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(details of artwork at bottom of page)
Artist: Miles Coolidge
Title: "Instead of a Bridge"
Medium: Photograph - Color
Size: 1' x 360' (20 photographs each 1' x 18')
Year Installed: 2003
Venue: Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport
Twenty (20) sections of C-print, each measuring 1' x 18', are mounted continuously on a narrow ceiling band at one of the departure waiting lounges at Terminal 1, Concourse B. Each photo is depicting a 360 degree view of the streetscape with a panoramic detailing of the urban environment. The artist captured these imageries by positioning his special made camera mounted on a tripod at the center of a circle at a dead end street. The selection of the locations for each photo is ranging from Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs, Pompano Beach, Lauderdale-by-the- Sea, Plantation, Dania and Hollywood. Viewing is limited to traveling passengers only.
SUBJECT AND THEME
Two of the dominant features of the greater Fort Lauderdale area landscape are the large numbers of suburban housing developments of various vintages and an elaborate system of canals and inland waterways. The unique character of the area's built environment springs from the intimate interaction of these two systems. In fact, they are so interdependent that it is no exaggeration to say that one structures the other and vice-versa. My photographs identify a feature of Fort Lauderdale's cityscape that exemplifies the character of this relationship.
If the land on a beach is scratched near the water the line instantly fills with water. The land in Fort Lauderdale area is so low that it reacts similarly when developed. Large scale building requires excavation; and indentation in the earth becomes a body of water right away. This situation is so prevalent that the only reasonable way to deal with it is to amalgate these bodies of water into a system of canals. A design problem (and potential health risk) now enables Fort Lauderdale to be called the American Venice.
The Italian Venice retains its particular aura, however, because canals there have replaced roadways. This would hardly be appropriate, of course, in the American Venice. In our urban planning schemes, roads are of primary importance, and in the case of Fort Lauderdale this is no different. Houses are oriented to the streetscape, as in most American cities. But, overlaid on the grid of roads is the unusual system of canals that serendipitously is the product of the city. Major roads span them with bridges, making them difficult to experience for the passing motorist. Smaller residential streets, however, must end when bisected by a canal. This again is fortuitous. The dead-end of the roadway becomes a circle, not only making it easier to make an U-turn, but also providing the residents with a calm common space between their properties that alleviates the alienating functionality of the urban grid. This circle becomes a figure for the possibility of a stronger and more satisfying sense of community than would otherwise be the case. The canal or lake that made this possible is often visible between the properties.
FORMAL APPROACH AND FINAL RESULT
The photographs are panoramic images of a variety of these spaces, made from the center of the circles. The images depict them in 360 degree views, beginning and ending with the road leading into them. Thus, a false sense of spatial continuity is maintained from image to image, which suggests the question in the viewer's mind, what if this unusual and munificent feature of Fort Lauderdale's urban landscape were the rule and not the exception?
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