Bowery Birds

Bowery Birds 



The camera swoops down over the Bowery's double lanes of traffic. Cars jostle and turn and interlock, while on the horizon the sun sets smoky orange. Birds swoop through the hazy air. From a side street -- can it be? -- a horse appears, prances, joins the rough torrent. As we drift above Houston St., below Delancey, somehow Prince and Stanton and Eldridge and Spring streets recur, the buildings on them stutteringly altered in aspect. The sidewalks and windows expand and contract, details emerge and repeat. We dive into the street and the cars part ahead of us, never more than brushing each other. We are ghosts in this city. In this unstopping grieving chasm the street sways, interlocks, and time slips. No longer is it 1997, as we yaw past the house in which William Burroughs once lived, we plunge to a dirtier, grimier Bowery-bum past. Images double-expose, 1897, 1797, to Bowery as a lane, path forest, hill, swamp. And coalesce again to Bowery 2007, and a Bowery past 2007.


I created a digital recreation of the span of the Bowery between Houston St. and Delancey St., as it was in 1997. I made this during many happy hours at Eyebeam, during a 2008 winter residency.

Click on the images below to see videos:

In 1999, I dreamed I was drifting over the Bowery at sunset. The street was covered by a red fog laced with yellow-orange fumes. Cars wove heedlessly between lanes yet never collided. I spun and circled through the air above, watching the silent passage below. When I awoke on the couch at my studio, a few streets east of the Bowery, I resolved to replicate the vision.

In 2009 I wrote a story about the project for issue 6 of Triple Canopy magazine. A print version appears in Invalid Format: An Anthology of Triple Canopy, Volume 2.


Coded in Lisp. The bird flight owes itself to Craig Reynolds' flocking work.