School of Art, Media, and Technology

Matt Whitman and Mark John Smith (MFA Fine Arts ’14) share work inspired by their 4 WTC tour

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Matt Whitman (MFA Fine Arts ’14) shares a clip from footage he took of a rare and privileged tour of 4 World Trade Center. Fellow artist Mark John Smith (MFA Fine Arts ’14) accompanied him, and took the photos in the gallery below.

Whitman says about the tour and his work:

“It was a really amazing experience – my past work has often involved documenting One World Trade Center over time, as it undergoes construction and becomes more and more of a new presence.

Matt Witman - Photo by Mark John Smith 2013

Matt Witman – Photo by Mark John Smith 2013

I became interested in the World Trade Center because of something that happened to me when I was younger. When I was a kid, I always wanted to experience New York City (I’m from Philadelphia originally) – I had this mythology of New York City in my head ever since childhood based on movies and songs and things I had read in books. So, I begged and begged my dad to take to to visit NYC and finally when I was 13 in May of 2001, I finally got to come to New York City. Before that, I had always thought that the Empire State Building was the tallest building in the city and then after visiting the Empire State Building, I found out that the twin towers of the World Trade Center were actually the tallest. So, from that point, I really wanted to visit those buildings and go to the top of the south tower. But it became cloudy and rainy later in that weekend of our trip, and so I never went downtown to the World Trade Center – I only saw it in the distance in between avenues and on the train ride in and out of the city. I wanted to stay longer in New York of course, but we couldn’t. My parents said that it was OK, we would come back to the city again sometime soon, maybe next year or next summer. The twin towers would always be there. And then of course, a few months later the towers were not there anymore.

And so I have this disconnect – a kind of unrequited love affair with the twin towers. To add to that, my father, who took me around the city for the very first time, passed away suddenly two years ago while I was living in NYC but before I started this project. And so my work involving the WTC has been my way of sort of working through all of that – the resolution of a love with something from the past which is no longer here (the twin towers, my father who brought me here first) as well a reconciliation with what will replace them – the new buildings, sort of the stepfather/step-parent to downtown – the buildings which are supposed to ‘replace’ something that was lost. This project is my coming to terms with all of that.”

Images by Mark John Smith 2013

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