New Bridges in an Anxious Economy

Odell on Slowing Down, Bill Cunningham Not a Photographer, Watch Frame by Frame

The second span of the Kosciuszko Bridge connecting Queens and Brooklyn opened this week and since it’s close to where I live I’ve made a couple of walks over it. The sweeping views of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens are impressive (hyperlapse walk here).

As I walked over, I encountered other pedestrians and cyclists, with many of them giving a nod as they saw me making videos. As I was exiting on the Brooklyn side during my second walk, I ran into a cyclist who said he was from New Jersey and had been looking forward to biking over. “Absolutely fantastic,” he said as he made a photograph at the entrance.

A new bridge opening in New York City isn’t major news but the metaphor, as cliche as it might be, resonates right now. I’ve spent the summer working on a new podcast and project and at the same time adjusting to freelance life. Any new project is like crossing a bridge into unknown territory. With the looming possible recession on the horizon, that territory could be challenging and filled with unexpected developments, but there’s really only one choice, and that’s the go right over the bridge and confront what’s on the other side.

Are you working on a new project? It’d be great to hear about it. Drop me a line info@bryanformhals.com. I’m posting daily on Twitter as well and experimenting with some new black and white sequences on Instagram.


US Open Views

I got a grounds ticket for day one of the US Open and spent the day roaming around the different courts. I watched 17 year old Zach Svadja thrill the crowd on a side court by nearly pulling off a first round victory. It’s a unique atmosphere but you probably need to enjoy tennis as a sport to appreciate the full experience. I wasn’t on a self-assignment so didn’t make many photos but check out Chris Maggio’s set of US Open photos from a few years ago.

Slowing Down With Jenny Odell

“If we want students to be thinkers, then we need to give them time to think. I may have understood this even as a 17-year-old, stealing time to write about how there wasn’t any time. Then, as now, I wished we could all make an agreement: to just slow down.”

I’ve written a few times already about Jenny Odell’s ‘How to Do Nothing.’ It seems to have captured the zeitgeist for the creative class this summer. There were a couple articles that came across my fee this week, first she’s in the NYTimes with a new column about lessons on slowing down she’s teaching her art students, and then Artsy ran a feature on the book and her art practice.

“Odell encourages her students to think differently about art and its unquantifiable benefits. For her, artmaking is about observing the world, appreciating unpredictability, and luxuriating in “the part of the process where you don’t even know what you’re doing yet.” Yet she also acknowledges the particular irony that the type of thinking she advocates “can help you get jobs.” Employers, after all, value creativity, open-mindedness, and new perspectives on old problems.”

Reading between the lines on a lot of major trends, one could argue that creativity and the ability to produce creative projects will be one of the remaining skillsets that won’t be overtaken by automation. On my optimistic days, I tend to agree, and think it’s wise to expand one’s skillset to include producing, and on my pessimistic days, I’m left wondering, do we need all this ‘content’?

Bill Cunningham Would Not Call Himself a Photographer

“Bill preferred to call himself a fashion historian or, more modestly, a reporter, and he certainly fit those descriptions. As Ms. Loite points out in her preface to the book, he was reluctant to call himself a photographer. To which I want to say, “Oh please, Bill, give me a break.”

The NYTimes has a nice feature the new book coming out covering Cunningham’s work. I particularly liked this tidbit about how he defined himself. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently as I’ve pursued these new projects. Labels are intellectual traps at times so I’m hesitant put something down in writing until I get it right but I feel I’m on the way. How about you, how do you define your work?

Recession Will Screw Over Millenials (probably the entire creative class too)

“The next recession—this year, next year, whenever it comes—will likely make that Millennial disadvantage even worse. Already, Millennials have put off saving and buying homes, as well as getting married and having babies, because of their crummy jobs and weighty student loans. A downturn that leads to higher unemployment and lower wages will force Millennials to wait even longer to start accumulating wealth, making it far harder for them to accumulate any wealth at all.”

Recession or no recession, the economy is not working for many people, and at some point something will need to give. As I’ve said before, I believe the knowledge economy is incredibly fragile, and a recession could expose that weakness. It’s not sustainable. There needs to be structural change. [The Atlantic]

Video: Frame by Frame on Topic

Nice series of short videos on Topic, particularly the Pete Souza episode.

Further Reading