Friday, November 19, 2010

Bowery btwn 5th + 6th streets circa 2004

"Coming soon" site of the Cooper Square Hotel, 2004, often called "Dubai on the Bowery".

Same site circa 2007:

"Oh, It's Not What It Used to Be" - Bowery circa 2000

NY Times article circa 2000 about the Bowery, written by someone who spent a lot of time there as a child in the 60's probably.


"Today on the Bowery the tallest building -- other than the 1970's Confucius Plaza in Chatham Square -- is the 10-story Salvation Army Chinatown Corps, No. 225, near Rivington Street; most are three or four stories."

"Still seedy around the edges, the Bowery is not yet gentrified -- there's no Starbucks, no Gap -- and it's not clear whether it will soon look more like SoHo, to the west."

"Old-timers gape at a two-story terraced gray penthouse, recently erected atop a dark orange brick building." ---- (While there are other seemingly older penthouse structures visible, I think this one is the first real sign of the beginning of what the Bowery has become.)

Also, another mention of its unique street arrangement:

"The Bowery interrupts the city's straightforward grid. Streets like Prince, Spring and Bleecker on the west side, and Stanton, Rivington and First on the east, end -- or begin -- at the Bowery. In some cases, the names change: Delancey becomes Kenmare; Bond becomes East Second; Great Jones becomes East Third."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

EV Transitions: A.T. Stewart, John Wanamaker, the Great Fire, and the Great Flood (Part II)

The "new" Wanamaker building is where K-Mart is on Astor of my favorite buildings in NY, so well proportioned (1903 - Burnham).  This shows a film of the old building burning down.  Fascinating.

"This is where streets go to die" - Bowery circa 2003

This NY Times article titled "Palimpsest Street" from 2003 gives you a mini rundown of the the Bowery's history, and details some sensibility of its different manifestations.  Originally the article probably had pictures (I wish it still did). 

During this time period there was no way of knowing that the Bowery was on the precipice of massive change, just that things were generally shifting in a more upscale direction.  No one knew if it was sustainable at this point.

I like the author's hypothesis as to why the Bowery had essentially sat unchanged for so many decades:

"One answer is surely physical. Like most of New York, the Bowery is much cleaner than it used to be, but it is still an ungainly street, singularly devoid of shade. An informal survey counted only 19 trees, many of them little more than saplings. And in its northern reaches, particularly, the Bowery is almost as broad and as busy as a highway. Trucks rumble constantly up and down its six lanes, either serving the avenue's many wholesalers or on their way somewhere else. And if geography is destiny, then the Bowery will never change. This is where streets go to die. Prince and Spring Streets from the west; Rivington, Stanton and First Streets from the east. All come to dead ends here, creating the impression that the Bowery is somehow cosmically misaligned -- an ineluctable border area, permanently detached from any of the neighborhoods surrounding it.

Or perhaps there's a simpler reason that the Bowery has remained the Bowery. Modern cities developed for the most practical of reasons, as marketplaces of goods, services and ideas. It is only when the markets leave that cities and neighborhoods begin casting around existentially for reasons to exist. On the Bowery, neither the industrial markets nor the artists ever left. The street remained more or less content unto itself. In a way, the Bowery is the only part of the ''real'' city left in Manhattan."

You can check out some aerial photos taken from different time periods by using the interactive map feature (super cool).

Bowery and Houston circa 1924

Bowery and Houston circa 1996

Bowery and Houston circa 2008

Dive bars in NY circa 1996

I'm working on a big piece for a show I'm doing at La Mama Gallery in January (also showing Wil Ortega's work).  La Mama is located right off the Bowery, on 1st street, near the Liz Christy garden.  Also, I suppose I should mention its also nowadays sandwiched between one of the largest (luxury) housing developments built in recent times in the neighborhood, built by Avalon Bay, who previous to this complex on the Bowery had mostly build suburban apartment complexes in places like New Jersey. Anyway, if I can pull it off, my portion of the show will incorporate some of the last 20 years of history in terms of the Bowery - pretty much the time person when I would have traversed it as a Cooper Union student, then staff and faculty, and a general NYC downtown resident.

I have a lot of memories, but they tend to be a bit fuzzy.  Images are in my heads, but dates are uncertain.  I've started doing some research, mostly using the NY Times archive, which so far has been very helpful.  I typed in Bowery and Houston and a bunch of stuff popped up.  I was tryign to determine when the aforementioned housing development was proposed, because i remember seeing a rendering in a book in the Cooper Library circa 1999?  2000? and thinking "well, thats never going to happen".  And it didn't, at least as far as I can tell. Originally it was proposed as city housing.  Then it was sold to a private developer.  So, big difference there in terms of what it represents.  Still looking into finding that rendering. 

Anyway, from time to time I'm going to post some of the articles/images I find, and my thoughts here.  

Note the date.  This one is from 1996:


Monday, July 19, 2010

The Homefront's website is up!

go to: here to read the press release for my upcoming show, and see a sketch of the collage! also read about other stuff going on at The Homefront (other art will be on display, including some of Simone Meltesen's wonderful houseboats) busy printing and working on some new images for the "stalled" series of photos (from williamsburg construction sites...)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer project in Long Island City

I wrote this last week in a stream of consciousness, its part of the process of working on an artist statement for the new collage. More thoughts and pix soon.....


I've been very kindly asked to exhibit my work in a new space opening up in Long Island City called The Homefront. It's in a central location, right off Jackson Ave. very near the E and V (or is it it M now?), towards the Sculpture Center, not too far from PS1, but also directly in the whirlwind of several HUGE construction sites for office buildings.

Since last fall I've been using a large format 4x5 camera to shoot a project based on the large number of stalled building sites in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Half of the show at The Homefront will consist of a selection of these images. The other half will be a large site specific collage installed on the walls.

I began exploring the neighborhood in the direction of Queensboro Plaza (roughly north and west). This area is mostly huge construction sites, some waiting to be started, others slowly rising, but unlike Williamsburg these sites are not all condos but primarily office buildings. Surrounding these sites are a bunch of low rise commercial spaces, a few aging tenements, some loft condo warehouse conversions, and several overpasses from the Queensboro Bridge. It's like a dystopian novel where the office-y business people are gentrifying aliens, building huge glass cities in the midst of the native species' brick and mortar villages.

One thing that I honed in on was the proliferation of mark making. The streets are ripe with brightly colored shapes and lines, some freshly painted, all denoting a code that the transient construction workers can translate; they are foreign to the average passerby . Buildings, conversely, display identifiable vestiges of time, fading handmade signs warning of obsolete violations, worn metal doors to shuttered garages, house numbers scribbled in sharpie. Construction barricades contain and endless variety of "sidewalk closed" or "sidewalk" with an arrow texts.

here are some images:

Some new buildings near the gallery (the tall Citibank building completed in 1990 has been there for quite awhile though)

Typical LIC buildings

View towards Manhattan from near 5 Pointz

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Locals and Tourists #2 (GTWA #1): New York

This visually beautiful project has convinced me to start to use Flickr in a more active way, in terms of comprehending the power of the modern photograph's metadata and geotagging.

I'm beginning to understand this idea that there is this collective archive of space, place, time, and technology which is happening almost unconsciously worldwide. People put pictures up as a record of an event/moment and through their metadata they are instantly linked with everyone else who has posted images from that same location throughout time. I've always thought about metadata in a creepy way, as a sort of surveillance tool (how can you not having lived though the 90's), but now i can almost see it as a transcendent way of creating a collective memory of a place/time/space. One that, though mediated, is directed by the masses and not a professional eye. Yes, most of the millions of photos uploaded everyday are mediocre, banal, compositionally horrible, and technically lacking, but if I think of them less as "photographs" and more as "artifacts" they come alive. They are documents. Documents which now live in cyberspace and have gained meaning in history by their relationship to other "documents" - i.e photos.

I've been lamenting the fact that we are losing these sorts of moments because people no longer print out pictures. They get shot, downloaded, and put into a folder, which gets put in a folder then onto a hard drive or CD/DVD somewhere and forgotten. In the old days everything would have been printed. Everything had a negative, somewhere, even if it was blurry or out of focus. "mistake" photos could be thrown away, but some record of them still existed. Often nowadays people delete the photos they think are not perfect, erasing potential histories. While this will forever be true, I see now that places like Flickr can/will/are actually may, in effect, become the dresser drawers of the future. Publicly accessible dresser drawers. Kinda mind blowing.

Ugh, more to say but I have to get some other work done tonight. More soon.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

its a thursday night

haven't been able to focus very well all week. not sure why, been taking my vitamins, getting almost enough sleep. on the way back from eating dinner tonight I looked at the sunset sky and though "that looks photoshopped" (we learned the "Liquidfy" tool today in class). Walking across the Brown campus today I thought "this is just too perfect, like a facsimile of what an ivy league college is supposed to look like". I've always said it felt like being in a movie. People I meet are often meant to be on their way to somewhere else. I get there at the very end of their "this-ness". I myself am in my own bubble. I've started photographing my apartment again. It has many dustbunnies. when i get in the car I want TO GO. Not across town, but away. wherever, anywhere. until I run out of gas. my new job is intense. the students are great, they challenge me. i need to clean off surfaces. the state of my desk is the state of my mind. its 8:30 already. damn. gonna try to put things here on blogger more, more streamline, though the cacophony of facebook seems to suit my state of mind. but i can try. seems like when echo and the bunnymen got to "ocean rain" they lost steam. too poppy.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Misunderstandings (A Theory of Photography) (1967-1970)

a work by Mel Bochner

Originally published by Multiples Inc. New York as part of "Artists and Photographs" (1970). The project consists of ten photo-offset prints on note cards (5x8 in each)

(apparently three of these may not be not true quotes, but he may have made them up)

"I would like to see photography make people despise painting until something else will make photography unbearable" - Marcel Duchamp

"I want to reproduce the objects as they are or as they would be even if I did not exist" - Taine

"Photography cannot record abstract ideas" - Encyclopedia Britannica

"Let us remember too, that we don't have to translate such pictures into realistic ones in order to 'understand' them, any more than we need to translate photographs into colored pictures, although black-and-white men or plans in reality would strike us as unspeakable strange and frightful. Suppose we were to say at this point: 'something is a picture only in a picture language'" - Ludwig Wittenstein

"The true function of revolutionary art is the crystallization of phenomena into organized forms" - Mao Tse-Tung

"In my opinion, you cannot say you have thoroughly seen anything until you have a photograph of it" - Emile Zola

"Photography is the product of complete alienation" - Marcel Proust

"The photography keeps open the instants which the onrush of time closes up; it destroys the overtaking, the overlapping of time" - Maurice Merleau-Ponty

"Photographs provide for a kind of perception that is mediated instead of direct....what might be called 'Perception at Second Hand'" - James J. Gibson

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

new york state of mind

I'm eating breakfast at 7A again before driving up in the rain to Providence. They are playing Billy Joel's "The Stranger" album. This is one my parents had when I was a little kid, like grade school (I'd fogotten abot this one, and can now put this with the Donna Summer, Dolly Parton, and Bee Gee's version of Sargent Pepper as things I vaguey remember).

Anyway, hearing this album (it's pretty good actually) made me think about what my perception of New York was back then, o even before I moved here. And while you may think, from knowing me, it would have been shaped by music, I think it was really formed from television. Pittsburgh was far enough away, and different enough that New York really was very foreign to me when I got here.

Thinking back, Sesame Street was very informative. We had no sidewalks where I lived, no apartment buildings, no stoop, no deli's. It was this glimpse into urbanity that I didn't understNd but I think probably penetrated my unconscious and stayed there in terms of understanding that there was a bigger world out there than Elizabeth, Pennsylvania.

Taxi is the other show that comes to mind. I always felt it was kind of gritty and mean and I know I didn't get all the jokes but you could identify with these characters and their struggles as a diverse group. This was not "Friends".

Then there was Good Times, The Jeffersons, and Sanford and son (were these all in NY? I chat remember). But they all offered a glimpse into this world I never touched living in the country. I also vaguely remember watching Soap, obviously not getting much of the plot but watching it now.....

Even The Facts of Life had Jo from Brooklyn.

Strangely I don't rememer any tv from the 80's set in NY. At least at the moment. Maybe I mean mid 80's, because i bet a lot of these shows were actually from the early 80's. I wonder what shifted, but then reappeared on the 90's in totally different way. Should "Friends" be blamed for creating all these condos and kickstarting the city's plunge towards suburbanism?

Hm, not enough time to exlore this right now. Parking meter is up in 5. So I will leave you with that thought.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

1984 French Industrial/Noise/New Wave Complilation (from cassette)

OK, 80's industrial French Complilation cassette from 1984 with a terrible title - but aparantly a rare Psychic TV track on here. Some it is mostly (slightly unlistenable) free form noise but then towards an early sonic youth direction, some more coherent, but i'm liking a bunch of it so I'm sharing.

The Son of Sam single "nature makes a mistake" track is on here too. early electro indeed!

Sex & Bestiality - 4 x Cassette, Compilation - France [1984]

originally found here:

also good resource for info:

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kylie mix for you all....

Back to work mode means back to Minimal Wave, so i'm putting Kylie to rest for now.

Made this mix, mostly of remixes i found, which makes me energized, helps me to turn OFF my brain, and provides a sunny feeling during these cold winter days. I'll admit its the gayest thing i've ever put together, in every sense of the word, but you know what, i'm ok with that. (because as you know i'm all about being "cool" haaaa)

and just for the record, i heard her cover of "Love is the Drug" and got hooked from there. after much research I found some tunes/remixes that pleased my ears.

I KNOW there are many of you that would enjoy this just for its bubblegum pop qualities. this is why i'm sharing. do the songs all kind of sound the same? YES! does she sound like Madonna/Fergie/Bjork/Gwen Stephanie at times. YES! but she can hit the high notes like Donna Summer - YES! all the same, she is Kylie, not the others. I think i "get" her now. and she's awesome.

so here you go, enjoy!

jen's kylie mix:

also, some repeats here but i quite like this compilation:

Rare and Unreleased:

In order for me to concentrate, i will be turning back to some serious Minimal German techno very soon (i.e. Kompakt). not as fun, but helps the gears turn when writing *new* multi-disciplinary course descriptions.

and to watch!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Watch This! Queens of British Pop on the BBC

List of collected youtube clips.

I quite enjoyed this series, esp Annie Lennox, Siouxsie, and Kate Bush!

Dusty Springfield

Marianne Faithful

Sandie Shaw

Susie Quatro

Siouxsie Sioux

Kate Bush

Annie Lennox

Alison Moyet

Kylie Minogue

Geri Haliwell

Leona Lewis

Amy Winehouse
(couldn't find a link....)