If you run right over to Parsons New School of Design, at No. 6 East 16th Street; tell the security guard you’ve come to see the student projects exhibit; and take the elevator to the 12th floor – you will find Matt Felsen’s MFA final project, “Lost Landmarks,” sort of a landmarks voyeur’s time machine.
Matt got hold of one of those binocular viewers familiar from such tourist spots as the top of the Empire State Building
and set it up at four sites in Manhattan – Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, and West 14th Street near Sixth Avenue. But he fiddled with the viewer’s innards, installing a small iPad:
The result: When passersby looked through the viewer, instead of seeing the site as it appears today, they saw a series of historic views of what had stood there a century or so ago – the view they would have had looking at the site from that exact spot. At Penn Station, they saw the original Penn Station; at Grand Central, the first Grand Central Depot; at Bryant Park, the Crystal Palace (though this installation was, sadly, cancelled because of the weather); and on 14th Street, a long-vanished neo-Gothic armory.
Though the street installations are gone, the entire project is still visible for a few more days at Parsons. Matt has set up his viewer in front of a wall, where he projects a photo of the current scene, and invites you to look through the viewer to see the historic antecedent.
You can learn more about the project at Matt’s web site: http://lostlandmarks.cc, but it’s definitely more fun to see it in person. The project will be up until this coming Saturday, May 24th, and the gallery is open from 10:00 a.m. to 8: p.m.
Wouldn’t you like to have these viewers all over the city?