DRAWING LIFE by fred hatt

2014/07/28

Ultra Wide

Filed under: New work,Photography — Tags: , , , — fred @ 23:58
Headlights at Dusk, 2014, by Fred Hatt

Headlights at Dusk, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

You’ve probably heard of the GoPro Hero, the tiny high definition video camera designed for extreme sports. It can be clamped to a helmet, a surfboard, a bicycle, or a racing car to show the sedentary and screen-bound what their more daredevilish brethren and sistren see while risking their lives careening down mountainsides or surfing pipelines. In 2012, when Felix Baumgartner skydove out of a capsule 24 miles above earth, he was wearing five of these little cameras. One of my favorite GoPro videos was taken with the camera strapped to the back of an eagle soaring in the Alps.

Now I’m no extreme sportsman. I feel ill leaning over a third floor balcony and trip over carpet runners while walking at a normal pace. But I was intrigued with the possibilities of the GoPro to get shots from unusual vantage points and to capture subjective views, and since I work as a freelance videographer and photographer it seemed like a good idea to add an additional camera to the bag, especially one that costs a tenth of what my main camcorder cost and is smaller than one of its batteries. I’ve been experimenting with it for a few months now, and have gotten some interesting shots. One thing I didn’t expect to do with the GoPro was to use it as a still camera, but under the right conditions it takes remarkably good stills with its extremely wide-angle built-in lens. All the pictures in this post were taken in recent months with the GoPro Hero 3+. All of these were taken as stills, not frames from video footage.

Fountain Plaza, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Fountain Plaza, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Every camera lens has a field of view that can be described as a conical space extending out from the lens. What is usually considered a “normal” lens takes in an angle of view of about 45 degrees. A telephoto lens, the kind sports photographers use to get tight shots from a distance, might have an angle of view of twelve degrees or even much less. The GoPro lens angle of view is nearly 150 degrees, meaning it gets almost everything that is in front of it. If it’s clamped to the front of your surfboard looking up at you it can take in your whole height and also a majestic view of the waves swelling and curling around you. You can take a picture of a person from inches away, and that wide cone of view places that person in the context of a panoramic landscape extending all around him or her.

Columbus Circle, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Columbus Circle, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

If you’ve followed my urban landscape photography on Drawing Life you’ve noticed that I rarely take pictures of strangers. I’m not quite aggressive enough to shoot right at people without permission, and usually not quite socially dauntless enough to chat them up and get their consent. I found that the GoPro is so small – about half the size of a deck of playing cards – that I could just carry it around in one hand and no one even noticed it, even if I was taking their picture from inches away from them.

Rainy Day, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Rainy Day, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

The ultra-wide view is good at capturing two spaces next to each other, an interior and an exterior space, or an opening from one space to another.

Stairs, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Stairs, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

It dramatically emphasizes the converging lines of perspective.

Deli Flowers, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Deli Flowers, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

The default capture settings produce images that are highly contrasty and colorful. I changed the settings to soften contrast, since these wide views often include areas that are shady and areas that are sunlit in the same frame.

Mottled Shadows, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Mottled Shadows, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Many of these street views were shot while walking, holding the camera at hip level and not even pausing my stride. In bright daylight the shutter speed is fast enough that the images are sharp, but even overcast daylight makes the camera take a longer exposure that will often show motion blurring in these conditions.

Shades, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Shades, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

In the wide angle view, perspective affects everything. Vertical shapes loom and converge toward the sky, while the horizon line veers like the deck of a sailboat listing in the wind.

Manhattan Couple, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Manhattan Couple, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

The image below shows the Henry Moore sculpture and reflecting pool at Lincoln Center, seen in another post on this blog in this very different shot (Comparing the shot at the link with the one below is an excellent illustration to contrast the different qualities of the wide angle lens and the narrow-angle telephoto lens). The exaggerated perspective of the GoPro makes it look like the sculpture is far, far away, across a great body of water.

Reflecting Pool, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Reflecting Pool, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Here’s the skyline of lower Manhattan seen from the ferry to Governors Island.

Ferry, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Ferry, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Here’s a street vendor selling matted magazine covers. The shot, taken from a distance of maybe one meter, shows the vendor, all three sides of his display, and the underside of his colorful dual parasols.

Vendor, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Vendor, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

A house interior shows an entire hallway seen through a door, with doors on either side and at the end, and a stairway on the right.

Hallway, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Hallway, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

These food carts are seen in the context of the street, the sidewalk, the surrounding buildings, and the pedestrians.

Street Food, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Street Food, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Only such a wide view really captures the feeling of being in a supermarket aisle between great walls of food.

Aisle, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Aisle, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

One night I returned home to find my street with a great trench dug in it, and an SUV-sized boulder there on the right – did that come out from under the street?

Street Construction, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Street Construction, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

And this was the truck they brought in to haul off that boulder.

Wide Load, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Wide Load, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

The wide view shows the buildings surrounding the people. A vertical city expresses the aspirations of a vertical species.

Red Skirt, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Red Skirt, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

An organization called the Sculptors Guild has a gallery in a huge old house on Governors Island. The rooms themselves are sculptural spaces.

Sculpture Show, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Sculpture Show, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

The wide view captures something of the sensation of being inside a space or being within surroundings.

Subway Escalator, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Subway Escalator, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Professional photographers these days tend to favor the narrow-angled telephoto lens, that isolates its subject and blurs the background. It eliminates distractions and distortions, and often has a glamorizing quality. The wide angle view has the opposite effect – emphasizing the distortions of perspective, seeing everything sharp both near and far, subjects not set apart but set within a whole scene.

Pretzels, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Pretzels, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

The narrow view is about objects. the wide view is about space.

Backlit Tree, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Backlit Tree, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

The wide view is dynamic and expansive.

Photographer, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Photographer, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

The practice of photography is a way of learning how to see the world. Different techniques, different approaches, and different lenses are different ways of seeing. Shooting with a wide angle lens makes me feel spaciousness. It is a curative for the feeling of being hemmed in by the density of the city.

Street Lines, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Street Lines, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

We put ourselves in enclosures to move around in the world – private cars and public cars. The wide lens makes these interiors seem not like tight boxes, but like environments.

Self Portrait Driving, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Self Portrait Driving, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Subway Interior, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Subway Interior, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

In a more open vehicle we feel ourselves moving among the motile masses and the massive monoliths of Manhattan.

Rickshaw, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Rickshaw, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

There’s a foreground – individual people right around us. There’s a middle ground – the constant traffic that circulates in the city like blood. And there’s a background – blocks of buildings and the grid of gaps between them that channel all that hurly-burly.

Crosswalk, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Crosswalk, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Life is movement in space. Open your view wide to take it in.

Limo Driver, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Limo Driver, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

2014/06/06

The Winter Past

Filed under: New work,Photography — Tags: , , , , , , — fred @ 18:25
Red and White, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Red and White, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

We live in a world of instantaneous sharing, a constant present where photos go up on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram the minute they’re taken, where events are live streamed and live tweeted, where instant pundits make comments on what’s happening right now, with tongue in cheek, or, all too often, foot in mouth. In the analog era, photographs and commentary were never about the right now. There was always enough delay built into the process that at best they were about the freshly recalled past.

I really like having a delay. Art needs time to ripen inside the artist before it is shared. I am always drawing upon my archive, finishing work years after it was begun, finding fresh gems that have lain buried for a while.

For those of us in the Northeastern U. S., the winter of 2013-14 was more than usually harsh. Heavy snowfall was followed by frigid temperatures that turned the accumulation into rock-hard ice, which was layered over by more snow, and so on, for three solid months. Heavy weather conditions often inspire me photographically, and this past winter was no different. But had I shared these shots of my arctic muse at the time, they would simply have reinforced the viewers’ ongoing misery. Now that we are safely into the season of sunshine and green growth we can look back at images of winter with an appreciation born of detachment.

This kind of detachment, this waiting to ripen, this separation between impulse and response, is vital to art. Let us not lose it in the roaring noise of the current.

Blowing Snow, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Blowing Snow, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Driving Snow, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Driving Snow, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Headlamps, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Headlamps, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Throughout the months of January and February, the crosswalk near my home was blocked by a huge pile of plowed-up snow, melted a bit, refrozen and enlarged by cumulative precipitation. I passed it every day. Like Monet’s haystacks, it was a shapeless pile of matter that revealed the mercurial qualities of light.

Snow Pile Variations, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Snow Pile Variations, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Salt Stains, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Salt Stains, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Twilight Tree, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Twilight Tree, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Snow is a great special effect for nocturnal photography, as it reflects and magnifies every kind of light. Dark pavement swallows a lot of the color, but white snow makes all the varied hues of night sing harmony.

Night Plow, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Night Plow, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Glisten, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Glisten, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Today's Specials, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Today’s Specials, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Being covered or partially buried makes sculptural abstractions of everyday objects.

Buried Bike Variations, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Buried Bike Variations, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

KGJW, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

KGJW, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Vacant Lot, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Vacant Lot, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Snow adds nature’s chaos to the designed and built environment, mountain ranges among the towers and boxes of glass.

Lincoln Center Mounds, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Lincoln Center Mounds, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Snow Mound, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Snow Mound, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

White snow makes an ideal screen for dramatic shadows to be projected.

Pole and Shaft of Light, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Pole and Shaft of Light, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Stripes, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Stripes, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Ice Road, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Ice Road, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

At night and twilight, the colors can be downright psychedelic. These are straight photos – no color manipulation or hypersaturation, very close to the effects I saw with my own eyes.

Mountains, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Mountains, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Path of Gold, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Path of Gold, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Spacer, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Spacer, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

By the beginning of March, nothing was left but filthy remnants, tattered scraps, the diminishing cores of what had recently seemed mighty glaciers.

The End of Winter, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

The End of Winter, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Spring arrived as crisp clear sunlight, last year’s foliage stripped and bleached, the ground saturated by snowmelt, ready for new life to burst forth.

Prospect Park, Early Spring, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

Prospect Park, Early Spring, 2014, photo by Fred Hatt

2014/01/08

Gallery Opening on the Web

A sample from Fred Hatt's new photo/video website

A sample from Fred Hatt’s new photo/video website

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on a major redesign of my website highlighting the photography and video work I do for clients, many of whom are artists and performers. Today it went online: Fred Hatt Photo/Video. Please check it out and let me know your thoughts.

I worked with the great graphic designer Michael LaBash, who also designed my art portfolio site. I had some ideas about how I wanted it to look – dark colors, horizontal scrolling photo galleries – and he figured out how to make it all work and look beautiful. There are some images that were on the old version of the site, but there’s also a lot of new material and a gorgeous new look.

There are twelve different photography galleries and five galleries of video pieces, covering the work I do for visual artists, performing artists, and my landscape and urban photography. Many of the photos link to the websites of the client or subject.

If I’ve shot you or your art in recent years and you don’t see it here, I apologize. It was really hard to sift through all that work and find a good balance of samples to convey the range and quality of what I offer. But the process of choosing work made me feel very fortunate to have worked with so many amazing creative people. I’m not ambitious enough as a photographer and videographer to seek out big celebrities and supermodels and high-profile assignments – I just want to work with those that inspire me, help them show the world what they can do, and make a little money to be able to pay my bills and keep doing my own artwork without compromise. But there’s some beautiful stuff here!

2013/10/20

Pointz of Contention

Mural by Dase, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Dase, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

5 Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc. is a 200,000 square foot factory building occupying a whole block in Long Island City, the southwesternmost district of the borough of Queens, in New York City. Since 1993 the building’s owner has allowed the building to be used as a fully legal venue for urban graffiti artists from around the world to showcase their artistry.

5 Pointz Loading Dock Area, photo by Fred Hatt

5 Pointz Loading Dock Area, photo by Fred Hatt

Curator Jonathan Cohen, also known as the artist Meres One, selects artists, who must submit work samples and designs to get permission to paint at 5 Pointz. The building is regularly renewed with new murals replacing those that have had a good run.

Mural by Cortes, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Cortes, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

The center is well known to anyone who rides the 7 train, whose elevated tracks pass right by 5 pointz. It’s directly across Jackson Avenue from PS1, MoMA’s satellite museum devoted to contemporary art, and many visitors to that august institution also visit 5 Pointz to see a kind of contemporary art that springs from the streets rather than the academies. If you’ve never heard of 5 Pointz, perhaps you’ve seen it in music videos by Kurtis Blow, Doug E. Fresh, Joss Stone, or Joan Jett.

Mural by Sinxero, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Sinxero, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Jerry Wolkoff, the long-time owner of the building, has made it available as a painting space for artists over the past twenty years (Back in the ’90’s it was called Phun Factory). The idea was to discourage graffiti vandalism by offering spray paint artists a legal place to exhibit their work. Particularly since Jonathan Cohen’s curatorship began about eleven years ago, the place has become one of New York’s cultural landmarks, a destination for practitioners and appreciators of street art from all over the world.

Mural by Meres One, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Meres One, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

5 Pointz Posted Rules, photo by Fred Hatt

5 Pointz Posted Rules, photo by Fred Hatt

Jerry Wolkoff’s son, David Wolkoff, is a developer. He wants to tear down 5 Pointz to build two luxury high-rise condo towers. Manhattan and the parts of Brooklyn and Queens that are close to Manhattan are already glutted with fancy condos for the ultra-rich. Many of the most expensive apartments are not even used as residences, just held as investments by people who have a lot of excess money they need to park. New York, along with London and other international cities, has been subjected to massive development of this kind in recent years. It’s made it more difficult for artists and other middle class and working class people to live in the city, but money rules over all.

Mural by Joseph Meloy, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Joseph Meloy, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Long Island City is one of those parts of New York that’s a short train ride to Midtown Manhattan but still has a lot of old, decrepit industrial buildings and warehouses, so it’s a natural spot for development. On the blocks around 5 Pointz you’ll see wholesalers and taxi dispatchers and sidewalk food cart garages, but gourmet restaurants and designer boutiques are nearby, and the blue glass Citicorp Tower looms above the art center.

5 Pointz and Citicorp Tower, Long Island City, Queens, New York, photo by Fred Hatt

5 Pointz and Citicorp Tower, Long Island City, Queens, New York, photo by Fred Hatt

The City Council voted unanimously to allow the bulldozing of 5 Pointz. The developers agreed to feature some aerosol artworks on the facade at the base of the new building, to “preserve the heritage and legacy” of 5 Pointz. It is hard for me to imagine, though, that the managers of a luxury condo building will allow the kind of freewheeling spirit of creative anarchy that the old 5 Pointz has embodied.

Mural by DT, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by DT, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

I think destroying 5 Pointz is a crime and a disgrace. It was almost exactly fifty years ago that developers were allowed to raze the old Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, a true temple of transit and one of the great architectural masterpieces of McKim, Mead & White, to build the uninspired arena of Madison Square Garden with today’s depressing Penn Station in the basement. It was a true act of vandalism that shocked the aesthetic conscience of the city and led to the rise of the historic preservation movement.

Mural by Monsieur Plume, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Monsieur Plume, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

5 Pointz is no masterpiece of architecture like the old Penn Station, and the art on its walls is not all of transcendent quality, but neither is all the art on the walls inside PS1 or other centers for contemporary art. These institutions are valuable because they are vital laboratories of creative ferment, filled with many clashing varieties of contemporary art, not yet culled by time, the ultimate curator. We go to be wowed by some works, bored by others, and angered by others.

Mural by James Cochran, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by James Cochran, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

A lot of the contemporary art in PS1 is abstruse and condescending, or crudely and pointlessly transgressive, or gimmicky and commercial, but there’s a great variety and it can be a very exciting museum to visit. I’ve often thought of 5 Pointz as PS1’s outdoor annex, offering work that is grand in scale, with vivid colors given their fullest expression in the bright light of day.

Mural by Nicholai Khan, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Nicholai Khan, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

The City Council would surely never approve the destruction of an established museum such as PS1, with wealthy donors and corporate sponsors and a respectable board of trustees. 5 Pointz, though, has none of those recognized signifiers of legitimacy.

Mural by TooFly, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by TooFly, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Currently the most famous “street artist” in the world, that master of self-promotion Banksy, is in New York, sending his fans on a sort of treasure hunt to find the new pieces of work he’s installing around the city at regular intervals.

Kool Herc mural by Danielle Mastrion, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Kool Herc mural by Danielle Mastrion, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mayor Bloomberg criticized Banksy, saying “Art is art, and nobody’s a bigger supporter of the arts than I am. I just think there are some places for art and there are some places [not for] art. And you running up to somebody’s property or public property and defacing it is not my definition of art.” And indeed, Banksy is painting graffiti on property he doesn’t own, without permission, but of course he gets away with it because he’s a celebrity and an international art star who also sells work in galleries for serious prices.

Mural by Kram, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Kram, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

The artists of 5 Pointz are nearly anonymous. It took me quite a bit of digging to identify the names of the artists who did the pieces pictured in this post, and still I couldn’t find some of them, and may have made some mistakes. If anyone who is knowledgeable can correct or amend my picture captions, I’d truly appreciate it.

Mural by unidentified artist, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by unidentified artist, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Some of these artists have surely engaged in illegal tagging elsewhere, but all the work at 5 Pointz is completely legal.

Mural by El Nino de las Pinturas, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by El Nino de las Pinturas, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

I took all the photos in this post last weekend, and if you can visit 5 Pointz soon you can see the originals. Most of the murals are eight or ten feet tall, and these small photos don’t really do them justice.

Mural by Rimx & Nepo, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Rimx & Nepo, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

You’ll notice the great variety of styles and themes, abstraction and figuration, whimsy and seriousness, pop cultural and art historical references. There is a lot of the wildstyle lettering that came out of the New York school of graffiti art of the original hip hop era, and traditional lowbrow motifs like skulls and monsters, but there are also realistic portraits and some truly sophisticated painting techniques.

Mural by Fumero, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Fumero, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

The city will do nothing to stop the celebrity Banksy’s illegal work, but they will sanction the razing of the outsider artists’ legal work at 5 Pointz. They’ll protect the gallery-anointed contemporary art at PS1 but not the street-culture contemporary art at 5 Pointz. It’s hard not to see this as an example of a class-based double standard.

Mural by True Fame, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by True Fame, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

As of the time of this writing, there is a temporary injunction stopping the bulldozers, based on a claim by seventeen of the 5 Pointz artists, invoking the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act.

Mural by Mr Blob, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Mr Blob, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

To be fair to the Wolkoffs, they do own the building, and we can be grateful to them for having made it available as a place for the creation and exhibition of artwork over the past two decades. But I find it disappointing that someone who owns such a collection of art would decide to destroy it to put up more luxury condos in New York. Surely there are other options available to billionaire developers.

Mural by Meres One, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Meres One, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Click on the link and look at the principles of the Visual Artists Rights Act. No one would question the application of this law if someone who owned a recognized masterpiece like Picasso’s Guernica announced plans to destroy it. The court will need to determine whether works by little-known artists, not acclaimed by the curators of major institutions, and in a genre associated with criminal vandalism, deserve the same moral rights as the Picasso.

Mural by Auks, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Auks, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Fine art by recognized masters has been destroyed by its owners in the past. A famous case is Nelson Rockefeller’s destruction of “Man at the Crossroads”, Diego Rivera’s commissioned fresco at Rockefeller Center, which was interpreted as anti-capitalist propaganda.

Mural by Kid Lew, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Kid Lew, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

The boundaries of art that is recognized as such by the arbiters of culture are subject to change over time. Not long ago, the common attitude among serious art curators would have been to dismiss popular artists such as Norman Rockwell and R. Crumb as “mere illustrators”, not fine artists, but that is beginning to change. A little further back, the art authorities in France dismissed the impressionist painters as crude daubers, not worthy to be considered in the same league as their favorites, painters we now see as stodgy academic bores.

Mural by Esteban del Valle, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Esteban del Valle, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

I suspect the work of some of these street artists will some day be seen as important work – not all of it, but some of it. For now, these artists are clearly underdogs, Davids confronting Goliaths of great wealth.

David & Goliath, after Caravaggio, mural by unidentified artist, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

David & Goliath, after Caravaggio, mural by unidentified artist (Reckin’ Krew?), 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Recent decades in New York have seen a significant loss of the city’s diverse cultural manifestations – not just street art but funky mom-and-pop businesses, community gardens, eccentric neighborhoods and vibrant local artistic scenes – to make way for generic apartment towers and homogenized franchise businesses. A recent editorial by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne expresses feelings I hear often expressed among New York’s creatives. Will history see rampant commercial development as a greater act of vandalism than graffiti tagging?

Mural by Onur, Senor, Wes21 and Kkade, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Onur, Senor, Wes21 and Kkade, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

If 5 Pointz is razed, the center of gravity for street art in NYC is likely to shift to the Bushwick Collective, an area around the intersection of Troutman Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in Brooklyn where curator Joseph Ficalora has invited street artists to create elaborate works on the many blank industrial walls. It doesn’t have the high-profile location or the single massive building of 5 Pointz, but it’s already become a destination for the practitioners of aerosol art and their appreciators.

Mural by The Yok & Sheryo, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by The Yok & Sheryo, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

I think street art is a vital and important part of the visual arts culture of our time. Let’s not dismiss this work based on class prejudice.

Mural by Mataone, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Mural by Mataone, 5 Pointz, photo by Fred Hatt

Update added November 19, 2013: Last night, under cover of darkness, crews working on behalf of the developers smeared over all of 5 Pointz’ murals with white paint. The “Graffiti Mecca” is no more.

My friend Steven Speliotis memorialized the whitewashing in this video:

2013/07/05

Night Light

Filed under: New work,Photography — Tags: , , , , , — fred @ 23:09
Tree and Moon, 2011, photo by Fred Hatt

Tree and Moon, 2011, photo by Fred Hatt

This is a post about the beautiful effects of artificial light photographed outdoors at night in New York City, one of the kinds of visual essays I’ve often featured on Drawing Life. It has nothing to do with the art I’m working on now. In recent months, I’ve been busier than ever with paid work as a projectionist, photographer, and videographer, and I’ve been using the improved cashflow to keep myself busier than ever with drawing and filmmaking. I’ve been doing consistent experimental figure drawing work in my studio with a few wonderful model-collaborators, pursuing fresh developments in the practice – but I’m not ready to show this work yet. Nowadays people tend to share every new thing in their lives immediately on Facebook or Twitter, but I think there’s something to be said about the old approach of laboring in obscurity and then going public with something fully-formed. I also have new video projects in the works, also not ready to share. In the meantime, I’ll keep the blog going with the kinds of posts you’ve come to expect, with new posts a little less frequent than they have been in the past. The new work will come out when it’s done.

So for now, please join me on an urban nocturne. Let’s go for a night drive.

Self Portrait Driving, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Self Portrait Driving, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

The Sun, when it’s up,  is such an alpha dog that all other lights are wheezing three-legged omega chihuahuas at best. But at night there are billions of light sources, and all of them coexist in a Milky Way of rough equality.

Expressway Lights, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Expressway Lights, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

All these little lights make their own pools and shadows, vie with each other and merge with each other. If the Sun is God, all the little lights are like God’s creatures, tiny emanations or embers of the Great Fire, mobile and competitive, transient and ephemeral.

Queensboro Bridge Onramp, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Queensboro Bridge Onramp, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

The beams of night shine in a world of swirling particles.

Headlights in Snow, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Headlights in Snow, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Taxi and Bikes, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Taxi and Bikes, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Daylight is objective in its distance. Daylight shadows are orthographic projections – every beam of light that forms them comes from the same direction. Shadows formed by artificial lights at night have perspective – they expand with distance from the source of light.

Leaning Meter, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Leaning Meter, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Light sources at night often strike surfaces at oblique angles that reveal texture.

Blue and White, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Blue and White, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Brick Wall, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Brick Wall, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Nearby light sources sometimes impart a looming quality to architectural forms that would look stolid and stodgy in sunlight.

Architectural Elements, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Architectural Elements, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Squat Column, 2011, photo by Fred Hatt

Squat Column, 2011, photo by Fred Hatt

Neo-Romanesque, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Neo-Romanesque, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Church Door, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Church Door, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Escalator, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Escalator, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

At night, reflective surfaces make beautiful landscapes out of the multitude of little light sources, and light shining out of interior spaces gives simple boxes a magical aura.

Reflections on Metal, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Reflections on Metal, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Food Cart, 2011, photo by Fred Hatt

Food Cart, 2011, photo by Fred Hatt

Taco Cart, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Taco Cart, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Cylindrical Windows, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Cylindrical Windows, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Plaza Fountain, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Plaza Fountain, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

The sheen of reflective surfaces overcomes the surface details that might dominate our perception in the flat light of day.

Shiny Posters, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Shiny Posters, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Retroreflective Signs, 2012Tree Shadow, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Retroreflective Signs, 2012Tree Shadow, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Burning Bush, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Burning Bush, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

In the daytime, buildings are external structures, but at night they turn inside out, light revealing the life within.

Pole and Wires, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Pole and Wires, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Metro, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Metro, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Office Building, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Office Building, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

A city comes alive at night when light makes the insides of buildings more prominent than their outside forms.

Guitar Shop, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Guitar Shop, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Cheesesteaks, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Cheesesteaks, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Square of Light, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Square of Light, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

A sufficiently long-exposure photograph of a landscape taken under moonlight looks barely different from one taken under sunlight. Artificial light, though, comes from various different directions and has many different colors. A long exposure taken at night under multiple artificial light sources is a kind of light painting.

Garden at Night, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Garden at Night, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Vacant Lot at Night, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Vacant Lot at Night, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Winter's Moon, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Winter’s Moon, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Polish Crests, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Polish Crests, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Abstract Cross, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Abstract Cross, 2012, photo by Fred Hatt

Colored lights, in the form of neon signs and tinted bulbs, make the night psychedelic.

Primary Hues, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Primary Hues, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Kellogg's Diner, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Kellogg’s Diner, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Red Neon, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Red Neon, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Christmas Lights, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

Christmas Lights, 2010, photo by Fred Hatt

In the daytime, a hole in the ground is a black void, but at night, lit-up interiors and exteriors coexist and interpenetrate. A thousand tiny lights equalize space.

Restaurant Basement, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Restaurant Basement, 2013, photo by Fred Hatt

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress

Better Tag Cloud
%d bloggers like this: