Wednesday, June 24, 2009
This documentary is the result of a collaborative student project undertaken by undergraduate and graduate students Erin Dorbin (M.A. History and Media), Eric LaGrange (M.A. Fine Arts), Dale Mattison and Greg Pruden at the University at Albany in the Spring of 2009.
The group set out to explore the histories of routes 20 & 9 in New York state as case studies to explain how America's changing travel patterns in the second half of the 20th century altered the landscapes along the country's two-lane highways. We were also interested in exploring how these changes in travel adversely impacted the small localized economies along these routes that had once been dependent on tourism dollars to sustain themselves.
Erin Dorbin and Eric LaGrange are responsible for the completion of the Route 20 portion of the project, while Dale Mattison and Greg Pruden completed the Route 9/Frontier Town section of the documentary. Erin and Eric also have plans to continue the Route 20 portion of the documentary over the coming year.
This video is our first edit at 22 minutes for the purposes of our final class assignment. Three of us in the group had never worked with Final Cut Pro before and one of us had no idea how to use a video camera, but we figured it out (for the most part) and made it happen! Enjoy!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Photo copyright Gale Weatherby.
I recently completed a thirty-minute audio documentary on the restoration of the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown, NY. I was drawn to the project during our research for our video documentary on the history of travel and tourism along Route 20 in NY state. In the process, I found a newspaper article about a current restoration project headed by Tom Ketchum to reopen the diner on his property along Route 20. I grabbed my recently acquired Zoom H2 and set out to collect the stories of those whose lives became interwoven as a result of this project and to tell the story of this historic American icon. Please take a listen and see how this amazing story unfolded.
Special thanks to Gale Weatherby, Tom Ketchum, John Blatz, Bill and the Miss Albany Diner, JR Cooke and Steve Cadalso for their contributions. They were all just incredible to work with. I wish them the best of luck in seeing this project through to completion.
For more photos of the Chuck Wagon from the 1970s (prior to its initial closing and relocation) please see Gale's photos. You can also see the documentation of her meeting with Tom and Steve when they drove to Chicago to pick up the original Chuck Wagon sign here.
See you at the diner!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
I was immediately swarmed by children, with one particular little girl running between the bright walls screaming, “Colors! Colors! Colors!” I glanced over the first predictably geometric wall and came around the corner to the next where two middle-aged women turned to me and flashed peace signs with cheesy grins and tie-dye shirts. One woman rambled something off to me about the meaning of life which I don’t quite remember as being anything more than gibberish, but it ended with, “I don’t know what it means, but it means something, right? Ah, you didn’t grow up in the seventies, you wouldn’t understand.” And I didn’t. But I smiled as she turned away, dancing a dance that I’ve seen before which I commonly refer to as “The Hippie Shuffle.” Her friend then shouted joyously, “I didn’t go to work today, I went to MoCA!” I didn’t like the paintings any better, but I suddenly felt like I was a part of something really exciting, and glad to be there.
In LeWitt’s defense, I don’t believe that he intended his work to be a mystical journey into the unknown, leading us to a higher plane of existence to discover the meaning of life. I think his ideas were more influenced by mathematical logic, and finding any way of making some sense of the big, flat, open spaces we call “walls.” They’re not much more than simple geometric experiments, finding all possible ways of combining vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines, or blocks of color. These ideas, I’m sure, have been discussed and illustrated in mathematical literature dating well before LeWitt’s time. I suppose that taking those ideas and combining them with the tradition of mural painting is the original idea. It definitely has its place in the broader scope of art history as a response to abstract expressionism in the minimalist tradition.
As I worked my way through the second floor, I decided to follow discreetly behind some fellow viewers and eavesdrop on their reactions, which became the most enjoyable experience of the show. Two distinct reactions prevailed. In all cases, people seemed lost, either in joy or in fear. Expressions of childlike glee were contrasted with awkward attempts to find something intelligent to say for fear of losing their reputation as an intellectual.
Continuing through the exhibit, I found myself turning my gaze more and more toward the brick walls of the old mill building instead of the freshly painted walls of LeWitt. At some point I stopped, after a quick glance at a wall covered in pencil lines, and turned my back to it, to stare at the peeling paint and stains on the bricks left from an old staircase no longer there. I began to see the LeWitt walls as mere contrast, the backdrop to the art that is Mass-MoCA Building #7. I was also thankful for the windows. By the time I reached the third floor, my eyes were exhausted, and coming around that last wall in the back corner to finish the show with the bang of Loopy Doopy (orange and green,) it was a relief to turn away from the retina-burning colors, and peer out the window to the gray sky and snow covered grounds of the old mill.
As the museum was about to close and I began making my way for the exit, I crossed paths again with my new hippie friends, flowing gently between two colorful walls. One was still dancing, the other exclaiming freely, “This is groovy! This is Austin Powers!”
LeWitt’s work is something you’ll either love or hate, and those who love it, REALLY love it. As for myself, I left with the desperation of someone trying to find his way out of a hall of mirrors. My only regret is not having access to the rest of the Mass-MoCA complex. The buildings are easy to fall in love with, and in a show of wall paintings, the time-worn and stained bricks of Building #7 stole the show.