Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So Cool, It's Frozen

Why is this so utterly freakin' cool?

I have theories:
1. Because of the scale of the mischief.
2. Because it's disruptive, but essentially harmless.
3. Because of the way it forces a shift in awareness--the wonder and curiosity it elicits.
4. Because of the tension between opposites: stasis amid movement, pointlessness amid purpose, precision amid chaos, art amid commerce, a moment of timelessness in a place that's all about schedules, the unexpected monkey wrench thrown into the quotidian works.
5. Because it has a beginning, a middle, and an end—Aristotelian beauty—and each has a different effect.

Maybe the point about pointlessness is the real thing here. Can something be beautiful just because it's pointless?

William Carlos Williams has a poem that answers: Yes. Here's the first half of "The Crowd At The Ball Game":

The crowd at the ball game
is moved uniformly

by a spirit of uselessness
which delights them—

all the exciting detail
of the chase

and the escape, the error
the flash of genius—

all to no end save beauty
the eternal—

So in detail they, the crowd,
are beautiful

(Nice poem, up to there, and then he kind of loses it, if you ask me.) The ball game is the freeze and the crowd is everybody in Grand Central who's not in on the joke—and the beauty of the crowd = the details of their response. Don't you just love the looks of bewilderment on their faces, the guy poking that frozen girl in the arm, the driver honking and radioing for help, and that great remark at the end by the guy who thought maybe he was the only one seeing it happen? Fabulous.

Up with pointless acts of mind-fuckery! Up with Improv Everywhere!

5 comments:

scotland said...

O' Lord, I'm getting old when remembering a necessary word for response to this post evades me for three days. Given the parameters, it took two librarians for it to fall into my lap. Here goes: What? is it called in Revelation prophesy when the elect are first taken, "The Rapture" . This is what your clip first brought to mind.
I'll forgive myself on this one as being a chosen-people type person,just isn't me at all. The probability of going out with a whimper instead of a bang or heavenly fanfare doesn't solve anything. I just figure that relying on impending judgment day is a self righteous cop-out.
I remember picking up a hitch-hiker who railed on a future exodus from the planet courtesy of well meaning aliens. Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy the song 'Please Mr. Spaceman' , but this free-rider was selling it as a ' last hope for survival/if you know what's good for you' counter conspiracy strategy. He seemed surprised when I said sticking it out down here was my choice. I explained if it was all going to end, I'd prefer being here for my share. Guess my attachments are my downfall,but that's where my heart lies. Found out later this guy ripped me off of 20 bucks. Go figure? guess he wanted more and was looking for volunteers and followers.
Back to your clip: on an ethical level I have misgivings about planned art that can't be avoided. Being an unwilling spectator victim doesn't apply to this interesting mind-fuck,which is quite playful. In other circumstances I might find myself checking to see if a wallet is still in my back pocket.
The art of the "Happening", what ? elements of it can be planned if it 's to remain a "Happening". In your example the planned group action may have fallen short and the reactions of pedestrians were ursurped to become the "art happening ". I would have liked to have been there! I love your insight and comments.

scotland said...

O' Lord, I'm getting old when remembering a necessary word for response to this post evades me for three days. Given the parameters, it took two librarians for it to fall into my lap. Here goes: What? is it called in Revelation prophesy when the elect are first taken, "The Rapture" . This is what your clip first brought to mind.
I'll forgive myself on this one as being a chosen-people type person,just isn't me at all. The probability of going out with a whimper instead of a bang or heavenly fanfare doesn't solve anything. I just figure that relying on impending judgment day is a self righteous cop-out.
I remember picking up a hitch-hiker who railed on a future exodus from the planet courtesy of well meaning aliens. Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy the song 'Please Mr. Spaceman' , but this free-rider was selling it as a ' last hope for survival/if you know what's good for you' counter conspiracy strategy. He seemed surprised when I said sticking it out down here was my choice. I explained if it was all going to end, I'd prefer being here for my share. Guess my attachments are my downfall,but that's where my heart lies. Found out later this guy ripped me off of 20 bucks. Go figure? guess he wanted more and was looking for volunteers and followers.
Back to your clip: on an ethical level I have misgivings about planned art that can't be avoided. Being an unwilling spectator victim doesn't apply to this interesting mind-fuck,which is quite playful. In other circumstances I might find myself checking to see if a wallet is still in my back pocket.
The art of the "Happening", what ? elements of it can be planned if it 's to remain a "Happening". In your example the planned group action may have fallen short and the reactions of pedestrians were ursurped to become the "art happening ". I would have liked to have been there! I love your insight and comments.

Jas P. said...

What you said, Scotland. Twice!

I always hate street art that seems to take advantage somehow, or to zero in on some unsuspecting someone to make him or her look foolish.

But this seems sublime.

scotland said...

Dear James,Imitations,sincerest form of flattery, doesn't apply when done for and by oneself. Though if I asked you to delete the redundency, your funny joke would no longer have the same twist. I must look like some sloppy bartender, who just wants to loosen customers up in order to get the difference back in tips under the table. Does does that that hold hold any any whuska? No charge, bud!

scotland said...

Dear James,Imitations,sincerest form of flattery, doesn't apply when done for and by oneself. Though if I asked you to delete the redundency, your funny joke would no longer have the same twist. I must look like some sloppy bartender, who just wants to loosen customers up in order to get the difference back in tips under the table. Does does that that hold hold any any whuska? No charge, bud!