If you’re in the Flatiron neighborhood of Manhattan be sure to take a stroll through Madison Square Park, where artist Charles Long has created Pet Sounds, a large scale, interactive, mixed media installation. Bright pipe railings are set up in the park’s interior lawn, winding around new benches which serve as the resting place for the artist’s biomorphic blobs. Be sure to get up close and personal with the sculptures because if you give them enough love they will buzz and hum to you through speakers installed in their underbellies.
“My re-occurring interest in the uncanny over many years is in full effect here in the Pet Sounds project where something as familiar and literally grounding as a handrail morphs into an unnamable blob that has a very physical presence with some power to dialog with the viewer’s own somatic sense. As one pets the blobs, a wide range of sounds are triggered and are coming from within the bodies of the forms. The sounds and the sculptural forms connect to the physicality of the viewer and by extension to those of others that are touching the work. I wanted the work to be as visually affecting to park visitors as it is a physical and aural experience for them. I can’t wait to see people sitting on a park bench next to one of these bright orange blobs. Generally, when I look at people looking at my sculptures I just see more sculpture. With Madison Square Park’s almost maze-like repeating patterns of arching pathways, and the way people and their pets are leisurely enjoying these splendid green spaces, I hope I might be an interloper into the park visitors’ unconscious, into what Freud has called the ‘free floating attention.’ I like the idea of Pet Sounds becoming a part of the collective memory, and even dreams, of the unique experiences of New York City.” – Charles Long
Photography Kathryn Chadason
Through Sept. 9
Madison Square Park: Broadway at 23rd Street