Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Michael Vahrenwald

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Mind the Gap.

Charles Dickens, in writing about his youth, describes a coffee shop in St. Martin's Lane:

I only recollect that it stood near the church, and that in the door there was an oval glass plate with 'COFFEE ROOM' painted on it, addressed towards the street. If I ever find myself in a very different kind of coffee-room now, but where there is such an inscription on glass, and read it backwards on the wrong side, MOOR EEFFOC (as I often used to do then in a dismal reverie), a shock goes through my blood.

“Moor Effoc.”

Through his inattention, Dickens inadvertently flattens the world and reanimates it. He creates a magical presence in a coffee shop not through any fantastic, otherworldly flight of fancy, but simply through fully realizing what is already present.

In wandering through the New York City transit system this semester, I explored a world which we have been trained not to look at – a world which, first and foremost, is concerned with efficiency and practicality. The subways, train stations, and bus stops all seemingly blend into one another, and for many passengers the experience of travelling has become trite and exhausted. Perhaps because I am an outsider to the city and not a regular commuter, however, I often found being in transit to be comparable to how Dickens must have felt as a small child while sitting in the coffee shop on St. Martin’s Lane. As I travelled, only really half-looking, scenes and images collided and interrupted one another, and it is this sense of Moor Effoc that I hope my photography captures – this slight disorientation by which the world beneath the city seemed to me at once absolutely commonplace, and wonderfully strange.

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