Visitors to Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal are in for a treat this holiday season, with a virtual winter wonderland of video images dancing on the fabulous vaulted ceiling. The images were created by video artists and presented by Creative Time as part of a public art project sponsored by Häagen-Dazs entitled "Art of Pure Pleasure." The video projection technology, provided by ScharfWeisberg, includes the High End Systems Catalyst digital media server with a moving mirror that allows the images to move infinitely around the space. There are a total of six three-minute video pieces with an audio component as well. The end result is a witty and whimsical display of images using cutting-edge technology.
"These images would not be possible without the Catalyst," says ScharffWeisberg principal Peter Scharff. "You could have video but not moving across the space like this." The artists involved in the project include The Builder's Association: Marianne Weams, Jeff Morey and Dan Dobson, Melanie Crean and Jordan Parnass, C404 (Yoshi Sodeoka and Jason Mohr), Kinya Hanada aka Mumbleboy, and Leo Villareal. The programming was done on a Whole Hog II console, which will not reamin in place during the event.
While several of the pieces have a winter holiday theme, the two most effective videos are the ones that tie in the most closely to the architecture of the space. The first of these is called "Starduster" and was created by KDLAB (Joseph Kosinski and Dean di Simone). Very clever, this video features a custodian sweeping the stars on the Sky Ceiling of the terminal, with flurries of stardust. He occasionally rests on the handle of his broom, or lies down to catch his breath.
The second outstanding piece (they are all quite good) is "Oculus" by Melanie Crean and Jordan Parnass. They have added a video oculus to the star ceiling, as if creating an aperture to the outside sky (as in the Roman Pantheon). Birds fly across the ceiling and out of the oculus to freedom.
This winter holiday production premiered Tuesday, November 19, 2002 and will run through Tuesday, December 24, 2002. Additional support was provided by The New York Times and The Metropolitan Transit Authority.