The Subliminal History of New York; Opening of The Western Door incorporates local oral histories, Native American belief systems, and other messages to continue both the phenomenological projects of Under Island and The Route of Progress (Roosevelt Island and Erie Canal respectively). Attempting to decipher the inherent story of the land we call New York, Opening of The Western Door uses multiple levels of media and history from interviews with residents across the state collected en route and to be gathered.

Beginning with the character of Roosevelt Island, a small island barely still wild, alivened by the structures and activities and experiments inside and atop it. Before it can be cemented in place, it remembers that it too can leave the city gates and navigates northways to and along what we now call the Hudson. When it reaches as far as it can move North, it finds itself in the crux of the Industrial Revolution, Troy and Albany. Where it turns West upon the Mohawk River, or the now defunct but Erie Canal. The path, but a short lived entry way made way for this country’s introductory beginning of global trade, which now taking full advantage of, it began here. Traversing through a nonlinear space and time, the island ingests and re-lives partial histories of early America, industrialization, the beginning of global capitalism, trade with the west and Europe and through the island’s native language of land and all things natural, the Haudenosaunee, People of the Longhouse or 6 Nations.

The Seneca, the largest and most westerly of the 6 Nations, are also known as the Keepers of the Western Door. From the last western facing door of the most western longhouse, they were in charge of regulating trade and traffic at the western edge of the Iroquois territory – at Niagara.

Subliminal History pontificates, that it may not be unrelated nor coincidence that these Keepers of the Western Door were brutally murdered on the very doorstep of modern western and global capitalist trade. Albeit, time condensed, it is a shared doorstep. Once out of the way, no longer able to keep watch, the Western Door was flung open, as it remains today. Is it still there, and can it be .. closed?

The island, continues to move West, through, nothing in the way to stop it – heading towards and alas, over the Falls, and for the very first moment, the mass of land feels flight. But not until it reaches Lake Erie, does it actually catch air – atop a waterspout (inverted tornado) so notorious on the shallowest of lakes, Roosevelt Island is finally ascended.

Subliminal History is an innately political story, built upon nature, the divine, the histories in subjective extractions combined with a deep compression of time. Told through various research methods, notes, travels and stories shared with the author from initiative projects beginning in 2002.

Now, 2015, the story has taken on new levels of importance as we understand the native relation to this land, ways this has been hidden through modern mythology and what further we can gather to glimpse a bigger picture. With possibly of change by enfolding and unfolding time in our own space of New York. These stories, bigger than any individual who has lived them, when combined, distilled and compared – may even have some unsuspecting answers.

Upstate New York, an area not dissimilar to the dredges of developing countries struggling to keep up with western trade. Used and discarded in the wake of capitalism. This land still speaks. The Opening of The Western Door attempts yet again to hear and retell these stories with aims of change, listening to the primal source of land, ourselves as healthy and wholistic interpreters.

(The previous part is about the story, where the following is part OF the story)


There were days when the island got so heavy of metals and irons, they hurt.

It hitches a ride on the edge of a tug boat,

It does not get permission from the Hodenosani, Keepers of the Western Door, they no longer see the island, only what the island is running from. This door has been open since the 1700’s when the French came and slaughtered them. Now anyone can pass through from East to West, the world is open, open for trade. The wooly mammoth gone from their trusting grazing habits, and the 6 foot beaver would have been gone if the trappers would have found them. The beavers, its all for the skin and muff of the beavers. (Trade)

What opened the gate was a 6 foot tall beaver,

he left the door open as the animals got smaller and smaller.

(*Beaver started as very large animals and as their skins were traded what was left of them became smaller and smaller)

What happens here at this door.

This waterfall, we now have control of,

But alas, it lies between two countries!

How beautiful, neither can capture or hold this power, but yet we Can turn the faucets down. And on the day the lake sucked up an island, all of New York City went black. This day there were floods and tornadoes and the subways filled with water. Searching for the missing island.

“Where is it?!” cried the water searching furiously through the subways – people were picked up and thrown away, towns that had disappeared re-appeared and still

this was the moment that someone noticed that the island in the East River

Was Gone.

And they wondered,

“What’s Next”

and they wondered, “am I next?”


What is different about this project than earlier renditions, the earlier projects were each discrete and while on their own had their own statements, it is not until putting them together that the message becomes more clear. This must be done eloquently, with a balance of the stories told, the fables, the feelings of residents, underlying with the essence of upstate NY as a place that has been ‘burnt over’. It is necessary that this story be told, there are so many ways to read incidents, ways to compartmentalize history with fact, relegate the Native Americans as past. But those who read this land, well there still are those who do, and we are not getting any farther away form the capitalism that started right here, with that very canal. My goal is to assist viewers in seeing the multiplicity of truth especially as it relates to history. To expand this understanding to possibly change not only how we deal with information in the future, but perhaps phenomenologically we too can help assign a new understanding of what it means to be the keepers of our own western door, and accept the land we live on for all it is.

We are at a place where we can strip away agenda based colonialized versions of history and include a wider audience. Deeming all peoples views as just as important at each other. We are at a keen time to gather this media. The larger community telling their own history present day can carry more weight than those details written by a select few literate individual years back.

This project started as Subliminal History,

What is SH? The belief that history is subjective, that there are multiple layers of stories form all living beings human and beyond and each one is relevant. That land controls us, not the other way around. Fact is questionable, but stories can be truer than true and there can be meaning proven in less understandable ways. This project of creating this into a linear story is part of figuring out a way to make linear and narrative something that is very much not. That is the challenge I believe it is time in my career to move forward with. I have gleaned enough of the research disparately, it is time to tell the story,

The Subliminal History of New York; Opening of the Western Door.


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