Commute 2 Brooklyn: Visual Exploration Along Interstate 278

Mary Ann Biehl
Associate Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Maria Giuliani
Associate Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

The Decisive Moment, as described by Henri Cartier-Bresson, “is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.” He continues “the precise organization of forms (…) give that event its proper expression.”  Our project, Commute 2 Brooklyn, will explore the question of significance through the lens of a series of mundane daily events.

As colleagues at a commuter college, we have each traveled over the same roads approximately 3,000 + times to reach our campus in downtown Brooklyn. We anticipate (hopefully) repeating this journey individually at least 2000 more times in the years to come. We are by no means unique. Our colleagues and students navigate their own individual journeys each semester, just as all New Yorkers do.  Whether it involves just a few short steps, traversing waterways, airways or transit systems, commuting is an experience we all share.

Using photography to capture images of the daily journey of individual drivers provides opportunities to explore moments of difference and commonality.  One driver begins her commute in Northern Queens, the other from western Nassau County. The base of the Kosciuszko Bridge on Interstate 278 forms a common point where these commutes intersect. Spanning Newtown Creek, the Kosciuszko bridge connects the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, making it a marker of significance on each commuter’s journey. Construction to replace the 75 year old bridge provides a unique opportunity to document how this change in the physical landscape affects the commuters common experience on a daily basis.

This project examines how designers/artists can respond to evolving landscape and what narratives may emerge from this cycle of observation and change. Throughout the next two years we will explore how the effects of time and space (evolving topography/technology/aesthetic) impact the “proper expression” of our Commute 2 Brooklyn.