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before/after
February 27, 2006 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Kristine Larsen: Before and After 9/11
posted by matteo (71 comments total)

 
Powerful stuff. It's interesting how empty the streets seem in the after photos. A deliberate effect, I'm sure.
posted by JeffK at 2:06 PM on February 27, 2006


It's almost like looking at a photoshop job, really spooky.
posted by mk1gti at 2:08 PM on February 27, 2006


I prefer post-9/11.
posted by beerbajay at 2:09 PM on February 27, 2006


Spooky is definitely the right word.
posted by arcticwoman at 2:09 PM on February 27, 2006


.
posted by keswick at 2:09 PM on February 27, 2006


I've only seen the site after 9/11 and looking at these pictures, it's hard to imagine how different it looked before.
posted by puke & cry at 2:10 PM on February 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


I prefer post-9/11.
posted by beerbajay


Brave of you to admit to that, although I can't help but agree somewhat. On a purely aesthetic level, of course.
posted by arcticwoman at 2:10 PM on February 27, 2006


Underwhelming.
posted by cillit bang at 2:11 PM on February 27, 2006


It is nice to see the sky now I suppose.
posted by puke & cry at 2:13 PM on February 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Not as powerful as she thinks they are.

The original photos are....crap.

And not enough effort has gone into the "after" photographs. They don't match well enough. If they had been spot on in positioning, angle etc they would have been far more powerful. These are interesting, not much more.
posted by fire&wings at 2:15 PM on February 27, 2006


(Our living room window.)
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:15 PM on February 27, 2006


HOW DID SHE KNOW TO TAKE THE PICTURES???? WAS SHE IN ON IT????? IT'S A CONSPIRACY!!!!11

The reason I ask is that the before photos all just seem like tossed off snapshots taken by someone with no real skill or purpose. They're pictures of people, but they're not very interesting or good pictures of people, and it looks like there's absolutely no reason to have taken them. They've only become interesting in hindsight, since the bad men knocked the towers down. Weird.
posted by nylon at 2:17 PM on February 27, 2006


In fact, it could almost be an Onion headline: Bombing of World Trade Center Rescues Photographer's Crap Photo Series.
posted by nylon at 2:24 PM on February 27, 2006


No shit, Armitage? Yours are way better, then.
posted by JeffK at 2:25 PM on February 27, 2006


I've seen more interesting pictures.
posted by dios at 2:25 PM on February 27, 2006


Wow. For the ones with the towers on the horizon, it's almost like a photoshop job.

Eerie.
posted by mathowie at 2:29 PM on February 27, 2006


Wait, what happened to the cute girl on page 5?!
posted by mullacc at 2:30 PM on February 27, 2006


I assumed the original photo set was done as part of a forced-perspective assignment/experiment for a learning photog. Of course I like random-life photos, so don't view the original set as pure crap in of itself.

I'm not sure she has labeled them as 'powerful', she doesn't have any captions that I noticed on any of her pictures, 9/11 related or otherwise.
posted by nomisxid at 2:30 PM on February 27, 2006


I was underwhelmed. I don't know why but it did little for me. Nice idea though.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 2:31 PM on February 27, 2006


Yeah. These pictures did absolutely nothing for me.

The mere fact of being here in NYC every day, looking down Sixth Avenue and seeing nothing where the towers loomed HUGE is something that might not be possible to represent photographically, but these came up well short of that.

From my place in the West Village, when I looked at my window late at night and saw the blinking red lights atop the looming monsters is an image that is permanently implanted in my mind's eye. To look that direction now, and see nothing recognizable (in terms of memory) is still something that hits me hard on occasion.
posted by psmealey at 2:33 PM on February 27, 2006


This one seems to capture the most contrast.
posted by brain_drain at 2:33 PM on February 27, 2006


Horrible pictures.
posted by agregoli at 2:38 PM on February 27, 2006


I was just down there yesterday for the first time in about a year. It still feels so desolate, even with the rubber necking tourists. I liked the effect of not using people in the foreground in the after pictures.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:42 PM on February 27, 2006


These are interesting. I went to ground zero not long after the attack--the photos here only touch at the sheer immensity of scale. The most interesting contrast here comes in the way of shadow/no shadow, if that makes any sense.

I really like armitage's snaps too.
posted by bardic at 2:45 PM on February 27, 2006


It's an interesting idea, and I haven't seen any other photographers do the same thing yet so I'll give her credit for this. Yeah the photographs aren't the best, but that would defeat the purpose; the idea is normal shots of normal life contrasted with normal shots of a normal life after the incident.
posted by Vaska at 2:45 PM on February 27, 2006


thanks for the link, armitage
posted by matteo at 2:52 PM on February 27, 2006


Reshooting photos is one of the lower rungs of artistic photography.
posted by smackfu at 2:59 PM on February 27, 2006


Did she take a before and after shot of the US constitution as well?
posted by sien at 3:02 PM on February 27, 2006


Eh, the pictures arn't that bad, but the "after" ones are lame in that all the before pics were of people, but there no people in frame in the "after" pics. The only difference is the geography, but they really seem like different compositions all together.
posted by delmoi at 3:02 PM on February 27, 2006


site has gone tats up.
posted by isopraxis at 3:09 PM on February 27, 2006


..but the "after" ones are lame in that all the before pics were of people, but there no people in frame in the "after" pics.

I was thinking that was the intended perspective.
posted by halcyon_daze at 3:11 PM on February 27, 2006


God some of you are so gratuitously pissy.

I used to tear by that complex on my bicycle all the time, yet ever since 9/11, when I'm there (every few months), I always regret not having paid closer attention to the (admittedly not-so-exciting) architecture that was wiped out closer to the ground. I had even invested time searching for photos of the plaza and low-lying black buildings, and had virtually no luck finding any. As such, I really appreciated these snapshots - they helped clarify some fuzzy memories. Thanks, armitage!
posted by MaxVonCretin at 3:11 PM on February 27, 2006


I had even invested time searching for photos of the plaza and low-lying black buildings, and had virtually no luck finding any. As such, I really appreciated these snapshots - they helped clarify some fuzzy memories. Thanks, armitage!

I've wanted to see these too, which is why I was underwhelmed. A photo tour of the old WTC would be fantastic.
posted by cillit bang at 3:17 PM on February 27, 2006


I would not be so quick to dismiss these. The apparent candidness conceals her editorializing, as it were. There are people in the "after" pics, but they are distant--more withdrawn, less serene or engaged. These photos are not about lining up streets and poles; they are portraits of America's bruised psyche. Larsen does interesting work. Thanks, matteo.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:18 PM on February 27, 2006


I agree with the folks who are saying that the everday normality of the pics in kind of the point. Yeah, she uses some wierd angles but the people are just regular shmucks doing regular things. The lack of people in the after photos adds to the eeriness of it all.

Armitage, your pics are unambiguously powerful. Thanks for sharing them.
posted by arcticwoman at 3:23 PM on February 27, 2006


> God some of you are so gratuitously pissy.

Max, to my eye there's no great evidence that the photographer was paying particular attention either. It looks more like someone had by chance been pointing a camera around lower Manhattan more or less at random. Then 9/11 happened and it occurred to her that she had a whole bunch of shots that suddenly qualified as "before."

If so, she would not be the only person to think 9/11 fits in nicely with their own preexisting personal agenda -- artistic or otherwise.

OTOH, on preview perhaps pandemonium is right. Perhaps you can see editorializing or psychologizing. I dunno. If she also made before-and-after-9/11 shots of, say, Manhattan, Kansas I'd like to see those also, to see if there's any evident difference when we're not distracted by the presence and absence of the buildings.

On a tangent, I am dreadfully sorry for the people who died but I don't miss the buildings a bit. They were blank and dreadful, and they made the visual mass of lower Manhatten all lopsided. Like a guy standing on the gunwale of a rowboat, just before the whole thing capsizes.
posted by jfuller at 3:30 PM on February 27, 2006


My wife took this somewhat crummy photo of the plaza in Dec 2000. Simple idea, but there's something about the execution that's left a bit to be desired...
posted by simra at 3:43 PM on February 27, 2006


Do these photos need context to be powerful though? I mean, otherwise it's a before and after picture of a skyline. Skylines change all the time.
posted by iamck at 3:43 PM on February 27, 2006


It looks more like someone had by chance been pointing a camera around lower Manhattan more or less at random. Then 9/11 happened and it occurred to her that she had a whole bunch of shots that suddenly qualified as "before."

I lean more towards nomisxid's "forced perspective assignment/experiment" theory, but either way, so what? She should keep the photos in a drawer because they're not perfect portfolio pieces? Having given a look at the rest of her work on her site, I give her props going back out and seeing what she could make with shots that obviously don't represent her usual and/or best work.

If so, she would not be the only person to think 9/11 fits in nicely with their own preexisting personal agenda -- artistic or otherwise.

Agenda? Please! Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

I'll say it again: Pissy, pissy, pissy!
posted by MaxVonCretin at 3:46 PM on February 27, 2006


> Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

I was thinking careerist, not political.
posted by jfuller at 3:53 PM on February 27, 2006


I personally don't care how "artistic" the pictures were-to me they were snapshots of life before, and life after. Whether or not you liked the Trade Center, it was a main focal point in the cityscape, and it's taken a lot of getting used to. I personally knew a victim of the attack, he worked in the North Tower. His family was lucky enough to receive some remains to bury, but not everyone was that lucky. For some people, it's still a raw wound. This was one woman's perspective, one person's way of viewing the drastic changes 9/11 wrought. Everyone has a different feeling, and they are entitled to it.
posted by annieb at 4:23 PM on February 27, 2006


Even if that feeling is that these photos aren't very good.
posted by smackfu at 4:24 PM on February 27, 2006


I found these oddly poignant. Or maybe not so oddly.

I like how there's no commentary or captions.
posted by beth at 4:25 PM on February 27, 2006


When I was viewing these pictures, I could not stop wondering if some of the people in the before pictures died in the attacks...Probably an extremely small percentage, if any, but it's possible.
posted by daninnj at 4:32 PM on February 27, 2006


A few things struck me about the photos. The people in the before shots, and the empty streets in the after was kind of eerie - but when I reflect on it, it was a pretty easy effect to obtain, given the time of day of the photos they may have been hard to take with nobody around.

I personally judge the terrorists who did this harshly, and I hope they face some kind of justice for their actions but what struck me about the after shots was how some of them showed a lot more light and open spaces which gave the city the odd effect of looking more alive.

(I am not sure I like skyscrapers either)
posted by Deep Dish at 4:46 PM on February 27, 2006


WOHAH SHIT DUDES SOME BUILDINGS ARE GONE SINCE BEFORE 9/11 DAMN EXCITING!
posted by rxrfrx at 4:49 PM on February 27, 2006


The WTC was an architectural and urban design obscenity. Lower Manhattan is much nicer without it.

I predict that even the Freedom Tower may not get built. As I said, beginning in 10/01, who would want to work or live on the site of the WTC? The fuckwits of NYC capitalism are pretending otherwise, but their projected illusions get harder and harder to maintain.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:52 PM on February 27, 2006


The people seem so unoppresed in the "before" pictures.
posted by sourwookie at 4:58 PM on February 27, 2006


Armitage's photos are very moving - but it isn't just the subject matter. They are very well done.
posted by jb at 5:07 PM on February 27, 2006


I like armitage's pictures better. I like that beam of light, but why isn't it two beams side by side?
posted by 6am at 5:24 PM on February 27, 2006


I too was bugged by the absence/distance of people in the 'after' photos. It seems way too obvious a message to repeat over dozens of photos.
posted by jepler at 5:42 PM on February 27, 2006


Sien, I'm sorry, but has the US constitution been changed since that time? I'm not Australian, so I don't really know that much about American government, but I had thought, possibly wrongly, that our constitution hadn't been amended since the early 1990s.
posted by shoos at 5:45 PM on February 27, 2006


To me, New York looks a lot less crowded and claustrophobic after. If the photog's intent was to make the afters look worse, she failed in my eyes. But then, I never would've taken a job at the WTC no matter how much I was paid... I've repeatedly told about being on the 7th floor of an LA office building and almost getting blown up by a home-grown terrorist who was going after an IRS office. Now, if I want to go 1500 feet above sea level, I'll drive up the 101 at Cuesta Grade.
posted by wendell at 5:46 PM on February 27, 2006


zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
posted by mrgrimm at 5:51 PM on February 27, 2006


I think the fact that there is always a person in frame with the pre picture and then there is no person that is center frame in the post picture makes it extra creepy. I don't know if I like these.

It is easy for an artist to make something out of a tragic event and draw a crowd around it just because of people being familiar with the event. The photography is interesting in that it does show before and after pictures, however...
posted by nickerbocker at 5:56 PM on February 27, 2006


I can see how significant the loss of the towers must be to those who lived or worked near them. That's one helluva hole left in the skyline.

OTOH, I far prefer the post-9/11 pictures. Can't imagine why y'all would want to hide the sky once more. Other than, say, lack of space to grow out, hence the need to grow upward.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:20 PM on February 27, 2006


armitage, thanks for sharing your pix. they are amazing, and deeply touching. can't say the same for larsen's - interesting concept, but mediocre result.
posted by lapolla at 6:45 PM on February 27, 2006


Its really too bad she couldn't photoshop her way out of a wet paper bag. Also, Fark did a much better job with this same theme.
posted by ChasFile at 7:03 PM on February 27, 2006


I like armitage's pictures better. I like that beam of light, but why isn't it two beams side by side?

There were.

I can only suspect that the picture was taken from roughly the same spot that the first 9/11 ones were, to the North East of the towers, just across the Brooklyn Bridge. From there, the lights, like the towers, would have just about lined up: The viewer, North Tower light, and South Tower light all colinear along a SW-NE axis.
posted by ChasFile at 7:18 PM on February 27, 2006


I'm glad weapons-grade pandemonium pointed this one out, because it's my favorite of the bunch. I think saying that the photos lack impact or interestingness kind of misses the point. The photographer is purposely understating the buildings themselves (sometimes ignoring them completely), and focusing on how human behavior has changed in the area since 9/11. I'm sure it would have been much easier to get before and after shots with the towers in full frame, but I feel a greater emotional impact from Larsen's approach.
posted by nomad at 7:38 PM on February 27, 2006


None of those people look all too happy before or after.
posted by buzzman at 7:57 PM on February 27, 2006


Metafilter: God some of you are so gratuitously pissy.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:24 PM on February 27, 2006


I walk near this area all the time and try to remember how it looked before. These pictures help me remember how it was and I don't give a damn how artistic they are. Thanks, matteo.
posted by gubo at 10:47 PM on February 27, 2006


Not to crap on the link, but Armitage, those photos are just amazing.

And to crap on the link: In the before photos, the buildings aren't the focal point, but in the afters we're supposed to feel the absence of what were essentially backdrops.
The lack of thematic continuity* feels clumsy and shoehorned to me.

*I dunno what else to call it.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:27 PM on February 27, 2006


I think it is very amusing how so many people in this thread tear these photographs down so vehemently, as if Kristine Larsen was worshipped as a goddess of photography or something. The project certianly could have been planned beter, especially if it could have been planned. By that I mean, some chick took some pictures in New York while walking around the streets. If her other photo's contents are any judgement, shes probably in herlower to mid twenties. So, when 9-11 happened she got an idea to use these photgraphs in a before and after series.
posted by JokingClown at 11:30 PM on February 27, 2006


Metafilter: I'm not Australian, so I don't really know that much about American government.
posted by Hat Maui at 12:48 AM on February 28, 2006


To give Ms Larsen her due, some of her other shots are not totally uninteresting. Some are even rather good.

More thanks to Armitage.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:38 AM on February 28, 2006


it's a before and after picture of a skyline. Skylines change all the time.

Well yeah, but not usually overnight.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 6:58 AM on February 28, 2006


... we're supposed to feel the absence of what were essentially backdrops.

The focus is not the structures (at least not directly), it's the people. If the photographer had wanted to use the buildings as a focal point, she had plenty of material to choose from. Downplaying them is purposeful.
posted by nomad at 8:21 AM on February 28, 2006


Er...so what?
posted by terrymiles at 11:06 AM on February 28, 2006


We just stayed at the Millenium Hilton last weekend - 49th floor, windows facing west. So...yeah.

(it was kinda geeky-cool watching the PATH trains snake in from way up high, though)
posted by ersatzkat at 6:17 AM on March 1, 2006


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