Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11

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9781845115456: Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11

 A Chicago Tribune Best Book of theYear
 
The attack on the World Trade Center was the most watched event in human history. And the footage seen of that day came not only from TV cameras, but also from workers, tourists, and passersby, each of whose lives would change dramatically when confronted with the sight of the attacks.
 
David Friend has uncovered the stories behind those images--from the street-level shots of the north tower crumbling to firefighters raising the American flag over the rubble. In Watching the World Change, he traces the images back to their sources and charts their impact over the next seven days. That week was the beginning of a digital age, a moment when all the advances in television, photography, and the Web converged on a single event. A brilliant chronicle of how we process disaster.

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About the Author:

David Friend is Vanity Fair's editor of creative development. He lives in New Rochelle, New York.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Watching the World Change
1TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11French filmmaker Jules Naudet, shooting downtown, heard the roar of a plane above him. He raised his digital video camera. He aimed a bit ahead of him, to the space in the sky where he thought the plane was headed. His response was uncanny: just in time, and position, to record the impact of the plane as it plunged into the north face of the north tower.At the same instant, across the East River, a Czech immigrant named Pavel Hlava was sitting in the passenger's seat of an SUV in Brooklyn, video camera in hand. He was accompanied by his brother Josef, in town for a visit and eager to see the sights of Manhattan. As Hlava focused his camcorder on the Trade Center towers in the distance, he caught an indistinct blob moving toward one of the buildings. He continued taping as a puff of white signaled the plane's collision. Hlava's shaky video next captured the fiery gash in the side of the structure, along with the approach, seventeen minutes later, of a second plane as it tipped its wing and tore through the south tower.Also fixed on the twin towers that morning were two unmanned Webcams, positioned in an apartment window in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Several days before, Wolfgang Staehle, a German-born Internet-art pioneer, had carefully calibrated the cameras' shutters to trip at four-secondintervals, hour after hour, day after day, automatically snapping postcard-style views of lower Manhattan. Staehle's photos would then be transmitted over the World Wide Web to twin film projectors, their beams directed at the wall of a West Side art gallery. In the name of art (Staehle's show was called "2001"), the Webcams silently documented the aircraft's approach, then its concussion, then the explosion (Image 1). The resulting high-resolution triptych--three panoramas shot in the span of twelve seconds--showed the downtown skyline as it degenerated from a placid morning vista into a cityscape under siege.A French documentary filmmaker, a Czech immigrant, and a German artist--New Yorkers all--each happened to have cameras rolling and focused on the World Trade Center when it was attacked. Moments later, artist Lawrence Heller, who had heard the first jet slam into Tower One (the north tower), picked up his digital video camera. He had just set it down on the window ledge in his Franklin Street loft, taking a short break from shooting video "still lifes" of several wall sculptures he was about to crate up and send off for an exhibition. Over the next few minutes, Heller and his wife, Mi-Kyung Hwang, took turns filming Tower One engulfed in smoke. On the tape, Heller can be heard on the phone with his grandparents: "Hey Grandma. I'll tell you what woke me up. They bombed the World Trade Center ... I'm looking at it, Mi-Kyung's videotaping it ... Terrible ... Grandpa, I saw it. Could have been a plane. But I think it was a bomb, a missile. This could be World War Three ... I don't know, Grandma ... How early? Just happened, I don't know, three minutes ago."And so it went. As the morning crept on, New Yorkers poured into the streets, many to help, many in flight, all of them aghast. Out, too, came their cameras. Men and women by the hundreds, then thousands--bystanders with point-and-shoots, TV news teams, photojournalists by the score--felt compelled to snap history, fiery and cruel against the blue.People photographed from windows and parapets and landings. They photographed as they fled: in cars, across bridges, up avenues blanketed in drifts of ash and dust. They even photographed the images on their television sets as they watched the world changing, right there on the screen. 
 
Patricia McDonough was jolted from sleep by a shake and then a high-pitched wail outside her window. She lay still a moment, taking in the roar of the sirens. These were the same sounds, and the same rumble, she realized, that she had felt in 1993 when terrorists bombed the World Trade Center, just four blocks away.McDonough, a professional photographer, jumped from bed and took her Nikon with its fish-eye lens (a bulbous "trick" attachment she happened to have left on the camera) and directed it at the smoking structure outside her picture window (Image 2). The exaggerated curve of the 16-mm lens made her apartment appear to warp and buckle. Her living room, swollen with morning sunshine, seemed set to implode. Out beyond the lamp, the potted plants, the thin tissue of the glass, smoke columns billowed like ink, then milk, then cumulus."At first," she says, "when I was taking my pictures, I was doing it as a personal document: This is this morning. This is what happened, to me, in my apartment. Soon, however, thousands of people were there. And ambulances. There were all these photographers." Then downtown Manhattan literally transformed in front of her. And photography, strangely enough, "suddenly seemed superfluous," she says."When I saw the first building come down on all these trucks and ambulances, the situation became something else. I felt immediately needed. I have had a lot of Red Cross training, CPR classes. I have preternatural calm in disasters. I thought, This is New York. What good is another photographer--and a million people who think they're photographers? What was needed was another person who could help."McDonough threw on a T-shirt. (She thought it odd, later in the day, when she realized it sported a caricature of a butcher with a mustache and a sneer, holding a butcher's knife.) She loaded her bike bag with disposable gloves and water bottles. She grabbed her heavily stocked first-aid kit. She decided to leave her exposed film and equipment behind, taking along a single camera and a few rolls. Since the building's electricity had gone out, a result of the towers' collapse, she rushed down seventeen flights of stairs in the dark."There was an ambulance outside my door," she says, "and I just opened the back and got in. [Inside] were ambulance drivers from Yonkers. They may have been hiding. They were scared. They didn't know what to do. I saw it as a ride to go and help." After a bit of prodding from McDonough, the men gunned the engine and raced with her toward the Trade towers.That day, McDonough guided people to emergency vehicles and helped set up operating tables at a triage center at Chelsea Piers. Later that week (after a stop to retrieve the film she'd left behind), she assisted rescue workers at hydration stations. Her photos of the view inside and outside her apartment window that Tuesday morning, tightly framed and claustrophobic, would later run in Esquire, then other magazines, winning her awards. 
 
Jonathan Torgovnik noticed that his hands were trembling. "I should shoot this at a high shutter speed because I'm shaking," he thought.Around nine in the morning, Torgovnik had spied the edge of an airplane wing from the kitchen window of his top-floor apartment on Houston Street and Sixth Avenue. He watched the wing disappear as the plane plowed into the south tower. It then registered: one building was spouting smoke; the other had just been hit; terrorist strikes must be under way Torgovnik, a frequent contributor to Newsweek, intuitively shifted into work mode. He opened the refrigerator, where, like many photographers, he stored his film in a temperature-controlled environment, and gathered fifteen rolls of Kodak negative, then packed two Canons, one Hasselblad panoramic, and three lenses. He saw that he was still shaking.Torgovnik had covered conflicts around the world. As an Israeli citizen he had completed three years of compulsory military duty, serving in Gaza and Lebanon. Yet only once before in his life had he experienced the fear he felt that moment in his kitchen: during the first Gulf War, when Iraq began hurling Scud missiles through the night skies, targeting cities in Israel. "You're looking at your grandmother in a gas mask and she's ninety-two," he says, recounting how they sat in his parents' apartmentin Tel Aviv. "She went through World War II and three wars in Israel. And I'm trying to keep calm. In both cases, 9/11 and the Gulf War, you're in your home. You're in your protected space. And [suddenly] you've peeled off all your shields of protection."He bicycled the twenty blocks to the World Trade Center. At one point he turned his camera vertically to capture Tower One, above the glass-roofed Winter Garden, just a stairway and a plaza away from him, to the east. His mind registered that he was in danger because he saw, through his viewfinder, that two businessmen with briefcases were fleeing for their lives, one staring back at the building in free fall. "I saw the top of the tower crumbling," says Torgovnik. "I thought, 'What am I doing? I can die.' But I said to myself, 'I'm here. I have to take a picture of this.'" He squeezed off four frames, then thought, "Now I have to run." 
 
Dave Brondolo was a printing plant account manager and aspiring photographer. He hurried downtown from his Nineteenth Street office on the number 1 subway hoping to use his high-end Nikon to garner his own firsthand view of the scenes he had glimpsed on TV He caught the last subway train to discharge passengers at Chambers Street, one stop north of the tower, arriving just in time to see the south tower plummet before his lens, the camera's motor drive tripping the shutter in rapid, blurry bursts (Image 3)."Every time I press the shutter," he says, "the viewfinder closes. And it happens so fast what I'm mostly seeing is black: the shutter, closed. I didn't know what was occurring in front of my eyes. As I'm taking the pictures I heard a sound like cracking spaghetti and just kept firing."Then I turned and saw these monstrous smoke clouds coming down the street, straight at me, movin...

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Book Description I.B.Tauris Co Ltd., United Kingdom, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Watching the World Change is a unique and powerfully affecting account of the most universally observed news event in human history: the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. David Friend tells the stories behind the images that altered our sense of our world forever, from the happen stance shots taken by standers as the first tower was struck to the scene of three firemen raising the Stars and Stripes at the site that would soon be known as Ground Zero. He gives us the experiences of the photographers and rescuers, victims and survivors. He shows how advances in television, digital photography, and the Internet produced an effect whereby more than two billion people saw the terrible events as they happened. He explores the controversy about whether images of 9/11 are redemptive or exploitative, and he shows how photographs help us to witness, to grieve, and finally to understand the unimaginable. Bookseller Inventory # AA79781845115456

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Book Description I.B.Tauris Co Ltd., United Kingdom, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Watching the World Change is a unique and powerfully affecting account of the most universally observed news event in human history: the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. David Friend tells the stories behind the images that altered our sense of our world forever, from the happen stance shots taken by standers as the first tower was struck to the scene of three firemen raising the Stars and Stripes at the site that would soon be known as Ground Zero. He gives us the experiences of the photographers and rescuers, victims and survivors. He shows how advances in television, digital photography, and the Internet produced an effect whereby more than two billion people saw the terrible events as they happened. He explores the controversy about whether images of 9/11 are redemptive or exploitative, and he shows how photographs help us to witness, to grieve, and finally to understand the unimaginable. Bookseller Inventory # AA79781845115456

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