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.