New Yorkers are used to go underground. They hang on to subway straps everyday.
To give them an incentive to walk at street level, there’s an initiative as Summer Streets. For some consecutive Saturday mornings, 4th Avenue and Park Avenue are car and carefree walking and bike streets.
But for those who miss their weekday underground experience, there’s this unique opportunity to walk the Park Avenue tunnel which is normally off limits for pedestrians.
Artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is bringing an interactive sound and light show. The whole length of the tunnel is lit up with rhythmic light beams giving the spectator the impression he is moving quickly through…a tunnel of light. It’s like takeoff of a space vessel through a long tubular launchpad.
Visitors are invited to speak in a microphone. Their message, or whatever sound they wish to produce, is recorded and repeated in waves echoing towards the end of the tunnel. The different sounds, succeeding one another in a fast pace, merge in an unintelligible cacophony of unworldly voices.
The symbolism of the tunnel is clear. But in this case, it’s twofold. A tunnel is a passage through darkness, and at the end there is light. But this installation is also a walk through light itself. Fast light that is. It’s a sensation of considerable speed, fast as lightning, fast as life. Life, and consciousness, as an ephemeral but lucid passage through dark expanse.
The Park Avenue Tunnel runs between 33rd and 40th Streets and is 1,394ft (425m) long. The installation can still be visited this Saturday between 7am and 1pm.