The Architecture of Cities: New York III

277 Fifth Avenue New York.

Bookends: Benet’s to Benjamin and More

551 Fifth Avenue.

“Charlemagne”. Turn the page back. “Charlie Chaplin”. Turn the pages forward. “Chaucer”. Skip a few pages. “Darwin”. Close your eyes and grab a page. “Abraham Lincoln”.

I received Benet’s “The Reader’s Encyclopedia when I was maybe eleven or twelve years old.

I stare back into those twelve impressionable years. It was the moment when I realized that there was more! The gift that continues to give.

The world talks about the information highway. But my reality was a moment when a child stood alone in the middle of the universe and realized something new had entered the body.

The above mentioned book was that first intellectual reckoning.

Apple and the Sherry Netherlands on Fifth Avenue.

Tracing my photograph’s history helps me realize how slow slow can be. I do remember the next moment where the motivational “more” appeared: I saw Jerry Uelsmann’s surreal“Philosopher’s Desk”. I was a fraction older: A day or two more mature: I realized more could became a possibility.

I have spent my entire photography life looking for the definition of more. 

A miracle of nature appeared one day: I saw a picture: The jeweled ice of the Japanese Hokkaido Tokachi River: The river’s frozen mouth becomes blocks of ice opposing the sand and the ocean. The idea of natures visual power stirred the urgency of this photographer to make more.

To make the photographs I needed, I must have one foot on the ground and the other in a real phantasm. This is my path towards more.

The Avenues.

I have read Don McLean wrote “American Pie” as an anthem to the end of a time. Periods come and go, but living for something new, something ahead in time can be such an amazing  experience. I have dreamed that the end never comes: Reading Benet’s meant for me: our present and future will inevitably become the end. But in the meantime, seek the thrills that make it all worthwhile.

The  day I read Walter Benjamin’s “Arcades Project” became a career jarring altered state:

If there was a reckoning of what to live for, it was my departure into the future via New York’s architectural history.

The “Arcades” made it possible for me to see not the present, but the three reasons to make photographs: to expose the past to the present and to share the present with the future. There are a number of cities to make this happen: but living for decades in New York all seemed so natural to make this city my canvas to see more.

The “Arcades” enlightened me:  I look through architectures’ four squares of glass: life behind windows has so many layers of stories, that a single frame from me can be my homage to both Benet and Benjamin.

I always wanted to be like Benjamin’s flaneur in New York. But as a photographer I am not so sure a flaneur can see more than my camera seeking more from the trillion architectural experiences.

My photography goal is to replicate the experience that the idea of the Arcades presents in every frame until there is no more me: my photography phantasm ceases to be. So much history, so much culture, so much living for history ahead.

The engaging journalist Linda Ellerbee would sign off: “And So It Goes”.

HudsonYards and Heatherwick.

Javitz Center.

All photos by Richard Schulman.

Richard Schulman is a photographer and writer. His books include Portraits of the New Architecture and Oxymoron & Pleonasmus. He lives in New York City.