City in Minutes


By Tanya Silverman

A still shot of some New York Minute clips.

Manhattan’s Financial District is a notoriously busy section of the city. Nevertheless, many of the visitors who head to its newly re-opened Fulton Center terminal don’t just pass through for a “New York minute,” but rather, stop, stand, and stare up in awe at the gridded glass dome.

But by gazing only upward at its 110-foot top, the spectators miss their chance to watch New York Minute, a video installation by new media artist Gabriel Barcia-Colombo.

New York Minute consists of 52 channels where actors perform everyday tasks, like stretching deeper into a yoga posture, playing a piano, or practicing boxing. The colorful footage is played in slow motion on LCD screens or LED Video Walls installed throughout Fulton Center–the MTA Subway terminal that, after being damaged during 9/11, just re-opened on Monday.

A screen playing New York Minute.

Some segments are funny, like two female tourists clad in tacky attire ogling over some unknown subject. Others are playful yet realistic, like a little girl blowing bubbles. One that seems more surreal is an ecstatic older man manically smiling while he tries to (unsuccessfully) grab floating dollar bills. However, that particular Minute reflects on a level of reality too, akin to the mechanics of capitalism in the surrounding district–not to mention how opulent Burberry advertisements constantly interrupt the artistic footage.

A few of the segments don’t seem so New York, though. A glammed-out male rock star in a metallic top strumming his flashy guitar resembles a style more reminiscent of Los Angeles. Two goofy sunbathing old ladies in lawn chairs add a tinge of leisurely Floridian flavor.

Whether it’s for a minute or for more lasting stretches of time, New York is but one place where the public transit art adds to the experience. Think of the peaceful rainbow painted across the cave-like texture within Stockholm’s Stadium StationMosaics around the London Tube, or royally monumental set-ups in the Moscow Metro, certainly offer their own aesthetic refuge.

The dome on top of the Fulton Center.

Considering its virtual nature, New York Minute is arguably more short-lasting and less iconic than other examples of more static subway art, in its own location or elsewhere. Its presence adds an accessory to overall outfit of resiliency and innovation presented by the unveiled Fulton Center. Nevertheless, if enough observers absorb the essence of these segments (by the time they are de-installed in Spring), Barcia-Colombo may fulfill his mission in leaving a “digital imprint for the next generation.”

All photos by Tanya Silverman.