Leslie Thornton's BINOCULAR MENAGERIE to Transform Times Square Into An Urban Jungle, May 2014
Animals of all kinds will fill Times Square's spectacular screens in May, turning the square into an urban jungle every night with Leslie Thornton's film Binocular Menagerie. Thornton's Midnight Moment film will premiere just before midnight on Thursday, May 1st, and play every night throughout May from 11:57 p.m.-midnight. Midnight Moment, celebrating its two year anniversary with this program, is a monthly presentation of The Times Square Advertising Coalition (TSAC) and Times Square Arts. Thornton's film is presented in partnership with the Winkleman Gallery.
The seminal and enigmatic media artist Leslie Thornton straddles the media and art worlds and is known for addressing a range of charged subjects. Her work ventures into the highly imaginative and quasi-fantastic, and is often arranged in serial or episode format, incorporating distinctly "post-modern" combinations of archival and original footage, moving and still images.
Binocular Menagerie features a wide array of animals of various species-birds, reptiles, mammals, some exotic, others familiar and commonplace. Thornton uses a simple play of direct and abstracted imagery to bring out dimensions of animal behavior that generally go by unheeded. Two circular fields appear side by side, creating a binocular effect. On the left are images of the various animals, beautifully captured doing what they do in the wild and in captivity. On the right, the very same image is folded back on itself in a centripetal pattern, reminiscent of a kaleidoscope. The two circular fields are intimately connected: the movements of the animals on the left are remapped into the elegant mathematical abstraction on the right.
The effect is unexpected and profound: the viewer notices minute tremors and shifts (a small heart beating, for example) in the left sphere, by catching the very same resonant motion, multiplied, recast, and disembodied in the pattern on the right. The effect is of a glimpse into another being, a view prior to language and outside of our expectations. Thornton's beautiful, meditative camerawork locates the movements of predator/prey relations in the most subtle fragments and configurations of behavior and morphology. All of her work has this intensity, an almost painfully precise focus on the fundamental minutiae of being in the world.
Artist Leslie Thornton says, "In Binocular Menagerie, I wanted to create an exotic environment of 'almost-nature' for Times Square, in which there is co-habitation of animal, machine, architecture and man. I thought of multiple King Kongs, both horrible and sublime at the same time, and I thought of taking over this whole visual field with small revelations."
Sherry Dobbin, Times Square Public Art Director said, "Thornton naturally thinks in multiple channels for the contemporary eye that is consciously focusing between an object and its abstraction. Here, she appropriates the most natural of subjects - animals - and captures them for exhibition in our most un-natural, virtual menagerie. Are we not always looking at Times Square through a type of kaleidoscope?"
Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, said, "With each Midnight Moment we have the opportunity to change people's perception of Times Square and draw attention to our spectacular signs. Leslie Thornton's binocular images compare reality with abstraction while providing a breath of fresh air in this urban jungle."
Toby Sturek, Chairman of the Times Square Advertising Coalition, said, "New York City is known all over the world as the concrete jungle and TSAC is excited to welcome Leslie Thornton's Binocular Menagerie to the center of the jungle and share her exotic and captivating film on the digital screens with locals and visitors. Times Square is a perfect venue to showcase a film of this nature and we're thrilled to launch the Midnight Moment's 3rd year with this creative content."
"We are delighted that Leslie Thornton's work has been selected for the May Midnight Moment, and sincerely thank Times Square Arts and the Times Square Advertising Coalition for their support of artists working in moving images," says Ed Winkleman.
The following digital screens are participating in the May Midnight Moment:
ABC Super Sign, American Eagle Times Square, Bank of America, CEMUSA, City Outdoor, Disney Store Spectacular, JVC Screen, NASDAQ, Spectacolor HD129 / Times Square Museum & Visitor Center Marquee, ClearChannel HD128, Spectacolor HD127 / CNN Screen, Superior Digital Displays Three Times Square #5, Times Square Museum & Visitor Center, Viacom North & South (SL Green Realty), Thomson Reuters, 7TS (7 Times Square), and V Media Times Square.
About Midnight Moment: Midnight Moment is the largest coordinated effort in history by the sign operators in Times Square to display synchronized, cutting-edge creative content on electronic billboards and newspaper kiosks throughout Times Square every night. The program premiered in May 2012 and is organized and supported by the Times Square Advertising Coalition in partnership with Times Square Arts, the public art program for the Times Square Alliance, with additional partners of participating sign holders and artists.
Each night, Times Square becomes a digital art gallery through dazzling visuals on select billboards and newsstands. Every show begins at 11:57 p.m. with a "countdown" that signals the start of the three minute nightly presentation. Past artists featured in the program include Isaac Julien; Robert Wilson; Tracey Emin; Seoungho Cho; Vicki DaSilva, Surabhi Saraf, and Elly Cho; Erika Janunger; Takeshi Murata; Bel Borba with Burt Sun and André Costantini; Zach Nader; Brian Gonzalez (aka Taxiplasm); Björk; JR; Ryan McGinley; Jack Goldstein; Nature Theater of Oklahoma; Ezra Wube; Laleh Khorramian; Brian Dailey; and Yoko Ono. For more information on past projects, visit TimesSquareNYC.org/MidnightMoment.
Times Square Advertising Coalition (TSAC) is a trade association comprised of major advertisers, retailers, real estate firms, media companies and other businesses involved in the outdoor sign industry in Times Square, along with organizations representing Broadway and the community. Members of TSAC include: ABC Regional Sports & Entertainment Sales, Clear Channel Spectacolor, Daktronics, D3 LED, Digital Domination, Hines Management, Jamestown One Times Square, Lamar Advertising Company, Landmark Sign & Electric, Metro Media Technologies, Newmark Knight Frank, North Shore Neon, P.R.omotion!, Sherwood Outdoor, SL Green, Times Square Alliance, The WOW Factor and Thomson Reuters. www.timessquareadcoalition.org
Times Square Arts, the public arts program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world's most iconic urban places. Through the Square's electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and the Alliance's own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators to help the public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district's unique identity. Generous support of Times Square Arts is provided by ArtPlace America and ArtWorks. Visit TimesSquareNYC.org/arts for more information. Follow us on Twitter @TSqArts and Instagram @TSqArts.
About the artist: The seminal and enigmatic media artist Leslie Thornton straddles the media and art worlds and is known for addressing a range of charged subjects. Her work ventures into the highly imaginative and quasi-fantastic, and is often arranged in serial or episode format, incorporating distinctly "post-modern" combinations of archival and original footage, moving and still images. Thornton's early experiments in film, video, and installation helped blaze a trail for video artists, along with Chris Marker, Chantal Akerman, and others. She has received many awards, including the Maya Deren Award, the first Alpert Award in the Arts for media, a nomination for the Hugo Boss Award, two Rockefeller Fellowships, and she is a current Guggenheim Fellow. Her work has been shown across the world, in such venues as dOCUMENTA; MoMA PS1: Centre Pompidou; Tate Modern and the Serpentine Gallery in London, and at the New York and Rotterdam Film Festivals, among others.
About Winkleman Gallery: The gallery was launched as "Plus Ultra Gallery" in 2001 by independent curator Edward Winkleman and artist Joshua in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Gallery exhibitions have been reviewed in Artforum, Art in America, Flash Art, The New Yorker, Time Out New York, Art on Paper and many other art publications. Moving into Chelsea in March 2006, the gallery name was changed when Murat Orozobekov joined Edward Winkleman as Co-Owner. We have participated in art fairs such as The Armory Show, SEVEN, Pulse, ARCO, Art Chicago, NADA, INDEPENDENT, and Moving Image. Gallery artists have exhibited in some of the world's most important venues and biennials, including the Venice Biennale, the Vienna Kunsthalle, The Art Institute in Chicago, the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Singapore Biennale, the Sharjah Biennial, and the Whitney Biennial. For more information, please visit www.winkleman.com.
Pictured: Still from Binocular Menagerie. Image courtesy Winkleman Gallery.