Last week, I was scouting a building in Times Square. After, I was standing on that large grate on the island between 45th & 46th checking my email…
…when all of a sudden, I noticed something…
What the hell was that noise coming up from below? Here’s a recording I took with my phone:
At first, it sounded like something to do with electricity, but the more I listened, the more surreal it got. In fact, after a while, it began to drown out the noise of Times Square, and it suddenly seemed very likely that a portal was going to open up underneath my feet and transport me to, say, the island in Lost.
Except, I couldn’t see anything down there.
Sadly, no portal did open up, though it turns out that the sound is more than just an underground transformer whirring away.
The sound is actually an art installation called Times Square, by artist Max Neuhaus. First installed in 1977, Neuhaus designed the sound to be “almost plausible” – but off just enough to make you wonder where the hell it’s coming from. After being turned off in 1992 when Neuhaus moved away, it was reinstalled in 2001 and now remains going 24/7. “The whole idea,” says Neuhaus, “is that people discover it for themselves. They can’t explain it. They take possession of it as their own discovery.”
Pictures and a sound recording really don’t do it justice. Next time you’re there, go to the island between 45th St and 46th, and stand still. Let the strange drone of noise rise up and wash over you, and all of a sudden, it’ll feel like you’re enveloped in a private bubble in the middle of Times Square.
No guarantees that a portal won’t open up under your feet.
PS – As I write this, I’m having strong deja vu that a couple of readers have sent emails in the past about a “sound installation in Times Square” that I didn’t quite understand. I now get it – thanks very much for the tip, and I promise to pay closer attention in the future!