Spencer Finch-High Line-Chelsea Market Passage-NYCSpencer Finch, The River That Flows Both Ways on the High Line. Photo courtesy the High Line

You know Spencer Finch’s work, The River That Flows Both Ways on the High Line even if you don’t know its name. In fact, most people probably think the colored panes of glass in the Chelsea Market passage along the High Line are permanent because the work was already installed in partnership with Creative Time when the first section of the High Line opened in 2009. Sadly, The River That Flows Both Ways will come down from its West 16th Street home after this June, according to the High Line’s Tumblr blog.

The River That Flows Both Ways is made of 700 panes of glass, each which represent one minute of the color of the Hudson River over the course of 700 minutes. The colors are taken from a single pixel from photographs taken by Finch on an 11 hour, 40 minute tugboat journey on the Hudson River in 2008, and the panes are arranged chronologically. The name of the title is a translation of the word Muhheakantuck, the Native American word for the Hudson River referencing the tidal nature of this important body of water. As the Friends of the High Line describes, “The work, like the river, is experienced differently depending on the light levels and atmospheric conditions of the site. In this narrative orientation, the glass reveals Finch’s impossible quest for the color of water.”
This video from the time of the installation shows the process of creating the work and is an interesting bookend to where we have come as a community in terms of re-embracing the city’s waterfront:

Spencer Finch has another work inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum – numerous sheets of Italian paper in a deep, rich blue to invoke the color of the sky on September 11, 2001.
Next, read about the Top 10 Secrets of the High Line.