In the preface to his new book “LA NY: Aerial Photographs of Los Angeles and New York,” Jeffrey Milstein writes that the images combine “two of my life’s passion: flying and art.” The book, published this week by Thames & Hudson, presents Milstein’s graphically exact and highly detailed aerial photos of what he calls “my two cities,” New York and Los Angeles. (A related show of the work is on view at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles until December 23.) Made over the course of five years, Milstein’s images are organized into four sections, depicting neighborhoods, parks and recreational spaces, transportation systems and industry. The book juxtapose views of each city, allowing for comparisons between the tightly packed buildings of Greenwich Village and the pastel roofs, curving lawns and expanses of sand in Lancaster, a city in Los Angeles County. In another comparison, the star-shaped enclosure around the Statue of Liberty echoes the octagonal building at the end of the Manhattan Beach pier.
Milstein came to the project after a career as an architect and the owner of a stationery company, and following photographic series documenting aircraft in flight. In the book, he says the idea for his aerial photos came to him in a dream, where “I was at an art show looking at pictures of the tops of New York City buildings at night.” Afterwards, “I decided to turn my camera downward,” he writes. The result is a detailed examination of America’s two largest cities, highlighting their differences and similarities. Above all, the urban centers share a complexity that seems to resemble a biological system. Writes Milstein, “When seen from above, the layers of circulation systems in many ways seem like living organisms transporting cells and information through nerves and arteries.”
On Wednesday, November 8, from 6-8PM, Milstein will talk about the project and sign books at an event at Foto Care in New York City.