Friday, January 12, 2007

Manhattan Beach, Bronx, Flux Factory

Starting on Tuesday I will begin a program called 'Museum in a School' at a brand new pilot school for 6th graders located on the Kingsborough Community College Campus. It is an interesting situation because the principal of the school simply decided to start this experimental school and now it exists in one hallway of a weird prefab trailor/ practically Mies van der Rohe box/ large microwave with windows to the ocean. On the outside of the building is a big T7 sign- it is one of 8 Temporary buildings completed in 1973.

The deal is that the kids will stay in this school until 12th grade when they will have the option to graduate with an associates degree at Kingsborough if they take classes throughout high school at the college. Normally in NYC students are not allowed outside but at this school during enrollment, parents sign a waiver that allows the students outside to encourage a relationship with this unique school landscape. The campus is surrounded by water on three sides: Sheepshead Bay, Jamaica Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.

There is a nautical light fitted to the tower atop the round section of the Marine and Academic Center at the college that was designed to be an aid to navigation and is officially known, and registered, as the Kingsborough Community College Light! (US Coast Guard Light List #31687). It is a white light, 360 degrees, with a four second period and a one second flash duration (one on, three off) with a range of eleven miles, dusk to dawn. It is equipped with an automatic bulb changer, which rotates a new bulb into place when one burns out, for a total of six bulbs. The bulbs are located behind a cylindrical Fresnel lens. The height of the Light above mean high water is 114.5 feet. The Light was activated on December 1, 1990.

This is a photo of the bathhouse that replaced the lavish Oriental Hotel, one of two hotels built on Manhattan Beach by Austin Corbin, who was a banker and president of the Long Island Rail Road. When the two hotels were torn down, the wood was used to make the boardwalks at Coney Island. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Kingsborough College is punctuated by the ghosts of these two hotels.

Here on the left is the Oriental Hotel and on the right is Manhattan Beach Hotel. I will be teaching right in the front by the text in a building called T7.

Anyway, we will be making a small museum inside the school. Within a situation with such a diverse history including anti-Vietnam War protests and bath houses and railroad patriarchs, it is a very exciting opportunity. Since the school is in a temporary building I think it would be fun to help the students to develop the future of the school.

In the meantime, back in the Bronx, my window drawing is getting bigger and I am starting to get some assistance from all the kids in the cafeteria. I like getting to the High School around 12:30 when everyone gets there for lunch. It is a big surprise to everyone that you see the same landscape in a different way from wherever you stand. We are all observing the landscape a lot more now that we are tracing it with paintmarkers on the window. One dude was so excited when he figured out that if you traced the clouds, the window would be the only evidence that the cloud was ever just so. It is really hard to make something that is well designed with a lot of audience interaction but I think the drawing is accumulating a good density of observational drawings. Good or bad, I think it does a job.

Last night I went to the Flux Factory for a big vegan dinner with lots of preshredded cheese, sour cream, and beer. It was a lovely time. A man in a green suit led us on walking sound tours that he made. We were guided in circles blindly on the roof in the cold while we listened to a medley of melancholy interviews. I was not paying much attention to what the people were saying as much as the way the voices mixed and the rhythm of the speech, etc. It was really soothing to be led around blindly and to be completely absorbed into someone else's work and thoughts. Nick Normal also gave a slide talk about his work. It was rewarding to see a concrete line that links all of his ideas and art. He is a librarian, archeologist, statesman, and anarchist. Tough job, but someone's gotta do it.

No comments:

About Me