The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for January 5th, 2011

the stinking shallows

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s posting, aimless wandering around the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek was how your humble narrator spent Monday afternoon. The stealthy ones… let’s just call them Cats… pointed me in this direction, and low tide was observed.

Strewn, the 29th street roadside coast of the canal is a favored location for illegal dumping of both construction debris and putrescent garbage- which- when combined with the stagnant conditions which are typical of this water and factoring the recent snow melt…

-let’s just say that the smell here is a tangible and seemingly sentient thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was low tide when I stood there, my attentions drawn to exposed sediments and that curiously decayed steel which composes the hull of a long stranded barge- both of which are remarkable. Casting my lens around, I noticed the sickly trees adorning the filth bearing shore and began thinking about the posting “a creeping run” which was presented here- at your Newtown Pentacle- just days ago.

Hyperbolic, the post pondered the presence of organochemical mutagens in the water, swirling about in that vast cocktail of industrial runoff– whose whispered effects have been studied only as individual constituents rather than “in solution” or “in concert”- not just here, but all along that cautionary tale known as the Newtown Creek.

The trees.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let me state three things here…

first-simulacra” is a term I use to describe the appearance to the human eye of patterns in organic and random shapes. Certain contrasts in entirely random shapes might suggest a “man in the moon” or a “dragon in the clouds” or “Jesus on a pancake” or “Allah’s name inside an apple” or any of the usual visual coincidences experienced by people when confronted with a well done puppet or artistically wrought doll. It’s the way our eyes and brains work, ultimately. I don’t know what other people call it, but that’s what is meant when I say it.

second- I’m a professional photo retoucher in the New York City advertising world, and routine tasks call for me to create composite images which blend multiple exposures into a single illusory image (as well as taking the mustaches off the pretty ladies). This is the creation of a lie in photographic form, featuring distortions of anatomy and removal of a subjective series of perceived flaws in the subject matter. One of the tricks of the trade is understanding how to manipulate that sense of “simulacra”. In other words, I am quite capable of faking something, photographically speaking.

third- As a statement of principle and duty to the record- the photos which occur during these postings are unaltered except for color and exposure correction and sharpening. Whenever it’s a “trick image” like an “HDR” or “stitched panorama” or “tilt shift”- I endeavor to label it as such.

The Trees.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shot is un-messed around with, a simulacra caused by a broken branch or a parasitic infection… it must be…

For even around the malignant Dutch Kills…

Even when deeply sunken roots are drinking in some mutagenic stew of petroleum byproducts, sewage borne pharmaceutical runoff, and unmentionable organocoppers

Even in these unmentionable and shunned waste meadows of the Creekland…

The Trees…

The Trees… are not meant to have eyes.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 5, 2011 at 12:15 am

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