In the fall 1998 issue of Carnegie magazine, Richard Armstrong, director of CMOA from 1996 to 2008, walked through the galleries with editor R. Jay Gangewere while discussing some of his favorite works in the museum’s permanent collection. Though Armstrong highlighted a number of artworks that day—Pierre Bonnard, Nude in a Bathtub; Edgar Degas, The Bath (Le bain); Joan Mitchell, Wet Orange (Triptych); Edward Hopper, Cape Cod Afternoon; Willem de Kooning, Woman VI; and Mel Bochner, Measurement: Plant (Palm)—he saved his praise for Rachel Whiteread’s Untitled (Yellow Bath) until last:
The Invisible Photograph: From Underground to Subatomic
We’ve taken you from photographs stored Underground in a limestone mine and Andy Warhol drawings Trapped in an Amiga computer, to Extraterrestrial image data captured by a Lunar Orbiter and photographic treasures Discarded and rescued from the mists of obscurity by artist Joachim Schmid. Our five-part documentary series, The Invisible Photograph, reaches its final stop on a journey that has spanned the Atlantic Ocean with Subatomic: The European Organization for Nuclear Research, set at CERN, an epicenter of research in particle physics. See the documentary now and enjoy behind-the-scenes access to CERN’s ATLAS and AEgIS experiments, where photographic imaging—both digital and analog—is being used to visualize the subatomic world.
The home my wife and I share sits in an impressive building on Fifth Avenue. If I peer out our kitchen window and glance right, I’ll see Dinwiddie Street. A 15-second drive up Dinwiddie leads to Centre Avenue. The Hill House, the Thelma Lovette YMCA, the Alma Speed Fox Building, and perhaps the most politically contentious Shop ‘n Save in the country all sit within a five-minute walk. We do not live in the Hill District. This awkward stretch of land that exists between Oakland, downtown, the Hill, and the South Side is technically called Uptown—a differentiation that definitely seems to matter to pizza delivery men. But this apartment we live in—located in a building that was once Fifth Avenue High School and is now the Fifth Avenue School Lofts—and the hows, whys, and whats of how people came to live in this long-dead school building, tells a Hill District story. A Pittsburgh story. A black America story. A Teenie Harris story.
The story of how the Fifth Avenue School Lofts came to exist is a complicated one that I will attempt to simplify. It is also contentious. There will be people who will vehemently disagree with what I’m about to say, either claiming that I’m intentionally disregarding important context or attempting to skew facts to promote an agenda. I am doing neither. What I am doing is telling this story how I’ve come to see it.
Architect Bernard Tschumi lectures at Carnegie Lecture Hall, Oakland, on Friday, February 27. Organized by the School of Architecture at Carnegie Mellon University and co-sponsored by the Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art, Tschumi’s lecture promises to be a stimulating presentation of work in the forefront of architectural culture.
Bernard Tschumi is today perhaps best known for his New Acropolis Museum, completed in 2009 close to the historic Acropolis in Athens, Greece. Born and educated in Switzerland, Tschumi is truly a transatlantic architect, operating his practice from offices in Paris and New York. Here at the Heinz Architectural Center, we are lucky to have four drawings or montages from Tschumi’s early Manhattan Transcripts series, a theoretical project from the late 1970s in which architecture is defined as much by event or narrative as by traditional building form.
For the past four months, I’ve been volunteering with the Time-Based Media Project at Carnegie Museum of Art. Primarily, I’ve been writing content that will appear online in the catalogue—working to help put the films in their larger historical and artistic context. In other words, I’ve been watching the films and videos and writing about them, something I already do for my job in Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. I’ve especially enjoyed this project because—even though my professional research concerns Mexican narrative and feature films—I’ve always been a fan of American experimental films. Since starting this project, I’ve been watching old favorites that I haven’t seen since my early years in graduate school and reading about their history for the first time.
I’ve noticed, however, that when people write about experimental film, whether in histories, magazines, or journals, it appears as though they’re writing for those already converted—viewers who already know and appreciate particular films, and are, strictly speaking, “fans” like myself. The authors address a rather small group of filmgoers: scholars, filmmakers, artists, and occasional cineastes. Whether amateur or professional, these are viewers who haven’t just seen particular films but know the historic details surrounding the films, or which filmmakers worked with other filmmakers, or stories of how so many films were made by circles of friends with little money or resources. While this idea of a small, committed viewership of experimental cinema probably has some accuracy, the archival collection of materials at CMOA suggests that there was a sizeable audience during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s—the peak years of the Film Program when audiences filled the theater to see programs of new works or the monthly (or bi-weekly) experimental film programs from the permanent collection. Of course, experimental film has never garnered the broad audience of conventional film, but the experimental film theatrical experience was diverse and sustained, showing older, favorite experimental works and promoting younger, unknown independent filmmakers, something that happens far more rarely in Pittsburgh today.