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"A mental and visual release for New Yorkers, who may find it exhausting to live in the most identifiable city in the world."
August 12, 2009 8:49 PM   Subscribe

The Last Parcels of Nowhere Remaining in Manhattan. Photographs.
For the scope of the project, "nowhere" is defined as a place that has been neglected, and from this neglect has achieved the status of an organic non-place; a perfect combination of the built and natural. From these places, one cannot say, "I am in a park" or "I am in the city" because neither appears to be true.
posted by ocherdraco (33 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Totally enjoyed that. Am so curious now about this place. Anybody know where or what it is or was?

Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
posted by nickyskye at 9:06 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some in that link are from Inwood Park, not too far from where I live right now. We like to let our dogs run around in the woods and pretend that the sound of the highway might be the rushing of water. On spring weekends, we can almost convince ourselves we're somewhere wild. I guess if you count the wildlife—skunks galore, and raccoons too—we're as close as you can get to wild on this crowded piece of land. Some personal pics of broken and neglected street lamps in Inwood Park.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 9:21 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


That is the best interface for a photographers website I've seen in a long time.
posted by bigmusic at 9:25 PM on August 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


That was pretty neat. For a moment I felt like I was just on a thin, marshy and wooded embankment between two rivers. The photographer must've had to shoo people out of frame for most of his shots, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:28 PM on August 12, 2009


"I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder."
posted by Oxydude at 9:29 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is great. And, as stated, the interface is incredible. Most of these pics are in Inwood I believe (spotted a few familiar locations ... I used to live in nearby Washington Heights when I moved to the city 4 years ago).
posted by tiger yang at 9:31 PM on August 12, 2009


I have to say, I think his photography is exceedingly dull--I like the project, and props to ocherdraco for posting it--but many of the images in the slideshow seemed to lack any compositional tension or point of interest. As if out of a sympathetic response, a number of them are fading into gray with low contrast, and I think all of the shots with sky in it have blown highlights. Maybe that's his aesthetic, but I don't think it makes for good pictures.

I liked the ones inside, but there are a number of great urban exploration photography blogs (some of which have been posts on the Blue) that do it much better.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:31 PM on August 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Weird and wonderful, knowing what Manhattan is like. Fantastic exploration of the unseen corners of an urban space.
posted by silby at 9:31 PM on August 12, 2009


but many of the images in the slideshow seemed to lack any compositional tension or point of interest.

Which was precisely the point of the project.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:33 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Totally enjoyed that. Am so curious now about this place. Anybody know where or what it is or was?

I think that's actually in Washington Heights (maybe?), I want to say, on 170th street, near the Columbia med center. I used to lived the next block over, near Broadway, and would see this every day on the way home from work.
posted by tiger yang at 9:34 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The pictures were apparently all taken in high summer, such a sweet time of year here in the U.S. Northeast. God I love August.
posted by longsleeves at 9:40 PM on August 12, 2009


Totally enjoyed that. Am so curious now about this place. Anybody know where or what it is or was?

Looks like it was teken from the north east side of Manhattan looking at some apartments in the Bronx between the Deegan and the river. Just a guess.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:38 PM on August 12, 2009


nickyskye, I think this is a view of the same building from the FDR drive. The picture in question looks like it was taken from high bridge park.

I'm torn on this. One of my favorite things about living in new york was finding places - like the ones photographed - that look like they're miles from the city. But one of my least favorite things about photography is shitty photography. I hope this guy goes out again on a day with better weather and retakes the pictures with better color composition.
posted by mexican at 10:46 PM on August 12, 2009


nickyskye: Harlem River Park Towers.
posted by dhartung at 10:58 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


That is the best interface for a photographers website I've seen in a long time.

It's a nice interface, but it apparently doesn't preload the images, so when I press arrow key, there are several seconds where I wonder if anything is going to happen, and then finally the image jumps into place.
posted by !Jim at 1:35 AM on August 13, 2009


Man, they've really let Central Park go.
posted by bwg at 3:39 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks so much dhartung, mexican and tiger yang.
posted by nickyskye at 3:44 AM on August 13, 2009


That was fun.
posted by caddis at 3:50 AM on August 13, 2009


The Harlem River Park Towers are just a couple of blocks up the street from 1520 Sedgewick Ave, where, almost exactly 36 years ago today (Aug 11, 1973), Cindy Campbell and her brother Clive threw a party to raise money for Cindy's back-to-school shopping. Clive, better known as DJ Kool Herc, wanted to keep people dancing. With two turntables and a mixer he played two copies of the same song, skipping the slow portions and only playing the fast, danceable beats, thereby inventing hip-hop.
posted by plastic_animals at 4:19 AM on August 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think these people need to get out of New York some time.

thereby inventing hip-hop.

Or did he?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:05 AM on August 13, 2009




I liked the interface, but I found a lot of the actual photographs dull. The many generic nature shots didn't leave me guessing whether they were in a city or in a park (and that those are the alternatives also seemed kind of dull). And the inside decaying buildings ones seemed lackluster compared to a lot of the really great urban decay photos we've seen on Metafilter in the last few years.

I did really like this one, though, and the one of the Harlem River Park Towers looking like a newly discovered ruin of an ancient civilization rising out of the jungle.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:45 AM on August 13, 2009


... many of the images in the slideshow seemed to lack any compositional tension or point of interest ...

I have the same complaint about the real world.
posted by asusu at 6:42 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


I agree - great interface :) And I liked the photographs - I'm not very familiar to Manhattan, but I thought it was paved from shore to shore! I had no idea there was any green space at all!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:45 AM on August 13, 2009


That is the best interface for a photographers website I've seen in a long time.

Forced keyboard use? The fact that it works at all makes it better than most, but the pathological insistence on using clunky, nonstandard interfaces on art/photography websites is baffling.

But I really enjoyed the pictures.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:59 AM on August 13, 2009


The many generic nature shots didn't leave me guessing whether they were in a city or in a park

Pardon me for repeating myself, but the point of the collection very much seemed to be just showing places that a New Yorker or someone who has been there a few times wouldn't instantly recognize. Manhattan is a place where just about every square inch has some bit of history or documentation, and then to have these just random shots helps to give a bit of wriggle room for one's mind realize there are some parts that are just that, random and not hyper-contextualized. The net result of such an exercise, to me anyway, is that it can shake loose the sense of the well-trodden city and maybe cause one to look at the spaces they are very familiar with a bit more freshly than before. I think that taking this set on those terms is probably more useful that just focusing on technical elements of the photography.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:21 AM on August 13, 2009


Some in that link are from Inwood Park

And Fort Tryon and Highbridge Parks too. I would guess almost all of these photos are Northern Manhattan. It's one of the things I miss about living in that area, the ability to get away from the frenetic pace of the city, and just sink into some green. Fort Tryon Park around the Cloisters is one of the most beautiful places, with these massive, sweeping stone archways from the WPA period that are evocative of Rivendell from LOTR (geek moment). You can see them in some of the photos near the end of the slide show. And when you look across the Hudson at a largely undeveloped section of the Palisades (thanks to the Rockefellers), you might be a million miles away from NYC.
posted by kimdog at 7:40 AM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Forced keyboard use?

You can click on the boxy things but agreed: photographers make horrible web designers. Why can't the text be normal text?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 10:51 AM on August 13, 2009


I don't think the concept of the project is lost on anyone—and I must say, being born and raised in Manhattan, I strongly laud artists who change our perspectives on what is, surely, the most iconic city in the world. One may recall the photo essays from a few years ago (which my quick Googling has failed to locate) about the few (or one) remaining operating farms within the five Boroughs. Particularly after 9/11, I try always to look at the City with open eyes. And, as I mentioned in my post above, I think the project (of which the photo essay is only one part) is interesting and should be supported.

All the same, many of his photos are not particularly interesting, either compositionally or in terms of the greater project, and several have technical deficiencies that I think are distracting. It has been remarked above that we should be viewing the images with an eye to the overall project, and not to technique. I don't think that this is correct, particularly in a project that is aimed at showing us our quotidian environment in a new light. I would argue that one would want the images to burst forth, full of color, contrast and compositional tension. They should make us feel alive, with our ho-hum blinders removed. What is presented, instead, are gray drab images that don't hold the eye—precisely the opposite of the intended effect. They're Kansas, not Oz.

I think this is why the image of the housing project has gotten so much attention in the thread—it is arresting because it is something we've never seen before, and challenges our preconceptions about the City, as intended. The photos of the woods are often not particularly challenging or interesting (but my monitor here at work is unforgivably dark, so I cannot give the set a fair review right now for other examples, good or bad).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:08 PM on August 13, 2009


particularly in a project that is aimed at showing us our quotidian environment in a new light.

Sigh, New Yorkers. The project is about showing that notoriously nonquotidian environment in a quotidian light. How dare Manhattan be boring, etc.

Anyway, I liked it. I stumbled upon that sort of area when trying to find the right path to the lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge with a friend who hadn't spent much time in NYC. I also pressed upon him that this was part of Manhattan, and that it's important not to forget that. Then I took him to where I grew up, out in the farther reaches of northeast Queens, and he had a hard time accepting that that, too, was part of New York City.
posted by Casuistry at 12:42 PM on August 13, 2009


I lived in NYC (Brooklyn) for a little over a year and moved away nearly fifteen years ago, but I had identified where these photos were taken almost immediately. (No, I don't mean the exact location of any random photo, but rather that they were in the Fort Tryon/Inwood Park area.) Maybe I'd taken a little more care than the average person to explore the city when I lived there, but I sort of feel sorry for anyone who has been there for any significant period of time and think that the entire island, outside of Central Park, has been completely built over.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:51 PM on August 13, 2009


Like orme, I found myself reading up on Inwood Hill Park. Got busted by the boss checking it out on Google Maps. The shame.

Inwood Park's densely folded, glacially scoured topography contains the largest remaining forest land on Manhattan Island. Unlike other parks in Manhattan, Inwood Hill Park is largely natural (non-landscaped).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inwood_Hill_Park
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:17 PM on August 13, 2009


I don't know enough about photography to complain. My gripe is:

The Last Parcels of Nowhere Remaining in Manhattan

How many parcels? Where are they? Is that 12 photos of the same abandoned building or 12 different abandoned buildings? From the comments above it would appear to be mostly ONE parecel of nowhere.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:22 PM on August 13, 2009


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