Posts tagged with "Public Art":

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Cheerful art in the Second Avenue Subway will enliven the daily slog

Today Governor Andrew Cuomo, as part of his state infrastructure PR sweep, presided over the unveiling of new artwork in the Second Avenue Subway.
The artwork at four stations together comprise the largest permanent public installation in the state. At 96th Street, straphangers can soak in Sarah Sze's “Blueprint for a Landscape," a 4,300-tile mosaic that depicts animals and everyday objects caught in a fierce wind. Further downtown, face master Chuck Close created “Subway Portraits,” 12 massive likenesses of himself, Philip Glass, Zhang Huan, Kara Walker, Alex Katz, and others at 86th Street in the artist's signature style. Vik Muniz’s “Perfect Strangers” at 72nd Street features tiled New Yorkers from all walks of life, while Jean Shin’s 63rd Street “Elevated” revives the steel-beam infrastructure from archival photos of the 2nd and 3rd Avenue Elevated train in ceramic and glass. "The Second Avenue subway provides New Yorkers with a museum underground and honors our legacy of building engineering marvels that elevate the human experience," Governor Cuomo said, in a statement. "Public works projects are not just about function—they’re an expression of who we are and what we believe. Any child who has never walked into a museum or an art gallery can walk the streets of New York and be exposed to art and education simply by being a New Yorker. That is where we came from and that is what makes New York special." Phase One of the Second Avenue Subway should, Cuomo assured, open on January 1. The newest leg of the New York City subway system will serve more than 200,000 passengers per day. Until then, check out the gallery above for more images of the city's newest art.
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In Chicago, graffiti comes into its own as public art precedes major building developments

Graffiti in Chicago is not always vandalism. Though tagging, the stylized signatures sometimes used as gang markings, still pervade alleys and the occasional blank wall, graffiti has come into its own as public art. Whether on “permission walls” or commissioned by businesses, many neighborhoods in Chicago are filled with large-scale artworks that, until recently, were relegated to train cars and out-of-the-way places. But in neighborhoods on the near northwest side and near south of the city, fewer and fewer commercial walls are left blank. Partially as an attempt to stem random tagging and partially as an attempt to connect with young locals who may be future customers, businesses and developers are commissioning, or at least allowing, massive works of graffiti on their property.

Along the Milwaukee Avenue corridor, through the Wicker Park and Logan Square neighborhoods, new midrise developments are being built every few blocks. As developers negotiate with locals who are often opposed to the new projects, new modes of community involvement are arising. In the case of one of the recent high-end apartment buildings, graffiti was at the forefront throughout early construction.

The 300-foot construction fence around what would become the L Logan Square, designed by Chicago-based Brininstool + Lynch, was handed over to local artist AMUSE126 to curate. Along with Galerie F co-owner Billy Craven, AMUSE126 gathered 10 local and national artists to produce a continuous mural on the fence. Though the fence would stand for only a few short months, the L has incorporated graffiti-inspired artwork into some of its common spaces, including its 200-spot bike parking room.

Less than a block away, a group of now-vacant buildings known as the Mega Mall is covered in technicolor portraits and vibrant lettering. Once a bustling flea market, the Mega Mall slowly declined until the last tenant left after the building was bought earlier this year. Once again, AMUSE126 and Craven were called upon to gather artists to cover the building in art. In late May, two dozen graffiti artist went to work on the building, working for free and providing their own supplies for the opportunity to paint along the highly trafficked street. At the time, it was anticipated that the building would be demolished shortly after the mural was complete. Yet delays in the permit process have led to the works staying up for over half a year, a very long time in terms of graffiti.

The project planned for the Mega Mall site has been dubbed Logan’s Crossing. Announced over a year ago, the project has not always been met with open arms by the community. Recently developer Terraco, Inc. and Chicago-based architect Joe Antunovich released new renderings based on community input over the last several months. Delays to the demolition of the Mega Mall along with other “permission walls” near the site have produced a half-mile stretch that would have been unimaginable in the past.

Chicago’s relationship with graffiti has often been a strained one. Through the 1980s and ’90s the city struggled with taggers, leading to the formation of the “Graffiti Blasters” under Mayor Richard M. Daley. To this day, unwanted tags will often be removed by the city’s teams, even if they’re not requested to be. The team removes over 60,000 pieces of graffiti every year. In 1992, the city passed an ordinance that would ban the sale of spray paint within city limits. This ordinance led to a lawsuit by spray-paint makers and sellers that would go all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1995, the ordinance was upheld, and for the last 20 years no stores in the city have sold spray paint. Recently, though, the same alderman who originally penned the ordinance has brought a plan before the city council to lift the ban in order to bring business back into the city. While the streets of Chicago have never been cleaner, it is arguable whether the ban had any major effect.

While the conversation about graffiti as a legitimate art form has definitely begun to lean heavily in favor of the much-maligned practice, the debate came to a head in 2010. Late one February night a crew of five graffiti artists painted a 50-foot wall along the then-new Renzo Piano–designed Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. The graffiti protested the museum’s lack of recognition of graffiti as a modern art form. The act would make headlines and be the basis for a play entitled This Is Modern Art. The play itself was also controversial.

Well before this act of civil disobedience, one of New York’s more famous graffiti artists, Keith Haring, came to Chicago and was asked to produce a major piece. In May 1989, just blocks away from the Art Institute, Haring, with the help of 500 Chicago public school kids, produced a 480-foot mural in Grant Park.

Vandalism in Chicago can lead to felony charges. Yet with more “permission walls,” often designated by the city itself, and property owners allowing for graffiti, the definition of what public art is is quickly changing. As developers use graffiti to connect with younger communities, and businesses more regularly use it as street-front advertising, the street-art form is no longer only being associated with the disenfranchised or criminal elements of the city. Instead, perhaps graffiti is on track to skip the fine-arts scene and jump straight into the corporate art world. Whatever the case may be, graffiti is coming out of the shadows, and onto bigger things.

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What do New Yorkers get when privately-funded public art goes big?

When Thomas Heatherwick—the nimble London-based designer known for work that defies easy categorization—unveiled his design for a new public landmark called Vessel at Hudson Yards to a crowd of reporters and New York City power players in September, questions abounded. What is it? What will it do to the neighborhood? And what does it say that Stephen Ross, the president and CEO of Related Companies, the primary developer of Hudson Yards, is financing the entire $250 million piece by himself?

It’s natural that Ross chose Heatherwick Studio to design his centerpiece, because the office’s creations stun. For the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, it extruded 60,000 clear acrylic tubes from a center space to create a fuzzy, crystalline object whose apparent fragility is as mesmerizing as it is clever. As the studio moves toward ever-larger and ever-more-public commissions, the people who will live with its work will need to seriously consider what it will mean for their neighborhoods and cities.

Interactive public art is plentiful, but there are no pieces with the built-in interactivity of Vessel. In Chicago, tourists snap selfies with Anish Kapoor’s parabolic Cloud Gate (the Bean), while at New York’s Astor Place visitors can now once again give Bernard Rosenthal’s Alamo (the Cube) a spin. Vessel is supposed to be to Hudson Yards what the Christmas tree is to Rockefeller Center, but on display all year round. Related said it’s a “new kind of public landmark,” while The New York Times called it “a stairway to nowhere.” Heatherwick referred to it as a “device.” Critics have been unable, or unwilling, to name it. There’s power in naming, so let’s call Vessel what it is—it is architecture. It fulfills the most basic criteria for the category: The piece serves a purpose and acts as an apparatus for the reorientation of the body in relationship to both the ground and the city.

Vessel’s 2,400 steps will anchor the largest private development in the U.S., lifting visitors above Hudson Yards’ 14 acres of parks and plazas. The elevations will give New Yorkers and tourists—siphoned off a to-be-constructed High Line spur—a place to view each other and all the stalagmitic towers of Hudson Yards. When complete, the 16-story structure will be the tallest freestanding observation platform in the city, at least until Staten Island’s New York Wheel starts rolling.

Formally, the piece is inspired by Indian stepwells, but according to Heatherwick, it’s a monument “to us.” Like Pier 55, the architect’s park on mushroom stilts on the lower west side, Vessel has instant visual currency—critics have compared it to a snakeskin teacup, honeycombs, bedbugs, and a döner kebab. For its creator, it’s a bespoke response to the globalized taste that plants boring glass curtain-wall towers in Shanghai and London and plops blue chip art on corporate plazas in Los Angeles and Chicago. Vessel is the antidote that nurtures a spirit of togetherness: “Buildings are getting bigger and bigger—that mega-scale, it’s something new,” Heatherwick told AN at the unveiling. “But 2,000 years ago, humans were mostly the same size we are now. The human scale stays true.” Like its creator, who the press has affectionately compared to Willy Wonka, Vessel is so earnest: Its intricate symmetry and aesthetics divorce the grand stair from a signal of power and prestige, while its ostensibly public nature decouples the ordinary stair from its floor-to-floor workaday obligation.

Underneath its sincerity, though, Vessel harbors serious contradictions. Heatherwick said it “has no commercial objective,” which is hard to buy when the structure is the ultimate native advertising: It will sit smack in the middle of a five-acre park in the eastern yard designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz, a jewel in a glittery crown. It puts Ross’s taste and design acumen on display for public admiration. As a gathering space, it’s intended to integrate the raw development—which sits on a crust of artificial land over its namesake rail yards—into the rich fabric of New York City.

A proper design narrative, rolled out by the mayor and a multiracial dance troupe from Alvin Ailey, paves the way for public acceptance and mental integration before the idea is built out. Who could argue with Heatherwick’s kumbaya, a campaign for one New York?

In a city where even the ultra-rich hustle in and out of the subway, Vessel elevates the time-honored art of the schlep to civic priority—sort of. Heatherwick said it has no prescribed meaning, and that it is up to the public to decide—a vote for radical spatial practice if there ever was one. There’s tremendous satisfaction, too, in hauling up a long set of set of stairs, our urban mountainsides. The whole-body high from ascending a tough trail, or emerging from the Lexington Avenue–63rd Street subway station, humbles screaming quads before God, gravity, and smart engineers. Heatherwick’s gift to the city of New York, defines a citizen-subject as one who can walk—a lot. In a promotional video for Hudson Yards, Heatherwick says “it’s extremely interactive, but properly,” slapping his torso and thighs, “using your physicality.”

On the surface, there’s a positive correlation between the healthy metropolis—a public ideal that New York embraces—and the fit citizen—a personal ideal. But we’re still far from health equity. 

Sure, the piece will be ADA-compliant; curving elevators will sweep the wheelchair users, arthritic citizens, moms and dads with strollers, tired people, the very unathletic, and the time-crunched up to the top. For those of us fit enough to make it up even some of those steps, the terraces will form a bronzed steel beehive with neat new perspectives on the city. Flânerie never goes out of style, and in 2018 when Vessel opens, people will be watching other people on screens, too, documenting the fun on Instagram in a flurry of #Heatherwicks. Millennial employees of VaynerMedia, a Hudson Yards tenant, might use the thing as a StairMaster, and I predict there will be a Buzzfeed article on how to keep in shape with the new outdoor fitness structure. For his part, Heatherwick hopes that Vessel can be used for live performance, a dynamic and ostensibly more public forum than a Broadway theater or DS+R’s slick corporate Shed adjacent to Heatherwick’s piece. (So corporate, in fact, that “Culture” was removed from the name.)

However, even though initial renderings usually oversell the final product, Heatherwick’s visions are particularly egregious. Although the structure is being assembled right now, the renderings raise troubling questions about the gap between the not-architecture-but-still-architecture’s intended and probable uses.

As his Shanghai Expo pavilion, his redesigned Routemaster bus for London, and his 2012 Olympic cauldron demonstrate, Heatherwick is a master detailer and global designer adept at translating compelling human themes to local contexts. The Vessel model, which Ross reportedly kept under lock and key in his office, has been ready for months. Why then, at the public unveiling in September, were so many details missing?

Consider the crowds. Heatherwick’s piece is supposed to take the success of the High Line and spin it vertically. Though pioneering, the High Line has received justified criticism for its crowding and lack of surprises, but at least it gets you, slowly, from place to place (and, as art critic Jerry Saltz observed, it keeps tourists out of Chelsea’s galleries). If on nice days the High Line backs up, how will crowds be managed on a structure that only has egresses at its base? Heatherwick insists Vessel will be free to visit, but how besides timed and ticketed entry will the structure accommodate everyone?

If it’s as popular as its creators believe, Vessel will attract not only people but also those other New Yorkers: The pigeons. The structure seems ready-made for roosting, and I can’t imagine how hard it will be to properly enjoy Vessel while dodging dove turds. And in cold weather, I hope Ross will be more sedulous about de-icing the platforms than the neighbors on every block who make pedestrian booby traps out of sidewalks in front of their buildings.

As one climbs up Vessel, the railings stay just above waist height all the way up to the structure’s top, but when you build high, folks will jump. After a student leapt into the soaring central atrium of NYU’s Bobst Library seven years ago, the school installed metal fencing—on top of the Plexiglas barriers it had put in years earlier in response to other suicides. Philip Johnson and Richard Foster didn’t see the death in the design that the public’s morbid ideation uncovered, but Ross and Heatherwick seem not to have learned from Bobst, or from the city’s bridges and iconic tall buildings. If barriers are installed, how will they affect the views, Vessel’s main selling point?

Critics have compared Vessel to the Eiffel Tower, but Paris’s landmark is very much of its era, and meaning-making in our time has moved beyond tit-for-tat semiotics. New York has the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and any number of other symbols with which to broadcast its image. Plus, we’re on Instagram: Times Square is the world’s most-tagged location, more featured than the number-two tagged Eiffel Tower. There is already an essential New York space on a billion screens.

At this hour, there’s truly no point in reviving the perennial debate about the vacuousness of privately-owned-and-operated public space. The structure, surrounded on all sides by condos that start at $2 million, a Neiman Marcus, and a Thomas Keller restaurant, is a footnote in a city where politicians and developers plan expensive malls but call them transit hubs; where amateur urban planners like multimillionaire couple Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, patrons of Heatherwick’s Pier 55, shape public priorities; and impressive but empty fortresses for billionaires jostle each other for space in the sky. In its size and ambition, Vessel feels significant in some way, but in contrast to the High Line’s renegotiation of the urban park, Vessel feels like a Gilded Age geegaw foisted on the city by a “benevolent” rich guy.

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Two artists are raising funds for what could be the largest public art installation in Chicago history

Two Chicago-based artists are attempting to fund what they call the largest public art installation in Chicago history. After a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a beta test in August 2015, Jack Newell and Seth Unger are hoping to expand their Wabash Lights into a multi-block installation in Downtown Chicago. The Wabash Lights is an interactive light installation illuminating the underside of the L tracks running over Wabash avenue on the east side of Chicago’s Loop. Wabash Avenue is often a dark corridor due to the elevated tracks, which Newell and Unger saw as an opportunity. If realized, the art piece will include 24,000 programmable LEDs. These multi-colored LEDs will be controllable by the public through a smartphone app or with text messaging. In order to realize the full project, the team is looking to raise $50,000 through a new Kickstarter campaign. Another $25,000 has been donated by Comcast. The project has also received endorsements, but not money from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the local Alderman, the Chicago Transit Authority, who maintain the tracks, or the Chicago Department of Transportation. Kickstarter supporters of the project will be able to buy and name individual pixels or entire light fixtures along the length of the project. Currently, a 12-foot beta test set of lights has been installed for the last nine months as a proof of concept.
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NYC Parks to join $200K public art partnership with UNIQLO

Today, The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks) and Japanese clothing company UNIQLO announced that UNIQLO has committed $200,000 in a grant to be issued over the next two years. The “Art in the Parks: UNIQLO Park Expressions” grant will install original artworks by New York City­­–based artists in 10 parks (two parks per each of the New York City's five boroughs). The grant is part of NYC Parks’ broader initiative to bring frequent public art exhibits to parks that have not had cultural programming in the past. The participating parks are Joyce Kilmer Park and Virginia Park in the Bronx; Fort Greene Park and Herbert Von King Park in Brooklyn; Thomas Jefferson Park and Seward Park in Manhattan; Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Rufus King Park in Queens; and Tappen Park and Faber Park in Staten island. Over the next two years, 20 emerging artists who “submit the most compelling public art proposals” will each receive $10,000 to complete their projects for their assigned park. The first round of artists will be announced in January 2017 and the first artworks will be ready for public display in spring 2017. The announcement was held at 11:30am this morning at Fort Greene Park Plaza with NYC Parks commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, UNIQLO USA CEO Hiroshi Taki, UNIQLO global director of corporate social responsibility Jean Shein, city councilmember Laurie Cumbo, and artist Alexandre Arrechea, as well as local artists and community members. This project is one of several in which UNIQLO has engaged to better local communities. In addition to its clothing recycling program, an ongoing initiative that collects gently used clothing at its stores and delivers them to those in need, the company has donated millions to people in need, such as refugees, disaster victims, and disadvantaged youth.
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Find every public art installation and monument in NYC with this interactive map

The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has launched an interactive database of the 1000+ monuments, public artworks, and temporary installations across the city's five boroughs. The NYC Public Art Map and Guide is searchable by ZIP Code and address, and provides photos and basic information about each monument. These range from the iconic and instantly recognizable (like the Charging Bull statue on Wall Street) to the otherwise overlooked (a plaque in City Hall Park near The Architect's Newspaper's Tribeca offices commemorates an oak tree given as a gift from Canada on Arbor Day 1967). While the map is densely populated in Manhattan—Central Park especially is peppered with monuments and sculptures—residents of the outer boroughs may not know they live a few blocks away from a public art piece. A tiny patch of land at the intersection of Bedford Avenue and Dean Street in Brooklyn, for example, holds a 30-foot-tall pedestal and statue of Ulysses S. Grant. McCarren Park in Brooklyn will be the site of a public art piece not yet listed on the map. The city recently announced that the McCarren Play Center, which includes the iconic pool opened by Fiorello La Guardia and Robert Moses in 1936, will receive two new murals. Documents released by the NYC Percent for Art Program show that the original schematics called for artwork at the location, but none was ever installed. The murals will be the work of artist Mary Temple. The map may be a useful tie-in for budding gamers playing Pokémon GO, the interactive mobile game that's currently taking the world by storm. The Pokémon GO "augmented reality" app uses real-life locations as its playing fields and points of interest often correspond with monuments and public artworks. Perhaps the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation is the latest group trying to ride the Pokémon GO wave?
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Stay up late to see Times Square turned into a massive visual art piece

Every night at midnight (or 11:57pm to be precise) for the month of June, Times Square’s fantastic array of video screens will stop blasting advertisements for luxury watches and television shows to display a three-minute short film by multimedia artist Saya Woolfalk. The film, titled Chimacloud, is made up of short digital videos from Woolfalk's ongoing project called ChimaTEK. Chimacloud found its way to Times Squareas part of the Midnight Moment series sponsored by Times Square Arts, which features a new show every month (Chimacloud will be on view through June 30). Past contributors include Yoko Ono, Bjork, and Laurie Anderson. Those who find themselves in Times Square at midnight can see one of these short visual art pieces or experimental films every night of the week. ChimaTEK and two of Woolfalk’s past multimedia projects center around the "Empathics," a fictional society of women who can change their genetics and meld with plants. Woolfalk’s work is filled with bright, kaleidoscopic visuals and deals with themes of hybridity, race, and sex. She has been featured in galleries and museums across the United States, including MOMA PS1. Check out the video below to see a previous Midnight Moment by Rafael Rozendaal:
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Olson Kundig designs pigeon lofts for Duke Riley's "Fly By Night" performances in the Brooklyn Navy Yard

For those living in or visiting New York City this May and June, the Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig is partnering with the Brooklyn-based artist Duke Riley on a weekend public art performance and installation piece, Fly By Nightin the Brooklyn Navy Yard. (Event tickets are sold out, but there is a waitlist.) The non-profit arts organization, Creative Time, commissioned the piece. At dusk on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through June 12, the artist will awaken a flock of close to 2,000 pigeons living in a group of Olson Kundig-designed pigeon lofts resting on the docked and decommissioned Navy ship, the Baylander. The artist outfitted the pigeons with glowing LED leg bands. "We raise a flag and the birds then know to take off and start flying in different patterns," Riley told the New York Times in a short video. https://vimeo.com/164326694 Riley was inspired by the site's former use as the military's largest pigeon coop. During World War II, the military used pigeons to deliver messages in the dead of night, with some pigeons traveling up to 600 miles in a single flight. “The artist has a clear love for these pigeons and it came across in the design thinking behind the pigeon coops," said Olson Kundig Associate Kristen Becker, who worked with Riley on the pigeon lofts, in a statement. "The idea that the coops were designed to exist beyond the performance resonates in the way in which we detailed the piece. Each coop bay was designed not only to be installed quickly but also to be dismantled to be reused and donated as individual coops afterwards. Instead of thinking of it as one building—we thought about it as a series of buildings." After around 30 minutes, Riley calls the pigeons home with a whistle. Becker also designed 25 bird houses, taking cues from the Fly by Night pigeon lofts, for the April 28 Creative Time Gala, to help raise funds for free public access to art.
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How the other half lives: Two housing-minded artists invite the public to live in luxury or affordable NYC apartments

In a city where "how much is your rent?" is a perfectly acceptable icebreaker, it's second nature to look into the windows of a NYCHA high-rise, or though the scaffolding of an under-construction luxury tower, and wonder, "what's it like to live there?" A new public art project initiated by Jennifer Dalton and William Powhida lets participants satisfy their voyeurism through a residency series, short-term stays in sample New York City "affordable" and "luxury" units. Powhida and Dalton have worked together since 2008, although MONTH2MONTH is their first collaboration since 2012. Produced by social justice nonprofit More Art, MONTH2MONTH's 4-day residencies are augmented by a monthlong calendar of public events that invite housing activists, politicians, artists, "doormen, financial journalists, and other stakeholders" to discuss how class, wealth, and race intersect to affect the ability of different groups to live in New York. With affordable housing now tied to luxury development, some events will interrogate how recently passed zoning changes stand to reshape neighborhood density and residential composition, while others will focus on art's uneasy relationship with the real estate interests, gentrification, and monied class that supports artistic production in New York. Sample events include an arch champagne tasting with finance writer Felix Salmon that addresses the "wide range" of housing contexts in New York (though presumably the discussion skews towards the Sherman McCoys of this world), as well as an interactive session around displacement with artist/activist Betty Yu. In addition to formal events, residents/participants will co-mingle with members of the public in the affordable and luxury apartments to share dinner, make art, sing karaoke, and create semi-public community in private spaces. The first happening, a housewarming party, is this Saturday, May 7. See MONTH2MONTH's full lineup of events here.
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New York City bike lane art scores high points with videogame references

The New York City Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Art Program has partnered with nonprofit New York Cares to paint two bike lane barriers in styles that will appeal to true 90s kids. On Columbia Street, between Atlantic Avenue and Congress Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, 30 volunteers assisted artist Nancy Ahn to paint 1,000 feet of concrete barrier. The piece, Crushing It, is influenced by pixelated video game graphics of the 1990s. Like Donkey Kong, cyclists get to "collect" coins and bananas as they traverse the path. Up in the Bronx, the two organizations collaborated on another barrier beautification on East 161st Street between Gerard Avenue and Concourse Village West, in the Concourse neighborhood. 20 volunteers pitched in to help artist Sarah Nicole Phillips paint “Cats in Repose,” a linear piece inspired by the artist's own languid black cat. The DOT notes that these projects are intended to beautify the otherwise drab concrete dividers, and add a measure of delight to the daily commute. The cat painting, like its Brooklyn sibling, seems designed to appeal to millennials specifically, although who doesn't love colorblocking, cute felines, and Nintendo? DOT Art is currently soliciting RFPs for temporary, site-specific installations for Summer Streets events. A minimum of two artists (in any medium) will be chosen, and artists can receive up to $20,000 to realize their projects. To see past installations, check out the program's Flickr page.
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In Times Square, art and architecture converge during the last week of Collective–LOK's Heart of Hearts installation

Every winter, the Times Square Alliance and the Center for Architecture choose a team of architects to design an installation for Times Square that a) has to both dialogue and compete with the pageantry of Times Square and b) is heart-themed for Valentine's Day. AN visited this year's Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition winner, 's Heart of Heartsduring its final week to speak with the architects and an artist/composer duo who created an interactive sound and visual piece within the installation. Formally, Heart of Hearts is a circle of aluminum–paneled hearts planted in the center of Father Duffy Square, a public plaza between 45th and 47th streets at Seventh Avenue and Broadway. Joshue Ott and Kenneth Kirschner, Times Square Alliance artists-in-residence, installed variant:breaker, a one-day interactive audiovisual installation that used four LED arrays and speakers that plays on Heart of Hearts' reflectivity to create an outdoor theater of sound and light. The partnership came about when Ott and Kirschner met Collective–LOK at a party, and, like Heart of Hearts, variant:breaker had to both survive and outperform the chaos of Times Square. The installation, Kirschner explained, was inspired by his young son's enthusiasm for his drum machine. Users created a sequence of randomly generated sounds by manipulating an iPad in the middle of the installation to activate the LED panels. The video below shows how the installation performed in action: https://www.flickr.com/photos/136339520@N03/25298776750/in/dateposted-public/ Conceptually, the objective of Heart of Hearts was to "out Times Square Times Square," explained Michael Kubo, one of three members of Collective–LOK. The trio wanted to take the hilarious spectacle that is Times Square and reflect it back onto itself, while creating inviting spaces for the more intimate spectacle of the kiss-and-selfie. The architectural renderings that accompanied the rollout of the project depicted a wedding, the Naked Cowboy, the famous llama, and the other happenings that give Times Square its weirdness. It turns out that the renderings were predictive: on Valentine's Day, despite the chill, multiple weddings were staged in Heart of Hearts. The architects were keenly attuned to the project's second life online, positioning their installation as the critical interface between the inherent narcissism of the selfie and an acute awareness of one's surroundings. The results would make Guy Debord proud. "The reflection was used to both embrace the context and have the thing and the space defined strictly by the context, but also, making people even more aware of the 'selfie moment' that we knew happened anyway," fellow collective member Jon Lott explained. "We were thinking about selfies from the beginning of the project," Kubo noted. "We asked, 'How do you build something that's an apparatus for people to take pictures of themselves but then decontextualize themselves, or make the things around them seem different?'" To find out, this normally selfie-averse reporter cozied up to a heart for a snap: In reviewing the photos, it was uncanny to see the the fragments and reflections (those pink fists!) that accompanied my image. The image could hardly be called a selfie, as Times Square inserted itself as a subject from all angles. Although the installation commands attention in the physical and virtual worlds, it had to make a minimal impact on the plaza. Drilling into the ground was verboten, so Collective–LOK designed an installation that was self-supporting. To give the installation its necessary rigidity and weight, the segmented hearts, which weigh a few hundred pounds apiece, were made from a quarter-inch-thick aluminum core sandwiched between eighth-inch gold acrylic mirror panels. Working with Brooklyn–based Kammetal, Collective–LOK had around one month to fabricate the piece and, due to the 24/7 activity in the square, an overnight installation timeframe a day before the unveiling. Although the collective would like to do more work in the public realm, there are no plans right now for Heart of Hearts to be installed elsewhere. When asked to name another space that would suit the installation, Kubo credited the essence of the installation to its context: "The particularities of the Times Square context are just unrepeatable."
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Taipei activates space below a rail viaduct with 1,000 twinkling balloons

In November, Taipei was overtaken by a giant anemone lurking beneath a rail viaduct. One thousand six-foot-tall, cylindrical balloons wobbled under the city's Shilin Metro Station. The 650-foot-long, inflatable, public art installation, Walking in the Balloons, was built for the Shilin Light Festival. City Yeast, a Taipei-based design firm, executed the project.

According to City Yeast, the balloons contained motion-triggered LEDs. As children frolicked or winds gusted, the vibrations made lights twinkle. A few of the inflated columns also housed speakers, which played oceanic sounds and Shilin tales. City Lab called the installation a “public art piece for kids.” And visitors referred to it as "the anemone." The Shilin Metro Station is around the National Science Taiwan Education Center, Taipei Astronomical Museum, and the Taipei Children's Amusement Park. But during the popular installation's 2-week period, public life centered at the Shilin Metro Station.