the dairy of New York City
Jan 7, 2016- Jan 6, 2017
Some people hear the noise, Some people hear the rhythm.
Some people seem glamorous, Some people seem lonely.
Some people talk about fashion, Some people are making history.
Four seasons in one year.
One city. One person. One camera.
It was a cloudy day on July 15, 2016: New York City Center has existed for centuries on Broadway only a few blocks from Times Square. It is Manhattan’s first performing arts center and is built in a Neo-Moorish style. Ten Islamic arches shape the front doors accented by ten pillars and ten windows. The gray brick stripes the street like a timeline. Edi Chen stood opposite this facade and set up my camera, at that very moment a woman was walking and talking on the phone right into her picture. She waited until she was positioned in the middle of the door and pressed the shutter. This is one of her many New York images, taken over 366 days, one photo a day. Symmetry was created by black and white and are both active and still, modern and historical, She call them “balance.” They include 228 images of buildings, 51 images of landmarks, 38 images of subway photographs, 38 images of subtleties, 33 strangers, and 11 images of bridges.
In late 2015 Edi fascination with symmetrical subjects began and she decided to embark on her year long urban symmetry photography project called Balance. She took the first picture for this project on January 7, 2016 and continued daily through January 6, 2017. During this time she photographed 366 symmetrical subjects in and around New York City completing her project. Edi focused on diverse structures and perspectives of architecture as well as different views of the city enhanced by mood, harmony, proportion and balance. Each day she traversed the city going from neighborhood to neighborhood and all five boroughs in search of symmetrical beauty. On these daily shoots she had to be prepared for weather, lighting or any other random occurrence which either hindered or helped her work.
This concept of urban symmetry photographs was inspired by the fascinating and remarkable architecture of the city of New York. Everyone has their own idea of New York….what makes this city great? New York is a place where scenes, images and events can appear at any time. Edi felt a calling and noticed how the environment where we live is ever changing. She explored the city and visited countless buildings, subways, museums, bridges and historical landmarks. Some of these places were chosen through extensive research and others just by happenstance. At times she would have to revisit locations for the perfect shot and in doing so noticed that some buildings either changed or even disappeared upon my return. Looking closely at some of the photographs you can see these changes that occurred, such as a pigeon standing on a structure or missing bricks in a building. These “imperfections” reflect the realities of life and that which surrounds us.
All things exist and obey balance and New York City is no exception. We deliberately build symmetrical buildings and objects in pursuit of visual balance. At the same time, all forms of life that live in this city are both active and passive, quiet and restless, harmonious, opposite, past and future. We are influenced and affected by this city and are trying to build the balance we are searching for and in doing so have become part of it. We all share this city and its future.
In Chinese culture, the mysterious yin and yang is another expression of balance. These two concepts create balance in life. Opposition, interdependence and reunification, all things come to be through the interaction of yin and yang.
light is yang; dark is yin.
Outside is yang; inside is yin.
Up is yang; down is yin.
Active is yang; still is yin.
The Past is yang; future is yin…
“The yin and yang, the way of heaven and earth.”
Edi Chen grew up in a city with three thousand years of history. She love to wait for sunset on top of JingShan Park (north of the Forbidden City) when the bell tower chimes loud and clear, and the pigeons take flight over the city’s rooftops. The walls there are brick red and drab grey, and the four seasons are separate and distinct. Edi Chen passionate about photographing symmetrical objects, particularly in architecture, and love to capture that which catches not only her eye but her soul. Her fascination and journey with photography began in 2002, gravitating towards symmetry she photographed scenes at random in the world around her and during travels. She have always been interested in art and design and prior to becoming a professional photographer worked as a graphic designer for many years. Edi Chen’s version of photography is a way of finding herself, to extract beauty from ordinary subjects and places. The best way for her to express this dreamlike, surreal and abstract black and white world is by using long exposure photography. She created the symmetrical portfolio by capturing particular and expressive details of historical landmarks and unique urban buildings in her year long quest for this one of a kind collection.