Once the opera started, I realized that there was one problem that I had to constantly faced while I watched. It was the subtitles. I had read the libretto before, but I couldn’t help but read the subtitles on the screen in front of me, just to understand everything that the characters said. This really distracted me from the opera, because it was either me watching them, and not understand exactly what they said, or it was me reading the subtitles, and not watching the opera. It was a constant shifting back and forth, and I found that distracting. Also, it was quite difficult to read the expressions on the actors’ faces. But what I found really stunning about the opera itself was the set design and the costume design. All the dresses were so beautifully made, and even though the same set was used throughout the acts, it was really entertaining to see them just rotate the set, and it could be used for a completely new scene. That was very clever. My favorite scene would have to be when Zerlina and Masetto were about to get married, and the whole town was dancing, because it really reminded me of the Broadway play, Beauty and the Beast, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was lively, and creative, which is a great contrast to the many dark, and gloomy scenes in the opera.
The final scenes of the opera would probably have to receive the most credit from me, because before I watched it, I wondered how the production would be able to make Don Giovanni be casted into hell. Since this was an opera, and not a Broadway play, special effects would not really be used as often. But it was amazing to see that the stage floor actually open up and fire was bursting through the cracks, while Don Giovanni slipped into hell. Though I was sitting not far from the last row, I could feel the bursts of heat from the fire. I wonder how hot it would have been for the people sitting in the first rows, or even the actors themselves. But they definitely did not disappoint me for this final scene!
The premise of Dear Photograph is simple: take a picture now which includes a picture of the same location taken at an earlier time. Dear Photograph was started earlier this year, and has received a lot of press since then – see, for example, this blog post from The New Yorker. The New Yorker piece also mentions the “Back to the Future” project by photographer Irina Werning, another example of photographs being used in a remarkable way to contrast the past to the present.
Camera Lucida was very interested in the relationship between photographs and memory, and the idea that the essential fact of each photograph is proof of the actual existence of people and things. I wonder what Barthes would have made of Dear Photograph?
When I first heard about the High Line, I’ll admit that I had my doubts. A garden on top of an old railroad sounded a bit strange, and possibly dangerous. This wasn’t helped by the fact that a few entrances were closed on the day that I came to visit. I had to wander around the base of the railroad before finding a staircase. As I climbed up, I was shocked by what I saw. Shrubs, grass, and flowers were arranged the edges of a path that meandered through the city up in the air. I have never seen a park quite like it before; it combined art with plant life and raised it into the air of one of the busiest cities in the world.
One of the first things that caught my eye were the transitions of old to new, and the natural to artificial and back again. Benches rose from the floor in a seamless slope, moving from the gray floorboard to rich maple-colored wood.Old railroad tracks sat parallel with the new walkway, perfectly integrated into the “floor.”A balcony overlooking the High Line Park was shielded by a fence of branches, chunks of wood, and leaves; a natural shield that does not conflict with the aesthetics of the park.
Central Park is a huge span of well-groomed trees and fields in a forest-like setting. This park did not have that option; buildings rise on either side, and cars are both seen and heard as they zoom beneath your feet. I very much enjoyed this aspect of the design; it recognized Manhattan instead of trying to completely rip itself from it. Gopnik describes this balance between the natural world and the reality of city life, “The High Line combines the appeal of those fantasies in which New York has returned to the wild with an almost Zen quality of measured, peaceful distance” (Gopnik). This is not a park full of exotic trees and perfectly arranged, colorful bouquets. The landscape echoes the original state of Manhattan before it was taken over by civilization, “…Corner recommended a wide range of plantings, with heavy leanings toward tall harasses and reeds that recalled the wildflowers and weeds that had sprung up during the High Line’s long abandonment” (Goldberger). This park embraces the past in its design and feel, letting you travel through old Manhattan as you walk the narrow path through the city air.
While I visited the High Line for the first time to complete this project, I have lived across the street from Astroland and Luna Park for most of my life. The Wonder Wheel, Cyclone, and Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand are everyday sights, and not something that stands out. They make up the general aura of the area; “Come have fun for a day. We aren’t the biggest show around, but you’ll have a great time.” This isn’t Six Flags; crazy thrills and broken speed records aren’t what Coney Island is about (unless you are referring to the record number of hot dogs eaten in a sitting). There is a feeling of nostalgia towards the neighborhood that’s been entertaining for over a century. This old timey atmosphere is something that I would characterize as the “studium” of my view of Coney Island. As Barthes sees the general settings of his photographs, this atmosphere is the overarching theme of Coney Island.The standard of a classic amusement park complete with a merry-go-round, cotton candy, and a few feature attractions is the first thing that is noticeable about the entertainment area. It is at its roots a family getaway destination for some fun in the sun and a spin around the Tickler.
I do love Coney Island for this. However, there is an unusual undertone that’s sometimes hard to miss if you don’t come in on the right day. When you do catch a gem, it changes your whole view of Coney Island. I was lucky enough to capture a photograph of something that would represent my “punctum.” As Barthes describes, “I feel that its mere presence changes my reading, that I am looking at a new photograph, marked in my eyes with a higher value” (Barthes 42).
Meet “Miss Argentina”; this lovely gentleman was kind enough to pose for the camera with his dog and parrot. There is a sense of “anything goes” that sneaks up on you at Coney and gives you a shock when you least expect it. It’s this surprise factor that really defines Coney Island for me. It isn’t just a place for a family retreat; you’re in for a show. To see examples of just how “interesting” things can get, come see the Mermaid parade in the summer and be prepared for a shock or two.It’s all part of the experience.
Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang, 2010. 42. Print.
Goldberger, Paul. “Miracle Above Manhattan.” National Geographic April 2011: 122-137. Print.
Gopnik, Adam. “A Walk on the High Line.” The New Yorker May 21, 2001: 44-49.Print.
It was just an ordinary day. I was taking a stroll through New York City when I came across an entrance to the High Line. I had heard about the High Line in the media and from my friends, but I had never actually been there before. As I passed by the entrance on 14th Street, I decided that I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Everyone always talked about the beauty and the peacefulness found atop the heavenly High Line. It was my turn to experience it. I walked up the stairs and I thought to myself “Wow! This is really –!” I hit the ground like a ton of bricks. A German tourist (I know this because he was speaking German and holding a map of New York – and no self-respecting New Yorker needs a map of New York) walked into me like he was Secret Service and I was John Wilkes Booth. As I’m recovering, standing up from being knocked down, he didn’t even stop to apologize for nearly knocking me into a coma. But I just shrugged it off and kept walking along the High Line. One can say the High Line is like a pinball machine. As I walked, I was getting knocked around like a human pinball, one person smacked me into another, and he smacked me into a third, and so on. I now had a splitting headache and I saw the exit stairs. I was so thrilled as I walked toward them. Then, all of a sudden, a group of about 100 speed walkers walked into me from behind like a stampede and carried me like a wave all the way past the exit stairs. Now I’m enraged and I begin to run to reach the next exit, when I see a bunch of children playing in the grass. This seemed genuinely peaceful, like a scene from a movie. Some of the children were playing by the edge of the High Line, when I began to think to myself, “Huh? The rails are pretty low; the Park’s Department should –!” One by one, the children started climbing over the edge of the rail, plummeting down to the ground below them. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I started running again for the next exit when I saw what I feared the most. Walking towards me was a group of yuppie Manhattanites, with their bow ties and top hats, walking sticks and tuxedo tails, and like always not a care in the world and a complete disregard towards others. I soon found myself on the ground once again, now being trampled by the next hindrance on the High Line. When they finally walked past me, I got myself up, brushed myself off, and ran for the exit. I could see it … it was so close. Right at the top of the exit stairway, there were a group of pirates! That’s right, pirates. I figured that they were pretty harmless, when all of a sudden, a guy walked by and one of the pirates shanked him in the back. As the pirates started to walk down the stairs, I ran by again hoping that the next exit would be close by. I ran, bruised, bleeding, and concussed. I ran, and I ran, as fast as I could. I hit a fence. I turned around and I saw it. I was so proud of myself. I had made it to the end of the line.
“Let’s Take a Walk on the High Line”
I took about 20 photographs during my observation of the High Line Park. I used a separate photo for each of the letters and shapes on the image to show all the views I was able to capture of the scenery. The background image is that of the High Line while it was still in use. The colored letters and shapes spread across the page are meant to highlight the differences between the old and the new. The “person” with the suitcase is walking on an arrow; this reflects the very linear pathway of the High Line Park. I have included some of the photos used within the image below.
Conceived more than 100 years apart, Coney Island and the High Line are two New York City sites which are both products of their times, reflecting different ideas about recreation, culture, and society. The two locations are very difficult to compare, because I believe that they are somewhat different.
Both of these attractions offer its visitors an escape from the world around them. The High Line takes its visitors above New York City, giving them a bird’s-eye view of New York. It contains a handful of artwork dispersed throughout the walkway. The High Line also includes benches along both the edge of the el and near the old train tracks, now overgrown with foliage. It also contains a viewing gallery, where people can sit and overlook the New York traffic as it drives by underneath them.
Coney Island takes its visitors away from the busy streets of Brooklyn and propels them into an entirely different world. Coney Island houses the boardwalk, a peaceful walkway along the Atlantic Ocean. The area also contains parks, ballparks, and amusement parks, and notably an aquarium. It’s the home of the original Nathan’s Famous and also is the end of the line for five of New York’s MTA subway lines.
“The most peaceful high place in New York right now is a stretch of viaduct called the High Line.” (Gopnik). This is the way that Gopnik described the High Line, as opposed to the way that Gorky described Coney Island as a place where people “become a particle in a [gigantic] crowd.” (Koolhaas 68). My personal experiences have brought me to believe that, today, these descriptions are reversed. According to what I saw, Coney Island is a peaceful place to go; whereas, the High Line is a place where one gets lost in an enormous crowd of people, and peace is the last thing one can find.
I found that when I was at Coney Island, most of my time was spent on the Boardwalk. I went on a Saturday afternoon, and I found the Boardwalk to be a very peaceful, relaxing place to be. I was intrigued by the old parachute jump outside of MCU Park, due to its immense size and finding that it was composed of symmetric and repeated geometric shapes. I feel that it is like the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn.
I found that while I was on the High Line, most of my time was spent shielding myself from other people and tourists around me. The High Line was anything but peaceful. It was jam-packed with people, trendy and rude locals and tourists alike. I felt like I was playing touch football, I would get slammed into from the left and as I was flying right, I would get slammed into from behind. It was so full of people that I could barely walk unencumbered. I do feel, however, that the High Line would be a potentially calm place to be, less the immense crowd.
Both the High Line and Coney Island were the opposite of what I expected to find. Perhaps my off-season visits gave me a wrong impression of the sites. Reading articles and seeing pictures of the High Line, people expect it to be an empty, peaceful place. Maybe the High Line is different on a Saturday afternoon than at other times. Likewise, people expect Coney Island to be a jam-packed, boisterous place, with crowded beaches and the hugely popular Mermaid Parade. But in late September, it is a calm, fun place to be, with thinning crowds. I hope to one day return to the High Line to find that empty, peaceful place, and to go to Coney Island during the peak of Summer and be greeted by a large, rambunctious, but fun crowd of Brooklynites.
Gopnik, Adam. “A Walk on the High Line.” The New Yorker May 21, 2001: 44-49. Print.
Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York. New York: Monacelli Press, 1994. Print.
This is a test post, to see how complicated it is to post a photo on the ePortfolio site directly from a smartphone or tablet computer. In this case, the picture above, which was taken on an iPad, was uploaded to Flickr via the free Flickr app. The URL for the image had to be copied from the image’s Flickr page in Safari (the Flickr app doesn’t supply this information directly). The URL was then added to this new post. It’s a messy number of steps, but the bottom line is that it’s possible to post a picture from a phone/tablet directly, without having to transfer the photo to another device first. Hopefully there’s a less complicated workaround we can come up with.
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Office & Contact InformationProfessor: Geoffrey Minter
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