How does an island in New York City’s East River go from being notoriously feared, almost 100 years ago, to being completely forgotten about today? That’s the story behind North Brother Island, the subject of photographer Christopher Payne’s new photo book.
A 10-minute boat ride from the Bronx’s Barretto Point Park, North Brother Island originally housed Riverside Hospital between the 1880s and 1930s. While in operation, the hospital served hundreds of patients who suffered from extremely communicable diseases, including smallpox, typhus, scarlet fever and even leprosy. It was also where “Typhoid Mary” was quarantined, and where she eventually died. In a 1935 profile for the New Yorker, the editor Stanley Walker described the island as “…a dismal spot. Sitting there, one may see, as the best view, the gas tanks on the Bronx shore. Now and then a ferryboat glides past. At night the dirty water of the East River laps against the rocks, making a messy, ghostly noise.”
The island’s facilities have since been decommissioned and the island itself abandoned since 1963. It sank into the depths of our memories until 2008, when Christopher Payne wrote a proposal to photograph and document the island in its current state. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation agreed, and thus began Payne’s expeditions, which would continue for the next 5 years. His stunning photographs are now available in his new book, “North Brother Island: The Last Unknown Place in New York City.” (via Animal and Slate)
In this video from the Washington Post, several members of the Washington Ballet demonstrate their most challenging moves. The points of peak action were shot with a high speed camera resulting in some impressive slow motion footage as each dancer seems to completely defy physics. (via Laughing Squid, The Kid Should See This)
Starting tonight through June 9th, the city of Sydney is hosting an annual exhibition of light and music called Vivid Sydney. Dozens of light sculptures and projections will be viewable throughout the downtown area as well as in the Sydney Harbor in an event that is completely free to the public. Looks like a lot of fun. See more on their website and over on Facebook.
Old car factories had a harmful impact on the environment, releasing toxic chemicals into the air, land and water. But it wasn’t all ugly. Oddly enough, one of the by-products of car production was Fordite, also known as Detroit agate. The colorful layered objects take their name from agate stones for their visual resemblance. But instead of forming from microscopically crystallized silica over millions of years, Fordite was formed from layers of paint over several tens of years. Back in the day, old automobile paint would drip onto the metal racks that transported cars through the paint shop and into the oven. The paint was hardened to a rock-like state thanks to high heats from the baking process. As the urban legend goes, plant workers would take pieces home in their lunch pails as a souvenir for their wife or kids.
Since then, car production has modernized and Fordite has been rendered a relic of the past. Artisans have been using the colorful material for jewelry but it’s not a stretch to imagine a future when these pieces sit behind glass in a museum. The colors can also be used to judge how old they are because car paint was subject to different trends. In the 1940s cars were mostly black or brown enamel while the 1960s ushered in an age of colorful lacquers. (via My Modern Met, Fordite.com)
Update: The Michigan State University Museum confirms they have a fordite sculpture in their collection.
image via flickr user nebbie
image via Fordite.com
image via Fordite.com
Here’s a number of new pieces from last year or so by artist Pablo S. Herrero (previously), almost all of which are collaborations with either David de la Mano or E1000. The artist was most recently in Gaeta, Italy where he completed the piece at top with E1000 for the Memorie Urbane Street Art Festival. (via Street Art News)
Drawing inspiration from early theatrical training, and influenced by methods of staged photography and set design, artist Barry Underwood (previously) transforms ordinary landscapes into something out of science fiction. The artist utilizes LED lights, luminescent material, and other photographic effects to create fleeting abstract landscapes that are influenced by both accidental and incidental light. He shares via his artist statement:
My artwork examines community and land-use in rural, suburban and urban sites. I created this series of installations by researching local agricultural, industrial, and recreational land-use. Curiosity about ecological and social history of specific places drives my work. By revealing the beauty and potential of an ordinary landscape an everyday scene is transformed into a memorable, visual experience. Each photograph image is a dialogue – the result of my direct encounter with nature and history. Inspired by land art, landscape photography and painting, as well as cinema, my images are both surreal and familiar.
Underwood will open an exhibition of both old and new work at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery in New York titled Scenes, on May 29th, 2014. You can see more over on Johansson Projects and read a 2011 interview at Juxtapoz. Images courtesy Sous Les Etoiles Gallery and the artist.