09 July 2008
The New York City Waterfalls
The New York City Waterfalls, whose spigots open at the end of the month and run until October...are a pet project of Michael Bloomberg, who is rumored to have personally paid much of the tab and whose office steered the project through a byzantine permit process... Robert Benazzi, the hydraulics designer working with Eliasson, created a system that will suck up the East River, lift it ten stories into the air, and drop it back down, thousands of gallons a minute. He says the only comparably complex job in his 40-year career was designing the sprinkler system for the Sears Tower.
Eliasson [is] a 41-year-old Danish-Icelandic artist who lives in Copenhagen, works in Berlin, and currently has a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art and P.S. 1... Many of his best-known works explore architecture and the mechanics of perception, almost as if the fantastical imaginings of Buckminster Fuller were reinterpreted by a cognitive scientist. Eliasson’s work is most compelling, however, in its visceral embrace of beauty and wonder, prompting the kinds of basic questions that most of us stopped asking when we were 7 years old.
The waterfalls, he hopes, will provoke New Yorkers to raise similar questions about something we habitually ignore. “You take the water around Manhattan for granted,” Eliasson says... To help restore our sense of engagement with that landscape, he wants “to make water explicit.” It’s a phrase he often employs. “Falling water, it makes a sound, it engages a whole different range of senses. You see gravity. To make it explicit is to take it, hold it up, and let it fall.”
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