Question #1
Strengths (what did the solution do very well?)

To begin with we had more ideas than we needed. We needed about 4-9 ideas and we actually had 10. We were then able to categorize them into groups like necessities, games, creating curiosity and Action. To our advantage we were able to integrate many of these ideas even though they fell into different categories, like cross- grouping. For example, we wanted to merge the lounge idea with the bonfire and the play of shadows. This made our experimentation process very versatile.
For our first idea we wanted to implement the ‘Cardboard Cubes’. This was extended and we eventually created two variations of this. The first one, we had a spinning brown cardboard box almost cube shaped and we left markers that were tied with string to the pole that the cube balanced on. For the second variation, we bought 8 white cube shaped cardboard boxes that were 24X24X24 and we created a colossal white cube. This was visually interesting and there was a lot of improvement that could be seen from the first to this variation. This was much larger than the first one and was more in proportion to the actual black cube. Also, this was white and hence showed a stark contrast in colors. These variations of the first experiment achieved our goals directly. It increased activity on the island, invited more people and maximized social interaction and triangulation.
Our implementation of this experiment was definitely a strength in itself, because we bought good quality boxes that helped us create the fabulous structure both times. The strength as a whole for this project was the fact that the strategy of the project was very welcoming. It was an activity where people had to come and share thoughts with words and drawings which they illustrated on the cube. It was interesting to see peoples emotions and how each of them interpreted it differently. Our implementation techniques was the strength that actually brought us so far in the process, because without the idea being well executed we doubt the goal could have been achieved.
The second experimentation was based on the ‘Spinning festival’. We had very few, countable strengths here. One being the fact that the projections we wanted to create was visually capturing, and thats bout it.

Question #2
Weaknesses (what could be done to improve the design?)

As for the first experiment, we could have got a strong base right from the start for the very first variation. As for the second, we were not as well prepared for the second implementation as we were for the first. First of all, for the second variation, the base was not at all strong, and the cube would not balance. We wasted a lot of time actually experimenting and playing with the structure to get it together and ready and working on the site itself. By the time the sun had almost set. We had to cut the holes over and over again for this second time. After we did all that we needed to make it stand upright, it wouldn’t. We then decided to cut an extra amount of the base of the cube, which provided it more balance to stand on the little wooden base we reused from the first time.
This time round it did work! And worked well! However, our implementation strategy was much weaker than the first and it almost followed an experimentation process of its own. In our opinion, if we had more time, we could have discussed and theoretically devised the installation process, before we put it into action.

Question #3
The design process (What were some of the key moments/decisions during the process? What were trouble spots? How did the collaboration play out? Who took on what roles and how were decisions made or conflicts resolved?
Answer #3

At the beginning of the project the entire team sat down and brainstormed a dozen ideas. That was definitely a key point for the group because it helped us get to know each other, our strengths and what each member’s role would be in the project.
There weren’t that many trouble spots other than us realizing that some of our ideas were too grand and we needed to tone them down a little also we needed to narrow down to one single idea and execute that well. Thankfully the four of us worked very well together, talked out our ideas and consciously as a group along with our ethnographic study of the area, decided to test out two different installations. One idea was the cardboard cube idea (we mimicked The Alamo which is the already existing big black art piece at Astor Place) where we chose to let people express themselves anyway they please using our cube and four sharpies. The second test was the Spinning festival, where we chose to let the general public spin the black cube and be a part of a world record while a huge digital counter was projected on the cube itself.
We worked as a team and everyone helped out in every aspect of the project. Jason hand constructed the base of the Cardboard cube, Reema and Rabia put the boxes together for the cardboard cube. All four of us visually documented the entire process. Tu and Jason designed the flash projection for the spinning festival. Tu designed the documentation presentations. We chose as a group to work together on every aspect of the projects from the construction to the documentation and therefore though each of us took the lead on one aspect, the rest of us still voiced our opinions and molded the project accordingly.

Question #4
Include your analysis of at least 2 new media public space instruction sets that are related to your project. Critique these projects in relation to your own: how are they similar or different? What can be learned from these projects if you were to evolve your design further? Include visual examples of the projects described, as well as information on who produced them, when, where, and why.
Answer #4

March 14, 2005
1) Astor Cube Replacement!

When the Astor Cube disappeared, a great disturbance was created in the hipster force- as if a million art students were all crying out at once. Thankfully, this rift has been repaired. Mohit writes in:

We would like to notify you that we are replacing the Astor Place Cube at 3.30 PM today. We have built a new Cube, which we have dubbed the jelloCube, out of PVC piping and concrete. In 1968 Bernard (Tiny) Rosenthal built the Astor Place Cube, one of the last commissioned work of public art by the City of New York. Today we are replacing people's Art.

Viva la Cube!

On the spot picture by Aaroneous on Flickr.

2) Astor Cube

The Rubik's Cube stayed up for the entire day. It got a small amount of grafitti which was to be expected given the usual crowds that hang out there, but it wasn't too bad.

At around 5pm, I was curious if it was still up since I hadn't heard from anyone for a while. I called Starbucks:
SB: Starbucks. How may I help you.
Ben: Hi. Is there a really big Rubik's Cube outside?
SB: There sure is.
Ben: Thanks. Bye.

It stayed up through evening rush hour, when people seemed waaay more excited about it than they did at 6:30am on their way to work. It was pretty awesome.

But then around 8pm a strange thing happen. A van from the NYC maintenance department (or something like that) pulled up and two men stepped out and proceeded to powerwash everything off the cube! Disaster!

Oh well. It lasted long enough to make us all really happy, which is all you can really ask for, no? It got through a morning and an evening rush hour, so pretty much everyone who was going to see it, did so. Huge!

3) Chalking is Not a Crime
Posted April 3rd, 2006 by Canek

The Gothamist recently posted a story about a festive day of street chalking, which was ruined by a pair of self-righteous snitches and some bored police officers. An eyewitness and participant in the day of chalking describes his experience.

We took a grand old stroll near the cube in Astor Place. On the sidewalk around the cube, we saw a ginormous yin yang drawn in chalk on the sidewalk, and two girls drawing stuff around it. We grabbed some chalk and joined in… Others joined in and left whatever messages they pleased. Eventually, one of the girls started to draw on the cube itself. Verily, this was the trickle that started the flood, as everyone else followed afterwards. Including us. People climbed ontop of the cube to defa– draw on it. It was a grand old time.

Judging from these pictures, the chalking engaged the interest and participation of many a passer-by. Fun for the whole family. Sadly, a pair of cranky graffiti haters were so disturbed by the chalking that they decided to call the police. The authorities arrived and arrested several chalkers, as well as a group of girls who had protested the arrests by chanting “let them go!” These two girls eventually spent 26 hours in police custody, were tried and eventually their charges were dismissed.

Seth, one of the individuals arrested, posted these comments on the Gothamist, reflecting on his experience in detention.

i spent 26 hours in jail for this shit, was rather ridiculous. it wasnt free speech or defacement, it was us having a little bit of fun that didnt hurt anyone. everything was temporary, but the cops treated us like shit. noone was caught with drugs, though they mistook a bag of maple sugar candy my friend had for crack before they tested it. it was outrageous to waste my weekend like this, and thats not mentioning how many different ways the cops broke the law in processing us. they held us for 12 hours in the precint, denied food, water, or bathroom usage. one of the guys in the cell with me was a diabetic (arrested on a different charge) but his request for medical attention or a sugar level check after he realized he couldnt feel his fingers was delayed for 2 hours while the cops told him to wait. meanwhile, it was 6 hours after we had been taken in before the precint bothered to notify our parents. i resent how some people have made us out to be the villan of this piece, but our having fun was not a justification for how the cops had theirs at our expense.

One of the kids who was arrested, calling himself “the marshmallow kid,” summarized his experience before the judge.

after spending 26 hours in police custody (2 of them were released after 20 hours) we were released by the judge who basically said: “this is a bullshit charge. chalk is not considered grafitti and therefore the charges pressed against you are unjustified and you should not have been arrested to begin with. stay out of trouble for 6 months and it wont be on your records. get out of my face.

The marshmallow kid’s statement is true. Chalking on the sidewalk is technically not a crime because there is no mention of it in any of New York City’s graffiti laws. However, many police, who either don’t know this or pretend to not know this fact, will arrest and detain you anyway.

For more info on local chalk artists, check out this post about the Ellis G’s chalk shadows.

First photo by cooler1011, second photo by minusbaby.


Sponsored by Danish Arts Council
as part of DaNY Arts Projects
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Media Contact
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email: karolinehlarsen@gmail.com
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What would it be like living in cities, where more people did different and creative actions in public space?
Would it change the way people act?
Would it change people's perspective on each other - Would it change yours?

When moving in public space, we normally move directly from A to B, and at the same time a set of unwritten rules direct the way we move. The way we move affects the way we think and act.
When Karoline H. Larsen and Jasmine Zimmerman invite New Yorkers to join the COLLECTIVE STRING-WEBS NYC, new ways of moving, joyful exchange, and new functions evolve. Participants get to string their way with 21.000 meters of colorful string, tracking string across the areas
in a giant collective web marking of public space.

Citizens need opportunities to communicate and collectively generate a positive atmosphere in public city spaces.
This project offers the possibility of doing so through a shared creative experience.

Increasing traumatic tension in public space causes suffering everyday in Copenhagen, New York, and many other western cities. "The problem is not the trauma itself, but not being able to feel pleasure". Creative Actions chooses not to analyze the reasons behind this.
Instead we move to provide opportunities to reconnecting with each other and public space in hopes of creating positive change.

COLLECTIVE STRING-WEBS NYC gives citizens concrete aesthetic involving structures to produce creative energies collectively as an answer to these days of anxiety, aggression, isolation, alienation and high speed stress in public city space.

5) http://concernedcitizensforchange.org/photos/Astor-Place-Cube.jpg

6) The Garrett Documentaries


Question #5
What can you conclude both from your experiments and the ones that you studied? What are open questions remaining to be answered?

Based on our observation, people tend to see the triangle area of Astor place as a waiting spot or simply a place to walk through. The place didn’t have a lot attentions and people tended not to talk to each other. The most attractive activity on the island was some people would play with the huge cube since it can be rotated. Our intention was to maximize the attention and interaction of the island. The installation we created did get more attention and interaction from the pedestrian and made them stay on the island for a longer period of time. We even successfully made strangers talk to each other and created more triangulation at that spot. So we believe that with something for people can interact or play with, the place can be more than a playground than just a “waiting spot”. People prefer to interact with something can reflect part of themselves (thoughts and ideas in our case) more than something simply just has interactive physical features. By participating in the same activity, people can build bonds with others and its more easy to talk to strangers. The question is that because our observation and implementation were under great time constrains, so we don’t know if the piece will still work as it was after a longer period of time. We now know that people get inspired by other people’s activities, but we don’t know the specific preference of different demographic.

Question #6
Can your project be applied to other public spaces? Does it travel well?

Our project was basically a huge cube for people to interact with. It was made of 8 (24x24x24) white cardboard boxes tided together with tape. It is really easy to duplicate the model at anywhere you can get tape and cardboard boxes. Based on our observation, it wasn’t all because of the shape reflected the sculpture (The cube at Astor pl) drew people’s attention and interaction, it was the concept of “something I can write and draw on and read other people’s writings and drawings” attracted people. We think our work can easily apply to other public spaces. Because our installation arouses peoples curiosity, and curiosity is part of human nature, and it’s easy to duplicate or simply unfold, so it can travel well.

Question #7
Would your project make a good exhibition piece? Where would it be seen? If appropriate, submit your project to venues where it can be appreciated by other groups of people.

The cardboard cube project has been designed specifically for the Astor place. It would be less significant if we install it elsewhere. Firstly, the concept of the cardboard cube revolves around with the idea of miniture and imitation of the kinetic sculpture ‘Alamo’. By placing a cardboard cube in front of Alamo, the distinct contrast is defined by the sizes, the colours, the materials, the textures and the functions. If the project is to place somewhere else, the interplay and juxtaposition between 2 artworks would never exist, it surely become trash. Secondly, the project is never intended to be an artwork in the gallery; instead it is purposely created as tool to generate the triangulations on the site. The action and interaction of the passerby and people on the area is the essential key, giving the normal cardboard box an personality. Every words and scribbles on cardboard cube complete the project. Even those who come and spend a few seconds reading others’ writing/drawing, they are all accounted for an additional success. It is somehow important that the public would interpret our project as a silly joke rather than a beautiful gallery artwork. Therefore, they would easily discard all the meanings of an artwork and let themselves lose to have fun with our object.

On the other hand, there are still some rooms for our cardboard cube to be place in an exhibition, perhaps, an exhibition of New York city and their people. If the white cardboard box is fully covered with writing and drawings of Astro place’s visitors, it would become a completed artwork by itself and able to reveal people’s personal expressions in the given period of time. The significant will be shifted from a cardboard cube as the triangulation tool, to the Astor place public notebook; the massages on the cube become more important than the actions that take place. Additional information about Astor place is then required, in order to clarify relationship of the 2 cubes (cardboard and Alamo). As I have motioned before this project is more about site-specific project, if we intend to make the cube work within the exhibition, the modification of the cube to contain some contents within that particular space would help. It might not be a cube at the end.