hypertext, words and more

New York City

  • “The circle doesn’t just form itself — we form it, […] is there a machine that can probably make it? I mean, yeah … But this is just the way it’s been done.”

    […] “It feels good thinking and knowing that they’re in the park, and kids are using it,” Valenti said of the handmade rims. “A lot of great basketball players that came out of New York played on these hoops, so that’s pretty cool.”

  • Kwon is best known for capturing the burgeoning New York hip-hop scene from the late 1980s to the late 2000s, featuring iconic figures such as Notorious B.I.G., Method Man, and De La Soul​.

  • I consider Serra to be one of the greatest artists who ever lived.

    I was personally inspired by him as a child. It blew my mind comprehending the scale and process of his works. Serra has been a large part of my life growing up. Below, I’ll share two of his pieces from my hometown(s): Dallas and Fort Worth.

    He, like so many of his contemporaries, drew upon their own life experience to forge their own path. I mean, Serra himself worked in a steel mill at a very young age. Him and so many other artists cross-pollinated ideas and inspiration with each other. They supplanted the status quo, questioned everything and re-wrote what art meant. They were chasing exaltation, the avant garde artists were simply vibrating.

    Above, a photo from my hometown at The Modern in Fort Worth, Texas. Vortex, Richard Serra. 2002.

    I swear to god, these people were fucking visionaries:

    The years 1957-61 Serra studied at the University of California at Berkeley and at Santa Barbara. To support himself, Serra worked part-time at a steel mill, which was to have a strong influence on his later work. The period 1961-64, he studied painting at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture. During his years at Yale the worked and studied with Philip Guston, Ad Reinhardt, Robert Rauschenberg, Nancy Graves (his first wife), Frank Stella, and Chuck Close, among others. Supported by fellowships, he spent time in France, where he spent a great deal of time drawing near a reconstruction of Brancusi’s studio and Italy where he began painting a series of grids in random colors. He later learned that Ellsworth Kelly was painting in a similar style, so Serra abandoned the technique. In 1966 he moved to New York. There he met other future Minimalists and Environmental Artists such as: Eva Hesse, Carl Andre, Donald JuddBruce Nauman, Steve Reich, Robert Smithson, and Michael Snow. In New York, he began making his first sculptures out of rubber-said to have been inspired by the horizontal progression in Jackson Pollock’s painting. In 1968 Richard Serra made his piece titled “Splashing” by throwing molten lead in the corner where the floor meets the wall in the warehouse of the art dealer Leo Castelli.

    You can look up photos from that Pollock-lead splashing exhibition. Pretty wild stuff. Insane? Yes. Groundbreaking? Yes. Later, his quieter, less chaotic works were forged in some of the biggest foundries in the world. He became more focused on scale. His works became more pensive over time, and less reactionary after the 1970s.

    It’s a joy to see how many people participate in the installation process of his pieces. It can take an orchestra of people to bring Serra’s work to our eyes. It’s a miracle these masterworks ever appear in public spaces or museums. I think it’s tremendous.

    Photo taken at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas. My Curves Are Not Mad, Richard Serra. 1987

    Richard Serra spoke with the Museum of Modern Art about his works and shed some light on his processes (YouTube link here). Briefly, he gave us a bit of wisdom I cherish deeply within my heart of hearts. Touching and feeling is so important. I would argue, it is paramount to the human condition. Interacting with physical art can be restorative:

    Now, in this century into virtual reality, where everybody reads images through the virtual. That’s one of the big problems that art confronts right now — in fact, probably we all confront — is that the virtual denies tactility.

    It denies your physical presence in relationship to something other than a lighted screen. The nature of art has given way to photographs and images — we receive information through images — that we don’t receive art through our total senses in terms of walking, looking, and experiencing, and touching and feeling. And that’s kind of been lost.

    That’s not to say it’s not going to come back.

    Don’t deny yourself the feeling or grace he granted us. The next time you experience a work by Serra, you better put both your hands on it.

    He will be sorely missed.

  • h/t @another___kind via Instagram

  • I am coming up on my seventh year living in New York City. During my tenure living here, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I feel like I’ve hardened myself, forged a worthwhile career here and sharpened all of my senses. It’s a vast nexus of creativity, food, technology and people. All walks of life live here, and it’s chaotic as fuck, but it all somehow works.

    Thanks to LL 30, New York City’s language access law provides access to City services for all New Yorkers in 12 languages. Arabic, Bangla, Chinese (simplified Cantonese), French, Haitian-Creole, Italian, Korean, Polish, Spanish, Urdu, Yiddish and English. That alone is incredible. You’d be hard-pressed to find any government notices in more than two languages anywhere in the continental United States. There’s no place like New York City anywhere on Earth. Sure, lot’s of cities are like NYC, but there’s something that sets thi apart from other large metropolitan cities.

    NYC is absolutely, full of wonderful weirdos. Weird stuff happens when you put 8.5 million people together in one spot. Enter Patrick Willems video essays. First off Willems breaks it down for us like this — it’s a masterpiece film that we’ll probably never see the likes of every again (Hollywood in a post-MCU world would likely never permit another MIB to happen). It’s an action buddy-cop movie about aliens in NYC sure, but it’s really an ode to New York City. That goes double for folks who have lived in NYC, and finally move out of the city. The feels are real.

  • View more photos of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s 48 Howard Street art studio in Manhattan at

  • Cuban-born Abelardo Morell is notorious for his camera obscura works. They are in and of themselves wonderful little slices of life. The camera obscura method natively forces an image superposition upon the room the artist requires. Often inverted, these scenes are warped and contoured against the often unnatural geometric dwellings we occupy. The camera obscura was arguably, one of the first tools of photography thanks in large part to Daguerre. The images produces are often loud, chaotic and evoke the humdrum of city life.

    Morell is a beloved artist who has mastered this ancient technique over the past few decades. Images of images are a wonderful recursive experiments that artists have dabbled with for centuries.

    “Times Square in Hotel Room,” 1997.

    He’s devised a mobile camera obscura toolkit. It’s remarkable, and yet familiar in a sense. The tented camera obscura is constructed from a special material designed to keep light from penetrating:

    This new “tent,” developed in response, looked much less cumbersome. With no frame apart from the tripod itself, it was more of a teepee. The black cloth draped over it, Morell said, “is the best thing I’ve ever found.” Several companies had sent him materials promising “total blackout,” but, he says, “we’d put a flashlight to it, and it just wasn’t good enough.” The cloth he eventually found is made by a scientific company that tests lasers in dark spaces. It creates “pitch blackness inside” the tent, Morell said, “so whatever’s intense out there is intense inside — focus, color, brightness.”

    In a way, this a celebrated nod to 17th-century photomasking techniques. Some of the very first cameras had large black tents and huge glass plates. Traditionally, camera obscura images are tight urban interiors superimposed with inorganic cityscapes. But Morell’s latest mobile tent camera obscura produces a variety of images that evokes hints of impressionism filled with texture and picturesque brightness unseen in photographs before.

    Morell’s latest body of work feel like a gargantuan leap from his Times Square Hotel Room, and yet feels so grounded and inspired from works like the masters. The organic background texture fogs your sight of the real foreground subject, and beckons you to squint. The foreground depicted, being often further than a few meters away, is clouded with dirt, rocks and nondescript organic grassy material collectively gives us a painting of a photo (in a way).

    (Clockwise form top-left) “Wheat Field,” the Camargue, France, 2022. “A Single Tree in Late Afternoon,” near Arles, France, 2022. “Tree and Road,” La Crau, France, 2022. “Grass Field With Path,” near Arles, France, 2022.

    Abelardo Morell has a gift. I hope he continues to push the envelope with camera obscura even further.

  • Measurable climate change has slowly been affecting the coastlines of the Americas for several years now. That’s no secret of course. Rising coastlines, ravaging seas, devastating hurricanes, and superstorms have been battering coastal cities and don’t seem to be letting up. Even, tourist island havens have been completely wiped off the Earth.

    It doesn’t end there of course. Even the Southwestern regions are having trouble keeping up with extreme storm systems. We’re nearing hurricane season, and due to a weakened arctic jetstream, we may see more extreme weather phenomena as more “blocking” events become the norm. Think brutal heatwaves and more and more frequent intense winter storms.

    All of that is separate from the larger story — year over year climate temperatures since 1972, has risen in steadily here New York. So, as a result, the region has now been reclassified as a sub-tropical climate region. As someone who grew up in Texas, it’s wild that NYC and the Lone Star State have climatological patterns in common. Granted, Texas experienced very long humid summers, while NYC’s summers a tad shorter. But that humidity, is particularly rough.

    Here’s more climate types documented across the US:

    Current as of February 2021 according to Wikipedia
  • Houston, infamous for it’s Viet-Cajun cuisine, the Johnson Space Center, the old Astrodome, and notably its sprawling highways and blacktops. For those who have never visited Houston, the marshes of Texas’ coasts can be unforgiving. The prairie regions surrounding the port of Houston had to be transformed to solidify its foothold as the energy export capital of Texas. City planners replaced natural creek-beds, prairie lands, and marshy ditches with concrete culverts and drain-ways — sealing Houston’s fate as a flood-prone metropolitan city forever.

    Apart from the occasional hurricane, and the muggy summers, the cost of living in Houston used to be relatively inexpensive — at least until recent decades. The rising economic cost of flood damages, growing gridlock, gasoline prices, and maintaining a car during the era of tumultuous climate change has made it difficult for the middle class to thrive. In fact, it’s much worse than we thought.

    According to reporting from Texas Monthly, Houston’s affordability has dried up along with its protective prairie lands:

    Furthermore, when considering housing and transportation costs as a percentage of income, Houston (and Dallas–Fort Worth, for that matter) appear significantly less affordable than cities with much more expensive housing, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston. The annual median household income in Houston was just under $61,000 in 2016, while in New York that same figure was just over $69,000. As a result, Houstonians spend just under 50 percent of their income on those combined costs, whereas New Yorkers spend just over 45 percent.

    It may be a cheaper opportunity cost to move and to live in Houston. For example, buying a house in a Houston suburb is vastly cheaper than buying a home just about anywhere outside the Tri-State area in New York. But, transportation and environmental costs continue to mount in Houston.

    Until Texas Central builds a high-speed rail line between Houston and Dallas, I’m afraid that all Texas metropolitan areas will face the same fate. Cars and highways don’t scale well when the vast majority of city residents live in suburbia.