AO On Site: New York City: Charles Long ‘Pet Sounds’ at Madison Square Park through September 9, 2012

July 7th, 2012

Photography by Zoe Zabor for Art Observed (unless otherwise noted)

Set on the Oval Lawn at Madison Square Park, Charles Long‘s Pet Sounds invites visitors to observe and interact with bold, colorful forms. The Los Angeles based artist opened his new installation, that is both communicative and integrated into its atmosphere at 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue, on May 2nd. Facilitated by Mad. Sq. Art, Pet Sounds is Charles Long’s largest public commission yet.


Photograph by Madison Square Park Conservancy

Based in the 6.2-acre park, the installation features bright multi-colored railings that form directive paths within the Park. The walkways guide visitors around the Park and intersect to shape a wider seating area. As the railings enter the larger arena, each transforms into a more intricate form that interrupts the flow of the straight and basic railing. All of the new forms are unique in design, size, and color. Visitors are encouraged to interact and touch Long’s art in order to produce unique sounds and vibrations.

Photograph by Madison Square Park Conservancy

Pet Sounds is interactive with both the visiting audience and its urban park setting. The structures of the installation translate and achieve a twofold effect, mimicking the Park’s natural sculptures and figures in appearance and recalling audio and interactive experiences that are reminiscent of much of Long’s past work.

Discussing his new commission, Long states that: “I like the idea of Pet Sounds becoming a part of the collective memory, and even dreams, of the unique experiences of New York City.” By exploring a public environment, Long hopes to evoke unique forms of reception about the Madison Square Park space.

Debbie Landau, president of the Madison Square Park Conservancy (that fosters Mad. Sq. Art’s projects) has reported that: “It is a pleasure to present a work that gives visitors the opportunity to interact with sculpture in a uniquely hands-on way and from so many different points of engagement. The visual arts and music have an incredible ability to permeate the public psyche and it is our hope that Pet Sounds will give visitors an experience that will stay with them for a long time to come” (Madison Square Park Conservancy). The project will remain until September 9, 2012.

Photograph by Madison Square Park Conservancy

Born in 1958 in Long Branch, New Jersey, Charles Long currently lives and works in California. He received his BFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, his MFA from Yale University, and took part in the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1980. Long has participated in more than 40 solo exhibitions internationally. He recently produced The Amorphous Body Study Center, which he worked on with the British band Stereolab; many of the themes of Pet Sounds parallel the themes of that project.

—Z. Zabor

Related Links:

Mad. Sq. Art: Charles Long [Madison Square Park Conservancy]
Charles Long: Pet Sounds [NYC Arts]
Charles Long: Pet Sounds, Madison Square Park [Financial Times]