My Creativity Journal

 

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Credit: “New York Journal: Front Page” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: Inside Cover” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: Hosteling International” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: Smart People” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: The Studio Museum in Harlem” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: MoMA” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: Ellis Island” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: The 9/11 Memorial” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: Chinatown” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: The Tenement Museum” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: Brooklyn” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: Grand Central Station” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: The Color Purple” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: The Museum of Natural History” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: MoMA PS1” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: Fiddler on the Roof” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: The MET” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: The Subway” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Credit: “New York Journal: Inside Cover” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
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Credit: “New York Journal: Back Page” by Logan Douglas (author) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

 

April 5-7, 2016: New York City as an Idea and as a Reality

This week, our class focused on our experiences in New York City and how they pertained to the readings that we had done prior to our trip. After going over the basic outline for the rest of the semester, as well as due dates for our major projects and clarification of what they entail, we watched  a segment from episode five of New York: a Documentary. We focused on the concepts discussed in Lindner’s book Imagining New York City, and talked about how we had seen some of those ideas of flaneurie, the vertical and the horizontal when we were walking around the city. We also talked about the differences between our expectations of New York and what we actually experienced when we were there.

Because I had already visited New York City, there was not a big difference between my expectations of New York City and what we actually experienced. However, due to the unique nature of our readings, I was able to see New York in a new light. For example, I had never considered the effect of the vertical and the horizontal on New York City. While the spread and height of New York is iconic in it’s own way, it was not until stepping foot on the streets that these concepts became functional. From the wind tunnels created due to the need for skyscrapers to the grid system that makes New York surprisingly easy to navigate, the horizontal and vertical become instruments of efficiency. The ideas that were presented as a way to analyze New York, in all of it’s different facets, actually serve to make New York an efficient city. In this way, what we studied as a way to “get to know” the facets of New York’s culture perform a more functional role in everyday New York life.

In this discussion of New York as an ideal vs. a reality, history is important to consider. Much of New York and it’s resulting fame is shrouded in the historical background of the city. However, when we went to New York, that historical past was difficult to find anywhere except monuments and museums, unless you knew where to look. Now, there are plenty of monuments and museums in New York City, but most of New York’s history cannot be encapsulated in one place. New York’s history takes place all over the city. Because we were looking for it, our class could see more of this history (due to the documentaries we watched, among other things) , but it seems that New York has covered up a lot of it’s physical history with modernity. When people come to New York City, they have this ideal that history will be everywhere in New York, but in reality, you have to search for that history. There could be multiple reasons for this; an increasing reach towards modernity and a need to cover up some of this history. The ideal of New York City as this great historical city (due to the emphasis placed on the history of New York) is very different from New York’s reality. These are two of the main differences that I noticed in New York ideal and reality.

Quotes from “Skylines” pages 75-105

  • “The ambivalence underscoring these crepuscular Flatiron scenes, where the skyscraper is a source of both inspiration and anxiety, leads to a far more conflicted vision of vertical New York in Coburn’s The House of a Thousand Windows (1912)” (Lindner 75-76).
  • “…this equation of skyscrapers with capitalism…” (Lindner 76).
  • “Coburn’s presentation of the mundane, functional office tower as a site of vertigo, spatial incarceration, and relentless conformity serves to critique both the reifying influence of modern business on architectural design and the growing insignificance of humanity within the urban and corporate systems” (Lindner 76-77).
  • “…employ the panoramic perspective offered by the cityscape view… which effectively replicates the distancing, estranging effects of the aerial view from a horizontal rather than a vertical orientation, the skyscraper does not emerge in isolation but, instead figures as an integral part of the urban landscape and the wider spectacle of the modern city” (Lindner 78-79).
  • “…film helped to popularize skyscraper in the public mind at a crucial early stage in their development” (Lindner 79).
  • “… the double inflection of the skyscraper in Ferriss’s work as a symbol of both rationality and transcendence” (Linder 87).
  • “The problem with vertical New York, in other words, is that it does not take the rationalizing project inherent in the construction of skyscrapers far enough” (Lindner 89).
  • “…these extreme examples speak to the wider urban contexts and underlying structural conditions within which the modernist approach to urban planning and design has evolved over time, and from which many of the problems associated with high-rise living flow” (Lindner 97).
  • “Lifescape marks a significant effort to reclaim and reimagine a derelict landscape that is connected in both material and symbolic ways to the lived space of the city” (Lindner 98).
  • “Lifescape works simultaneously to reveal and conceal the mutability of urban landscape, attesting not only to the extraordinary versatility of urban space but also to the imaginative ways in which- responding to an experience of collective trauma- such space can be recycled, renewed, and remade in the era of “21st century green, global connectedness”” (Lindner 98).
  • “Fresh Kills represents a poignant reminder of the material excesses of the global metropolitan condition” (Lindner 99).
  • “…the 9/11 earthwork monument is a critical element of the park’s design, a symbolic centerpiece that will play a key role in the project’s potential to rejuvenate the body and soul of New York in the face of urban decay and postdisaster recovery” (Lindner 100).

Work Cited

Lindner, Christoph. Imagining New York City: Literature, Urbanism, and the Visual Arts, 1890-1940. Print.

February 16-18, 2016: Globalization

This week, our class attended a panel on globalization and the ways that different departments view it. We heard from professors in Economics, Political Science, German Studies, and Environmental Sustainability. On Thursday, we received the itinerary for our trip to New York City, and went over a few logistics of the trip before watching a video about the boatlift of 9/11. After that we discussed the effect that 9/11 had on Muslims in America and all around the world.

In our discussion of globalization, we talked about the ways that agency is given or taken away. While gaining agency is a way to overcome oppression, it is often hard to actually gain agency. Depending on many aspects such as culture, socio-economic status, and race, it may be difficult for people to gain agency without outside forces. For instance, the laborers who went on strike prior to the Triangle fire continually fought for their rights. However, it was only when two socialites took up their cause that they were able to gain any sort of major concession. While their resilience led to small victories (which are still important), their socio-economic status meant that it took a lot of help from outside forces to gain any larger victories.

Most of the time, a formerly colonized country is not left with enough resources to act independently, and so must make deals that can be detrimental to the welfare and growth of the country itself. In this way, they lose agency. Consider the example given to us in Life and Debt. Because Jamaica, a colonized country, wasn’t left with enough money, they lacked the agency to get what they needed to be a strong country, so they had to make deals with governments and institutions, such as the IMF, that left them with very little agency. While they have far more agency than they did while under Britain’s rule, they still do not have enough resources to have the agency they need in present day politics and economics. This is an example of how “gaining agency” through a desertion of power can lead to problems in the creation of power.

It is difficult to actually gain agency. There are so many factors that play a role in how agency itself can be gained or taken away. Also, there are some cases when suddenly gaining agency is detrimental. However, in most cases, gaining agency is a way to stop oppression. For example, the laborers who went on strike prior to the Triangle Fire were able to gain higher wages and shorter work days, a good step towards worker’s rights. Simply diffusing information, whether it be through something like a conversation, the news or even art pieces, is a way to gain agency and then stop oppression. This is seen in conversations such as the panel that we attended, and even in art pieces such as Sue Coe’s Fashion Victims. In this way, gaining agency can lead to overcoming oppression.

Quotes from “Skylines” pages 40-75

  • “…the New York skyline not only predates the city itself but also grows out of a much earlier encounter with the site’s natural landscape” (Lindner 41).
  • “…in the era of high capitalism, the writer needs the city” (Lindner 44).
  • “…once New York turns vertical, the experience of wonder and estrangement already evident in the prevertical narratives of Trollope and Thoreau becomes significantly accentuated in literary and other artistic representations of the skyline” (Lindner 44).
  • “Vidler calls this… the “architectural uncanny” and defines it as an aesthetic mode of estrangement endemic to capitalist modernity and closely linked to the spatial formations and social experiences of the city” (Lindner 46).
  • “As Adams describes it, the skyline comes uncannily alive in the imagination of the observer, creating powerful feelings of awe, hysteria, and confusion, and also generating uneasy visions of movement, violence and eruption” (Lindner 47).
  • “… the soaring verticals of the city function primarily as symbols of corporate capital, and this symbolism is one source of their shared anxiety about the skyrocketing development of the city” (Linder 52).
  • “…the New York skyline also functions in a slightly different way as a powerful symbol of social opportunity, albeit a frequently problematic one” (Lindner 52-53).
  • “Libeskind presents the skyline as a space of liberation and renewal” (Lindner 53).
  • “…he also sees its [the skyscraper’s] presence on the skyline as a reassertion of the American spirit of liberty” (Lindner 55).
  • “…his statement almost completely elides the sinuous and contentious history of “freedom” as a concept in multicultural America, including immigrant New York” (Lindner 55).
  • “The trope of New York as a “gateway” to America has been a recurring metaphor for the city ever since its colonial beginnings” (Lindner 60).
  • “…the skyline functions as a false icon of opportunity. It seduces the unsuspecting victim into a life of economic hardship and social inequality- into the very condition of urban alienation that Johnson goes on to write about so powerfully in Black Manhatten (1930)” (Lindner 60).
  • “Dreiser’s urban dreamscape reminds us that New York is not just a physical place; it is also a state of mind” (Lindern 62).
  • “New York’s literary imagination is similarly dominated by a profound ambivalence toward the city’s first great moment of verticality” (Linder 63).
  • “…this tension arises out of an anxiety over the rapid pace of capitalist urbanization and, in particular, the consequent explosion of unfamiliar and ungainly urban sites… the tension is created by the skyline’s power to enchant and mislead the immigrant and migrant gaze… the tension derives from the gap between the elusive city of the imagination and the lived city of everyday life” (Lindner 63).
  • “It remains caught between motion and stasis, between absence and presence, between old and new New York, and- to interject the terms of my own broader argument- between the sublime and the uncanny” (Lindner 69).
  • “… it is precisely as a symbol of an emerging modern culture of “time and space”- and a new America still in the making- that Stieglitz sees and presents this early New York skyscraper” (Lindner 70).
  • “…the extent to which the ephemeral cultural significance of skyscrapers is tied into competitive questions of size” (Linder 71).
  • “…the city remains caught in an even more accentuated and indeterminate way between motion and stasis, presence and absence, old and new” (Lindner 75).

Work Cited

Lindner, Christoph. Imagining New York City: Literature, Urbanism, and the Visual Arts, 1890-1940. Print.

Quotes from “Skylines” pages 20-40

  • “Seen from above, the city is thus laid bare- revealed and exposed- to the prying curiosity of the urban gaze” (Lindner 20).
  • “Manhattan’s two principal clusters of skyscrapers… appear as “waves of verticals”… the sense of motion is simultaneously countered by an effect of immobilization” (Lindner 21).
  • “…supersolid, supervisible, superlocated buildings stood as a figure for the dematerialized, invisible, placeless market” (Lindner 23).
  • “Manhattan has one of the most visually compelling and symbolically charged skylines in the world today” (Lindner 24).
  • “…graphic and enduring visions of the city as a sprawling urban text that mesmerizes and inspires yet also agitates and disturbs. In short, my argument is that, since the rise of the modern skyscraper, Manhattan has always been caught somewhere between the sublime and the uncanny” (Lindner 25).
  • “…the “convulsions of urbanization” that culminated in New York’s vertical architecture… in the second half of the nineteenth century, before reaching their highest intensity between 1890 and 1940… this period of rapid growth and development…” (Lindner 26).
  • “…these skyscrapers registered in visible and indelible ways the influence of the zoning envelope formula on architectural design, generating an aesthetic and geometric homogeneity…” (Lindner 35).
  • “…New York’s verticals tend to produce extreme and often paradoxical responses…” (Lindner 40).
  • “the invention of the modern skyline has left similarly deep and troubled imprints across a wide range of cultural production, including literature, visual art, film, and urban architecture and design” (Lindner 40).

Work Cited

Lindner, Christoph. Imagining New York City: Literature, Urbanism, and the Visual Arts, 1890-1940. Print.