Nazi Spies and New York Perspectives
By Sam Roberts
Think you know New York? The photojournalist Janko Puls, who moved here in 2006, shares his singular personal urbanscape in “Point of View New York City: A Visual Game of the City You Think You Know” (CN Times Books).
Mr. Puls renders otherwise conspicuous sites obscure by focusing on architectural details or by photographing from odd angles, challenging the viewer. For instance: Could you recognize the World Trade Center Memorial from a context-free geometric shot of its reflecting pool? Could you pick out the charging bull of Wall Street from a close-up of the tip of its bronze horn? Some will challenge even the most knowledgeable New Yorker (Mr. Puls helpfully provides a map and an index with addresses and interesting factual tidbits).
The project was his way of coping with the city’s breakneck metamorphosis. “A moment came when I knew more vanished places than actually existing ones,” he writes. “It was when I noticed that, I suppose, that I really became a New Yorker.”
Library Journal, June 15, 2014, p.112-113:
This fun book offers a fresh perspective on the familiar sights of New York City. German-born photographer and journalist Puls (now a New York resident) set out to photograph iconic city objects from unusual angles. Could the bronzed foot belong to Peter Stuyvesant? Check Stuyvesant Square. Is that a real rocket outside of the New York Hall of Science? Yes, a Gemini Titan II rocket was donated by NASA to the 1964 World's Fair. Every location visited is free and open to the public. While there are photos from each of the boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island), the majority of the items documented are located in Manhattan. Stunning and captivating in their own right, the photos are unidentified in the main section, so readers can guess the location, and the author urges the reader to make a game of identifying each place. At the end of the book, a separate appendix gives the location and a bit of history of each photo's subject. VERDICT Not a guidebook, this is a small volume of interest to readers who are curious about New York architecture, history, and photography. Both visitors and longtime residents will be challenged to guess the locations of the subjects.—Susan Belsky, Oshkosh P.L., WI
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ForeWord Reviews, May 27, 2014:
This fun and fascinating travel guide to NYC spans the familiar—from unfamiliar perspectives—to the unique and obscure.
Some of the iconic landmarks of New York City—the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial—are instantly recognizable, even to those who have never been to New York. Photographer Janko Puls trains his eye (and his camera lens) on some of the notaseasily identifiable sights of NYC in his photo book, Point of View New York: A Visual Game of the City You Think You Know.
The “game” of the book’s title is one of identifying the subjects of Puls’s photographs, which are often taken from strange and unfamiliar angles, making objects harder to recognize. Each color photo has a number that corresponds to an entry at the back of the book listing the answers, along with location, subject, and other explanatory details. Though the photos are well composed and technically impressive in their own right, equally appealing are these mini-essays that further illuminate bits of the city that might otherwise go unknown. For example, one entry describes the origin of a photograph’s subject: what seems to be a woman waving from an apartment window near High Line Park:
Since the abandoned elevated train tracks were converted into a flashy park in 2009, they have drawn an international tourist crowd and changed the neighborhood from seedy to ritzy. Japanese artist Hyemi Cho had an idea for dealing with the daily packs of tourists peeking into her window right next to the tracks: She painted this friendly self portrait and provided her neighbors and friends with similar protective shields.The book travels off the beaten path, but there are plenty of famous sights included too, always photographed in a unique way. The photo locations are also identified on a map of New York at the back of the book.
Point of View New York City offers the experience of seeing the city not from postcard panoramas but from the shifted perspectives of an adventurous pedestrian. Though the book provides entertainment for any reader, those most interested may be New Yorkers who haven’t explored the nooks and crannies of the city the way Puls has. Those readers might well find themselves with a whole new appreciation for the city they inhabit.
Peter Dabbene [full text as pdf] [full text as html] [page as jpg] [page as pdf]
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"This book is a wonderful addition to anyone who wants to explore NYC with a fresh perspective. Tourists and native New Yorkers alike will enjoy Janko Puls's unique compositions and ability to challenge you to look at locations that you may have passed by many times but never truly appreciated."
— James T. & Karla L. Murray, authors and photographers, Store Front - The Disappearing Face of New York and New York Nights, Winner of the New York Society Library 2012 New York City Book Award
“A thoughtful and unique take on the fabric of the city. Janko Puls sees the elements of New York in a new and refreshing way, focusing on what we would not have seen on our own.”
— Richard Berenholtz, photographer and author of New York, New York: Mini, New York Deco, Panoramic New York, as well as 3 other notable photography books on New York City
“What a fresh way to look at the city we think we know. Janko’s abstract images force you to take a second look and examine the Big Apple in new ways. A fun book for a fun city.”
— Horst Hamann, photographer, author of New York Vertical, Vertical New Yorkers, One Night on Broadway, and more
“As the author of books on architecture, I note in Janko Puls a similar soul. His active and curious mind searches out the nooks and crannies, as well as the icons, of our wonderful town, in a most original way.”
— Roxie Munro, author and illustrator, The Inside Outside Book of New York, A New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book; a Time Magazine Best Children’s Book of the Year, and many other books
“As a photographer, I’m particularly impressed by the idiosyncratic flair of the imagery. Janko Puls approaches the city with a wonderfully fresh eye - a little reminiscent of Robert Frank and his all-time classic, The Americans.”
— Bo Zaunders, writer and photographer, The New York Times Book Review, Smithsonian Magazine, Gourmet, National Geographic Traveler
"This book is a beautiful and personal photographic journey through New York City's best (and some least known) treasures. Both natives and visitors alike will learn something new just by looking."
— Joanne Dugan, photographer and author of the award-winning books, ABC NYC: A Book About Seeing New York City and 123 NYC: A Counting Book of New York City, curator and educator, faculty member of the International Center of Photography in New York City and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA
“This is a beautiful book of beautiful photographs doubly engaging and amusing because of its gentle, charming interactive game. Further, it reminds all of us to take a little time to observe and to appreciate our fair surroundings.”
— Susan L. Roth, illustrator of the New York Times bestseller Listen to the Wind
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"The same day that I picked up “Walking Queens” and “Walking Brooklyn,” I got Janko Puls’ “Point of View New York City: A Visual Game of the City You Think You Know.” This is a wonderful little book for lovers of New York, architecture and photography. It’s a puzzle book: 144 closely-cropped photos of well-known New York City places. Your challenge: identify the places. Some are easy, some are difficult; all demonstrate the power of seeing something familiar from a different point of view. Beautifully done, Janko!"
— Kenneth Grant, photographer and retired journalist, in an excerpt from "Fabulous Forest Hills Fantasy" in: NewYorkitecture - New York City Architecture Photos & Facts
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NYPL Recommendations (Jan 11, 2015)
Filed under: Art Driven Personal True Stories Unconventional
This little photo book is an ode to the places in NYC where architecture aligns with time and circumstance, creating a moment during which we cannot help but NOTICE THINGS. Use it to test your NYC smarts or embark upon a scavenger hunt, and experience the city in a whole new way.
Staff Pick By: Leah Labrecque, 58th Street