Invisible City: The images and the book

‘For a decade Ken Schles watched the passing of time from his Lower East Side Manhattan neighborhood. His camera has fixed the instances of his observations, and these moments become the foundation of his invisible city. Friends and architecture come under the scrutiny of his lens and, when sorted and viewed in the pages of this book, a remarkable achievement of personal vision emerges.’

As we have previously mentioned, come September we will be looking at Ken Schles’ ‘Invisible City’ with Ken himself agreeing to take part in the discussion and be available to answer any questions.

In order to do this we need to ensure as many people as possible can see this very rare and often expensive object. And so we have produced two videos which are shown below. The first displays all the images from ‘invisible City’ sequenced as they are in the book. The second video shows the book as an object in itself to give an idea of the layout, typography, size and feel of the book.

You can also flick through the book at your own pace with the slideshow at the bottom of the page (Click to advance)

We would love to hear first thoughts upon seeing the images and book as well as any questions which we can put to Ken when he joins us in September: email or find us on twitter – @photobookclub

[slideshow id=1]

0 replies on “Invisible City: The images and the book”

I love this book so much. I co owned New Math gallery on 12th street between A and B from 1983 – 1986. Mario and I always said Ken was our resident photographer. He took so many beautiful photographs of the gallery and the neighborhood. he really captured both the up and downside of living somewhere where both art and creative energy and death and destruction shared a landscape. Thumbing through this book brings back so many memories

Is there anywhere online where we can read any background or context on this book? Or possibly the post-text that was produced within the book itself? These kinds of things can be important to understanding the book better.

Hi lee,
More links will be posted come September, as well as the text that is printed within the book and not currently living online. This is more of a teaser and intro for now while we gear up for Sep.

I have selfishly carried my copy of this wonderful book with me 3000miles to my new home in Europe, since 10years now. I knew the work was beautiful then and i had no idea (youth) that that landscape (including the people) captured so artfully by Ken’s vision would morph or fade away- it now seems like a sunami has hit what we all called home turf (east-village)- New York let alone the USA is indebted to Ken to have captured such a seminal period of american history so well (and i remind everyone that the book is a mere tip of the iceberg which he chose to reveal). I understand (and can see) that this book has influenced videos and films such as Pi (π) which is well worth seeing. Indeed i remember newmath gallery and mario and craig coleman and an atmosphere that i sometimes see only vaguely echoed here in Berlin (perhaps that is why i live here now- trying to re-enter Ken Schles’ Invisible City)
Jn-Ulrick Desert

Thanks so much for the comment Jn-Ulrick, do you mind if we use this as a stand-alone post in september? If so let me know where you would like a link to if you wish.

Like Cafe Lehmitz, I’m glad someone not only made the effort- but actually succeeded in successfully capturing this part of town, this part of time that existed in all its brief wonder and tragedy. Loisaida was in constant motion in the late 70’s, early 80’s, evolving (or devolving) from a culturally heterogeneous, junkie laden, cheap rent district of promise, hope and energy into that of a gentrified homogeneity of yuppies, condos and crack. In a half dozen brief years, the place was transformed from a place fueled by the spirit and fire of punk, new wave and the very beginnings of rap, to a veritable laughing stock where practically every other neighborhood storefront and bodega was transformed overnight into fledgling art galleries by trust fund, wannabe gallerists. Their “galleries” lasted about as long as your average punk set at CB’s, but the blight upon the neighborhood was permanent. The Ramones had somehow mutated into Madonna.

I remember someone wrote a book called It Was Gonna To Be Like Paris. If only. Thanks for the memories Ken.

This book is not just a resounding success photographically and historically it is also bursting with heart. The intimate and collective melancholia and the enigmatic austerity of the Lower East Side are rendered with strong artistic plasticity and a clear creative signature. I love it.

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