Monday, December 6, 2010

Palimpsest - just some thoughts

I had to look the word up- a fragment of a manuscript or scroll scraped off to be reused. Scraping is a specific act that to me implied some tenacity on the part of the inscribed. The idea of reuse also seemed to help convey some part of the past manuscript forward. In architecture the word refers specifically to a shadow of one structure on another such as that seen here. These shadows adhere to our New York as traces of past cityscapes. The city is full of such shadows.

Other traces of past New Yorks are still prevalent and some have been captured on a low tech website. ( Sandwiched between pages of photographs documenting the taphonomy of advertisements painted on brick buildings around the city is a barely legible sign for Globe Electrotype. Electrotyping was a process by which multiple copies of printing plates were made. Globe was located on 38th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. A quick search of the web for the company yielded mostly fragments of inaccessible texts:

the Globe Electrotype Company, 209 West Thirty-eighth street, New York, is in a better position than RICHARD CROWE ... Richard Crowe and Lew Wallace, who LEW WALLACE direct the firm's activities, are making arrangements with their ... in this book
Page 33
Printing, 1929
Publisher: Walden, Sons & Mott New York
New York is often discussed as a fluid place but plastic and sticky seem a bit better suited. Traces of this "scroll" resist being scraped from the canyons of this city and each week I only need go a few blocks out of my way to see traces of my own family's history. Globe was great grandfather's business. (It seems there may be some intersections with todays topics.)

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