Bond Street & 64th Street, Southwest Corner

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Project journal entry for April 21, 2006

Sometimes — often, and more and more often, actually — I think I've spent the last four years with New York in Plain Sight wondering just what the hell I was doing and why.

But only rarely have I found myself doubting whether it's worth doing — although of course there are occasionally days like that as well.

Eleventh Avenue & 29th Street, Southeast Corner

Since yesterday was one of those days — and today isn't — here's where I was at on the "what and why" questions around 9:30 PM on April 21, 2006:

… every street corner is both a self-portrait of the local people for whom it marks one corner of the village square, and part of the larger self-portrait comprising all of the island's street corners.

The following was then crossed out:

Let's get dirt simple, and pragmatic.

Why street corners?
     uniformity
     variety
     manageability
Try again later when not so distracted.

The entry then goes on again:

This afternoon — 182 street corners — the Lower East Side — Bowery to Essex, Hester to Stanton, inclusive.

[...]

More about street corners project:

     — so democratic _ all — rich, poor, white, black, young, old, etc.
     — not selective — another take on "all"
     — There is an elusive something about the size of the project

17,000 photos more or less
[at this time my estimate was still about 50% too high] and its inclusiveness, and its totality-ness (all Manhattan), and the interaction of this size with my intention to somehow regard the thing in its entirety as a single work of art — of which the individual photographs are the elements — and of course any single one of them may be considered an artwork by itself … still, I definitely want to regard, I definitely intend the whole as a single work of art that exists as such only at the level, the level of the totality of all the individual photographs.

So here the question is: what does it mean to have a work so vast?

One that one can't possibly see all at once? In this sense, it's musical, in that it can only be experienced in time — any viewing of it has a whole and complex past, present, and future.

But not just one route through it, unlike most music, which has only one route (though not only one performance).

Even as a serial piece it's odd: there is an implicit order, at least, in the subject, there is a topology — or even several topologies — for instance, the 4 corners of one intersection are a set of neighbors, but if I walk down one side of the avenue and up the other, they are not neighbors as 4 but as 2 pairs of two.

Sometimes, these days, what keeps me going with it is the daily report from Google Analytics on visits to the main New York in Plain Sight web site.

The numbers aren't high, but they're steady, and it's nice to know that a few dozen people (typically) are dropping in every day to have a look.

Which is a good part of why I did it.

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