#19: A cemetery landscape on the walk to Photoville
Image & Text struggles; Climate Strike and Rethinking Transportation; Mathematical model for vision
|Bryan Formhals||Sep 23, 2019|
September hosts two of the bigger photography events on the New York City calendar in Photoville and the New York Art Book Fair. I’ve attended both the last several years and always enjoy discovering new projects and books as well as taking in the atmosphere. There’s always a diversity of work to see, so it’s a good chance to encounter work that might not come across your radar.
My primary takeaway is always something along the lines of “wow, there are a lot of insanely talented artists creating compelling work around nearly every conceivable topic.” It’s good to feel overwhelmed by exceptional art and liberating in many ways because it’s a reminder that there are many avenues to creating interesting art (check out Ed Kashi’s Instagram to see some clips from his mesmerizing Enigma Room installation.)
On my walk to Photoville I came across the Naval Cemetery Landscape, a greenspace on the Brooklyn waterfront. It’s on the location of the former Naval Hospital Cemetery where at one time over 2,000 people were buried before being moved to a new location, however there are over 900 bodies unaccounted for so the space acts as equal parts memorial and park.
The entrance to the Naval Cemetery Landscape acts as threshold to a wildflower meadow and sacred grove, framed by an undulating boardwalk and lifted above the hallowed ground. This experience evokes the histories of settlement and cultivation, life and death, while slowing the heart rate and connecting visitors with the stories of the site.
I spent around 20 minutes in the park, walking around and observing how other people interacted with the space. It was the type of walking experience that I’ve come to appreciate the last few years as I’ve become more interested in the city’s greenspaces. How public spaces in New York City evoke their complex, layered histories is something I’m learn more about, and will continue to explore. This week I’ll be checking out ‘Who Takes Care of New York?’ at the Queens museum.
Images and Text, the constant struggle
“So for images to work well with text, I want to claim that they have to fully shed their precious-picture aspect. This is not to say that they simply have to be shitty. That’s really not the point. They need to be good pictures. But the moment they come alive next to text, they cannot insist on being precious any longer. They need to be content with operating alongside text — or rather their maker has to.” - Jorg Colberg
That’s from Jorg Colberg’s article about Alan Huck‘s I walk toward the sun which is always going down which is a book I need to check out because it’s not only about walking to some degree, but mixes text and image in an effective way.
Since I started making photographs in 2005, I’ve always been interested in the relationship between text and image, especially in photobooks. I’ve gone back and forth about how to use text and these days I’m in favor of a more integrated approach as Colberg describes above, but executing is challenging, especially when it comes to text for me. Another recent project I thought mixed text and image well was Paul Kwiatkowski and Tom Griggs book ‘Ghost Guessed.’
Climate Strike and Rethinking Transportation
“To me, approaching transportation through equity, ethics, and empathy means there’s a moral imperative to go out there and serve communities and make transportation better,” he says. “These conversations will help us ask better questions about the work we do and what outcomes we want.”
Transportation is such a complex issue that intersects with so many other issues around climate change that it can be difficult to understand how we’ll ever transform it in time (walk more right now!) There were a few good articles in Curbed this week that are worth checking out if you want to get into the weeds.
A Mathematical Model Unlocks the Secrets of Vision
“You may think of the brain as taking a photograph of what you see in your visual field,” Young said. “But the brain doesn’t take a picture, the retina does, and the information passed from the retina to the visual cortex is sparse.”
Fascinating article in Quantum Magazine. This opens up a lot of questions about photography. The first thing that comes to mind are those photographs that you don’t remember creating but somehow turn out to be the most interesting. Or when you’re shooting film and somehow the film goes haywire and you end up with a different image that you thought when you pressed the shutter. I don’t know. I’m still amazed we can make photographs of stars that no longer exist. It’s all a perplexing mystery at times.