grew up in the West Village neighborhood of New York City and currently resides in its Chelsea neighborhood. Through his work, he seeks to engage in a
conversation about what make a vibrant urban landscape, especially in this moment of large-scale neighborhood changes and massive construction projects.
Clouds over Hudson Yards by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
The work of Tommy Mintz is rooted in the tradition of street photography, For Mintz, it is not about being invisible like “a fly on the wall.” His practice is participatory – he insists on being present, noticing the same people again, sometimes even speaking with them. But most importantly, the viewer cannot say which is his focus: the city and its dwellers are one.
Hudson Yards construction by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
“As a New Yorker I am hyperaware of how things are changing so quickly,” says Mintz. The rezoning under Mayor Bloomberg, especially in relation to his 2012 Olympics bid, which opened Hudson Yards and Long Island City for development, happened concurrently with the introduction of the iPhone and social media. Even if not the main subject of his photographs yet, people looking down at their smartphones feature prominently. Mintz notes how we are more and more isolated in public space, how we are not there anymore – we already live in virtual space and barely notice reality.
33rd and 9th by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
Grey January by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
Using a high resolution camera on a tripod, Mintz takes several shots of the same place at a time, slightly changing the angle of his camera. Later he digitally collages these shots using a program he wrote. That program detects the differences between each subsequent shot and the base one – the result of both changing the camera angle and action taking place in the street. Where it finds differences, it stitches them in: anything that is different is added to the collage like a layered movement.
Silhouette on 28th and Broadway by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
Hadid under construction by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
Hudson Yards behind Hudson Guild by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
Urban theorist Jane Jacobs’s thesis on what makes vibrant urban environment – mixed use of space, mixed age of buildings, short blocks, public figures, people who are there – inspires Mintz’s thinking about public space.
Outside Clay Coop by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
Hudson Yards behind Church by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
Chelsea Fine Foods by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
View from High Line - Grey January by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
24th and 8th by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
Mintz is not focused on freezing the moment in order to capture the movement. “The single frame had never been something I was happy with,” the artist says. In his opinion, following the perfect moment of stillness, or presence, in order to pin it down must end in failure. “If we exist in the impermanent moment, is the photograph the best representation of it? The single frame is the opposite of motion, it is a frozen frame. So it has to be multiple images.” Characteristically, in his search for the way to capture that actual passage of time, in both micro (people passing, action in the street) and macro scale (the change of the city over time), he avoids telling stories.
Chelsea Papaya by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
Chelsea Hotel with scaffolding by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
Christopher Street Pier by Tommy MintzHudson Guild
The city has to live, and American culture and economic development has never been centered on preservation. Asked if he is more nostalgic for what is gone or more curious about what is coming, Mintz answers, “Both. That sense of change…. I am not trying to judge it, I am trying to give it a sense of how it is to live in it. The essence of life is movement after all – respiration and transportation.”
This exhibit was originally presented at Hudson Guild Gallery from April 25 through June 4, 2019.
This on-line exhibit was created by Jim Furlong.