Notes from the Underground: Readers on the NYC Subway
A documentary photobook project exploring the NYC subway and its passengers through the books they read while they ride the rails.
Subway systems around the world have been the objects of obsessive attention from artists and writers since the first mile of track was laid for the London Underground in the 1860s. The allure of the subway does not lie in the alienness of its dank, subterranean tunnels. It resides instead in the individual diversity that may be found within the universal urban experience of the subway ride.
Subway commuters in New York City have been observed, fictionalized, placed under the lens, and generally scrutinized by a slew of scholars, artists, and writers. My goal with this project is to capture riders, not through the shared experience of the train journey itself, but through the common phenomena of reading on the subway.
Through a combination of photographs and conversations with fellow passengers I hope to reveal the individual motives and passions that spur people to read on the subway. I would like to portray the inherent beauty in practicing such a solitary activity in such a (sometimes almost unbearably) raucous and populated space.
In addition to this more poetic goal, I hope to be able to provide some anthropological insight into the role of reading in our postmodern society. So, in addition to photographs, interviews, and descriptive text, I hope to include pieces of scholarly commentary that will serve to elucidate the act of reading from more general and historical angles.
In order to spend time, develop film, print photographs, and print a book (in offset rather than digital for the sake of image quality), I need every cent of assistance you can provide!
Ultimately I hope to print over 200 copies of the book, and as many silver gelatin prints as I can afford documenting the phenomena of subway readers. I will also be looking into a Creative Commons license for the book.
Here is a cursory estimation of cost distribution for the project:
Photographic materials including film and photo paper: 250$
Darkroom rental: ~13$/hr ($2600 for estimated 200 hrs in lab)
Book printing (offset): ~20$ per book (4000$ for 200 copies)
I would be honored if you would support me in this effort to bring visibility to underground literacy!
**If you ARE an NYC subway reader, feel free to donate your experience!**
- (50 days)