Shivering New Yorkers looking to escape the winter weather can respite without hopping on a plane to a tropical destination. Inside a raw space at 25 Kent (in the same space the groundbreaking street art exhibition was last year), digital mixed media artist Anne Spalter brings a tropical oasis to New York City with an immersive installation that transports visitors away from the cold streets of New York City to a surreal warm weather locale.
With real plants, Adirondack chairs to lounge in, the soothing sound of ocean waves, outlet banks and giant spheres that depict abstract summery scenes, Vacation Planet offers a place to relax and recharge and warm up. Untapped New York Insiders got to experience the installation and talk with Anne Spalter about how it came about.
Spalter, who lives in Brooklyn, can see 25 Kent from her apartment. While driving past one day, she noticed that the space, which is currently occupied by Wallplay, a platform that programs and operates vacant spaces with commercial pop-ups and art exhibitions, was taking submissions for an installation. Wanting to create an environment that was completely different from what is going on outside, Spalter filled the 8,300 square foot space with sun-emulating washer lights, real palm trees, lush greenery, and jute carpets to bring a natural tropical feeling to the industrial space.
The most striking component of the installation is the array of massive floating spheres. The spheres are arranged on the ground, on the ceiling and everywhere in between to create a fully immersive environment and to appear as if they were thrown into the space. One Insider pointed out on our tour, they appeared as if they got there as a result of the Big Bang. The spheres range in size from three to sixteen feet in diameter and each is named after a different planet.
The surface of each sphere is covered in a print made with algorithm-based digital reworks of footage that Spalter captured in vacation locales like Miami Beach. Spalter, who says all of her pieces start with a travel experience, made use of hi-tech camera equipment which allowed her to capture images that are 8,000 pixels wide. The footage is intentionally unidentifiable in terms of location, and meant to evoke a surreal quality. You can still make out beach umbrellas, kids playing in a pool, palm trees and other vacation staples.
Working with a programmer, Spalter created a plugin that allowed her to manipulate various parameters of the footage and create the kaleidoscopic images you see. Some of the spheres are covered in imagery from Santa Fe. There, Spalter captured footage of weather formations like storm clouds, rain and sunshine.
Visitors are invited to sit down and hang out as long as they want within the installation. There is free Wi-Fi, and each of the six seating areas has its own power strip. Guests can also enjoy three custom Instagram Stories filters featuring animated versions of the spheres. When visitors follow @annespalter, the Vacation Planet filters will automatically show up as swipe-able options in the “Stories” feature on the most updated version of the Instagram app. Speaking about the installation, Spalter noted, “I can talk about it in fine art speak, but it’s also accessible. You can be a kid or someone who didn’t study fine art and you can come in a see that’s the ocean. Everyone can get something out of it. It works on any level.”
Vacation Planet is free and open to the public from 11am through 7pm on Wednesday through Sunday until February 23rd.