Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 2, 15:00 UTC, A Moment in Time

The Lens blog of the NY Times put out a call for people to take a picture of wherever they were at 15:00 U.T.C., Sunday, May 2. UTC stands for Coordinated Universal Time; it translated to 11:00 a.m. for my little corner of the Upper West Side. And so I took a photo from the choir loft of Ascension Church on 107 Street, catching the procession at the start of the Mass.

As the site now says, “Thousands of readers worldwide sent in pictures of what they saw,” and so did I. They made the process so very easy to submit.

And they have created a very cool interface for showing this panoply of amazing images. You can spin the globe, and touch a geographic area. Then you chose a category like Arts & Entertainment, Family, Money and the Economy, Religion, or Community, which was the category I submitted it to. It’s really worth a look to. I took my photo with an iPhone, so the acuity isn't great, but the color and composition are fairly good.

Local and Global
I was surprised to see two other images from my neighborhood: Strauss Park at 106, and a shot of the intersection of 106, 110, and Broadway from Body Strength Gym.

When I was taking the photo back on May 2, I loved the anticipation of waiting for 11:00 a.m on the dot. As I was clicking away I thought about the expanse of people across the world doing the same thing at that precise moment. It was a lovely thought. And now, the photos themselves are relevatory of place, time, cultures, peoples. Yes, there are quite a few cats. But also so much more than that.

When I clicked over to England, the first picture was “The Pearly King and Queen organized a gathering to raise funds for a monument to commemorate a tragedy that occurred at the Bethnal Green tube station during WWll.” Oh my gosh. The Pearlies are something my parents told me about when I was a child. The King and Queen used to appear on the old Ed Sullivan Show, so Americans knew about them. My mother crafted a pair of Pearly dolls for me when I went over to live in England during college. I haven't thought about them since then, and then there they were in the first international photo I looked at.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for this window onto the world (to mix a metaphor). As the interface says while it’s loading, “Make no plans for the rest of the day.”