Art in Tribeca: Our sidewalks up close

Safe to say after reading this you might not look at the sidewalks of Tribeca the same way.

Dan Piech is a dedicated runner, clocking 35 miles a week from his home on Greenwich. He is also a self-taught photographer. And he is also a self-taught computer scientist — his last day job was head of product management for a tech company that did big data analysis. So three years ago he combined those talents and started taking blindingly high resolution images of the city’s sidewalks. The results are a series he calls “Concrete Canvas” and they will be on display at the Affordable Art Fair this week. (More on that below.)

But that is just one facet of the niche he has created with his photography. In 2017, he quit his day job (he’s 34) and started a photography collective and online gallery called Vast, where he has assembled a global group of people like him: geeks with cameras and skills in both tech and art.

“We like to call ourselves artistic nerds,” Dan said. “That’s what makes us unique. I wanted to create a group of artists who have the technical skills to produce gigapixel photographs and also the visual skills to produce great images.”

It’s not as simple as it looks — or maybe it doesn’t even look simple. The image density — my word, and I think that is the best way to describe it? — is dizzying. A regular image from your camera is 8 megapixels. These are 2000 megapixels, constructed from hundreds of single images taken square by square with a special lens head that scans the subject — whether its a broad, distant landscape or a up-close image of petals. The computer he uses to assemble them is water cooled just to be able to manage the massive files that he edits.

There is so much detail that you can’t seem to take your eyes off of them. The streetscapes are mesmerizing. He has one taken from the roof of the Dominick Hotel in Soho that seems to reveal every window pane, graffiti tag and peaked water tower from Spring Street to Central Park.

Dan’s sidewalk series is beautiful — the images really look like abstract paintings from across the room. But on closer inspection, there is so much happening on the surface and in the crevices. A crack in the concrete looks like a channel encrusted with jewels. You can see some of that detail in the photos here, but watch the video on his site here to really see it up close.

“They have all these amazing things that you can explore — that’s what makes them art,” Dan says. “This is a part of the fabric of our city. Beautiful art is happening beneath our feet.”

(The ones here have been taken in Tribeca, and he sent me to see the accidental Mount Fuji he spotted on Desbrosses.)

All the prints are sold as limited editions and you can choose your size. The prices range from around $1000 for a signed 36″ x 24″ print to over $8000 for a print that is more mural-sized. He has 28 artists in his collective now, shooting everything from mountain ranges to apple blossoms.

“There’s no one else doing what we do, so we can pursue our artistic passions,” Dan said.

The Affordable Art Fair is Sept. 23 to 26 uptown on West 18th Street and Dan has a bunch of free tickets he can offer. Click on the “Tickets” button, and then enter the promo code “GVASTGA.”

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  1. Go Dan! Great art with a unique approach.

  2. Where in the venue will these be exhibited?

  3. Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea

  4. These are beautiful!