#28: Walking the Bronx River Pathway
Plus, a 17-mile hike San Francisco Hike, Daniel C. Blight on the Image of Whiteness, Solnit on Writing/Art, and more!
|Bryan Formhals||Nov 25, 2019|
On Saturday I took the Metro North up to White Plains to walk part of the Bronx River Pathway. It was a perfect fall day, and I was well rested and in need of long march on a new path. Whenever I get off the train at a new location, I imagine how a horse must feel at the starting gate of a race. Open the door, let me go!
I’ve made a few trips to Westchester County this year to walk the Old Croton Aqueduct trail but this was my first on the Harlem line. The trail out of White Plains was idyllic and felt like Central Park to some degree. I criss crossed the river over a few bridges, and made a bunch of photos and videos. I’ve been experimenting more with video this year, and will push it further hopefully in the next few years. InstaStories is a low pressure platform to experiment, and at this point, almost anything is permissible in terms of quality.
As I arrived near the Hartsdale station, I checked the map to figure out my next course since the pathway breaks up at this point. The two closest county roads were too dangerous to walk. There were no clear paths. I was cursing Hartsdale! It goes with the territory, sometimes navigating on foot can be tricky.
Then I found an entrance back along the river, but it looked like it was under construction. My curiosity got me walking down the path anyway. It was clearly an extension of the pathway but was still under construction. I was intrigued. I went from frustrated to inspired within a few minutes. As I took in the path in progress my mind starting synthesizing a new idea that had probably been incubating for awhile. Open Google Keep, jot it down, move on. I liked this idea of greenways under construction. We need more of this type of construction, more pathways and greenways and pedestrian-centric spaces.
About a mile down the path, I spotted a crew working from a distance and knew that I probably was at the end of the line, but it was ok. I had a new idea, and new inspiration. The rest of the walk into the Bronx was relaxing and meditative. I accomplished my goal of over 15 miles. Now next time I need to begin at the start of the trail in North White Plains. Sometimes my researching is a little lax but that’s how you learn. I plan on making this walk several times.
I’m looking for essays and writing about the snapshot aesthetic. I put out a call on Twitter and got a good response so figured I’d try here too. I’ve been editing a project I’ve been working on since I arrived in New York. Hoping to share it next week!
“a 17-mile hike cutting across the whole of San Francisco”
Cue sheets for the trail are online at CrosstownTrail.org — there’s also an app that guides a hiker in real time. The trail is sanctioned by the city and was loosely outlined in the Recreation and Open Space Element of the San Francisco General Plan, adopted in 2014, but the exact route was only chosen a year before it opened. Its creation was not the work of city officials, but of volunteers and activists who came together behind this vision. There are very few actual signs of it on the ground. The map is an app.
Don’t make me go back to San Francisco! I’ve been there twice back in my California days but have not had any desire to go back primarily because of a distaste for impact the tech industry is having on the city. But, this story is pretty cool and I know I could do this hike in one outing, so I’m tempted. Some nice photos in the Times article by photographer Jason Henry as well.
Daniel C. Blight Interview
“I want to put the history of photography as we know it in its deathbed, effectively. It is an incredibly European eccentric discourse in terms of key texts and publications, and an incredibly white, male world when you look at the institutions that hold power and command the biggest exhibition programs. There is definitely a sense that I am committed to doing everything I can to antagonize that institutional stability and to create spaces for artists and writers, which are largely confined to academic spaces and don’t see the public life that is associated with big photography shows. My point of view has to be fairly precise and pedagogical and that has to do with reading lists in the classroom and trying to create a space for students to think about how they can change what institutional photography looks like through forms of practice and forms of declaring a lack of interest in what institutions are currently offering.”
I have not seen Blights book ‘The Image of Whiteness’ yet but have come across a few interesting interviews with him, like this one in Paper Journal. There are a lot of issues to unpack and think about. I know I won’t do them justice in a pithy newsletter blurb so for now I’m just making the recommendation.
Solnit on Writing
“5) Find a vocation. Talent is overrated, and it is usually conflated with nice style. Passion, vocation, vision, and dedication are rarer, and they will get you through the rough spots in your style when your style won’t give you a reason to get up in the morning and stare at the manuscript for the hundredth day in a row or even give you a compelling subject to write about. If you’re not passionate about writing and about the world and the things in it you’re writing about, then why are you writing? It starts with passion even before it starts with words. You want to read people who are wise, deep, wild, kind, committed, insightful, attentive; you want to be those people. I am all for style, but only in service of vision.” - via Lithub
Applies to every artistic pursuit. It took me several years to figure out why I was passionate about making photographs in public spaces. For a long time, I thought it was about making a certain type of photograph. I feel I’ve gotten over that the last few years, and this year I’ve felt a significant change in my approach. I’m excited about where I’m going with my work but I’ve also never been more uncertain about it. Also, Solnit is just one of the greatest thinkers we’re fortunate to have with us. I’m going to read ‘A Field Guide to Getting Lost’ next.
I like how NYC looks without cars -> Photographer removes cars and people to show the beauty of New York City architecture
Photo sculptures made from trash picked up on walks -> Yosuke Bandai’s enchanting images of waste
Maybe but I don’t think so -> Foetus 18 Weeks: the greatest photograph of the 20th century?
History refresher -> Realism vs Pictorialism: A Civil War in Photography History
Good to know -> 5 Things to Know about Collecting Photo Books