Two quick notes from my staff of thousands before it continues posting Big Apple Portraits: 1) Don’t miss this morning’s interview of antiwar activist and historian Howard Zinn on Democracy Now! And 2) check out Forward Command Post, a k a “Barbie’s Dream House,” from the toy section of an old J.C. Penney catalog, (brought to you by antiwar.com).
Now back to the continuing series of Bill Osborne’s video impressions of New York City with “Ghost Reflections on Fifth Avenue,” set to Maurice Ravel’s indelible music for “Poèmes de Stephane Mallarmé: no 2, Placet futil.”
You may have noticed cinéma vérité creeping into the essential forms visually crystallized in “Inwood,” à la Mallarmé, and images evoking the style of Edward Hopper toward the end of it. Osborne messages that he’s grateful for the staff’s reference to Mallarmé’s symbolism but, modest to a fault, he adds:
Actually, for the night shots the poor idiot was standing out on the street in a light drizzle trying to figure out how to operate the camera. Half of the original footage is of his own blurry consternated face as he turned the still-running camera around and around trying to figure out how to set the exposure settings. The only perfectly empty forms are clearly between his ears.
In “Ghosts” he apparently figured the exposure settings out, and cinéma vérité begins to take over. Note the fleeting images of pointed social commentary amid the glittering shop windows.
As before, put on your headphones, and click the photo or the title. Give the video time to load. Ravel’s music is performed by Catherine Robbin (mezzo soprano) and André Laplante (piano), with Nora Shulman (flute); Camille Watts (flute); Joaquin Valdepeñas (clarinet); David Bourque (clarinet); Mark Skzainetsky (violin); Mi Hyon Kim (violin); Steven Dann (viola); Thomas Wiebe (cello). It’s recorded by the CBC Records/Musica Viva label on the CD “Ravel: Mélodies” (Cat. #: MVCD1128).
If you prefer the videos sequentially more or less as Osborne intended, instead of backwards (per the usual top-down chronological order of posting), just click here from top to bottom:
Postscript: Osborne messages: “On the day I was out shooting those Hopper-looking shots, many of the Inwood locals were looking at me with the greatest amusement — like I must be some sort of arty nut of a tourist taking pictures of such a place.”