• 1.22.14

    Stephen Wilkes Welcomes IBM Watson to New York

    IBM announced Watson's arrival in Manhattan with imagery and a time-lapse video by Stephen Wilkes. The super-computer group recently moved into 51 Astor Place as part of IBM's $1 billion investment in the development and commercialization of Watson technology.

    "IBM wanted to capture the sense of both the Modernist architecture and the street life ­– the energy surrounding the space," explained Wilkes. He made a key visual of the building's exterior, photos highlighting the neighborhood for IBM's Instagram, and a 15-second-long film shot from St. Mark's Place. "It begins pre-dawn, the sun rises and moves across the screen along with the flow of traffic and passersby, and as evening falls, the four floors occupied by Watson are illuminated," he described. "It's close to a 24-hour time-lapse that we condensed ... the moment the lights come on really emphasizes the structure as Watson's new home."

    The photographer took the framing into careful consideration. "One of the elements I thought about was the breadth and­ how to portray this multidimensional building as the hero of the scene and still depict an interesting foreground narrative using the intersection and sidewalks," Wilkes said. He and his team were stationed atop multiple scissor lifts for two days during the polar vortex earlier this month: "On the shoot day, the ground temperature was below zero degrees, but it was a beautiful, clear day. The snow added a very dramatic effect to the time-lapse and stills as the wetness created a glistening effect."

    Wilkes is also finishing a "Day to Night" photo of 51 Astor Place to be displayed inside the building.

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