• Thu. Aug 11th, 2022

This art installation at New York’s SUMMIT One Vanderbilt bridges the gap between art and Instagram

ByLinda W. Smith

Nov 3, 2021

There is a fine line between “immersive art” and something that was simply made for the “gram”. One artist has managed to bridge that gap this year in an incredible way.

Kenzo Digital’s “AIR” at the new SUMMIT A Vanderbilt is both extremely immersive and photographable, but also aesthetically valuable to viewers and to the city.

ADVISED: New Summit One Vanderbilt Observation Deck Offers One of New York’s Best Views

After a trip to a mirrored hallway with its own elements, visitors take an elevator to the 91st floor of the new building, where Digital Kenzo has created a fully reflected infinity piece called “AIR” that reflects the sky and city views over and over again, making you feel like you are walking in the sky or on another plane of existence. Looking up and down in this two story space, you see your reflection repeating itself forever.

Besides the absolutely breathtaking view of the city (where you can see all the main monuments and bridges), the view changes with the weather and the time of day. When the weather is nice, you will feel like you are walking among the clouds. When it is stormy, you will see the rain flying sideways and around the building. The morning sun will cast a different light than the evening sun.

Photograph: Summit One Vanderbilt

Kenzo Digital, a digital artist who worked with Beyoncé, told us the piece showcases the “fluidity of nature.”

“Every time you come, it’s radically different,” he said. tells us, describing the space as a “massive cathedral” or “central park in the sky” that was “crazy” to build.

The 41-year-old Brooklynite developed “AIR” specifically for New Yorkers and to provide them with a meditative, contemplative escape from the city that shows how the built world is connected to the natural world. The hope is that they will have a moment of powerful and existential relief that allows them to take an inventory of the direction of their life and to offer self-reflection in a literal and metaphorical sense.

“It is not something to be tiptoed on. You can be free with your thoughts and savor it.”

Using mirrors you can watch “AIR” as a work of art “about yourself to help you understand yourself better in a fast-paced and confusing world,” he says. “All of them are ways of seeing yourself in a more human and primary way and of seeing yourself in contrast … with who you say you are versus who you really are. All of these things point to self-awareness.”

He says he was inspired by “The Gates” by Christo in Central Park in 2005 and “New York City Waterfalls” by Olafur Eliasson, two works that have transformed the space and the city around them by changing the perspectives of the spectators. “AIR” is also eerily similar to a recurring dream he has had over the past two decades about a two-story space inside a fictional skyscraper in a city based on Gotham and New York.

AIR Summit One Vanderbilt
Photograph: Courtesy of SUMMIT One Vanderbilt

In recent years, New York has seen its share of immersive and art exhibits that promise a visceral, immersive experience designed with Instagram in mind (or at least visitors sharing about them on social media. social) —Happy Go Lucky, The Rosé Mansion, The Stone Age, SuperReal, Dream Machine and the Van Gogh Exhibits to name a few.

In general, some of them fail to deliver far beyond the visuals.

“Some of these things are a lot more transactional and more about the images that come out of them,” says Kenzo Digital, noting that he has visited quite a few in recent years. “The people who are there tell the story of ‘living my best life’ and everyone is super happy … between these photos it’s like a wrestling match for a low budget photographic production It’s great tense, super aggravated, super petty and passive-aggressive and a generally terrible human experience. I don’t like the people I’m with in these spaces. “

Has Kenzo Digital really succeeded in creating something that is both Instagrammable and valuable as an art in its own right?

“At the end of the day, you can only eat sugar and once you consume something of real nutritional value, there is a difference between what is true and what is not,” he says. “Storytelling and culture has been around for a long time… a lot of the stuff that occupies our time that we think of as culture is quite emotionally dead and lacking, so the things that make you feel alive and engage your mind are unique and powerful. because of that.”

Digital Kenzo
Photography: courtesy of Kenzo Digital

He notes that visitors to “AIR” have been kind to each other and cheerful.

“One of the miraculous things about ‘AIR’ is that people are just happy,” he says. “Everyone is cheerful, curious, engaged and just plain nice to each other. This might be the only place in Manhattan or the tri-state area where New Yorkers are the kindest to each other. others.”

He doesn’t know why that is exactly. This is perhaps the aspect of exploration and wonder that one gets in “AIR”. Every nook offers a new perspective of the cityscape unfolding in front of you, but also places you in that scene above and below you and almost 360 degrees. The more we explore, the more we reveal ourselves.

“By design, it’s anti-fine art,” he adds. “It’s about curiosity as the main commitment. You are not in a museum. It is not something to be tiptoed on. You can be free in your thoughts and enjoy them. “

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