Voice Tunnel

This looks super-cool.

voice tunnel

“Voice Tunnel” is the signature art installation at this year’s Summer Streets. (Three Saturdays when nearly seven miles of NYC streets are closed to cars, and open to pedestrians and bikers.)

Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer lined the Park Avenue Tunnel,В which runs from 33rd to 42nd Street, with 300 theatrical spotlights and 150 speakers. Pedestrians who pass through can speak into an intercom that records and loops their voices—and affects the brightness of the lights. The result will be constantly changing light and sound patterns.

I appreciate how understated the installation seems—how it utilizes the space but doesn’t completely take it over. Because for me, one of the coolest parts of experiencing it would just be walking through the tunnel.

Turns out, that was one of Lozano-Hemmer’s goals. As he puts it, in the video below:

I wanted to do something that would not be a big intervention because the tunnel, itself, is quite pretty—the beautiful sort of rock shapes, the metal cladding. You feel special just walking into it.

Will definitely have to check it out.

(Photo by Julie Hau via Summer Streets’ Facebook page; video by NYC DOT via Transportation Nation’s Tumblr. Summer Streets are August 3, 10 and 17.)

MTA Tattoos

As a non-driver and native New Yorker, I have a soft spot for the MTA and the NYCВ subwayВ system—even though I’m often frustrated when I can’t get a seat in the morning. (I’m the fourth stop on the A train!)

Nevertheless, I’m loving Tattly’s new line of MTA temporary tattoos. I especially appreciate how it includes the diamond shaped icons for the 6 and 7 trains!

mta set

Love this example of A/C/E pride…

a c e

and this double display of NYC pride!


(Photos via Tattly; found via Swissmiss)

Stay Cool

Children escape the heat of the East Side by using fire hydrant as a shower bath

It is crazy hot, here in NYC, but of course, I’m loving every sticky minute of it!В I’m still forgoing fans or an AC in my apartment, but I’ve been indulging in lots of ice showers—my indoor version of what those kids are doing in the photo above.

Maybe because it’s so old school, but I love that cooling off via fire hydrant is an NYC tradition.В (This photo was taken in 1943.) Today, local fire departments even distribute free “spray caps” for hydrants, to save water and create makeshift sprinklers for anyone looking for heat relief.

Stay cool (and safe)!

(Photo by Roger Smith via the Library of Congress)

Ariel Erestingcol’s Times Square Portraits

Did you play with Perler beads when you were a kid? I did, and I loved making things out of them! (In case you need a refresher on what they are, they’re tiny colored beads that you arrange onto grids in various shapes and formations. Then, an adult would run an iron over them, thus fusing the beads together to make little plastic creations.)

Perhaps it’s the nostalgia factor, but I’m loving Ariel Erestingcol‘s Time Square portraits made by a similar method. To create them, the Los Angeles-based artist pixelated images of 42nd Street and plotted out which colored beads would go where. Then, he placed each bead onto a grid…

Ariel Erestingcol’s beadwork

Ariel Erestingcol’s beadwork

…and created plastic portraits of Times Square. Each one contains more than 5,000 beads.

ariel erestingcol times square ariel erestingcol times square

The limited edition pieces were available at CB2 and now,В unsurprisingly, appear to be sold out. I would have loved to get one! But I’m going to keep my eye out for Erestingcol’s future creations.

(Top images via CB2, bottom images via The Luxury Spot)

The Illustrated Train

I may have been taking public transportation for my entire life, but people-watching on the subway never gets old. Even when I’m trying to block out my fellow commuters—with my headphones turned up and/or a magazine in front of my face—I can’t help but wonder what their backstories are: Why are they also headed home so late? Where are they coming from? Who’s waiting up for them? And so on.

Bee Johnson is similarly intrigued by NYC subway riders. The Harlem-based artist has taken to capturing them in her series, “The Illustrated Train.”

The project is exactly what it sounds like. As Micropolis NYCВ quotes Johnson:

If I happen to be standing on a crowded train and can’t comfortably draw or only have a stop before I have to get off, I’ll try to discreetly snap a photo (no flash!) with my phone and base my illo on that. (I know I sound like a total creep, but what can you do? Sometimes the best ones are gone in a flash.)

A few of my favorites illustrations:

southbound for a sleepover

bronx, party of three

to grandmother's loft we go!

the mad hatter of morningside heights

…funny enough, I see the guy in the last illo all the time on the A train!

(Illustrations by Bee Johnson; found via Micropolis NYC)

Rain Room

Here’s a good reason to mark your calendar: Random International’s Rain Room В is coming to PS1!

The exhibit, which debuted last year in London, looks incredible. Vistors enter a room filled with rain—but wherever they step, overhead censors prevent water from falling on them. So they’re able to walk through the downpour without getting wet, virtually controlling the weather!

I first learned of the Rain Room, last fall, when I saw these photos. Wayne McGregor choreographed about 25 hours of dance for his companyВ to perform inВ the London exhibit:

rain room

rain room

No word, yet, on whether there will be a similar dance component in the PS1 exhibit. But if anyone is interested in being my pas de deux partner, let me know—I would happily dance around the Rain Room with you!

(Photos by Sidd Khajuria via Random Dance; Rain Room is at MoMa PS1 from May 12 through July 28.)

Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dance Theatre of Harlem

This past Saturday night, I had the pleasure of seeing theВ Dance Theatre of Harlem. Their five-night run at Jazz at Lincoln Center marked the end of a nine-year, financially driven hiatus for the company, and I was super-excited to see one of their first NYC performances.

Saturday’s program could best be described as “lovely”—a real joy to watch. It opened withВ “Gloria,” a gorgeous new work by resident choreographer Robert Garland. It was one of the most inspiring pieces I’ve seen in a while—one that I would love to dance, if I were so talented! The movement was deeply classical with refreshing contemporary elements woven throughout. During the piece, the mood shifted between melancholy and and joyous, as dancers effortlessly wove among each other, partnered up and separated. At the start and end of the piece, ballerinas-in-training, from the Dance Theatre of Harlem school, joined their more seasoned counterparts onstage—an apt metaphor for the company’s new beginning.

The next piece, Helen Pickett’s “When Love,” was a moving, athletic duet featuring Jehbreal Jackson and the ultra-talented Ashley Murphy. (My apologies to Jackson—I kept finding my eyes drawn to Murphy!) Set to Philip Glass’ stirring “Einstein on the Beach,” the piece depicted all the wild emotions that you experience in love. I especially appreciated how well the dancers conveyed the feeling that the two of you exist separately, in a world apart from everyone else.

Balanchine’s playful “Glinka Pas de Trois” followed (also featuring Murphy), then Ailey’s “The Lark Ascending” (pretty, but it felt less tight than the previous three works). The last piece of the evening, Donald Byrd’s “Contested Space,” was my least favorite. After the moving, uplifting dances that preceded, this felt like a misfit. “Contested Space” is set to a jarring, techno score and features flashy, ultra-contemporary ballet moves—overwrought developpes and the like—the type that you might see in So You Think You Can Dance. This was not a good thing. And I’m saying that as a diehardВ SYTYCDВ fan!

I’m hoping Dance Theatre of Harlem is back for good—not just because I really enjoyed the Saturday program. I also fully support what the company stands for.

Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell, the firstВ African-American principal dancer of New York City Ballet. (He’s probably best known for his В role in Agon‘s pas de deux, which Balanchine famously choreographed for him—ground-breaking, at the time, because it paired him, a black man, with a white woman.) Dance Theatre of Harlem’s mission has always been, in part, to break boundaries and prove that black dancers can perform classical ballet at the highest caliber.

Today, it’s no secret that the ballet world is still not the most diverse. In most of the classical ballet performances I’ve seen, there have been very few—or, often, no—dancers of color. And in comparison to the very diverse world I’m used to seeing every day in NYC, I can’t help but notice that. (That’s also one of the reasons that led me to take ballet at Ailey—I wanted to be surrounded by a diverse group of dancers.)

And that’s why I’m hoping Dance Theatre of Harlem will be around for many years. I’m hoping this diverse, talented company will inspire everyone who has the drive to pursue ballet to do so, no matter what their backgrounds.

(Photo of “Gloria” via the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Facebook page)