#24: Walking to Socrates Sculpture Park

Mitch Epstein Interviewed, Climate Change Storytelling, Photography is Dead Again and more!

I find it more enjoyable to walk in the winter when the temperature hovers in the 30s or 40s than in the hot humid months of summer. I just can’t take the heat but the cold can be managed through proper layering, and once your body starts to heat up on the walk, it creates an ideal condition.

On Saturday I walked up through Astoria, hitting the park and then down to Socrates Sculpture Park to check out the Annual 2019. This was my favorite piece.

For 'Access Grove, Soft Stand,' Gabriela Salazar weaves, drapes, and wraps velvet rope, the ubiquitous crowd controller and VIP separator, in Socrates’ central grove of trees. The red rope simultaneously blocks, guides, and perhaps confounds visitors, whose bodies are shaped by urbanism and architecture, while passing through this public space.

I need to do more research about site specific sculpture that incorporates trees. If you’ve got recommendations, send them my way. I’ve been thinking about sculpture and public art frequently the last few years as I’ve worked on my walking projects. I like encountering sculpture in open spaces, where I can walk around and interact with it from different perspectives. It feels like a harmonious way to mix walking with experiencing art.

I haven’t been up to Storm King yet primarily because it’s difficult to walk to from the train station. I’ve scouted the map a few times but haven’t made a try at it. Walking rural roads can be about as dangerous as it comes for a pedestrian, and after a few near misses in Long Island I’ve decided I need to be careful and not get into dangerous walking situations (more on this topic in the future.)

I also bought this book last year, and have been daydreaming about visiting each park. It’s good to have goals!

Mitch Epstein Interview

“Disorientation inspires me. I thrive when I get out of my comfort zone, and suffer the vulnerability of not knowing where to turn next. Risk, failure, and chance are fundamental to my process and growth.”

Print that one out and put it somewhere you have to read it regularly. Nailed it.

And then this excerpt on his evolution as an artist.

In the early ՚90s, I collaborated with a Vietnamese dissident writer on a project about the economic and cultural transformation that Vietnam was undergoing. The experience forced me to confront what it meant to be an American in a foreign country, one that my own country had ravaged. This instigated a fundamental shift in my practice. I became more mindful of where I was and why; developed a more conceptual and rigorous engagement with my subjects. I began working on extended projects over lengthy periods of time, and doing a lot of research—online, in books, and through proximity, by spending time with people in the worlds I was entering.

Read the rest in Document Journal.

“Considering Photography’s Past, Future, and Pitfalls”

“In a day that left many feeling a bit gutted by what feel like irreconcilable rifts in perspective, Paglen closed the day with a strong, unifying, and grounding exploration of reality. But the larger problem is that knowledge of any complexity relies upon some degree of second-hand information, meaning sooner or later we have to believe something beyond what we can directly witness. Who and what we believe in therefore is a matter of faith and trust, not a matter of fact or evidence, as defenders of truth so deeply believe. Photography used to be an impartial mechanism — or at least, it was thought of as such — and now it has lost that sacrosanctity.”

Solid review in Hyperallergic of “AutoUpdate: Photography in the Electronic Age.”

Storytelling in the Age of Climate Change

To Grankvist, that doesn’t mean pushing fanciful renderings of utopian post-carbon cities as a counter to the catastrophism of the prevailing climate narrative: Such futuristic visions aren’t necessarily a helpful way to make people think about what they need to do, right now. “When you look at how the future of cities is often portrayed, you have all these sketches that come from architecture firms: elegant drawings where everyone is slim, and there are lots of cars swimming around,” he says. Instead, he counsels “keeping focus on the human experience of a what a sustainable city will look like.”

“You can use approaches such as [portraying] the story of someone’s day—something pretty normal, like taking your bike to kindergarten, dropping your kids off, and then jumping on an electric bus to work,” he says. “When you look closer, however, there’s a whole bunch of sustainable, climate neutral solutions going on. That tells the inhabitants of Malmo that the future isn’t entirely frightening. We won’t have flying cars. It will be fairly similar, even though we have to make some fundamental changes.”

Art and storytelling are absolutely vital but I also very much like the futuristic renderings! I want to see more of them, perhaps realized in visually daring art. Unfortunately I don’t hold out much hope for cinema these days since everything is a superhero movie but perhaps we’ll get the stories on TV as part of the streaming wars.

Further Reading