlife building. It is just a huge mass of international style architecture right in the middle of all the Beaux Arts buildings. I think I liked it better when it had the Pan Am logo on top.

It is a little silly to fuss about overdevelopment in midtown. Even the post office has a modern office tower on top of it.

The light on the scaffolding made me want to walk around with color negative film again. It was particularly pretty light. The humidity filtered it as if through ground glass.

I love the tunnels under the New York Central Building. The viaduct around Grand Central marks separation between uptown and downtown. Heading up is the best, swerving past the station and through the tunnel which spills the cars out onto Park Avenue. I wish there were room for pedestrians.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Grand Army Plaza Oasis

A few weeks ago, I discovered an oasis in the density of Union Square. I am intrigued by the little pockets of calm that are hidden throughout the city. Although I have lived in Brooklyn for years and I knew of the Grand Army Plaza oasis, I had never visited.

The multiple lanes of traffic have always seemed so formidable.

It was actually quite easy to cross the lanes from the Prospect Heights side of the plaza.

There are small overgrown green spots called "berms" which circle this side of the plaza. They are fenced in and locked which makes a certain amount of sense.

They seem like the perfect spots hiding out and getting into trouble.

The park behind the arch does not look like much at first. There is just a fountain and an unmarked small monument. The splashing water drowns out the traffic sounds and cools the space around it.

The sculptures are rather tacky art deco. Still, the space is calming and refreshing.

The lady with the giraffe neck seems to be really enjoying the water.

Her companion is more about showing off his hyper-defined muscles.

There are a couple of reveling mermen.

Poseidon was really ugly with his bulging belly and gaping mouth. So I caught an angle with lots of water spray.

The arch is so boring. I only included it to situate the oasis.

In other news, today is Nicolas Tesla's birthday.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The High Line

The Highline, an elevated railway that has been turned into a park, opened a few weeks ago to much fanfare. The park itself is quite beautiful, lined with wildflowers which sweeten the air. The traffic sounds fade, the sky opens up. I didn't take many pictures of the park itself since it is very well documented. The Gothamist has such fine pictures that I had nothing to add. However the view from the park was something else.

There was space. The buildings were not shadowing so much. The views were similar to driving down the West Side Highway, but without the cars.

Frank Gehry's IAC building made me grieve for what the Nets stadium might have been.

Looking down on the street, there almost seems to be a visible force around the truck level, a sort of dusty darkness. Higher up the cloudy bright light is dissolving the buildings.

I did photograph this part of the high line; the window over Tenth Avenue.

The street is a stage, the amphitheater is another stage. I really love this place.

Up here things are not so neat and tidy. There are more signs of the chaotic New York that I loved to photograph, with streaks of rust and green copper leaching from pipes.

Lady Liberty is in the lower left corner in honor of Independence Day.

I became wistful around the traces of graffiti and broken glass. I know people feel safer in a bright clean city. I just really miss the rubble.

I also miss the occasional transformation like how this unfinished wall becomes a weathered ziggurat.

And the razor wire.

I love razor wire, the way the light glints off its points, how it catches shreds of translucent plastic. But it is one of those things (like religious symbols and the swastika) that cannot be separated from symbolic meaning. So a cross will always imply Jesus and razor wire will always bring up violence, crime, war. The light can do nothing to distract.

Still, I thought it looked so pretty up on the High Line. Maybe I will go back when it is cold and windy with the late afternoon sun quickly sinking and see what things look like. Maybe I will bring color film instead of digital.