Coming Soon is an exploration of our visual relationship with the branded city centers and the commercial environment we live in. In recent years, a kaleidoscopic net of huge billboards has enveloped the commercial hubs of New York City. The branding of the cityscape has become so ubiquitous, that the colorful, monumental advertisements, looming over the narrow streets, seem to be virtually unnoticed by the passersby. Giant billboards both dominate the urban landscape and blend into the background. Always in the peripheral vision, these ads turn the people moving through the space into passive spectators.
The ephemeral nature, massive size and saturated colors of the ads create a fluid cinematic experience for the observer. People inhabiting the space underneath are pulled, unaware, into a staged set, the reality of the street merging with the commercial fantasy of the advertisements. The grasp is democratic and compulsory –the outdoor advertisements cannot be turned off and are able to reach a diverse public whose movements through the city momentarily overlap. The effectiveness of outdoor billboards is juxtaposed with their impermanence; most are replaced after several weeks.
“Platforms” is a series exploring the unique New York underground architecture and the people that temporarily pass though it. New York City’s transit ranks 7th among the world’s subway systems with 1.763 billion annual rides through its 469 stations, most of which were built before 1940. Millions of commuters from all walks of life meet temporarily while waiting for their train yet few actually interact with each other. The stations’ architecture is often repetitive and includes many square and rectangle motifs. The opposite subway platform is dissected by columns standing between the tracks and visually resembles a roll of photographic film. One needs to scan across in order to see the complete picture. The space is fragmented into virtual display windows inviting a voyeuristic opportunity to gaze at commuters traveling in the opposite direction. Interactions, or lack of, manifest themselves in the body language and spatial locations of the people observed. The platform becomes a stage of sorts where the “actors” take their place until the train passes and invites the following act.
Nominated by Barbara Tannenbaum, Curator of Photography, Cleveland Museum of Art