Class Notes 3/7/16

Nersessova’s Tapestry of Space Who is the audience? People interested in homelessness Photographers/tourists Homeowners Policy makers What is the purpose? As an eye opener To critique capitalism or other facets of our economics system To think differently about our position and relative precariousness To inform What is the context? Written in 2014 Economic recovery from housing market crash and recession Wages are still stagnant, and a lot of people are still renting People are just emerging from their status of homelessness Republican controlled Congress with a Democratic president Government gridlock What is her argument? Links media to customer desire Media images create desire in customers A lot of people got interested in making a lot of money, and did not think about the consequences it would have on others. Analyses Morton’s photographs to show the real side of everything The real images of homelessness Does not arouse consumer desire, instead it raises feelings of empathy Counter agents of images seen in the media We should be changing the way we think about homelessness, and understand the psychological aspects of it. Nersessova critiques homelessness, but she does not provide a solution for it...

Reading Summary #1

Alexander Reid Professor Arrington English 1102 14 February, 2016 Summary of The Tunnel (on p.57) The Tunnel by Margaret Morton is a part of “The Architecture of Despair” and ongoing photographic documentation by Morton of the lives of the homeless in New York City and how they survive and make their living. This entry in this project centers specifically on the homeless community that occupies the abandoned Amtrak tunnel that stretches from 72nd street to 123rd street from Riverside Park to the Hudson River. Morton starts off describing the history of this tunnel and the land it occupies, saying “The mud flats along the Hudson River were occupied by squatters when the Hudson River Railroad arrived in the mid-1800s. (Morton, ix)” Once the railroad was built, the area became a shanty town that fed on the garbage dumped there by the Sanitation Department. In 1934, in order to gentrify the mud flats into a stylish strip for residents of the nearby apartments, the garbage dumping was ceased and the railroad tracks were covered with a concrete tunnel to conceal “the dirt of the dense black smoke of the diesel engines and the odor of carloads of pigs and cattle en route to the slaughter house (Morton, ix)”. The tunnel was outfitted with concrete structures for use by railroad personnel. Once shipping methods had advanced to the point of making rail shipping no longer viable, the tunnel was largely abandoned and occupied once again by a community of homeless people who took shelter there. The text is organized by chapters labeled with different areas of the tunnel, which are then...

The Reality of Homelessness: A Summary of Nersessova’s Article

From Margaret Morton’s “The Tunnel” This article discusses Margaret Morton’s book “The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York City” and the photographs of the homes built by the homeless people in the city. Nersessova does this using the views of the Situationalist International theory from Karl Marx. In the beginning of the article Neressova defines homelessness as being without a stable home. The term stable is important because she explains that the people we call homeless have built homes for themselves, but they are not stable. She also talks about the designs of some of these homes they have created and what they represent. She said that the way each home is created is significant to the person living there because “identity is closely tied to one’s place of home” and a result of them always moving is that their identity is   “consistently fragile”. The fact that they continue to rebuild theses homes each type they move, shows that their “creative response to instability”. A common issue homeless people faced was the city destroying their homes and closing off the tunnels where they were built, taking away their identity. This often makes them vulnerable and she explains that this represents the “universal relationship between space and the splintered identity”. They space they have determines how they will build their homes and the homes they build become their identity. This changes when they have to change the space. Nersessova, then talks about Morton’s photography of the urban areas in New York and the role they play in a “society of the spectacle”. She discusses this using the views of...

Reading Summary 2

In Margaret Morton’s The Tunnel, life of the people who live in the tunnel is described by many of the inhabitants to give an idea of what it is like to live there and what living there has done for them. A man named Bernard explained the life that he goes through in a way that he does not seem homeless at all. He has a home even if the common person would not live there. He lives there and lives a life that does not perceive his homelessness as a problem. Rather than a problem, Bernard is simply trying to find himself, and being isolated in the tunnel is helping him do so. Bob’s story is another example of the tunnel being an opportunity to find oneself. Bob was a traveler and very free spirited, he gave it all up and moved to the tunnel. While living in the tunnel, he was able to find out who he really was. A guy named Manny was able to escape his dysfunctional family by going to the tunnel. The tunnel is used by many to escape from hard home life situations. Ria’s story points out how it is more difficult for women than man because they can be easily taken advantage of. All of these people who live in the tunnel, one way or another, have reasons to be there. The tunnel is an opportunity for many to start over or retreat from the unwanted lifestyle that they live. The majority of the people in Margaret Morton’s The Tunnel, mention the freedom that they experienced by not having to pay rent or...

Tapestry of Space

In the article Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margaret Morton ’ s Photography of a Forgotten New York, Morton opens up describing underground and above ground homes that the homeless build from fragments, scraps and all sorts of materials. She discusses how essential shelter is and how ones identity is derived from it. She also states how no home is permanent leaving people with a fragile sense of identity. She breaks it down to discuss what it really means to be homeless and how many of us are homeless in different aspects we would have never considered. She discusses how stability isn’t guaranteed for the homeless or the housed due to closed off tunnels and home demolition.  This goes to show that being homeless and being housed is not a binary. It seems as if it is no longer about the foundation of where you lay your head but more so about the stability behind that foundation, because clearly we can all be homeless within a blink of an eye; one wrong decision, missed payment or even a natural disaster. It truly makes me think about the true meaning of homeless, we all have a depiction of what it means and looks like to be homeless, but reading this article lets me know that there is so much more to it than just being without a home. Because those without an actual mortgaged or rented home still find ways and means to have shelter for themselves and their families, by building a home of their own under bridges, tunnels and alley ways, building places of...
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