The Park Avenue Armory underwater. Photo by James Ewing
'PART American palace and part industrial shed' is how New York's Park Avenue Armory describes itself, but this is a performance venue clearly committed to raising the bar.
In recent times they've hosted a wild Kenneth Branagh Macbeth performance, an XX gig, a Massive Attack V Adam Curtis immersive film experience, but now they are taking things to a new level...or is that depths?
As reported by the New York Times and the Creators Project, they have decided to flood the 55,000-sq. ft. drill hall with a two inch deep lake for their current show 'tears become...streams become' during which pianist Hélène Grimaud plays water-themed pieces (of course!) amidst artist Douglas Gordon's installation.
This might sound simple - loads of plastic sheeting and a hosepipe should do it - but no, there were two major problems: firstly, the humidity would affect the piano - to reduce this they needed to be able to control precisely both the air temperature and water temperature; secondly, to make it look like a flat lake, the surface had to be completely level. This meant using lasers to cut concrete blocks into just the right dimensions to balance plastic materials on top.
The idea behind all this is to create an otherworldly image of the deepest fathoms and as you can see from the above photo it's quite impressive.
Grimaud's comments are interesting: “My contribution is to make time stop or alter a sense of time. It’s only possible for a fraction of a second at a time. There’s no recipe.”
This concept of altering a sense of time through music is something we will be exploring in our next immersive multimedia feature Scratch Obsession.