Thursday, October 30, 2008
Long cross section, 2 East 75th Street, New York City, NY, showing the Scheider's living room (the Starck Louis Ghost Chair) to the left, third floor, the foyer, and the bed and bath above. The lobby for the building is viewed on the first floor of this section.
North side, East 75th Street, New York City, NY; including the Schneider's building at the left side of the image. NOTE: Central Park is to the west of this block.
PIETR : I dropped off my well-dressed passenger at the northeast corner of East 75th Street and 5th Avenue in front of a three-story stone-faced building, very much like the rest of the buildings in the Upper East Side neighborhood. Having emigrated from Slovenia at the age of 21, I am a part-time graphic design student at Parsons, studying the image of the city. This is my fifth year in the United States and I feel that I am lucky to both be in school and also to have this job driving people from all walks of life in this enormous city of 8.2 million people. What is very different from this city and my homeland is that there is so much more land developed to house that large population. New York City has sometimes been characterized as a city of immigrants and I believe that the built environment reflects that, diversity in each building…but a unity that comes from an observation of the building codes and construction materials and methods. I know that this classical building follows a great tradition of design that stems from Western Europe and bears some of the characteristics of that world: the cartouche over the second story window, the Doric columns, the Renaissance-inspired building massing. All of these features seem counter-intuitive to the presence of fast technology and new materials like plastic in the world today. I think about my history of the modern design class that I am taking this semester and I speculate about how a chair like Phillipe Starck’s Louis Ghost Chair would fit in this building. I wonder how many exist on the block?
JOE : I open the door for the well-dressed man (Perry Ellis suit, Kenneth Cole shoes, a handsome leather briefcase) who has emerged from the yellow cab at the curb. He produces his card, Nate Berkus, Designer. He’s here for his final consultation with the Schneiders in 3C. They moved in a year ago and have been working hard to get their place in order….but so much of what he does for a living is hidden from public view. He seems like a nice fellow and he certainly tips well.
MITZIE : Jillian walks me along with JoJo, Tippy, Dotzie, and Burt on this block at the same time each day past a regular rhythm of buildings and stoops, street trees to provide some shade and useful eco-breaks, trash cans full of good smelling treats, and some interesting people. A yellow car rushes to the corner where we wait for that flashing human sign to cross over to Central Park in order to stretch our legs. I like the fact that this open space helps break up the city’s regular grid…it was as if someone planned a great open green space to interrupt the monotony of urban living. As an apartment dweller with certain biological needs, I very much appreciate this effort. The light is white and flashing…time to run….but, geez, do I always have to follow Tippy….he stinks.
JACKSON : Carefully balancing my urgent massage, strapped to my back. inside my canvas messenger bag, I weave through the traffic on East 75th Street, making a turn to the right on Madison to an apartment just across from the Metropolitan Museum. I am aboard a vintage, cherry red Serotta bicycle, one of my dearest and most cherished possessions….and my transportation in this crazy city for both my work and my life. In moving to New York last year, I committed to a green life style and I am proud to say that my footprint is 12.2 acres, well below the American standard of 24. I think about what the future holds for places like New York City, built in the economic prosperity of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries…surely this system for the built environment will have to change. But how? I think of these kinds of philosophical paradigms as I make these treks across the city.
now if only i had something to COMPARE and CONTRAST with...HINT HINT!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Through out the movie DANCE is a powerful impulse that becomes intensely expressive communicating emotion. Unlike the movements performed in everyday living, their dance movements are directly related to survival. Dance is used as a way of releasing powerful feelings, such as joy, or anger. These feelings can be seen in the skipping, stamping, and jumping movements. Their dance movements tend to be relating to the surroundings of New York City. In their cultural groups dance is used as a means of displaying political or social strength as well as identity. Much of the musical score is accompanied by spectacular lyrics, and dancing routines with energetic participants depicting the story. As a contrast to the theme of tragedy this musical involves humor, fun and laughter. Both gangs have fun at the expense of the police, a lot of the humor comes from the words of the songs, "Everything's free in America. For a small fee in America.” The emotional power of a doomed love affair by Tony and Maria is depicted through Cheerful dance sequences the revelatory location and lighting/color design. Despite of their dislike, both gangs have a lot of fun with dance. This is portrayed by the vibrant colors of the girl's dresses and the boys' shirts, and the intense music. The bright colors of the dresses of the Puerto Rican girls are in contrast to the American girls, but Maria in particular stands out amongst the colorful dresses in her white dress. The identity of each group is pronounced by the color, light and texture in the film.
In America during ’50 and ‘60s, more complex social and economic structures began to emerge. Downtown New York has been shown as a rather unpleasant place to live, represented as a mean, harsh place to grow up in. These boys have no expectations or hopes in life. Although their outlets seem to be violence, with tough and mean expressions, they only act like this through necessity, due to the built environment surrounding them. West Side Story is dancing around the chaotic architecture of Manhattan's west side in the 50s and 60s. At the end of the musical introduction a sudden change occurs, the abstract portrait suddenly changes to a realistic view of New York's Manhattan Island. The music suddenly becomes the naturalistic sound of street traffic. For a few minutes we have a realistic, or documentary like view, of New York. The ending where the gangs seem to come together is little comfort. The main theme of the film is still pessimistic as is the representation of America.
The dynamic beat speeds and slows according to the emotions portrayed in each scene. Tense, anxious emotions are supported by a strong, rapid beat, while delicate, measured rhythms accompany scenes of love and longing.
The setting is used to prepare the scene in much of West Side Story. Each scene utilizes props, lighting, and special effects to set the scene for subsequent actions. Colored lighting plays into important role of color throughout the film and objects in the scenes relate directly to the actions of the dancers.
Dancers use facial expression and body language to portray powerful emotions and actions. Because movements in dance can be so intensely descriptive, those of West Side Story are far stronger than words and actions of traditional acting.
Color plays a vital role in foreshadowing and setting the scene. Color is used to differentiate between the Jets and the Sharks and applied throughout the movie to support the plot. Color is used most effectively in the scene in which Maria first confronts Tony about the murder of her brother. Red and blue are used to create a visual separation of the lovers; also serving to foreshadow the couple’s doomed fate.
Auditory effects play a vital role in plot support throughout the film. From the dynamic orchestral music to whistling and sounds of the city, auditory signals serve to steer the viewer’s attention through ideas and emotions. Sounds direct the viewer’s interpretation of setting and plot.
image compilation produced courtesy of West Side Story (1961 film), morethandance.com, and kcbs.com
Expression -- Dance is used to enhance the emotion of the scenes. The high speed movements of the chase scene, for instance, encapsulates the viewer pulling them into the animosity and playfulness of the scene.
Add Music -- Not only does the dancing enhance the emotion, the music and lyrics really help educate the viewer. They add to the dance actual verbal demonstrations of the emotions.
Then the Scene and Setting -- Both the built environment and the setting aid in the enhancement of the plays emotion. The built, downtown city environment stands as a backdrop for this tragic love story to take place. The color is drained from the buildings and most of the settings in order for more emphasis to be put on the actors. Their color and liveliness makes the play. The buildings are utilized as props while the kids create the drama. The light and color are put to use to create boundaries and barriers, establishing the two groups and their territories.
Lastly Consider Context -- This play is set in the beginning of the sixties. The beginning of racial turmoil and world turmoil. This play comes from the viewpoints of racist kids and cops trying to right the social wrongs in the inner city, while the Puerto Rican immigrants are just trying to make a better life for themselves in America
The rumble scene in West Side Story takes place in a freeway underpass. The area is a dead end with rotting plaster, brick walls and mesh wire fences. The area is poorly lit with some areas spot lit. The emotions that are present in the rumble scene are fear, hate, anger and the quest for power and identity. The hatred and fear is dramatised in the rumble through the tight choreography, which swings from balletic to semi realistic. The movement is staccato – alternating in rhythm from fast to slow through music and gestures.
The song ‘tonight’ sets the scene and the ensemble singing in opposition creates anticipation and excitement levels build to a peak of tension. The staccato rhythm defines the aggression and fear expressed in the dancer’s movements as they line up to face each other. The materials used in the set are overwhelming in scale and form. The steel, concrete and wire mesh represent the prison the gangs’ lives are lived in. The ‘violent’ materials and enclosed industrial space add to the tension and sense of impending tragedy and death. The dominance of red and black symbolise anger and danger and this is set in the red tones used in the previous song ‘tonight’, which leads in to the rumble with a saturated blood red scene and ominous whistling sound.
The use of jagged lines formed by the dancers creates a dynamic and dangerous rhythm. The angles formed by the dancers repeat the staccato score and the strong geometry of the highway.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
The scene I chose is just after the rumble. At the beginning of the song “Somewhere”. Maria and Tony are in her room. The red and blue that have represented the separate sides throughout are mixed. They are holding each other and the lines are beginning to blur for them. The cultural integration is beginning with the two of them. Tony tried to explain to his people that social conformity is possible and the violence is unnecessary. Lighting, negative space and placing of the central characters in the shot is what pulled me to the shot. I believe this scene is the summation of the entire movie in one shot. There is no definition between them. The negative space includes both of them and surrounds them. I know it isn’t the most detailed shot in the movie but it is the most beautiful and speaks the loudest about the movie. If I had to sum up West side Story in one shot this would be the one. The Red and Blue has separated lighting, sides, clothing, etc throughout the entire movie. It is representative of the north and the south, two colors of blood, Hot and cold, but not race. This is a movie about racial integration but typical racial stereotypes were not used for color. The lighting, wardrobes, sets, everything was well thought out to help portrait the turmoil but in a neutral way.
quotes courtesy of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
History impacts anything and everything. It is the foundation and inspiration of the future. Known as one of the purest love stories, Romeo and Juliet, has substantially impacted the fate of subsequent tales. West Side Story uses Shakespeare’s play as a mentor, adapting it to suit the appropriate issues of the time period. Names change, locations alter, but the core-the very essence of the story- remains the same.