For the drawing, I wanted to examine a building at 68 Jay Street in Dumbo, Brooklyn, quite close to the site I mentioned last week. The building was built in the daylight factory style in 1915 by a New York Architect called William Higginson. From what I can tell, Higginson did a lot of work in the Dumbo area, working for Robert Gair on a nearby series of buildings known as ‘Gairville’ next to the Manhattan Bridge.
Postcard of the Grand Union Tea Company in the late 19th Century (I’m assuming that this will be an artists rendering, but note the consistent arched windows and delivery bays at ground floor)
The building was used as a warehouse for the Grand Union Tea Company and saw the owners, the Jones Brothers go from a small business to the “largest warehouse and factory in the United States for teas, coffees, spices, flavoring extracts, baking-powders and soaps”. Due to its aesthetic and structure being representative of very early 20th Century American Factory Architecture, and also the fact that the Jones Brothers played a large role in establishing the Dumbo district as an important industrial area, the building is hugely significant for the area.
Moving up through time, the structure has been altered and adapted for various needs. In the 80’s it was swapped between banks and retail use, which is most likely when many of the original windows, with their arched elements, were knocked out and replaced with square windows, presumably for increased daylight. Its quite easy to spot the differences with the concrete sills and lintels and the disappearance of glazing bar elements. Also, the ground floor level has been filled in at some point. During the Grand Union Tea Company days, the ground floor held a number of delivery docks, with which horse drawn wagons, and later trucks, could be loaded with goods. Now the ground floor houses shop fronts etc. The building displays this change like a scar, with a change in brick color.
68 Jay Street in the Present Day (Note the change in windows and ground level)
At the present day, 68 Jay Street becomes a support for various forms of infill. This infill comprises of small business, bars, bakeries, artists studios, architects offices, coworking spaces and business startup work spaces. In particular, the DUMBO startup lab provides space, events, coworking and consultation for startups and freelancers etc.
What I find interesting about the building is the sense of worth it has retained through the various changes in use and appropriation. The building now acts as an incubator for a number of businesses, and so many have found worth and created a reason for the structure to continue through time, not just to stand in place, but to become, as Bergson stated. Time is not about existing, but about becoming, but rather about constantly and consistently changing.
So not only do we have propelling force through and over time in the form of desire, of the creation of worth and subsequently the sustenance of this creation, but we also have a series of marks, of joints, of scars which intertwine with this creation and re appropriation. So the building presents to me a number of ways in which to examine the theory of time and the conditions for the creation of worth.
So the drawing attempts to layer up the uses and events by layering significant images. Although I wanted a certain degree of indeterminacy in the image to represent durational time in relation to the structure, I think it is too indeterminate. The transfer technique is a bit too ill defined. The first image shows a horse drawn wagon, a factory scene, and the modern day Jay Street bar logo overlaid over the ground floor, trying to create a transparency and simultaneity between the three, but it is very hard to see on first glance. I tried to situate the transfers as rather less determined than the linework of the facade elevation which, through computer drawn CAD is rather more fixed and immutable, but I think the whole thing gets lost. The Grand union Tea Company logo is also in there, laid over a flyer for a coworking event at the startup lab, with an image of the architects office transferred too.
In the end, I found an interesting by product of transferring onto printed drawings was that pieces of the receiving medium tended to become transferred onto the material intended to be transferred, which created an interesting reciprocal process. So after seeing the really confused initial image, I decided to try and collage the transfers onto the drawing, which could be the start of an interesting experiment. I think the next step might be to print the receiver image, ie. the linework on inkjet. That way the ink will not immediately come off when transferred onto. At the moment I’m undermining the fixity of the linework.
I think next I want to clarify this drawing a lot more, maybe look into other techniques or mediums which present a much clearer image. I also will put together a series of transparent pages exploding my previous drawings and providing the theoretical durational ‘joint’ between the images (instants) that I’ve produced so far.