Archived entries for new york

Martha Rosler: The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems (1974-75)

The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems 01

The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems 02

The Jazz Loft Project: W. Eugene Smith


“Between 1957 and 1965 W. Eugene Smith made approximately 40,000 exposures both inside the loft building at 821 Sixth Avenue, of the nocturnal jazz scene, and of the street below as seen through his fourth-floor window. In a November 1958 letter to his friend Ansel Adams, Smith wrote: “The loft is a curious place, pinned with the notes and proof prints . . . with reminders . . . with demands. Always there is the window. It forever seduces me away from my work in this cold water flat. I breathe and smile and quicken and languish in appreciation of it, the proscenium arch with me on the third stage looking it down and up and bent along the sides and the whole audience in performance down before me, an ever changing pandemonium of delicate details and habitual rhythms.”

via ::The Jazz Loft Project::


“Esa primera vez, encontré a Perkus Tooth sumido en uno de esos estados de ánimo que yo pronto aprendería a llamar “elipsistas”. El propio Perkus Tooth aportaría más tarde esa palabra tan descriptiva: elipsista, derivado de elipsis. Una especie de intervalo vacío, una cabezada o fuga en la que no estaba ni deprimido ni todo lo contrario, ni luchando por concluir un pensamiento ni tratando de comenzar otro. Simplemente, en medio. Con el botón de pausa apretado.”

Jonathan Lethem, Chronic City (10)

points of reference

“Boddeh Stritt,” she resumed apologetically. He shrugged. “It's such a strange name—bath street in German. But here I am. I know there is a church on a certain street to my left, the vegetable market is on my right, behind me are the railroad tracks and the broken rocks, and before me, a few blocks away is a certain store window that has a kind of whitewash on it—and faces in the whitewash, the kind children draw. Within this pale is my America, and if I ventured further I should be lost. In fact,” she laughed, “were they even to wash that win­dow, I might never find my way home again.”

Henry Roth, Call It Sleep (33)

Juan Francisco Ferré: Manhattan (no) es real

Sin la contribución de Dick y de Borges difícilmente habría podido Lethem concebir una novela como ésta donde, a través de los mecanismos de la ficción, se logra superar la idea de la conjura de lo real a fin de preservar un contacto con la realidad no mediatizado por las ficciones del poder. Esa idea subversiva sobre la realidad la sostiene en la ficción Perkus Tooth, el patético gurú de nombre pynchoniano, aficionado a la marihuana y las películas inexistentes, que se cruza en el camino del confuso narrador y protagonista, Chase Insteadman, para trastornar definitivamente su comprensión de lo que es real o no en Manhattan después de conducirlo a dudar sobre su papel en la representación que la ciudad da de sí misma a diario. Manhattan es descrito como un ecosistema social donde Insteadman, antigua estrella televisiva infantil reconvertida en fetiche lúdico y estético de la clase alta, vive como una criatura mimada y privilegiada. La epifanía moral que le aguarda al final de este viaje alucinante al fondo de las apariencias la existencia contigua de una Manhattan real y otra virtual, separadas por una barrera ínfima conseguirá alejarlo del mundo de los ricos y los poderosos, que dominan la totalidad del espacio urbano con sus imposiciones, cultos y valores, contrarios a los deseos de la multitud que también lo habita desde el anonimato, el fracaso y la alienación.


John Sloan, NY Rooftops


Ms. Hulsers favorite painting by John Sloan is Stealing the Wash, and it is also in the show. Mr. Sloan moved to New York from Philadelphia in 1904 and used binoculars to gain a better view of New Yorkers lives atop the tenements. The painting shows an older man stealing woolen socks from a clothesline. Mr. Sloan wrote that as he watched, the thief tried on all the woolen socks before stowing them in his neat bundle and climbing down the fire escape.

via The Lure of the Roof Is More Than Just Tar Beach –


Health care acrobats

“Health care for poor New Yorkers, 1890s-style: Medical care in the city’s poorest slums was pretty nonexistent in the late 1890s. So social reformer Lillian Wald—founder of the Henry Street Settlement and namesake of a housing project on Avenue D—established a visiting nurses service. Her Nurses’ Settlement eventually had a staff of about 100 blue-uniformed nurses who went from tenement to tenement offering free or low-cost check-ups and treatment, mostly for immigrant mothers and kids. Rather than climbing all those tenement stairs on their rounds, the nurses simply hopped from rooftop to rooftop, like this nurse is doing here.



via Ephemeral New York.

New York’s Photo League

The Photo League was a New York City–based organization of professional and amateur photographers. A splinter group of the Film and Photo League, it was founded in 1936 by photographers Sid Grossman (1913–1955) and Sol Libsohn (1914–2001). Many of its members were young, first-generation, working-class Jewish Americans.

In keeping with its educational, activist, and aesthetic goals, the League offered lectures, darkroom access, and classes on history and technique, as well as exhibition opportunities. It promoted photography as a fine art and also championed the use of documentary photography to expose social problems and instigate social change.

During its fifteen-year existence, the League was among only a handful of places in New York that offered study in documentary photography, and it was unique in offering inexpensive classes and darkroom access.

The majority of the Photo League images were taken in New York City, but members also took photographs across the United States—for instance, in rural communities in the south—and, during World War II, in Europe, Asia, and Central America. Most of the photographs document ordinary people and everyday life and celebrate democracy in all its diversity. The photographs also include images of poverty and other hardships, which is not surprising given the social conscience of most of the members.

The League published a newsletter called Photo Notes, through which its members’ images, educational philosophies, and ideological stances and debates could be further disseminated.

via The Jewish Museum New York | Overview.

Hermann Bollmann: Manhattan, 1948


Pearsall’s London A-Z project was intended to make the city legible for everyday life. We might contrast it with an entirely different but contemporary mapping of the modern metropolis of the German, Hermann Bollmann. Armed with a technique known to 19th-Century artist-cartographers as Vogelschaukarten, which dates back at least to Jacopo de’ Barbari’s 1500 map of Venice, Bollmann confronted modernity’s most demanding urban landscape: Manhattan Island. Using 67 ,000 photographs, 17,000 taken from the air, he created in 1948 a hand drawn map image that captures precisely the soaring quality of New York’s skyline, while rendering streets and buildings with remarkable accuracy.

“Carto-city” by Denis Cosgrove,
Else/Where: Mapping


One of the greatest cartographic feats of all time, this 1963 axonometric (‘bird’s eye view’) map of New York City was the first such since 1866. The technique dates back to the 15th century, and developed in Germany into a fully flowered cartographic art form called Vogelschaukarten in Germany in the 1800s. This particular map was prepared by Herman Bollmann for the 1864 New York World’s Fair, where it was sold at information and tourist kiosks.

In making the map in the 1950s, Herman Bollmann and his staff faced a seemingly insurmountable problem, one never before encountered by his few predecessors in axonometric cartography: how to show New York’s many and densely concentrated skyscrapers from the same angle and relative height, while not obscuring most of the city behind them?

He and his team designed and built special cameras to take 67,000 photos, 17,000 from the air. Using these photos as a base, they then began to hand draw the entire city. Using then-secret cartographic techniques, Bollmann and team managed to depict the smallest details while simultaneously conveying the city’s soaring, vertiginous beauty.

The viewer is thus placed in the position of an Olympian God, a perspective that no other technologic and artistic form offers, even in the Internet age: with this map spread out before you, you have the ability to look upon any part of the city at will, down to its smallest detail, without waiting for a camera to pan or zoom or cut, without waiting for the next web page to load or zoom.

via Geographicus

Harlem is Nowhere by Ralph Ellison


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