Joshua Frankel

9 minutes

This film represents my first visual studies for a new opera about Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs.

Mannahatta was previewed with orchestra and choir at the 2013 BAM Next Wave Festival as part of a program called "21c Liederabend", an evening of new music at the BAM Harvey Theater, and with a work-in-progress audio recording at the New Museum's IDEAS CITY Conference. It has yet to premiere in a film festival.

The animation is set to Judd Greenstein's Mannahatta, which works with the Walt Whitman poem of the same name, and was commissioned by a consortium of orchestras. DM Stith sings the vocal solo.

A recurring theme in our opera's story is the collision of nature with modernism and I have begun to explore that juxtaposition with these studies. Robert Moses brings nature into New York City, but he does it through modernist shapes: rectangular swimming pools, baseball diamonds, beaches carved into perfect mathematical arcs etc. The segments in this video work with similar juxtapositions.

The window is an important object in the story of Jane Jacobs, and the second visual idea being explored in Mannahatta. Jacobs made many of the observations that lead to her groundbreaking ideas and books by looking out her window. Each of these animated studies sets up one world and cuts out a window revealing another. The collage in Plan Of The City is primarily additive - elements are placed on top of others; in the windows in Mannahatta I am playing with subtraction. In the opera I plan to use both.

Mannahatta has been made possible by a generous grant from the New York State Council on the Arts.