Happy birthday, Robert Frost:Asked at his 80th birthday party (in 1954) about the most important thing he had learned about life, Robert Frost had this to say: “In three words, I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on. In all the confusions of today, with all our troubles … with politicians and people slinging the word fear around, all of us become discouraged … tempted to say this is the end, the finish. But life — it goes on. It always has. It always will. Don’t forget that.”
Frost’s comments were published in the L.A. Times on Sept. 5, 1954. You can read them in full here (the slider at the top right of the page allows you to zoom).
Possible City is an experiment in engaging the city’s forgotten spaces to bridge a crucial gap in current urban planning practice. Top-down master planning, while cohesive and potentially visionary, is static and often insensitive to the needs of communities and individuals. Bottom-up advocacy planning addresses these issues, but can be fragmented and fall victim to “design by committee”. The Web provides a virtual medium for a sophisticated new approach whereby an organized vision for an entire city can emerge from networks of citizens working to improve their local environments . Vacant properties provide the physical medium, open to transformative new possibilities. Neither top down, nor bottom up, Possible City is a web-based framework for a symbiotic network of continuous experimentation, feedback, and synthesis more in-tune with the city as a complex and evolving entity.
Richard Barnes, “2nd Ave Subway Excavation #3” (2012) photographed on assignment for The New York Times Magazine.“The first thing that stuck me as we descended the ninety feet below Second Avenue was the scale of the tunnel excavation rising in some places four to five stories above us,” Barnes told me. “The workers were dwarfed by the monumental scale, especially as the tunnels opened up to where the station platforms will one day be built. Next, I couldn’t get over how much like a movie set it felt. I had brought my own lighting equipment with me, as I was expecting it to be extremely dark down there. Instead, I was surprised (and I guess I shouldn’t have been, as workers need to see) by the amount of light in the pit. Jules Verne, Stanley Kubrick, Frank Herbert, and David Lynch’s all but forgettable “Dune” were some of the literary and cinematographic references the site conjured up for me. I strove to bring this quality of otherworldliness to my images, as it was kind of unbelievable that this magical world exists now below the surface of the Upper East Side of Manhattan.”