Thursday, October 10, 2013

New oculus digital art prompts visiting WSJ writer to deem Barclays Center roof "especially cool" (Um, it was supposed to be public)

The art strategy continues. Fresh off much good publicity from the "Ona" statue in the Barclays Center plaza, arena developers now unveil "All Day," a digital art project in the building's oculus.

The Wall Street Journal's Ralph Gardner, in Appreciating Brooklyn: Ralph Gardner Visits the Barclays Center Before the Unveiling of "All Day," a Digital Homage to Brooklyn, writes:
Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal
However, in an effort to better appreciate Brooklyn, and in particular its geography, I paid a visit last week to the Barclays Center, which is about to unveil a digital homage to the borough. Say what you will about the $4.9 billion, 22-acre Atlantic Yards project, but the Barclays Center has become an instant landmark (I know that as soon as I reach it I'm supposed to make a right onto Flatbush), and its swooping yet undemonstrative rust-color fa├žade seems to acknowledge that Brooklyn has its own sensibility—one as sophisticated as Manhattan's.
Ya think the effort to "better appreciate Brooklyn" might have been goosed by a public relations pitch?

Visiting the roof

This passage is particularly ironic:
Its roof, with panoramic Brooklyn views and downtown Manhattan looming in the distance, is especially cool. I know because I found myself standing on it last week. My visit to the arena's summit had something to do with "All Day," the commission for the Barclays Center's oculus.
Of course the "especially cool" roof was once supposed to be open to the public, not serving almost exclusively as a launching pad for a huge Barclays Center advertisement.

The new art, and what's missing

Writes Gardner:
Starting Thursday, it will also display "All Day," a dreamlike representation of Brooklyn and its neighborhoods created by OpenEndedGroup, a collaboration of three digital artists: Marc Downie, Shelley Eshkar and Paul Kaiser.
"You're wondering why we're up here?" asked Mr. Kaiser as we enjoyed the view along with David Berliner, the COO of Forest City Ratner. Mr. Berliner commissioned the piece. "We create our pieces using thousands and thousands of photographs and treating the photos as data," some of them taken from the roof of the Barclays Center.
The images—over 14,000 of them, of Flatbush, Williamsburg, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Bed-Sty, Bushwick, etc.—were fed into a computer software program that distills certain features (as I suppose I'd be able to if I took the time to get to know Brooklyn better) and then turns them into something called a 3-D "point cloud."
Once that's accomplished, the computer can explore neighborhoods virtually from any direction—swooping in for a street view, skimming the rooftops or providing a bird's-eye view of landmarks such as 2 Hanson Place and its signature dome.
Berliner says, "An unplanned interaction with art is something very special about living in an urban environment." I don't doubt that.

I also don't doubt that all such publicity drowns out questions about why the housing has been delayed, why there's no office tower on the arena plaza, why there's so little community use of the arena, or whether the developer has paid for all the land it's used.

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