Michael Rosen, Rhodes Edewor-Thorley and myself worked together to create an intervening art installation project on top of the Highline Park. we first started by spending a great deal of time selecting our location. My previous experience of the Highline had been almost exclusively included traveling through the space of the park, so almost immediately we knew as a group that we wanted to use a less transient place than just the walkway. With this in mind we decided almost immediately to use the 10th avenue theater located on the Highline Park at the intersection of 10th avenue and 17th st.
With our observations of this space, we realized that it was one of very few places on the Highline where one can get away from the busy flow, and suspend time in a way. The theater creates a continuous show from the events that transpire along 10th avenue, and by separating the viewer from these events (placing them above the street, removed by glass and tone) it creates an audience separated from NYC. The focal point exists outside of the seating area, and we decided we wanted to bring it back into the space.
Another thing we found as a group was that despite the hustle and bustle going on around the theater, time almost seemed to be absent within. During the course of the discussion, my group completely lost track of time and sat for well over half an hour. Also in reference to Vito Acconci, we had a desire to see time reemerge as a public construct, even if it would inevitably be supported by the technological privatization of such.
These two concepts of focal point and time met head on with our idea to place a clock onto the actual structure of the steel support beams.
We recognized the ultimate importance of the design of the clock. Since we were interested in matching the space and encouraging a more subtle disruption, we brainstormed on the most effective design for matching the space. In the end we decided on a black clock with a white face and arabic numerals. We both ordered a clock off of Amazon and purchased one from Ikea, choosing in the long run to go with this Ikea clock.
The first attempt at installation failed because there was not a smooth way to place the hook on the wall and hang the clock with the way that the angles matched up. The audience in the Highline seemed amused by the performance, but in order to get an accurate reaction we left the space for some time to start with a fresh audience.
Returning about half an hour later, the installation problem was rectified by placing the hook inside of the clock beforehand and using wall sticky tac to adhere to the steel structure. With a simple hard push, the clock stuck to the wall and stayed there.
One other subtle change we employed was to set the clock 10 minutes fast. We figured a clock on time would be effective for altering the space, but that we could also cause a small amount of anxiety by forcing people to momentarily believe that they were late (or that the time was later than it was in generally).
We then sat for the next half an hour observing. At first the occupants of the theater had seen the installation and were more focused on the performative aspect, looking around for where I went following the installation. As we sat there longer however, people had not seen the installation and therefore the clock created an impression of belonging there. We caught quite a few people glancing at watches and phones in momentary panic, before being reassured of the actual time.
In the end we were able to explain our position and recover our clock.
I think overall we were rather successful with the project. We achieved our aims of disrupting the space and altering an individual’s behavior all with minimal intrusiveness. On thinking for the next iteration, I would like to play around with the design of the clock more, as well as continuing to think about the placement of the clock.
Overall the project was super informative in approaching the thought process behind the make up of a space. In conjunction with the readings, this project illuminated several concepts from thinking about the composition of the audience, the flow of a space, as well as how to approach installation and observing the finished piece. The in-class critique was great at reinforcing that we had succeeded in presenting our message, but I also took away the idea that there is further room to explore the same concepts we set down initially, and alternative ways to approach these same topics in the future.
Vito Acconci, Public Space in a Private Time (1990)
William Whyte, The Design of Spaces, City: Rediscovering the Center (1988)
Erving Goffman, (Relations in Public) Microstudies of Public Order (1980)