Found Footage: No York City (1983)

by Piers Rae

March 4, 2015

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Found Footage trawls through the internet’s endless sprawl to collect the best short films, sketches, home movies, ads, training videos, newscasts, cell phone footage, and other obscurities. We’re looking for the brightest gems and the strangest mundanity. We seek out the videos that fell through the cracks,  and missed out on the attention they so richly deserved.


“Break taboos – invent a new language, hopefully at the same time…”

“No York City” is a five minute short film from Rick Liss, with music by Laurie Anderson, that takes the audience on a frantic and chaotic day-long tour of the city as it stood in 1983. New York is brighter than it was in the 70’s, in the midst of a thriving artistic period, but still a long ways away from the cleaned-up version of the city we’re so familiar with today.

The film is described on the artist’s website.

“Rick Liss’s “NO YORK CITY” pulses viewers through the heart of an iconic metropolis at the speed of blood. Filmed in 1983 with an aesthetic that defies time, this riveting work moves us with both alienation and beauty.

The film sees the city as an organism and its citizens as cells– sometimes frantic, sometimes in harmony. We race across a harbor, speed through traffic, gawk at art, balk at commerce, scuttle along sidewalks, weave through subways, bask in tickertape, dream beneath an angel at Bethesda Fountain and greet mimes in a boat on a great pond. As night falls, we join the electric carnival before soaring above the skyscrapers at dawn.”

New York Native Liss is an incredibly versatile artist, his primary passion as a painter supplemented by his work as a prop-master for television commercials for the bulk of his career. His commitment to free-thought and inventiveness was influenced by his parents experiences with the McCarthy witch-hunts during the fifties, agricultural economists who refused to buckle and as such had to move from DC to New York.

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In the comments section meanwhile, reactions remain mixed.

To each their own.

To each their own.

Then the usual cast of New Yorkers show up to reminisce about New York’s past. We have the armchair tour guides, doing a great job of pointing out all the artwork zipping by us during the gallery section.

An online tour guide.

An online tour guide.

More great suggestions.

More great suggestions.

And what piece of New York culture would be complete without a selection of locals bemoaning the current state of clean, safe, livable New York. These are the nostalgia-freaks asking “How can artists create when they can live without fear?”, while they pine for the old porn-houses in Times Square (they added so much character).

Friendly banter

Friendly banter



Finally, there’s the lonely philosophers who just came online to really dig into some art and figure out just what it all means.

It all means so much.

It all means so much.


Anyway: Liss presents a uniquely vivid, frenetic, and colourful vision of New York City. This is a moment in time, a single day in a fascinating place, perfectly captured in amber.

Have an amazing video we’ve missed, or a project you’d like to shed a little limelight on? Let us know. We’re happy to oblige.

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