Times Squares Transforms Into a Surreal Fish Tank at Night

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By Matthew Keeshin and Dwell
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You don't always have to go to a museum to see good art.

As a resident of New York, it takes a lot for me to visit Times Square. Going to area always feels like visiting that one very eclectic relative's house. Thoughts like "This is an uncomfortable Halloween party" and "I didn't need to see or smell that" come to mind. But on this occasion for all the tourists, general chaos, and the glaring lights, I was excited to see an artist take over the iconic neighborhood.

Thanks to the public art organization Times Square Arts, their Midnight Moment program throughout July features the multi-channel animation Voyage by the artist Beau Stanton and curated by Lori Zimmer. Since May 2012, Time Square Arts has worked with the Times Square Advertising Coalition and additional partners to exhibit artists on the billboards for three minutes at 11:57 PM. The billboards are interrupted from displaying ads and coordinated to feature the narrative of a wayward ship's journey articulated with sea monsters, shipwrecks, and ruins. 

Still from <i>Voyage</i> by Beau Stanton.&nbsp;

Still from Voyage by Beau Stanton. 

Stanton is known for his detailed oil paintings and now his images come to life at a massive scale moving through the billboards. A whale calmly swims from building to building while a sea diver in a vintage suit descends into the briny deep. Influenced by Victorian imagery and antiquity, the animation is vibrant yet ominous.  

So make sure to arrive on time because there's only one week left to catch the experience. 

Surrounding the main area of Times Square, the animation begins with a countdown. &nbsp;

Surrounding the main area of Times Square, the animation begins with a countdown.  

A porthole view of the ocean appears before tentacles wrap around it and lead the viewer to the bottom of the sea.&nbsp;

A porthole view of the ocean appears before tentacles wrap around it and lead the viewer to the bottom of the sea. 

The contrast between Stanton's visual vocabulary and Times Square helps create the effect of viewing another world through a window. The Nasdaq screen stands out in particular since it wraps around the whole building.&nbsp;

The contrast between Stanton's visual vocabulary and Times Square helps create the effect of viewing another world through a window. The Nasdaq screen stands out in particular since it wraps around the whole building. 


Ruins float along the bottom of the ocean floor imagined by Stanton.&nbsp;

Ruins float along the bottom of the ocean floor imagined by Stanton. 

Inside the belly of the beast.&nbsp;

Inside the belly of the beast. 

Cover photograph by ©Lovis Ostenrik