Back in February, when the Bloomberg administration announced it would be making the closure of Broadway in Times Square permanent, Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told us, basically, that she had been very impressed with the Dutch dots she had seen adorning closed roads in the Netherlands. In the end, the Department decided on something a little more complex for the installation that will adorn the roadway for the next 18 months, before permanent renovations can begin sometime in 2012. Beating out 149 artists, designers, and aesthetes is Brooklyn’s Molly Dilworth, whose Cool Water, Hot Island is an abstracted representation of Manhattan’s heat island effect, that extra blanket of warmth that plagues most urban areas. The piece should be installed by mid-July
“This exciting new design for Times Square marks an important next step in the evolution of one of New York’s most storied streets,” Sadik-Khan said in a press release. “This temporary treatment will refresh Times Square and enhance its reputation as a place to see and be seen while we work on the permanent designs for the plazas.” In addition to providing some visual oomph to the blasé square, the installation will serve somewhat like a white roof, reflecting heat instead of absorbing it and thereby making Times Square a little bit cooler of a place to hang out, if not exactly cool.
Dilworth is an appropriate choice for the project as she has a good bit of experience dumping paint on expansive urban sites. Much of her recent work consists of pour paintings on rooftops throughout the city and elsewhere, with the intended audience being satellites, particularly those of Google Earth. Following in the path of conceptual artists, there are rules to be followed, as detailed on Dilworth’s Flickr profile including that the paint must be recycled and available the day of installation and the shapes are not premeditated but determined by the flow of paint on an open roof. DOT will probably take a firmer hand in the installation at Times Square, but the results should be no less impressive from the air.