October 23, 2009

The City As A Living Thing With A Giant Mailbox-Shaped Building In It

Hilary Harris's 1975 Organism feels like a missing link in the chain of film portraits of New York City as a pulsing, living thing. Like Whitman, whose "Leaves of Grass" provided the text for their1921 film Manhatta Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler showed "million-footed Manhattan...descend[ing] to her pavements" and forests of buildings growing up to the sky. Then, by the time Godfrey Reggion made Koyaanisqatsi in 1982, the metaphor was solid enough to use the time-lapse photography Harris pioneered to diagnose the city's terminal illness.

Maybe what modern city life needs to return it to full health is more post offices shaped like mailboxes. I combined frames from the various cuts of Harris's slow, time-lapse pan in order to get a picture of the whole thing. Anyone know where this was?

nyc_mailbox_po_harris1.jpg

Watch Manhatta and Organism at Ubu [ubu.com, via brian sholis]

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: October 23, 2009.

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