Wake, commissioned by Times Square Arts, is a 24-foot-tall installation that evokes the hull of a shipwreck crossed with the skeletal remains of a marine mammal. The structure is linked with a carved, 21-foot tall animatronic female sculpture, accurately derived from a figurehead of the opera star Jenny Lind, that was once mounted on the 19th Century clipper ship, the USS Nightingale.
The physical construction of Wake is underway at the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s STEAM Studio, and is a collaboration between the Engineering and Art & Art History, and Drama Departments with assistance from faculty, staff, other students, and community members, all under the direction of Mel Chin Studio.
The artwork calls forth both the city’s triumphs and the complicated layers of its past. New York City has become a center of trade, commerce, finance, entertainment, and tourism, but also has a complex history that included the shipping (by the USS Nightingale, among others) of guns and slaves, that augmented this burgeoning city’s economy. The expanding past economies are prologue to our current environmental dilemma.
The physical presence of Wake will serve as an entry point into Unmoored, an ambitious 21st Century mixed-reality public art project that will be a draw for all ages and backgrounds.
With Wake and Unmoored, Chin hopes to spark deeper personal investigations through digital devices, and provoke an enlightened stewardship of human actions in relation to global warming realities.
The two public artworks immerse the heart of Times Square in the discussion around climate change. Scenarios on the ground at Broadway Plaza between 46th and 47th Streets, and in the “virtual air” of mixed reality, will combine in an ambitious, interactive installation.
Wake is commissioned by Times Square Arts. Co-presented by Times Square Arts, Queens Museum, and No Longer Empty. Special thanks to University of North Carolina at Asheville, Jaros Baum & Bolles Consulting Engineers, and Candice Strongwater.
Image: Mel Chin, Wake Study, 2017. Study by the artist. Courtesy the artist.