Project info

By creating a series of photographs taken at twilight on, from, under, and around New York City's elevated train lines and stations (the "el"), I want to reveal their influence on our aesthetic perception and imagination of the urban environment.
These structures, common enough to be aesthetically invisible to the pedestrian or subway traveler, fascinate me because they are redolent of the city's industrial past and also seem to offer a promise of a realm elevated above the mundane present. By lifting travelers above ordinary traffic, el platforms provide a unique and constantly changing perspective on the urban environment. Seen from street level, the city is experienced as fragments. But from the higher vantage point of a moving train or the platform of a station, one may see an expanse of urban terrain. Also, el structures interact in fascinating ways with nearby streets and buildings.

I have already begun to work on this project at several el locations. My photograph Waring Envelope, for example, captures the dramatic effects a passing train on the Manhattan Bridge can have on the surrounding neighborhood. In this case, a nearby but unseen train shines a dramatic blue triangle of light on a building.
Another recent photograph shows a train paused on the other side of the tracks. Though the train has momentarily stopped, this image itself seems to be traveling toward abstraction. Such a picture suggests the beautiful, if passing, images that may greet the alert traveler, even on a routine commute.
I generally favor scenes captured at twilight when the change from daylight to moonlight and artificial light singles out basic shapes and patterns while hiding details in shadow. Working with medium format digital cameras, I will produce 30x40 inkjet archival prints of pictures taken at elevated lines and stations throughout New York City.