Downtown Houston Tunnel System by a zugunruhe

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What began as a short tunnel connecting a few buildings in the 1930's has slowly evolved to nearly seven miles of color coded corridors that allow pedestrians to navigate downtown Houston without being exposed to 100 degree weather with 100% humidity.

Inspired by the underground system at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, the system grew for different needs. One early adopter connected a few of his theaters just to save on air conditioning. 

People are usually shocked when they first hear of the tunnels. Those having lived in and around Houston for years (even their entire lives) have no idea this system exists. They immediately assume it's some sort of urban exploration trek, akin to a large sewage passage or abandoned subway tunnel.

In fact, they are painfully boring.

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Imagine a mall that hit its peak two decades ago or a regional airport terminal. Wandering the carpet-covered walls in the mid-afternoon reveals a florescent-lit ghost town twenty feet under the city. Through a good chunk of the near-Brutalist geometries of the meandering hallways, it feels like you just snapped out of a day dream only to realize you have been working a soul-crushing job for the last thirty years.

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This is truly a utilitarian design.

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The entire experience isn't doom and gloom. The labyrinth has grown into a popular service station during the lunch hour. The hallways are populated with banks, doctors, barbershops, and cleaners, but mostly filled with food court-esque restaurants. Short stretches are adorned with Houston memorbilia ranging from sports to NASA.

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Turning corner after corner in this tiled bunker can dull all senses. Every so often you are rewarded for your resolve by a visual breath of air. Windows offer that escape, either exposing you to a courtyard or reminding you of the magnitude of the buildings you are under.

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Only a small area was undergoing construction after damage from Harvey. In 2001, after Hurricane Allison, large metal doors were put in place to seal the entire area off from flooding. Shipbuilders came in and fitted doors akin to submarine hatches across the tunnel system. As only a short stretch was affected, I'm sure a lot of small business owners throughout are incredibly grateful for this level of precaution.

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The tunnels serve a purpose and offer an interestingly banal view of the people and companies that use them on a day-to-day basis. In fact, this is one of the few places I've visited where one of the more popular places to eat is just called "Chicken Etcetera." Looking forward to its future rival, "Food Here."

There are multiple ways into the tunnels. The only street level entrances are at Wells Fargo Plaza and McKinney Garage. All others are in the lobies of buildings and aren't too hard to discover.

Another Year In NYC by a zugunruhe

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New York is a weird place.

Over the last twelve months, I've only spent a little over seven here. My time was split between NYC, India, Switzerland, Rome, Iceland, Cuba, Baltimore, Texas, and roughly a week on trains.

This year had me moving out of the country for an extended time to do my first residency in Skagastrond, Iceland. There, I fell short of my initial goals but immediately started producing photo sets like Lightwaves and Dreamscapes that I'm incredibly proud of.

From that experience I came back to NYC to put on my first solo gallery show produce the project Framing, which is something that had been bouncing around my head for over a year. 

Beginning with Framing, I started combining my love of making music and putting together visuals to promote my photo sets. This has put me on a very tight schedule with the momentary release of my Sights and Sounds series, a new effort into the travel videos that first pulled me into multimedia production.

I've definitely become more confident as a photographer than I was a year ago. This time has allowed to produce work on a scale I was incapable before and I'm excited for what I have in mind for the next twleve months.

 Last December's first snow over the Pulaski Bridge

Last December's first snow over the Pulaski Bridge

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 Takashio Hiisayasu at Greenpoint Gallery, Janurary

Takashio Hiisayasu at Greenpoint Gallery, Janurary

 Father at Kinfolk

Father at Kinfolk

 Claws photo shoot

Claws photo shoot

 Brooklyn-bound R train

Brooklyn-bound R train

 14th and 6th

14th and 6th

 Pipilotti Rost: Pixel Forest, New Museum

Pipilotti Rost: Pixel Forest, New Museum

 Manhattan Ave

Manhattan Ave

 Clockwork Bar

Clockwork Bar

 East Williamsburg

East Williamsburg

 MTA employee stuck after a stolen car is left in a crosswalk, Bed-Stuy

MTA employee stuck after a stolen car is left in a crosswalk, Bed-Stuy

 Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach

 Staten Island

Staten Island

 Ninjasonik/Unstoppable Death Machines/Snoopy at Knockdown Center

Ninjasonik/Unstoppable Death Machines/Snoopy at Knockdown Center

 Idiotarod 2017

Idiotarod 2017

 Idiotarod 2017

Idiotarod 2017

 Idiotarod 2017

Idiotarod 2017

 Dan and The Dude

Dan and The Dude

 Takashio Hiisayasu at Greenpoint Gallery, November

Takashio Hiisayasu at Greenpoint Gallery, November

 Trump Tower

Trump Tower

 Genivive

Genivive

 Halloween

Halloween

 La Vida Boheme at Central Park

La Vida Boheme at Central Park

 Daptone Records, Bushwick

Daptone Records, Bushwick

Amtrak II - 48 Lakeshore Limited by a zugunruhe

The 48 Lakeshore Limited Amtrak train runs from Chicago’s Union Station to New York City’s Penn Station. 

I used the majority of my time on the 48 to shoot through the port holes at the end of the traincars. My goal was to time and shoot landscapes along the route to stitch them together later as triptychs. 

The photos framed by the window reminded me of old slides my grandfather used to share of his wildlife photography. I took that idea and, because of the fleeting nature of the shots, tried to explore the framing like someone using a camera for the first time, like point-and-shoot snapshots to remember the moment, rather than composed photographs. 

I began constructing timelines from what I shot. I was most excited about lining up shots that flowed from one to another, like a satisfying pull from left to right. There are contrasting shots, where the flow would be ‘field—water—crops,’ or ‘graffiti—fall colors—graffiti.’ Sometimes timing allowed for a linear sequence: a stretching landscape or a man walking across a platform perfectly through each frame. 

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Amtrak I - 22 Texas Eagle by a zugunruhe

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I have a love for the slow travel experience of trains. The way one is lead through small towns and fields to urban centers. Seeing how big and varied this country is, is a long-term romance of mine. 

Since I’m familiar with Amtrak at this point, I want to share these beautiful views for each line I take.
 
The first is the 22 Texas Eagle. The 22 denoting that it’s the north bound of the line, and 21 being the south. The 22 starts in San Antonio and ends in Chicago, IL. The passenger goes though Austin, Dallas, Little Rock, St Louis, and numerous small towns along the way.

The beauty of Amtrak is the little things you see along the way. Snaking highways appear as rivers, watching small towns slowly build up to its Main Street then quickly dissipate, and the endless fields that pass by the train windows hypnotically. 

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During the day, I aimed to use the window's reflections and people as muses.

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At night I turned to black and white while still using the constrictions of windows. The less active train and the desolate lighting of long stops gave the feel of film noir.  

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Before long, I was solely shooting through windows. Being constrained to the framing was an incredibly fun challenge, considering the speed of the train. 

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And then I found the portholes at the end of the cars.  

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This presented an even greater obstacle. I had very little warning before something appeared, and often having a second or less to get a shot.

I attempted to time shots in order to peace them together as fictionalized scenes set across the entire line rather than linear scenarios.  

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Wharton by a zugunruhe

Hurricane Harvey first struck Texas near the city of Rockport on August 24th. Harvey then pulled out and entered Texas again on the other side of Houston. Almost directly in the middle of each landfall is the town of Wharton, Texas.

Most of the city of Wharton was covered in water during the historic flood that Harvey brought. I grew up in El Campo, 10 miles down the road from Wharton. Fortunately, my family escaped any major disaster, but the majority of the homes along the Colorado river did not.  

I wasn't able to visit the area until late September. By then, waters had receded, but Harvey's physical toll was clear. In a few low-laying areas were scenes of lost possessions, furniture, and gutted walls on the side of the road. Heaps that had been there for an extended period since city trash collectors couldn't stop by. 

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Driving by heap after heap, I began noticing the possessions making up these mounds. Things that I can't imagine anyone had planned to throw away.

Parts of lives had to be thrown out because of a massive tragedy that no one could have ever expected. 

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I noticed small pieces that stood out while looking around at the damage.

So I began shooting portraits.

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Then I started seeing these collections as sculpture. Sculpture made with the most intimate of materials, shaped by tragedy. 

The materials were instruments of daily living. Stuffed animals that brought comfort, appliances and furniture, even sheet rock and entire walls torn up and stacked. The people shaping the forms were acting with little caution, going through the emotional toll of removing them from meaning.

When you think of sculpture, you think of certain materials, for the most part devoid of context, chosen for their attributes. The sculptor with intent uses the materials to give them meaning. Here, the formations I saw were the inverse.

From sandbags and mattresses, to toys and photo albums. These collections were people's lives, on display during their most vulnerable moments. 

Its not a nice thing to think about, but these are the most honest portrayals of possessions you will ever see. Damaged items, no longer of practical use, thrown to the side of the street. And how they were arranged displayed how they were being thought of in that moment. Some placed carefully to honor the memories connected, others haphazardly tossed and stacked.

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As bad as the damage was from Harvey, neighbors helped neighbors, communities came together, and workers came from nearby states to help clean up efforts. 

With every natural disaster and the havoc they bring, the humanity it brings out in people offers us a perspective that helps healing from the emotional toll. 


Wharton
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I’m absolutely floored by the way this flood has wiped out people’s homes. I don’t intend to benefit from this tragedy.

I’ll be selling prints and 100% of profits will be donated to local organizations and churches helping people heal and build their lives again. Each print sold will also come with an extra print from my last gallery show for free. Requests will be honored if available.

If you do not wish for a print but want to donate, please reach out and I can give you a list of places to send donations.