Incorporated into this image is a self-portrait of the photographer himself, who posed on the steps of the subway station entrance to Times Square.
This is one of forty-seven images that make up the series Habitat 7. Using an 8 x 10-inch camera mounted on a tripod, Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao made numerous exposures over the course of several hours, adjusting it to expand his angle of vision or capture the changing light. After scanning his color negatives, Liao used digital editing software to stitch together a large-scale image that presents broad sweeps of information in minute detail. The resulting inkjet print is a complex, composite image that encapsulates the elements of time and movement.
Since moving to New York in 1999, Liao has lived along the number 7 subway line, which connects Main Street in Flushing, Queens, to Times Square in Manhattan. Likening the train's path to the rivers around which ancient civilizations developed and flourished, Liao selected specific locations as both the subject and vantage point for his Habitat 7 series. The series "transports" viewers from Flushing to the east and moving westward through the neighborhoods of Corona Park, Jackson Heights, Woodside, and Sunnyside before arriving in Manhattan. Each image creates a seamless whole, as does Liao's portrayal of the culturally and economically diverse communities that coexist harmoniously along the eight and a half miles of the train, sometimes referred to as the "International Express."