The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Terminal Destination

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, your humble narrator is often employed by the advertising industrial complex to perform the job function of “photo retoucher”. What that means, essentially, is that I use photoshop to remove the mustaches and wrinkles from photos of pretty people or create elaborate images that might be composited from as many as a dozen photos (use this head, that shirt, these legs, and put these sneakers on him- for instance). This particular specialization of advertising, there are thousands, takes place on the “production” side of things. Non glamorous, we are not the “madmen” types. The madmen are in Account (a business division which handles numbers, legalities, and client relations) or Creative (strategists, art directors, copywriters). Account makes the deal, Creative imagines up the strategic thinking, Production manufactures it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Creatives are irascible individualists, who will follow an idea right over a cliff if you let them, but that’s what production is there for. We’re the safety net beneath their intellectual trapeze act, an often 24 hour a day operation that churns out the actual ads you encounter under the close supervision of Creative and the sceptic oversight of Account. There is an expected error rate of zero in this business, and a vast support staff exists around these core services. Retouching is part of that, as well as- proof reading, human resources management, information technologies, and to a certain extent- photography. It’s all about client service, and ensuring that that all bases are covered.

Again- an expected failure rate of zero.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our Lady of the Pentacle is also employed in the breakneck advertising industry. An ad agency which recruited her is actually the reason that she left Britain behind and came to New York, an unlucky event as it made her geographically vulnerable to the questionable charms of an inferior specimen such as myself.

Brilliant and successful, Our Lady (in her current incarnation) found need for a photographer to accompany her team around a client’s place of business one day in January, but had no budget. A feckless quisling and traitor to joy, I nevertheless was enlisted to join with the team and explore the client’s property with perfect freedom to just shoot as many photos as I wanted to (as well as dozens of shots of kiosks, signs, counters, and other ad specific duties- and within certain ground rules as the federal government takes security here VERY seriously, and one is normally denied such opportunity by the cold reality of the Terror Wars).

Many of the shots I took are in the hands of Our Lady of the Pentacle, but these were just for me. Welcome to JetBlue’s Terminal 5, at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Designed by an architecture firm which mankind knows as Gensler, a multinational firm based in San Francisco, Terminal 5 is a nearly billion dollar complex of runways, passenger waiting areas, and a state of the art check in facility. The design stats on the place sound made up; a facility designed to handle 250 flights a day, 26 gates, 20 security checkpoints, 625,000 square feet, 20 million passengers a year- and as construction started some 4 years after 911- it is task built with security in mind.

I’ll tell you, though, that these Gensler folks understand light.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Clever gels and tinted windows cast the “brand colors” of the airline about the terminal, and made for brilliant swatches of color. The warm and cold colors also happened to concur with the colors of New York’s state flag, which is coincidence as far as I know, but lucky for both parties. The structure performed its central function though, and navigating its cavernous depths was intuitive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A central atrium provides access to the long banks of passenger gates, with retail vendors strategically arranged. The quality of light in these bays is spectacular.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Those Gensler folks are good with light, I tell you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Terminal 5’s central theme is curvilinear, attempting to invite the sensation of soaring. Incidentally, just in case you’re thinking I’m writing some sort of ad puffery, forget that. The place really is gorgeous, form and function are quite balanced. If this was an ad, you’d know it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The baggage Carousels, for instance, don’t look this good at LaGuardia or Heathrow. The place is also impeccably clean, but then again, it is a recently completed structure.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the constraints on photography I was under that day, and appropriately so, was to not capture images of the check in area or the security apparatus and personnel. There is a Casino level of security here, with watchers being watched by those who are watched- I’m pretty sure that they have ninjas on staff somewhere, but our attendant guided us away from troubles and escorted us through the steady stream of passengers and explained our activity to inquiring constables.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To advertising people, jaded and scarred, my mention of the trip through here was greeted with “oh yeah, that’s cool”- but antiquarians and neighborhood cranks immediately asked “did you get into TWA – the Saarinen building?”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the world’s great buildings is just outside Terminal 5, the TWA World Flight Center, and was built by a genius named Eero Saarinen. Still undergoing renovation and repair, it is an iconic structure and its future seems quite bright. This is the rear of the building, incidentally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was time to leave, with Our Lady’s team needing to return to the Shining City and take up once more the reigns of advertising, and for your humble narrator to scuttle mournfully home to sun kissed Astoria.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 28, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Posted in JFK, Photowalks

Tagged with , , , ,

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