Idle Hands

November 21st, 2008 § 1 comment

When I met with Susan before leaving Richmond she said, jokingly, “you probably could work fulltime and still make a lot of work…!” I laughed at the time, but the last few months have tested that statement—a test proving that while it might be possible, it is highly impractical. I used to laugh at the people who would say, major in something “practical” (I smile broader now that “practical” majors are, or soon will be, as “useless” as my own) and to pursue other interests as a “hobby.” This loosely translates into how you can give up your real interests without losing all self-respect while doing it. Practical major or not, however, life after school involves a great deal of juggling. From my current perspective I am glad I used my time in grad school the way I did, essentially I bought two years of time from vcu leaving me free to make work; now I am slightly envious of those who are still in grad school if only because they are still at liberty to make, and are expected to do little else.

It has not been a problem to make work with images already taken, such as those I shot over the summer and early in the fall. The Oregon City images were a good place to begin, editing felt new because I have hardly had time to glance through them since the summer—the Holgas have yet to be seen in positive form. An idle scanner on my desk at work has prolonged the inevitable purchase of my own, but has sped up the process of making and printing. Taking new images, however, has been the real challenge, not simply because of the time it takes to go walking, but also because time of day has a lot to do with my ability to wander with satisfaction. If only I could gather together remnants of time from each day, and could compile them together into a whole day.

When I first moved to the city, before the onslaught of jobs and recreational habits, I had more free time, but no notion of what I wanted to make images of. New York is a sensory overload, it is aggressive and persistent, and on the surface seems over photographed and typical. The details, subtleties, and moments of interest only began to draw my attention recently, as I hunker down into the cities carpet more seems visible. As images of possibility surround me I notice, and regret, that I often find myself not only without my camera of choice, but without a camera at all. Images in new york move as fast as the people on the street—they are in a relentless hurry to disappear. Current frustrations are therefore not completely dictated by a lack of time, but also by a lack of preparation.

The answers to both these problems are obvious and unavoidable. The first solution for me involves bringing a camera, does not matter which, with me everywhere again, as was my habit in Richmond. The second, trickier to solve and taking a clue from the Bayman, involves using the time I have during the day better—breaks, lunches, walks to and from the train, time between tasks, the possibility of getting up a little early or coming home a bit late. Both of these ideas I have decided are necessary, but have yet to begin enacting.

I have been photographing consistently, however, on my days off and consequently, the cities days off. So many people talk about the energy of new york, and yet they don’t often mention rhythm; it is the rhythm of life here that interests me most. A few weeks ago I found myself adding a third hour to my transit schedule, taking the subway during rush hour at seven, eight, and nine, and what interests me is how different the people are at each time. It seems that ‘the city that never sleeps’ does sleep, but different parts of it sleep at different times. While in some ways Gotham comes alive on the weekend and after dark, in other words when the 9-5 people are not at work, the majority of the cities everyday disappears on the weekend. Parks are empty, the subways are less crowed, people come and go in their own time, all of which gives the city a different rhythm and leaves a different impression. Being an outsider in new york is like getting caught in a stampede without knowing how it began or why. While I would rather document the stampede what I see is mostly the remains, or aftermath, of it passing each week.

§ One Response to Idle Hands

  • oh boy yet another hateful photographer in the city… but what i like from my brief times there is that time when the city it preparing to be the city. i certainly prefer the remains- or rather the anticipation – rather than the “stampede” it could be due to the difference in locations but while maybe not after dar, tribeca seems quite peaceful and empty on week-ends.

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