Magical Water Towers

by Annik on September 21, 2012

Water towers are as much a part of the New York City landscape as skyscrapers, and many people find as much art in the rooftop “hoops and staves of the Middle Ages” as they do in the city’s modern architecture. That’s a quote from Charles Kuralt, the great CBS newsman, who also loved the city’s water tanks and appreciated their place in our urban landscape as well as the ancient crafstmanship that produced them.

Today I got an email from a reader of this blog who pointed me to a short film that Kuralt would have loved, “The Water Tower Player” (or, its original French title, “Le Joueur de Citernes”). It’s a brief love poem to New York City’s water towers made by a French filmmaker named Emmanuel Gorinstein.  This film is a magical imagining that takes you into a realm that Maurice Sendak, Tim Burton and Hugh Ferris would recognize and feel happy in. It also brought to mind the characterization of another landscape icon that Marcel’s grandmother recalls in Proust’s Swann’s Way. Of the cathedral spire in Combray she says: “My dears, laugh at me if you like; it is not conventionally beautiful, but there is something in its quaint old face that pleases me. If it could play the piano, I’m sure it would play.” For his film about water towers, Gorinstein dispatches a violinist, and mon dieu, can he he play.

I won’t even attempt to describe the film here, I’ll just give you a link. It’s only fourteen minutes long, but find a time when you’re ready to be astounded, and moved, and then click. And when you’re done, here’s a link to Gorinstein’s blog, where you’ll find his marvelous, moody, often other-worldly artwork.

The upcoming Water Tank Project in Spring 2013 will provide countless new opportunities for artists to conjure with the city’s water towers. Lucky us.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

rebecca chace September 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I love the water towers so much and will definitely go to link and watch the film. There is a beautiful artist project with a water tower you can see from the D train into Brooklyn that just lights up the skyline.
Very excited about seeing what happens near the highline, where I was yesterday, to see an old man playing his harmonica (“Edelwiess”) to a small bunny who sat listening in a shopping bag, snacking on grass and not jumping out though he wasn’t caged. On my way back, a woman was sitting and feeding him carrots, while the old man (presumably his owner) kept playing. It was one of those Only in New York moments.
thanks for keeping us informed and clued in with your wonderful blog, Annik!

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Annik September 23, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Beka, you’ve made me want to hop the D train to Brooklyn. And thanks for that great story about the bunny. I’ve seen lots of dogs, but never a rabbit. I hope you and others will continue to report on sitings of Other Creatures on the High Line. And get photos!

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