The trees stand like capillaries reaching out to feed off the Manhattan early spring air. They stand in Central park ghost-like and still, as coated silhouettes glide and meander in the dewy, pale sunlight. New Yorker`s voices chatter excitedly as they pass, at the anticipation of a late, warm spring. The great lawn stretches before me, luminous and lush eclipsing the last traces of winter--those trees bare seemingly forgetting to change from bud to bloom.
Alfred Stieglttz, Edward Steichen, and Paul Strand are all featured at the Met Museum until April the 10th. In its near final weekend the photography galleries were heaving with people trying to guess which one was Rodin and which was Steichen, giving the Platinum image that looks soft with mercury content, a mystical almost eerie quality.
The Flatiron building looks regal and nostalgic of a New York that is a far cry from today aggressive and hectic jungle People overweight on soda and cookies go past vast array of chemical methods and explanations needed for these groundbreaking photographs. I hear a typical "mom" ask her son as she passes me by "Do you want to stay a couple more hours" the son replies in a long drawl "It feels like we´ve been here for daaaays"
I turn back to the gum solution that Stieglitz used peppered with pigment for his iconic images of The Flatiron that has the effect of darkening twilight. These camera boys played around with chemicals and light like the medieval alchemists or indeed like the computer scientists of our time. I compare these two as the photograph was an expression of the future, exemplified by the title of The Met`s extended photo exhibition: `Future is in the Air` in the same way that computers today are our articulation of the future, this no-where tomorrow land that is elusive with it`s boundaries ever shifting to infinity.
Paul Strand`s images go from being quite timid; imitating his mentor Stieglitz by taking pictures of his wife Rebecca Salsbury in close-up, to a completely different style, focusing on direct emphasis at the modern human condition.
His White Fence is such a far cry from the flowery, romanticised imagery that was emphasised by other media some 30 years later. Strand`s White Fence echo`s captivity and separation from both the outside and in. A clear illustration of a divided America, quite different from imagery of the wild and free.