The RETE of modern day internet commerce

BY | Posted on | FILED UNDER Categories Manhattan, Rete

As a filmmaker, I feel the connection between my purchase of a camera at B and H Photo and Video in NYC and the people who work in the warehouse to get that package to me so quickly.  The time between their boxing the camera and my front door is so incredibly short these days.  I am painfully aware of the RETE of commerce in the world.  So this video speaks to that phenomenon.  Since the launch of this video, the workers won! They are now able to unionize.

B&H Warehouse Workers Protest on October 11th, 2015 with the support of Laundry Workers Center United, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and Rabbi Ellen Lippmann.  Video by Lynne Sachs.

According to Democracy Now, “more than 100 warehouse workers have launched a campaign Sunday to unionize B&H Photo Video, the largest non-chain photo store in the United States. The workers are alleging widespread racial discrimination, wage theft and unsafe working conditions inside B&H’s two Brooklyn warehouses. In one case, workers say they were locked inside one of the warehouses during a recent fire in an adjacent building.”

Typhlology: 23rd Street, Manhattan (by Ethan Mass)

BY | Posted on | FILED UNDER Categories Manhattan, Typhlology

When I was invited to contribute to this project, I was given perhaps a dozen words to choose from. This word was the most inspiring. Since most of my work is very literal, I really appreciated an opportunity to make something abstract and impressionistic. A short film whose starting point is “the study of blindness” was an inspiring springboard.

Walking along 23rd street and noticing the services and schools for the blind, I felt that I had found my . At the intersection of 6th avenue, an audio signal box beeps an alert tied into the streetlights; I knew I wanted to include this metronome.

The first idea that came to mind was to make a “video flipbook” composed of stills. When I started gathering the stills, I felt they were too clear, too legible. I wanted to recreate a sightless/partially sighted experience by making the stills unfocussed and blurred. As I began stringing the stills together I experimented with interrupting the image flow with dark sections– leading me to what became the motivator for the rest of my image gathering and editing: the overwhelming, unfocussable assault of visual stimulation that a 5-avenue stretch of Manhattan can become, and how moments of darkness can offer some respite. What if you could only see in bits and pieces? What if your eyes and mind weren’t fast enough to make logical connections between the racing images flying past?

I ultimately used nearly 700 stills. I walked across 23rd street several times, shaking my camera, looking like a tourist going home with the world’s worst collection of travel memories. I was looking for softness, color and dynamism. Some images I froze to allow a moment of closer study, only to be whisked away and replaced with a dozen more images.

I recorded the audio the same way, walking slowly and pausing near any interesting voices or words. I eventually used 4 different pieces of audio overlapped and mixed up and down to try to give an impression of conversations speeding by. The film is bookended with the sound of the signal from the 6th avenue crosswalk box.

When I watch it I like that the images move just fast enough that I always feel a step behind, trying to process the image that just passed while also registering the new one coming at me; the way the darkness allows me a moment to breathe and absorb just the sounds for a moment.  (Ethan Mass)

Mofette Moment, Manhattan by Beth Botshon

BY | Posted on | FILED UNDER Categories Manhattan, Mofette

It was a humid summer evening in late August. I was strolling around Manhattan in no rush to get to my subway stop, when a vanilla ice-cream craving overtook me. To my delight, I turned a corner and found one of the many infamous Mr. Softee trucks sitting idly. I smiled at the man, and scoured the various sprinkle and dip combinations available to me, when my legs suddenly became immersed in a dense heat. I lost concentration, and looked down to find two wafts of toxic grey vapor, one from the sewer a foot away, and one from Mr. Softee’s tailpipe, morphing into a big noxious cloud at my feet. I decided against the cone, and instead took out my camera to dance with the emanations all around New York that night.  (Beth Botshon)

Lapidary, Diamond District, Manhattan

BY | Posted on | FILED UNDER Categories Lapidary, Manhattan

How can I possibly convince a Diamond District business owner to allow me into his stone cutting workshop to film the almost alchemical art of transforming nature’s mineral creations into high-end jewels? After a week of non-stop phone calling and perseverance, I discover that a little southern charm can occasionally take me a long way. I successfully convince a jeweler to allow me into his small workshop full of Brazilian craftsmen, only to discover that stone cutting is perhaps the noisiest art on the planet. The occupational hazards of playing the electric guitar are nothing compared to this!

Once I have finished shooting, I step into the afternoon sunlight of 47th Street and immediately notice an entirely different array of auditory sensations — equally particular to this New York City neighborhood. As long as no uniformed police officers are in sight, a steady stream of hawkers are beckoning each and every passer-by to buy a bracelet, a ring or simply an undocumented raw stone. Straight from our exotic, diamond mine to your fiance’s finger?  (Lynne Sachs)