All posts tagged: Studio

Streets of Goma


The Streets of Goma 5

Years ago, I wrote that seekers of all stripes—journalists, philosophers, scientists, mystics—are chasing the same elusive thing: something like truth, understanding, a fully integrated perspective, awakeness, untangling. We just ask questions in different contexts, modalities, and microcosms.

Whitney BrunoStreets of Goma

Home Invasion

Introduction by DARSIE ALEXANDER


Martha Rosler is a New York-based artist and activist who has used the photomontage format to explore power, gender, and war in American society—themes that are as present today as they were when she first began experimenting with these ideas in the mid-sixties. From the inception of her career, which has spanned media, Rosler has maintained her investigation into the distribution and reception of mass-produced images, using the collage format to layer disparate images—from fashion, advertising, lifestyle, politics, and war—to suggest the simultaneity and indeed co-dependence of seemingly distinct realities. Her groundbreaking early work, including Body Beautiful (1966–1972) and House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home (1967–1972), established a firm visual foundation in which the “ugliness” of violence—initially the Vietnam War, then Afghanistan, and now encompassing other atrocities—punctures the veneer of domestic perfection as staged by lifestyle magazines and mainstream advertising.

Isabel MeyersHome Invasion

Drawing from Experience


Scene StealingScene Stealing, ink on paper, 15 x 11.5”

The painter wanders and loiters contentedly from place to place, always on the lookout for some brilliant butterfly of a picture which can be caught and set up and carried safely home.
– Winston Churchill, 1948, Painting as a Pastime

Julia PikeDrawing from Experience



“I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless emptiness.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road


Emma CroweHeadwinds

Nicaragua Canal Project


When I first heard of the Nicaraguan Canal Project, I thought of the 19th-century artists Martin Johnson Heade and Norton Bush. It was winter, and I was driving through Wisconsin, early evening, listening to the news. The canal, the reporter said, would be three times as long and twice as wide as the Panama Canal. It would fit extra-large container ships. It might stimulate Nicaragua’s economy. Environmental groups were protesting potentially large-scale disaster.

Emma CroweNicaragua Canal Project

Poetry Month: Emily Dickinson Cartoon


April is POETRY MONTH, and we’re kicking it off with a satirical cartoon of local poet Emily Dickinson: girl voted most likely to dwell in possibilitycartoon

Get into the spirit of POETRY MONTH with this satirical cartoon of Emily Dickinson, who reminds us to be wary when travelling…


Rosanna Bruno is a visual artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Julia PikePoetry Month: Emily Dickinson Cartoon

Robert S. Duncanson and the Birthright of Landscape


In his 1838 “Essay on American Scenery,” Thomas Cole—the celebrated “founding father” of the Hudson River School of American landscape painting—wrote that American landscapes are:

a subject that to every American ought to be of surpassing interest; for, whether he beholds the Hudson mingling waters with the Atlantic—explores the central wilds of this vast continent, or stands on the margin of the distant Oregon, he is still in the midst of American scenery—it is his own land; its beauty, its magnificence, its sublimity—all are his; and how undeserving of such a birthright, if he can turn towards it an unobserving eye, an unaffected heart!

Emma CroweRobert S. Duncanson and the Birthright of Landscape

Erik Hougen: to Dissolve Place


Curated by: JEFF BERGMAN

In reference to photography, Roland Barthes wrote that its unique position among art was that it referred directly to something “that has been.” Erik Hougen’s paintings hint at that premise; they offer places both familiar and alien, which forces the part of our brain that codifies and organizes images to guess where and when. This dialogue, or rather confusion, between viewer and image is exactly what the artist is working towards. Hougen invites us to a location and time that may not exist. The mind attempts to classify the exact place, but ends up submitting to a notion of place.

Emma CroweErik Hougen: to Dissolve Place

Scenes for Super Towers

Introduction by SCOTT GEIGERphotos by JAMES EWING

new york view

A couple years ago, on the verge of the global collapse, structural engineer Guy Nordenson did an interview with me for a literary monthly, The Believer. The magazine’s title quote ran, “The tall building, as a type, is exhausted.” You could no longer put together a tall office building or a mixed-use tower in a new way, Nordenson felt. World Trade Center Tower One or maybe the CCTV Building in Beijing, depending on your architectural orientation, closed out the skyscraper play, at least in terms of engineering and architectural innovation.

These last two years, though, exotic forces in global finance have conspired to construct in the Manhattan street grid a radically new tall building typology. The super towers, or “billionaires’ beanstalks,” as New York Magazine’s architecture critic Justin Davidson described them, are stacks of full-floor loft apartments (sometimes duplexes) rising into the blue. The forthcoming 111 West 57th Tower, featured on its architect’s website, shows the sheer building arising from a tiny claw hold in Manhattan.

To realize such super towers, their developers and architects have to delicately escort them through New York City municipal agencies and community boards. They must also sell the apartment units, often to prospective owners who do not live in New York City or even in the United States. Architectural renderings do this work. These are digital collages of one or more real photographs, upon which is imposed a scintillating computer-generated image produced from three-dimensional architectural design software. There are whole design agencies, like rendering pioneers DBOX, who specialize solely in the production of these very high-resolution illusions for use in real estate marketing.

Over the summer I learned that Brooklyn architectural photographer James Ewing has regular commissions to document the urban fabric surrounding Manhattan commercial developments. He sometimes even photographs the open airspace around future super towers. To make such images, Ewing accessed the terraces and mechanical rooms of neighboring high-rise towers, waiting long hours for the weather to clear, the daylight or the darkness to settle just so. After studying architectural renderings for a few years now, I’ve concluded that their appeal comes not from their dazzling subjects but from the everyday real upon which the proposed architecture trespasses.

Ewing shot the images below to serve as backgrounds to architectural renderings, which will tease out a counterlife to the city. A knowing consciousness animates the photographs, I feel. His views frame a cumulative, sculptural Manhattan. No sign of street life. Instead, this subjectivity sees a geometric landscape of facades and windowwalls—each building nothing so exotic or radical as the crystallization of market forces past. Especially dramatic to see is the form of the cumulative city juxtaposed to the Hudson and East Rivers at its edge. To the subjectivity within these images, super towers feel only inevitable, the next phase in New York City’s continuous and speculative growth under the sky.

—Scott Geiger

view of the empire state


high rises



Scott Geiger is the Architecture Editor for The Common.
Photographs by James Ewing.

Julia PikeScenes for Super Towers

Words Often Unheard


In August 2013, Amherst College acquired one of the most comprehensive collections of books by Native American Indian authors ever assembled by a private collector. This collection, from Pablo Eisenberg, consists of about 1,500 books that include poetry, fiction, history, philosophy, and many other works. Even texts by some of the first Native American Indian writers to be published in their lifetimes, such as Samson Occom, William Apess, and Elias Boudinot, are a part of this vast collection. The Robert Frost Library seeks to show as much as possible of the history of Native American writing and philosophy in their exhibit: The Younghee Kim-Wait Pablo Eisenberg Native American Literature Collection.

Emma CroweWords Often Unheard