Monday, April 24, 2006

Adventures in Large Format Photography

LF Shant Front Elevation 1
Originally uploaded by urbanoasis.
I finally got around to taking my first two 4x5 photos to Foto1 for developing. Fortunately, I learned that Ivory Photo right near the Madison House still has a functioning darkroom, so it will remain a walkable hobby.

Here is one of my two attempts. It's not too shabby, but has four fairly significant problems. The first is clearly the framing. With my lens I would have had to get out into the middle of William St. to get it all, so I went for a practice shot. The second is that the top of the building is not in focus. I tilted the lens too much in trying to get both the brick wall and the cornice in focus, so the plane of focus is very oblique (it looks like from the garbage can through the brick wall to top of the doorway arch). The third is that it is not level -- the cornice should be parallel to the top of the frame. The fourth is that I was not dead-center. The top of the gate arch should be in line with the top of the doorway arch. Live and learn.

LF Shant Front Elevation 2
Originally uploaded by urbanoasis.

This one, actually my first, is even worse. First off, I double exposed it. It's even less level than the other one, and off center, of course, too. Anyway, it was my first attempt and now I'm going after some more attempts.

Bottom line, view photography is difficult, which is why so many archival images and proto snapshots I've come across in research are partially out of focus or show some vignetting. However, its results are awesome, as the lower 2/3 of the top image indicates. More to come.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

David Kohrman, Genius

I recently got in touch with a friend from WMU, Dave Kohrman, now at Ball State. Having turned to public history towards the end of my undergrad career, I had a couple courses with Dave, and a turn on the Phi Alpha Theta board. Another time I'll tell about our brief detour to Gary, IN.

Narrator of the most hilarious end-of-semester true story ever told, Dave is an urban explorer not unlike the dude from the Detroit Blog, but better in my mind. I'm thinking about looking at Muncie Indiana for part of my dissertation (of _Middletown_ fame), so I got an update on Dave and, though his famed Chuck Norris movie reviews have been in short supply lately, I got to see some more of his photography. He instantly made the blogroll, and I encourage you to check it out.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Eight Months Later

I'm having a difficult time understanding what is going on in New Orleans. If anyone went down there for Spring Break or has been there recently, please pipe up. What is the scale of cleanup and rehabilitation? Also, if there are any good maps about (re)investment or rehab, please link. The odd snippets I see in the New York Times or on blogs don't really give a sense of how this city is coming back or not.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Subletter Needed

May 1 - August 28. $300/mo for own 10' x 10' bedroom in the Madison House, near the corner of Main and Madison, Ann Arbor MI. Washer/dryer and off-street parking on premises. 4 blocks from U-M campus; one block from Leopold Bros.; one block from Washtenaw Dairy. Great roommates, great house, great location. lwinlingATumichDOTedu.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Long Shot

I just sent in a cover letter and resume to the Art Institute of Chicago. It doesn't make a lick of sense, seeing as how I'm a year away from candidacy, but I was trawling around the Web to see what sort of stuff opens up in Chicago (I also hit from time to time) and boom, I see they're looking for an associate curator of architecture. Hmm...twentieth century architecture? I study twentieth century architecture. Interest in contemporary design issues? I'm interested in contemporary design issues. Ability to raise funds and preserve and acquire pieces for the collection? I can preserve, acquire, and raise funds with the best of them! New Renzo Piano building housing their modern design collection? I can dig it.

There's not a chance in hell I'd get this job (but maybe an interview), I've got a ton of commitments here, still, and I'm way behind on several other semester's end projects, but it was too good an opportunity not to spend the last two hours revising my CV and writing a cover letter. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Crime Against Architecture

The Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago intended to celebrate the first one hundred years of urban development and achievement of the Windy City, opening in 1933. As part of the celebration, the fair contracted with several architects to develop demonstration homes exhibiting modern design -- somewhere between Art Deco and the International Style. After the immensely successful fair (which, by the way, was part of the reason baseball now has the All-Star game), a real estate developer moved several of the homes to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where there are a number of programs for leasing. One of the homes, apparently, made its way to Monroe, Michigan, where local "preservationists" turned what what once an innovative, creative design employing new technologies and materials into a faux-neoclassical atrocity.

I love Mark Maynard may just make my blogroll, yet. In a stroke of genius reminiscent of his brilliant Zombie Claus, Mark has proposed an Ypsi Shadow Art Fair preceding the Ann Arbor Art Fairs for non-overhyped artists hawking things other than art on a stick. Murph needs to get on this (cause everything he does rocks).

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Wish I Were Here

Great Lakes Myth Society at the Elbow Room. Show starts at 10:30. I'm at the grad instead, writing a paper on housing markets and policy in Austin Texas over the last 30 years. Then I'll be at the Art and Architecture Building doing the same later.


Monday, April 10, 2006

A History of Ann Arbor

Jonathan Marwil's light history of Tree Town contains this titillating excerpt:

In the autumn of 1928 the university announced plans to build a dormitory for women. This was not to be another Martha Cook or Helen Newberry--unique facilities constructed for specific purposes--but the first of many in a reversal of the long-standing (Tappan) policy of having students be responsible for their lodging. The news was met with anger and alarm, for it endangered the investments of hundreds landlords, the livelihoods of hundreds of domestics, the value of property (and thus tax returns) around the campus, and the trade of merchants along Main Street...

Faculty dismissals and student misbehavior had irked citizens, even outraged their notions of propriety, but the dormitory plan, said Bertha Muehling, a prominent businesswoman, jeopardized "the business interests of Ann Arbor."

I have noted before that college presidents testified before Congress in the 1940s that they needed help building dormitories because cities' private markets were unable to handle the swell of new collegians. They could only justifiably ask because the private market, which had the responsibility to house students, was not up to the task.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Wal-Mart to Subsidize Competition

So sayeth an article this week in The New York Times. That's bizarre.

Clearly the public relations work of the anti-Wal-Mart faction (of which I number myself) is having some impact when Wal-Mart is giving money and advertising away to competitors. However, I have no illusions that this changes their business model or that Wal-Mart now wants to compete in a healthy economic ecosystem.

Preservation 101

Originally uploaded by urbanoasis.
This is a historical photo of The Shant, the meeting house of Delta Kappa Epsilon on William St. One of the projects for the preservation course will be to do a measured drawings project for the building (potentially for entry into a HABS student competition). This was designed by William LeBaron Jenney, one of the pioneers of the skyscraper. It was one of two he did while teaching architecture courses in Ann Arbor. The other was a University museum, since demolished.

Register now while there's still space.