Setting the Stage: New Year’s Eve 2013 in Times Square

Setting the Stage: Times Square at New Year’s Eve

A closer look at the spectacle of Times Square on December 31st.

By: Al Orensanz, Ph.D and Zoe V. Speas

, The Angel Orensanz Foundation for the Arts

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The spectacle of Times Square at New Year’s Eve 2013 consumes the attention of viewers of all ages.

In 1904, the owners of One Times Square assembled parties of friends and co-workers on the rooftop of their building to ring in the New Year. Three years later, in 1907, the first ceremony of lowering the Ball was held in the iconic heart of Manhattan. Tomorrow night, over a century later and in the face of biting cold and ungodly congestion, the tradition continues.

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The New Year’s Eve Ball, made of Waterford Crystal, which will descend at 11:59pm on December 31st.

New Year’s Eve throws Times Square into the spotlight as the single point upon which the urban attention and media distribution of the world focuses as a beacon of celebration for the holiday. The city center becomes a international center, and, despite the performances and A-list appearances, it will be the sea of people gathered along Broadway and Seventh Avenue who are the true stars of the show.

They will make the stage of New Year’s Eve come alive and millions of eyes across America will watch the last few seconds of 2013 tick away with them, wishing they stood beneath the downpour of confetti and flashing 
lights. They are why, for those last ten seconds of the previous year, Times Square becomes the center of the universe. The people.

Paris has fashion. Theatre and Shakespeare’s Globe encompass the city of London. St. Peter’s Square has been the cornerstone of Rome for centuries, as with the Acropolis in Athens. But in New York, the energy of the people within provide the city with its most famous trademark. New York City is not the capital of the United States, nor even the State, itself. The people – regardless of personality or social strata – are the character of the town that has sealed its renown.

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The people create the character and the energy of the city, and not just in Times Square on New Year’s.

The official event lineup features live performances such as Blondie, Miley Cyrus, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis; John Lennon’s Imagine, to be performed by Melissa Etheridge, is another beloved classic. Traditional Chinese performances featuring Kung Fu and a colorful fan dance will kick off the festivities early in the evening. The celebration also will be highlighted with exclusive trailers and clips featuring views of Times Square and the surrounding neighborhood.

The backdrop for the festivities tomorrow night will consist of over a hundred buildings coated “from the crown to the toe top full” of neon advertisements and billboards. Thousands of LED lights illuminate Times Square, making it a fully-functional, 24/7 commercial advertising theme park of giant, electronic ad/art that render the buildings they cover completely unidentifiable. Even in “ordinary time”, the buildings along Times Square operate as embodiments of virtual information, carrying very little relativity to the tenants within as opposed to the advertisements assigned to them. The immersive experience of Times Square at New Year’s Eve, as well as the live recording of the night’s events, create blissful accomplices of those assembled beneath the world’s most spectacular advertising strategy.

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New York City at New Year’s Eve.

However, another layer of the visual and perceptual experience of New Year’s Eve at Times Square must be accounted for – the generation of advertisements originating directly from national television networks which are delivered into the living rooms of viewers throughout America and beyond. The messages transmitted through pixels and sound-bytes are intermingled with the physical world and surround the crowds beneath the crystal ball, those gathered around a television at home, or at their local watering hole, blocks away from the hub of it all.

Tomorrow night, Times Square will transform even more potently into a vortex of action and movement for its New Year’s Eve celebration. Technicians and cameramen from New York networks synchronize the activities of the Square among the people, upon the stages, and from the microphones of honored speakers who preside over the event. The reporters and cameramen who supply video feed will move rapidly and efficiently through the crowds, engaging with them in repetitious spurts of gratitude and celebration. The snapshots of the crowds, when viewed remotely, provide the international audiences with the visual representation of their own emotions: smiling, static faces, undulating hands and arms, cameras held high, holiday truisms and well-wishes.

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The fluorescence of New Year’s Eve at Times Square, New York.

The phones in the hands of these representatives feed parallel worlds of messaging and communication systems; there are tens of thousands of smart phones, twitter networks, and Facebook accounts documenting the event from innumerable personal perspectives.

The various elements that create the unique atmosphere of Times Square on New Year’s Eve will change and evolve throughout the progress of the night and its proximity to the sixty-second descent of the Ball at 11:59pm on December 31, 2013.

The only element of permanence in the night, other than the overwhelming joy and hopefulness of a population at the start of a new year, is the backdrop of the city, the enveloping architecture, and the direct flow of communication and advertisement for the multimillion vieweres throughout the world following and celebrating the event from the comfort of their homes.

Art in Time Square – Can Times Square be full of art?

Art in Times Square Times Square is not where you will find a New Yorker, but Justus Bruns, a young Dutch artist and industrial designer wants to change that, especially for the new Yorkers who love art. He wants to transform the billboard propaganda invested space into an art square. When he envisioned in 2009, New Yorkers laughed at him, no wonder why, but now, the project is coming together and maybe, sometime soon, we´ll see beautiful art in time square on those billboards.

Bruns project, titled Times Square Art Square, would involve curated shows, for the first year the team invited the editor of Hyperallergic  Hrag Vartanian to curate, in which the square’s billboard and video adsw ill be replaced with giant paintings and installations.

“In this case, we want to select artists whose work will fit into the space and complement what’s already there,”

“We want to make sure that what artists want to do is represented. It’s not a contest in which we put someone’s image up for ten seconds or whatever.” -  Hrag Vartain

But the idea of swapping adds for art is not new to the crazy intersection of Broadway and 7th avenue in New York City. Back in 1982, the American conceptual artist Jenny Holzer installed an electronic sign on the Spectacolor lightboard that broadcasted various messages (“Protect Me From What I Want,” “Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise”).  More recently, the Times Square Alliance created a Public Art Program who seeks to brings “temporary high-quality, cutting-edge art and performance to Times Square’s public spaces, so that it is known globally as a place where ordinary people encounter authentic, ever-changing urban art in multiple forms and media.”

Sherry Dobbin, the director of the progran and the curator for the premiere of Times Square Arts Square had a interesting conversation and here is a  piece:

Hrag Vartanian: In the art world, we’re always talking about the issue of audience but in Times Square you don’t really have that problem, do you?

Sherry Dobbin: Times Square has an average of 350,000 pedestrians a day. Even when Times Square Moment, our daily digital art installation of artist video across 15 jumbotrons, runs from 11:57pm to midnight, we have approximately 15–19,000 people in the ‘bowtie.’ We are the highest [by number of individuals] US tourist destination; making us the largest public platform for leading contemporary art and performance. We will always have an audience.

HV: What kind of work do you think works best in Times Square? Or do you think it’s more about the approach then the type of work?

SD: We are very interested in a larger vision of Times Square than its role with the cultural sector. As the center of NYC, we have an opportunity to be the leading platform for contemporary art and performance. As a cultural hub, we can promote the work of the artist, the cultural partner, and draw from the diverse audience. Artists need to consider scale, duration, and participation as no other traditional or outdoor venue. Each project needs to appreciate and respect the environment and the performative aspect of each project, regardless of the art form. The screens surround the audience and therefore behaves like an installation more than a screening; the installation of a sculptural form is on view; the performance needs to accept the involuntary performers of the pedestrians in the plazas. The artist can never control the space; they can set frames, platforms, and vistas and present work that participates in the landscape.

sources: capitalnewyork and hyperallergic

 

 

Art in New York City (artful weekends)

Finally it is Friday. And before we share with you our artful suggestions for what to do in New York this weekend, let us do a recap of the week: Calvin Reid shares his view of Angel Orensanz, we how you the art gallery exhibitions in the Lower East Side, we share same musicians inspired by artists and Angel Orensanz new exhibition here in The Angel Orensanz Foundation is coming!

Now, for our weekend picks so you can enjoy a very artsy weekend in New York City:

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First off, this Friday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, staring at 5pm, enjoy An Evening of Art and a Summer Sunset on the rooftop garden, where you can view Tomas Saraceno’s Cloud City while listening to DJ Widowspeak. You can also appreciate special tours of Naked before the camera and Spies in the House of Art: Photography, Film, and Video until 7 pm.

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On Saturday there is lots of art in New York City for you to see. Like the exhibition Dialog in the Dark, where you will get to discover NYC by its sounds, tastes and textures, since you will be blindfolded! You will get to be guided through your senses by the people that know the city that way best: your guide will be visually impaired! So, prepare for the ride of your live starting at the South Street Seaport.

Not ready for the adventure? Don’t worry, New York City is boiling with art. So, how about the American Folk Museum? There you can see the exhibition Jubilation/Rumination: Life, Real and Imagined, the pieces from their permanent collection are organized by the museum’s senior curator Stacy C. Hollander and display samples of all varieties of artistic expression by artists from all over the world, from all the possible backgrounds. Maybe you wont know their names, but you will for sure remember their works once you see them. The exhibition addresses the space between reality, truth and imagination. Or as the curator puts it: “Life is not lived in black and white: reality may have the tinge of dreams and dreams an air of reality. “

 

On Discovery Times Square you can explore China’s past in the exhibition Terracotta Warriors. The 6-foot tall, 2000 year old statues are bound to impress. They are the legacy of Qin Shihuangdi, China’s first emperor. In fact, they were buried with him, in his tomb. But, someone decided to take them out for a Long March, all over the world, creating exhibitions that were always sold out. The army, or just a small piece of it is now on Times Square and you can learn the history of the warriors commissioned by Qin, each one different, placed in battle formation, with terracotta horses inside the first China emperor’s gigantic tomb.

Sunday is your last change to see  “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations,” so head back to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to enjoy the conversations that never happened between to genius Italian fashion designers and appreciate the display of dresses and shoes and hats of the fashion creators that were ahead of their time. And since you are inside the MET, how about spending the day there?

Finally, Sunday Night, if you like dance, then you shouldn’t loose the screening of Never Stand Still in Symphony Space at 6 pm, including a Q&A with director of the documentary Ron Honsa. The movie features legendary dancers and new innovators that reveal the world of dance. The trailer is here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74DT7FAjmjs]

Duos and 3Ds (Street Art)

We already shared with you that we love running into art, and we are guessing you do too. So, here are more suggestions from the Angel Orensanz Foundation blog for you to enjoy your walks a little more.

If you happen to be in Mannheim, Germany, you will be lucky enough to see the street art of the duo Zebrating that is based in the city. Their name comes from the artistic style loosely translated as “making the zebra”, which involves using a striping technique (isn’t that what a Zebra reminds you of?) . Usually the style doesn’t incorporate colors, but the duo, who is now exploring other cities in Germany, decided to add this nice touch.

Another street artist that likes to use color in his street art, is Julian Beever. The English artist is internationally known for the pavement drawings and the 3D illusions he creates. He has been drawing with chalk on the streets since the mid-90s and using a technique called anamorphosis to create his three dimensional fantasies. The thing is, though, you need to find the right angle, or else his creations make not sense to our eyes! His drawings don’t last long, but they are all over the place, like Times Square, Amsterdam, London, Mexico City, Istanbul and much more.

“I got started when I was in a pedestrian street in Brussels where an old garden had been removed. This left an unusual rectangle of paving slabs, which gave me the idea to convert this into a drawn swimming pool in the middle of the high street! It worked so well I tried other variations such as a well with people falling in. I soon realized that if you could make things appear to go into the pavement you could equally make them appear to stand out of it.”  Julian Beever.

On the other side of the equator, the Brazilian duo Os Gemeos reside in São Paulo, but this time they have decided to take a trip to Boston. In their first major U.S. solo show, the identical twins Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, who often combine elements of fantasy and play with political and social themes, show their work inside the Institute of Contemporary Art, as well as in Dewey Square, in Boston’s financial district.

“We don’t really want to explain the meaning of this,” he said. “We let people imagine things.” – Gustavo Pandolfo

Now their signature yellow-skinned cartoon characters have placed them among the top-10 most celebrated street artists in the world.

sources: thephoenix , moilusions, twisted, artinfo