Art and Extinction

I have visited the Hudson yards area multiple times, and spend an even greater time in Chelsea’s gallery spaces. For my first site visit I unfortunately only had time to explore the Hudson Yards development area, I’ll dive deeper into Chelsea as an effected ecology in the coming weeks. In the scope of my research and of this project, I will be treating Hudson Yards as the main actant of sorts. I have yet to delve into the micro actants, but from what I observed during my site visit the main players/actants will be the gallery owners and studio residents themselves. I would consider the many galleries and creation spaces that make up Chelsea and the surrounding area to be a creative assemblage. I understand the importance of specification when it comes to projects like this, so during this week I will be isolating specific impacts on individual spaces/people/businesses that Hudson Yards has had on these bodies in the Chelsea area.

The Hudson Yards development itself is also an odd, visually modern assemblage. I think that the area comes off as very impending and ominous, this may be due in part to its unfinished state, but also has to do with the massive scale of the buildings in such close proximity. Brian Massumi touches on this phenomenon briefly when he discusses intensity. He states that the “strength or duration of the image’s effect could be called intensity” (Massumi 24). I believe the silhouette that is being constructed is meant to create a looming and lasting image, thus adding to the intensity in the aesthetics of the area.

As of now people can’t engage with the site further than glancing beyond the fences, I believe a few areas are open to the public like the Hudson Yards café, but I have yet to have the chance to go in. Chelsea, I feel, is interacted with in a more tactile and aimless way. People weave in and out of galleries and explore the space freely and without structure. The Highline aids in this free expression of space exploration, and is another important factor in the Chelsea assemblage.

I have quite a large amount of questions, the most prevalent being; who is the most impacted by the establishment of this new city area? How will this development change the surrounding area in the coming months, years, or decades? Where will the next art hot spot be if Chelsea does commercialize and become disillusioned? Most of these questions may never be definitively answered, but I know that broad targeting questions like these are important as I dive deeper into this study. My most pressing question for myself is, how am I going to find specific businesses or persons to study and interview for this project? I need to figure out how to isolate specific stores and narratives that are directly impacted by this development, especially since I have a lot of background knowledge on the Yards but significantly less on Chelsea as an area.

I think the most obvious challenge with my site is that I choose an issue that isn’t necessarily visually immediate. Migration especially because of inflation is a slow and painful process, and documenting this process may be difficult on my end. On the flip side delving deeper into Hudson Yards and the direction it is growing in has also proven to be difficult. My past research revealed that private developments don’t need to make a lot of information available to the public. Only specific plans are revealed for certain buildings, and the decision making process is almost completely out of the public eye. So I really will be observing more of the affects that the Yards has and will not be so much predicting these changes and what they’ll do to the surrounding area while being rolled out. I want to understand the makings of what turned Chelsea into what it is today, because I think giving the space contextual relevance will help me understand the magnitude of it being slowly disbanded by an even bigger and more expensive development. I also want to look into the zoning plans for the spaces that have already been cleared in the immediate gallery area. If I remember correctly a Neiman Marcus is meant to open up near the highline, and any gallery smaller than David Zwirner is at risk of being forced out once the area commercializes. The cycle of populating an area, introducing culture, having said culture be followed by flocks of wealthy people attempting to participate, and then having the same people who populated the area be driven out is a sad reality of the life cycle of areas in New York.

I understand that I have a lot of work and research ahead of me, but I am very excited to dive deeper into this project and learn on a more granular level how people are being affected by these migration patterns. Art is something I hold very dear to me, and its painful to see gallery spaces suffer just because they aren’t big players monetarily. Hopefully this research will help me understand why these things happen and possibly how prevention and stabilization can be achieved.

Works Cited

Matthew Fuller, pp. 1-5, Introduction to Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture, 2007


~ by Alexis on February 6, 2018.

5 Responses to “Art and Extinction”

  1. I think this is an interesting approach to development patterns. As the smaller businesses are forced out, galleries, still in high demand, are opening up in Williamsburg, Bushwick, LES, etc. and those areas ar now becoming the hip cool art space. As the big money comes in, the hype and /scenes/ shift to a different area, beginning the trend of gentrification in new, relatively close areas. I think you have done a good job at developing the structure of your project – look forward to seeing more as it continues!

  2. Chelsea/Hudson Yards as a space is a super interesting place to study especially on the topic of migration. Most people wouldn’t necessarily think of the art galleries in Chelsea when they think about the issue of migration/development but it is something that is happening and the smaller galleries are disadvantaged against developers and their push to make the landscape of NYC more homogenous/fit for one type of person.

  3. I really appreciate the way you weaved the concept of intensity into your observation of the site. After exploring the photos you have taken, I felt vulnerable and now realize why. It is interesting to read buildings for their strength of duration, it is something I did not apply to my site and wish I had! I would love to have a little more background on the sort of galleries and art collectives that reside their currently and a glimpse into the demographic of people who are frequenting these galleries. How accessible were they before, now and as Hudson Yard commercializes?

  4. I think you’ve found a very unique ecology to focus your research on. I think this migration issue is a very relevant topic in New York City especially and so pinpointing this specific place will probably get you a more narrow and niche research. As you mentioned yourself, going forward there will be a lot more interactions and relationships to be further examined.

  5. Best overall: I love your topic – New York City is definitely undergoing a series of development projects, and it would be interesting to see how these changes will impact our lives as New Yorkers, especially in the field of art. From your photos, I could see that New York is being more and more homogenized, and could really get the affect of Chelsea.

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