The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for January 7th, 2011

pitying smiles

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Inveterate pedestrians who frequent the primary arteries of Queens will tell you that are few City streets like Jackson Avenue in Long Island City.

As the ancient thoroughfare slides past the Megalith at Court Square, one might observe- if atmospheric condition and time of day permit- the curious reflections cast by the mirror skin of the towering structure. Not long ago, a member of the cultural intelligentsia named Heidi Neilson published her novel and intriguing “Long Island City Sundial” concept, which describes the inverse of the what you’re seeing above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At Queens Plaza, where the first phase of the titan “Gotham Center” construction envisioned by the Tishman Speyer corporation nears completion, I’ve noticed a similarly reflective affect taking place as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself plays across the polished and curiously curved mirror glass serving as its architectural facade (and curtain wall) which is tangentially similar to that observed at Court Square, just a few blocks away.

As a note, the recent posting “progress” follows the construction of the structure from the ground up and from every corner of the Newtown Pentacle in a slideshow format.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens Plaza is a notoriously difficult environ for the photographer with it’s rich collection of elevated and shadow gathering steel trackways and their cyclopean aspect- it’s dark and dirty and the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume (due, no doubt, to the uncountable number of vehicles transiting it at any given moment). Vast inventories of vehicles, variegated and numerous, move in short bursts as they ache in traffic in order to transit to and from Queensboro.

What the place has always needed, required in fact, is merely better lighting!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The seamless robe of that gloom and soot and hurried transit which 150 years of breakneck growth hath wrought seems to have finally been rent by the reflective light emanating from the new structure, illuminating the dimly lit and misunderstood bridge plaza. Lighting like this would be too expensive for the ordinary photographer or cinema “Auteur” to manufacture, especially given that at this location, and as the day progresses- the relections follow and present the inverse position of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself as it rolls across the sky.

I would add that it is extremely uncomfortable to be in the direct path of these reflections or wander into one unexpectedly, as (given the permanent twilight around the rest of Queens Plaza) one’s pupils contract precipitously in the same manner as they might if a sudden camera flash erupted in an otherwise comfortably lit room.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Strobing, the light returned from the reflective “blue with a hint of green” colored glass of the Gotham Center building is cool in temperature.

Studies in “color psychology” conducted by municipalities all around the world suggest that public area illumination accomplished and designed to utilize the blue frequencies of visible radiation suffer fewer incidents of public disobeyance, misdemeanor and felony incidents, and that other beneficial psychological effects are evidenced. For instance, the Keihin Electric Express Railway Co. of Yokohama (amongst others in Japan) installed blue lights at stations with high numbers of suicide attempts, Glasgow is apparently all about the blues, and the Police in Nara, Japan report a 9% drop in crime under blue lighting.

Perhaps this gigantic soft box in Queens Plaza is actually a mechanism designed to help quiet anticipations of a restive future population? It is meant to house the City’s Department of Health, after all.

This sounds like hippie talk to a humble narrator, however.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 7, 2011 at 12:15 am

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