Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tinker's Folly

PHOTOGRAPHER’S JOURNAL: I can’t imagine this tin-can truss-works of filters and stacks becoming other than junk. For the moment it represents a part of Ansonia that many probably wish to leave behind. Nor can I imagine it amounting to much once the sad ruin of a casting house behind it is gone. -just junk waiting fore the junkman.

Since I first saw it, it fascinated me. I suspect I’m not the only one who has imagined climbing on it like a jungle gym. Viewed from across the river, and always from behind awkward obstacles, it’s hard to get to know, but it blossoms up the side of the Anaconda American Brass casting house, and it sends fat tendrils over the rooftop. They tell me these are filters for the huge furnaces within. From a spot on the hill across the river, I enjoy the silhouettes of ladders climbing inside metal cages, and stair rails angling into catwalk rails, where ant-sized people can go everywhere.

The reality of unexpectedly getting access was quite different. Getting up the first ladder with backpack and tripod was neither pretty nor quick. Level one was nowhere. I was still below the flood wall, and I knew I was trying to be so careful that I had talked myself into absolute terror. I tested the safety of each stretch of catwalk before trusting it with my full weight. Below was concrete if fate did not impale me on the way down. 

Getting above the flood wall was my first goal. Whatever level this is, it’s as high above the wall as I reached - perhaps level 3. It was not unlike finally, after extraordinary effort, reaching level three in a computer game, but the reality was not virtual. I took a few pictures sheepishly, though with tripod and camera extended as far out from the structure as I dared. And then I very carefully climbed back down, and I have tried repeatedly to photograph the shapes of the filters and stacks from the ground. My friend Lazlo, who once worked as a window washer in NYC, went up over the rooftop.

[casting house filters, American Brass, Ansonia, CT]