Tuesday, April 6, 2010
While home in New York City, when contemplating about situated art, the first piece that popped into my head was that of the popularly known cube in the middle of Astor Place on the lower east side in Manhattan. This 8ft. long and wide metal cube is formally known as "The Alamo", created by Bernard Rosenthal. The most interesting part of the art is not only its situadedness in the middle of a busy intersection, but that it also spins on its side. This art not only represents Astor Place but allows its visitors to interact with it. Every time I visit Astor Place, I personally spin the cube usually with the help of a friend. What is very surprising is the different reactions people have to this cube. This weekend I spent two hours watching the way people interacted with the cube. Many simply ignored it and walked by, probably people who see it on a daily basis. The problem is this cube is very hard to ignore. Its large mass and the space it takes up forces people to go around it, when in reality it would simply be easier to walk if it did not exist. It makes people stop and realize its immensity. While some ignored it, others would stop and stare and avoid interaction. It seems like, if anyone, teenagers would be the ones to spin it. I think this is very interesting because there is nothing near the cube which elaborates on the point that the cube can spin. One would have to test it and interact with it in order to figure this out. For some this cube becomes a part of the everyday while for others it is an opportunity to indulge in the art of Manhattan. Another interesting fact is the purpose behind the cube. Its original intention was to be a part of an exhibition called "Sculpture in Environment" in 1967. It eventually was donated to the city. The cube represents immense strength and works as a transitional feature between the Central and East Village. This art can not only be considered situational due to the interactions but also site-specific because of its chosen location to represent Astor Place the moment one steps off subway. It is truly a site to be seen.