Word on the Street: Found Urban Type Timed for Social Commentary
By Maria Popova
For the past 30 years, photographer Richard Nagler has been capturing urbanity’s ephemeral moments of existential irony by pairing found typography from the urban landscape with perfectly timed random passersby. His original inspiration for the series came one summer in the late 1970, when he was wandering the streets of Oakland and noticed the word TIME bolted in large letters on the side of an old building. As he looked up, a very old woman gazed out at him from a window near the type sign, and in that micro-moment he founded embedded a powerful visual metaphor for aging and the passage of time.
Word on the Street is a fantastic collection of Nagler’s richest such images from the past three decades, which iconic poet Allen Ginsberg eloquently and accurately described as “visual poetics.” Sometimes shocking, often surprising and invariably compelling, these portraits invite you, with a wink, to complete the barely bespoken narratives and look for those hidden yet staggeringly obvious human truths that interlace with the fabric of mundanity.
Thoughtful, amusing and deeply human, Word on the Street is an absolute treasure trove of meticulously timed serendipity, captured with a keen eye for poetic irony.
Published January 31, 2011