New York City’s Park Avenue Tunnel Converted to Art Installation
For the first time since the 1930s, the Park Avenue tunnel in Manhattan is accessible to pedestrian traffic as a temporary, interactive art installation. Not only will this allow for a closer look at architectural history – normally viewed in passing by car – but it will also be an ethereal experience with over 300 lights interacting with recorded voice messages in a project called Voice Tunnel.
Voice Tunnel is part of New York City’s Summer Streets event series, sponsored by the Transportation Department, during which nearly seven miles of street along Park Avenue and Lafayette St. are closed to traffic for everyone to bike, play, run and walk. The tunnel installation, in conjunction with Summer Streets, will open Saturday, August 10 and once more on August 17, 2013.
From the hours of 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., people can enter the tunnel, which runs north-south under Park Avenue, on East 33 Street and walk its entire lengthto East 40 Street. The main attraction, however, is in the middle of the tunnel. People can stop and speak into an intercom and watch as the messages they record stretch outward across the ceiling as colorful waves of light. How intense and far the waves go depends on the pitch and volume of the speaker.
The visionary behind the installation, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, has been involved in several large-scale installations over the past 20 years. Previous installations include Pulse Park in Madison Square Park, where the intensity of light beams were determined by visitors’ heart rates. Another famous work, Open Air in Philadelphia, invited participants to record messages via web site or phone – which were then transformed into strobe lights controlled by the message’s frequency and GPS location.
Other planned activities for Summer Streets includes a rock-climbing wall, a fitness zone and a zip line. All events are free and open to to the public.