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Grand Canyon vs. Times Sq.

February 13, 2011

I’m still troubled by the Grand Canyon vs. Times Square.

My class is very encouraging, but I feel in my gut there is no framework to go on; it’s worthwhile to note that Edvin agrees.

Here are some options and why they don’t work very well:

  • making Museum of the Contemporary at Times Sq. I like this idea, and it’s very executable. I see very clearly how this would go and am interested in it. Ultimately though, it’s not true to the original richness of the idea, that Grand Canyon comparison, which troubles me. I could veer in this decision but it would be a very calculated decision. Also, the Museum of the Ordinary example is a bit too close for my tastes.
  • making perverse National Park at Times Sq. The option most in my class seem to favor. I’m troubled by the idea that there is no good way to frame this. There are already urban national parks. An anti-national park brings up other images. A perverse national park just doesn’t make sense. Besides this framing/packaging issue, I’m troubled  with some content issues:
  • 1/ PRESERVE VS ALLOW CHANGE. A  national park has a priority to PRESERVE what is within it. Certainly, part of the ANTI could be violating that preservation, but there is already a big violation in the fact that it’s URBAN and not nature. So actually, that’s two quite large violations, and we are moving too far away from the box.
  • 2/ PARTICIPATE VS OBSERVE. A national park encourages participation. Times Square encourages ogling. I too would encourage ogling, observation, looking. Another violation.
  • 3/ LOW ON LOW. Many of my projects are successful because they cross two languages: a vernacular/low one with a “high” format/modulated approach. A Times Square national park is ultimately something low/vernacular in another low/vernacular package. Which is why the museum in a sense works very well: Times Sq (low/vernacular) in a museum (high format).

In a sense, what I am looking for is a cross between a museum and a national park. For a Grand Canyon/Times Sq. Clearly this is too many crosses. I think I need to be brainstorming of high formats which I can put Times Square into.

High formats:

  • Museum: art, culture
  • Gallery
  • Opera
  • Theatre
  • Dance
  • Coffee table book (i.e. of Grand Canyon)
  • Book (history book, culture)

Another approach. What do I want to do:

  • Glass box to observe Times Square. (reinforce passivity.)
  • Museum of Gift Shop items. (expose kitsch… Natalie!)
  • some sort of graphic identity based on the Moire effect.
  • Cross language of Grand Canyon onto Times Sq. I.e. invite:
    • visitors to “Watch their Step.” / Be Careful at the Edges
    • be aware of sun rise/sunset times
    • invite them to become a Volunteer Ranger
    • etc.

Options as I now see them:

  • Museum of the Contemporary at Times Sq.
  • Fund drive for National Parks at Times Sq. This is the future of national parks if you don’t give. (So negative! But funny.)
  • Celebration of America.
  • A giant book. A book installation. Some sort of installation that puts Times Sq. behind glass, pretends it’s a book. Active distancing. Grand Canyon almost entirely gone.
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