Monday, April 27, 2015

Canvas 4.27.15

Tunnel Vision with the MTA

I’ve never done Canvas before - I like visual art just fine, but I can’t quite translate the usual reaction to a painting or a photo onto paper. The reaction is, of course, the pretentious art critic nod, where you slightly nod your head and look thoughtful, possibly with one hand on your chin or with your arms crossed, while squinting at some sort of picture. You may occasionally say “hmm” or “ah” as you examine the art, and this will demonstrate your subtle appreciation for it. Yeah, it doesn’t go into words. So instead I’ll write about some photos that pull a more distinct reaction from me. Like this:
Our friends at the MTA put all our delicious fare money to good use, of course, and sometimes that includes art installations. This one, titled “Breaking Ground,” is currently on display at the Bowling Green uptown subway station, which I happen to pass through every schoolday because going to classes here at Brooklyn while living on Staten Island is the truest pain imaginable.

“Breaking Ground” is a series of photographs taken by Patrick J. Cashin from MTA construction sides like the Second Avenue Subway project, a 7 line extension, and the East Side Access project. A wider selection of photos is available for your viewing pleasure on the MTA’s Flickr account. Yeah, the MTA has a Flickr. Like I said, that delicious fare money goes so far these days. Most of the pictures I liked best were on the Flickr and not the installation itself, so it's worth a look if you like the horrific broken-down look.

The reason I like these photos is they’re so raw and kind of ugly, showing subway tunnels in various states of disrepair. It looks like some intricate series of caves on an alien planet. We never think about what subway tunnels really look like because we’re too busy zooming through them, doing reading for class or napping or complaining about all the delays. I’m kind of glad we don’t pay attention, because seriously, our 110-year-old subway system could really use a facelift. At the same time, though, it’s nice to check out some stuff we take for granted. But I’m kind of nervous about going into the subway now, because wow, some of this doesn’t look particularly stable. Are we sure it’s cool to be trapped underground for extended periods of time in what appear to be Cthulhu’s death tunnels?

Seriously. The Old Ones are having poker night somewhere down there.
But hey. I like the look of abandoned places, and even though a lot of Cushin’s photos are teeming with squads of MTA construction workers, the tunnels still have that feeling of an abandoned place. I can practically hear the distant dripping water. Especially in this photo of a gentleman and a puddle with a cool reflection effect.

This is the part of the movie where his reflection rises up from the puddle and attacks him.

“Breaking Ground” will remain on display at Bowling Green for a year or so, giving me plenty of opportunities to stare into the gaping maw of the subway. Hopefully, it will not stare back.

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