Journal 11.16 Constructing Landscape Narratives

Posted in Uncategorized on November 15, 2010 by claybismarc

I think the looking assignment helps me think of my own narrative in my project. I am sort of seeing it in a similar way that I saw the narrative in “Death Valley” by  Dorothea Lange and Pirkle Jones. I felt a strong sequence of scenes within the images. 1st being the peaceful beginnings then moving to a destructive or climactic end. My story is told in 3 parts as well. 1st being the introduction to the ice tower as watcher or protector of the place from above. 2nd is moving to the streets and showing the actors that reside below the hero. They seem to not be as permanent as him. They are lonely and really have no home. The 3rd act talks about the demise of all the characters. The trash receptacle is where the actors will meet their doom.

The reading assignment also showed me that some kind of connector could be used to unify the story even if the photos are different. Dorothea Lange and Pirkle Jones use the landscape of the valley to act as a connecter between the parts. It always is in the photos in some way or another. I think this can also be achieved by using colors or angles to help transition from one image to another. I think this is a great and simple way to tell a story within relying on words. Key transitional images help move the reader to the next idea. These were important in “Death Valley” and will become necessary and critical in my own essay.

I looked at Dorothea Lange and Pirkle Jones, “Death of a Valley,” Aperture 8:3 from 1960. It is a very compelling set of images about the disappearance of a valley in California. The authors definitely use a clear logic in aligning the photographs to tell the story of the valleys demise. I think the images are arranged in 3 parts. The 1st being the images before intervention in the valley (peaceful). The 2nd set is of transition, showing that things are happening which are starting to alter the fabric of the town. The 3rd is the catastrophe. This is where all hell breaks loose and the valley is lost.

The 1st chunk starts with the original roots of the town and valley. They use images that evoke a feeling of a simple time. Images of down to earth people are shown that are hard working and real. The starting image with an older woman giving her hand is the epitome of kindness and a sense of solitude. It gives the reader a sense of comfort and connects to a genuine experience. The landscape of this place is always on display in this essay. It serves as a way to connect all the images in a simple way. The next sets of images start to show the inner workings of the valley, highlighting the humane aspects of it. A quaint home is shown followed by a beautiful family burial plot. It shows a feeling of closeness and tranquility.

The 2nd phase of images focuses on the transitional time in the valley. It starts by now showing a home being moved which evokes a strange feeling to the reader. The original set of images show a home, which is used and lived in. We now see a home, which is being totally altered, disrupting family and place. Images follow of a group of people which are quickly buying and selling farm equipment. This event only usually happens when something is about to occur that will change a place. This group of images is really foreshadowing the climatic end. We then see an image of the barn where the auction took place but now it is empty and alone. The final images that helps this set is of a portrait of a man and woman on the floor. The house is abandoned and the family portrait is left as a reminder of the lost innocence and community that once existed here.

The 3rd set of images really speaks of devastation in the valley. Starting with the image of the gravediggers and life totally being disrupted. This tells that the end has come and things are really not looking good. We then see a cut down Oak tree, and the writing tells us that this was once a marker on maps. This again reminds us of the loss of a quaint and familiar time. A serious man points off into the distance acting as a conductor of destruction. He helps tell what to destroy and how to destroy it. Then we see possibly the scariest images in the set. Anyone who loves nature would probably agree. It is the vicious mouth of the bulldozer, tearing away at the once beautiful landscape. Dust is pushed everywhere and images of the destruction are in sequence. An innocent horse has a hard time crossing a field that was recently attached. Then the images go to darkness, which I think tell that the valley was totally lost. This is the only time we see it at night. It tells that a dark time is here to stay. Then the final images show of the drastically altered landscape. A dam and water now replaces the once humble and serene valley. This place will never be the same.

I think the images are pretty clear without words. The words really only help clarify, but you get a good sense of the place through looking. The way the authors set the stage in 3 key parts help make this an easily understandable narrative of images.

The images I choose are of the verge of destruction sequence. They start with the image of the family burial plot just pulled out of the ground and moved. This image really speaks about a loss of innocence. It feels so bizarre to relocate an almost scared plot of land, and for what reason? The next shot is of the tree, which helps again tell of this loss of life and the familiar. It also foreshadows the upcoming destruction. This image is followed by what I am referring to as “the conductor of destruction.” He just simple points his hand and things are destroyed. His character really manifests the way humans can alter the earth for the worst. I think this image is crucial in showing that the human intervention and need is what is driving this destruction. The final image in the sequence is the bulldozer, which really becomes personified as a villain in the story. He is sort of the minion of “conductor of destruction.” The bulldozer carries out the conductor’s malicious plans. I think this set tells of a mini story about loss of life and how humans can be the ones to take this away from people and place. I think the text with the images only further tell of the ideas that are engrained within the images. They further specify the narrative in which the photographer is trying to tell. So I think the words are good because they only add to the understanding here.


Thinking about the site as a story or play

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2010 by claybismarc

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Journal 11.08


Thinking about the Photo Essay on the Ice Tower Block.


Writing of the site in terms of a play?


-The first act is the Protasis, or exposition: The first act of a dramatic structure, in which the main conflict and characters are “exposed” or revealed. Also, any information about the characters, conflict or world of the play.


-The second act is the Epitasis, or complication: The second act of a three-act dramatic structure, in which “the plot thickens,” peaking at its end


-The final act is the Catastrophe, or resolution: The third act of a dramatic structure, in which the conflict comes to some kind of conclusion: the protagonist either gets it or doesn’t.


I could see this song being used as music in the background, Gary Jules- Mad World.

It is a Haunting song I have always loved. It is evokes a sense of loneliness and solitude.  Maybe I could find a no words version…


1st Act- Protasis

I think that the site could be displayed as a place where the monument or ice tower gets revealed as the watcher of this place. It acts as the anti-hero. It has a strange presence in the photos and lurks high above the surrounding context. It even looks across the street at the “receptacle.” Words could be used before showing the place, or a phrase like

A forgotten hero sits awaiting a future that is uncertain…

He once had a bright life full of activity and drama. Now he is lays dormant acting as a watcher or protector in a barren landscape.


Cue the 1st image of the ice tower. Standing still and proud, but lonely and a bit sad.


This can set up a few images of the place. Also words can start to tell that he may not be alone in this place allowing for the 2nd act to have a segway.

Cue the 2nd act.


2nd Act-Epitasis

The next act could be about introducing the characters that also live at the site with the ice tower.  At ground level sitting at the feet of the ice tower is where others live. Banished, Alone and Abandoned.  This is a place of the forgotten and misplaced.


Cue images of the weeds that seem to emerge out of nothing near the tower.

Start to introduce the cast…weeds, clean up bucket, etc.



I think this scene should evoke a bit of sadness. I may need to have words or phrases that start to ask the questions of the characters destinies. What will happen to these dumped objects? What is there future?


So maybe…

The others are dropped off but never picked up. Forgotten intentionally. The street is their home. The others end is remarkably close. (Referring to the receptacle)

An image of the reflection of the trash in the building could be a good transition to allude to the future of the actors.


Act 3- Catastrophe

This will be the scene that shows how the characters will most likely end up. It will focus on the mounds of trash and how it generally gets here. The receptacle in a way has this personification of a monster with a big mouth that is consuming trash. This could be a great way to show it has the monster that will consume “the others”. I think relating back the ice tower is necessary because he is seen as the anti-hero in the play. Maybe showing the image of him in the reflection or showing the relationship between the two characters.


I think that the story has an ending where the ice tower has no means to protect “the other” because he in fact is one of the others. He will most likely end up in this place as well. He no longer has a purpose and someone will come along and tear him down and discard his remains. He will most likely end up in the receptacle with the others.

This will set up the final image of the city and the receptacle and may pose a good question about waste and humans.

I think the underlying tone in this story should be the fact that humans brought about everything that takes place here. It is the human intervention that allows the ice tower block to be the way that it is. Humans created the ice tower which now stands discarded. Humans dump the trash or characters on the block. Humans also facilitate the need for waste removal and disposal. It shows a somewhat interesting cycle of events that are an everyday occurrence in cities all over the world.


Poetics November 1st

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1, 2010 by claybismarc

Journal Nov 1st

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Tonight was the 1st time at the site that I felt an antithesis or juxtaposition with the site to the city. The Jet-A-Way waste disposal building lured me into to its smelly gates. The large metal building was lit on the inside so that the mountain of trash was exposed. Getting to this vantage point revealed the skyline of the city. It took me going to site at dusk to see the skyline sparkling. It is interesting to see the trash disposal building in relation to the city that it services. I don’t think you often get this view, because it is usually hidden or out of the public perception. The trash was on display here and the city cannot even see it. I think this an interesting thing that I have not seen at the site until now. Trash is moved to the outskirts of the city and people just forget about it at that point. As the city pushes out towards the New Market area, this trash disposal site will eventually become part of the city. They will probably need to move it again so that is kept concealed from the public eye.


Tonight I also found a new character on the ice house block. I met the “caution wet floor mop bucket.” It was so ironic to see a vessel used to clean up things out in the street with the rest of the garbage. Why was it here? I guess everything will be trash in one form or another. It was just really funny to see the item out on the street. It tells of a story that this place needs to be cleaned. It is almost a pun to have this cleaning product with the street trash. This new character only helps the idea of poetics at the site. It really speaks of the overall condition of this area.


The ice house building at night becomes a bit of an object of trash in its self. Having no windows the buildings is like a giant object waiting to be disposed. It seems to act has one of the pieces of garbage located around the actual building. The for sale signs that wrap the building help allude to the fact that someone is trying to get rid of this ‘thing.’  At night this feeling of loss of use or being trashed seems to resonate from the tower of concrete.

Poetics- Language of Landscape

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1, 2010 by claybismarc


Spirn, “A Rose Is Rarely Just a Rose: Poetics of Landscape,” Language of Landscape

This chapter is mostly about putting an introduction to figures of speech and rhetoric applied to landscape. These can actually affect the way we experience a sense of place. A few of these seemed to resonate at my particular site at the Boston Ice House.


The ice house seems to frame an image of a once thriving economy in New England. When you walk around the industrial area of New Market, the ice house can generally be seen. The streets and warehouses that surround it frame it. Sometimes broken windows and adjacent garages frame the view of the relic of the past.


The monothic and vertical nature of the ice house bring forth a quasi exaggeration of excess. The ice storage house had to be built with an excess of materials in order for the ice to stay cold. This exaggeration in materials is further pushed due to the tower having almost no openings. Many of the adjacent buildings are quite stark but have at least a few windows and opening to bring in light. The tower is a solid concrete box.


Trash becomes a rhythm that resonates throughout this area. Trash can be seen in a number of different ways.  The block in which the ice house is placed is used for illegal dumping of waste. Old televisions and construction debris are seen on every corner. It starts to define this place. Trash is also collected across the street from the ice house at the Jet-A-Way trash company. So trash actually starts to be a form of rhythm on the site.


The entire industrial area of New market is a bit of an anomaly. Many different types of program reside in one hodgepodge of a place. Trash refineries, artist studios, meatpacking, storage centers and equipment rental reside here. The other strange thing is that a nice residential area is right on the border and Dudley Square. These areas are visible from New Market but have a totally different feeling of place. The area feels like a place hat doesn’t even belong to industrial. People are even starting to live in these work/live lofts in this place. So even the industrial/residential is blurred and confused here.


I think the metaphor that begins to be alluded to at the site is the fact that a major fire got rid of a building directly next to the ice tower. The ice tower remained completely intact even thou the two buildings were connected. The result is a huge pile of construction debris that sits strangely next to the tower. So it is strange to have some much waste and destruction and then the tower to be fully intact. It seems like the horrible event happened here and everything seemed to be destroyed except the ice tower.


I think the way the ice tower is placed it is almost like this guard that is protecting this area. Looking around everything looks run down and destroyed, but the tower is strong and is placed right on the edge of Norfolk Avenue. It commands respects by the way it sits on the site. The other buildings may be a similar height but this building is solid concrete. So it stands out and has its on presence by the way in which it is placed.

Eudora Welty’s short story, “Livvie”

Welty has a “photographic quality” that is embedded into this short story. Everything comes down to the details which help set up a sense of place. The details in storytelling help give a photographic quality to this reading. The story unfolds through a series of details that give the reader a visual understanding of the content. I actually think a photographic essay would be ideal in conveying the story here. Again the significant details are so articulate and ornantley defined that the reader can easily imagine the place and people described. I think a storyboard could easily been created from this story. One scene in particular would be when Miss Baby Marie comes to the door.  The way the interaction is described is really beautiful. I could easily see this being done with captions and photos. The way she describes the woman’s eyes running all over the room.

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Looking Assignment

Both of the images I chose from Joel Sternfeld on American “prospects” use metaphor in a very direct way. In the 1st image entitled “Glen Canyon Dam, Page, Arizona 1983 is at a dam with people looking into it. The strange thing about this image is the fact that tourists are admiring this dam, but to the left of the image is a baby in a playpen. It seems so strange to place this baby in a crib, which seems so permanent. The image looks as if people watch the dam then leave sometime thereafter, temporarily. The baby playpen seems more permanent and out of place in such a place. I think placement is the figure of speech that works in this photo best. The captions just tell of the place and time the photo was taken. This image is poetic in the way the viewer wants to know more about this child and the relationship to the place. It seems disconnected.

The 2nd image is entitled, “Near Vail, Colorado October 1980.” This image is striking due to the beautiful fall trees in yellow leaves. What seems out of place here and contrasting this nature is the valley of rusted cars that disrupt this picturesque nature. I think that both anomaly and placement work in this photo. The anomaly lies in the fact that all of these cars made it down this valley. You start to wonder why they are here and why they were never disposed of. The placement is also intriguing here because they seem to have fallen one on top of another in a most serene environment. I think there must be a road on the hill, which may have cause the mountain of dead cars to thrive. It is almost beautiful to have these seemingly unrelated things collide with one another.

Journal 10.17.10

Posted in Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 by claybismarc

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The site is beginning to feel more and more like an industrial wasteland to me. People use this area as a dumping ground for trash. I returned to the site after about two weeks and have found new garbage that has accumulated. It is kind of interesting to go to the site and find new treasures of trash each time.  Broken televisions and tires seem to plague the surrounding area of the Ice House.


The program around the site is also very eclectic. This may be another reason this area is used and abused the way it is. Buildings are used for many different reasons such as storage, meatpacking and trash services. There is also an interesting mixture of old and new structures. Some of the late nineteenth century buildings can be quite beautiful as well. Many are brick and have been painted over so many times they appear to have a new texture. Some of the buildings have beautiful steel shutters that look like a patchwork of iron made them. Newer buildings used for infrastructural services are juts big metal boxes. These buildings have no windows and are used primarily to house program that stores many things.


Today I walked the surrounding neighborhoods and found many really nice areas. It amazes me how diverse the area is. Some places are quite nice and well maintained and others are full of trash and dilapidated. The residential area is very clean and new and very much looks fresh. Walking farther away from the Ice House and Boston a very nice intersection of space is found. The businesses in this area are actually very well maintained with many trees. It has such a vastly different feel than the industrial block that is less than a ¼ mile away.


In the photo series for this week I chose to pick images that really began to explain the strange nature of this site and its surrounding context. I wanted to focus on the details that make up the feeling of this industrial landscape. So I chose pictures that explain how the neighborhood uses the site as a place of waste. There seems to be some kind of beauty in the way that things begin to deteriorate on the site and begin to merge with the landscape. Textures of the old facades also have a certain beauty and quality that make it quite special. This area lies on the crossroads of a large residential area. This makes the area that much more susceptible to abuse by local residents. On the other hand many people are unhappy with this area and want it to change. So for me looking at what this site currently represents is really interesting. Showing how it is evolving through looking at the human intervention on it reveals a lot about this place.


The found objects on the site begin to tell even more about the place and how humans manipulate it. Most of these details can reveal a history, either good or bad. Most of the time the details revolve around either trash or erosion of building materials.


Today’s visit to the site was interesting in the fact that light was behaving strangely as well. I noticed the sky was doing some amazing things. The clouds seemed to be pulled apart and on different layers. The sun made the clouds appear transparent and gooey looking. I even had an experience where light was being reflected from an adjacent building and hitting another wall. It produced some of the strangest light I have ever seen. The light reflected off corrugated garage style doors and on the opposite building. The light looked to be off a flashlight but more naturally charged. It produced light in the shape of x’s and squares. This pattern moved down the long wall near the site.

Journal October 12th.

Posted in Uncategorized on October 18, 2010 by claybismarc

Journal October 12th.


I think context has to do with a larger framework than place. Context is the way we connect with surroundings, circumstances and the general environment. It has to do with the larger situation in which we exist. I think it is easier for someone to interact and conceive a place rather than a context. It takes a deeper understand and knowledge to fully grasp context. I think that the root of context actually makes a lot of sense, a weaving together. Context is the combination of many things that come together to create this phenomenon. This weaving of many elements help tell the narrative and let the sense of place be felt. The overall context plays a big role in understanding place.


The Boston Ice House is part of the larger Industrial context of New Market. The area is generally un-kept and not cared for. Many strange or non-suburban details appear here which I was not used to seeing. The area is a hodgepodge of different establishments. Trash refineries, artist studios, storage warehouses and more can be found here. It is in the details that one starts to try to understand the sense of place. Police banners stream around the site, but they have fallen and are like forgotten people. At some point someone carried enough to keep people out of construction debris. After time though even the maintained starts to find its place in the forgotten. The once taught streamers are now droopy and sit on the dirty floor. This detail reinforces the place, which is often not cared for. Then when it is cared for it only lasts for a short moment in time. The weeds on the site are a very small detail but actually show and tell a lot about this place. As much as this is a man-made industrial park, nature still finds a way to combat man. It is really interesting to see asphalt that had deteriorated and gave way for a plant to sprout. This is definitely an anomalous occurrence but actually is almost nice and fitting. Weeds actually cleanse toxic soil and make it usable again. It is fitting that the weeds come to this man-made environment with no doubt dirty grounds to clean. Weeds are often seen as a bad thing although. It is a good detail, which lets the industrial landscape have a place that is cleaner and environmentally sound. In “The Sense of Place”, Kavanagh detaches from the communal when describing the sense of place. I think in the way he does this to describe the place; it is similar to the Boston Ice House. It is in its own context yet is not one or comfortable in its surroundings anymore. It is detached from the place it once thrived in.


In “The Sense of Place”, I agree with Heaney’s belief of acting as a tourist or someone who really want to know a place. I have actually experienced this before. I am guilty of just going somewhere a tourist and not fully grasping another culture or place. Sometimes its easier and less stressful just use the aesthetic eye. You have to fully appreciate the culture and dive deep into the place beyond the look to engage with it. Sometimes it’s easier to get a feeling for the culture by looking at it in another point of view. You have to fully appreciate what the culture of landscape is.


I think it is difficult for the present American Landscape to put people in touch with “the sense of place in its richest possible manifestation,” in Heaney’s terms. I think it is a lofty goal for the American Landscape. I feel like the marriage between the geographical country and the mind can be an unattainable mixture. Sometimes it may be too formulaic. A marriage is often a hard balance and play between many things. I think that it may be too difficult for the American Landscape to attain this carful balance.


Looking assignment


I chose to images from James Corner and Alex S. MacLean, Taking Measures Across the American Landscape. I was really attracted to both the photos because the camera angle is above a field in both shots. I like this because getting a different perspective actually reveals another set of information about the photos. A sense of place is captured here by showing the viewer how the land is maintained. Patterns are revealed in the way the fields are tended to. You can tell that many hours of work are put into the field by the amount of care given to the things grown at the fields. Everything seems to be meticulously watched and grown. It is amazing the patterns that are created by each individual plot of land. Each one has its own territory and distinct shape and color. It really takes the photographer getting into a plane and taking picture to reveal the details of a place. The significant details are what make these shots amazing. The way the grid of roads are shown tell of which plot is where and how they are divided. They also speak of boundaries and different conditions on the site. I love the fact that taking these picture on the ground would be a totally different feeling of place. By elevating the camera a new sense of place is revealed through the details, which are captured from above.


October 3rd Journal- Site as Hero

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3, 2010 by claybismarc

The Boston Ice Company building is starting to become an old friend. I feel like I have some sort of relationship with this inanimate object. It has such a presence within the larger context of New Market. You can see it all the way from Mass Avenue when approaching the block. It large concrete crown rises above the rest of the industrial buildings. The Language of Landscape of reading reveal that Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings begin to frame view of landscape when you experience them. I find this so fascinating because he grew up with landscape embedded into his every being. Through working in the fields to actually designing terraces, he became one with nature. I think in a way the New Market Industrial area frames view of the ice tower in a potentially accidental way. It is a hodgepodge of buildings with no real planning backbone. The area just sort of developed its on sense of place through decades of rezoning and changes. Either way it happened the ice tower does have a presence and a sense of something great to it. When I stare up at it I sometimes think of it as a hero that was once the most beloved and celebrated in his day. It now sort of stands and has been forgot about and unneeded any longer. This sad haze moves around it. I think this is why I like the building or even still believe in the hero that it is and once was.

The larger context into which the ice tower sits is also of interest to me. You can actually feel the pressures coming in to the site from surrounding areas. A residential neighborhood is applying pressure on the block in which the tower sits. People use Norfolk Avenue (which is the main street the tower sits on) as a cut through to access the new commercial shopping center on the opposite side of 93. A man in a car that lived nearby actually stopped me. He asked me if I knew what they were doing with the building. I told him it was for sale currently. Then he said “its gotta go. It’s messing up the area. It needs to be demolished.” I thought this was really interesting. The people see this structure as a totally embarrassment to their community. The entire industrial landscape here has this un kept sensibility to it. I can see why people living near this type of zoning would want it gone. On top of the neighborhood disapproval, the city itself it moving in on New Market. Boston is continually moving outward. This area was originally located in Faneuil Hall area. Then in the 50’s the city moved meatpacking to New Market. This gave way for a tourism hub in the heart of the city. The area is once again feeling this pressure to change or move. It will be interesting to see if New Market in the future gets the kind of gentrification that the South Boston Harbor area as received. I want to see my friend the ice tower survive into the future. It is actually a quasi-historic building giving the amount of clout the ice industry had in New England. I think that the hero in the ice tower will reemerge once gentrification begins to help this area evolve into something that can survive and compete in the future.