With its crowded avenues and towering architecture, moments of calm and reflection are not easy to come by in New York City; a fact that has not been lost on artists Kevin Cooley and Phillip Andrew Lewis, whose new installation in the lobby of 55 5th Avenue in New York's Greenwich Village neighbourhood provides a little perspective on the city that never sleeps.
Using eight CCTV cameras installed on top of the building that frames views of the line between the Freedom Tower and the Empire State Building, the duo have concurrently set up eight monitors in the lobby that stream the captured footage live from the roof. Simultaneously looking north and south, the installation provides the building's residents and visitors with a new, yet impossible, view of this well-known skyline.
'I would say that the intention of the work is to create something thought-provoking, and that this intention is a thread that connects all AIB [Art-in-Buildings] projects,' says the installation's curator Jennie Lamensdorf. 'I like that this work has the potential to alter the way someone thinks of their geographical position within the city. If that makes someone feel restful or disorientated that's interesting to me, but neither of those feelings is the goal of the project.'
Sponsored by the Time Equities Inc. (TEI) Art-in-Buildings – a program that brings contemporary art to non-traditional exhibition spaces – the installation is the artists' sixth solo exhibition and first in Manhattan. Its title, The Long Division, references the north-south and east-west divisions of New York and explores recurring themes in the duo's oeuvre; in particular, a 2014 exhibition called In the Valley of the Sun, where the artists installed CCTV cameras and flat screen TVs in the shape of an arch at Sonoma State University in California. The result was a simulation of daylight created by tracing a 180° live view of the sky from sunrise to sunset.