All posts by ameliaw


Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 4.53.39 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 5.08.53 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 5.10.26 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 5.10.33 PM Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 5.22.27 PM <—–working on meshlab to create a 3D map

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 5.30.15 PM also working with MapBox /open GL

J3R0K9S <—click this image for a demo

The palisades

The Palisades are among the most dramatic geologic features in the vicinity of New York City, forming a canyon of the Hudson north of George Washington Bridge, as well as providing a vista of the skyline. Palisade is derived from the same root as word pale, ultimately from the Latin word palus, meaning stake. The Lenape called the cliffs “rocks that look like rows of trees”, a phrase that became “Weehawken”, the name of a town in New Jersey which sits at the top of the cliffs across from Manhattan.



Travel logistics: route and information for getting to the palisades: We stopped at the first parking lot on this map at area 1

    • Map of the area 1.LINK


    • Map of the area 2.LINK


    • Map of the area 3.LINK

Post Production:


    • Artists who have been influenced by the palisades


    • Geological researchers / scholars of the palisades


    • hikers and nature lovers who come to the palisades on weekends to escape manhattan and what it makes them think and feel


    • Founders of the #StopLG movement leaders and politicians working to save the Palisades and prevent the large LG headquarters from being built atop the Palisades.




using the photos to create a 3D map of the pals aides that people can zoom into the geological formation below the water to see the enormous rock foundation of manhattan which is only this tiny little lump atop an enormous and ancient geological structure. Web based or browser based (OR just an animation that goes into the final video). Like this Map:


More History:

In the 1910s, when Fort Lee was a center of film production, the cliffs were frequently used as film locations. The most notable of these films wasThe Perils of Pauline, a serial which helped popularize the term cliffhanger.[14]

The Lenape called the cliffs “rocks that look like rows of trees”, a phrase that became “Weehawken”, the name of a town in New Jersey which sits at the top of the cliffs across from Manhattan.

The basalt cliffs are the margin of a diabase sill, formed about 200 million years ago[2] at the close of the Triassic Period by the intrusion of moltenmagma upward into sandstone.[3] The molten material cooled and solidified before reaching the surface. Water erosion of the softer sandstone left behind the columnar structure of harder rock that exists today. The cliffs are about 300 ft (100 m) thick in sections and originally may have reached to 1,000 ft (300 m).

During the 1800s, millions of cubic yards of Palisades basalt and diabase were extracted at the Englewood Cliffs quarry for railroad ballast and aggregate that helped to build New York City. A sandstone layer was also mined and used to construct many of the famous New York brownstone buildings.

From a Young Naturalist: Adjacent to Rockland State Park is the Tilcon Quarry, where I stopped to see what was currently being done with the diabase from the sill (Figures 9 11). Upon arriving at the quarry, I immediately noticed gigantic piles of different-sized rocks. Each pile was composed of rocks of a larger size than the one before. Continuing around the quarry, I could see the conveyor belts running through machines that break the rocks into the smaller pieces, which were then sorted by size and made into the piles I had seen earlier.

Tilcon Quarry

The Palisades is not only rich in geological history, but in economic history as well. During the 19th century, the durable diabase was used for constructing buildings. Many of the early homes in the area, including many of New Jersey’s historic Dutch farmhouses, were built from the red sandstones, as were the brownstones of New York City. Right after the Civil War, large amounts of rock were shipped to New York and other cities to become “Belgian” paving blocks. Most of these rocks were gathered from the talus slopes at the bottom of the sill.

Tilcon Quarry, sorted rock piles

In the late 1800s, when the streets of New York City were being paved on a large scale, there was an even greater attack on the Palisades. Because of the tremendous value of the ancient rock, the Palisades were in great danger. In Rockland County there were 31 quarries between Grandview and Upper Nyack. One firm alone was taking 12,000 cubic yards of traprock a day (Roseberry, p. 253). Today the rock is mostly used for large blocks in the construction of sea walls and as crushed gravel for concrete and pavement.

One mile north of Fort Lee, N.J., the Palisades formed two different profiles. One was called Indian Head and the other Washington Head. In September 1897, men from the quarries blew up Washington Head. Then in March 1898, a five-foot hole was bored a hundred feet into Indian Head and 7,000 pounds of dynamite were placed inside. Indian Head was blown up, leaving 350,000 tons of Palisade diabase intended for construction (Roseberry, p. 254).

Eventually, people began to notice the desecration of the Palisades and in 1900 the Interstate Park Commission was formed to save the Palisades. Today, thanks to the work of this commission, Tilcon Quarry is one of only a few remaining active quarries left. Most of the traprock today is taken from the quarries around the Watchung Mountains.

The forces that have shaped the Palisades are still going on today. Large chunks of diabase are still tumbling off the sill, due to physical weathering, and large portions of the exposed rock are becoming rusted and eaten away by chemical weathering. Despite man’s past destruction of the Palisades, it looks like our effect on the Palisades has become benign for the time being.

Palisades the horizon of NYC

“The Palisades are among the most dramatic geologic features in the vicinity of New York City, forming a canyon of the Hudson north of George Washington Bridge, as well as providing a vista of the skyline.”


The skyline we see in New York City was created by quarying the stone from the Palisades which have left an amazing presence behind:


“The basalt cliffs are the margin of a diabase sill, formed about 200 million years ago[2] at the close of the Triassic Period by the intrusion of molten magma upward into sandstone.[3] The molten material cooled and solidified before reaching the surface. Water erosion of the softer sandstone left behind the columnar structure of harder rock that exists today. The cliffs are about 300 ft (100 m) thick in sections and originally may have reached to 1,000 ft (300 m).”

My Idea is to show both the geological foundation that created the hudson river which made NYC the central port that led to it becoming the city it is today as well as the actual stones that were quarried from this location to create the monolithic skyline we know as New York City.  The sheer vastness of the rock is unfathomable and viewable at scale only from a helicopter (or drone).

I would like to have a view of the rock face and also the view of the horizon of NYC to show what the 200 million year old structure became.


There is literally no other way to have a tracking shot of the stones below to show the entire vast space that was removed and then shift to the skyline that it then became unless you have a crane or a helicopter (or drone). This would be amazing.


Dancing with freaks (is drone journalism real?).

Diane Arbus said:  “A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”  If I Ms. Arbus had a drone instead of Rolleiflex camera, I think the sentiment would have still applied. I find there is something that is quite mysterious (uncanny) in having a flying camera, it touches something in people it looks at us from above and with its one alien eye and I suppose, to it, we all look a little bit like freaks.

This past week I brought these tiny little yellow toys with me to a dance class at the other TISCH in Rashaun Mitchell’s introduction to Improvisation Dance Class for undergraduate dance majors.  These were essentially little smiley face toys, which are drones now because everything that flies is a drone now. Also they have some keen infrared sensors on their bellies and heads and they are also remarkably fun to dance with.  Myself and Kristina Budalis are creating a drone dance project for our Big Screen’s class and drones have actually taken up a large portion of my waking and dream life, I’m even going to be a drone for halloween, so I suppose I have become a little obsessed.



There were about 20 students who interacted with these tiny things and unsurprisingly the first half hour of class was spent listening to the students shreek and bat them and throw them against the walls and the ‘dancing’ looked more like people freaking out because well they were freaking out. But then the teacher Rashaun, stopped everyone.


He turned off the lights and gave them a meditation style of talk, about moving slowly, with expressive purpose, about looking into the eyes of the people you were dancing with not controlling the drone, knowing it would come back to you, allowing it to touch you and to just be.    After this the dancers began to make something beautiful and expressive happen with their little yellow flying object.  It also gave me a lot to think about with drones.      Afterall they make a lot of people freak out, for good reason.  Even when we know they are not for killing we know they are for spying, privacy makes us freak out.  The RC community is super fascinating, while I was exploring the available hacks and mods out there I noticed the general aesthetic tends toward the military replica.  Coding the AR drones is fascinating-  today while I was eating soup and talking to a friend about coding a drone for facial recognition -he asked me if I thought they would be used in modern gang warfare soon, perhaps they already are.  What does all of this have to do with drone journalism you may ask?  Sounds like we are dancing with drones right now and we are all freaking out.

From the moment that the film camera was invented – the way we represented truth shifted forever- in the way we wrote and talked about events, in the way we observed the past-yet for as much as it changed our world it did not provide us with a singular truth. There is spin in every photograph and story and looking back at events like the Rodney King Trial, where we have  video of an event we still were not  able as a country (let alone a world) to decide what to do about it, and today unfortunately as a country we are still having many of those same conversations in the media today, should cops wear video cameras? But what if we had a video? What would we do, how would our ‘truth’ change.   So this camera, the video camera, the drone camera, are tools but we allow how we feel about the tool itself to color how we can take in its ‘truth’.  Can we use them in protests to take our own ariel photographs? Yes, can we use them to see things we cannot see in normal circumstances? Yes, but when we talk about them if we are still seeing a loss of privacy, military campaigns and replicas and if we are still freaking out, it should be noted that it is also part of the ‘journalism’ at the moment. So perhaps the beginning of drone journalism would be to step away from the drone for a moment before we begin, to simply be, and then to pick it back up and begin to dance.